Later this month, the 63rd annual NBAA meeting and convention opens at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta. The NBAA Convention won't reappear in Atlanta for some time, as the next four shows are scheduled for Las Vegas (2011), Orlando (2012), Las Vegas (2013) and then again in Orlando (2014).
The NBAA Convention remains a key date on business aviation's calendar in an economy that has dealt a severe blow to the industry. While many flight departments have closed, manufacturers have laid off thousands and flight operations remain depressed, business aviation has a strong core of adherents, and it will take more than a recession to stop them from flying. This year's event looks to be a good indicator that ultimately a positive outcome is likely, although no one knows with any certainty when that will happen. Nevertheless, excitement is already in the air. AIN has learned that many exhibitors are planning interesting announcements and the floor will offer plenty of excellent booth prizes, including the traditional Million Air and CRS Jet Spares motorcycles and also a passel of Apple iPads, which have exploded overnight into an essential tool for aviators.
Major aviation companies are still managing expenses carefully, but there might be some major new product announcements at this year's show. There are hints that Bombardier might launch an ultra-long-range upgraded version of its Global Express XRS (see article on page 6), and leadership at Cessna parent company Textron has said that R&D spending at Cessna is about to receive a boost. Dassault may have an announcement about the next step on its SMS program, too.
The economy has dampened enthusiasm surrounding single-engine jet programs (see New Business Jet Report on page 34 for full details), such that the earliest entry into service might not happen until Diamond Aircraft's D-Jet is certified next year. Cirrus is still trying to raise money to finish the Vision jet program. Piper's new owner, Singapore and Brunei-based Imprimis, has said it is strongly backing the PiperJet program, and recent leadership changes–including hiring former top Hawker Beechcraft executives Randy Groom as executive vice president and Drew McEwen as director of sales Americas–seem to support this assertion. Groom said at the EAA AirVenture show in July that Piper will make a significant announcement about the PiperJet at the NBAA Convention. Stratos Aircraft, which is developing the high-performance. Stratos 714 composite single-engine jet, is exhibiting at the NBAA Convention and seeking funding to advance to the prototype stage.
Hawker Beechcraft will host the largest-ever NBAA static display by one manufacturer at DeKalb-Peachtree Airport, according to a spokeswoman, highlighting the company's long history and comprehensive product line.
DeKalb-Peachtree Airport is conveniently located about 12 miles northeast of the convention site, normally a drive of less than half an hour. Four FBOs serve DeKalb-Peachtree, and Atlantic Aviation is the static display host FBO. Customers who want their aircraft moved to the static display will need to make arrangements for towing if using one of the other FBOs (Epps Aviation, Jet Fueling or Signature Flight Support), according to NBAA. Most arrivals will take place on Sunday, October 17, and NBAA has asked the FAA for NBAA-specific callsigns for arriving static display aircraft. International arrivals can use DeKalb-Peachtree's U.S. Customs service for clearance from 5:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. As always, according to NBAA, "Aircraft displayed on the static display are prohibited from conducting demonstration or presentation flights."
Gulfstream Aerospace will also have a large presence on the static display, with its chalet-type structure providing welcome shelter. Embraer is bringing both the Phenom 100 and 300 and the new Legacy 650, making its first U.S. show debut as Embraer makes final preparations for certification of its latest jet before year-end.
Dassault Falcon's newest model, the 900LX certified in July, will be on the company's static display with a 7X and 2000LX. The exhibit hall display will focus on Dassault Falcon's customer service and service center efforts, and a Falcon maintenance and operations session is scheduled on October 20. Falcon aficionados and customers are invited to the annual Falcon breakfast at the Omni Hotel at 7 a.m. on October 20.
Bombardier Aerospace invites attendees to visit its convention center exhibit and full-scale chalet at the static display, where five jets and a Learjet 85 mockup with a fresh interior will be open for viewing. The jets include a Learjet 45XR, Learjet 60XR, Challenger 300 and 605 and a Global Express XRS. Two maintenance and operations sessions are planned, on October 19 and 20.
Dornier Seaplane's Seastar composite amphibian will also be at the static display. And Alan Klapmeier's newly formed Kestrel Aircraft will be on hand with its single-engine turboprop (the former Farnborough Aircraft F1).
The exhibitor list is filling fast as the NBAA Convention approaches, and every kind of business aviation product and service will be on display in hundreds of booths at the 3.9-million-sq-ft World Congress Center.
Aerial View Systems will be on hand with its new high-definition airframe-mounted external camera adaptable to a variety of business jets and suitable for a wide range of lighting conditions.
Honda Aircraft is hosting its usual large HondaJet display at the exhibit hall, which includes a working demo of the HondaJet's Garmin G3000 avionics suite. The first conforming prototype HondaJet (F1) is undergoing final preparations for its first flight next month, so it won't be able to make an appearance at this year's NBAA Convention.
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries America (MHIA) and its U.S. MU-2 support services contractor, Turbine Aircraft Services, will provide NBAA attendees with an update on the MU-2 Limited Edition refurb program and the MU-2's vastly improved safety record following the FAA's new special FAR for mandatory training for all MU-2 pilots.
NBAA has invited Atlanta-area students to visit the convention on the last day (October 21), and MHIA-sponsored Barrington Irving will join some of the students during their visits. Irving is the youngest pilot to fly solo around the world and promotes aviation careers to minority youth.
L-3 Avionics's new and recently TSO'd Trilogy ESI-2000 electronic standby instrument with battery backup will be on display. The backup uses a lithium-ion battery and offers a minimum of one hour of backup time, with up to four hours possible.
Hubbard Aviation Technologies is bringing a hushkitted Gulfstream to the static display and will have its life-size working Gulfstream nacelle at its NBAA exhibit, which shows exactly how the hushkit incorporates the thrust reversers.
Daher-Socata is holding its first NBAA technical seminar as part of its efforts to improve communication with TBM700/850 owners (10 a.m. October 20).
At this year's show, NBAA is forging ahead with content aimed at owner-pilots, which industry experts report as one of the stronger segments of business aviation. NBAA has teamed with the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association to deliver six Light Business Airplane Conference sessions ranging from the Cessna/NBAA single-pilot safety standdown on October 18 to sessions on tax benefits and business use of general aviation aircraft, regulatory issues, insurance and moving up to turbine aircraft. These sessions will also be offered at the AOPA Aviation Summit, to be held November 11 to 13 in Long Beach, Calif.
Plenty of educational events are available before the official start of this year's NBAA Convention, including NBAA Professional Development Program courses, the NBAA Tax, Regulatory and Risk Management Conference, a one-day Inspection Authorization renewal class and an Rnav/RNP workshop.
New this year is the first NBAA "tweetup meetup," an evening networking session October 20 for social media addicts. The location won't be announced until October 10, so check out http://nbaatweetup.eventbrite.com/ for more details. (Follow AINonline on Twitter.)
In addition to the expected injection of $34 million the convention will bring to the Atlanta area, NBAA member company volunteers are helping the local NBAA host committee with a community build project on October 17 to benefit the Brookhaven Boys & Girls Club near DeKalb-Peachtree Airport. Volunteers will help build a $50,000 aviation-themed playground, an outdoor classroom, a garden and retaining wall, and they will repair a gym and refurbish outdoor volleyball courts and the teen center.
Also on October 17, the 14th annual NBAA Chairman's Charity Classic golf tournament will be held at Stone Mountain Golf Club (shotgun start at 12 noon), with proceeds benefitting NBAA Charities. This organization funds programs that operate general aviation aircraft for humanitarian purposes.
NBAA's other major fund-raising event is the annual CAN Charity Benefit, held the evening of October 20 to raise money for the Corporate Angel Network. This year's master of ceremonies is veteran aerospace news broadcaster and pilot Miles O'Brien, and he will be joined for the live auction by auctioneer Tom "Spanky" Assiter. The evening's celebrations will be capped by a performance by chart-topping rock band Chicago.
The NBAA Convention is not just a place to visit exhibits and see aircraft but also an opportunity to honor industry heroes who help keep business aviation viable in these uncertain economic times. This year's recipient of the 2010 NBAA Meritorious Service to Aviation award is golfer, pilot and businessman Arnold Palmer, who has been using business aircraft for more than 50 years. Palmer is a key supporter of the NBAA/GAMA No Plane, No Gain advocacy campaign and has had an enormous influence on policymakers, appearing in numerous print and television ads promoting business aviation.
Chuck McKinnon will receive the 2010 NBAA John P. "Jack" Doswell award. McKinnon is credited with launching the first business aviation operation in Europe, a branch of IBM's flight department based at Paris Le Bourget Airport. McKinnon learned to fly in the 1920s in a Waco biplane in Atlanta and flew the first business airplane used by IBM in 1954, an Aero Commander.
These awards will be announced at the opening general session on October 19, which will feature keynote speaker Sonny Perdue, the governor of Georgia, a helicopter pilot and also recipient of the American Spirit award. NBAA is honoring Perdue "for his dedication to all aviation, including business aviation."
NBAA is holding a second general session for the first time to honor business aviation's contributions to Haiti relief. This is scheduled for October 20 at 11 a.m. on the exhibit floor, and anyone who was involved in the Haiti relief efforts is invited to attend.