Marching to the theme of the Star Wars movies, speakers for the 2013 opening session of ABACE found their places on the broad stage in the Shanghai Hawker Pacific hangar at Hongqiao International Airport and the event began.
The general theme of all the speakers, from Ed Bolen, president, National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), to Gary Locke, United States Ambassador to China, was one of cooperation of efforts to bring a vibrant and viable business aviation industry to China.
“Business aviation generates jobs, allows companies to be productive and efficient, and helps the country in times of natural disaster,” said Bolen. “When you ask, ‘Why use business aviation?,’ the answer is that you can move sensitive equipment that cannot be trusted to airline or cargo holds; you can hold private meetings onboard while en route to a destination.” Business aviation makes sense for business, Bolen insisted. “At our first ABACE in 2005, we planted a seed. Today that seed is a tree that is bearing fruit,” he said, referring to the much bigger event that ABACE has grown to be in 2013.
Nianzu Wu, chairman of the Shanghai Airport Authority, and Jiang Ping, vice mayor of Shanghai, focused on improving safety management systems within the Shanghai airports infrastructure. Nianzu pointed out that in 2012 there were 3,800 business aviation flights from Shanghai airports, which is fully 33 percent of the national total of business flights in China. He also spoke of the formation of the Hongqiao Airport Development Zone.
Roberto Kobeh Gonzalez, ICAO Council president, focused his speech on the integration of China into the formation of a global airspace infrastructure. “We need to develop an operationally sound, sustainable, safe, secure and environmentally conscious system of integrated airspace infrastructure that affords its users reasonable profits,” Gonzalez said. He continued, praising both the International Business Aviation Council (IBAC) and NBAA for their efforts, and suggested tighter noise restrictions and emissions standards worldwide, in line with ICAO’s quest to “green” aviation.
U.S. Ambassador Gary Locke, the first Chinese-American to hold the post, spoke next, asking the ABACE attendees to take a moment to pray for the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing, which had occurred just a few hours before the official opening of the show. Locke’s comments focused on the robust trade that has grown up between the U.S. and China in the past 40 years. He pointed out that 80 businesses from the U.S. were present at ABACE, a reflection of that healthy interchange.
“We are working with China, sharing information with CAAC through technical seminars. We’ve awarded $10 million in grants to support public-private efforts to improve aviation safety and infrastructure in China,” said Locke. He rounded out his speech explaining how, when he was governor of Washington state, the state’s Beechcraft King Air helped him to visit constituents in small rural towns inside of one day. “That aircraft enhanced my productivity as governor and expanded my outreach. That is just one example of what a business aircraft can do for you,” he concluded.
With that, the crowd gathered and ribbons were cut, opening the exhibits to ABACE 2013 attendees.o