It’s no surprise that this year’s NBAA Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition (November 1 to 3) will be held at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla. After all, the show is ranked sixth largest in the U.S., and there are not many places with a large enough facility and a nearby airport for the static display. For the next few years, the show will bounce back and forth between Orlando and Las Vegas.
Visitors will notice one big difference this year: the host FBO is still the same facility at Orlando Executive Airport, but it is now owned by Atlantic Aviation, which purchased the former Showalter Flying Services FBO early last year.
Dozens of aircraft are expected at the static display at Atlantic Aviation, and this includes some unusual candidates such as a SPAD XIII World War I biplane at the Dassault Falcon display (a young Marcel Dassault designed its propeller) and the first NBAA appearance of the Pilatus PC-24 light jet. Gulfstream is bringing seven aircraft this year, including the new fly-by-wire G500, which is making its first appearance at an NBAA show. Joining the SPAD at the Dassault Falcon display are five jets, including the Falcon 8X, and the 5X mockup. Bombardier will also bring seven jets, including two Learjet 75s, two Challenger 650s and a 350 and a Global 5000 and 6000. Textron Aviation is bringing the most airplanes from one manufacturer, 11 turbine-powered airplanes ranging from the Caravan EX turboprop to the Citation X+ jet and its new Longitude as well as a cabin mockups for the in-development Citation Hemisphere large-cabin jet. The convention center will also host more aircraft at the indoor static display.
At this year’s show more than 1,100 exhibitors and 27,000 attendees are expected. Before and during the show, more than 50 education sessions are on tap, ranging from operational and regulatory issues to taxation, small flight departments, security issues and fatigue management among maintenance professionals. This year will again feature the Innovation Zone on the floor of the convention center exhibit hall with unique presentations on technology-related issues. “This includes discussions about protecting airport air traffic from unmanned drones; possible industry uses for emerging consumer technologies; and how to be a leader in your company, even if you aren’t in management or a supervisory role,” according to NBAA. Before the show opens on November 1, the popular NBAA Single Pilot Safety Standdown will focus on owner/operator flight safety issues.
Attendees will have the opportunity to hear from FAA officials on November 2 at the annual Meet the Regulators session, scheduled at 3 p.m. The session will feature Peggy Gilligan, FAA associate administrator for aviation safety, and other senior officials discussing the agency’s new compliance philosophy, the ADS-B out equipage deadline and other operational issues.
David McCullough, author of The Wright Brothers, will deliver a keynote address on “Lessons in Leadership” during the opening general session on November 1. “As everyone knows, the Wright Brothers were visionaries, and like any visionaries, they confronted many challenges in their work to achieve their dream of powered flight,” said NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen. “One true measure of their leadership is how they responded to those challenges, and we are excited to hear David McCullough’s perspectives on how the brothers worked together, each with his particular strengths, to overcome challenges and make history.”
Also on tap for the opening session is U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner Gil Kerlikowske. Sworn into office in March 2014, Kerlikowske has been lauded for his efforts to collaborate with the business aviation community on key access issues. He has repeatedly met with NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen on these issues, and the CBP has established a working group to focus on general and business aviation. Kerlikowske had been set to address the session during last year’s NBAA show but was forced to cancel in the wake of the Paris attacks in November.
“Commissioner Kerlikowske views business aviation as a security partner and has demonstrated his willingness to work with industry to reduce delays, streamline operations and facilitate entry into the U.S. without compromising CBP’s primary mission of security,” said Bolen. “We look forward to having the commissioner at our convention and hearing how the efforts of the past year, such as the formation of a CBP working group focused specifically on general aviation, have furthered the agency’s service to our aviation segment.”
Among the topics that will be addressed at the convention and the opening session, ATC privatization is a strong candidate. Speaking at the NBAA regional forum at Westchester County Airport in White Plains, N.Y., on September 15, Bolen said, “This is not a fight that is going to go away.”
The second-day opening session on November 2 promises to be a fascinating dive into the U.S. political scene as the countdown accelerates to the November 8 presidential election. Political veterans, husband and wife James Carville and Mary Matalin, both on opposite sides of the political spectrum, will once again highlight the topical political issues facing voters. “This has been an extraordinary year in American politics,” said Bolen. “We look forward to having James Carville and Mary Matalin at our convention, and hearing their insights and predictions, just a week ahead of election day.”
This year’s NBAA/Corporate Angel Network (CAN) Soiree takes place on the evening of November 2 and features entertainment and dancing with DJ PopRoXxX. The event, which includes live and silent auctions, benefits CAN’s efforts to help bring cancer patients for treatment by arranging transportation on corporate aircraft. Earlier this year, CAN celebrated its 50,000th patient flight.