NBAA president Ed Bolen opened the association’s first regional forum of 2020 yesterday with optimism that matched the warm Florida sunshine on Atlantic Aviation’s broad ramp in Palm Beach, Florida—just five days before the 54th annual Super Bowl event was expected to pack the entire bizav side of the airfield with private, government, and corporate aircraft. “Looking into this next decade of business aviation we see business aviation on the forefront of developing eVTOL, drones, autonomous vehicles, and sustainability solutions,” Bolen told the crowd of more than 3,000 attendees, sponsors, and vendors at the opening session, speaking after introductions from the mayor of Palm Beach County, Dave Kerner, and the director of Palm Beach International airport Laura Beebe.
Bolen noted that business aviation has long been an innovator, introducing technologies that enhance both the quality and efficiency of aviation and aerospace in myriad ways. The PBI forum came on the heels of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where many of the aircraft that ferried dignitaries to the event were powered by sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).
He didn’t shy away from the issues, noting that aviation safety and privacy were both at the top of NBAA’s “hit list” to tackle in the next 10 years. The forum included sessions on new methods and equipment for obtaining safety data critical to reducing high insurance premiums in business aviation (FOQA) and a session on where to find information on privatizing aircraft ADS-B data (LADD). Those sessions were bookended with finance and tax sessions geared toward those considering an aircraft purchase in 2020.
Addressing the specific problems business aviation encounters in Palm Beach County, which suffers from nearly weekly Presidential temporary flight restrictions (TFRs), he told AIN, “It does represent a daily challenge for the airports here, and we're working to try to make it easy. We have tried strategies to minimize the impact to business aviation commerce, and we continue to try to work with the Secret Service and others to make the TFRs as understandable and predictable as possible, but obviously we're not going as far or as fast as we would like.”
Bolen ended with an emphatic appeal to attendees to be forward-thinking about the next generation of business aviators. “Our future depends on us to be safe secure sustainable, and innovative," he said. "We're working on not just clean propulsion but whole new air traffic systems, whole new digital displays, VR training. We are an industry that welcomes technology, but we need an educated, innovating workforce to continue this trajectory,” he continued. “Among our attendees today we have 190 students registered who are here to learn about us." Bolen invited them all to a session about careers in business aviation directly following the opening event.
With that Bolen ceded the microphone to non-profit Dreams Soar president Shaesta Waiz, the youngest female, and only Afghan refugee to solo circumnavigate the globe in a general aviation aircraft, a feat she accomplished just three years ago. Waiz’s non-profit focuses on STEM education at the global level and awarded its first scholarship, $5,000, raised by JSSI and other sponsors in memory of Jimmie J. Norman. The scholarship went to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University sophomore Lauren Abernathy, who intends to use the stipend to help pay for flight training in her degree program.