By Matt Thurber
NBAA’s 65th Annual Meeting and Convention comes a little later than normal this year, October 30 through November 1. The main event takes place at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla. And like last year’s event, this year’s will feature two static displays, the regular large gathering at Orlando Executive Airport, hosted by Showalter Flying Service, and a smaller on-site display next to the convention center.
While the Orlando Executive static display will feature the latest in modern aircraft, including Gulfstream’s just-certified G650 and G280 and the first Dassault Falcon 2000S to be completed, there is plenty of action planned at the convention center, including events that begin before the opening day. The sessions begin with three Professional Development Program courses: emergency response planning; a flight operations manual workshop; and principles of aviation leadership, as well as an IA renewal course for the technically oriented. A popular session this year will be the two-day tax, regulatory and risk management conference, where attendees will be looking for information about such vexing issues as onerous Internal Revenue Service attempts to squeeze federal excise taxes (FET) out of Part 91 operators that work with management companies. The FET issue will be explored in more detail during a November 1 session, on Aircraft Management Companies: What is Subject to FET?
For anyone looking to expand into the hot markets in Southeast Asia, an October 29 briefing by the U.S. Trade and Development Agency promises to shed light on the challenges and opportunities of doing business in China, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.
Some may prefer an outdoor alternative on the same day, the NBAA 16th Annual Chairman’s Charity Classic Golf Tournament at Grand Cypress Golf Club, which features 45 holes of Jack Nicklaus Signature golf. The tournament raises money for NBAA Charities, which supports “philanthropic organizations and initiatives that use general aviation airplanes for humanitarian purposes,” according to NBAA.
The show opens at 8:30 a.m. on October 30 with the Opening General Session, with keynote speaker Rich Karlgaard returning to NBAA. Karlgaard is an active business pilot and publisher of Forbes magazine. During the next few days, there are more than 100 events and educational sessions, including light business airplane sessions for the owner-flown pilot. A sure-to-be-popular session will be an October 30 event on iPads in the cockpit, featuring speakers from exhibitors ForeFlight, Hilton Software (WingX) and Jeppesen (Mobile FliteDeck). While safety and maintenance and operations meetings are a key component of the educational sessions, operational issues such as the European Union’s emissions trading scheme should see attentive audiences (October 30). Another session on the same day will answer more questions about operating in and doing business in China. And for those who want even more iPad information, another session on October 30 will tackle the subject of training solutions for flight deck iPad implementation.
It wouldn’t be an NBAA show without the annual NBAA/Corporate Angel Network Soiree, this year featuring a concert by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. The event, billed as an Evening with Angels, will be held at the Peabody Orlando’s Grand Ballroom, and individual tickets, which include admission to the cocktail reception, dinner, entertainment and live and silent auctions, are $350. For members who just want to hear Frankie Valli, the entertainment-only ticket is $150. Valli, lead singer of the Four Seasons since their first hit “Sherry” in 1962, is marking the 50th anniversary of the song with a tour of England, Australia and New Zealand, plus the U.S. The soiree will benefit Corporate Angel Network, which provides free flights for cancer patients to treatment centers.
While the NBAA Convention is all about new products, exhibits, educational sessions and networking, the show also draws attention to key issues. And like last year’s show in Las Vegas, the prospect of looming user fees for business aviation operators is again at the forefront. At a hearing before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Small Business on September 12, representatives from aviation associations and business owners and pilots such as King Schools co-founder Martha King testified about the devastating effects of user fees. The government has proposed a $100-per-flight charge that would affect turbine aircraft operators. “We are counting on you to spread the word,” King testified to committee members, “per-flight fees destroy. It is difficult to imagine how, at a time when a critical American industry is struggling the way general aviation is, people in Washington could be contemplating an onerous, regressive and administratively burdensome new per-flight tax euphemistically called a ‘user fee.’”
Even during a challenging time when many aviators are looking for work, NBAA understands the need to welcome talented young people into business aviation and educate them about the opportunities that this industry has to offer. On October 30 Aviation Personnel International’s Sheryl Barden will host a session titled How to Successfully Address the Declining Aviation Talent Pool.
On November 1 a general session opens the convention to middle school, high school and college students who are interested in aviation careers. Barrington Irving, the youngest person and first black pilot to fly solo around the world, is the featured speaker, sharing his passion for aviation and encouraging career day attendees to learn more about aviation. “We have a looming problem,” Irving said. “We’re not getting enough young people involved to become industry leaders and to take aviation innovation to the next level. Aviation–especially business aviation–faces a dilemma,” he cautioned. “To attract young people, we need more young people as mentors. But our industry is aging, and those mentor candidates are getting harder to find.” Irving is sponsored by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and works as the ambassador for the aircraft manufacturer’s philanthropy program, Dream & Soar: Youth in Aviation.