The world’s biggest business aviation event is less than a week away, and the number of area companies heading to Las Vegas is slightly higher than last year.
The National Business Aviation Association Convention and Exhibition will be Oct. 10-12 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. The NBAA said about 27,000 people are expected to attend this year’s show, which will feature a static display of nearly 100 business aircraft and helicopters at nearby Henderson Executive Airport.
According to information from the NBAA, the number of Wichita-area companies exhibiting at this year’s show is 36, up from 33 a year ago, when it was held in Orlando, Fla. Those companies include business jet manufacturers Textron Aviation and Bombardier Business Aircraft.
Also making an appearance again this year is the Greater Wichita Partnership, which in conjunction with the Kansas Department of Commerce will host a large booth on the convention floor for 16 area companies and organizations and local government officials.
The Eagle talked with two business aviation experts, analyst Richard Aboulafia and forecaster Rolland Vincent, to get their take on this year’s show and what they think will be three takeaways:
▪ More upbeat? Vincent thinks this year’s show will have a more upbeat atmosphere than in recent years. “I think there’s more optimism, many signs of optimism,” he said. Business aircraft utilization is up “fairly substantially and consistently,” and the inventory of used business aircraft for sale is down compared with last year. “We haven’t seen it this low in nine years,” Vincent said. Those are two indicators of a return to a demand environment for new business jets.
▪ No new airplanes Industry experts don’t expect any of the mainstream business aircraft manufacturers to announce plans for new planes. They have plenty to do with current aircraft development programs, such as Bombardier’s Global 7000 and Textron Aviation Cessna’s Citation Longitude and Hemisphere business jets and Denali single-engine turboprop. “There’s been an awful lot of new aircraft brought into the market in the last few years,” Aboulafia said.
▪ Uber Air Aboulafia and Vincent said there could be some new concepts introduced by operators in the area of on-demand aircraft charter utilizing business aircraft and electric aircraft. “They’ve been really getting into the mainstream in terms of exposure,” Aboulafia said of battery-powered aircraft and their potential use as as air taxis. “Anything to do with an Uber of the air,” Vincent said. “Digital charter is a term I heard the other day. Someone’s going to figure out how to do this and when that happens, it’s going to be a good day, especially for Wichita.”