General Aviation

Highlights of the NBAA 2017 National Convention in Las Vegas

By November 6, 2017September 15th, 2020No Comments

Highlights of the NBAA 2017 National Convention in Las Vegas The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) brought to a close its 2017 Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (NBAA-BACE) on October 13, 2017, and event organizers reported the show was an all-around success, highlighting the strength of the industry, the host community of Las Vegas, NV, and the association, on its 70th anniversary.

The convention was held Oct. 10–12 at the Las Vegas Convention Center and Henderson Executive Airport (HND), (in a biannual schedule the convention alternates year-by-year between Las Vegas to Orlando.)

“This year’s show was special in many ways,” said NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen. “We celebrated NBAA’s 70th anniversary, and how our industry is stronger when we work together. We gathered in the company of aviation leaders and legends, like Capt. ‘Sully’ Sullenberger and Capt. Jim Lovell. We saw the launch of exciting new products, and we brought a citywide convention to Las Vegas, which the city welcomed with open arms.”

The show’s first two days featured standing-room-only opening sessions with engaging speakers, including local leaders who welcomed attendees to Las Vegas – Rep. Dina Titus (D-1-NV), Clark County Commissioner Lawrence Weekly and MGM Resorts International Chairman and CEO Jim Murren – along with top government officials, including FAA Administrator Michael Huerta and NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt.

Bolen said that with this year’s convention, NBAA hoped to “make Las Vegas proud, just as Las Vegas has made America proud.” Before the launch of the show, NBAA Charities made a $10,000 contribution to the Las Vegas Victims Fund, and throughout the event, the association encouraged show participants to contribute to the fund as well.

NBAA-BACE 2017 organizers pointed to several indicators of the show’s strength and enduring value:

  • The event featured about 1,100 exhibitors, including more than 100 new exhibitors. Attendees represented all 50 U.S. states, and dozens of countries.
  • With about 100 aircraft on static display, both at HND and inside the convention center, NBAA-BACE remains the preeminent venue for manufacturers to unveil new models. For example, this year, the Bombardier Global 7000, Gulfstream G600 and Pilatus PC-24 made their debut at the show.
  •  All three days of the show were packed with well-attended education sessions, including half-day programs at the NBAA National Safety Forum and Single-Pilot Safety Standdown.Discussions featured top safety experts and representatives from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).
  •  On the final day of the show, some 1,000 students came to NBAA-BACE, many to participate in Careers in Business Aviation Day.

The sessions also included industry legends: Miracle on the Hudson hero pilot Sullenberger and astronaut Lovell spoke out against Air Traffic Control (ATC) privatization, during the show’s opening sessions, and in a special N B A A v i d e o , u r g i n g a v i a t i o n p r o f e s s i o n a l s t o u s e t h e website to tell Congress to oppose ATC privatization.

This year’s convention took place as debate continued in Washington over the future of the nation’s ATC system. In a media breakfast held just before the show’s opening, general aviation leaders united in mobilizing attendees to oppose legislation that would strip ATC oversight from Congress, and hand that authority over to a private, airline-centric board, unaccountable to the public.

Attendees took many opportunities throughout the week to send messages to Congress against ATC privatization, on their mobile devices and using dedicated personal devices on the show floor. Signage, lapel stickers and other promotional items visible throughout the exhibit hall and the static display of aircraft further encouraged attendees to contact their elected officials during the convention week at the show.

This was of particular interest to me, even though I am a non-pilot – the emphasis on opposition by the NBAA and its members against Air Traffic Control Privatization. As such my comments on this issue are personal in nature and mostly anecdotal observations as a passenger of aircraft transportation and not is a pilot having to deal with air traffic control.

This push by the current administration and our President to privatize the ATC follows the push to “drain the swamp” and reduce government. The argument is the private sector can do this more cost efficiently and effectively. It seems to me that the problem is not with the FAA even though it is utilizing a woefully inadequate and decades old ATC system.

I personally do not blame the FAA. Sure, it’s a bureaucracy, a big government one at that. But funding is the responsibility of Congress and even though users of air travel pay significant ticketing taxes and fees to fund the system, very little money of that trickles down for the specific improvements in technology the system badly needs.

I am skeptical anytime I hear that the private sector can absolutely do a better more cost-effective job. The problem, and we’ve seen this in healthcare and name any other number of areas in which the private sector has stepped in, the private sector is known to write the specifications, control the bidding process, and through lobbyists and campaign contributions write the legislation and regulations, plus influence the politicians to vote the way they want, and that is often not necessarily in the best interests of the user, the public.

So with that broad brush of skepticism and condemnation of what likely in my opinion would be the outcome should the ATC system be privatized, I welcomed the response of the NBAA and its members voicing strong opposition to any effort at privatization. And lastly and not insignificantly, when a world-famous pilot, Miracle on the Hudson Capt. ‘Sully’ Sullenberger articulated all the reasons against such a move, that was good enough for me to oppose this effort. I gladly will “place my bet” on the opinion of Capt. ‘Sully’ Sullenberger!

See you NBAA in Orlando in 2018!


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