September 13, 2013

In addition to offering opportunities for industry providers and consumers to meet, NBAA’s Business Aviation Regional Forums are also effective advocacy platforms for demonstrating the size, significance and diversity of business aviation to local elected officials and other leaders. Such was the case on Sept. 12, when NBAA’s final 2013 Business Aviation Regional Forum came to Waukegan National Airport (UGN) outside Chicago, IL.

The event, hosted by Landmark Aviation, attracted more than 1,000 attendees who viewed the products and services offered by a nearly 100 exhibitors. Those attendees also had the opportunity to compare 18 aircraft on static display and attend several seminars that covered topics ranging from the proper utilization of a safety management system to new technologies available to business aircraft pilots.

Perhaps most importantly, however, the forum provided a welcome opportunity to engage in discussions with local officials about issues impacting the business aviation industry, and about the industry’s value in Illinois and across the United States. At the Sept. 12 forum, Waukegan Mayor Wayne Motley and Waukegan Port District Chairman Jorge Torres were on hand to hear from Dick Doubrava, NBAA director of legislative affairs, and representatives with NBAA Member Companies.

A 2012 statewide aviation economic impact study cited by the Alliance for Aviation Across America determined that activity at the state’s community airports supports nearly 55,000 jobs, and contributes more than $4.4 billion to Illinois’ economy. Review the Summary of Economic Impact of General Aviation in Illinois.

“Waukegan represents a prime location to highlight the benefits of business aviation to the communities surrounding Chicago, and discuss multiple factors affecting the industry that threaten to negatively impact the local and statewide economy,” Doubrava said. “No one has a stronger voice or a greater stake in this arena than NBAA Members, so it is vital that they reach out to local, state and federal officials to remind them of the importance and value of business aviation in their respective states and communities.”

Business aviation is particularly important to Waukegan, as the airport offers a convenient access point for companies located at the northern end of the Chicagoland area. “We are a solidly general aviation airport, with no commercial airline or freight operations, and we’re a fantastic economic generator for the city, county and state,” noted Waukegan airport manager Jim Stanczak. “Of the roughly 200 aircraft based at our airport, approximately 50 or so are business jets used by companies in the area.”

Landmark Aviation General Manager Josh Lewis added that business aviation comprises roughly 60 percent of traffic into his facility, a figure he hopes to see grow in the coming years. “The NBAA forum offered an excellent opportunity to highlight our services and show off our facility to the local business community,” he said.

Also in attendance at the regional forum were members of NBAA Leadership Council. Composed of a diverse group of individuals and businesses, these industry supporters all have one attribute in common: a portion of their Membership dues are designated specifically to providing financial support to the No Plane No Gain advocacy campaign, a program jointly sponsored by NBAA and the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, which highlights the value of business aviation to policymakers and opinion leaders.

In addition to the Waukegan forum, Doubrava and other NBAA representatives have taken part this summer in Las Vegas, NV, Albuquerque, NM, Sioux Falls, SD, Tarkio, MO and elsewhere. Read more about NBAA representation at recent industry grassroots-advocacy events.

While the Sept. 12 Waukegan forum marked NBAA’s final Business Aviation Regional Forum this year, similar events will be held in 2014 at airports in Boca Raton, FL; Van Nuys, CA; and Dallas, TX.

Learn more about the 2014 Business Aviation Regional Forums.