May 1, 2024

As the business aviation maintenance community gathers in Portland, OR, to connect and share best practices, attendees kicked off the 2024 NBAA Maintenance Conference with a goal of growing the industry to meet a bright future ahead.

Event Chair Nate Dietsch and Vice Chair Brett Semple explained the conference theme, “Growing Into the Future,” encourages the industry to be ready, as business aviation is poised to expand and continue to thrive in the wake of the pandemic.

Keynote speaker Greg Wooldridge, the only three-time commanding officer of the U.S. Navy Blue Angels, explained how discipline, dedication, teamwork and communication can help teams in business aviation reach the pinnacle of success – just as it does for the famed flight demonstration squadron. One of the most important keys, he said, is trust.

“The pilots may execute the ‘lightning and flash’ of each demonstration, but the ‘thunder’ of the Blue Angels is the maintenance crew. And we never lost a show because of maintenance.”

Greg Wooldridge Former Commanding Officer of the Blue Angels

“When you’re flying less than 3 feet from each other at 400 kts in a 4-ton jet, how do you get to that level of trust?” Wooldridge asked. “How much do you trust that person?” Part of the answer, he said, is respecting and valuing all team members, especially the maintenance crew. “The pilots may execute the ‘lightning and flash’ of each demonstration, but the ‘thunder’ of the Blue Angels is the maintenance crew,” Wooldridge said. “And we never lost a show because of maintenance.”

Wooldridge discussed the power of overcoming setbacks and using them to power yourself and the team forward. Owning mistakes and promising to take corrective action to make sure they won’t happen again is critical to achieving success, he said.

Industry Update

In his welcome remarks, NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen pointed out that the current landscape offers the industry “an incredible opportunity for us to grow into the future – to let people know who we are, where we are and where we are going.” Specifically, Bolen pointed to the CLIMBING. FAST. industry advocacy campaign, focused on educating policymakers about the industry’s sustainability leadership, underscored by a goal of achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Bolen warned attendees that the industry continues to be under attack by those seeking to mischaracterize business aviation. “These attacks are based on a false caricature of who we are – not who we actually are – because people don’t yet understand our mission to reach net-zero carbon emissions,” he said.

“The bottom line is: We aren’t just saying were on a mission to reach net zero by 2050. We’re moving forward with huge investments today. Every new aircraft is 30% more efficient than the model it replaces,” said Bolen. “And we’re leaders in sustainable aviation fuel – achieving legislation that is providing a blenders’ tax program that helps produce more SAF and make it more available.”
Bolen also reminded attendees that business aviation is leading the way in low-emission forms of aircraft propulsion.

“What we’re asking is for you to be engaged – to let people know who we are – as we’re growing into the future.”

Growth Through Scholarships

To underscore the industry’s commitment to fostering workforce growth, the NBAA Maintenance Committee announced the Hank Hilsmann Memorial Scholarships at the conference, enabling recipients to attend model-specific training courses to advance their careers as business aviation maintenance technicians.

Learn more about the Hilsmann Memorial Scholarship winners.