March 15, 2019

NBAA’s Houston Regional Forum at the Million Air hangar at William P. Hobby Airport (HOU) was a major success, with a sold-out indoor exhibit floor. More than 1,800 attendees and over 160 exhibitors took part in the forum, and 21 aircraft, one mock-up and three ground vehicles were featured on the static display.

“The Houston Regional Forum was expected to be a great event, and it lived up to that reputation,” said Dina Green, NBAA vice president of events. “With numerous networking opportunities and timely education sessions available to our attendees, we are already receiving overwhelmingly positive feedback about this year’s event from attendees, exhibitors and students alike.”

Underscoring Business Aviation’s Value to the Houston Area

The forum began with an opening session led by NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen, who thanked the Houston and larger Texas business aviation community for its continued support of business aviation, especially in the successful fight against ATC privatization. Bolen had a new request of the business aviation community: to help address the industry’s workforce challenges.

“Our industry generates more than $200 billion in economic activity and employs more than 1 million people nationwide.” Bolen also noted that business aviation supports disaster relief efforts and connects communities that don’t have access to commercial airline service.

Bolen’s message at the forum was echoed by an op-ed he authored, published earlier in the week, in the Houston Business Journal, highlighting the industry’s important role in the state’s economy and transportation system. “In Houston as elsewhere, business aviation is about jobs…and it’s about lending a helping hand in times of crisis,” Bolen wrote. View Bolen’s March 8 Houston Business Journal op-ed in its entirety.

As further recognition of the industry’s importance to the state’s economy and transportation system, Bolen was presented with a framed ceremonial declaration from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, welcoming the regional forum to the city. Betty Russo, Gulf Coast/East Texas Regional Representative for the governor’s office, presented Bolen with the declaration. View a copy of the declaration.

Also on hand at the forum to show their support for business aviation were representatives from the Houston Asian Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Houston Black Chamber of Commerce, the Bay Area Economic Partnership and Houston First. Representatives with Sugar Land and Ellington Airports were also on hand to recognize the value of business aviation in the Lone Star State.

Reaching Out to the Next Generation of Business Aviation Professionals

During the forum, Bolen also spoke to the importance of developing the business aviation workforce through industry outreach to young people. “Kids want a career that is going to matter and business aviation matters,” Bolen continued. “When you look at the youth out there, we’ve got a pretty great story to tell about technology and community.”

He emphasized the need for NBAA to work with local and regional groups on outreach to high schools and colleges with the goal of growing the workforce. Steve Hadley, NBAA’s southwest regional representative, agreed, noting that Texas’ strong aviation culture supports this goal.

After the opening session, the forum featured an NBAA Young Professionals (YoPro) session, which addressed students and young professionals, and invited them to consider a career in business aviation.

“The best thing we can do as YoPros is to give back to the younger people in business aviation,” said Sierra Grimes, NBAA’s senior manager, registration.

Valuable Learning and Networking Opportunities

The Houston forum proved to be an effective setting for exhibitors to meet new and existing customers, as well as students.

“We’ve had a lot of great questions from students today,” said Vickie Smith of the Houston Regional Aviation Professionals. “It’s been great to even connect with high school students in attendance today. Young people are the future of this industry.”

“I’ve really enjoyed getting to meet with so many business aviation professionals today,” said one local high school student. “I want to be a pilot and it’s been great to be able to talk to people with real-world experience about what to expect in this line of work and how I can be prepared for my career.”

Education sessions during the day covered topics like modern flight planning technology, the future of avgas, and fatigue risk management.

NBAA’s next forum takes place on June 6 in White Plains, NY at Westchester County Airport (HPN). Learn more about the White Plains Regional Forum.

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