NBAA’s Schedulers & Dispatchers Conference Celebrating 30 Years in San Antonio
Jan. 23, 2019
When nearly 3,000 attendees gather in San Antonio, TX Jan. 29-Feb. 1 for the 30th annual NBAA Schedulers & Dispatchers Conference (SDC), many may marvel at how the event has grown and evolved over the years.
“There were maybe 100 attendees at the first couple of events, with just a handful of exhibitors,” said Julie Brooks, business manager at Professional Flight Management, Inc. (PFM). “It was a relatively informal gathering. I remember our booth was located in the corner of the hotel lobby. There couldn’t have been more than 20 exhibitors.”
At SDC2019, more than 580 exhibit booths will be displaying a range of products and services spanning two large exhibit halls, and attendees will hail from all 50 states and 47 countries.
“The significant growth of the Schedulers & Dispatchers Conference over the past 30 years is an indicator of the high quality, engaging educational content, networking and business that takes place on the show floor,” said Mike Nichols, CAM, IOM, NBAA senior vice president, strategy and innovation. “This is the go-to event for anyone involved in scheduling/dispatching aircraft, flight planning and procurement of aviation-related services ranging from fuel to technology solutions.”
As the show has grown, PFM has elected to co-locate its annual user conference the day before SDC, with ever-growing turnout. “We’ve been doing this for about 15 years – it’s a great opportunity to see our customers,” said Brooks, noting that the size of the show has made it an excellent sales venue for her company.
Kellie Rittenhouse, CAM, director of aviation for Hangar Aviation Management, noted that even though SDC has grown tremendously, it retains the intimacy of a smaller show. “There are still great opportunities to network and meet vendors and colleagues face-to-face,” said Rittenhouse. “It’s not overwhelming.”
Rittenhouse, who has been involved for about 25 years with every aspect of the conference as well as vice chair and then chair of the NBAA Schedulers & Dispatchers Committee, credits the quality of the conference and the first-class education sessions geared specifically for schedulers and dispatchers for the growth and success of the event.
“This is one of the few events where the workshops and speakers understand the specific needs and challenges of schedulers and dispatchers,” said Rittenhouse. “It also might be the only opportunity that many attendees get all year for targeted training and education.” Rittenhouse will be this year’s recipient of the S&D Outstanding Achievement & Leadership Award.
Over the years, SDC attendees also have increasingly committed to community service, participating in an annual Pay It Forward professional clothing drive. According to Pay It Forward Chair Debbi Laux, over the past eight years SDC attendees have donated more than 16,700 pieces of clothing and accessories to professional clothing charities in conference host cities.
“NBAA and the S&D Committee continue to bring innovation to the conference each year,” said Nichols. “We look forward to continuing this trend for the next 30 years and beyond.”
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