NBAA’s West Palm Beach Forum Again Breaks Records
Feb. 8, 2019
NBAA’s first Regional Forum of 2019, at an Atlantic Aviation hangar at Palm Beach International Airport (PBI), was a resounding success, with a record-breaking number of attendees, a sold-out indoor exhibit hall and a record number of student attendees, as part of a push by the association and regional groups to promote the business aviation industry as one offering numerous career opportunities.
“The West Palm Beach Regional Forum continually serves as a great starter event in our forum lineup, and this year was no exception, with nearly 2,900 attendees here,” said Dina Green, NBAA’s vice president, events. “With ample opportunities to meet new and existing customers, attend valuable education sessions and network with industry peers, the energy and enthusiasm at the forum was evident to all.”
More than 150 exhibitors took part in the forum, and 33 aircraft and five ground vehicles were featured on static display.
Promoting Careers in Business Aviation
The forum opened with a session featuring NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen, who thanked attendees for all they did last year in the fight against so-called ATC privatization, and asked them to once again support the industry in its quest to attract and retain qualified professionals.
“Business aviation is one of the great industries in this country,” Bolen said, noting it employs more than 1 million people, generates more than $200 billion in economic activity, connects communities and provides humanitarian relief in times of need.
“Our industry gives young people an opportunity to experience life in many different ways,” he noted. “We’re a high-tech industry, so we can meet their expectation in that area too. Young people want to be part of a community and know they belong, and business aviation offers all of that.”
Bolen stressed the need for NBAA to work together with regional groups to achieve the goal of growing the workforce, something Jeff Ramsden, president of the South Florida Business Aviation Association agreed with wholeheartedly. The group worked with NBAA to register more than 250 high school and college students to attend the forum, which included an education session specifically focused on introducing them to the industry.
“There’s a big shortage in aviation right now, for not only pilots and mechanics, but basically all facets of the industry, and we need to bring in the younger generation to fill those positions,” he said. “In years past, we’ve had 40-50 students at these sessions, so to get over 250 registered this year is great, but there’s a lot more than 250 jobs out there right now, so hopefully we can build on this good start.”
Forums Provide Face-to-Face Interaction
Exhibitors routinely say the forums provide an effective venue to meet existing and new customers, and the PBI forum was no exception.
“The forum’s going great,” said Christian McCracken, with Flexjet. “It’s such a unique opportunity, especially in South Florida this time of year, to meet with so many prospective clients, as well as have the ability to interact with our colleagues and the vendors that we deal with on a daily basis. It’s a good way for us to maintain our exposure both to the flight departments and aircraft owners, as well as the fractional users in the charter space.”
Luke Leonard from Epps Aviation, the Southeast dealer for Pilatus, agreed. “We’ve had a lot of good prospects come out. We’ve talking with a lot of people who were able come and see the aircraft, so that was important.”
Attendees also had the opportunity to interact with industry experts at a number of education sessions at the West Palm Beach Regional Forum, including:
- Can I Deduct the Cost of Operating My Aircraft?, presented by George Rice of BIZJETCPA
- Flight Crew Travel Document Best Practices, by Janet Vrasic, G3 Global Services
- The Future of Air Taxi, by Bill Harp from Linear Air Taxi and Peter Schmidt from Transcend Aero
- An ICAO session on international travel presented by Guy Gribble from International Flight Resources
The next NBAA Regional Forum takes place March 14 in Houston, TX at William P. Hobby Airport (HOU). Learn more about the forum.
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