Feb. 10, 2023

NBAA’s first 2023 regional forum, held Feb. 8 at Miami-Opa locka Executive Airport (OPF), was characterized by unbridled enthusiasm for the event’s record-breaking crowds, sold-out exhibit floor, bustling networking sessions and sharp focus on the future.

More than 3,200 participants were on hand – a record for an NBAA Opa locka forum – including around 350 students from area schools. The event featured more than 170 exhibitors and 19 aircraft on display.

The forum highlighted the industry’s appetite for in-person engagement, which was fostered by the event’s focused networking sessions and educational programming. “Face-to-face interactions have always been key to success in business aviation,” said Dina Green, NBAA vice president, events. “There was a palpable excitement for an opportunity to come together, cultivate business relationships, learn from each other and explore innovative new ideas.”

Forum participants agreed with Green’s assessment: “Traffic on the exhibit floor has been as robust as ever,” said Dave Brown, Garmin manager, integrated flight deck retrofit programs. “Our MRO partners are all here, so it’s as good a business show as it can possibly be – I can see all the folks who sell my equipment here in one place.”

Aviation Career Training Center Unveiled

Forum attendees cheered as pioneering aviator and Flying Classroom CEO Capt. Barrington Irving accepted a $100,000 check from Miami-Dade County Commission Chair Oliver Gilbert III, to help fund construction of an aviation career training center at OPF.

“Right here at this airport, we’re going to launch something amazing,” said Irving, who noted that the facility’s main learning lab will provide structured curricula, hands-on technology and other resources for high school and adult students alike, including those from low-income neighborhoods. “This is about more than building a school,” said Irving, the youngest and first Black pilot to fly solo around the world. “It’s about building lives.”

Inaugural Business Aviation Maintenance Competition Held

The forum also included NBAA’s first-ever, day-long series of events in which students from four local schools competed against one another on various aircraft maintenance skill challenges, including cable rigging, wiring harness troubleshooting, safety wiring and virtual reality troubleshooting. Eight prizes, including several donations from NBAA member companies, were awarded at the conclusion of the forum.

“It was thrilling to have these students here to compete, to see the aircraft and understand how exciting business aviation is, so we can bring them into the industry,” said Sean Gallagan of Aviation Workforce Solutions, who helped organize the competition.

Educational Sessions Address Top Priorities

Throughout the day, subject matter experts weighed in on timely topics in sessions ranging from environmental sustainability, to new safety regulations proposed by the FAA to a session that brought together a delegation of faculty and alumni from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, to discuss the ways technology and innovation can increase available pathways for successful business aviation careers.

“The vibe and the energy at our Opa locka Regional Forum made clear that as we head into 2023, the business aviation community has more passion and dedication than ever for moving the industry in exciting new directions,” said NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen. “We look forward to building on this moment at our upcoming events throughout the year.”

The next NBAA Regional Forum will be held on June 14, 2023, at Westchester County Airport (HPN) in White Plains, NY. Learn more about the 2023 NBAA White Plains Regional Forum

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