June 14, 2023
A brief afternoon shower failed to douse the spirits of thousands of business aviation professionals at the 2023 NBAA White Plains Regional Forum at New York’s Westchester County Airport (HPN), as attendance topped last year’s total and raised enthusiasm at the event to new heights.
“The value of these forums just can’t be understated,” said Dina Green, NBAA vice president of events. “With more than 175 indoor exhibits, the show floor was sold out. We had nearly 3,000 industry people in one place where they could see 26 new aircraft while networking and meeting with customers in person.”
The day saw a constant flow of attendees moving throughout the aisles. “The crowd definitely looked stronger than last year,” said Louis Seno, chairman emeritus at Jet Support Services Inc. “I’m hearing people talk about how they’re looking at new aircraft acquisitions. They’re wanting to take action and make decisions.”
Bolen: Business Aviation Creates Jobs
Kicking off the forum, NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen underscored the important benefits the industry brings to society as a whole.
“Business aviation and business aircraft are about jobs,” Bolen said. “The industry is responsible for over 1 million important jobs – not just for pilots, technicians and schedulers, but across other areas including insurance, the legal profession, graphic design and advertising. The reality is there’s a million ways that you can be part of our industry.”
In a business that requires specific, high-performance skills, supplying an effective workforce is key. “We’re reaching out to find the best and the brightest,” Bolen said. “And we’re reaching out in places that may be underrepresented today.”
Committed to helping business aviation reach net-zero emissions by 2050, Bolen reported significant progress, crediting sustainable aviation fuel and advances in technology. “Today, when a new aircraft model comes to market it is 15% to 30% more efficient than the airplane it is replacing.
“We’re fostering and environment that enable business aviation to thrive, Bolen said. “It’s something special and we want everyone to be a part of it.”
‘We’re All Connected’
Bolen’s opening remarks were followed by education sessions throughout the day, including panels on sustainability, new regional routes, career advancement and a discussion on how to get involved in the Northeast aviation community.
“The Northeast really does function together as one organism, although we may all be in different areas of the Northeast,” said panelist Jennifer Kempsey, executive director of the Westchester Aviation Association. “But this region really is something special, where we’re all connected in a way that you really can’t put into words. It’s a place where you can learn, or get mentored, or mentor somebody else.”
The nation’s youngest glider pilot was among the attendees. Seventeen-year-old pilot Caleb Smith of Maryland said he was making the most of the forum’s networking opportunities.
“So far, I’ve been getting a lot of contact information from some very important people,” Smith said. “Once I get home, I’ll do some additional research about business aviation and see what it’s all about.”
The next large event on the association’s calendar is the 2023 NBAA Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (NBAA-BACE), taking place Oct. 17-19 in Las Vegas, NV. Dates for the 2024 NBAA regional forums are expected to be announced later this year.