Jan. 30, 2020

NBAA opened the year with a record-breaking Regional Forum at Palm Beach international Airport (PBI) in West Palm Beach, FL, which featured more than 3,000 people who attended to see the latest and greatest the business aviation industry has to offer.

“We couldn’t have asked for a better beginning to 2020,” said Dina Green, NBAA vice president of events. “We had nearly 30 aircraft and vehicles on display, in addition to more than 150 indoor exhibitors. We’ve been hosting this forum at Atlantic Aviation for several years, and it’s always a great event to showcase the latest trends and technologies shaping business aviation.”

In welcoming attendees to the show, NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen took a moment to remember basketball legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter and seven others who died in a helicopter accident on Jan. 26.

“Our community can pay tribute to Kobe and the others by making sure we learn from the accident,” he said. “We don’t know the cause now, but we will, and whatever it is, we will make sure it is something we can isolate, understand and learn from, because one thing our industry has always done is learn from the mistakes of the past.”

Looking to the Future

Pointing out that the start of 2020 marks the beginning not only of a year, but a new decade, Bolen said, “This will be one of the most significant decades in the history of aviation and aerospace. Things are happening today at a pace we really haven’t seen at least since the dawn of the jet age.”

Citing technologies like drones, urban air mobility, supersonic jets and more, Bolen said innovation will allow business aviation to grow and prosper. While there have been events around the world featuring sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), most recently in Davos, Bolen noted the industry will take another step forward by holding a summit in March that will look at how stakeholders can increase the production and use of SAF.

“This is a great industry, and it’s an industry in an age of innovation,” he said. “This is an exciting time for business aviation. Innovation is all around us, but among our key challenges will be our ability to bring in young, excited, talented, innovative, passionate young people. Can we attract them? Can we retain them?” Bolen noted that nearly 200 students were in attendance for the 2020 PBI event. “it’s an extraordinary industry that does capture the imagination of a lot of people,” he said

The opening session concluded with a scholarship presentation from Dreams Soar’s Shaesta Waiz – who in 2017 became the youngest woman to fly solo around the globe in a single-engine aircraft. The inaugural Jimmie J. Norman Memorial Scholarship was presented to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University student Lauren Abernathy.

Networking, Education and More

The West Palm Beach Forum also featured education sessions on the most pressing topics in business aviation: ADS-B implementation, career paths in business aviation, tax benefits and limitations for aircraft operators, improving safety through aircraft data and financing options for aircraft.

As with all NBAA events, the opportunity to meet face-to-face with new and existing customers and network with industry peers, was instrumental in the event’s success.

Daniel Piraino, director, Dumont Group, exhibited with a mobile unit showcasing the inside of aircraft the company uses for its charter service. The company also provides sales, refurbishment and MRO services.

“[The forum] gives us an opportunity, not only to meet people who may not know about Dumont, but also brokers who actually come out and see the product,” he said. “It’s really good exposure for us, and being under the NBAA umbrella is a huge value.”

Monica Gomez and Stephen Maciolek, from FlightAware, agreed, and said the forum was a great event for them, as well as a chance to meet with customers face-to-face and show them features of their product.

“It’s a great first show of the year,” said Gomez. “We have SDC [the NBAA Schedulers & Dispatchers Conference] and IOC [the NBAA International Operators Conference] coming up next, so it feels like the proper start to a new year.”

NBAA’s next Regional Forum is set for March 5 at San Jose (CA) International Airport (SJC). Learn more about the San Jose Regional Forum.