Feb. 3, 2022
NBAA’s first event of 2022 – and its first Regional Forum ever held at Miami-Opa locka Executive Airport (OPF) – drew nearly 2,500 attendees to a show featuring a sold-out exhibit floor, 16 aircraft on display and a slate of informative education sessions.
“I think the attendance speaks to people wanting to get out and co-mingle and network and get back to normalcy again,” said Michael O’Keeffe from Banyan Air Service, a HondaJet dealer for the Southeast U.S. “We’ve been very, very pleased with the attendance. In years past, it seemed like there was a lot of vendor interaction, where this year there seems to be a lot of customer interaction.”
Tom Chapman, from Volato, agreed, adding: “I think the marketplace is back. Everyone’s busy. We’ve been swamped here. People are waiting in line to see us.”
“The feedback from exhibitors was overwhelmingly positive,” added Dina Green, NBAA vice president, events, strategy and outreach. “This show exceeded all expectations. It’s great to be back.”
Strong Support for Industry in South Florida
“Business aviation is a huge reason why our travel and tourist sectors have rebounded so quickly,” said Jimmy Morales, chief operations officer, Miami-Dade County. “Being one of the busiest general aviation regions in the country, we deeply appreciate the work each of you do in this sector, your contributions to the industry.”
In welcoming attendees to the event, NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen noted that the industry not only survived the pandemic, but has been thriving.
“Through the pandemic, business aviation’s essential values and benefits didn’t really change. We’ve always been about getting people where they need to be, when they need to be there and doing it safely, doing it securely,” he said. “I think what we saw in the pandemic is that those benefits took on a new and different value. “Today, we have demand unlike any we’ve really seen before.
“The backlog for new aircraft is not months, but years,” Bolen added. “The pre-owned inventory is less than 3%, historically it’s about 10%. We’re being exposed to new people. We’re being valued in ways we haven’t been valued.”
Of course, the industry is not without its challenges, Bolen said, citing supply-chain and workforce issues.
“In order to grow our industry, we need to grow our ability to attract, develop and retain [young professionals],” he said. “We have the ability to offer young people technology, community and experiences.”
The Future Workforce
The young people who will shape business aviation’s future took center stage at the forum as The Flying Classroom Bombardier Academy graduated its first class of 30 students. The academy is a partnership between record-setting pilot Barrington Irving’s Flying Classroom and Bombardier to familiarize college students, military veterans and technical school students of what business aviation has to offer.
Chris Debergh, vice president and general manager with Bombardier Business Aircraft, announced that some of the Flying Classroom graduates would be joining the company at its Fort Lauderdale facility. They are then expected to move to Bombardier’s new facility at the Opa locka airport, which when open will be the largest business aircraft MRO in South Florida.
Irving congratulated the students, and also reflected on the immense opportunities business aviation has afforded him.
“I owe so much to this industry. I just bought my fifth airplane in business aviation – a LearJet 40 XO. The first NBAA event I attended, I had three holes in the bottom of my shoes. Look where I am today,” he said. “That is the power of community. That is the power of our business aviation industry.”
Graduates of the Flying Classroom Bombardier Academy
The next NBAA Regional Forum will take place on June 22, 2022 at Westchester County Airport (HPN) in White Plains, NY. Learn more about the 2022 NBAA White Plains Regional Forum.