NBAA Honors Leo Knaapen with Prestigious Silk Scarf Award

Contact: Dan Hubbard, 202-783-9360,

Washington, DC, March 29, 2022 – The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) recently presented Leo Knaapen, Bombardier’s chief of industry affairs, with its Silk Scarf Award for his decades of leadership and steadfast commitment to safety, sustainability, international operations and other industry priorities.

“For more than three decades, Leo has been a constant, tireless and effective champion for business aviation throughout the world,” said NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen. “As a result, we are a better, stronger, safer, more sustainable and more cohesive industry.”

Knaapen has long been a key supporter and previously served as an advisory council member for Bombardier Safety Standdown, a pioneering program that has set the standard for elevating safety, including through the careful examination of real-world accident scenarios, with a focus on identifying root causes to prevent future incidents. He helped form what would become the Business Aviation Coalition for Sustainability, setting and driving the coalition’s goals and work, including its focus on a commitment to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. He has supported business aviation at a global level, including through his contributions to the work of the International Business Aviation Council (IBAC), in coordination with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

Knaapen, who is retiring at the end of March, embarked on his career in aerospace in 1985, when he joined Pratt & Whitney Canada. In 1989, he began his 33-year tenure at Bombardier and, in 1992, became the spokesman for the Canadian manufacturer’s Canadair division.

From 1997-2007, Knaapen was responsible for media and public relations at Bombardier Business Aircraft, a role that encompassed communications for the company’s entire business aviation portfolio. This included the Challenger, Global and Learjet business jets, the Bombardier pre-owned fleet, Skyjet International charter operations, special mission aircraft and customer support and services.

In 2007, Knaapen established the Industry Affairs function at Bombardier – a position that has been instrumental in heightening the company’s profile within the global aviation industry. In this role, he built on his reputation as a stalwart advocate for the business aviation community and has become a champion of issues critical to aviation’s future.

Knaapen’s dedication to business aviation extends beyond Bombardier. He previously served as chair of the Quebec chapter of the Canadian Business Aviation Association, where he remains a committee member, and he was engaged in the development of the Safety Management Systems involving Design and Manufacturing for the International Civil Aviation Organization’s Annex 19. Knaapen serves on NBAA’s Advisory Council; he also serves on the governing council for IBAC.

“Leo has always put the good of the industry first and demanded the same from everyone else,” noted Bolen. “He has always found a way to bring out our best.”

About the Award

In an effort to honor outstanding business aviation community members and inspire future aviators, the NBAA Silk Scarf Award is given to individuals for special contributions to the business aviation community during their careers. Learn more and view past award recipients of the NBAA Silk Scarf Award.

# # #

Founded in 1947 and based in Washington, DC, the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) is the leading organization for companies that rely on general aviation aircraft to help make their businesses more efficient, productive and successful. The association represents more than 10,000 company and professional members and provides more than 100 products and services to the business aviation community, including the NBAA Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (NBAA-BACE), the world’s largest civil aviation trade show. Learn more about NBAA at

Members of the media may receive NBAA Press Releases immediately via email. To subscribe to the NBAA Press Release email list, submit the online form.