NBAA Opening General Session Keynote Speakers Focus on the Role of Business Aviation, Future of U.S. Aviation System

Contact: Dan Hubbard at (202) 783-9360 or
ORLANDO, FL, October 17, 2006 – The Opening General Session of the National Business Aviation Association’s 59th Annual Meeting & Convention today highlighted the importance of business aviation to the nation’s economy, the industry’s record of excellence, and the future of the U.S. aviation system.

NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen served as moderator of the session, introducing three keynoters with world-class credentials in business and aviation, including Gerald L. Shaheen, chairman of the Board of Directors, U.S. Chamber of Commerce; Marion C. Blakey, administrator of the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA); and Arnold Palmer, the golf legend who is also an accomplished businessman and supporter of business aviation.

“We are pleased to have such an outstanding lineup of presenters to open the NBAA’s 59th Annual Meeting & Convention,” Bolen said. “Our industry is facing unprecedented opportunities and challenges, and we are looking forward to hearing our keynoter speakers’ perspectives on the future of business aviation and the nation’s air transportation system as a whole.”

In addition, Bolen introduced the tradition of excellence in business aviation and the role played by the National Aviation Hall of Fame Combs Gates Award in that tradition.

As the lead-off speaker at the NBAA Opening General Session, Shaheen heads the world’s largest business federation, and is the former chairman of the Chamber’s Transportation Infrastructure and Logistics Committee. He also serves as a director of the National Chamber Foundation, the Chamber’s public policy think tank. Shaheen is group president of Caterpillar Inc., headquartered in Peoria, IL, with responsibility for development and production of Caterpillar’s mining and construction equipment, and he is the current chairman of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers.

As administrator of the FAA, Blakey is responsible for the regulation and safety of the nation’s airways as well as operating the world’s largest air traffic control system. Prior to her appointment in 2002 as head of the FAA, she was chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board. Blakey has a long career in public service, including four previous presidential appointments, including administrator of the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Golf legend Palmer has been a longtime businessman in addition to his world-class sports performances, and a staunch supporter of business aviation. Arnold Palmer Enterprises is a multi-division firm headquartered in Cleveland that has involved automobile and aviation service firms over the years. As a professional golfer, he amassed 92 championships in national and international play, 62 of which came on the U.S. PGA Tour, beginning with the 1955 Canadian Open.

Much of his traveling to keep up with his golfing and business activity is done in his Cessna Citation X jet aircraft, with Palmer at the controls. He was recognized in 1999 for his contributions to aviation and his Western Pennsylvania community when the Westmoreland County Airport at Latrobe was renamed the Arnold Palmer Regional Airport. Palmer also serves as a member of the Westmoreland County Airport Authority.

# # #Founded in 1947 and based in Washington, DC, the National Business Aviation Association, Inc. (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 7,000 companies and provides more than 100 products and services to the business aviation community, including the NBAA Annual Meeting & Convention, the world’s largest civil aviation trade show. Learn more about NBAA at