March 24, 2021

As business aviation evolves and expands, even in the face of sizable challenges including COVID-19, what will the industry look like in the years ahead? That question was the focus of a 2021 NBAA GO Leadership Summit microsession sponsored by NBAA’s Business Aviation Management Committee (BAMC).

VanAllen Group CEO Jeff Agur cited results from a recent company study that asked more than 90 business aviation operators about the future. Interestingly, 72% of respondents believed the widespread adoption of online conferencing over the past year will lead to only a “modest reduction” in the use of business aircraft.

Those surveyed also noted the advent of emerging technologies, including sustainable aviation fuel, advanced air mobility and supersonic business aircraft. A sizable number, 41%, also believe a greater number of single pilot operations are on the near-term horizon.

Agur noted that while his company has seen financial services and communications industries “clamp down” on use of business aircraft, use has increased among lower-level company executives due to personal safety concerns.

“We’re seeing a shift overall in volume, with bullishness from private companies leveraging these activities more aggressively, expanding thier fleets and looking ahead,” he said. “It’s really been a unique-looking characteristic.”

Following a 20-25% decline in new aircraft sales throughout 2020, offset slightly by healthier than expected preowned sales, JetNet iQ director Rollie Vincent said he expected a true rebound to begin in the second half of 2021.

“It’s a health recovery we’re looking at, along with economic,” he said. “It’s taking a little bit longer than everybody would like to get to a good place from a vaccination point of view, [but] we’re encouraged the entrepreneurs who fill our industry and fly our airplanes are going to make this all happen.”

The panel was moderated by BAMC members Jeff Poeppelman and Jay Orwin, who each spoke of the importance of fostering the industry’s future workforce.

“There’s a certain element of business aviation that is still unknown,” Poeppelman said. “We must share that it’s more than maintaining the airplane or flying airplanes or doing the scheduling. There are so many different facets of the business.”