Nearly 25,000 industry leaders and professionals from across all 50 U.S. states and 89 countries gathered in Las Vegas for the most inspiring, interactive and innovative convention NBAA has ever hosted. About 100 business aircraft were on display inside the Las Vegas Convention Center and nearby Henderson Executive Airport, where the event took place October 22-24. On the show floor, nearly 1,000 exhibitors, including more than 100 first-time exhibitors, featured incredible displays of their latest offerings, along with an inaugural New Product Showcase.
Meridian had a strong presence as an exhibitor at the event, commonly known as the 2019 NBAA Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (NBAA-BACE). The company sent 12 associates to represent its many private aviation services at its 400 sq. ft. booth, including charter sales, flight operations, aircraft management, marketing, and FBO customer service from both Teterboro and Hayward locations. Three key themes prevailed at this year’s convention: innovation, sustainability, and outreach to the next generation.
Innovation in Focus
This year’s NBAA-BACE put new modes of transport, such as unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and urban air mobility (UAM) vehicles, front and center. Full-scale prototypes and concepts for the vehicles were thronged by attendees in the all-new UAS/UAM Innovation Display Area.
On the keynote stage, Bolen presented NBAA’s Meritorious Service to Aviation Award to record-breaking pilot, military veteran and business leader Ross Perot, Jr., who is partnering with Uber on UAM infrastructure. Head of Uber Elevate, Eric Allison, shared the latest steps toward realizing that vision, and tech entrepreneur Sky Dayton, an investor in electric aircraft startup Joby Aviation, predicted UAM could become a reality in just a few years.
A brand-new composite-bodied aerobatic aircraft, the GameBird GB1, was brought to the stage by Steuart Walton, Game Composites founder and chairman. The stage also featured the iconic jet-propelled wing that “Jetman” Yves Rossy uses to fly like bird, with Rossy sharing the story of how his team developed this experimental technology.
On the show floor, an inaugural New Product Showcase introduced 11 new, distinctive products from a host of innovative companies. Inside the convention center and at Henderson Executive Airport, nearly 100 of the latest business aircraft were on display.
Also at the airport, Gulfstream unveiled its new G700, Bombardier displayed its Learjet 75 Liberty mockup for the first time and Textron Aviation’s newly certified Citation Longitude was on hand. Pilatus introduced the NGX, and other aircraft, including Tecnam’s P2012 Traveller, made their first appearances at NBAA-BACE.
Sustainability a Priority
Sustainability in business aviation was a dominant theme throughout the show, with around two dozen aircraft fueling enroute with SAF, a non-fossil power source that can reduce aviation’s carbon lifecycle emissions by up to 80 percent. Local civic and business leaders issued a proclamation recognizing the business aviation community’s long-standing commitment to sustainability, with an estimated 150,000 gallons of SAF pumped into aircraft at Henderson Executive Airport.
To further sustainability, NBAA joined with the General Aviation Manufacturers Association and other industry stakeholders to announce a new Business Aviation Global Sustainability Summit in Washington, DC, in March 2020. A panel of industry leaders, in an “I Want My SAF” forum, offered perspectives about increasing SAF availability and usage before a standing-room only audience.
Outreach to the Next-Generation Workforce
Throughout the show, trailblazing aviators were honored, and shared their work to attract the next generation of visionaries to join the business aviation workforce.
Barrington Irving, who in 2007 became the youngest pilot to fly solo around the world, received NBAA’s 2019 American Spirit Award for his work to engage young people in the pursuit of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education, and careers in aviation.
Also on the keynote stage, U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Jeannie M. Leavitt, America’s first female fighter pilot, shared her work promoting diversity in aviation, along with retired Air Force general and former NBAA Board Chair Lloyd “Fig” Newton.
On the show’s final day, Careers in Business Aviation Day hosted hundreds of students who attended NBAA-BACE for free, where they heard from FAA Administrator Steve Dickson and Jim Payne, chief pilot on The Perlan Project, who has flown a pressurized glider as high as 76,000 feet, toward a goal of reaching the edge of space.
NBAA also unveiled its 2019 class of Business Aviation Top 40 Under 40 young professionals (YoPros), who are already reshaping the industry.
“This week proved that in business aviation, we want the future, and we want it now,” Bolen said. “That future was on proud display in Las Vegas, with a show that fired the imagination, and inspired us to keep pushing the boundaries of what’s possible – and that’s what defines aviation.”
Please join us next year, October 6-8, 2020, when NBAA-BACE heads to Orlando, FL. We are looking forward to seeing you there!