Regional Forum in White Plains, NY

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White Plains Regional Forum Reflects Industry Optimism

June 22, 2018

As the association's second regional forum of 2018 got underway, NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen declared that "there is a pervasive sense of optimism in our industry." Held June 21 at Westchester County Airport in White Plains, NY, the event demonstrated the growing confidence of the industry, which was reflected in the forum's numbers – 190 exhibitors, 2,700 attendees and a variety of aircraft, from single-engine piston-powered models to intercontinental business jets.

"The energy and enthusiasm for business aviation was evident at this year's White Plains Regional Forum," said Mike Nichols, NBAA's vice president of operational excellence and professional development. "Exhibitors conducted significant business, attendees gained valuable insights from the education session content, and the mood projected a positive outlook for the industry."

Industry Priorities Ahead

Bolen kicked off the forum by providing an overview of the political challenges facing business aviation. He recounted the long struggle to defeat ATC privatization legislation, which would have handed over control of the system to the major airlines. He thanked NBAA members and other industry stakeholders for coalescing around this existential threat to general aviation. But he warned that there are already signs that the ATC spinoff idea will be revived.

Meanwhile, Bolen said the industry faces other challenges.

"We knew when NBAA was created in 1947 that there were some things we always would have to work on, with access to airports and airspace being at the top of that list." He cited ongoing battles for access to New York's East Hampton Airport (HTO) and California's Santa Monica Municipal Airport (SMO).

Safety is another top priority. "Aviation is the safest mode of transportation in the U.S., but we are not perfect. We are chasing perfection," said Bolen, who noted that the various industry safety events held around the country "shows we are committed to safety."

NBAA also is committed to enhancing professionalism. "What does it take to be a professional?" Bolen asked. "We talk about it in our professional development programs, Certified Aviation Manager program and education sessions at events like this forum," he said.

"The other great challenge that we have right now is how do we make sure we have a growing workforce – that we have the pilots and technicians we need?" said Bolen. "This is something that NBAA is putting an enormous amount of focus on these days. We've got to find ways to attract, retain and develop people in our industry."

Education Sessions

Bolen's briefing was followed by a session specifically designed for students with a panel discussing careers in business aviation. The agenda also included four presentations geared toward industry professionals:

  • Darrell Clay of Walter Haverfield LLP discussed best practices for complying with government investigative demands, including voluntary requests for records, administrative subpoenas, grand jury subpoenas, search warrants and employee interviews.
  • Robert Gould of Bravo Golf Aviation discussed why pilots and technicians fail to follow proper procedures, which is a primary cause of aviation incidents and accidents.
  • Jay Mesinger of Mesinger Jet Sales discussed business aircraft sales activity and current valuations for preowned and new models.
  • Ryan DeMoor and Rob Hill from Satcom Direct discussed cyber security, data privacy, and tax and compliance reporting.

Exhibitors and Attendees

Numerous people said they were pleased with the connections made and knowledge gained at the forum.

Helicopter Association International President and CEO Matthew Zuccaro said, "We usually attend these gatherings to meet with up our members and exhibitors for our show [Heli Expo]. But it's also to get information. We want to stay up on the industry."

Melissa Smith-Hignite, director of Constant Aviation's CARE Experience, has attended all of NBAA's regional forums for the past five years. She said, "The NBAA forums are a wonderful opportunity to reach out to our customers and have conversations in a more laid-back environment."

NBAA's final regional forum for 2018 takes place Sept. 6 at San Jose International Airport in San Jose, CA.