Regional Forum in West Palm Beach, FL

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First NBAA Regional Forum of 2018 Breaks Records

Jan. 25, 2017

NBAA opened 2018 with a record-breaking West Palm Beach Regional Forum, at an Atlantic Aviation hangar at Palm Beach International Airport (PBI), which saw the highest number of attendees and indoor exhibitors ever for the event.

“It’s the best forum we’ve had in Palm Beach – we had over 2,700 attendees; we had well-attended, timely education sessions; we had a sold-out indoor exhibit hall; and we had over 30 aircraft and ground-support vehicles on the static display,” Mike Nichols, NBAA’s vice president, operational excellence and professional development, said of the Jan. 24 event “The energy was phenomenal, and people were excited to be here.”

The event began with an overview by NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen of what the industry can expect in 2018. In short, he said, the push by some for ATC privatization isn’t going away.

“We’re going to pick up 2018 where we left off last year, and that is by asking everybody in our community to be active and engaged,” said Bolen. “We have the largest, the safest, the most efficient and the most diverse air transportation system in the world. Giving our ATC system to a handful of entrenched special interests is not something that facilitates innovation, competition or making things better.”

Bolen asked attendees to contact Congress and ask their representatives in Washington, DC to oppose any measure to privatize the ATC system. NBAA and about 200 other general aviation groups are supporting a website that makes it easy to do so: ATCNotForSale.com, and NBAA’s forum included individuals equipped with iPads that made it easy for forum attendees to contact Congress on the site. View ATCNotForSale.com.

“We are poised to have a very strong year for business aviation,” said Bolen. “As we’re entering a new year, and we’re excited about the opportunities it brings, I want everybody here to do their part and take two or three minutes to send a message about this issue to your elected representatives.”

In addition to the fight against ATC privatization, Bolen also discussed other initiatives in focus for NBAA this year, including:

  • Workforce Development: The industry needs to continue working to attract and retain talented professionals, noted Bolen, adding that the issue would remain a priority for NBAA in 2018.
  • Ethical Best Practices: Business aviation has always been a leader in safety and professionalism, and should continue to be a leader in ethical business practices, noted Bolen, adding that, during the day, the National Aircraft Resale Association had issued a statement endorsing NBAA’s recently published guidance document, “Ethical Business Aviation Transactions.”
  • Airport Access: Bolen noted that preserving business access to airports and airspace – always an NBAA priority – would continue to be in view in 2018, given the threats to access at embattled Santa Monica Airport and East Hampton Airport.
  • International Advocacy: Bolen reiterated the international nature of business aviation, and noted the association’s continuing work to address myriad regulations impacting industry, including concerns over European aircraft ramp inspections.

“Business aviation is important to our nation’s fabric, it’s important to our infrastructure, it’s important to our economy and we’re very proud to be a part of it,” added Bolen.

Exhibitors and Attendees

Exhibitors said they were pleased with the connections they made at the forum.

“It’s been great,” said Julia Meinders, of MedAire, who was attending her first NBAA forum. “I was actually overwhelmed – I’m pleasantly surprised with the turnout, and the quality of conversations that we’ve had have been very good.”

Darren Hall, vice president of marketing of Fargo Jet Center, agreed, saying NBAA forums generally provide a good return on the company’s investment.

“We invest most of our dollars in marketing to bring us to shows…we basically participate in all of the NBAA shows,” he said. “We find the return on our investment is when we can really meet people face-to-face, shake a hand and at that point start to earn some trust.”

The forum also featured education sessions on the timely topics, including:

Future Forums

NBAA’s next Regional Forum of 2018 takes place June 21 in White Plains, NY, at Westchester County Airport, and the final forum of the year is set for Sept. 6 in San Jose, CA at San Jose International Airport. Learn more about NBAA Regional Forums.