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NBAA Annual Meeting & Convention Again Breaks Record, Continues Commitment to Membership and Partnership
Once again, the best of the industry was showcased at the National Business Aviation Association's 60th Annual Meeting & Convention, which took place this year from September 25 to 27 at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta. The three-day event featured a record-setting 1,152 Exhibitors providing side-by-side comparisons of their products and services, a sold-out Static Display at nearby Fulton County Airport-Brown Field and more than 100 Information Sessions. Over 32,000 people attended this year's Convention, which rose to eighth in the rankings of U.S. trade shows earlier this year.
"This was an enormously successful Convention, and NBAA's 60th anniversary has been an enormously successful year," NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen said. "This year's Annual Meeting & Convention was also notable for the number of other milestones being celebrated in business aviation."
NBAA Members honored the 60th anniversary of their Association at the same time they took part in marking the 100th anniversary of powered flight in Georgia, as well as anniversaries and milestones celebrated by Members Cessna, Gulfstream and Hawker Beechcraft, to name but a few.
A Celebratory NBAA2007 Marks Aviation Milestones
NBAA2007 festivities began on Saturday, September 22, when NBAA welcomed a commemorative flight into Atlanta's DeKalb-Peachtree Airport, near the site of the 60th Annual Meeting & Convention (NBAA2007). The flight, originating from New York (the site of NBAA's first meeting in 1947), was completed in a very light jet (VLJ) carrying aviators representing business aviation's storied past, its modern-day present and its visionary future.
"This commemorative flight represents several important milestones for NBAA, the state of Georgia and a number of our Member Companies," said NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen. "We are proud to recognize these achievements, starting with this flight, and continuing throughout this year's Convention."
Joining Bolen on the flight was Pat Epps, president of Atlanta-based Epps Aviation, who is widely recognized as a leader and innovator in general aviation. His father, Ben T. Epps Sr., built and piloted the first powered aircraft in Georgia 100 years ago. Also aboard was 23-year-old Augusta, GA native Jamail Larkins, known for obtaining his pilot's license at 14 years of age. Larkins now serves as a special assistant at NBAA and also as a youth ambassador for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), where he is tasked with educating youth about aviation.
Bob Stangarone, vice president of corporate communications for Cessna Aircraft Company, co-piloted the aircraft alongside Cessna pilot Jim Perry. The aircraft, a new Cessna Citation Mustang, was provided for the commemorative event by Cessna. The Mustang and other VLJs mark an evolution in general aviation aircraft manufacture. The National Aeronautic Association certified the flight from New York as a record-setting trip by a VLJ for "speed over a recognized course."
To complement the involvement of the VLJ in the commemorative flight, a replica of Georgia's first aircraft – a monoplane built by Epps in 1907 – was suspended over the Georgia Centennial of Flight Welcome Center display in the Georgia World Congress Center to welcome visitors.
Opening Day Looks to the Future of Aviation
NBAA began opening-day activities with a Media Kickoff Breakfast at the Georgia World Congress Center. In front of a crowded room of media representatives and select Association Members, leaders of the general aviation community described a promising future for the industry, but focused on the need to address challenges, such as the threatened overhaul of the current, ultra-efficient fuel tax system for funding the FAA and aviation modernization to a system based on user fees.
"We're here not only to recognize the past, but also to pay tribute to the present and build for the future," Bolen said to a full house at a Georgia World Congress Center auditorium filled with thousands of opening-day Attendees.
Bolen also hosted the Opening General Session, which featured keynote speaker U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters and included two well-known aviation enthusiasts, Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue and Cox Enterprises' President and Chief Operating Officer Jimmy W. Hayes.
Peters said there is "a lot to be excited about in the business aviation community," including technological advances in aircraft, avionics and safety, and praised recent increases in sales of general aviation aircraft.
Perdue enthusiastically welcomed NBAA to Atlanta, "the real state of aviation," and proudly ran down Georgia's list of general aviation superlatives: eighth-largest general aviation industry in the U.S., with 83,000 people employed in over 500 aerospace and aviation companies; 262 privately owned airports; and 207 public airports, including the nation's busiest, Hartsfield Jackson in Atlanta.
Working for Members, Even During NBAA2007
NBAA's commitment to Membership continued at this year's Convention, where Attendees had many opportunities to meet the Association's Membership team, whether at the NBAA Booth, the Membership Discussion session or the 11th Annual Chairman's Charity Classic. The entire Membership team was on-site in Atlanta to provide face-to-face service to Members throughout the week.
Even as the Convention took place in Atlanta, NBAA was advocating for Member interests in Washington. Steve Brown, NBAA senior vice president of operations & administration and a former associate administrator for FAA Air Traffic Services, testified before a House subcommittee to challenge "the erroneous allegations from the big airlines' attempt to blame their record-setting delays on the general aviation community," as part of their campaign to vilify the industry.
"I urge our Members to stay involved and communicate the threat that user fees pose to thousands of businesses and communities nationwide to their representatives in Congress," Bolen said, in a separate statement.
Hundreds of Sessions Provide Something for Everyone
With extensive Professional Development Program (PDP) Course offerings, over 100 Information Sessions and Maintenace & Operations Sessions (M&Os) focusing on the latest developments and issues in the aviation industry, anyone with any interest was likely to find a session worth attending at NBAA2007. Industry experts were on-hand for sessions on operational topics like maintenance, ATC, airports, safety, security, international business aviation policy and tax, finance and insurance issues.
At one of the most well-attended sessions, and what one panelist called "a time-honored event," NBAA's Meet the Regulators featured three of the FAA's top officials. NBAA's Doug Carr, vice president, safety, security & regulation, commended the FAA for its "long history of partnership, inclusion and cooperation" in its efforts to make sure the industry has a voice.
A panel discussion on security protocols and considerations in general aviation featured guests from the Department of Homeland Security, security consultants and former members of the National Transportation Safety Board. The panelists examined how the aviation environment has changed since 9/11, both in terms of regulatory changes and the increased responsibility of flight departments for security.
Fourteen industry experts also lead a highly-attended panel discussion on personal jets (PJs) and very light jets confirming that PJs and VLJs have taken center stage among general aviation topics.
NBAA conducted regular Association business during Convention week, implementing its Board officer succession plan when Jeffrey W. Lee of IBM Corporation succeeded Kenneth E. Emerick of GM Worldwide Travel Services as Board chairman. Pat Cunningham of PepsiCo, Inc. became NBAA's new vice chairman and treasurer. In addition, the following five Directors were elected/re-elected to the Board: Paul Anderson of UTFlight, Elizabeth Dornak of DuPont Aviation, Thomas Frist of Hospital Corporation of America, Jeffrey W. Lee of IBM and Douglas Schwartz of Conoco Phillips.
Keeping All Members Informed
In years past, those unable to attend the Convention or other important NBAA meetings, such as the Tax, Regulatory & Risk Management Conference, missed out on educational opportunities. But thanks to NBAA's On-Demand Education Program, they now can watch entire seminars using distance-learning technologies, such as an Internet-based streaming video on-demand service or video CD-ROM. Audio for other Convention sessions is scheduled to be available, too. Learn more at www.nbaa.org/ondemand.
Increased news coverage also allowed those at home to watch the Convention unfold. During the show, the Association's Online News Bureau featured stories and multimedia – including photos, webcams, podcasts and PowerPoint presentations – depicting event highlights. Additionally, three special editions of NBAA Update containing Convention news were mailed to more than 17,000 subscribers on each day of the show.
To review the News Bureau material, visit www.nbaa.org/2007.
KaBOOM! and NBAA Charities
The Association on Sunday, September 24, joined many Member Companies, the local community around Fulton County Airport-Brown Field and KaBOOM! to build an aviation-themed playground at Margaret Fain Elementary School in Atlanta.
KaBOOM! – a national nonprofit group that envisions a great place to play within walking distance of every child in America – designed and oversaw the project, which was the organization’s biggest yet, using its "community-build model" to bring business and community interests together.
More than 500 volunteers, including hundreds of Fain Elementary students, were on-hand for the build.
The completed playground is 7,400 square feet – an area large enough to park 50 cars – and features two playground areas, an outdoor classroom with benches and chalkboards, an airplane-shaped sandbox and a community garden.
In addition to the playground, NBAA volunteers also built an airport viewing area at Fulton County Airport-Brown Field, sponsored by Bombardier, to help build bridges with the local community surrounding the airport.
"We would like to thank all of the hard work from our volunteers and the generous support of our sponsors. The success of the Playground Build surpassed our expectations," said Kathleen Blouin, senior vice president, conventions, seminars & forums. "The children of this community have been introduced to aviation in a really positive way, and the contribution that’s been made to this community by giving them a place to play is priceless. It’s something that everyone here and in the surrounding community can be proud of."
NBAA continued its support for philanthropic organizations at the 11th Annual Chairman’s Charity Classic, where over $40,000 was raised for NBAA Charities, a charitable fund established to provide support to worthy causes in the business aviation community.
NBAA Chairman Kenneth E. Emerick, the event host, gave remarks during the awards luncheon following the tournament, which was generously supported by nearly 20 sponsors. A total of 260 golfers played at the Stone Mountain Golf Club near Atlanta.
The NBAA Live and Silent Auctions held during the 60th Annual Meeting & Convention additionally raised thousands of dollars in support of NBAA Charities.