By Russ Niles, Editor-in-Chief
Business aviation analysts generally rely on the general economy as a barometer of the health of the industry but the prolonged downturn in many segments of bizav have generated some creative thinking in that area. Now Corporate Jet Investor has plotted attendance at the annual National Business Aviation Association convention against some key indicators in the bizjet market and found some almost parallel lines on the resulting charts. In his analysis, Corporate Jet Investor's Alasdair Whyte noted that the 2012 convention, which wrapped in Orlando last week, had the third lowest attendance (25,250) in the last 10 years, although part of the reason could have been Superstorm Sandy and a presidential TFR on the eve of the convention. However, broadening the sample to include 10 years of attendance figures, the website found some interesting coincidences.
For instance, Whyte discovered, attendance figures rise and fall roughly at the same pace as Bombardier's annual report on bizjet orders. Because of the lag between orders and deliveries, the data skews at that point. But there is also a pretty strong correlation between the number of exhibitors (1,073) and deliveries. Anecdotally, many NBAA attendees said they thought attendance was down, and compared to the heyday of the middle of the last decade, it surely was. The biggest show so far was in 2006, when more than 33,000 people attended.