Perhaps the most visible and significant change to occur in the industry during 2004 was the spring cleaning at the NBAA, in which new President and CEO Shelley Longmuir abruptly departed amid internal staff turmoil and dissatisfaction among board members, taking with her Bob Warren, the associations executive vice president and COO, who was hired by Longmuir. That episode left the NBAA with several challenges – finding new leadership and reassuring its membership perhaps chief among them – but also opened the doors to what seems to have been both significant and beneficial changes. Once the association decided to bring in Ed Bolen, the former General Aviation Manufacturers Association president, to run things and get the NBAA back into level flight, additional and inevitable staff changes followed. In the fall, the organization had one of its largest and most well-attended annual meetings ever, which seemed to drive the final nails into the coffin of the NBAAs year of living dangerously.

However, the real news at the NBAA likely will occur in 2005 and will involve the extent to which Bolen and Steve Brown seek to transform the organization. As AVweb reported at the time, one of the reasons former association President Shelly Longmuir left the organization earlier this year was her perceived failure to implement change. We added, it’s a pretty fair bet that the Bolen/Brown team is in this for the long haul and won’t make Longmuir’s mistakes. Another fair bet is that the association will not closely resemble itself by this time next year, either in the composition of its staff or the impact of its policy-related activities at the FAA, on Capitol Hill, in the GA manufacturing sector or in the domestic and international operator communities. And for the rank and file NBAA member, that’s probably a good thing.