The Wrapper


As we noted at the top, this year’s NBAA convention was most certainly a success. Among other kudos, the association’s event management crew definitely deserves a few weeks in a sunny clime and serial rum drinks with little umbrellas for pulling off the change of venue in a scant two months. Just as with any major event, though, AVweb saw and heard some concerns among both attendees and exhibitors about the show’s value — especially after the first day — listened in on spirited arguments about whether “regular folks” in the industry found it worthwhile and even participated in a shuttle-bus discussion of why we came. For us, the answer was easy — to file this report. For some, it was to network, even if that same networking goes on 24/7/365. For others, the exhibit floor and its carpeted aisles, booth babes and bling were much less interesting than the detailed type-specific seminars, for example, or the presentations on everything from security and excise taxes to the ATC system. For the high rollers — people able and willing to stroke a check for a Gulfstream, and with whom we’re not familiar — the annual NBAA show is their opportunity to do quality window shopping while wheeling, dealing and getting stroked. So, there’s a little something for everyone interested in the industry.

Yes, it’s too big. No, there’s no way to see and cover everything in the three days. But those quibblings are almost beside the point. What is the point? It’s this: The NBAA show serves as the bizav industry’s annual checkup — a visit to our general practitioner, if you will — where our pulse is checked, some blood is extracted and we leave with an armload of brochures plus some detailed advice on what we should be doing until our next annual checkup. Just like a visit to our doctor, it often can be both painful and enlightening, and it always provides food for thought. It’s fitting that this year’s show lacked revolutionary developments or extremes in good or bad news for the industry. That shows maturity. And if the economic projections for private aviation services are accurate, the industry really has little need to change its habits. But if the gathering storms of user fees, overall economic uncertainty, rising energy costs and unwanted political attention come together in the near future, the introspection and detailed focus of this year’s event will be invaluable. And that’s the final word.