By Dan Pimentel,
Airplanista Blog Editor
Airplanista Blog Editor
For those who read this site regularly, you already know of my overflowing enthusiasm I display each summer for EAA AirVenture Oshkosh. There is nothing like 'Oshkosh' - it is truly the center of the general aviation universe. If you love experimental or vintage airplanes, or enjoy spending quality time visiting with old friends at the aviation family reunion, a week on the shores of Lake Winnebago in late July is the place to be.
But there is a whole other element of "general aviation" that has always intrigued me...business aviation. This is not just big, expensive jets, but instead, it is a world that is devoted to promoting the concept of using private aircraft to gain a competitive advantage in a fast-paced business environment. And nobody covers this universe any better than the National Business Aviation Association, or NBAA.
I will be attending my first NBAA Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (BACE) soon in Orlando, and am stoked to see this world up close. "Business Aviation" covers a lot of ground, and it is a complex world of regulations, innovations and expectations. NBAA's Washington, D.C.-based team is second to none when it comes to advocating for general aviation, and along with the Government Affairs crew from AOPA, they are crucial to staying on top of the Feds as both associations work on our behalf to preserve our freedom to fly.
What you might not realize is that NBAA does not just represent jet and turboprop owners and pilots on Capitol Hill. Their advocacy work transcends the relatively small gap between the pilot chasing hamburgers in a Skyhawk and a Phenom 300 owner/pilot or Flight Department managing a Gulfstream 650. Much of the work NBAA does benefits the whole of general aviation, and in my opinion, they are very good at what they do. Look at any issue facing general aviation, and you will see NBAA is all over it, making sure We The People [Who Fly] get a fair shake. This is why the people who call Oshkosh home each summer should take another look at becoming NBAA members...you NEED them in your corner fighting for what you believe in.
As this will be my first time at their BACE, I am not sure what to expect. But as someone who has done many, MANY aviation conventions, I have a pretty good idea:
In the Exhibition Halls, I expect a full house of exhibitors offering the very latest in equipment, avionics, software, headsets, all the things you find in Hangars A, B, C and D at Oshkosh. The difference will be that all being offered will be of use to those who fly in the business aviation world. I expect to see the usual headset and EFB vendors, and the very latest from all the major avionics players. But what will interest me are the items specific to those owners/pilots who fly hard, fly often and use their airplanes in the pursuit of a dollar. Everything inside the BACE halls will be laser-focused towards making business flying safer, more efficient or more comfortable, with innovations of all shapes and sizes on full display.
O.K., that's inside the halls, but what about the static display? Yep, serious excitement to be found there as well:
On the static display ramp at Orlando Executive Airport should be the very latest and greatest business aircraft being sold today. As is the case at Oshkosh, every maker exhibiting will debut their new hardware, their latest models, their brightest stars. No LSAs, here, this will all be ships with one common mission...deliver business people to make face-to-face connections, close deals and raise stock values. I expect to see big, fast, and yes, expensive jets, the finest turboprops, and mock-ups of what is coming in the next few years. There is always a lot of innovation in business aviation, and it will all be shined up and ready to view in Orlando November 1-3.
Here is a partial list of some of the aircraft on static display that will no doubt end up as pixels inside my dSLR cameras:
American Champion's Extreme Decathalon
Boeing Business Jets' BBJ
Bombardier's Challenger 650 and Global 6000
Dassault Falcon's 8X
Embraer's Legacy 650 and Phenom 300
Pilatus's PC-12NG and PC-24
Piper's M350 and M600
Textron/Cessna's Hemisphere, Latitude and Longitude
I look forward to spending some quality time around the NBAA community, to try to broaden my exposure to this extremely important part of general aviation. Successful people will be wall-to-wall, and if some of that rubs off on me, I'll take it. While I may not be in a position to leave a deposit yet for a PC-12NG - my choice for dream airplane - I will be on the lookout for a few good feature stories to widen my freelance writing world a bit. That should not be hard to do with this much excitement and innovation surrounding me...just take two steps, shake a hand and make a connection.
Everyone at this show will have a success story of how they are using a private business airplane in the pursuit of riches, or maybe just to chase down a good tee time or find a secluded beach somewhere. Mixed in among the 27,000 professionals at NBAA-BACE will also be leaders of aviation industry, the best and brightest designing and selling the next big thing.
It's been decades that I have wanted to attend this important show...and I will savor every second of it. But as a seasoned journalist who has covered Oshkosh for years...I just hope they have some bacon somewhere...