Business Aviation Doing Just Fine at #NBAA19

2:23 PM

By Dan Pimentel,
Airplanista Blog Editor

(LAS VEGAS, NV) I have just left the National Business Aviation Association’s Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition, a.k.a. NBAA-BACE, and can tell you from my boots being on the ground that from a purely visual perspective, business aviation seems to be thriving.
I’ve now been to NBAA’s BACE events in both Orlando and Las Vegas, and the Vegas version seemed bigger in every way. While I do not have statistics in front of me, judging from the two gigantic halls full of exhibitors, and the crush of human bodies on Tuesday’s Opening Day, I can only assume NBAA was more than happy with the show’s attendance.
As evidence to support my opinion that business aviation is alive and well, I can attest to a few things I witnessed at this show. The size of the “booths” were huge…some were not even booths, they were actual buildings. Inside of larger buildings.
The Las Vegas Convention Center is a massive collection of very, very large exhibition halls, and this show took up the entirety of the Central and North Halls. At one end of the Central Hall was the indoor static display, with a collection of aircraft and rotorcraft with wingspans carefully measured to fit through the hall’s large door. They were flown into McCarran International Airport down the street, and towed carefully through town to the convention center. The likes of Pilatus PC-12, Beechcraft King Air, Piaggio Avanti EVO, TBM 940 and Sikorsky S-76 were all perfectly displayed at one end of the hall, with the rest of Central filled with an endless sea of exhibitors as far as your eye could see. If walking at the usual trade show pace taking in what they were all offering, it would take 30 minutes of strolling to “maybe” reach the far end of Central.

Some of the very big players in the business aviation sector were in the Central Hall, such as Dassault Falcon. Since I managed to take a demo flight Monday at the show in Honeywell’s triple-engine Falcon 7X, I stopped to photograph Dassault’s gigantic “booth.” It had large static models of each of their aircraft on stands out front, room inside to host a large welcome party that looked like well over 100 people, and a massive, two-story image on one end of all their models in formation flight, an image that had to be 20’ tall by 40’ long.
If you’ve ever been involved in organizing a trade show appearance for any company, you know these shows can be crazy expensive. Just a dinky little 10’ x 10’ booth, with signage and furnishings can run north of $10,000, and when you add transportation, lodging, meals etc. for enough people to staff that booth – plus costs of any new products you have on display, it is easy to drop a very large sum of cash just to be in the exhibition hall. So when Safran, Dassault, Gulfstream, Avfuel, etc. build such a gigantic presence at these shows – staffed by an army of well-dressed people wall-to-wall throughout their “booth,” – it would be hard to even imagine the money spent to be here. Far north of $100,000 is not out of the question. And the incredible unveiling show that Gulfstream put on for the announcement of their new G700 must have cost many times more than that.

Same went for the North Hall. With the exception of not having the indoor static display, it was equally huge, with wall-to-wall exhibitors as far as you could see. The halls had a feeling sort of like Oshkosh in that there is so much to see, you cannot comprehend seeing it all, so you have to plan every move carefully. As a member of the Flying Magazine team with a schedule perfectly choreographed by newly-appointed Editor-in-Chief Julie Boatman, I had hard times and places to be covering stories, so I had to be careful not to find myself in the NBAA version of the North 40 when I had a press conference to cover in Vintage…to relate all this to AirVenture. If anyone that has read Flying Magazine since childhood has any qualms about their new EIC, you have nothing to worry about. "Flying Julie" has this, she’s seriously experienced in the industry, super organized, and most of all (to me as a contributor) she has a leadership style that invites the very best from writers like me.
There was an excitement and positivity at this show that was hard to ignore. I am sure a lot of orders were placed, many connections made and new business relationships forged that will serve the industry well in the coming year, before NBAA-BACE moves back to Orlando in 2020.
Well done, NBAA. The logistics of this show, from a media guy covering it, was superb. Hanging out with you and the business aviation sector for a few days only solidified my opinion that while some segments of aviation may be somewhat faltering, BizAv is thriving.
And we will all benefit when that happens.

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