29 May, 2018
Those attending the 2018 European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (EBACE2018) Opening Session heard messages of innovation and perseverance as keynote speaker Yves “Jetman” Rossy shared his inspiring quest toward the “divine ability” to fly in the same manner as birds.
An accomplished military and commercial pilot, Rossy has spent close to 25 years progressing through learning to skydive, then gliding through the air on a snowboard and in wingsuits and ultimately to a series of powered, inflatable and rigid wings that have carried him across the English Channel and the U.S. Grand Canyon.
Each step brought Rossy closer to his dream, but not without discouraging setbacks. “All has been learning by doing… and, learning by crash,” he stated as images of a wrecked twin-jet wing were displayed on screens behind him. “This was a very frustrating moment; six months of work destroyed. I was afraid to go again in the air, so I had to do a break.”
But Rossy didn’t stay earthbound for long. Within a year, he was back in the air, ultimately adopting “a more scientific approach” that led to his current, four-engine carbon-fiber jetpack that allows him to fly level, perform aerobatics and even climb, remaining airborne for more than 10 minutes at a time.
That jetpack carried Rossy in perhaps his most recognizable feat, formation flying with a commercial Airbus A380, and he is now working on designs to allow ground takeoff, rather than launching at altitude from fixed-wing aircraft and hot air balloons.
“That’s what is fantastic about human nature,” he told attendees. “You forget bad things, and you remember the good ones. The small flame of passion is always here.”
Paying Homage to the Past While Moving Toward a Promising Future
Those themes also resonate throughout Europe’s business aviation industry, and EBAA Chair Juergen Wiese welcomed attendees to the EBACE2018 Opening Session with the news that European business aviation operations, following years of declines, have recorded 16 consecutive months of growth through April 2018.
“EBACE is the time of the year our industry comes together to highlight business aviation’s innovative spirit and its inherent value,” said Wiese. “This is a reality EBAA promotes not just at EBACE, but throughout the year.”
Wiese also highlighted the launch this year of EBAA’s Expanded Horizons initiative, a campaign to educate and enhance perceptions about the importance of business aviation to Europe. For example, the industry directly and indirectly supports more than 374,000 jobs throughout Europe – a total exceeding the number of available jobs in all of Cypress – and performing invaluable societal contributions including medevac operations.
“This sector provides a huge amount of value and benefit for the European economy, and for European businesses,” he continued. “We must continue to proactively and collectively tell our story to lawmakers, regulators, potential users and buyers and to the next generation of young people who will help to determine the future of our sectors in years to come.”
NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen added, “We’re honored today to be here in Geneva with a message that’s about the future. Expanding Horizons talks about all of us collectively telling the story about business aviation, [and] the fact that it is about freedom, and it is about flexibility and it is about efficiency.”
Wiese and Bolen also paid homage to the legacy of Serge Dassault, chairman emeritus of Dassault Aviation, who passed away 28 May at the age of 93. Wiese led a moment of silence at the start of the event, and both men noted EBACE2018 is dedicated in Dassault’s memory. “Aviation has a reverence for those innovators and those pioneers who have worked so hard, for so long and in such a determining way to get us where we are today,” Bolen added.
Also speaking at the EBACE2018 Opening Session were Pierre Maudet, president of the Conference of Cantonal Judiciary and Police Directors, and Geneva Airport CEO Andre Schneider, who both talked about the importance of business aviation and the significance of hosting EBACE in Geneva.
“Business aviation has an important contribution to the economy,” Schneider said. “Last year we’ve seen growth of business aviation movements above six percent, substantially above the average growth of civil aviation – and frankly, this year we’re at 10 percent.”