VBACE Delivers, Providing New Ways to Connect and Catalyze Industry
Washington, DC, Dec. 3, 2020 – The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) today said the first-of-its-kind Virtual Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (VBACE) exceeded expectations for bringing people together in a busy digital marketplace, setting the stage for major announcements, presenting inspiring speakers and providing access to the best thinkers for innovating during and beyond the COVID-19 crisis.
“VBACE demonstrated that our industry is relentless in the face of formidable challenges. We are stronger together, and we are always moving forward,” said NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen. “Clearly, VBACE was more than just a connection opportunity: it was a new kind of industry catalyst.”
Bolen pointed to several examples as illustrative of the event’s success:
- The 3-D VBACE exhibit floor featured a who’s who of OEMs, fuel providers, flight and mission planners, avionics firms and other leading companies. Many exhibitors deftly leveraged the VBACE platform for headline-driving announcements, which were thoroughly covered by news organizations.
- Several thousand attendees were part of the event, including those active in aircraft type clubs, maintenance firms, safety-advocacy groups, regional business aviation associations, groups focused on diversity and inclusion, sustainability stakeholders and other aviation-based organizations. Show-goers gave high marks for the new capabilities offered as part of the event, including virtual, bottomless backpacks; as another first, all attendees will have access to recorded VBACE content through Dec. 31.
- Both VBACE show days included inspiring keynote speakers. The event’s first day featured multi-platinum songwriter and pilot Dierks Bentley, whose wide-ranging conversation with Bolen underscored his dedication to serving as an advocacy champion for business aviation. The show’s second day included a compelling conversation between Bolen and The New York Times best-selling author Erin Meyer, highlighting lessons people and companies in business aviation can learn from the highly innovative culture at media company Netflix.
- Dedicated VBACE chat rooms and coffee chats invited a new kind of peer-to-peer engagement, with hundreds of industry professionals sharing perspectives through energized, online exchanges.
- VBACE education sessions and new Thought Leadership sessions were a big draw, providing access to innovators in the fields of safety, sustainability, technological innovation, ever-changing international requirements, strategies for promoting workforce diversity and more. Dedicated sessions also provided timely content for new market entrants, with their focus on chartering tips, aircraft-ownership tax benefits and the basics on jet card, fractional and membership-based utilization options, and buying a business aircraft.
- Dedicated Professional Member happy hours drew hundreds of registrants to mingle and be entertained by celebrity guests Dave Coulier, pilot, comedian, and actor from TVs Full House; and performances by Grammy award-winning songwriter of “Eye of the Tiger,” Jim Peterik of The Ides of March, formerly of Survivor and Cathy Richardson, lead singer of Jefferson Starship.
“NBAA is energized by the excitement and enthusiasm for the new ways VBACE provided for doing business, building relationships, bettering ourselves as professionals and working together to chart a course for the future,” Bolen concluded. “Our thanks to everyone who was a part of this groundbreaking event.”
With the conclusion of VBACE, NBAA reaffirmed its commitment to two new virtual events in early 2021, announced last month:
- NBAA GO Flight Operations Conference, Feb. 23-25
- NBAA GO Leadership Summit, March 24-25
Bolen: Business Aviation Positioned to Emerge Stronger From Pandemic
Dec. 2, 2020 – As business aviation continues its gradual, incremental recovery from an historic, pandemic-driven fall-off in flight activity, industry leaders see reasons for optimism – including interest from a new kind of clientele, and strong signs of pent-up demand – to offset concerns about the pace of global economic recovery.
Expectations for the industry’s future took focus in the Dec. 2 NBAA GO Virtual Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (VBACE) Thought Leader Session, The New Era of Healthy Travel, sponsored by Honeywell.
During the discussion, NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen said that encouraging data about flight demand and consumer trends provide confidence that the industry will emerge from the pandemic stronger and more adaptive. He identified an uptick in potential first-time users as a particularly promising sign.
“New customers have seen the inherent advantages to business aviation: going more places in less time, reaching destinations they didn’t think they could reach, and flying in a safe, secure and healthy manner,” said Bolen.
Bolen acknowledged that the industry’s recovery relies on a global economic turnaround tied to COVID-19 vaccines, but he expects business aviation to be a leading indicator of that recovery, once vaccines are distributed next year.
Health concerns related to the pandemic have been a major factor driving new consumer interest in business aviation, said Peter Zeeb, managing director with The VanAllen Group.
“Our clients who have maybe been on the fence about business aviation are seeing that it’s an option to eliminate concerns about a cabin packed with people,” said Zeeb.
Brian Wenig, vice president, mechanical systems for Honeywell Aerospace, reported an increased demand for cabin air filtration systems and antimicrobial surface coatings that he believes represents a “new normal” for the industry.
“The level of thoughtfulness toward cleanliness and the sensitivity to clean cabins is something that’s going to stay,” said Wenig.
The overall trajectory for the industry is healthy, said Chris Bodine, vice president and general manager, StandardAero Business Aviation Services. He’s encouraged by data on flight hours and new owner pre-purchase evaluations as a sign that first-time flyers are likely to stick around.