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Industry Feeling Optimistic After Successful NBAA Convention

By J. Mac McClellan, Director of Publications, EAA 747337

NBAA
Airplanes fill the ramp at Henderson Executive Airport during NBAA2011 this week.

October 13, 2011 – The annual National Business Aviation Association convention held this week in Las Vegas was positive by almost every measure. Attendance was 26,077, up 7 percent from last year, and the 1,101 companies that exhibited marked a 2 percent increase in the number of exhibitors.

Among those exhibitors, EAA was there to spread the news of the association’s efforts to attract new pilots through Young Eagles and other programs. NBAA was also the launch effort for the 2012 sweepstakes airplane fundraiser featuring a classic J-3 Cub. There was a lot of excitement about the Cub and the 75th anniversary of the iconic airplane that will be celebrated at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh next summer.

The NBAA convention has been hit hard the past couple of years following the global financial meltdown in fall 2008. But this year most manufacturers and suppliers were reporting an increase in interest in their products and services.

General and business aviation continues to spread rapidly beyond U.S. borders and most manufacturers said more than half of their new orders for airplanes and equipment were coming from outside North America. The so-called “BRIC” countries of Brazil, Russian, India, and China comprise the most rapidly growing markets for general and business aviation. As an indicator of how important Asia has become, Embraer named Chinese action movie star Jackie Chan as spokesman for its line of business jets.

The NBAA convention was also an opportunity to show the unity of all of GA against proposed $100-per-flight airspace user fees. GA association leaders, including EAA President/CEO Rod Hightower, appeared together on a panel stressing opposition to new user fees and expressing how all of aviation is united in the effort.

Annual benefit raises $220,000 for CAN
Tuesday’s NBAA/CAN Charity Benefit and dinner raised $220,000 to support the Corporate Angel Network (CAN) that links cancer patients who need to travel to treatment centers with empty seats on business airplanes. Since its founding in 1981, CAN has arranged nearly 40,000 patient flights. Today CAN has 530 participating companies, and its staff and volunteers work with patients, physicians, corporate flight departments, and leading treatment centers to coordinate charitable flights.

Also at this year’s benefit, astronaut Gene Cernan presented the first CAN “Angel of the Year” Award to ConocoPhillips for integrating social responsibility into the company’s business flying. ConocoPhillips began its support of CAN in 1983, and since then has flown nearly 6,000 patients to cancer centers best suited to treat their specific types of cancer.

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