On January 30th I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the National Business Aircraft Association’s Regional Forum in Boca Raton, Florida on behalf of Embry-Riddle. The exhibitor area and static display ramp were sold out with over 80 vendors and 20 aircraft.
The advances in technology were at the forefront in the static display area with Cessna showing off its newest revision Sovereign aircraft alongside its TTx piston rocketship and Gulfstream bringing its G280 demonstrator. Turboprop aircraft were also shown off including a new Quest Kodiak, a Beech King Air 250, and the ever pleasing Piaggio Avanti II, rounding out the new aircraft contingent. On the technology side, FltPlan.com was there supporting their online and mobile flight planning applications and many vendors were selling new iPad and wireless capable apps for everything from flight and performance planning to inflight wifi. The ever changing technology is sure driving the revived business and general aviation markets!
The real purpose of traveling down to Boca was to interview five industry officials and get their take on the state of business and general aviation as a whole and maybe provide some insight into the future. First I heard from Gil Wolin of Wolin Aviation Consulting, a man that grew up in the back of his dad’s V-tail Bonanza and has been in the industry for over 70 years. He brought up the points that aircraft sales are up and that new aircraft are driving these numbers even higher, validating my point that new technology is again driving a prominent industry in a time of uncertainty. We then heard from Mr. Steve Johns, an aviation insurance broker from Michigan with over 25 years of experience in the industry. Mr. Johns spoke about insurance rates and that they are decreasing and have been for some time now, helping the unstable market in these times. Mike O’Keeffe from Banyan Air Service also spoke with us about FBO and aircraft sales being positive in late 2013 and early 2014, again showing good signs for our industry at the moment.
To wrap this all up I just want to reassert that general aviation is such an important piece in the global economy. It isn’t only a thing of pleasure, it is a definite business tool for everyone from middle managers to top level management in all sorts of industries. Flying in an airplane is a true form of being able to time travel, something that people have been dreaming about for quite some time. Being able to travel anywhere quicker than the airlines, get closer to the destination you are really going to, and still have an office to work in with wifi connectivity makes business aviation a go-to answer for any sized company or family really. Thanks to organizations like NBAA, AOPA, and EAA and initiatives like No Plane No Gain, general aviation is on an upswing and might once again return to its glory days.
For more coverage of the NBAA event in Boca and other ERAU College of Business and aviation news, join me on the new COB Report video series on our YouTube channel at youtube.com/user/eraubusiness and view our newest video recap on the NBAA event in Boca Raton (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_lmefabO_nI).