The European Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition (EBACE) has grown to become one of the world’s premier aviation events. It will host nearly every aspect of business aviation as it returns to Geneva from May 29 to 31
Thousands of business leaders, government officials, manufacturers, flight department personnel and all manner of people involved in nearly every aspect of business aviation will meet at the 2018 European Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition (EBACE2018) returning from May 29 to 31 to the Palexpo Convention Hall and the Geneva International Airport in Geneva, Switzerland.
Jointly hosted each year by the European Business Aviation Association (EBAA), the leading association for business aviation in Europe, and the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), the key voice for the business aviation industry in the United States, EBACE is the premier annual meeting place for the European business aviation community.
Delegates attending EBACE2018 will be able to speak directly with representatives with hundreds of exhibitor companies, including aircraft manufacturers and financiers, service providers, legal specialists and more. A short distance away at Geneva International Airport, more than 50 of the most advanced business aircraft available will be on static display, providing attendees an opportunity to examine a vast range of aircraft of all sizes and for all missions.
Arabian Knight recently spoke with NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen about trends in the global business aviation marketplace, and the role of EBACE in promoting the industry. Excerpts from the interview:
EBACE is celebrating its 18th anniversary this year. How has the journey been so far?
It’s certainly been an exciting journey. As recognition has increased for the many contributions of business aviation to citizens and communities throughout the European continent, so too has EBACE grown to become one of the world’s premier aviation events.
The inaugural EBACE in 2001 featured approximately 200 exhibitors, and 30 aircraft on static display; by comparison, last year’s EBACE drew more than 400 exhibitors and over 50 aircraft on display, with attendees from more than 100 countries across the European region and beyond. We fully expect to build on these impressive numbers at EBACE2018.
What are the highlights of the show this year?
EBACE is renowned for its impressive and dynamic speakers, and this year’s event will continue this tradition. As one example, our opening session will feature Yves “Jetman” Rossy, inventor of a series of experimental individual jet packs. A Swiss military-trained pilot with both fighter jet and passenger airliner experience, Rossy has flown over the Alps and across the Grand Canyon, and he’s also attempted to cross the Strait of Gibraltar. Those experiences should form the basis for a very interesting and exciting presentation.
Of course, EBACE also offers an annual demonstration of our industry’s contributions to the European community. Those attending EBACE2018 will have the opportunity to learn about EBAA’s recently launched Expanding Horizons programme, a multi-year campaign to provide education about, and positively establish perceptions surrounding, the value and benefits of business aviation to Europe.
What are the key topics of discussion at the seminars and conferences?
In addition to its role as Europe’s largest convention and trade event focusing on business aviation, EBACE is also the European business aviation industry’s largest education venue. Among the many important issues to be addressed during sessions at EBACE2018 include the looming impact of “Brexit” on global business aviation operations; environmental responsibility and sustainability, including the emerging field of alternative fuels; and operational safety and security.
How has the show helped bring business aviation into the mainstream?
Throughout its history, EBACE has showcased the important role of business aviation across Europe, while also hosting a wide variety of exciting announcements for new products and features. Today, EBACE is known not only as the premier event focused on business aviation across Europe, but also a must-attend event for industry stakeholders from around the globe.
This year’s show promises to continue that tradition, as we expect many surprise appearances and announcements, relayed to a global audience by hundreds of accredited media representatives from news organisations from around the world.
Please comment on the current state of business aviation globally in terms of growth and challenges.
Although our industry remains a strong and vital presence around the globe, we continue to face challenges on several fronts. Regulatory issues remain a concern, particularly as we look to the upcoming 2019 implementation of “Brexit” that will carry ramifications not only for European operators, but business aviation stakeholders worldwide.
Perhaps of even greater concern, however, is the ongoing need to attract new personnel to fulfil a multitude of roles in our industry. That includes pilots, aircraft maintenance technicians, dispatchers and other important jobs in our industry that help ensure entrepreneurs and companies wanting to use business airplane are able to do so.
How was 2017 for the industry and how do you see the sector growing this year and in the short term?
NBAA doesn’t offer forecasts, but we do know that, globally, our industry continued its incremental but sustained rebound last year from the depths of the global economic downturn of 2008-2009. For the first time since the recession there was a small but consistent uptick in European business aviation flight hours, which has continued into this year as well.
Other regions have experienced similar growth over the past five years, but the effects in Europe lingered deeper and longer – so it’s incredibly encouraging to see this increase now, and there are several promising indications those trends will continue on both the regional and international levels.
What are the major trends you see in the sector?
I think we’ll continue to see our industry mature and evolve on the global stage, as emerging markets like the Asia-Pacific continue to discover the many roles that business aviation may serve. I also believe we’ll see greater understanding of this industry’s importance from worldwide officials and regulatory agencies.
Of course, business aircraft manufacturers and suppliers will continue to introduce new and even more advanced offerings that will provide even greater capabilities and efficiency, while also ensuring that passengers onboard remain connected to, and engaged with, their peers on the ground.
In your opinion, how is technology changing the sector? What are some of the big innovations happening?
This really is an exciting time, as we watch our industry embrace a host of technological developments that would have been unthinkable a generation ago.
Today’s advanced glass cockpit flight decks provide unparalleled situational awareness to flight crews that greatly enhance operational safety. High-resolution displays provide incredibly accurate GPS-based navigational information, while NEXRAD provides detailed weather trend information to help pilots understand the complete flight environment.
Back in the cabin, satellite connectivity allows passengers to continue working and interacting with their peers even as they cross oceans at 51,000 feet, while also providing maintenance crews on the ground with detailed data about aircraft systems and use streamed in real-time. Another exciting technological trend is the expanded availability and use of renewable, sustainable fuels for business aviation aircraft, and there will be a major announcement to share in that regard at EBACE2018.
Is business aviation becoming more about luxury than business?
At its core, business aviation has always been, and always will be about helping people and companies be more nimble and successful in the increasingly competitive business marketplace. A business aircraft offers a true office in the sky – a key competitive asset, like a laptop, smartphone or other business tool.
While aboard, employees may work collaboratively enroute to their destination, productively and without fear of corporate espionage. This allows company representatives to efficiently reach multiple cities with a scheduling flexibility that allows them to respond more quickly if unexpected opportunities arise.
The Middle East is a major region for business jets. How is the region represented at the show?
Business aviation is by nature a closely-integrated industry, offering the unparalleled ability to link communities and companies around the world, including North America, Europe and, of course, the Middle East. EBACE has traditionally hosted exhibitors from countries including Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and United Arab Emirates, and this will continue at EBACE2018. Additionally, more than 500 attendees from across the region have already registered to attend the event.
Lack of skilled workforce is said to be an issue in the industry. How big is this problem and is EBACE addressing this issue?
As we discussed above, one of the most significant issues affecting not only business aviation operators in Europe, but also worldwide, is the shortage of qualified personnel entering the industry. Following a successful introduction last year, Careers in Business Aviation Day will return to EBACE2018 to introduce students to business aviation and help ensure this next generation of aviation leaders have the opportunity to explore and learn about our industry and its many rewarding career opportunities.
Additionally, a dedicated session will highlight the many roles available to millennials throughout business aviation and offer an important networking opportunity for young professionals already in our industry who are looking to advance in their careers. Ours is an incredibly dynamic industry, offering incredible opportunities to the next generation of aviation professionals. That message can’t be shared too often.
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