The Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (NBAA-BACE), held at the Orange County Convention Centre and Orlando Executive Airport from 16 – 18 October, demonstrated once again that it is the world’s largest event dedicated to corporate aviation – 25,000 visitors, over 1,000 exhibitors (of which over 100 were making their BACE debut) from some 90 countries and over 100 aircraft in the extensive static display.
NBAA CEO Ed Bolen summed up this year’s NBAA-BACE in distinctly positive terms: “We focused on the people, technologies and leadership qualities that will maximise today’s opportunities, while keeping an eye on the investment and innovation that will drive the industry’s future.”
Embraer, Textron and NetJets stole many of the headlines at NBAA-BACE 2018. The Brazilian manufacturer unveiled two new models – the Praetor 500 and 600 – as well as significant enhancements to its baseline Legacy 450 and 500 models, while fractional heavyweight NetJets announced options for 175 of Textron’s Cessna Citation Longitude and up to 150 of its Cessna Citation Hemisphere.
The Hemisphere commitment makes NetJets the launch customer for the largest Citation model, although the project remains suspended by the manufacturer while it works with engine maker Safran to resolve issues with the Silvercrest powerplant. NetJets has confirmed that it is seeking to take Longitude deliveries between late 2019 and 2033. The fractional specialist has purchased over 500 Citations of various marques since 1984.
Headlines aside, this year’s NBAA-BACE was held against a backdrop of a strengthening US economy, OEMs bringing a host of new models onto the market and continuing developments in new technologies. Industry analysts also made much of the strength of the US pre-owned market and the uplift this has had on aircraft values. The NBAA in particular was celebrating its efforts to ensure that the signed the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 was passed without the controversial amendment to privatise the US air traffic control system (ATC).
The NBAA’s other principal focus this year was on safety. In particular, a session on single-pilot safety and the National Safety Forum examined skill maintenance and the impact of automation. With a significant nod to the future, a panel discussion in the NBAA Innovation Zone examined electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft. NBAA-BACE returns to Las Vegas in 2019 from 22 – 24 October.