The 2023 National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (NBAA-BACE) kicked off this week in Las Vegas, Nevada, and business aviation professionals were out in force on the first day of the event, Oct. 17, exploring new technologies, equipment, and services.
The morning began with the annual media breakfast hosted by NBAA and the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA). The briefing included an HAI-supported initiative, CLIMBING. FAST, which is an effort to highlight general aviation’s ongoing commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship.
The opening keynote featured a panel discussion in which NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen interviewed FAA Deputy Administrator Katie Thomson and National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Chair Jennifer L. Homendy. Homendy emphasized that the NTSB was placing an even greater emphasis on empirical analysis. “Every decision we make will be data driven,” including safety recommendations and staffing, she said. To great applause, Homendy announced that the NTSB had eliminated its backlog of investigations due to the modernization of the agency.
Thomson, when asked about integrating advanced air mobility (AAM) aircraft into the airspace, said her team is “focused on the art of the possible” and is looking to the future while making policy decisions today.
Later in the program, NBAA presented its most distinguished honor, the 2023 Meritorious Service to Aviation Award, to renowned civilian astronaut, accomplished aviator, entrepreneur, and philanthropist Jared “Rook” Isaacman. At the age of 16, Isaacman dropped out of high school to start one of the earliest online payment-processing applications. His company, Shift4, is now worth well over $4 billion. He is also the founder of Draken International, a supplier of aircraft for national security purposes and provider of operational readiness training. More recently, Isaacman commanded SpaceX’s Inspiration4, the world’s first all-civilian mission to orbit the planet. As part of that operation, he and his crew raised more than $250 million on behalf of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Throughout the day, HAI Chair Nicole Battjes, HAI President and CEO James Viola, and various HAI staff met with industry officials and high-ranking federal policymakers on key issues ranging from workforce development to alternative fuels, including unleaded avgas.
HAI’s presence on the show floor attracted a steady stream of individuals and companies interested in becoming an HAI member and HAI HELI-EXPO 2024 in Anaheim, California.