NBAA BACE 2018, Business Aviation Shines in Florida
The saying “Time is Money…” is popularly attributed to Benjamin Franklin, although the phrase can be traced back before the American Revolution. A different type of revolution is in the air nowadays; business aviation has definitely taken this adage to heart and new breeds of corporate and private air transports have arrived in the United States to prove this axiom. I was lucky enough to attend the first day of the largest business aviation trade show and convention in North American; here is an idea of some of the products and services on display at the 2018 National Business Aviation Association’s – Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition (NBAA-BACE).
Alternating yearly between Orlando, Florida and Las Vegas, Nevada venues, 2018 was the East Coast’s turn to showcase how owners, operators, and vendors use an aircraft as a time machine. The lure of bypassing traditional airline hubs and timetables and being able to travel on your own schedule, in your own private office, makes sense for a fortunate group of business professionals. New aircraft, taking advantage of leading-edge aviation technologies, were displayed – and their attributes touted – to decision makers during the mid-week convention. Whether it was a small turboprop on floats, or a rotary-winged aircraft, or a long ranged business jet – or anything else in between – chances were that most privately-owned and operated aircraft types were represented.
At the Orlando Executive Airport, the bulk of the NBAA-BACE aircraft static display was arrayed on the ramps of Atlantic Aviation, a busy Fixed Base Operator. On the first day of the Convention, air temperatures soared to an unseasonably warm ninety-four degrees Fahrenheit on the ramp, with a “feels like” heat index of around one hundred degrees. One hundred was approximately the amount of aircraft arrayed on the static display this year too. Most aircraft were opened for interior viewing by appointment only, and many prospective buyers met with company representatives aboard the static aircraft. As a result of this business, portable air conditioners were nearby most aircraft, with hoses and ducts pumping in cooled air for more comfortable appointments without having to operate noisy APUs.
There was much to learn from the exhibition, with information presented by placards, videos and company personnel. Volumes could be written on the information available by these means; here are just a few noteworthy items gleaned from these helpful sources. Aircraft were presented by many of the larger aerospace manufacturing corporations, and aircraft operators presented even more aircraft in Orlando’s outdoor static display, whether it be on behalf of a manufacturer or as a stand-alone company offering charter use of their aircraft. Here are just a few bits of information from the static display:
Airbus: Airbus Corporate Jets currently features a pair of modified next generation jetliners – the ACJ320neo and the ACJ319neo. “neo” stands for New Engine Option, which further improves fuel economy in these long-ranged business jets, equipped with either CFM or Pratt & Whitney engines. The A320, which is larger than the A319, will be the first version of the neo upgrade delivered.
Airbus Helicopters’ ACH-130 and BK-117D2 were displayed too.
Bombardier: This multi-dimensional company displayed a new Global 7500 as well as a smaller Global 6000 and a Challenger 350. The Global models’ “SmoothRide” wing design was featured, touting a smoother ride in comfort… and their “Smoothie” stuffed dog mascots were well received souvenirs for show attendees. Several Lear models were included in different displays too.
Embraer: This Brazilian company chose the NBAA BACE to roll out two new business jet models, the Praetor 500 and 600 mid-sized jets. Along with several Phenom, Legacy, and a larger Lineage jet, the business aircraft lineup by the company was well represented.
Falcon: The newest Falcon business jet, the model 8X, was prominently displayed by the European company, along with a Falcon 2000LX twin and a 900EX trijet. Information on the soon-to-be-produced Falcon 6X jet, the company’s newest offering, was prominent as well.
Gulfstream: The company had examples of its newest and longest-ranged models on display… the Gulfstream G650ER and G600.
The smaller G550, G500 and newer G280 mid-sized jet were also on the ramp.
Honda: Displayed a pair of their HondaJets, with its uniquely mounted engines over the wing.
Pilatus: Displayed one of their best-selling PC-12NG turboprops as well as a new PC-24 jet.
Textron: This company’s portfolio includes a few well-known names… Cessna, Beechcraft, and Bell. New aircraft on display included a Citation Longitude, Latitude and XLS+, and a Bell 505 helicopter. What drew much attention was a pair of display mock-ups, a Cessna Denali cabin and cockpit, and a Cessna SkyCourier cabin display.
The Denali is a large, single engine turboprop in the same class as the Pilatus PC-12, while the new Cessna SkyCourier 408 is a twin turboprop high-winged design of which FedEx Corporation has ordered fifty airframes, with options for another fifty, to be used as feeder aircraft for their package and freight network.
A nineteen passenger cabin mock-up was shown too, to compliment the cargo version which can carry three LD-3 containers.
The big trade show was held inside the sprawling Orange County Convention Center. Aircraft parts, services, maintenance and even a few static aircraft were arrayed within the large building; many companies had elaborate spaces set up for meetings, briefings and discussions away from the hustle and bustle of the thousands of attendees. Other “booths” were home to airport operators, tourism and catering concerns, complete with free samples!
As the first Convention day wound down, receptions began to spring up, some of which including live music and catered gatherings. Sales and networking experiences weren’t just face-to-face meetings, but were memorable experiences in a somewhat relaxed atmosphere amid the great amount of noise and pedestrian movement.
Funny thing, during the one day that I spent at the 2018 NBAA-BACE, time really did fly. Although there were loads of opportunities to see cutting edge examples of today’s and tomorrow’s business aviation industry, there was no way I could see every product, every innovation, and every situation where business aviation could save me time in just one day. Quickly, my visit to the convention ended, and I had to head back to catch an airliner at the Orlando International Airport. Too bad I couldn’t fly directly from Orlando Executive Airport directly to my home town airport, and write this article during those few hours of enroute peace and quiet, in the spacious comfort of an office in the sky. I’d save a lot of time, and thus money, this way – a lesson reinforced during the Convention.