EBACE 2019 Registration
Photo: Mark Wagner

The National Business Aviation Association

What It Is: A 501(c)3 trade association, the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) represents providers and consumers of general and business aviation goods and services, provides professional accreditation and training programs, and organizes industry-focused events worldwide.

How It Grew: In 1946, some half dozen corporate aircraft operators, eager to promote and protect business aviation, met in New York City and resolved to start an organization for that purpose; the next year, they founded the Corporation Aircraft Owners Association (CAOA), the NBAA’s predecessor.

The organization moved from New York to Washington, D.C., in 1951 to work more closely with the Civil Aeronautics Administration. With a growing and diverse membership (some 250 companies operating a diverse fleet of 750 aircraft), the group changed its name in 1953 to the National Business Aircraft Association. In 1954, the NBAA held its first three-day convention, in Dallas.

The NBAA subsequently helped lay the foundation for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and its mandate to provide equal airspace access to all. The first international or “affiliate” member, Mobil Oil Canada, joined in 1971, and the NBAA held the first annual International Operators Conference, reflecting the growing global missions of business aviation, in 1974. Many other annual forums and conferences and accreditation programs have been introduced since, and the NBAA led the effort to create the International Business Aviation Council, a federation of national and regional business aviation organizations, in 1981.

At its 50th anniversary in 1997, the group renamed itself the National Business Aviation Association, to more accurately reflect its wide and growing constituency.

Responding to business aviation’s growing global footprint, the NBAA held the first annual European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (EBACE) in 2001 and began hosting an annual Asian gathering (ABACE) in 2005.

At the depths of the Great Recession and Congressional vilification of business aviation, in 2009 the NBAA spearheaded the launch of the No Plane, No Gain public relations campaign. Nearly a decade later, the association led the coalition that won approval for air-traffic-control modernization over privatization.

Ed Bolen has been president and CEO of the NBAA since 2004. For about eight years before that, he held the same titles at the General Aviation Manufacturers Association.

What It Offers:

Advocacy. Provides testimony, data, and other input in shaping policy and perceptions.

Training. Accreditation programs such as Certified Aircraft Manager.

Events. Regional forums and conferences and national and international trade shows.

Recent News: This week, the NBAA staged its Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition, the world’s largest annual civil aviation trade show, in Las Vegas.

Worth Noting: NBAA’s lobbying expenses declined dramatically in 2019 (to less than $1.3 million thus far), compared with the approximately $4 million and $3.4 million spent in 2017 and 2018, respectively, during the successful campaign to prevent ATC privatization.


Founded: 1947

HQ: Washington, D.C.

Staff: About 87

Number of member companies: 11,000

President and CEO: Ed Bolen

Website: nbaa.org