NBAA Convention show floor
Visitors to this year's NBAA Convention will be offered a cornucopia of business aviation opportunities to sample, from 1,100 exhibitors and a static display inside the Las Vegas Convention Center to the outdoor static display at Henderson Executive Airport, with nearly 100 aircraft expected. (Photo: David McIntosh)

Las Vegas welcomes 2017 NBAA convention

As is typical when the annual NBAA Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (NBAA-BACE) takes place in Las Vegas, a likely record numbers of attendees are expected. This year's event, from October 10 to 12, could draw at least 27,000 visitors. And they will be offered a cornucopia of business aviation opportunities to sample, from 1,100 exhibitors. There will be static displays both inside the Las Vegas Convention Center and at Henderson Executive Airport, where nearly 100 aircraft are expected.

While this show primarily focuses on business aviation, it makes room for the lighter side of general aviation, and a variety of companies are displaying some interesting airplanes. These include Aerometal with a DC-3, an American Champion Super Decathlon, Aviat’s Husky, and Rare Aircraft with a Stinson SR-9F and Waco UPF-7.

Manufacturers typically wait until the last minute to announce their biggest news for the NBAA convention, but the rumor mill this year isn’t exactly full of speculation about new-model plans. Some airframers will unveil interiors for upcoming business jets, and it is possible that we'll hear certification announcements, such as for the Pilatus PC-24 and Gulfstream G500.

The NBAA show is not just about products; it also offers plenty of safety, operational, and maintenance seminars. Before the convention opens, the NBAA is holding its annual Single Pilot Safety Standdown (October 9), and on the final day the National Safety Forum (October 12). Both events are free. The standdown “will focus on building a safety culture in a small or single-pilot organization,” according to the association, “while the third annual NBAA National Safety Forum begins with keynote addresses from FAA and NTSB representatives, and also will focus on three of the 2017 NBAA Top Safety Focus Areas: fitness for duty, airport and ground-handling safety, and loss of control inflight.”

On the evening of October 11, the annual fundraising event to benefit the Corporate Angel Network (CAN) transitions to a new format. The Fund an Angel Cocktail Reception at the Wynn Las Vegas (formerly the NBAA/CAN Soiree), will feature live and silent auctions, cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, and networking with industry leaders and colleagues. Funds from the event will help CAN continue arranging flights for cancer patients and their families to and from treatment. CAN coordinates about 225 such flights each month and has arranged more than 53,000 since 1981. Spanky Assiter of Barrett-Jackson fame will once again be conducting a live auction of approximately six high-value lots at the event. Donations for both the live and silent auctions are still being accepted.

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Funds from the event will help CAN continue its work to arrange flights for cancer patients to and from treatment.

The Opening General Session on the first day of the show (October 10) will feature FAA Administrator Michael Huerta, Apollo 13 Captain Jim Lovell, Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kansas), NTSB chairman Robert Sumwalt, and Rep. Dina Titus (D-Nevada).

Astronauts Mark and Scott Kelly will both make keynote speeches during the second Opening General Session on the morning of October 11. “They are truly remarkable figures in America's aviation and aerospace industry,” said NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen, “and we know attendees will appreciate hearing the lessons they’ve taken from their distinguished military service, participation in the space program, and their experiences in leadership and overcoming obstacles.”

The NBAA will also honor MedAire founder Joan Sullivan Garrett and former Gulfstream Aerospace executive Preston Henne, with its most prestigious awards. Garrett will receive the Meritorious Service to Aviation Award, which recognizes “extraordinary lifelong contributions to aviation.” Henne will be honored with the John P. (Jack) Doswell Award, which recognizes “lifelong individual achievement on behalf of and in support of the aims, goals, and objectives of business aviation.”

On the final day of the convention (October 12), students, faculty, and chaperones are invited to the free Careers in Business Aviation Day. “The association dedicates the final day of NBAA-BACE to students because we are invested in business aviation’s future,” said Peter Korns, the NBAA’s manager of operations.

The NBAA is welcoming some new exhibitors this year, including XTI Aircraft, which is designing a radical vertical takeoff and landing and fast horizontal flying personal and executive aircraft, the TriFan 600. Capable of carrying six occupants, the TriFan 600 is expected to fly at 300 knots, above 30,000 feet, and with a range of 1,100 nautical miles.

Although not business aviation-related, Gavin de Becker & Associates will be touting its Private Suite at Los Angeles International Airport. The company describes the facility as similar to an FBO but for airline customers, where travelers can be screened by the TSA; wait for their flight in a private area with its own bathroom, pantry, and daybed; then be driven directly to their airplane without having to go through the terminal.

Other interesting new exhibitors include Scott International Procedures, which offers training and information for business aircraft operators flying outside the U.S; and a new company called Hangar Tonight, which seeks to facilitate last-minute overnight storage via an iOS app, much like the Hotel Tonight app for short-term accommodations.