This year's NBAA-BACE ended on a strong note after several days of major new jet orders, unveiled mock-ups of new airplanes, and a sense that aviation is on the upswing. But what, specifically, stood-out? Dave Higdon summarizes events in Orlando…
The more-than 300 orders and options NetJets placed with Textron Aviation's Cessna division got the ball rolling, and businesses exhibiting in Orlando were generally reporting stronger activity this year than last.
Fuel vendors reported better sales this year, aircraft orders are strong, and the outlook for the next ten years point toward solid sales over the period.
The first forecast out of the convention came from Honeywell, predicting new jet sales of about 7,800 through 2029, buoying the mood all around, and with some vendors expressing surprise at the strength of the forecast.
Later in the show a nearly identical outlook emerged from JETNET, whose detailed forecast expects more than 7,700 new jet sales in the same timeframe.
Used aircraft dealers and brokers noted that sales have been strong enough to cause some models to be in short supply, with inventory of jets for sale dropping to their lowest levels in years (between 9% and 10% of the total fleet) and with Light jets among the best-selling segment currently.
Avionics was Hot News, Too
Long-time GA avionics supplier Avidyne noted progress on its programs aimed at updating panels on older Cessna Citation CJ1, CJ2 and CJ3 jets.
Meanwhile, Universal Avionics unveiled a new wearable HUD system that lets the pilot use their eyes to select and activate navigation, approach and runway choices. This is a system which includes the option to activate a blended Enhanced and Synthetic Vision System, all displayed on the screen of the wearable HUD.
And there were many, many other electronics introduced – too many to get into any depth on here - but suffice it to say, advances in avionics are in no way slowing.
Reaction to Congress' Reauthorization of the FAA
On the opening-day morning, the annual NBAA-GAMA state-of-the industry report recognized again the importance of the five-year bill passed and signed earlier this month, with NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen and GAMA president Pete Bunce both citing the value of a five-year bill.
The first five-year bill in years will be a massive boost to the long-term planning and activities of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The absence of any language about so-called privatization of the FAA was a particular point of celebration.
But the presentation came with a caution: The proponents of privatization will be back, trying harder than ever when the time approaches to renew the FAA authorization five years hence.
And don't be surprised if those pro-privatization drums don't start beating even earlier as the commercial airlines – virtually the only aviation segment pushing for the change – try to build a propaganda campaign in support of their wishes.
With good attendance and strong industry support, a packed hall at the Orange County Convention Center and a loaded static display, the NBAA members and exhibitors headed home Thursday evening already looking ahead to the 2019 NBAA-BACE in Las Vegas. See you there!