NBAA-BACE Is Back With a Mix of Old and New

The 2021 NBAA-BACE opened in Las Vegas on Oct. 12 after a year’s hiatus with new features: a dedicated maintenance pavilion, advanced air mobility zone, a dedicated owner/single-pilot pavilion, and a new way to travel between the convention center and the static display—by helicopter.

NBAA-BACE is held inside the new, state-of-the-art West Hall at the Las Vegas Convention Center.  More than 750 exhibitors, including 100 first-timers, plan to showcase their products and services, down from about 900 in typical years.

There is much excitement about the return of the show, canceled last year due to the pandemic, and registrations are strong, says Dan Hubbard, NBAA spokesman. However, it was not likely to meet the attendance figures of 2019. Some company policies are still preventing corporate travel because of the COVID-19 pandemic. And travel restrictions will prevent some international travelers from attending. Gulfstream, for example, will be absent because of corporate travel restrictions. Other companies, such as Bombardier and Textron Aviation, are emphasizing their outdoor static displays, although they will still have an indoor presence.

“We’re pleased with what we’re looking at now,” Hubbard says of preshow attendance figures.

For the first time, Blade Urban Air Mobility is offering by-the-seat helicopter flights operated by Maverick Helicopters between the Las Vegas Convention Center and the static display at Henderson Executive Airport with a special show price of $99. Each flight will seat up to six passengers and fly over traffic during show hours.

There are other changes at this year’s NBAA-BACE. For one, attendees must show proof of COVID-19 vaccination before entering as a health safeguard, and all must wear masks.

Other established events are returning this year. NBAA has a full slate of keynote speakers and educational sessions on topics including air mobility, sustainability, safety, aircraft legal and tax issues, regulatory changes affecting international flights, onboard food safety and aviation security.

Promoting Business Aviation

The convention is a good way to promote the advantages and values of business aviation and the jobs and economic development it creates, says Ed Bolen, NBAA president and CEO.

“NBAA is always a great opportunity to highlight industry issues and challenges and get out the message about what business aviation is and what it offers,” Bolen says.

One of the most important issues is the industry’s commitment to a sustainable future, highlighted by a newsmakers luncheon that is part of the 2021 Business Aviation Sustainability Summit. “If you go back to the beginning of the COVID-19 environment, there was a focus on sustainability,” Bolen says. “Those issues have not gone away.”

For one, NBAA has ensured that there is a growing availability of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) at Henderson Executive Airport and McCarran International Airport during the week of the show. The use of SAF can reduce aviation’s life-cycle carbon emissions by up to 80%, it says. NBAA also is introducing a new carbon offset program at the convention, making it one of the largest carbon-neutral trade shows in the country. Nearly 100 exhibitors have signed a new “Green Pledge” to mitigate their carbon footprint for NBAA-BACE.

In the broader picture, the industry is adopting new procedures and technologies, such as composites for lighter weight, procedures for more-direct routings, and winglets for more efficiency. It also is focused on SAFs and sustainable products used in aircraft. Case in point: Bombardier’s recently announced Challenger 3500, an upgraded Challenger 350 with a new interior that includes options for fabrics, carpets and veneers made from environmentally friendly materials.

In addition, NBAA-BACE will showcase new technologies in advanced air mobility. The focus for business aviation has always been on “getting people where they need to go when they need to go,” Bolen says.

The maintenance pavilion will bring providers of maintenance, overhaul and repair services together. NBAA wanted to do something for those in the maintenance community after dedicated in-person maintenance conferences were canceled two years in a row because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A dedicated owner/single-pilot pavilion on the static display at Henderson Airport will highlight the segment’s importance to business aviation, organizers say. It will showcase owner and pilot associations and inform attendees of technological and operational advances tailored for single pilots.

“By bringing this community together at NBAA-BACE in a dedicated pavilion, we can showcase these growing groups and provide useful information regarding their operations,” says Andrew Broom, NBAA senior vice president of strategy, marketing and innovation.

Molly McMillin

Molly McMillin, a 25-year aviation journalist, is managing editor of business aviation for the Aviation Week Network and editor-in-chief of The Weekly of Business Aviation, an Aviation Week market intelligence report.