NBAA-BACE Returns To Orlando With Focus On Future, Innovation

Business Jet
Credit: Hans Neleman/Getty Images

The 2022 edition of the National Business Aviation Association’s Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition (NBAA-BACE) is the second since COVID-19 first threatened business aviation’s existence then turbocharged the industry’s growth. 

NBAA-BACE will be held Oct. 18-20 at Orlando’s Orange County Convention Center with 1,000 exhibitors and dozens of aircraft on static display at the Orlando Executive Airport. 

“2022 NBAA-BACE is the personal connection you need to the people, products and intelligence that are building the bright future of business aviation and helping you make your business more efficient, productive and successful,” organizers say.

In 2023 and 2024, the event will be held subsequently in Las Vegas instead of rotating with Orlando as it has in previous years. 

Sustainability will be a key focus of the event. It follows August’s passing of the Inflation Reduction Act, which included additional blenders’ tax credits designed to increase the uptake of sustainable aviation fuels (SAF), an issue the industry, including NBAA, has lobbied for extensively.

Business aviation has long highlighted its relatively small part in the overall picture—contributing a claimed 2% of aviation’s emissions, which are themselves just 2% of the global total. And the sector can rightly point to its track record of early adoption of fuel-saving and emissions-reducing technologies. Several conference sessions will be devoted to SAF uptake and how to achieve more sustainable operations. 

With new entrant technologies, advanced air mobility and uncrewed aircraft are developing rapidly, which offer the promise of zero emissions flight. 

The next FAA reauthorization bill in 2023 will address these technologies, the industry’s workforce and the infrastructure required to integrate the aircraft into the National Airspace System. 

A number of conference sessions are scheduled to explore these themes, while the growing number of AAM providers exhibiting during NBAA-BACE underline how seriously the new players are taking this corner of the aerospace market. Adjacent to the main keynote stage will feature an Emerging Technology Zone with a lineup of advanced air mobility aircraft and emerging technologies, such as hydrogen and electric propulsion. Eight related organizations will exhibit at NBAA-BACE include Electra.aero, Honeywell Aerospace, Jaunt, Overair, Silent Falcon, Supernal, Unmanned Safety Institute, Wisk and ZeroAvia. Along with its lineup of aircraft, 

At the same time, more than 30 education sessions on a wide range of issues important to business aviation professionals will be held over the course of the show.

Alongside the customarily extensive presentations and panels devoted to safety and operational issues, a string of keynote presentations—billed as “Legends, Leaders and Luminaries”—come from figures inside and outside the sector. 

On Day 1, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson is billed to speak on “America’s Reach for Distant Horizons,” while NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. will deliver leadership lessons from the track and beyond. On Oct. 19, the morning keynote comes from actor Monica Barbaro, stunt pilot Kevin LaRosa II and U.S. Navy Blue Angels pilot Frank Weisser, who will discuss their work on the recent "Top Gun: Maverick" movie.

Perhaps with less showbiz pizzazz, but likely to be as keenly anticipated by attendees, keynotes will also come from acting FAA head Billy Nolen, and the executive director of EASA, Patrick Ky. But the "Top Gun" theme will continue when the conference hears from Tammie Jo Shults, captain of the Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 that suffered uncontained engine failure and rapid cabin decompression during a flight from New York La Guardia Airport to Dallas Love Field in April 2018. Shults, who has served on the Transportation Department's Women In Aviation Advisory Board, was one of the U.S. Navy’s first female F/A-18 Hornet pilots, and did a stint in the Navy’s aggressor squadron, training real-life Top Gun students.

If there is one thread that links all these issues, it is people. And with an acute skills shortage causing headaches across the entire aerospace ecosystem, NBAA-BACE will address recruitment and retention. What can the sector do to recruit and retain the best talent when the generation entering the jobs marketplace have unprecedentedly high levels of concern about environmental responsibility? What can businesses in the sector do to ensure their diversity, equality and inclusion programs succeed when new companies with new thinking are coming into the sector? And how can leaders in the industry ensure their companies are configured not just to bring the best out of their team members, but to make those people feel sufficiently valued and motivated? A series of presentations and panels look set to sink their teeth into these topics, too.

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.