One Minute NBACE 2012
25,250. A lot of emphasis gets placed on the number of people attending business jet conventions and that was the figure of unique visitors that NBAA registered for its 2012 Convention in Orlando.
So what does it tell us?
First, it is a lot of people. Whilst it is easy to be negative about business aviation it is worth remembering that the global fleet is still growing. NBAA continues to be a really useful show and the biggest business aviation event in the world.
Second, the event had about 750 less delegates than 2011. Some of this was due to Hurricane Sandy – although NBAA is not sure what effect it had. The organisation says that about 200 people (less than 1%) cancelled their registration citing the hurricane. The rest may not have been able to log on to cancel.
Third, NBAA 2012 was the third lowest attended NBAA event in the last 10 years (after 2009 and 2010). It is still 20% down on the average attendance between the late 1990s and 2008. This is not unique to business aviation. Lots of trade shows have falling attendance and based on the square footage of exhibition space NBAA 2011 was the fifth largest trade show in the US according to Trade Show Executive magazine.
But really it tells us very little. The quality of attendees is more important than the overall number and as our analysis of the last 10 year’s shows there is little relation between delegate numbers and overall industry health.
They don’t also give the mood of the event which, in my opinion, was realistic but distracted. Not surprisingly, many of the attendees were watching the horrific effects of Hurricane Sandy. The rest were focusing on the US presidential elections. The big story this week will (hopefully) come on Wednesday when we find out who the next President of the US is.
Everyone seemed resigned to at least another tough year for the market. Senior management at all the other manufacturers had similar views, but Bill Boisture, chairman of Hawker Beechcraft, summed it up best. “I can’t predict when the upturn will come,” he said, “But I can tell you that it won’t be in the next 12 months.”