Letter from America: Three BACE veterans share their views of the 2021 event

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Summing up a show in a song title is a great way of capturing the essence of the event. It distils all the conversations, the deals, the launches and the presentations into a few key words that live in the memory long after everyone has returned home.

What song best summarises the National Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition (BACE) that ended in Las Vegas last week? Janine Iannarelli, president of Par Avion, had two. They were ‘Happy’ by Pharrell Williams and ‘Shiny, Happy People’ by REM [also memorably covered by  the B-52s],” Iannarelli told Corporate Jet Investor. “The mood was overwhelmingly positive and upbeat.”

Lou Seno, chairman emeritus at Jet Support Services Inc (JSSI) agreed. That combined with the strength of the aviation market not seen in the past 14 years made the event truly memorable. “Everybody was so happy to see each other,” he says. “People were celebrating the most high-achieving times in the industry in the industry since I’ve been in it.”

For Wayne Starling, executive director, International Aircraft Dealers Association (IADA), the lasting memory will be the joy of long-delayed greetings and meetings. “I’ll remember the excitement that I saw in the eyes of old friends,” he told CJI. “We were used to seeing each other five or eight times a year at events. It had been 18 months for most of us.”

But it wasn’t just a social show. Innovation was on display everywhere, says Iannarelli. “I don’t just mean the state-of-the-art technology that we already expect to find at an aviation tradeshow, but as well the means by which NBAA and the Las Vegas Convention Bureau want to connect with their audience.” That included using modern delivery of messaging, visual representations and entertainment. “It appealed to the sense of progress we are making in every aspect of our lives.”

And as a showcase for the innovation emerging across the industry, BACE 2021 did not disappoint. Among the string of announcements Honda Aircraft Company revealed its concept HondaJet 2600 – claimed to be the world’s first light jet capable of non-stop transcontinental flight. Boosting the performance of the HondaJet Elite S, the 2600 will be able to carry up to 11 occupants for 2,600nm at a top cruise speed of 450 knots. (A formal launch is planned for later).

But it will be for the sustainability commitments that many may remember this year’s show. “On the sustainability side the industry is really showing true unity,” said Seno. The International Business Aviation Council (IBAC) and the NBAA pledged that the industry would continue its goal of increasing fuel efficiency 2% per year between 2020 and 2030 on the flightpath to net-zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2050. NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen said the industry was on track to “meet or exceed these goals”. The convention’s carbon-offset programme made the show one of the world’s largest carbon-neutral aviation events. In addition, nearly 100 exhibitors signed a Green Pledge to reduce their carbon footprint at the show.

“While attendance may have been lighter and at times the exhibit hall had the feel of less traffic, what one gained instead was quality, focused time with those you had scheduled meetings and especially in those impromptu sessions,” says Iannarelli. “The pace was easy, but among the most productive I have ever had at a tradeshow.”

Meanwhile, what song would you choose to sum up BACE 2021?

 

Time spent at BACE was “among the most productive I have ever had at a tradeshow”, says Iannarelli.

 

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