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Signs of Recovery Seen at NBAA

By Dave Higdon, for EAA.org

Cirrus at NBAA
Cirrus Design was among the small-jet makers to take advantage of the floor traffic to show off improvements to the SJ50 Vision Jet, which debuted at EAA AirVenture 2008.

October 22, 2009 — The crowds never choked the aisles and the amount of booth space sold was obviously down, but the 62nd National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) convention ended its run here Thursday with small signs of an uptick in business aircraft sales and use that helped counter three days otherwise muted by the depressed nature of the business.

Officially, NBAA reports that attendance for the three-day convention was 22,821, about 25 percent fewer than the 30,811 in 2008. Exhibitors numbered 1,075, or 9 percent off last year’s record number, and floor space was 85 percent sold as opposed to 2008, which was a sellout.

“Even in the tough climate we are in, the support for this show proves it remains an absolutely essential venue for the buyers and sellers in our industry to connect and promote a true and positive image of business aviation,” said Ed Bolen, NBAA president and CEO.

Registration through the first two days was down by about 25 percent, and the exhibit hall, while appearing as full as ever, actually took up a smaller footprint, even after NBAA broke the 1,000 mark in exhibitors.

The lack of Cessna Aircraft and Hawker Beechcraft on the exhibit hall floor and the stronger emphasis many other vendors placed on the aircraft static display at Orlando Executive Airport (ORL) was seen as a factor in siphoning off floor traffic at the Orange County Convention Center and helped raise a question about future conventions.

Speakers throughout the show reminded the delegates of the important role general aviation plays for thousands of small cities and towns that lack air service. The EAA exhibit anchored by the Aviat Husky did a brisk business in explaining the Young Eagles program and delivering the association’s message about the importance of developing tomorrow’s pilots.

NBAA and AOPA generated interest in their newly announced partnership in providing a Light Business Aviation (LBA) event tailored to light piston and light turboprop owners and pilots who use their aircraft in the service of their businesses. The partnership will start at the 2010 NBAA convention in Atlanta Oct. 19-21 and the 2011 LBA event will be held in conjunction with that year’s AOPA Summit in Long Beach, scheduled for Nov. 11-13.

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