Optimistic. Innovative. Inspirational. These are just some of the words I’d use to describe the momentous week that thousands of us enjoyed at the just-concluded NBAA-BACE 2021 in Las Vegas. Following are a few notable highlights.
Advanced air mobility (AAM). This is a hot, hot, hot topic. It’s all about emerging technology designed to move people and products in a more community-friendly, cost-effective aircraft that takes off and lands vertically.
Case in point: BACE attendees could book a $99 seat on a Blade helicopter shuttle, operated by Maverick Helicopters, to get to and from the Las Vegas Convention Center and the static display at Henderson Executive Airport. It cut travel time nearly in half.
The key to AAM is to create greener, noise-reductive, electric and hybrid aircraft. And to incorporate learning among engineers and production people to bring products to market more quickly.
Sustainability. The business aviation industry is rallying around its commitment to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. The quickest way to reach this green goal is through the use of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and other emerging technologies, such as AAM electric aircraft.
And speaking of aircraft, manufacturers are finding ways to lower carbon emissions by incorporating more recycled materials. I was pleased to see that so many BACE exhibitors signed the “Green Pledge” to reduce their environmental impact as it relates to procurement, shipping, waste management, marketing, and recycling.
Attraction and retention. As many of you know, I’ve been sharing my concerns about the aviation talent shortage since 2011. And the topic continues to be front and center, as many companies evidently are finding it difficult to attract the right level of talent needed to make a “cultural add” for their growing teams. (A cultural add means hiring someone with new, fresh, and different ideas and experiences.)
While the hiring demand is strong in Part 135, corporate operators are still holding back on filling open pilot and maintenance positions. Moving forward, it’s important to consider what your organization needs to create a “sticky workplace.”
Most candidates are looking for attractive compensation and benefits coupled with some sort of predictable schedule that contributes to quality of life. It is clear that we need to continue to hone our skills as to how to compete with not only the airlines but other business aviation employers as the competition for talent continues to heat up.
Future leaders. One of the more memorable events of the convention was attending the 40 Under 40 awards luncheon. I loved soaking up the energy and contagious enthusiasm from our industry’s young professionals—or “YoPros” as we call them.
More than 300 nominations were submitted this past year, and I very much enjoyed being seated alongside several award recipients from 2020 and 2021, including Kim Kissh, a captain at AbbVie; Julia Harrington, an aerobatic pilot and lead captain/base manager for Axis Jet; Jamie Santiago Munoz, general manager at Galaxy FBO; and Jared Hasty, director of sales for Ogarajets. I’m especially grateful that my nomination was accepted for the highly talented Elliott Taub, who is the assistant manager of aviation at Advanced Drainage Systems. Our industry is in great hands with these emerging leaders!
Giving back. Always a highlight of BACE is the Fund an Angel reception supporting Corporate Angel Network. I am always so moved by the generosity of our operators in sharing space on their airplanes with cancer patients traveling to life-saving treatments. This event always makes me so very proud to be part of this industry, and it is amazing that nearly $500,000 was raised.
In closing, I just want to reiterate that it was wonderful to be back in person for our industry’s biggest event. It was absolutely what I needed to reconnect with the people that make this industry so special—and I’m looking forward to finishing out 2021 strong to ensure that we’re all poised for a successful 2022!
Sheryl Barden, CAM, is the president and CEO of Aviation Personnel International, the longest-running recruiting and HR consulting firm exclusively serving the needs of business aviation. A thought leader on all things related to business aviation professionals, Barden is a former member NBAA’s board of directors and currently serves on the NBAA advisory council.