NBAA Show Figures Are In, Reflecting Challenging Times

Attendance at the National Business Aviation Association convention in Orlando last week was down by 25 percent compared with last year. The 23,000 figure is the second lowest since 1994, exceeded only by the hastily rescheduled show held in the wake of Sept. 11, 2001, when fewer than 12,000 registered. On the plus side, most exhibitors from 2008 were back - 95 percent according to NBAA. But many had smaller booths and brought fewer employees. Cessna and Hawker Beechcraft chose to forego their space on the exhibit floor in favor of retaining their presence at the aircraft static display at Orlando Executive Airport. Still, the association chose the upbeat theme, noting that the 62nd NBAA meeting was an opportunity for the business aviation industry to put its collective heads and hearts together and look forward to recovery. Also on the agenda in Orlando was continuing the effort to reverse a negative public image of corporate flying. NBAA's "No Plane, No Gain" campaign has contributed to a more positive view of corporate aviation, particularly in Congress where the loss of an estimated 30,000 jobs in the industry has sparked deep concern - particularly in aviation-rich areas such as Wichita.

Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.

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