Going Direct: NBAA 2017 Wraps Up: 7 Important Takeaways

It was a show unlike any other, in ways both bad and good. Despite the sad context, there was a lot of important conversation and some big announcements.

Leaving NBAA 2017

7. Tragedy: It’s sad but undeniable that the number one story on everyone’s mind was the mass shooting that preceded the event by a week. The murderous attack on innocent concert-goers by Stephen Paddock killed 58 and injured hundreds more. Paddock killed himself just as Las Vegas police were breaking into his room at the Mandalay Bay resort, located 15 minutes south of the convention center, where NBAA took place. The mood at the convention was very much like the mood of everyone else in Las Vegas. People were gambling and seeing shows and going about their jobs or daily routines, but the tragedy was never far from their minds. Another thing that was never far from our minds was...

6. the Looming ATC Privatization Scam. The proposal, currently making its serpentine way through committee in the United States House of Representatives, would cede control of the FAA’s Air Traffic Control functions to a privately run organization that is strongly weighted in favor of the airlines. At a media breakfast Plane & Pilot asked a question to a panel of industry leaders that included Ed Bolen, president of NBAA, Pete Bunce (GAMA); Jack Pelton (EAA); Mark Baker (AOPA); and Marty Hiller (NATA). The question, how does GA lobby a governmental body composed of individuals that seem to be voting against their long-stated political philosophies of empowering the little guy and fighting for individual freedoms? The answer they gave—and just about every panel member wanted to weigh in—was, it’s complicated, but, yes, we need to remind these leaders in congress that we GA flyers are the people they’re supposed to be fighting for, and ATC privatization threatens the very existence of what we do. What we do, of course, is fly light planes, and at NBAA there was

5. Owner Flown News Galore. There were big news updates from a number of makers of turboprops and entry-level jets. Pilatus reported that its PC12 turboprop single was still selling fast, with 87 deliveries expected to happen by the end of this year. It also reported that it’s on schedule for the certification of its twin-engine jet, the PC24 (get it, twice 12, so, two engines). The jet, which Pilatus calls the Super Versatile Jet, has several test articles flying with the company reporting better than targeted performance and great customer interest, to the point that it has stopped taking orders for the time being. When has that happened before? Textron reported that its Cessna Denali turboprop is on track to become an existential threat to the PC12 by late 2019 or early 2020. The big single fits the exact same niche as the PC12 but has numbers that are better than the Swiss turboprop single’s in just about every way, if it hits its targets. Speaking of targets, the...

4. ADS-B Crisis continues to make news, and it’s possible that you didn’t even know it was a crisis. The ability of shops to fit in every plane that needs to be upgraded is at this point toast, said a few insiders at big shops who are already booking up to do the work. The planes that wind up being in line to get ADS-B in time for the January 1, 2020 deadline are the ones who get in line now or very soon. Owners who wait for 2019 could see their options run out. The other thing that it’s probably too late to do anything about is cost. Shops that are booking ADS-B work are charging top dollar for it. Supply and demand. For small airplanes, things are less dire, but the same principles still apply. The dollar figures are just smaller to begin with. Speaking of dollars, there was quite a bit of talk about

3. Regional Airline Pilot Salaries Growing. While those we spoke to were clear that starting RJ drivers are not about to get rich here, they did say that wages for new and more experienced pilots are beginning to creep up as the need for airlines to stay in business has begun to outstrip their desire to team up with other airlines (shhh) to keep wages low. This is good news for pilots, though it’s hard to say how airlines will continue to drive their record profits without raising prices. Regardless, it will be nice to see more realistic living wages come into being, kind of like the

2. Crazy World of Drones…in which the likes of none other than Airbus is jumping into the wired fray with a vengeance. The company is working on an electric drone quadcopter that will carry four passengers. The craft will go around 70 mph and at first will be flown with a pilot aboard until regulators recover from their collective nervous breakdown and allow autonomous operations. The target date for that, says Airbus, is 2023, which, like objects in our rearview mirrors, is a lot closer than it seems and just might be out to get us! Kind of like

1. Congress with its ATC Privatization Scam…wait, I already mentioned that. But then again, that’s how big a deal it is. A friend with lots of Beltway experience said that if you want to get your Congressional Representative to pay attention, email is good, calling is better and the best might just be to leave a very direct comment on their Facebook page. They apparently hate that even more than the rest of us do.

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