Year-end offers chance to consider opportunities on the horizon 

Ed Bolen is President and CEO the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly been a time of self-examination for all of us. As we contemplate what the future may hold at the end of 2021, we have many reasons for optimism. For example, flight activity by companies has continued to rise throughout the year; at the same time, we continue to see unprecedented growth in aircraft charter, as new users seek out the benefits of on-demand air travel. We’ve also seen continuing innovation across our industry. Throughout 2021, aircraft manufacturers introduced new aircraft designs offering increased performance, endurance and interior volume, while also promising even greater efficiency and lower emissions than ever before. New products, avionics and support options have further evolved to meet the needs of this rapidly-advancing industry. Innovation on display at NBAA-BACE Many of these new offerings took centre stage as the stars of the show at the 2021 NBAA Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (NBAA-BACE) in Las Vegas, NV in mid-October. This year's edition of NBAA-BACE was unquestionably among the most exciting and impactful ever, as our industry once again met in-person during an era of robust growth, fast-paced innovation and a shared desire to shape the future. Being together at NBAA-BACE again was truly exhilarating, from the packed exhibit floor to the stunning aircraft display, to the epic keynote speakers. Indeed, the entire week was filled with new products and major announcements - underlining our sharp focus on technology and the future - and the enthusiasm of bringing people face-to-face was electric, and inspiring. Perhaps most importantly, NBAA-BACE was also an opportunity to consider big-picture issues, like sustainability business aviation sustainability. Aircraft are unquestionably cleaner and quieter than ever before, but there's more to be done. On the eve of NBAA-BACE, executives with several business aviation organisations stood unified in renewing the sector’s Business Aviation Commitment on Climate Change, with the aim of reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Of course, sustainability relates to commitments in the air and on the ground: a new carbon-offset program also made NBAA-BACE one of the world’s largest carbon-neutral aviation events, and nearly 100 exhibitors signed a Green Pledge to reduce their carbon footprint at the show. As World Commerce Review readers know, NBAA is also promoting ways to increase production, availability and use of sustainable aviation fuels (SAF), including championing the creation of a blender's tax credit to incentivize SAF production across the US. NBAA’s second annual Business Aviation Sustainability Summit - held during NBAA-BACE and including fuellers and operators - further spotlighted SAF's benefits and other pathways toward sustainability. Additionally, every outbound aircraft from the NBAA-BACE outdoor aircraft display at Henderson Executive Airport (HND) flew with SAF in the tank, and the renewable fuel was also available at McCarran International Airport (LAS) for the first time. Also launching this year was a program by which operators flying to NBAA-BACE could use book-and-claim to choose SAF, growing the market for the low-carbon fuels and generating emissions benefits. Looking to the future, we know that sustainability will incorporate all manner of innovation - that's why NBAA-BACE was also an impressive showcase for technologies advanced aerial mobility (AAM) vehicles, which hold the promise of electric-powered, on-demand air transport. NBAA recognizes the importance of AAM in providing sustainable transportation to a diverse set of communities and has worked to nurture development of this emerging industry. Challenges ahead Even as our industry evolves toward a promising future, we must also consider what we can all do in surmounting the hurdles ahead of us. At the forefront of such concerns is the need to attract the next generation of business aviation professionals at a time when multiple sectors across aviation, and most other industries, face similar challenges. NBAA welcomes the recent signing into US law of the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which contains important measures championed by NBAA, including support of the aviation community’s efforts to attract and retain a diverse and inclusive workforce. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act also includes significant funding for the Airport Improvement Program, including $500 million for general aviation airports, and to spur development of next-generation transit programs like AAM. Of course, we also face continued challenges from the lingering COVID-19 pandemic. Surging trends in the number of COVID cases across some areas - nationally and internationally - demonstrate the need to remain vigilant in combating the spread of the coronavirus. Our industry also faces challenges, wrought by the pandemic, to the critical supply chain that supports our industry. Slowdowns at manufacturing and production facilities, with shortages of critical items - such as rubber, for tires - compounded by logistical bottlenecks that further constrain the timely delivery of critically-needed components, leading to difficulties in supporting business aviation flight operations during this time of rapid growth. Despite some uncertainty as this year comes to a close and we look toward 2022, I’m confident that our industry will continue to innovate, respond and adapt quickly to these and other challenges, as we have countless times before, and celebrate the many promising developments that indicate a tremendously bright future ahead for business aviation.
Throughout 2021, aircraft manufacturers introduced new aircraft designs offering increased performance, endurance and interior volume, while also promising even greater efficiency and lower emissions than ever before