The two biggest annual general aviation conventions and trade shows are AOPA Expo (this year in Long Beach, California, October 21 to 23) and the National Business Aviation Association convention, now under way in Las Vegas.
While AOPA Expo focuses on owner-flown aircraft, primarily piston-powered, NBAA's convention is about the "heavy iron." That convention kicked off with optimism about sales of turbine-powered aircraft and concern that general aviation is under attack from the airlines.
Keynote speaker Rear Adm. David Stone, assistant secretary for Homeland Security and head of the Transportation Security Administration, mentioned AOPA and other organizations several times in his address to the convention, praising the organization's efforts to become a partner in protecting the security of the nation's airports. He said he receives two to three calls a week from the general aviation community under AOPA's Airport Watch program. He said partnerships are a key ingredient in protecting the nation. Stone will address AOPA Expo October 22.
General Aviation Manufacturers Association board Chairman Clay Jones told attendees that 2004 appears to be the turning point for the market doldrums of 2003, when turbine-powered aircraft sales slipped 17 percent. Early indications are that shipments of general aviation aircraft of all types will increase in 2004, he said.
New NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen told the group he is concerned about remarks by James May, head of the airline-based Air Transport Association, that airlines are subsidizing general aviation. To counter, NBAA funded a study by the firm HLB Decision Economics showing that general aviation actually pays 102 percent of the costs it imposes on the air traffic system.
October 13, 2004