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EBAA CEO Fabio Gamba.

EBAA CEO Fabio Gamba.

The work of industry associations is vital to the business aviation community, writes Liz Moscrop.

We see their logos plastered all over the big trade shows, but what do the industry associations actually do? Plenty is the answer.

According to the US National Business Aviation Association’s (NBAA) website, there might well be only a handful of corporate aircraft in service today were it not for the vision of a group of men who met at the Wings Club in the Biltmore Hotel, New York, in the spring of 1946 to look at the air transportation environment. On the bright side was a resurgence of commercial, business and personal flying. On the darker side they saw that the regulatory agencies were proposing drastic measures to cope with air traffic control. They were keenly aware that the interests of business flying would suffer in any scramble for air space. Thus, the NBAA was born.

Over the ensuing years, the NBAA has won improvements in airways and airports, better weather reporting service, expansion in communications and air navigation facilities and higher standards of airport services – plus many other benefits. Today it is focused on issues such as aviation safety, operational efficiency and fair and equal access, to name only a few of their reforms and advocacies. It also provides assistance to 10,000 member companies. Its flagship event is the NBAA Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition, the world’s largest civil aviation trade show.

Then came Europe

Thirty years after that fateful Wings Club meeting, in 1977 Dr. Ir. F.J. Philips founded the International Business Aviation Association (Europe) in the Netherlands with 12 other members. It soon became the European Business Aviation Association (EBAA). It now numbers 500 entities from across the industry and represents a fleet of over 1,000 aircraft. It is also a founding member of the International Business Aviation Council (IBAC), through which members’ interests are represented at the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). It comprises several national associations from the UK, France, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, Malta, Norway, and Russia. There are also pending memberships from AESAVE, the Spanish Executive Aviation Association, the ABAA (Austrian Business Aviation Association) and EBAA Belgium.

Must-read: AirOps comes to Europe

Its flagship event is the European Business Aviation Conference and Exhibition (EBACE), which this year, according to EBAA CEO Fabio Gamba, “raised the bar for the business aviation community in Europe, yet again.” The show attracted more than 13,000 visitors and boasted 60 business jets on the static.

As well as arranging the world’s second largest bizav tradeshow, EBAA deals with challenging issues such as the Single European Sky, environmental issues, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) rulemaking process, and security and access to airports and airspace. The Agency’s latest offering to assist the industry in promoting itself was to commission Booz Allen Hamilton to produce a report detailing how business aviation is changing the face of European business. This is downloadable from the association’s website.

MEBAA in the middle

In the Middle East, Ali Ahmed Al Naqbi founded the Middle East & North Africa Business Aviation Association (MEBAA). Headquartered in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, MEBAA holds several events in partnership with F&E Aerospace, including the biennial MEBAA Show in Dubai, MEBAA Saudi Arabia, the MEBAA Conference Qatar, and the MEBAA Show Morocco. It also supports the World Food Program’s Fight against hunger through the creation of the Fly and Feed donation program.

Membership now numbers around 247 companies from over 23 countries in the Middle East and North Africa region. MEBAA has made some inroads into several troublesome issues. For example, business aviation is being recognized as a real priority in the region’s biggest market, Saudi Arabia, where the government is now seeking to reduce the economy’s dependence on oil revenues. Alongside access to airports, another major issue in the Middle East is tackling grey charter operations. Here it has seen some success, with regional governments changing their rules and not allowing Part 91. Flights must be either private or commercial on an AOC.

While MEBAA serves the Arabic-speaking countries of North Africa, the separate African Business Aviation Association (AfBAA), founded in 2012, says it serves the entire continent.  Indeed, the growth in business aviation in Africa over the past two decades has played a pivotal role in the development of the African economies and has significantly contributed to the transportation sector. However, there are many challenges to overcome. AfBAA points out that most of Africa’s resources are untapped, largely due to the absence of infrastructure, information and miscommunication. Founding chairman Tarek Ragheb says: “We believe that business aviation can be the driver behind Africa’s economic development.”

Building awareness in Asia

Asia is another region that has experienced difficulties in growth. The Asian Business Aviation Association (AsBAA) is a non-profit association that represents about 80 members, comprising of major operators, all aircraft manufacturers, major service providers and business aviation users based in Asia and around the world. They all have a specific interest in the advocacy and development of the sector throughout the region.

Like its regional cousins, AsBAA provides a platform for communication and actions enhancing business aviation access, regulation, safety, knowledge, training, public awareness and contribution to the economy. Headed by chairman Charlie Mularski, the association’s key event is the ABACE show in Shanghai, which this year attracted around 40 aircraft to the static. AsBAA has brokered effective regular communication at many levels of government, such as Airport Authorities, Civil Aviation regulators, transport and tourism boards, as well economic development and investment.

Also read: Bolen – China must update regulations

It is now producing the “2030 vision” white paper that includes plans for the five major international airports in the PRD, namely Hong Kong, Macau, Shenzhen, Zhuhai and Guangzhou, and will act as a blueprint for other areas within Asia that require similar well executed planning.

New kid on the block

Finally, next week sees the inaugural edition of the Caribbean Aviation Meetup.

“It is not your run-of-the-mill aviation conference,” says founder Commander Bud Slabbaert. “We don’t mind controversial elements if it will challenge the industry to consider changing the conversation about the future of operations, business and industry.” He adds: “The focus of the conference is on exchange, interaction and participation, rather than on listening to speakers’ career or company’s achievements. The result is a proactive platform upon which successful networking can be built.” The Meetup will also give birth to the CARIBAVIA, which stands for the CARIBbean AViation Industry Association, which will be a non-profit organization registered in Dominica.

Get involved!

Next time you see one of their logos at a tradeshow or event, offer a tip of the hat to the men and women who campaign to keep the industry flying. Better yet, join your nearest one!