With over 150 students, 60 educators, 300+ total attendees, 20 vendors and seven aircraft on display, it is clear CFBAA’s Business Aviation Day was a success and illustrates what a small group of people can do to promote business aviation as a great career. Special thanks to Coordinator Jordan Scales.
“Our Business Aviation Day was the first of its kind event of this size for any regional business aviation group that we are aware of,” said Vice President Matthew Olafson. “It was open to all high school and college students and teachers from across the state. It was free. And we plan this as an annual event to be developed by our newly formed CFBAA Foundation with all proceeds going to the CFBAA Scholarship Fund.”
It was also impressive since students were exposed to the top leaders in the industry including NBAA President Ed Bolen, Embrear Executive Jet CEO Michael Amalfitano, Former NTSB Chair Bob Sumwalt and jetAviva President Emily Deaton who remained throughout the day to network with students providing an unprecedented opportunity to meet top leaders.
Perhaps the best advice came from Deaton, however. “One thing even pilots should know is there are opportunities in business aviation they can pursue while building their hours,” she said, adding networking is the most important thing they can do. “Working in business aviation while building hours gives you an opportunity to learn the business, identify areas that interest you outside of the flight deck while making a great salary that helps you build time. Right now, at this meeting, you have a network of people who are already invested in your success. We will rally the troops for you because that’s what we do. Our goal is to help you find super great careers.”
Special thanks to our sponsors Sheltair, Embraer, Textron and Bombardier for helping to make this event happen. Special shout out to Caterers Leslyn Duke-Hussein of Kabin247 for breakfast and Smokey Jay’s BBQ for lunch.“This is a relatively small industry,” said CFBAA President David Keys, in opening the event. “Because of that, we forge close relationships that grow over time. You are always a person in the business aviation industry you are never a number as you are in the airlines.”
Both Bolen and Amalfitano echoed Deaton, stressing the importance of building relationships, saying cultivating relationships is what makes the industry so special. Industry meetings, they said, are like reunions, an opportunity to continue building relationships which quickly become friendships.
“The best thing about working in this industry is the people,” said Vice President Sales Deb Higgins. “We love being around people who love aircraft and who get high just from being around airports.”
“It’s a family,” said National Air Transportation Association Executive Vice President Ryan Waguespack.”
Bolen added business aviation has the flexibility and creativity for more innovation, adopting emerging technologies. He pointed to regional air mobility and the work being done to move to all sustainable aviation fuels. In addition, he discussed cutting-edge technologies including developments in electric and hydrogen propulsion, all part of the future of aviation.
More Education-Industry Partnerships
Given the 50-year tradition of innovation and technology at Embraer, Amalfitano talked about the company’s growing manufacturing and MRO footprint in Florida. However, he noted Embraer offers opportunities across the business aviation spectrum from traditional business aircraft such as Praetors and Phenoms to its leading-edge work on regional air mobility and the fact Melbourne is home to the company’s largest engineering and technology center and business and innovation center.
“We recently launched educational partnership program to help us attract top talent for high paying jobs that exist today,” he said. “It is a pilot program for six high schools, technology schools and universities. We need people like gamers. We offer opportunities for grants internships and apprenticeships but not just for today’s transport but future transport. Our summer interns are learning about all aspects of business aviation including meteorology and flight dispatch. We offer experiences and community that are truly extraordinary.”
Amalfitano noted the recent exponential growth of business aviation saying new users used to account for 10-15% of the business but today is over 50% of the market. Similarly, new aircraft buyers once accounted for 15% of purchases but today is over 35%.
“They are staying with business aviation,” he said. “They didn’t just do it for pandemic which gave them the health centered reason to be a part of it. The double-digit growth in business aircraft market in 2021 now points to an exciting future of growth for manufacturers who have strong backlogs with deliveries scheduled for many years to come.”
Bolen agreed adding, with all the new users coming into the industry, business and private aviation needs new professionals to meet their demands; new professionals with the insights and energy to help these new entrants move forward.
“Embraer is not alone,” added Bolen. “There are hundreds of companies and thousands of jobs in engines, avionics. There are also lots of ways to contribute to business aviation reflecting the interest of anyone who is pursuing degrees in law, finance, marketing, sales, engineering, administration and community planning. What we are doing is multi-dimensional and we need to make you a part of this special community to help you develop and grow and have experiences that will contribute to the industry.”
Professionalism and Discipline
Sumwalt, who is now chair of Embry Riddle’s Center for Aviation and Aerospace Safety, discussed other options for aviation careers including advancing the research and implementation of new safety measures to ensure the excellent safety record in the industry is maintained and developed.
He also discussed the importance of leadership, discipline and professionalism in improving safety. “Leaders keep safety foremost in mind,” he said. “’Safety is a top priority’ may be a worn-out phrase that often doesn’t hold true. But by dedicating yourself to it, will keep us on the journey to keep improving. No matter what is going on in financing, quality control or business, safety always must have a seat at the table. When you are making business decisions, safety needs to be the core value guiding those decisions. Priorities change but core values do not change. What really separates world class organizations from the rest is living those core values and being guided by those values even with the toughest decisions.”
Not Just About the ‘Front Office’
Sheltair COO Todd Anderson, Waguespack, and Higgins explained there was more to business aviation than the flight deck and professionals were also needed at fixed base operators like Sheltair and charter companies like Speedbird. Those professions include flight dispatch, maintenance, charter sales, trip support, ground support, real estate specialists, association management, construction, airport management, tenant relations, fuel managers, general managers, catering and client service representatives to handle owners and charter passengers, all of which are necessary for a successful mission.
“I think about the innovations coming,” said Todd. “Solar hangars, sustainable aviation fuel, new propulsion systems and space tourism. That’s a lot of innovation.”
In advising students of the best way to get into business aviation, Deaton and Showalter Business Aviation Career Coaching CEO Jenny Showalter saw both passion for aviation and networking as the secret sauce.
Deaton noted she has given out her personal email at many student events but only three students have followed up, admonishing those attending Business Aviation Day to do better. She also introduced charter brokering as one of the many professions in business aviation. Noting the 750 deliveries annually from manufacturers such as Bombardier, Textron and Embraer, she said over the last five years there have been 5,000 transactions by brokers which means they have a huge impact on the private aviation community.