2020 NBAA-VBACE key takeaways for business aviation

Read up on business aviation news, best practices, and innovations discussed at the annual conference

The annual NBAA-Business Aviation Conference & Exhibition went virtual this year but that didn’t put a damper on the great educational sessions, activity on the tradeshow floor, and insightful conversations in the chat rooms.  
While we missed having in-person conversations with attendees, we were excited to share what’s going on at Gogo in our virtual booth and in our thought leadership session on the future of inflight connectivity in business aviation – be sure to read the recap of our session below! Don't worry if you missed VBACE this year because we've compiled the hightlights for you. Gogo sent people to just about every booth, session, and chat room, and here's the summary of what you need to know on current trends in business aviation. 

Trending topics in business aviation at 2020 NBAA-VBACE

NBAA-VBACE had a wonderful lineup of educational sessions, coffee chats, and two great keynote speakers, Dierks Bentley and Erin Meyer. Many of the sessions and chat rooms focused on business aviation news and trending topics, including:

  • COVID-19 and the new normal of business aviation in terms of operations, safety, and changes and innovations moving into 2021

  • Empowering diverse voices within NBAA’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Working Group

  • Utilizing data in Safety Management Systems in better ways, like sharing safety data with other business aircraft operators to prevent incidents and critical failures

  • How to leverage connectivity to drive transformation in business aviation operations

  • Improving pilot training and instruction by utilizing new technology and data sources and insights

  • How to leverage knowledge, tools, and skills to become a leader in aviation maintenance

  • Tips for first-time charter customers and the benefits of a charter service, as well as tips for first-time buyers of private aircraft

  • Workforce development opportunities for aviation professionals to learn new skills and progress in their careers, as well as prepare for the next generation of talent

  • A focus on sustainability and improving fuel efficiency to reduce business aviation’s carbon footprint


Key takeaways from 2020 NBAA-VBACE

Between visiting other exhibitors’ booths and chatting with our own booth visitors, we had the opportunity to attend a few educational sessions and listen to the ideas presented and points made. Take a deeper dive into a few of the sessions we attended and read up on our key takeaways from them.

Day 1 Keynote: Dierks Bentley VBACE Interview 

  • The business aviation community can come together to look forward without compromising on values

  • Speaking on the significance private aviation has on the ability to balance his personal and professional life, Bentley speaks of how important aircraft are as business tools and how we can find new ways to maximize utilization of these assets

  • As a pilot, Bentley reminds us that “you’re only as good as your last flight.” He stressed the importance of continued education and joining organizations such as NBAA

Day 2 Keynote: Erin Meyer and the Netflix No Rules Rules Culture 

  • Innovation and flexibility are things we’ve come to value in the COVID crisis

  • When the environment shifts, organizations have to reinvent themselves. Netflix went from a DVD service to a high-tech streaming company, and then reinvented themselves again by opening a production studio

  • Netflix found that performance is contagious, and that people will behave the same way as others on their team. By fostering a culture of passion and enthusiasm, employees will be empowered to consistently perform at a high level

  • Treat company policies as symbols of freedom and employees will act responsibly

  • Senior leadership must live the culture, set the precedent, and create the context of what’s in the company’s and employees’ best interests

  • Allow your organization to take risks if you know you’re going to learn from it

  • Netflix is positioning themselves to not just survive this crisis, but thrive from it

Session: The Future of Flight: Using Connectivity to Digitally Transform Your Aircraft, Gogo Business Aviation

  • Business aviation customers are using their airplanes differently and they’re using connectivity differently in the wake of COVID. Now, connectivity is just as important if not more important than it was last year as companies and organizations adapt to our ever-changing new normal and rely more on cloud-based apps and technology to stay connected to the office

  • But work isn’t the only thing people want to do on their aircraft. We’ve seen the rise in the need for inflight entertainment without impacting other devices or data uploads and downloads. Something like Vision 360 offers that inflight entertainment experience and lets others onboard do what they need to do with their inflight Wi-Fi connection

  • 5G is the future of connectivity and with people wanting the same connectivity experience they have at home in the aircraft, systems will have to be designed for the shift to 5G. Smart systems like AVANCE are built for that service upgrade and built for the digital future

  • We'll see a rise in the use of predictive analytics to provide more decision-making time and enabling crews to be more efficient and effective, such as relying on toolkits like Gogo DASH

  • The ability to connect below 10K with an AVANCE system is huge for the industry and gives connectivity to aircraft flying short hops or at low altitudes

  • The next generation of digital natives are always connected and our solutions have to meet their expectations

Session: Business Aviation Security: Changing Approaches to Protecting Your People and Company 

  • The pandemic created more opportunities for threats and the need for increased reliance on electronic security and surveillance. Now is not the time to be complacent about cybersecurity

  • COVID-19 restrictions, closures, and testing requirements all change rapidly and vary widely

  • Timely and accurate intelligence is critical to the success of any flight operation

  • The use of home or personal devices and networks create a risk to corporate networks, so companies need to invest in equipment and tools to remove the risk

  • Address employees’ health concerns and sources of stress to keep employees safe and productive

Session: Women in Aviation: We Can’t Afford to Lose Them

  • According to McKinsey & Company, 1 in 4 women in corporate America are contemplating downshifting their careers or leaving the workforce entirely due to the stressful events of 2020

  • We need to embrace women in aviation and encourage them in following their passions

  • Students in aviation programs had higher numbers this year compared to last (Kansas State University), and colleges are finding new ways to do things and embracing the virtual space for aviation education

  • How are business aviation organizations supporting women? Having flexibility in schedules, trusting employees to be accountable for their work even if it’s done outside traditional office hours, and not applying a one-size-fits-all approach for employees during these challenging times. Others are trying to replicate the in-office feeling and bringing in the “human factor” by allowing extra time for personal conversations and not just being all business as we work remotely

  • How do we attract and retain women in aviation? Create that talent pipeline early by visiting K-12 schools and showing them different roles in the industry, from HR to pilots. Explain the durability of business aviation and show that the industry has longevity and can survive this crisis

  • Having more women users of private and business aviation will naturally fuel more female employees in aviation. We need to champion women to be pioneers, not settlers in aviation.

  • Both women and men can be advocates and allies and support women in aviation

Session: How BizAv Leaders are Moving Forward During Unprecedented Times, VistaJet

  • One silver lining of the pandemic has been the severe reduction in greenhouse gasses, now at their lowest levels in years

  • The key to sustainability and reducing business aviation’s carbon footprint is not only sticking to one solution or trying to find the pot of gold, but working with the right partners to get incremental and long-term improvements

  • We all have the responsibility to champion new technologies and innovations, like Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF), aircraft technology that will make the aircraft themselves more efficient, and making air traffic systems more efficient and productive

  • Sustainability isn’t a competition; we all need to do our part and help educate consumers on how they can be a part of the solution

  • The backbone of business aviation is, and will continue to be, companies that have a business reason for traveling and can use aircraft as a productivity tool. We can turn travel time into work time, we can keep employees safe and productive, and business aviation can do things commercial aviation can’t, and go where commercial aviation can’t.

  • The pace of innovation is dictated by how pressing the needs are, and many in the industry see changes coming not in the things we do, but in the way we do things

Session: Special Edition NBAA News Hour: Legislative and Regulatory Hot Topics

  • To help offset impacts brought on by the pandemic, many business aviation companies sought relief with the CARES Act and took advantage of the payroll support program and paycheck protection program

  • Business aviation operators need to pay close attention to international restrictions as hot spots pop up and stay on top of any information around travel bubbles. Experts recommend having not just a Plan B, but a few letters further in the alphabet when planning flights

  • Work is being done to secure federal funding for education around business aviation careers to increase the talent pool for pilots and maintenance technicians

  • It’s projected that by 2022, the FAA will be proposing mandates and regulations around Safety Management Systems (SMS). The business aviation community can do its part to look beyond just complying with the mandates but looking at how we can get real safety benefits that improve the industry

  • Sustainability is expected to be a higher priority in 2021 with talk around sustainable aviation fuel tax credits

Opinion: NBAA President and CEO, Ed Bolen: Business Aviation Positioned to Emerge Stronger from Pandemic

  • Industry leaders see reasons for optimism and see encouraging data about flight demand and consumer trends

  • Bolen sees business aviation becoming more adaptive coming out of the pandemic, as well as finding its own new normal in the industry

  • Bolen was quoted as saying, “New customers have seen the inherent advantages to business aviation: going more places in less time, reaching destinations they didn’t think they could reach, and flying in a safe, secure, and healthy manner.”

Read the full piece here.

What did you learn at 2020 NBAA-VBACE?

We’d love to hear what you took away from the virtual business aviation conference. Please join the discussion on LinkedIn or if you’d like to specifically talk AVANCE, find your regional sales manager or send us an email at connect@gogoair.com to get the conversation started.

more info The future of flight and digital transformation

Interested in watching our panel discussion on digital transformation in business aviation? 

Trending topics in business aviation