Opening Session Speakers Jump Start NBAA 2011
A roster of aviation and political luminaries welcomed an energized crowd to the NBAA 2011 Opening General Session this morning in Las Vegas. Joining NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen onstage were Sen. Joseph Manchin III (D-W.Va.), FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt, NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman, John Deere agricultural and turf division president Dave Everitt and former Senate Majority Leader Dr. Bill Frist. In opening remarks Bolen announced that the 64th annual gathering had more display aircraft, more exhibitors and already more registered attendees than last year’s convention. Keynote speaker Sen. Manchin, a longtime pilot, recounted how, as governor of West Virginia, he reorganized the state’s aviation assets and bought new aircraft. Babbitt highlighted the safety and efficiency benefits of NextGen, noting its success also “depends on operators willing to make the necessary investment in equipment and training.” In addition, he reiterated the need for the FAA to receive proper funding levels. NTSB Chairman Hersman implored attendees to take the lessons of baseball legend Ted Williams’ commitment to studying data and training in their approach to safety. Meanwhile, John Deere’s Everitt explained the importance of his company’s flight department in the company’s success, and addressed the myths and misconceptions that harm the industry. “Those who think it’s a perk for the rich and famous, you don’t understand that business aviation is critical to operating successfully,” he said.