There are so many great aviation conferences happening throughout year. However, for most of us, attending them all just isn’t in the cards, and quite frankly, it would be exhausting to try!
So if you had to prioritize, which should you choose? IMHO, it really comes down to what you are trying to accomplish and how far you are willing to travel.
To help you out, I’m going to give you a rundown of some of the biggest and best conferences for business aviation that should be on your radar for 2020. I’ll also list out some smaller, more focused events that may be of interest to you.
1. 2020 NBAA Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (NBAA-BACE)
Orlando, FL, U.S.A.; October 6-8
Hands down, NBAA-BACE (or often just called “NBAA”) is the #1 international conference for business aviation. It’s ranked as a top-10 tradeshow in the U.S. based on its massive square footage—taking up two halls in the Orange County Convention Center and consuming Orlando Executive Airport with its impressive static display. Format includes educational sessions, exhibitor convention, static display, and a strong media presence. If you can make this one, I strongly suggest you do.
Reported attendance: 23,000+
Social Media hashtag: #NBAA20
You can also read my tips for attending NBAA-BACE.
2. The NBAA Schedulers and Dispatchers Conference (SDC)
Charlotte, NC, U.S.A.; March 10-13, 2020
If you’re an aircraft scheduler or dispatcher—or essentially perform scheduling duties—this is your show, and I highly encourage you to attend. This show includes educational tracks, all-day informational sessions, and an exhibitor convention.
Reported attendance: 2,900+
Social Media hashtag: #SDC20
You can also read my tips for attending SDC.
3. The NBAA International Operators Conference (IOC)
Charlotte, NC, U.S.A.; March 16-19, 2020
If you frequently operate internationally to various, non-routine destinations, then this educational conference should be high on your list. It’s uses a plenary session format, with talks focusing on all aspects of international business aircraft operations—such as tips for planning operations to various regions and recent regulatory changes. There isn’t a convention, but there are some official exhibitor suites within the hotel hosting the conference.
Reported attendance: 500+
Social Media hashtag: #IOC20
4. 2020 European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (EBACE)
Geneva, Switzerland; May 26-28
EBACE is Europe’s counterpart to NBAA-BACE, and the format is essentially the same as NBAA-BACE…just smaller in scale. EBACE clocks in as the second-largest business aviation conference, and because the show is always in Geneva, it’s a pretty short flight to get there from most places in Europe—which also results in many attendees making EBACE just a single day trip in and out. If you are based in Europe or frequently operate into Europe, I strongly recommend you attend.
Reported attendance: 13,000+
Social Media hashtag: #EBACE20
5. 2020 Asian Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (ABACE) CANCELED
Update: On February 7, 2020, NBAA and ABACE organizing partner the Shanghai Airport Authority announced the cancelation of this year’s show, given health concerns and other unique challenges for event participants, in the wake of the Coronavirus outbreak. “The health, safety and security of ABACE exhibitors, attendees, government leaders and other participants is always our highest priority,” said NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen. “The cancelation of this year’s event has been decided with these priorities in view, and in the spirit of collaboration and transparency.”
Reported attendance: 8,000+
Social Media hashtag: #ABACE20
6. The NBAA Leadership Conference
Orlando, FL, U.S.A.; February 24-26
This is a great two-day educational conference focused on helping business aviation leaders and aspiring leaders take their teams to success. Top decision-makers from across the industry are in attendance.
Reported attendance: 200+
Social Media hashtag: n/a
7. The Satcom Direct CwC Conference
Orlando, FL, U.S.A.; February 17-20
Connecting with Customers (CwC), is Satcom Direct’s (SD) annual technical training and customer appreciation event, hosted exclusively for its customers. It’s packed with industry updates, continuing education, product training, and peaks into SD’s latest innovations. If you’ve ever been to a tech conference, this show follows a similar format you’ll be familiar with.
Reported attendance: not published
Social Media hashtag: #CwC20
8. CBAA Annual Convention & Exhibition
Toronto, Canada; June 16-18
The annual CBAA is the premier event for Canada’s business aviation community. Format is similar to an EBACE or ABACE, but smaller in scale.
Reported attendance: 700+
Website: Too long to post – click here.
Social Media hashtag: #CBAA20
9. 2020 Latin American Business Aviation Conference & Exhibition (LABACE 2020)
Sao Paulo, Brazil; August 14-16
While LABACE claims to be the business aviation show for Latin America, it’s really more like the business aviation show for Sao Paulo, with a majority of attendees commuting in from the local area. For this reason, I’m not putting it in my top tier list internationally. That said, it’s a great (and fun) show to attend if you can.
Format includes an exhibitor floor and static display. There are no real educational sessions going on. The show hours go late, and many attendees just head over after they leave work for the day. The last day of the show opens to the public.
Reported attendance: unclear – they report 145,000+ total visitors over a 15 year span.
Social Media hashtag: #LABACE20
10. Revolution.Aero 2020
London, UK; March 17-18
San Francisco, CA, U.S.A.; October
This new two-day conference was just launched in 2018 and is worth checking out if you can. It’s focused on the digital transformation of our industry, and you’re going to hear talks from speakers and startups ready to make change happen. Format is a mixture of 15-minute (TED-style) presentations and in-depth panels.
Reported attendance: 300+
Social Media hashtag: n/a
11. Local/Regional Aviation Associations
If you had time to count, there are probably hundreds of associations all over the globe with business aviation representation, and many host some sort of annual event. You’ll see these at the city, state, country, and regional levels. You should definitely look into your local chapters. It’s always worth networking with other business aviation professionals.
12. OEM Operator Conferences
Most OEMs hold some annual or biennial operator conference. Based on your equipment type, you should check out what’s available to you.
13. Owner/Operator Associations
There are quite a bit of these, and they offer a great opportunity to network with fellow aircraft-type operators and discuss challenges. Here are some:
- Citation Jet Pilots (CJP) Owner Pilot Association
- Embraer Jet Operators Association
- Malibu/M-Class Owners and Pilots Association
- TBM Owners and Pilots Association
14. NBAA Regional Forums
NBAA hosts 3-4 of these per year across the United States. You can check out upcoming forums here.
15. International Women in Aviation (WAI) Annual Conference
Lake Buena, Visa, FL, U.S.A.; March 5-7
This year marks the 30th year for this event. Although not focused specifically on business aviation, a good number of people from within our community attend. It’s definitely worth looking in to.
16. Corporate Jet Investor Conferences
Corporate Jet Investor hosts a series of events at various locations around the world. These conferences are focused on the business of business aviation. If there is one near you that you can attend, it’s worth checking out.
17. NBAA Flight Attendants/Flight Technicians Conference
Hartford, CT, U.S.A.; May 5-7
If you’re a flight attendant, this event is simply a MUST for you. It’s a mix of educational sessions, networking, and exhibitor conference.
Hope this helps you with your 2020 planning. And if you find another event that you think should be on this list, send me a note.