This week was the place to be for those interested in the business aviation industry in Europe. From May 14-16, HAI represented the international helicopter community at the 12th annual European Business Aviation Conference and Exposition (EBACE) in Geneva, Switzerland.
Among the more than 11,000 attendees and 490 exhibitors, there was a greater helicopter presence than ever before. In addition to HAI, member OEMs AgustaWestland, Bell Helicopter, and Eurocopter had large helicopter displays in the crowded main hall.
AgustaWestland, having just completed the first flight of their AW169 medium twin last week, and Eurocopter, with their light twin EC135 on display, promoted the appeal of designer outfitting to the discriminating business market – AgustaWestland has formed a partnership with Karl Lagerfeld, and Eurocopter is working with Hermes and Mercedes Benz. Eurocopter plans to launch their medium twin EC175 in the UK in the near future. Bell is looking to build market share in Europe by showcasing their twin 429, their new larger 525, and by emphasizing increased attention to customer support in Europe. All three appear poised for continued but modest growth in Europe, even with the tight economy.
EBACE leadership, consisting of Fabio Gamba, European Business Aviation Association (EBAA) CEO; and Ed Bolen, National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) CEO, shared insights on the future and the challenges in the European market, including concern over the progress of the Single European Sky (SES) and Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). Other rumblings pertained to the upcoming Olympics in London. Isabel Janicki from flight operations at the London Heliport said she is booking a lot of incoming jet passenger transport via helicopter into the city. Those wishing to utilize the heliport are required to file four hours prior to launch, and report all persons on board with photo ID. The British Government is heavily suggesting that incoming travelers should use airlines and “leave their jet at home.” Most certainly, the locals will cry foul with a counter appeal. In the end, it still seems that the most expedient route can be accomplished by helicopter.
Throughout EBACE, HAI President Matt Zuccaro; Karen Gebhart, VP of Business Development and Expositions; and Stan Rose, HAI’s director of Safety, met with many friends of the helicopter industry, helicopter-rated pilots, and business leaders from the European market.
On the last day, Gebhart awarded an iPod Touch to draw winner Angie Deady-Fiddler, operations manager at Martyn Fiddler Associates of London. Angie explained how her business involvement with the helicopter industry focuses in part on international shipping. Her company handles sea and airfreight movement of helicopters, including customs, registration, and import and export services. One of her most interesting assignments of late has been the movement of the Royal helicopter.
Later this week, Zuccaro and Rose, along with HFI staffer Nick Prelosky, join up in Moscow for the 5th HeliRussia helicopter industry exhibition. Look out for more on HAI's presence at aviation shows this summer!