EBACE 2022 a rousing success after pandemic pause

Avatar for Brent BundyBy Brent Bundy | May 30, 2022

Estimated reading time 7 minutes, 34 seconds.

After a two-year hiatus, the worldwide aviation community gathered in person once again for one of the most anticipated annual events. The European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (EBACE) was held May 23 to 25 at the Palexpo Convention Center in Geneva, Switzerland. Co-hosted by the business aviation associations representing Europe, EBAA, and North America, NBAA, this marked the 20th anniversary of the conference. Thousands of attendees from across the globe gathered with anticipation to view what new and exciting products and services would be revealed. They were not disappointed!

The convention took place in Geneva, Switzerland, at the Palexpo convention center. Brent Bundy Photo

The week kicked off with an enthusiastic opening keynote session, moderated by EBAA Secretary-General Athar Husain Khan. In years past, this welcoming event has featured people with incredible aviation stories that provide attendees with both entertainment and inspiration. That was certainly the case this time around, as pilot Zara Rutherford took the stage. Just four months ago, at age 19, she became the youngest woman ever to fly solo around the world. She attempted the feat to promote aviation and STEM-related careers for girls and young women. Rutherford was passionate in her recounting of the challenges and triumphs she faced during the 155-day journey in her Shark UL ultralight airplane.

Following Rutherford’s inspirational talk, NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen interviewed tennis champion Martina Navratilova. After conquering the tennis world with records in nearly every category, Navratilova went after the aviation world, earning her private pilot rating in 1999 at the Aspen airport, Colorado — a challenge in and of itself. She spoke of overcoming her fears during flight training with an approach not all that different than how she attacked tennis.

“I kicked into the champion mentality,” she said. “For me, it was about being the best that I could be, whether it was playing hockey, learning to fly, or playing tennis.”

Bombardier excited show attendees with the unveiling of the Global 8000 jet. Brent Bundy Photo

Participants then flooded the exhibit hall to view the 300+ booths that were showcasing the latest offerings for the aviation industry. Guests wouldn’t have to wait long for the first, and possibly biggest, news of the week, which soon broke at the Bombardier booth. The Canadian-based manufacturer excited the crowd with the unveiling of the Global 8000 jet. Riveting videos demonstrated the class-leading performance promised by the newcomer, including an 8,000-nautical-mile-range and a top speed of Mach 0.94. If its performance claims come to fruition when it reaches customers in 2025, the Global 8000 will be the fastest business jet in the world.

Out at the static display at Geneva Airport, amongst the 47 aircraft were two other new entrants to the business jet world that made their EBACE debuts. Over at Gulfstream were examples of each model of jet the company currently sells. The star of its display, however, was the first G700 test aircraft with a completed interior available for the public to view. Fresh off its seventh city-pair speed record from company headquarters in Savannah, Georgia, to Geneva, the 19-passenger, 7,500-nm-range G700 showed off the new Rolls-Royce Pearl 700 engines. Initially expected to enter service by the end of the year, certification is facing short delays due to software reconfigurations affecting the G700 and sister ships, the G600 and G500.

Steps away at the Dassault exhibit, showgoers got their first-ever in-person look at the extra-tall, extra-wide Falcon 6X. The plane on hand was also the inaugural example with a completed cabin. First deliveries of the 5,500-nm-range twinjet are anticipated in mid-2023, following a month-long, worldwide demonstration tour that began at the conclusion of EBACE.

The new Gulfstream G700 made its EBACE debut this year. Brent Bundy Photo

The final aircraft making its EBACE debut was the Italian Tecnam P2012 Traveller piston-driven twin. Initially certified in 2019, the 11-passenger Traveller was designed with the utility market in mind, but has found customers in VIP, medevac, and parachuting.

Sustainability was the theme of EBACE 2022, and support for the initiative was seen throughout the week. In addition to the continued expansion of the use of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), exhibitors in all segments advertised their work towards reduced carbon footprints, recycling efforts, and more efficient powerplants. Nearly half of all panel sessions that were held discussed some aspect of sustainability, including the annual newsmakers luncheon. Finally, the EBACE Business Aviation Sustainability Summit further demonstrated the commitment to the 2050 goal of industry-wide net-zero emissions.

In the 36-months since the last EBACE, a sector of the industry that has expanded exponentially is Urban Air Mobility (UAM). The advancements in this segment could be seen in a variety of future formats, including the PAL-V Liberty flying car, mockups of the upcoming Eviation Alice electric twin-prop plane, the Lilium Jet with its 30 motors utilizing vectored thrust, and the two-passenger, fully autonomous EHang/FACC/LINZ AG joint venture, which is already seeing airtime in China.

Attendees and exhibitors alike praised the return of the in-person gathering, and the overwhelming consensus was that the show was a rousing success. As recovery from the effects of the pandemic on aviation continues, EBAA and NBAA anticipate an even bigger and better EBACE 2023 when it returns to Geneva next May.

The two-passenger, fully autonomous EHang/FACC/LINZ AG joint venture, which is already seeing airtime in China. Brent Bundy Photo

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