NBAA 2021: Sustainability and the Future of Airspace Navigation


For the first time since 2019, the National Business Aviation Association held its annual Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition, NBAA-BACE 2021, in person. Long-time attendees, major players, and thoughts leaders throughout the industry came together at the Las Vegas Convention Center to meet with partners and peers to showcase the products and technologies that will help the industry prepare for a sustainable future.  

As always, NBAA-BACE hit on all the big issues for the business aviation community. Everything from increased connectivity to the latest in avionics, management of new entrants into the airspace, and the role of sustainability in the industry.

Below are some highlights from the conference along with some news that will impact the future of the industry.

A More Sustainable Future

The Federal Aviation Administration has long dedicated itself to future-proofing the industry and joined NBAA-BACE 2021 to showcase how they are working to build a more sustainable industry focus on sustainability. Steve Dickson, President of the FAA, shared how his organization is working with industry partners to prioritize a more environmentally sustainable future.

“Our freedom to fly requires us to take care of the environment we fly in,” Dickson said during his keynote. Dickson and the FAA are working to prioritize fuels and aircraft among many other initiatives, including a recent $100 million award to “develop the next generation of sustainable aircraft technology.” As the impact of air travel on the environment becomes more and more the focus of the public, efforts like this represent an excellent step on the pathway to a more eco-friendly future.

An Increasingly Mobile Airspace

Business aviation is different from commercial aviation in many ways; however, both are currently undergoing a period of innovation around how air travel takes place. Long thought to be the domain of small and large planes far above the world below, the national airspace is extending closer to the ground to accommodate new entrants.

From UAVs to smaller personal aircraft, the airspace in and around cities has opened up to many new and innovative air travel options. NBAA-BACE showcased several avenues for business aviation to serve a wider range of potential customers and offer new ways to bolster their business. While there is a lot of work to be done before small personal aircraft will soar between skyscrapers, the industry is putting the work in now to make that happen as soon as it can.

Izon the Future

Many of the aviation industry suppliers attending the show were focused on digital transformation and the benefits it can provide to business aircraft operators and passengers. While a number of solutions were featured at NBAA-BACE 2021, one that stood out was Collins Aerospace’s Izon, which seeks to bring essential business aviation apps together in one place and make them easily accessible for everyone in the flight department. As the industry looks to the future it will be solutions like Izon that make the difference in using data to streamline operations.

Soaring to Success

Gold medalist and world-renowned alpine skier, Lindsey Vonn joined NBAA-BACE 2021 this year and spoke with NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen. The two discussed many of the roles that business aviation plays in the lives of passengers.

Working with the business aviation community allows Vonn and athletes like her to succeed no matter where or what they need. Bolen added that this is what business aviation is here to do, namely, to help every passenger get what they need to thrive.

To Space and Beyond

The future of aviation must include a conversation about the potential for space tourism, which was the main focus of a session featuring Dr. Sian Proctor. Proctor’s extensive resume includes geoscientist, space artist, and astronaut, enabling her to provide a unique perspective on the rising trend of civilian space travel.

Proctor spoke at length about how space is an inspiration for so many people, and how the ability to provide transportation to the stars will be a major new business. While there is still tremendous work to be done before frequent space travel becomes the norm, the possibility of opening a whole new source of business while also helping inspire entire generations represents another in a long line of services that business aviation can provide.

To learn more about NBAA-BACE 2021, click here.