NBAA 2017: 31 Years And It Just Keeps Getting Better

October 05, 2017 | Author: Roy Mitchell

When I went to my first National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) convention in 1986, I thought I had just entered the most glamorous profession imaginable. Business aviation seemed like the coolest industry; it attracted all sorts of celebrities wanting to buy their own corporate jets. I remember Jimmy Buffett playing a concert at the first show. And I saw the Grand Prix winner, Mario Andretti, shopping for a plane. I was in heaven. Aviation and stars.

It’s been three decades now that I’ve been putting together booths and presentations for Honeywell. I’ve seen the industry and the NBAA go through all sorts of changes. For one thing, in spite of economic turbulence, the convention itself has gotten even bigger. I think there were maybe 3,000 people at that 1986 show, which I still thought was a huge crowd. This year, there are 27,000 registered so far. It’s so big that there are only two cities in North America capable of hosting NBAA, Orlando and Las Vegas.

Another big change is that connected, digital technology has come into its own—not just in the cockpit and cabin, but at the show. That’s guided me and my team in how we’ve taken on the challenge of outdoing ourselves with this year’s Honeywell booth. I can’t wait to show the world what we’ve come up with.


It started on a napkin

Our showstopper for this year’s exhibition, as cliché as it sounds, started on a napkin this spring.

In the past, whenever we wanted to showcase or demonstrate our new technology, we would produce videos, brochures, and big, printed graphics. But with the company’s innovations in connected airframes, something more dramatic—and hands-on—was needed; particularly since the concepts were easier to demonstrate in an interactive way than to talk about. The problem we had was, how to bring a fully digitally connected airplane into an 80-by-100-foot booth in a convention hall.

I remember how earlier this year we were all having lunch together and somebody started doodling concepts on a napkin. Soon we were all at it. Out of this “napkin” session we envisioned a booth set up with a cockpit mockup and four fuselage section panels, each completely active for letting customers interact directly with the technology. It would be a synthesis of digital and physical, virtual reality and—well—actual reality.

It was April. NBAA/BACE was on Oct 10th. Could it be done? Could it be done in time?


The napkin flies

Five hectic months later, working with an award-winning, environmental design company, we finished putting that napkin blueprint together. It’s probably one of the most dramatic presentations Honeywell has built. Visitors can personally experiment with a range of Honeywell connected technology, all centered on a cockpit mockup flanked by four interior fuselage sections.

Each section features a different set of Honeywell’s latest connected products and services, from cockpit avionics, to our Honeywell Ovation™ Select cabin management system, to satellite communications, to our GoDirect Connected Maintenance. These interactive displays let people get their hands on Honeywell’s technology personally. There’s even a virtual reality component where visitors can completely immerse themselves into the in-flight connected experience.

Connection is the theme. But we think this booth takes it into another dimension; it connects abstract concepts with tangible experience. And that will connect with people on three levels; emotionally, intellectually, and viscerally.

If you’re coming to the NBAA show this year, be sure to drop by the Honeywell booth (#N5100). And, yes, please touch. That’s the whole point.

I have to say, as the show looms, I have a hard time concealing my excitement. We’ve all got butterflies, the whole team. It should be pretty popular. I don’t think Honeywell, or anyone, has done anything like this—at least since I’ve been doing the show.

Roy Mitchell

Roy Mitchell