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NBAA's S&D Conference powers up to embrace the future
After months of hard work, the first in-person NBAA Schedulers & Dispatchers Conference since the pandemic was held in San Diego. There were large crowds, enthusiastic exhibitors and a focus on the future.

The NBAA Schedulers & Dispatchers Conference (S&DC) returned to San Diego, California in April after a pandemic-enforced absence.

“We are stronger today because we are a community with enduring values,” says NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen. “Investing in people is key to embracing our future and our ability to deliver excellence. This conference shows that it's not about what we can't do, it's what we can do.”

“The schedulers and dispatchers community is critical to business aviation, and after two years of being unable to gather as an industry, their energy was almost uncontainable,” adds NBAA S&D committee co-chair Mitch Greene, CAM, scheduler with Nike.

University of Kansas Aviation Services scheduler and committee co-chair Lori Montgomery notes: “From our opening evening networking reception to the education sessions and into the exhibit halls, the participation and enthusiasm was exceptional. It was simply a great week for the industry.”

More than 2,500 attendees were on hand for a keynote session with pre-eminent leadership expert Dr Jackie Freiberg, recognised as one of the ‘Top 30 Best Minds on Leadership’. She inspired attendees with a message about courageous leadership in these uncertain times: “Don't hold back on what you can do today. Whether it's joining that committee, or taking on a leadership position, be the change you wish to be.”

More than 350 exhibitors were on hand for the event, many of whom underscored the opportunity to not only reconnect, but to move forward.

“Turnout has been phenomenal; we made some new connections and nurtured current customers. This kind of event is exactly what we've been waiting for,” says Erin Croop, marketing coordinator, base operations at Page Field.

Many exhibitors took a ‘Green Pledge’ to help make the show more sustainable by conserving energy, utilising reusable materials in their booths and reducing printed literature. And sustainability was front and centre during a beach cleanup ‘Day of Service’ facilitated by San Diego Coastkeeper. Dozens of NBAA Young Professionals in Business Aviation members spent time cleaning up more than 91 pounds of trash on Mission Beach.

Education sessions and Professional Development Programme courses covered a wide range of topics from safety management systems and international trip planning to tax issues and managing medical emergencies.

Longtime business aviation scheduler Francea Bolden, CAM was honoured with the S&D Outstanding Achievement and Leadership award. Bolden began her aviation career in 2005 as a scheduler at Enterprise Holdings, and in 2014 was promoted to her current position of scheduling manager, where she is responsible for overseeing the scheduling process for three aircraft. Bolden obtained her FAA licensed dispatcher certification in 2011 and her NBAA Certified Aviation Manager (CAM) certification in 2020.

“I am thrilled that Francea has been recognised with the 2022 award,” says Enterprise aviation operations director Rick Schwartz, CAM. “She is an example of a subject matter expert who continuously focuses on our core mission of safety, service and value.

“Francea joined our organisation over 16 years ago with no aviation background and has since become a manager, licensed dispatcher, a CAM and a leader in the S&D local and national community. It is fitting that her peers have selected her for this honour she so well deserves.”

Scholarship funds to the tune of $27,500 were awarded to six individuals seeking to advance their aviation careers through continuing education. AC-U-KWIK, Carolina Aviation Professionals Association (CAPA), Jet Aviation, Merck, NBAA, Signature Flight Support and Universal Weather and Aviation all donated toward the awards this year.

And the sponsors and recipients of the 2022 S&D Training Scholarships were recognised. These training awards promote the career development of current and aspiring schedulers and dispatchers.

The 2023 NBAA Schedulers & Dispatchers Conference is set for 24-27 January in Nashville, Tennessee.

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