The new year has started off strong for the business aviation community, as the NBAA's recent 2023 Schedulers & Dispatchers Conference broke attendance records, offered abundant opportunities for education and networking, and showcased the momentum driving the industry.
The 2023 edition of the event, held in Nashville, Tennessee, featured more than 460 exhibit booths and in excess of 3,400 attendees, including more than 350 first timers. This year's conference, themed 'Community, connections and a little bit country', featured more than 30 education sessions, including Professional Development Programme courses, covering a wide range of the industry's most pressing issues.
“SDC2023 was an incredible, record-breaking event, but it's about so much more than the numbers; it's about the people,” says NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen. “This is a group that's very passionate. They are committed to coming together, giving back to the community and moving the industry forward, and the way they do that as part of this event is inspiring.”
SDC2023 co-chairs Megan Knox CAM and Adam Hartley agreed the show exceeded expectations. “It's been a fantastic event,” says Knox. “The keynote was amazing; the education sessions were standing room only in many cases and the show floor has been buzzing. The attendees are engaged and interested in doing everything the show has to offer.”
Hartley adds: “We really have to thank our committee for its critical role in organising a world-class event. We tip our hat to them and we know that, thanks to their outstanding work, we can look forward to an even more ambitious SDC experience in the years to come.”
The SDC2023 keynote session opened with a mini concert featuring Grammy winning songwriter Josh Kear, then continued with a motivating story of finding the courage to achieve your dreams by US Air Force combat veteran and former Thunderbird lead solo Michelle 'Mace' Curran.
“Putting ourselves out there can be terrifying, but I promise you the cost of stagnating because of that fear outweighs the feeling of vulnerability,” she says. “There will be days of uncertainty, but you can be bold and brave. It will help you create deeper connections and a stronger community, and you will be unstoppable.”
Prior to the official opening of SDC2023, about 30 attendees took time to volunteer at Nashville-based Thistle Farms, which for 25 years has provided a path of healing and hope for women survivors of trafficking, prostitution and addiction. SDC volunteers helped make products for the organisation to sell in its store, with profits going toward helping the Thistle Farms mission.
During the keynote, longtime business aviation scheduler Spring Adamo was presented with the S&D Outstanding Achievement and Leadership Award. Adamo serves as flight logistics lead at FirstEnergy, where she manages flight logistics, including scheduling, safety, security and personnel. Prior to joining FirstEnergy's aviation team, she spent 11 years at McKinley Air where she brokered charters and directed hiring, training and concierge services while helping the company attract new charter clients.
While serving on the NBAA S&D Committee, Adamo championed a new Scheduler and Licensed Dispatcher Safety Award category for the NBAA Flying Safety Awards. She is also a founder of the Schedulers and Licensed Dispatchers Roundtable and a former board member for the Ohio Regional Business Aviation Association.
She earned her FAA licensed dispatcher certification in 2017 and has been a frequent subject matter expert for numerous NBAA education sessions and most recently an advisor to the creation of the NBAA Business Aircraft Scheduler Certificate Program.
“Spring demonstrates her commitment to excellence and integrity every day and works closely with her team to keep flights running smoothly and safely at FirstEnergy,” says director, flight operations Todd Fite. “She is a passionate and respected member of the corporate aviation community, dedicating her time and energy to help make the profession, her colleagues and our company the best they can be. For these reasons and many more, we are honoured to work with Spring and applaud her recognition by the NBAA.”
Adamo is the 14th recipient of this award, which was created in 2008 and recognises individuals who have shared their business aviation industry expertise, provided extraordinary service, exhibited leadership and made significant contributions to the scheduling and dispatching function.
“I found my profession and my passion before I had even earned my high school diploma,” she says. “I'm so grateful for this award and for the support I've received from my fellow schedulers and dispatchers for more than 36 years. I also feel fortunate to work at FirstEnergy, a company that empowers me to grow as a professional, contribute to my team's success and drive positive change within my professional community.”
Just ahead of the conference, NBAA unveiled its new Business Aircraft Scheduler Certificate programme, an assessment-based credential developed in collaboration with Part 91 scheduler subject matter experts and Universal Weather and Aviation to recognise leadership in the profession.
“NBAA strives to provide valuable learning opportunities for its members from all sectors of business aviation, and this latest credential will allow schedulers and others in the flight department to affirm they are among the best in the industry,” says NBAA director, certification Tyler Austin. “This programme is ideal for flight department personnel who have been assigned aircraft scheduling responsibilities or professionals looking to work in business aviation operations.”
Developed In collaboration with Part 91 scheduler subject matter experts and Universal Weather and Aviation, the assessment-based certificate programme will provide participants a comprehensive introductory to mid-level training on the duties of a business aircraft scheduler. The programme includes nine asynchronous learning modules testing in key areas of aircraft scheduling at an introductory level:
Module 1: Business aviation basics
Module 2: Mission control
Module 3: Global regulations
Module 4: Technology
Module 5: Crew scheduling
Module 6: Safety and security
Module 7: Finance, legal and tax responsibilities
Module 8: Pre-trip logistics
Module 9: Real-time trip support
Successful programme participants will receive a certificate and a digital badge. The certificate is also approved for NBAA Certified Aviation Manager programme (CAM) credit.