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Business Air News Bulletin
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NBAA Maintenance conference drives growing, dynamic profession
Attendees from 46 states were treated to a lineup of keynote speakers, well-known aviators and authoritative experts, along with the industry's top exhibitors of products and services.
"You fly the airplane, don't let it fly you," says keynote speaker Greg Wooldridge, three-time commanding officer of the US Navy Blue Angels flight demonstration squadron.

The NBAA has cheered the success of the 2024 NBAA Maintenance conference, held in Portland, Oregon in helping prepare an exciting and expanding profession for a bright future ahead.

"We are thrilled that this year's conference brought people together to learn from each other, to embrace change and to inspire the next generation of maintenance professionals," says president and CEO Ed Bolen. "We set a new standard with sessions on the latest thinking in safety management systems, expert panels focused on emerging technologies for aircraft maintenance and an inspiring youth competition. Clearly, this event put a spotlight on a profession that is evolving in compelling directions."

Attendees from 46 states were treated to an impressive lineup of keynote speakers, well-known aviators and authoritative experts, along with the industry's top exhibitors of products and services.

Hosted by NBAA Maintenance Committee chair Nate Dietsch and vice chair Brett Semple, the conference highlighted the many ways business aviation is meeting the needs of an expanding industry, with its theme 'Growing Into the Future'.

"Everything at the conference was about offering effective solutions for maintenance teams and operators in general to meet the industry challenges ahead," says Dietsch.

"Projected growth in business aviation means the sector will need thousands of new workers in the next decade alone," adds Semple.

Keynote speaker Greg Wooldridge, the only three-time commanding officer of the US Navy Blue Angels, shared inspiring and effective tools aimed at improving team performance that he developed while leading the famed US Navy flight demonstration squadron.

"I've taken the adage 'You fly the airplane, don't let it fly you' and I've applied it to everything in my life," he said. "You get offered a new challenge, a new opportunity, whatever it is, you get on it. Don't let situations push you around; don't let challenges push you off course."

Keynote speaker Amy Grubb PhD, an organisational psychologist who serves as the digital transformation advisor to the chief information officer at the FBI, delivered an entertaining and eye-opening presentation on how to achieve professional growth by embracing change in an increasingly disruptive world. "We are all superheroes with flaws," she said. "But as a team we are awesome together."

Bolen discussed the Climbing. Fast. industry advocacy campaign, focused on educating policymakers about business aviation's sustainability leadership.

Another highlight included record-setting aviator and groundbreaking educator Captain Barrington Irving, who led students from several Oregon schools in the conference's Maintenance Competition. Students battled each other to win scholarships for initial AMT training and tools from Snap-on Incorporated. Competition events include safety wiring, cable rigging, electrical troubleshooting, virtual aircraft towing/ground handling and general visual inspection.

"For these students seeking to become maintenance technicians, the competition is a kind of a playground that shows what a career in business aviation has to offer," says Irving, founder of The Flying Classroom and the Barrington Irving Technical Training School.

Also attending were staff members from the office of US Rep Lori Chavez-DeRemer, who sits on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Rep. She entered a statement into the Congressional Record praising the conference: "As the aviation sector continues to evolve rapidly, conferences like the NBAA Maintenance Conference play a crucial role in fostering collaboration, innovation and excellence within the industry."

In addition, Oregon Senate Minority Leader Jeff Helfrich, a former police officer, pilot and US Air Force veteran, spoke about his legislative work helping to educate future business aviation leaders.

Attendee Gustave LaRoy, aviation maintenance manager at Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, gave the conference high marks: "It's the professional development you get from the education sessions. It's the face-to-face meetings, the handshakes; it goes a lot further than it would if you're on a screen or a phone or through an email."

In a strong show of support for the next generation of business aviation maintenance technicians, the conference raised more than $23,000 for the NBAA AMT Scholarship Travel Fund, which is used to support travel for students who have received training scholarships. In addition, the NBAA Maintenance Committee presented the Maintenance AMT scholarships and Hilsmann Memorial scholarships.

The 2025 NBAA Maintenance Conference is set for 29 April-1 May in Columbus, Ohio.

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