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McCarthy: Whither CBAA?

Business aviation in Canada needs its own voice and its own showcase


September 27, 2007
By Stacy Bradshaw


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This year’s CBAA annual convention and trade show in Montreal marked a
watershed in the recent history of the event. According to the
association, the record number of participants – nearly 900 – marks a
significant increase over Vancouver 2005, shelving for now concerns
that the show was in a downward trend.

In
his opening remarks, CBAA chairman Mark Warmington candidly discussed
some of the challenges the association and its show currently face.
Membership has grown at a faster rate than convention participation –
an issue that has caused the management team and board to scratch their
heads. Membership will continue to increase as long as the CBAA manages
the POC program, but the question is, where is the associated increase
in convention attendance?

Managing the POC program is one of the
association’s greatest success stories, but questions are being raised
about just what else the CBAA does for its membership. In conversation
with Warmington, he explained to me how the association has changed
drastically over the past few years, from what was primarily an
advocacy group to, well, that may be part of the problem. What is the
CBAA supposed to be doing?

That is the current challenge. The
association is in the process of redefining itself. It has embarked on
a project of engaging members in discussions about their needs and
expectations. Members are being encouraged to come forward and be part
of the process.

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This year’s event exemplified the association’s
commitment to the future of the convention. Organizers made significant
investments, both financially and otherwise, to refresh and rejuvenate
the program. The speakers, presenters and entertainers (Tom Cochrane
and Red Rider) represented major changes from previous shows.

Among
the dozen or so presentations this year, there were medical
presentations by Dr. Randy Knipping and Dr. Karl Weiss, five security
workshops, a Transport Canada presentation, and others – all good stuff.

Information
is powerful and offering high-quality versions of it should help
attract visitors; increased numbers of visitors will in turn create
networking, and off we all go.

But what if, as some have
suggested, the CBAA were to abandon its show? That would be too bad.
Business aviation has its own set of business challenges, aircraft,
pilots, owners and operators. Business aviation needs its own voice and
its own showcase.

The CBAA has served as the collective voice of
the business aviation community since 1962. It has an important role to
play in the Canadian industry. Its commitment to redefining its role,
and to the success of the annual convention and trade show, should be
both welcomed and encouraged.