Wednesday, November 9, 2005

Death By PowerPoint

"Whaddaya mean it starts on Tuesday?" That was the consensus question at dinner Monday night, as Kevin ("Hognose") and I found out that press conferences at NBAA traditionally begin -- in earnest -- on the day before the actual event starts. We'd been preparing to take a bit of a break Tuesday, before heading to Orlando Wednesday for the 2005 National Business Aviation Association Conference/Meeting/Clambake.

"Nope, Tuesday. You need to be there by 8:00," Jim told us. "There are 28 conferences scheduled."

Quick head count: there was Kevin, Dave (Higdon, a freelance av writer working for ANN for NBAA) and me... and that was all. Jim had already stated he would be out most of the day, and Pete's already back in North Carolina... and that's the entire staff.

"We're Aero-screwed," said Kevin, the resident quipster.

What followed could best be described as farce, but at least it was high farce. With four conferences scheduled per hour, that meant one would get shafted right off the bat. We often picked the wrong one to blow off. Case in point:

TAG Aviation announced a new Part 135 operation flying the Eclipse 500, at the same time a French avionics firm was announcing its new in-cabin wifi/broadband entertainment system. Guess which one matters to the av-community more. Guess which one I was at. (Hint: they served champagne and chocolate-dipped strawberries afterward. I passed.)

Dave -- who has done this many times before, so he knows where to be -- heard about the first Adam 500 centerline twin to be delivered to an actual customer. I was covering... another wifi provider, this time from Switzerland. Cessna announced certification for the Encore.

Dave was covering an FBO presser while I was hearing about an aviation weather provider's new online dispatching and flight planning program (actually pretty interesting -- any AG'ers reading this, it is EXACTLY like CarrierPoint for airplanes) while Kevin was covering... yep, another wifi (there were seven in all, Kevin got all but two of them.) All three of us missed the announcement of Raytheon's new Hawker 850XP bizjet.

There were some victories: I got to listen to Vern Raburn describe flying the Eclipse 500 into Peter O. Knight in Tampa last week (a similar talk he had with Jim is today's Featured Aero-Cast) and I also learned a little about the Piaggio Avanti II, the upgraded version of N130EM, Eagle Materials' plane. Kevin got to schmooze with some fellow aero-heads, and Dave got a scoop on a Bombardier announcement.

And then there was my last conference of the day, with Brazilian regional-jet manufacturer Embraer.

The company announced some more details on its upcoming very-light jet (VLJ, the market Eclipse arguably pioneered) and light jet (LJ) aircraft. Embraer announced both would feature a Garmin G1000 avionics suite, which was kind of surprising as both Avidyne and L-3 had been courting Embraer pretty hard. But that wasn't the big news...

The company also announced the unveiling of the cabin mockups for both aircraft, scheduled for Wednesday morning. The official names of both airplanes would also be revealed at that time -- "not a moment before."

All was well with their plans until the Q&A session, when right off the bat an unidentified reporter (not me, I swear) asked "what can you tell me about the Legacy 600?"

Heads turned. There is no Legacy 600 in Embraer's line...

"Um... nothing, until tomorrow morning," the Senior VP handling the conference stammered, in thickly accented English.


Read how Aero-News handled the story here. Guess who wrote it!

P.S. I offer the above picture as an example of karma -- because we haven't had any of those lately. For anyone who ever said I failed to hold my weight in my past jobs, rest assured this one is making up for it...

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