Drones, Demand and Development Discussed in Dubai

The Middle East and North Africa Business Aviation Association (MEBAA) Conference in Dubai discussed the opportunities and challenges facing the business aviation industry in the region. Over 300 delegates met to hear keynote speeches and take part in interactive question and answer panels, led by the industry’s key leadership.

H.E. Homaid Al Shimmari, Chief Executive Officer of Aerospace and Engineering Services at Mubadala, addressed the audience stating that business aviation must enhance the service and ease of travel for customers, due to increasing competition from commercial airlines investing more and more in premier travel solutions.

Mike Beazley, VP of Global Sales at Honeywell, presented an overview of the business aviation industry, pointing out that fleet replacement and expansion plans are back at pre-recession levels, with development programs boosting the outlook in 2018 and beyond.  Al Shimmari concurred, saying that business aviation is still relevant and will continue to be relevant and strong, that the industry must “Push our agenda into the market”.

Also speaking at the event was Ismaeil Al Hosani, Assistant Director General of Air Accident Investigation Sector at the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), whose presentation discussed growth, innovations and new initiatives in the business aviation sector with a particular focus on safety and safety regulations and the growing importance for these to develop along with technology. This topic led on to the ever pressing issue of unmanned aerial systems – drones - in the UAE airspace and what can be done to increase safety in this area.

This proved to be a hot topic of discussion too, with regulatory steps taken so far by the GCAA to integrate UAS use into UAE airspace investigated plus details about future regulatory plans. Also a popular discussion was the legal risks and challenges of drone operation in the UAE, in addition to insurance issues.

Other panel discussions looked at continuous improvement in safety and security, examining ways in which security measures are implemented in business aviation, best practice implementation in audits and oversight and tracking safety ratings; while another addressed the importance of FBOs at airports, paying particular attention to the challenges of the Middle East market, the region’s infrastructure and how FBOs can optimise income. Discussion at the final panel examined personnel shortage in the industry including an in-depth examination of steps that have already been taken to address the issues, along with training of local staff to meet demand. 

In addition, the GCAA took the opportunity at the conference to make a formal request that MEBAA begin forming the second working group to enhance regulations to meet the needs of business aviation.

“The MEBAA Conference in Dubai has been a great success,” says Ali Ahmed Alnaqbi, Founding Chairman of MEBAA, “The speeches and discussions have been informative and useful to all those attending. It’s fantastic to see the business aviation industry in the region coming together to discuss key issues, and is an important part of what MEBAA stands for.”

He continued,”We are pleased to have welcomed so many MEBAA Members to this event, and look forward to seeing them and many other representatives at the MEBAA Show at DWC, Airshow Site.”

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