Meridian, the award-winning private aviation company based at Teterboro Airport, proudly participated in the 2015 National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) Schedulers & Dispatchers Conference (SDC2015) at the McEnery Convention Center in San Jose, CA. The annual conference was held from Tuesday, Feb. 3 through Friday, Feb. 6, with a record-breaking 2,700-plus attendees. The company sent nine representatives from its Headquarters in Teterboro, NJ, as well as three local representatives from the West Coast, including CEO Ken Forester.
This year’s conference featured a groundbreaking live-action business aviation emergency response drill, five days of in-depth educational opportunities, and a visit from former U.S. Secretary of Transportation Norman Y. Mineta. The live emergency response simulation was staged during the first-ever Second-Day General Session. Blending live actors with video simulations, the immersive drill left many attendees reflecting on the effectiveness of their own emergency response plans.
“This has been an incredibly exciting and engaging show,” said Mike Nichols, NBAA’s vice president of operational excellence and professional development. “We’ve had packed session rooms, people taking every opportunity to share experiences with their peers from across the country and a powerfully captivating emergency simulation that brought the participating crowd to its feet.”
Mineta, an esteemed aviation leader who has also served as a congressman, the mayor of San Jose, as well as U.S. Secretary of Commerce and U.S. Secretary of Transportation, visited the conference on Thursday, Feb. 5, meeting NBAA staff and committee leaders while touring the exhibit floor. His visit was all the more fitting, with the conference held less than 3 miles from the airport that bears his name: Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport (SJC).
“We’re very proud to have had former Secretary Mineta on hand to demonstrate his enthusiasm for our industry,” said Steve Brown, chief operating officer of NBAA. “Many of the attendees were inspired by his service and he, in turn, was clearly impressed with the professionalism of business aviation schedulers and dispatchers and the contributions attendees made to the local community.”
SDC2015 broke more than attendance records, with the conference’s annual Pay It Forward program collecting a record 1,452 suits, dresses, shirts and other business attire for Dress for Success and Sacred Heart San Jose. With a first-ever pedometer competition, based on steps walked across the show floor, the conference also raised $4,000 for the two local charities.
The educational program at SDC2015 was more dynamic than ever, with in-depth sessions on advanced topics such as personal use of aircraft, international aviation regulations and handling and Fit for Duty: Not Just for Flightcrews.
There were more than 450 exhibitors at the show, and NBAA unveiled a new category of its Flying Safety Awards: the Scheduler and Licensed Dispatcher Safety Award, which will be presented for the first time in 2016.
“This conference gets more dynamic, more informative and more rewarding every year,” said NBAA’s Jo Damato, NBAA’s director of educational development and strategy. “That’s all because of the active involvement of our attendees and the leadership of the Schedulers & Dispatchers Committee. This event always brings out the vitality and dedication of our community.”
This was the 26th year since the show’s debut in 1989. Meridian’s own Bob Platten has been there since the beginning. “I remember standing in a room with about 25 people from the industry, and we were asking ourselves, ‘What do we want this to be?’ Twenty-five years later, the educational component has expanded tremendously, attendance has grown to almost 3,000 people from companies based all over the world, and the networking opportunities are boundless. It’s really amazing to see how the show has evolved over the years, and I am really glad to be a part of this important event.”
Next year’s Schedulers & Dispatchers Conference (SDC2016) is scheduled for Jan. 19 to 22 in Tampa, FL.