North America's - and to an increasing extent, the world's - business aviation community will gather next week for the 60th time for the annual NBAA convention. The three-day event, held this year in Atlanta's Georgia World Congress Centre, remains one of the biggest in the industry calendar, attracting 30,000 visitors.

The National Business Aviation Association was founded as the USA's post-war boom was taking off and business was turning to private aircraft to move its leaders around the continent. In the six decades since, corporate America has been through highs and lows, but rarely has the industry's mood been so upbeat.

The reason is not so much domestic demand - which remains strong despite worries over the liquidity crunch - but the appetite for business aviation in the rest of the world, which is outpacing US demand for the first time. While Europe is growing, other regions, such Asia, Latin America and the Middle East are emerging as pivotal markets. For the first time, it has unlocked the fortunes of a relieved industry from the US economic cycle.

Although the convention is pitched at the NBAA's 8,000 members - US operators of corporate aviation - it is also the main platform for manufacturers to showcase new aircraft and update the world's media on programmes and plans. In addition, hundreds of small suppliers and service companies - from municipal airports to upholstery producers - make up most of the more than 1,000 exhibitors.

This year, among aircraft on display, Embraer will be showing mock-ups of its new midsize jet concept, its E-190-based Lineage and Phenom 300 light jet. Airbus will have its A318 Elite - the newest member of its Airbus Corporate Jetliner family - for the first time at NBAA. Pilatus will show its first production PC-12 Next Generation, with Honeywell Primus Apex avionics. Gulfstream's static exhibit includes the new midsize G150, as well as the G200, G450 and G550. EADS Socata is showing its TBM 850. Bombardier will have all its seven Learjet, Challenger and Global models on display, including the debut of the Learjet 60 XR. Hawker Beechcraft will also have its full product line up, supplemented, to mark the Bonanza's 60th anniversary, with a 1947 Model 35. As well as its P180 Avanti demonstrator at the static display, Piaggio Aero's booth will have a Ferrari to highlight links between the two companies.

The other fixture of the convention is its conference programme - in part a forum to debate domestic industry issues with government officials, in part a discussion of issues affecting the global business aviation community. NBAA president Ed Bolen will kick off the convention with a speech at the opening general session, focusing on prospects for and challenges facing business aviation.

Source: Flight International