Despite the doom and gloom wrought by aviation's "perfect storm" caused by bankruptcies, war, and SARS; a total of 4,960 people came together in Las Vegas, Nevada May 13-15, 2003 to be a part of the inaugural co-location of AS3 - Aviation Services & Suppliers Supershow and GSE International Expo.
Cygnus Business Media, parent company of Ground Support Magazine, Airport Business, Aircraft Maintenance Technology, and Cygnus Expositions acquired AS3, the Aviation Services and Suppliers Super Show from The National Air Transportation Association (NATA) and The Professional Aviation Maintenance Association (PAMA) in August 2002. Both associations have remained as sponsors and advisors to the event and their presence provided additional perspective, as well as unique networking and educational opportunities, helping to make the show a complete event.
Informative seminars and training sessions as well as over 400 leading manufacturers exhibiting on 90,000 net square feet of exhibit space featuring the latest in ground support equipment, services and solutions, aircraft interiors and accessories, maintenance parts and supplies, fueling, training and avionics. With complimentary responses from attendees and exhibitors alike, the show's success has already generated an exhibit floor that is nearly 50-percent sold out for the 2004 event. "We are extremely pleased with the level of participation and support for the first time co-location of AS3/GSE International Expo," says Jill Hilgenberg, Show Director. "It's no secret that the aviation industry has been weathering some turbulent times over the last couple of years, but this event has provided a positive outlook on the recovery of the aviation industry."
Former GSE Today Editorial Director, George Prill, kept in step with the military personnel during the show and files this report regarding an "Exhibitor Only" briefing from the United States Air Force.
The men and women who manage the procurement and logistics of ground equipment for the U.S. Air Force do not think of themselves as heroes, but they are aware of the importance of their role in war fighting and other military operations. Marianne Deuster, who heads the Ground Support and Vehicle Management Division of the U.S. Air Force Air Logistic Command (ALC) based at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, began her briefing for the GSE Expo exhibitors with the "No Air Power Without Ground Power" motto that focuses the logisticians on the essential role they are playing in the war on terror.
Ms. Deuster headed a large contingent of Air Force personnel and also chaired the meeting of the Department of Defense Joint Panel of Aviation Support Equipment held at GSE Expo. The Panel is responsible for coordinating the procurement of support equipment for the Air Force, Navy, Army, Defense Logistics Agency and the Coast Guard. It has been effective in synchronizing procurements and reducing costs.
Ms. Deuster emphasized her mission statement "Know our customers, understand their needs and expectations, and provide the highest level of Aerospace Equipment and Vehicles Logistics Support possible." Fulfilling this mission has been a hard job. To ensure that their customers, i.e. the warfighters, are getting what is needed, they meet regularly with Working Advisory Groups and Product Improvement Working Groups. The members of these teams, the operators of the equipment keep the logisticians informed of real needs and of problems with present equipment. While military specifications sometimes seem extreme, conditions such as those encountered in Iraq call for equipment that can be operated in very tough environments. Yet, the Air Force wants to use commercial equipment as much as possible. The warfighters in Iraq and in the other U.S. military operations around the world require lots of equipment and they require it now. Ms. Deuster outlined some of the problems that her organization has faced and she thanked suppliers and manufacturers who stepped up to meet the challenge.
The military definition of aviation support equipment is much broader than the usual airline definition of GSE. Not only does it include many items that an airline would consider maintenance equipment, but it covers a variety of weapons handling equipment for anything from machine guns to nuclear weapons, all which must be handled with both care and speed.
Ms. Deuster noted that Warner Robins ALC handles 64,000 items with an inventory value of $6.3 billion dollars. Their procurement budget for three years is $760 million, coupled with an estimated repair budget of $25 million. They are responsible for over 7,000 Technical Orders. They do this despite a shortage of experienced personnel at Robins as many of the "old hands" stayed behind when the responsibility for support equipment was transferred from Kelly Air Force Base in San Antonio, TX.
The Robins ALC has been, and will continue to be, heavily involved in the efforts of the Air Force to convert to alternative fuels and, in particular, to hydrogen powered fuel cells. Carl Perazzola, who heads their Advanced Power Technology Office, participated in the standing room only Expo session - Electric Power - Fuel Cells, Batteries, Hybrids, which took place on the last day of the show. Attendees were brought up-to-date on the many avenues that the branches of the military are following in the development and implementation of alternative power sources.
The ALC utilizes the Federal Business Opportunities web site found at www.fedbizopps.gov to advertise Federal government procurements over $25,000 and Ms. Deuster encourages small businesses to work with the Air Force. The Warner Robins Air Logistic Center Small Business Office website is www.robins.af.mil/smallbusiness/index.htm - George Prill
Seminars and training sessions have been important to both AS3 and GSE Expo shows in the past and this year was no different. NATA and PAMA had several opportunities for owner/operators, technicians, and other attendees with a full series of informative sessions including the NATA Safety 1st Trainer Seminar and the Washington Update. PAMA offered many technical seminars as well as the popular PAMA Maintenance Olympics for the aircraft maintenance technician attendees.
On the GSE Expo side of the house, the conference schedule offered daily seminars within the overarching themes of Environment, Alternative, and Traditional Fuels; Terrorism, Homeland Security; and Equipment Management and Maintenance.
Washington DC-based Malyszek and Malyszek Federal Government Contract Consulting & Litigation firm discussed GSE's place in Homeland Security as well as how to go about submitting proposals to the 22 agencies within the five major divisions of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Attorney Robert J. Malyszek told the audience that the DHS "has a lot of money but needs guidance as to exactly what they need" and outlined for attendees as to how to find contacts as well as approach those contacts with a solid proposal for business.
The Electric Power - Fuel Cells, Batteries, Hybrids panel discussion provided the standing room only crowd with a look into the future of advancing technologies for equipment as well as the requirements for infrastructure critical to the support of new products for military and commercial use. The panel was moderated by Bob Wertz, senior program engineer, Concurrent Technologies Corp. and panel members included: Carl Perazzola, P.E., director, Advanced Power Transition Office, United States Air Force; Brian Weeks, manager, Planning Infrastructure Dept., Chevron Texaco Corp.; Scott Kenner, senior electrical engineer, Concurrent Technologies Corp.; Ryan Gibson, GSE product manager, AeroVironment Inc.; Mark Schultz, principal analyst, Intellimotive; Kevin Vogler, global sales manager, Ballard Power Systems; and Jennifer Schafer, director of Federal Government Relations, Plug Power.
The AS3/GSE Expo proved to be a great venue for several groups and associations to hold meetings while attending the show. The U.S. Department of Defense Joint Panel on Aviation Support Equipment (JPAVSE) held its annual meeting over the three days, as did the National Air Transportation Association's new Airline Services Council (ASC), which consists of companies that provide services to scheduled air carriers as their primary business and includes aircraft fueling, baggage service, catering, terminal services, cargo services, aircraft handling, deicing, maintenance, security service, and aircraft cleaning.
On behalf of Ground Support Magazine, Airport Business, Aircraft Maintenance Technology, and Cygnus Expositions; we thank all who participated in this year's show and look forward to seeing more of you in 2004.
The 2004 AS3/GSE International Expo will be held
May 18-20 at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
For more information,
or call 800.827.8009.
Although now part of the large ITW GSE Group, J&B Aviation continued its tradition of opening each GSE Expo with an invitational golf tournament at one of Las Vegas' many courses. This year's get together, the company's fifth annual event, saw 14 teams totalling nearly 60 players do battle on the lush fairways of the city's Angel Park Golf Club.
All teams posted excellent scores, with 12 of the 14 coming in under par. However, the winning foursome of Bob Maier (Parsons), Mark Zuroske (Insul-8), Mitch Chokas (HKS) and Ron Steger (Airmotive) proved too hot to handle with an eight-under-par 63.
Those keen to know whether the Ground Support Magazine representative prospered or just perspired in the desert heat will be heartened to know that his team placed fourth - albeit thanks completely to the accuracy of team mates Scott Twining (Hobart), Dusty Sloan (Ameribridge) and Irwin Haber (PDI).
- Richard Rowe