EBACE Opens With Tribute To Khan
GENEVA–EBACE was formally opened here May 23 with a varied keynote session involving a pioneering aviator and two famous leaders from the technology-driven, high-performance world of elite motorsport.
But the first and most important item on the order of business was for the European Business Aviation Association (EBAA) to offer its thanks and pay its respects to its most recent secretary-general, Athar Husain Khan, who died March 26.
"Athar was a driver behind the current strength of EBAA," the association's chairman, Juergen Wiese, told the audience. "He was the right man at the right time. He drove our industry in the right direction, and carried us through the challenges of the past years with passion, commitment, and with his leadership."
Wiese credited Khan with putting the association on its present path, where sustainability, diversity and inclusion are not words intended to merely burnish business aviation's public image, but core values that EBAA, its members and the sector as a whole is placing front and center of its work.
"Athar put the human element first in all that he was doing," Wiese continued. "He was so passionate about aviation, and he was most passionate about sustainability and a better, more sustainable future for air transport. And in this sense we want to dedicate EBACE 2023 to the legacy of Athar Husain Khan and his passion for a more sustainable future of air transport."
Khan's wife and son were in the audience to hear the tribute. Wiese also expressed the association's thanks to its staff, and those of sister organization NBAA, "for working through this difficult time to set all of this up."
Among others paying tribute was Jetnet iQ director Rollie Vincent, who opened his company's media briefing with a personal remembrance.
"Athar was a good friend—a great friend," Vincent said. "He came and spoke out our summits year after year, and loved doing that, really advocating not just for European business aviation but for the entire industry. Athar, we love you, and we'll see you soon."
The keynote session also featured a brief interview with Raphaël Domjan, founder and pilot of the SolarStratos project, which aims to fly a solar-powered aircraft in the stratosphere. Domjan has already claimed a couple of eye-catching firsts, including making the first parachute jump from an electric airplane. NBAA's Ed Bolen then conducted an extended interview with Susie and Toto Wolff, from the world of Formula 1, who shared insights and experiences they have gained in leadership and competition from motorsport. Sustainability, diversity, inclusion and recruitment—headline topics across all three days of the 2023 edition of EBACE—were highlighted during the conversation.