Business aviation pioneer Otto Pobanz died June 12 in his sleep. He was 93. Pobanz leaves a legacy for serving as a long-time business aviation pilot & safety expert. “Otto represented what makes business aviation great. He was professional, personable, energetic, thoughtful and totally engaged,” said NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen. “He made a lasting impact on technology adoption, flight department management and practices and on NBAA. Otto will be greatly missed.”
Inspired by Charles Lindbergh's solo flight across the Atlantic, Pobanz began flight lessons at the age of 16 in a Taylor Cub and by the time he was 19 had amassed more than 1,000 hours. He was one of only three commissioned officers under 21 in the U.S. Navy during World War II. His corporate flight department experience traces to the 1950s, when he became an executive pilot/captain for RCA in 1956. A year later, he became chief pilot and flight operations manager for Federated Department Stores, beginning a 30-year-career there.
He became active in numerous safety issues, serving on government/industry panels addressing proper management of NiCad batteries and the development of cockpit resource management. Safety concerns led Pobanz to help initiate development of Learjet 24/25 thrust reversers. Charged with reducing the noise of Federated’s Challenger 600, he led a team of engineering and product manufacturers to reduce interior noise levels while exceeding flammability and toxicity standards. As a result of this effort, he later served on an FAA panel that led to new flammability standards and co-invented with ATR the Exo-Grid Interior isolation system for the Boeing Business Jet and Bombardier aircraft, as well as hydraulic noise-attenuation technology for the 600-series Challenger and the Gulfstream II/III.
He served on the NBAA board of directors from 1972 to 1983. The late John Winant, who served as president of the association, wrote that “Pobanz's subsequent long service on the Board was distinguished by his inquisitive mind and by the constant flow of ideas and suggestions which it generated. He was a great, creative source of energy.”