Singapore Air Show

New format Farnborough already looks like a winner

 - December 1, 2006, 6:23 AM

The Farnborough International 2006 airshow (July 17 to 23) is set to be a bumper event with more exhibitors and aircraft than ever before. Show organizers announced here in Singapore that sales for the almost-sold-out event are up more than 15 percent on the last Farnborough airshow in 2004.

More than 96 percent of all exhibit space is booked and 72 new exhibitors have signed up. South Korea and Mexico are new first-time exhibiting nations and the event will also have a new pavilion for unmanned aerial vehicles. Bell Helicopters is returning to the show for the first time since 1998 and it will be a key component in an enlarged rotorcraft presence, according to the organizers.

The Farnborough show will make a staggered start this year, with the event beginning an hour later than normal, at 10 a.m. on Monday, July 17. After a shortened flying display, it will close that day at 4 p.m. to allow exhibitors and trade visitors to make the 35-mile trip into central London for the official opening ceremony. The event will be staged at historic Lincoln’s Inn from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. and will be attended by senior members of the UK’s Department of Trade and Industry and Ministry of Defence, as well as official delegations.

The new format opening ceremony replaces the traditional Tuesday official Farnborough dinner, freeing up an evening for exhibitors to run their own events. The organizers also hope the later start on Monday will reduce some of the serious road congestion that has caused frustration at previous shows on opening day.

Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday will be full trade days at FI2006. Friday has been designated International Youth Day, leaving Saturday and Sunday as the traditional public days.

To help exhibitors to control their costs, Farnborough International froze its charges at 2004 rates. They have also offered a 50-percent discount on the static display, which is expected to result in an unprecedented number of aircraft participating in the show, perhaps as many as 40 percent more than the 113 aircraft that were at the 2004 event.

Details of the aircraft on display have yet to be announced, but they are certain to include the Airbus A380 super-large airliner and a large contingent of U.S. military jets. Russia’s impressive fighters are due to make a full return to the international airshow circuit after several years of absence caused by protracted legal action. FI2006 organizers are working with UK civil aviation officials on plans for a possible flying display by small unmanned aerial vehicles.

Amanda Stainer, director of events and exhibitions with Farnborough International Ltd., told Aviation International News that much of the show site will have a new look this year, with many companies altering their exhibits. For instance, some have chosen the show’s new combined chalet and stand option, while others have gone for the new plan of being permitted to have just a chalet.

Despite efforts to make show participation more cost efficient, a good number of FI2006 exhibitors are making significant investments in completely new stands. For example, the Gripen Swedish fighter program will have a high profile with a brand-new bespoke exhibit at the former President’s Enclosure site. Boeing’s presence at Farnborough will feature a new outdoor exhibit that Stainer said promises to be “very exciting.”

Companies wanting to spend less money are opting for Farnborough International’s shell scheme whereby the organizers provide basic stands that can be enhanced with optional packages. Stainer said the company has been making a concerted effort to make exhibitors’ bills fully transparent and predictable.

After experimenting with the concept in 2004, Farnborough will once again feature a separate business aircraft park. This year it will be more centrally located and will feature at least 24 aircraft parked close to their manufacturers’ chalets.

The business aircraft park show is open for just the first three days, but exhibitors do have the option of keeping their aircraft at Farnborough for the full seven days. The park will have a separate entrance and reception, allowing visitors to quickly get to the aircraft they wish to view.

Farnborough’s Hall 1A has been converted into a two-story facility, incorporating a new media center. Upstairs the building also features a new 700-seat exhibitor restaurant and a bar with good view of the field. A jazz band will entertain visitors, although they will presumably not try to compete with the flying display.

Farnborough organizers have now announced dates for the next five airshows on the basis of an agreement with Farnborough Airport operator TAG Aviation covering use of the site through 2020. Here at Asian Aerospace, Farnborough International can be found at Stand A536-4. More details about the show are at www. farnborough.com.