Paris Air Show

Improved Show Has More To Offer Both Visitors and Exhibitors

 - June 16, 2013, 5:15 AM

Paris Air Show organizers have introduced a range of improvements aimed at making the huge biennial trade fair a more user-friendly proposition when it is staged at Le Bourget Airport from June 17-23. At an April 30 press conference in London, Emeric d’Arcimoles, chairman and CEO of show organizers SIAE, said that the show has been sold out for several months and that organizer SIAE has two main aims this year: providing more services for exhibitors and an improved experience for visitors.

More than 580,000 sq ft of exhibit stand space are occupied for the 2013 show, including a new temporary hall, 27 national pavilions–up 10 percent from 2011 and including a French presence with around 400 companies and a 10 percent larger U.S. pavilion. Overall there are around 2,200 companies from 144 countries. “We’ve seen a 30 percent increase [in exhibitor numbers] over the past 10 years,” said d’Arcimoles. In total, 350,000 visitors are expected across the trade and public days.

The trend behind the figures is that, like its friendly rival Farnborough International, the Paris Air Show has done a good job of increasing the diversity of exhibiting companies–drawing them from new parts of the aerospace world and attracting different industry sectors. This has compensated for the reduced presence that some Western companies have settled for over the past decade. U.S. defense group Northrop Grumman is once again absent from Le Bourget, having convinced itself that its industry profile is undiminished by leaving the stage to its rivals.

Business aircraft manufacturers, which have also had a reduced presence in Paris at the past two shows, are back despite their successful EBACE show, held in Geneva every May. SIAE pointed out that Dassault and Gulfstream would all occupy chalets at this year’s show, along with Embraer and Bombardier. It remains to be seen whether the latter two will focus on their bizav portfolio as much as their various regional airline and special missions products. In total, seven regional airliner manufacturers are present at the show, including newcomers such as China’s Comac (with its delayed ARJ21 program plus the C919), Russia’s Irkut (MS-21) and Mitsubishi (MRJ).

The vast static display here at Le Bourget is occupied by more than 130 aircraft. SIAE wisely played down expectations that the new Airbus A350 XWB could make its world debut at this year’s show, although that now seems more likely after the successful first flight last Friday (One source told AIN there could be a fly-by on Friday, June 21, to coincide with the visit of French President Francois Hollande).

Barring an A350 appearance, crowds are still able to view a pair of Boeing 787 airliners–one provided by Qatar Airways and the other in Air India colors. The duo should give Boeing a boost as it continues to get the 787 fleet back in commercial service after a prolonged grounding due to serious problems with the aircraft’s lithium-ion batteries.

Another debutant that SIAE had hoped to lure to Le Bourget is Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The aircraft now seems more likely to enter the world stage at the 2014 Farnborough show in the UK. Nonetheless, military highlights of Paris 2013 include Russia’s Sukhoi Su-35 warplane and Europe’s long-awaited A400M troop carrier, along with Dassault’s Neuron UAV.

Around 25 aircraft are appearing in the daily flying display, which will run as usual from 12.30 to 3.00 p.m. Boeing is hoping to that the 787 will be cleared to appear in the aerial performance (See box for the provisional flying display program). {{WE NEED TO MAKE THIS BOX?}}

Added Value

SIAE has expanded the show program for business-to-business meeting arrangements that it pioneered at the 2011 Paris Air Show, when it arranged more than 4,500 meetings. This year the service will run from Tuesday through Thursday of show week and will be supplemented by a special conference focused on purchasing policies in the supply chain.

At this year’s show there are set to be 50 more official delegations (representing both military and civil buyers), taking the total number of individual official delegates to 54,000. “This comes from our efforts to bring more high quality visitors to our exhibitors,” said SIAE marketing director Nicolas Tran.

Organizers also have extended show hours so that exhibitors can enter the Le Bourget site from 6.30 a.m. and trade visitors from 8.30 a.m. (an hour earlier than the 9.30 a.m. start at previous shows).

Since the 2003 Paris show, SIAE has invested around $70 million upgrading the show site. This year the main new addition in terms of technology is an application for smartphones and other mobile devices that includes a geolocation function to help visitors find their way to specific exhibits and show locations—increasing the number of meetings they can achieve in a day. New QR codes on visitor badges make it easier for exhibitors to capture information about them. There is also free Wi-Fi throughout the show site. AIN’s own AINonline iPhone app also includes up-to-date show information.

In a bid to make the best of the legendary traffic jams that can blight the travel experience to and from Le Bourget during the show, a new temporary radio station is broadcasting to listeners within a 10-mile radius of the site, giving advice on how to bypass the bottlenecks. There are also two additional taxi stands at the show site and staff to assist visitors at rail stations and airports.

To reduce the air show’s environmental footprint, SIAE has adopted the new ISO 20121 standard requiring, for example, the use of sustainable construction materials for exhibition stands. The Le Bourget show is only the second global event after the 2012 London Olympic Games to achieve these green credentials. The show also again features an Alternative Fuels section with 15 exhibitors.

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Recruiting for Aerospace’s Future

Paris Air Show organizers have redoubled the event’s emphasis on recruiting new entrants to the aerospace sector. “We [the industry] need to invest a lot in young people if we are to be ready for increasing production rates in the coming years,” said SIAE chairman and CEO Emeric d’Arcimoles.

The Concorde Hall features an enlarged Jobs & Training Area dominated by a specially-constructed 3,000 sq m aircraft mockup called the “Career Plane” where young people and those looking for a change in career can speak with engineers, pilots and other aviation professionals. Inside the mockup around 100 companies are represented with more than 50 different aviation jobs. “We think the dialog between young people and workers could make it attractive for them to take a job in aerospace,” said SIAE communications director Patrick Guerin. “We created 8,000 jobs in the French industry last year but we need 3,000 more [than that] each year.”