Just like the aerospace and defense companies they serve, air shows have to continually adapt to stay relevant. In this regard, no-one can accuse Farnborough International of resting on its laurels. The next staging of the biennial event (July 16-22, 2018) will reveal a show that has changed both physically and in the opportunity it shares with trade and public visitors.
One of the most noticeable changes will be a completely redeveloped Hall 1, which is now a key part of the revamped Farnborough International Exhibition & Conference Centre. Combined with Hall 5, this provides extensive space for the airshow itself, but also for other types of events. Between now and the start of 2019, the venue is booked to host shows focusing on topics such as manufacturing, security, fishing, pets and home building. However, organizers also see scope for the site to be used for other specialist events within the aerospace and defense sectors.
The new Hall 1 also will now host Farnborough International’s traditional welcome reception on the first day, avoiding the need for show goers to rush away to central London from the show site. It will also house an improved media center.
One of the key themes for the 2018 show is what the Farnborough International organizer (a subsidiary of UK aerospace, defense and security trade group ADS) is calling Industry 4.0. This will focus on the digital transformation of the business that some have gone so far as to describe as “the fourth industrial revolution.”
This theme will be reflected in a new pavilion focusing on topics such a simulation, augmented reality, robotics and data analysis. There will also be a dedicated part of the exhibit space to highlight technological advances in the aerospace supply chain, as well as an emphasis on reducing the environmental impact of aviation.
According to Farnborough International commercial director Amanda Stainer, other aspects of the show that continue to expand include space, aircraft interiors, air freight (with an expanded cargo village) and business aviation. Her team is looking to further expand the scope of the event’s civil delegation program, which targets invitations to decision-makers from specific organizations such as airlines and airports. It also expects to boost the number of national pavilions at the 2018 show to 27 (from 23 in 2016). The China National Aero-Technology Import & Export Corporation (Catic) will be exhibiting at Farnborough for the first time, and India may be another new addition.
Hall 3 will feature a new “content-driven theater” that will give specialists the chance to give short 20-minute presentations on particular topics. This week at the Paris Airshow, Farnborough International is opening up an invitation to industry executives to submit presentation proposals for consideration with a deadline of the end of January 2018.
Also new in Hall 3 is space that will be set aside for “interactive product showcases” that will allow exhibitors to demonstrate technology in a more realistic setting. “The live product demonstrations will bring a bit more entertainment to the show, and we’re looking at ways to have more video content and more of the feel of live TV,” Stainer told AIN.
Farnborough International is looking to do more to improve return on investment for smaller exhibitors too. “Big shows can be scary for smaller companies who worry about how visitors will find them, so we have created, in Hall 4, a special package for first-time exhibitors that will put them together in the center [of the building] rather than being scattered around the periphery,” said Stainer. “This will make sure the traffic goes by them, and generally, around the site we’ll have better signage to get visitors to the exhibits they want to see.”
The weakening of the British Pound on currency markets in the wake of the UK’s impending Brexit departure from the European Union has proved to be a boon for Farnborough International, since it has markedly reduced costs for exhibitors. “But we have to be able to demonstrate a strong return on investment for exhibitors,” concluded Stainer. “Some just want networking opportunities, but others fully expect to come away with contracts, which is why we’ve introduced features such as the Meet the Buyer program that helps companies get face-to-face with prospective customers.”
AIN will once again publish its award-winning daily newspapers at the Dubai Airshow on July 16, 17, 18 and 19. Our team will provide comprehensive live coverage of all the news from the show and exclusive video reports.