Dubai 2005: Next month's Dubai Air Show diversifies and sets its sights high

 - October 23, 2006, 6:36 AM

Dubai’s ambitions for its biennial airshow seem to know no limits. Organizers will stage this year’s event in a purpose-built exhibition site at Dubai International
Airport that has been expanded with a new 107,000-sq-ft Central Hall. But by 2009 the show is due to be relocated to the completely new Jebel Ali International Airport, a key component in Dubai’s ambitious master plan to reinvent itself from being just another oil exporter to being a 21st-century commerce and leisure hub.

The ninth Dubai show (November 20 to 24) is expected to sell out, with some 550 exhibitors drawn from 36 countries (a new record for the increasingly cosmopolitan event). In addition to the Middle East, the event’s catchment area is expanding to take in parts of western Asia.

The increasing diversity of the Dubai Air Show is reflected in new national pavilions to house the aerospace and defense industries of India and Oman.

There will also be separate themed pavilions for the training and simulation sector and for unmanned air vehicles. For the second time, there will also be a Middle East pavilion that will include exhibitors from countries such as the United Arab Emirates (of which Dubai is a part), Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

The Middle East’s fast-growing airlines–including Emirates, Qatar Airways and Etihad–have been a real boon to civil airframers over the lean years of the first half of this decade. They are once again expected to bestow new orders at the Dubai show, as too may start-up carriers such as Menajet and Air Arabia.

Boeing will be looking to bolster support for its new 787 long-haul airliner, while Airbus will be seeking to fatten the order book for both its A380 superjumbo and for the new A350 twinjet, which should be fully launched by show time. Airbus is set to give the A380 another public airing at the Dubai show, but Boeing has yet to say what aircraft it might bring.

The business aviation presence at the Dubai show is once again expected to be significant. This facet of the event is likely to be enhanced further by the rescheduling of NBAA’s annual U.S. show.

The Orlando event will be staged one week earlier than had been planned, which will undoubtedly make it easier for OEMs and suppliers to be present in force at Dubai. These companies had faced the prospect of a hectic dash from New Orleans to Dubai, with all the headaches associated with moving exhibits around the globe in a hurry.

High Profile for Bizav

No fewer than three dozen Dubai exhibitors have a direct stake in business aviation. At press time, the provisional list of aircraft for static display included the following corporate transports: Bombardier’s Challenger 604, Challenger 300, Global Express, Learjet 40 and Learjet 45; Cessna’s Citation Bravo and Excel; Dassault’s Falcon 900 and 2000; the Boeing Business Jet; and the Pilatus PC-12.

Local charter operators such as Royal Jet, Bexair and National Air Services were also planning to bring a further array of western-built equipment, but these had yet to be specified at press time. Raytheon Aircraft will also be at the show.

At press time, the only civil helicopters on the provisional list of aircraft on static display were the Bell 412 and the Bell/ Agusta AB139. Sikorsky will also be at the show, as will Russia’s Kazan Helicopters.

Among the business aviation service companies exhibiting at Dubai are executive charter brokers International Air Charter, Chapman Freeborn and Air Partner International; flight planners Hadid and Universal Weather; completions house Lufthansa Technik; flight data specialist Jeppesen; FBO group Jet Aviation; and fuel providers Air BP, Chevron Texaco, Exxon and Shell. Avionics groups Honeywell, Rockwell Collins and Thrane & Thrane will also be present.

MidEast Regional Growth?

For years there have been expectations that a regional airline sector could emerge from the Middle East air transport industry, but local carriers have resisted a business model that has proved so conducive to growth in both North America and Europe.

In April, Embraer made a breakthrough when Saudi Arabian Airlines ordered 15 of its Embraer 170 regional jets. First delivery is scheduled for December.

Bombardier has committed to exhibiting a CRJ700 at the show. Avions de Transport Regional is also booked to exhibit, as is Sukhoi Civil Aircraft, which will be promoting its new Russian Regional Jet program. It is unclear whether Antonov will bring its rival An-148 to Dubai. A Raytheon Beech 1900 twin turboprop will also be among the regional aircraft on display.

Markedly smaller in scale than the world’s blockbuster shows at Paris and Farnborough, Dubai gives companies from less prominent aerospace firms a higher profile and attracts all the major global players.

More information about the show can be found at www.dubaiairshow.com.