Aerospace and defense exhibitors from all around the globe have converged on Dubai this week for what has become one of the world’s most important events on the biennial air show calendar. Breaking all records posted during the 2013 event here at the DWC Dubai Airshow site, this year’s show features more than 1,100 exhibitors, a third of which hail from the Middle East, 29 percent from Europe and 28 percent from the Americas. Airshow organizer F&E Aerospace expects the show to attract 65,000 visitors, some 5,000 more than passed through the turnstiles at the 2013 event.
The show’s wide range of geographic representation makes it an important event to attend for the world’s biggest manufacturers and less prominent companies alike. Airbus identified the Middle East as one of the fastest growing regions in its latest market forecast, making the Dubai Airshow a central hub for the industry to meet and do business.
Among the show’s many national contingents, organizers expected to see a 20-percent increase in Russian participation, F&E Aerospace managing director Michele van Akelijen told AIN in a pre-show interview. Meanwhile, the 150 exhibitors attached to the U.S. delegation amount to about double that country’s presence during the 2001 show.
First time exhibitors include New Zealand-based Martin Aircraft Company, which brought its V4-engine, composite-airframe Martin Jetpack to display. Another important new exhibitor—the UAE Space Agency—was formed in 2014 with a mandate to regulate and support the UAE Space sector and contribute to the diversification of the national economy by providing a national advanced space industry.
“With the addition of the UAE Space Agency to our existing exhibitor list, we have added yet another dimension to the Dubai Airshow,” said van Akelijen. “The global space industry is worth $300 billion, and growing at 8 percent annually. The UAE’s investments in space technologies have already exceeded 20 billion dirhams ($5.4 billion), including UAE based companies Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC), Al Yah Satellite Communications Company (Yahsat) and Thuraya Telecommunications Company, all of whom will be exhibiting with the UAE Space Agency.”
In recognition of one of the industry’s newest technologies, the show features a new dedicated 3D print pavilion called 3D Printshow Dubai. U.S. exhibitor Stratasys recently reported that it has 3D printed more than 1,000 in-flight parts for the Airbus A350 XWB aircraft, and GE has already developed and tested engines using 3D printed parts, making the show an important showcase for the highly promising new process.
From technology to preparing young people in the region to benefit from it, Dubai once again serves as home base for the Gulf Aviation Training Event (GATE), launched in 2011 to address aviation training needs in the Middle East. One of two new conferences at this year’s show–the Airport Safety & Security Conference–aims to bring together key experts to discuss important security aspects of the airport industry while looking at how big data and integration markets drive upgrades and new investments in the airport security market. The other, titled “Utilizing Offset Investment to Develop Space and Aviation Technologies and Local Supply Chain Capability,” addresses the use of industrial cooperation or “offset” investment to further develop aviation technology, supply chain capability and the UAE’s space industry.
Of course, no Dubai Airshow would be complete without its flying displays, and this year’s flight demonstrations–set to run from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. each day–will feature the UAE’s Al Fursan and Italy’s Frecce Tricolori aerobatic teams. The flying displays will also include for the first time a Boeing Chinook, as well as the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor, which in the past has performed only a fly-by at the show. This year, organizers have arranged for a B-1 bomber to perform a fly-by over Dubai. All told, organizers have reserved parking spots for some 160 airplanes on the airshow ramp.
Inside, the show’s hall covers some 45,000 square meters, and this year F&E has completely booked the available space, said van Akelijen. F&E has asked to expand the site by 10,000 square meters for the 2017 edition to accommodate continued growth.