The Farnborough International Airshow will take place July 16-22, 2018, and according to the organizers, visitors familiar with the show will notice quite a few changes. Although the number of exhibitors—1,500—will be around the same as the last show in July 2016, a range of changes and upgrades are in progress.
First up is the new Hall 1, as construction on a vast new permanent main show building started after the last show. Amanda Stainer, commercial director of Farnborough Airshows (it also runs the Bahrain International Air Show, BIAS), told AIN, “Everything is on track [with Hall 1]. It will be a brand-new permanent facility on two floors, with 12,000 square meters [129,000 square feet] of exhibition space.”
The new facility is similar in size to the dedicated temporary building it replaces, but it will be used for other events and functions as well, even simultaneously. “It’s got the same footprint but it’s nine meters [30 ft] high so it seems so much bigger,” said Stainer.
Upstairs in Hall 1 is the restaurant area, which Farnborough Airshows has named "Inspire." The Farnborough 2018 welcome reception will be held there on Monday evening of the show, rather than in central London as in the past.
“Another set of stairs leads to a flat roof and rooftop terrace,” she said. “This will be great in summer, and BAE Systems already has booked it for its annual general meeting.”
Product Demonstration Efforts
Around the rest of the show site there are several new areas, such as Aerospace 4.0, which recognizes the increasing relevance of “the fourth industrial revolution,” incorporating robotics, cyber and data aspects of aerospace. Stainer said, “We’re delighted that Deloitte has already agreed to be the sponsor of that…it will be a growth area going forward.” It will be close to the Innovation Zone, which is mainly made up of universities showing off their research. “Those two go hand in glove really,” said Stainer. “One day they could be merged to form one hall.” Added to that there will be an “interactive product showcase” in Hall 3, she said.
An idea that is taking shape in the organizers' minds is to have a scenario with actors to help demonstrate defense products to visitors. This idea, Stainer said, came from a Security and Policing show in March, where a mock-up embassy was created, and a siege carried out with actors. Delegates could then walk through to see how various products were helping. At Farnborough they are looking at a Jason Bourne theme. “We are currently looking for products that can be demonstrated,” said Stainer. “There is an area allocated for it in Hall 3 and it will involve some filming before the show, and actor arriving by business jet to be shown on big screens at the show. “It’s a great way to demonstrate products,” Stainer said.
In the Cargo Village, situated once more near F Gate, Volga Dnepr is again sponsoring the area and is the main exhibitor, and show organizers are currently looking at holding a half-day cargo conference there during the event. An addition could be a demonstration of “autonomous freight,” said Stainer. “It’s already being used for humanitarian work and is growing fast.”
Chalet-wise there has been some movement around the site. Leonardo still has its large presence in front of Hall 1, but Thales has selected to have both a chalet and a stand in the halls. This has allowed the organizers to put Aerospace 4.0 in the newly freed up structure. Meanwhile Bombardier “have moved to be closer to their aircraft, as have Mitsubishi.”
Hall 2 has also been extended and will be occupied by the U.S. Pavilion, while Farnborough Airshows’ own TV service, FINN, will be screening content—both prerecorded and live—on screens around the show site. Organizers have issued a call for papers, toattract companies to deliver presentations. In addition, the Farnborough marketing team had just tendered for a new show app, while Wi-Fi is to be improved around the site as well.
“We’re looking forward to a healthy show. 73 percent of exhibitors are from overseas [outside the UK] and we will have 27 international pavilions [compared to] 24 last time,” said Stainer.
The Space Zone, which has been moved to Hall 1, is getting busier than ever. “For the first time we have CASIC from China,” said Stainer. On the public weekend, Hall 1 and the Innovation Zone will remain open, she added.
It is a little early to say what the line-up of aircraft on static and on the display line will be, but Stainer said Qatar Airways looks set to bring its airliners again. “We also met with AIA about what the Americans are looking to bring. We’ll get more confirmation at the beginning of next year.” Overall, “We only fly aircraft that the trade wants to see.” In light of changes after the Shoreham Air Show accident, she added, “We can still have the Red Arrows fly past. We’re working very closely with the CAA and MAA on the new regulations.” But the display will be more aerobatic, with displays from smaller aircraft. “We also hope the F-35 will come again,” Stainer said.
The business aviation area is growing also, she said. For example, Embraer is expanding its footprint. Boom, which is developing a supersonic business jet, will have a large exhibit in Hall 3. “It’s a different audience to EBACE [which will be held in Geneva in May], and we are giving business aviation exhibitors the option to be there for three days. But some are seeing the benefit of being there through the weekend.”
“We have spent around £0.5 million on other improvements around the site,” Stainer said. Funding this is being helped by the fact many exhibitors have signed multi-show (3-5 show) deals with the organizers. “This allows them to invest in their areas too,” he added. “It also shows the strength of the [Farnborough] brand that people are asking to do that.”
She also mentioned that the Meet the Buyer program would be running again, over two days, and that after feedback from trade visitors who said they weren’t always sure where they were welcome, exhibitors have been asked to take this into account in their planning.