Marking the first major international aerospace gathering since the pandemic began, the Dubai Airshow nears its final days having already answered its theme, "The Future of the Aerospace Industry,” in the most emphatically positive manner possible. With more than 175 of the world’s most advanced aircraft displayed on ground and in the air, civil and military delegations from almost 150 countries, pavilions from a score of countries—including for the first time the Czech Republic, Belgium, Brazil, Israel, and Slovakia—and an expected 85,000 visitors by show’s end, Dubai 2021 is on track to be the largest of the biennial gatherings since it began in 1989.
In addition to the exhibition hall featuring the products and services of the more than 1,000 aerospace companies spanning the commercial, military, business aviation and space industries, behind-the-scenes deals and news were being made among the exhibitors. On the show floor, visitors attended conferences featuring more than 250 industry experts addressing issues including technology, space, and sustainability. Indeed, coming on the heels of the UN’s Climate Change Conference in Glasgow (COP 26), the airshow’s focus on sustainability achieved resonance far beyond the world of aviation.
With many parts of the world unsettled, defense industry exhibitors showcased new solutions for dealing with global security threats. Some of the newest occupied the display ramp, including a scale model of Russia’s low-cost and potentially disruptive Checkmate fighter jet; a mockup of the UAE’s Calidus B-350 turboprop attack aircraft; Russia’s Mi-28NE attack helicopter; and a pair of special-mission aircraft based on Bombardier’s Global 6000 platform: the UAE Air Force’s GlobalEye and U.S. Air Force E-11A BACN.
Commercial aviation’s post-pandemic resurgence manifested itself in an order for more than 250 fuel-efficient Airbus A321neos from a consortium of regional airlines, another order for a mix of 111 of the company’s airliners from U.S. lessor Air Lease Corporation, and the world debuts of the Boeing 777X and the Leonardo AW609 tiltrotor. Additionally, ATR announced it is upgrading its new regional turboprops with Pratt & Whitney Canada PW127XTs, powerplants that were introduced at the show.
The daily flight demonstrations thrilled attendees with thunderous performances by the UAE Air Force’s Al Fursan in their Italian Aermacchi MB-339NAT trainers; the Russian Knights flying Su-30SM jets; the Saudi Hawks with BAe Hawk Mk.65 trainers; and India’s Sarang helicopter aerobatic team in Dhruv rotorcraft, along with its Surya Kiran Air Force jet demo team, also flying Hawks.