Attendance Rebounds, Displays Set Records at Heli-Expo

 - March 14, 2017, 11:20 AM

The Helicopter Association International’s annual Heli-Expo rotorcraft showcase, held last week in Dallas, saw a significant boost over last year’s edition.

The 100-percent-occupied show floor, which comprised 322,800 sq ft of exhibits and displays at the city’s Kay Bailey Hutchison Exhibition Center, set a new record for Heli-Expo. It featured 731 exhibiting businesses and organizations, up from 695 last year. The 62 aircraft on display represented an increase of seven from the 2016 edition held in Louisville, Kentucky.

The biggest boost, however, came in attendance, where the 17,778 show-goers exceeded last year’s tally by nearly 4,000. This marks a return of attendance to pre-recession levels.

The event, which wrapped up on Thursday, attracted more than 1,500 visitors to its 62 Rotor Safety Challenge sessions and 750 to the HAI professional student programs.

Next year’s event will be held from February 26 through March 1 in Las Vegas, Nevada.


It would be foolish to consider the Louisville attendance figures as being anything more than an aberration: there's a good reason why the multi-year contract for Louisville has been torn-up, as evidenced by the overwhelmingly negative feedback received from exhibitors after last year's show.

Surely a better yardstick would be to compare this year's attendance with that from 2012, when the exhibition was last in Dallas. That year the show attracted 19,023 attendees, so the 2017 figure represents a 7% reduction. (The 2012 Dallas figure was bettered the following year in Las Vegas, where 20,393 attended.)

Regarding pre-recession levels, Heli-Expo 2006 (Dallas) saw 16,628 visitors, with 2007 (Orlando) attracting 14,806 and 2008 (Houston) 17,373. These numbers were all beaten by visitor attendance figures released for 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015.


I have nothing against the city or the citizens. All were cordial and helpful. However, Louisville had to be the worst location for a show, that I personally have been to, in over 17 years. Comparing last year's show in Louisville to ANY other show is going to be wildly inaccurate. To note attendance in Dallas to be up as a "return of attendance to pre-recession levels" is really no indicator at all. Hopefully, the lesson has been learned on locations for this show.

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