|Every two years, the airport Al-Maktoum to the south of the Dubai city center, is the venue for the Dubai airshow, a trade show like Le Bourget, Farnborough and ILA Berlin. The show has been growing in significance, no doubt also due to the strong investment regime in the Middle East.
In 2015, more than 1100 companies found their way to Dubai, taking part in the show and business totaled more than $32 billion (!). Participants included all major industry leaders, both major manufacturing companies but also suppliers and airport services, etc. The static is certainly very large and impressive and crews were very friendly and open to talk about their aircraft.
The trade part is only open to professionals. For the general public, there is a grandstand with small entertainment area called ‘Sky View’. The area open about two hours prior to the flying display, so with a 14:00 start Skyview open around 12:00 and remains open until the end of the flying programme, around 17:00. Tickets can be bought on the spot or online in advance. Access is easy by car or even easier by public transport, with free shuttle buses from the metro station at Ibn Battuta.
The catering at the show, both the trade part and the public event space, is decently priced and with very friendly service, as is the norm in Dubai. From the grandstand, the public can catch a glimpse of what is available on the ground at the show, but most of remains hidden behind large participating aircraft such as the 747 and A380. It is for instance doubtful spectators in Skyview had any idea about the UAE’s or United States’ military aircraft on the ground. The flying display was cancelled on the 10 November due to strong winds and low visibility through the aforementioned dust clouds, and slightly delayed due to heavy rainfall on 11 November.
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Still, the Dubai Airshow boasted a varied lineup with everything from modern military jets, small civilian aircraft to big airliners and military demonstration teams. Of particular note was Sudan’s Safat presenting two of their new aircraft, the Safat 02 light helicopter and Safat 03 light aircraft in the flying display. The latter is actually a license-built Serbian Utva 75, very interesting to see upclose. The more usual suspects were Airbus with a large delegation on the ground and in the air. As you can see, Alenia was also well-represented on the ground, including a new version of their successful C-27 Spartan. Inside the pavilion, apart from aviation companies from other parts of the world like China and Russia, there was a special area dedicated to companies introducing 3D-printing applications and their uses in the world of aviation. It really showed the great variation of companies and activities in the world of aviation and is very educational because even hardened enthusiasts will discover several new technologies here. The show really is at the forefront of evolution and progress! Add to that flying displays by the USAF F-22 and B-1B, the United Emirates Air Force with Al Fursan, the F-16 block 0 and the Mirage 2000, all of extremely high quality, and you have a brilliant and entertaining air display.
It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, certainly not for avid photographers, but for people in the business with an active interest, the Dubai Airshow is definitely worthwhile, especially in combination with the world-class city of Dubai! Its quality and size certainly suit Dubai world-changing ambitions.
by Chris Janssens
Lay-out and content by Chris Janssens, 2005 - present