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Airshow 'a barometer for regional aviation growth'

BY ISSAC JOHN (Deputy Business Editor) / 9 November 2007

DUBAI — The Dubai Airshow, a biennial battleground where most leading manufacturers of civilian and military planes vie to grab media spotlight and aircraft orders, will line up 40 per cent more exhibitors than the previous edition when its opens on Sunday.

The 10th edition of the event also has smashed all previous records of size, aircraft numbers and aircraft displayed as it readies for its final showing at the Airport Expo Dubai. For its 2009 edition, the show will move to a new, purpose-built facility at Dubai World Central, the urban aviation community being built in Jebel Ali.

"The event's growth over the past two years — which amounts to some 40 per cent in booked floor space — reflects the massive growth the Middle East's aviation industry is experiencing across all segments," said Shaikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President, Dubai Civil Aviation Authority (DCAA), and Chairman of Dubai Airports.

"Regional carriers are expanding fleets and networks, there is huge investment in the region's aviation infrastructure, the aviation service sector is attracting a considerable influx in FDI, and the training and development of the industry's regional talent pool is moving forward," he said.

Ongoing and planned airport developments in the Middle East, Africa and the Indian subcontinent involve an investment of $60 billion. Dubai and Abu Dhabi aviation infrastructure projects account for more than 25 per cent or $15 billion. Fuelled by strong economic growth and increased passenger traffic, the region is one of the fastest growing aviation markets in the world. 

This year, the five-day show, world's third largest global aerospace event after Le Bourget in Paris and Farnborough in the UK, has 850 exhibitors from 50 countries and covers more than 35,000 square metres, with more than 140 aircraft on display.

"Once again the Dubai Airshow is proving to be a barometer of Middle East aviation growth and with this year's event being the largest in the event's 18 year history there is a clear signal that the global aerospace industry is now prioritising activities in this region."

Fairs & Exhibitions (F&E), which organises the show in conjunction with Dubai Civil Aviation Authority and Dubai Airports and in collaboration with the UAE Armed Forces, has managed to accommodate growth despite space restrictions at Airport Expo Dubai.

"We have been creative in floor space planning, narrowing aisles, increasing outdoor pavilion space and even using space under stair wells to satisfy unprecedented demand," said Virginia Kern, Chairman, F&E. "We are also in the happy position of already receiving requests for space allocation at the 2009 event, which we can now accommodate with greater ease thanks to the investment of the Dubai Government in the new, purpose-built site in Jebel Ali."

Alison Weller, Director - Aerospace, F&E, said the show has first-time representation from five countries — the Cayman Islands, the Philippines, Ethiopia, Afghanistan and Luxembourg. "And with 11 national pavilions, 91 chalets and 15 outdoor pavilions — up from five in 2005 — it truly is a houseful scenario," explained Weller.

Dubai Airshow 2007's expansive aircraft fleet also encompasses a number of new-to-market models ranging from strike fighters to trainers, from VIP business jets to heavy cargo carriers and the latest in the very light jet range.

This will include regional debuts of Cirrus SR22 G3 — the world's fastest-selling, single-engined, four-seater aircraft; the Eclipse 500, the VLJ forerunner; the Dassault Falcon 7X, the original 'fly-by-wire' long-range business jet; the Sino Swearingen SJ30, the world's fastest, longest-range light jet and the MD 902 helicopter with its patented, state-of-the-art no-tail-rotor technology.

The Airbus A380 superjumbo will be back for the show's daily flying display which will also see military giants fly including the Russian MIG 29 multi-role fighter aircraft, the block 60 Lockheed Martin F-16, one of the most popular attack aircraft in its class, the USAF's legendary fighter and the F-117A Nighthawk Stealth Fighter attack.

Three international aerobatics team will also feature in the daily flying display. These are Britain's Red Arrows flying the BAE Hawk, the Patrouille de France in the Dassault/Dornier AlphaJet and Spain's Patrulla Aguila, which is making its Arabian Gulf debut in the Casa C-101 Aviojet.

DAE, the global aerospace manufacturing and services corporation headquartered in the emirate, is to also make its debut for 2007 as the event's first-ever host-sponsor.

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