The Dubai Air Show was on between 11th and 14th of November 2007 and I was there for the event. It was my first appearance at this show, as a trade visitor. It was held at the Airport Expo pavilion, a part of the Dubai Airport Complex. This year's representation from the aviation industry surpassed the previous years by a long shot. The general mood in aviation circles such as Airline Industry, General Aviation and Military was upbeat. And it should have been because deals worth more than US$100 Billion were signed during this air show and that’s no small change.
The large tarmac outside the pavilion hosted the static display of all types of Aircraft - from single piston engine trainers to large jets. The trick was adjusting to the difference in the sunny outside temperature and the cold air-conditioned interior. Like most Air Shows, there were people from the defense forces from around the region, I found too many of them from the Pakistani Air Force, looking like they were on a holiday. Here I thought that they had an emergency going on in that country and there was a noose around the General's neck. Didn't seem like that at all! What's more amusing is that many of these chaps just go around picking up free bags and fill them up with free hand-outs, brochures, trinkets and such.
The Air Show itself was a good show and well organized except for the transportation to and from Dubai city which was poorly done. At the end of each day it was no uncommon to see serpentine queues for taxis and taxis in these parts are rare and expensive. For those who drove or had made arrangements for cars, they’d get a free bus ride to a general parking area. I’d dread to drive there; the traffic was horrendous to say the least. Hotels were outrageously priced too, because of the Airshow and I even found big company executives complaining over a normal lunch time conversation about this. Some last minute attendees had been slapped with US$800 a night tariffs at the same hotel’s where it would have a been a quarter of that during any other period in Dubai.
Coming to the Airplanes part of the show, there were many manufacturers on display. The crowds of delegates and trade visitors were treated to the usual afternoon flying displays featuring aerobatic teams from around the World. There was a spectacular Airbus Super Jumbo A380 demo flight as well. The Aircraft made an appearance in Airbus colors and not in the livery of any Airline. Funny, I’d have thought they’d come in Emirates Airlines colors, since they are the largest A380 customers. In the pavilion area, deals were getting signed with Boeing and Airbus primarily and Airbus seems to have been the overall winner here. General and Corporate aviation saw plenty of activity too, with Embraer and Cessna Jets making a big presence felt and populating their order books.
(click on pic to enlarge and see formation aerobatic aircraft in the background sky)
On the tarmac outside were Embraer Jets, Bombardier Jets, all of the Gulfstream Jets available, the futuristic looking Piaggio Avanti pusher turbo prop, turbine islanders, Cessna Mustang VLJ (Very Light Jet), Eclipse 500 VLJ, Single engine turbo prop Cessna Caravan well you name it and it was there. What caught my eye however was a rare appearance of a Mooney. People have almost forgotten about the World’s fastest single piston engine Aircraft and many of us who had a US exposure 20 years ago remember fondly, this airplane. The company has changed hands many times and has re-started production of it’s popular line of Aircraft and speaking to the reps there, it had been a last minute decision from Mooney to attend the air show.
(Piaggio Avanti Pusher Turboprop - above)
(Mooney cockpit-all glass)
Some concept jets were also on the tarmac, with mock ups and this included the Grob Jet. For me, meeting many of the people I knew and a lot of them I didn’t know was the exciting part. So much knowledge about the latest happenings in aviation and future trends is available at these air shows. The next air show here is in 2009.
The next major show is in Singapore in February 2008 coming up real soon. I'd also like to mention here that Dubai is attracting aviation companies by huge numbers. Their New Dubai Aviation City being developed is going to attract the biggest and the best in aviation including the World's largest MRO. Makes this aerospace technology park in Singapore that is also to come up at the same time, look rather small. I know Singapore is more than capable of catching up and they really need to because the competition in S.E. Asia is intense.
During the evening, I managed to have a look around the Dubai City area and found a few nice surprises. That’s going to form my next blog piece and may be of more interest to my readers who have been following my travels. This one’s for the aviation buffs.