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Dubai Airshow set to be biggest ever

By Aroonim Bhuyan, IANS

Dubai : With 850 exhibitors from 50 countries, over 140 aircraft on display and over 35,000 sq metres of exhibition space, the Dubai Airshow this year is set to become the biggest ever in its 18-year-old history.

“The scale of growth over the last two years – which amounts to 40 percent in booked floor space – reflects the massive growth the Middle East’s aviation industry is experiencing across all segments,” Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, president of the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority and chairman of Dubai Airports, said in a statement Thursday.

Thirteen India companies will put up stalls at the show.

Addressing a press conference here, Alison Weller, aerospace director of Fairs & Exhibitions (F&E), the event organizer of the five-day show beginning Nov 11, said: “We are expecting over 140 aircraft to be on display this year. There will be 850 exhibitors from 50 countries and the number of trade exhibitors is expected to total over 40,000.”

“This year, we have some 130 newcomers from 24 countries – which accounts for over 10 percent of the overall exhibitor profile,” she added.

“With 11 national pavilions, 91 chalets and 15 outdoor pavilions – up from five in 2005 – it truly is a full-house scenario,” Weller maintained.

Elaborating on the business aspect of the event, F&E chairman Virginia Kerr said: “Orders worth $21.3 billion were placed last year. We expect this year’s figures to exceed that.”

According to Kerr, the civilian-to-military aircraft ratio would be in the range of 60:40 at this year’s event.

Among the aircraft on display this year would be the Cirrus SR22 G3, dubbed as the world’s fastest selling, single-engine four-seater aircraft; the Dassault Falcon 7X, the original fly-by-wire business jet; the Sino Swearingen SJ30, the world’s fastest, long-range light jet; and the MD-902 helicopter with its patented state-of-the-art no-tail-rotor technology.

The Airbus A-380 superjumbo will also be back for show, which will also see military giants like the Russian MiG-29, the Lockheed Martin F-16 and the F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighter take to the air.

Three international aerobatics teams will also feature in the daily flying display – Britain’s Red Arrows flying the BAE Hawk, the Patrouille de France in the Dasault/Dornier AlphaJet and Spain’s Patrulla Aguila flying the Casa C-101 Aviojet.

Stating that the biennial event is on course to become the biggest such show in the world, Kerr said: “With its unlimited infrastructure and facilities, the Dubai Airshow is set to become the biggest air show in the world.”

As of now, the event that started in 1989 is the third largest air show in the world after the Paris and Farnborough events.

This is the last time that the show is being held at the Airport Expo area near the Dubai International Airport. From 2009, it will shift to a new, purpose-built facility at Dubai World Central – the new urban aviation facility being built in Jebel Ali, 30 km north of Dubai city centre.

The new site is set to further lift the benchmark for world-class aerospace show facilities, said Khalifa A. Zaffin, executive chairman of Dubai World Central.

“Expansion will be phased in as the show continues to develop with an overall capacity of 70,000 sq m possible. Exhibition space will increase from 35,000 sq m to 40,000 sq m,” he added.

The Dubai Airshow 2007 will be inaugurated Sunday by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and ruler of Dubai.

Among the Indian dignitaries expected to attend the event are Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel and Minister of State for Defence M.M. Pallam Raju.