SHOW PRE­VIEW: DUBAI AIR SHOW 2017

Dubai Air Show 2017 is go­ing to be quite the dis­play of air power in var­i­ous cat­e­gories and the high­light will still be the pre­dicted match be­tween Boe­ing and Air­bus

SP's Airbuz - - Front Page - BY BIKRAM VOHRA, DUBAI

IT HAS COME A long way from that first valiant ef­fort in 1986. Those days the two names on the avi­a­tion mar­quee were Farn­bor­ough and le Bour­get with Sin­ga­pore bring­ing up the also ran po­si­tion. To­day the Dubai air show ranks right up there with the best of them. In fact, it can be said that the four-day air­fest is now con­sid­ered the bench­mark for the in­dus­try’s bian­nual get to­gether. The 15th ex­hi­bi­tion, to be held from Novem­ber 12 to 16 this year at the Dubai World Cen­tral, will have more than 1,200 exhibitors – in­clud­ing 100 tak­ing part for the first time – and over 160 air­craft on dis­play dur­ing the show.

Among the new di­men­sions given to the show are the Space Con­fer­ence and the dis­play of the Un­manned Aerial Sys­tems.

Be­sides air­craft, the fresh em­pha­sis is also on space ex­plo­ration and keep­ing in mind the UAE in­volve­ment in the Mars mis­sion this as­pect is be­ing given prece­dence this year. Be­tween that new di­men­sion and the Air­port So­lu­tions seg­ment as well as the cargo con­fer­ence things are cer­tainly go­ing to be ex­cit­ing. This is the first time in the his­tory of avi­a­tion ex­hi­bi­tions that the fu­ture is be­ing made the theme of the four-day spec­ta­cle. Space ex­plo­ration, travel and the com­bi­na­tion of wan­der­lust and sci­en­tific re­search will be of the essence.

Of great in­ter­est to fans of the Apollo mis­sions will be the pres­ence of Cap­tain Al Wor­den who pi­loted Apollo 15 and will be ad­dress­ing a se­lect au­di­ence on his ex­pe­ri­ences along with an au­dio vis­ual pre­sen­ta­tion. Adding an­other an­gle to the show is the Gulf Avi­a­tion Train­ing Event (GATE) and Fu­tures Day el­e­ments. These are de­signed to en­cour­age the younger gen­er­a­tion to step up to the plate and dis­cover ca­reer op­tions in the aerospace in­dus­try which are now open­ing up. In sharp con­trast is the sem­i­nar slated to ad­dress the global short­age of flight crew and what needs to be done about it.

With a high of 75,000 vis­i­tors ex­pected as against the 66,000 in 2015 the sales may not touch the high of 2013 when ma­jor or­ders fu­eled the bot­tom line but will prob­a­bly rise higher than the 2015 edi­tion which saw over $37 bil­lion in or­ders. If one re­calls, the ma­jor car­ri­ers in the re­gion had placed huge or­ders in 2013 and these are still be­ing com­pleted so there would be a nat­u­ral slow down un­til the de­liv­er­ies have been com­pleted. Since these de­liv­er­ies are still on­go­ing such re­peat huge or­ders from the likes of Emi­rates, Eti­had and Qatar are not likely. Also, with sub­dued oil prices, the po­lit­i­cal at­tri­tion be­tween the GCC en­clave and its iso­la­tion of Qatar and the gen­eral slow­ing down in air traf­fic the bot­tom line is rel­a­tively weak at present. Qatar Airways is hurt­ing, Eti­had is get­ting over its lost in­vest­ments in Air Ber­lin and Al­i­talia which went belly up and Emi­rates is most con­cerned on be­ing left out on a limb by Air­bus fail­ure to keep the A380 project in a pos­i­tive frame. Even Emi­rates de­ci­sion over the se­lec­tion of ei­ther the A350 or the Boe­ing 787 is sup­pos­edly on hold if one goes by the state­ment made at Paris in Septem­ber by the air­line Pres­i­dent Tim Clark. He said that the car­rier would do what it feels is right for it and not nec­es­sar­ily see the Dubai air­show as the venue for any fu­ture an­nounce­ment. Emi­rates is cer­tainly ex­pect­ing Air­bus to man up on the A380 plus and also as­sure its best cus­tomer that there are oth­ers ready to go for the big babe although none of the other Mid East car­ri­ers seem so in­clined.

By 2020, the re­gion car­ri­ers will be fly­ing an es­ti­mated 1,020 air­planes.

The high­est growth mar­ket for the Mid­dle East is pro­jected to be to and from South­west Asia (the In­dian sub­con­ti­nent area) at five per cent, fol­lowed by in­tra-Mid­dle East travel at 4.3 per cent. The most heav­ily trav­elled routes, in to­tal pas­sen­gers, will con­tinue to be to and from Euro­pean mar­kets.

The Mid­dle East is also ex­pected to ex­pe­ri­ence eco­nomic growth at higher than the world av­er­age dur­ing the next 20 years. In ad­di­tion, the 5.7 per cent air travel growth pro­jec­tion pro­vides a strong foun­da­tion for ex­pan­sion by the re­gion’s air­lines.

It was ex­pected that the A320neo would ig­nite a spurt of in­ter­est but with the tri­als not yet over at Toulouse Blagnac it has to be given a pass for now. At­ten­tion will largely be on the high noon duel be­tween the Air­bus A350-900 and the Boe­ing 787 se­ries as both bat­tle for supremacy in the long haul wide-body twin en­gine cat­e­gory. With Thai Airways and Delta ex­ult­ing over the in­tro­duc­tion of the A350 XWB the fu­ture here looks good but the Boe­ing 787-900 is a lot cheaper at $264 mil­lion than the tag on the Air­bus A350-900 which is $304 mil­lion.

Both air­craft are con­structed us­ing car­bon fi­bre re­in­forced poly­mer (CFRP) and are ca­pa­ble of with­stand­ing higher pres­sure. It should be fun to see the two big boys in the mar­ket fight­ing for a share of the mar­ket even though there has al­ways been that lurk­ing sus­pi­cion that both man­u­fac­tur­ers are happy with a plus 50 per cent of the mar­ket share de­spite their pub­lic an­tag­o­nism and the spice it adds to the air­shows but don’t re­ally want to spool and in­vest that much more in their assem­bly lines. Where Boe­ing might have a thin edge of the wedge (in a nice way) is to of­fer a pack­age deal along with the top sell­ing 787900 and the un­der test 323 seat double stretched 787-10X which prom­ises to up the ante con­sid­er­ably.

In the feeder sin­gle aisle air­craft we could see a con­tin­u­a­tion of the 321 fam­ily ver­sus the 737 clus­ter but no ma­jor deal is on the anvil at this junc­ture though Saudi Air­lines could be look­ing at an aug­men­ta­tion. fly­dubai has al­ready brought in its 737 MAX and will have it on dis­play thereby show­ing tan­gi­ble ev­i­dence to pro­voke buyer in­ter­est.

One of the ma­jor points of in­ter­ests will be the air taxi con­cept in which Dubai held a trial run in Septem­ber. These au­ton­o­mous air ve­hi­cles will be in­tro­duced into ser­vice sooner than one thinks and will trans­port pas­sen­gers at will through short dis­tances. Dubai has taken the lead in this re­spect and for sure un­manned ve­hi­cles will be the star of the show.

Ac­cord­ing to the of­fi­cial data from the or­gan­is­ers the “Un­manned Aerial Sys­tems (UAS) Sum­mit, a two day ded­i­cated con­fer­ence tak­ing place within the Dubai Air­show, has re­leased its agenda for the event on the Novem­ber 14-15 2017. Cov­er­ing the past, present and fu­ture of UAS within the aerospace in­dus­try, the con­fer­ence will be mod­er­ated by Air Mar­shal Philip Stur­ley CB MBE RAF (Retd).”

Biz­jets will likely con­sti­tute as high as 25 to 30 per cent of the static dis­play at Dubai 2017. Em­braer, seek­ing Mid East mar­kets, is likely to present the Le­gacy and Phenom biz­jet and the E-jet con­cept which will also ig­nite in­ter­est in this re­gion. It is go­ing to be quite the dis­play of air power in var­i­ous cat­e­gories and the high­light will still be the pre­dicted match be­tween Boe­ing and Air­bus. That is al­ways a given at an air­show.

(Left) Boe­ing 787-9 Dream­liner and (right) Air­bus A350-900.

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