Dubai Air Show Pre­view

The 15th ex­hi­bi­tion of Dubai air show, to be held from Novem­ber 12 to 16 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.

SP's MAI - - 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 air-fest is now con­sid­ered the bench­mark for the in­dus­try’s bi-an­nual get to­gether.

The 15th ex­hi­bi­tion, to be held from Novem­ber 12 to 16 at the Dubai World Cen­tral, will have more than 1,200 ex­hibitors – in­clud- ing 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 per­cent. 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 A329­neo 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 350-900 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 350-900 which is $304 mil­lion.

Both air­craft are con­structed car­bon fi­bre re­in­forced poly­mer (CFRP) and 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 787-900 and the un­der test 323 seat dou­ble stretched 78710X 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 and 15, 2017. Cov­er­ing the past, present and fu­ture of UAS within the aero­space in­dus­try, the con­fer­ence will be mod­er­ated by Air Mar­shall Philip Stur­ley CB MBE RAF (Retd).”

While biz­jets will likely con­sti­tute as high as 25 to 30 per cent of the static dis­play at Dubai 2017 there is quite a boost be­ing given the mil­i­tary sec­tor from Boe­ing who are dis­play­ing their two ad­vanced sur­veil­lance sys­tems with the in­tent of mak­ing them re­gion spe­cific. The P-8 Poseidon suc­ces­sor to the Orion has al­ready sold 8 sys­tems to the US Navy but has been booked for a sim­i­lar num­ber each by In­dia and Aus­tralia. It is mounted on a 737 and Boe­ing be­lieves there is great po­ten­tial in the Mid-East for this and for the Mar­itime Sur­veil­lance Air­craft which is in ac­tu­al­ity a Bom­bardier Chal­lenger 600 in its mil­i­tary avatar. Boe­ing is also look­ing for a wider mar­ket for the CH-24 Chi­nook chop­pers as it would be for its Apache Long­bow gun­ships.

The usual gang of fighter air­craft are well rep­re­sented. They in­clude the Saab AB Gripen, the Das­sault Avi­a­tion SA’ Rafale, Rus­sia’s MiG-35 and Sukhoi Su-35, and the Eurofighter Typhoon made by a con­sor­tium of Bri­tish, Ger­man, Ital­ian and Span­ish com­pa­nies. The Rus­sians are keen to mar­ket their Sukhoi range es­pe­cially since it comes with an ad­vanced trainer. Ex­ports of Su-27 fight­ers en­abled Rus­sia to pre­serve its op­er­a­tional air force. This air­craft, con­sid­ered the most ca­pa­ble fighter air­craft in its class, may well point the way to a fifth gen­er­a­tion of air fight­ers

The Su-27 is a dog­fighter’s dream. It has daz­zled pi­lots with its abil­ity to at­tack in the mid­dle of scream­ing dives and as­cents, set­ting 36 world records and is a favourite in the air dis­plays.

There will also be a search for a mar­ket for the naval ver­sion of the Rafale. This makes a cer­tain sense be­cause the self-sell un­der­scores a spe­cific ca­pa­bil­ity. Cat­a­pulted from a car­rier deck in less than 75 me­tres, the Navy Rafale in­stantly and au­to­mat­i­cally ro­tates to the cor­rect an­gle of at­tack. This crit­i­cal op­er­a­tion is made pos­si­ble by the air­craft’s in­no­va­tive ‘jump strut’ nose land­ing gear.

In the trainer cat­e­gory the top con­tenders will be the BAE Hawk, the Das­sault/Dornier Al­pha Jet, the Aero L-39 and the Yakovlev Yak130. Also in the reck­on­ing is the su­per­sonic the T-38 Talon de­signed to os­ten­si­bly aug­ment the F-35 pro­gramme. Em­braer had in 2015 put the Su­per Tu­cano in the Dubai air­show and will prob­a­bly still be seek­ing Mid East mar­kets. The Brazil­ian man­u­fac­turer is likely to present the Le­gacy and Phe­nom biz­jet and the E-jet con­cept 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 slang­ing match be­tween Boe­ing and Air­bus. That is al­ways a given at an air­show.

A file pho­to­graph of the Al Fur­san, the UAE Air Force aer­o­batic dis­play team, fly­ing in for­ma­tion be­hind a USAF F-15E Strike Ea­gle at the 2015 Dubai Air­show

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