So many airshows!
It now seems like every country wants one. Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, and Thailand are the latest. So where does the ILA Berlin show fit in, coming as it does just before Farnborough, which lays claim to being the premier trade show in Europe, in alternation with Paris?
The answer is that, for international companies, ILA is really now only relevant to those seeking orders from Germany, or who already have substantial presence in the country. Plus, of course, European consortia like Airbus and Eurofighter, and those German companies with a substantial aerospace business. They are obliged to show up.
This was quite evident from the recent show, held on a new site on the southwest corner of Berlin airport, beyond the two new terminals that replaced Tegel and Schonefeld, and which took so long to open. The new site has three large exhibition halls. Strangely, only two of them were used, leaving some exhibitors, most contractors, the media, and even the show management, to suffer 30-degree heat in temporary canvas/plastic structures. And with airline traffic to consider, there was not much scope for flying displays. There was, however, quite a large static display.
The organisers claimed 556 exhibitors and 76,000 visitors. I cannot believe those figures. I was there for the first two of the five days. The two exhibition halls (one each for aerospace and space) were about two thirds full. Footfall was moderate, and there were many Germans talking to Germans. I dare say there was a large crowd on the two public days at the weekend. But even so, this was hardly “Europe’s leading aerospace exhibition”, as the organisers claimed.
But let’s also be positive. In one aspect, the show was excellent. If you wanted to learn about and discuss the greening of aviation, and the drive to a carbon-neutral future, this was the place to be. There were some fascinating exhibits, and a talk-fest that can be reviewed or revisited here – provided that you were a ticket holder for the show.
I wrote a summary of the defence news at the show for Aviation International News (AIN), which you can find here.