Flying high for engineering

The Farnborough International Airshow (FIA) is a showcase to display some of the UK’s most advanced manufacturing. Ed Hill hears how the organisers are helping the industry to generate new business.

The aerospace sector in the UK makes up a substantial portion of its manufacturing output, so the Farnborough International Airshow, taking place this year from 11-17 July, is always an eagerly anticipated event. The show will not only feature an impressive range of aircraft on display, both flying and on the ground, but also a comprehensive gathering of exhibitors, involved in every aspect of the aerospace industry.

At its last outing in 2014 a record amount of orders were announced for the trade show – in total US$204 billion. Although it is unlikely that the record will be broken this year, the show still provides an ideal opportunity for those involved in the aerospace supply chain to attract new business. It also provides a great prospect for companies new to aerospace to try and make inroads into the market.

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At a media briefing held just a few weeks before the show, organisers Farnborough International Ltd (FIL) revealed more than 90% of the exhibition space had already been sold with 67% coming from overseas and 32% of exhibitors new to Farnborough. The organisers are confident that the show will be sold out by the time it opens.

Global participation

The airshow’s standing is reflected in the international participation involved in the show. Twenty two nations will be hosting pavilions from Europe, the US, Canada, South America, Russia and the Far East. Chinese participation will be the largest it has ever been this year with a dedicated Chinese pavilion; representing a 103% increase in footprint and a 98% increase in spend compared to the last show. Other new countries with pavilions at the show include Brazil, Austria, Ireland and South Korea.

Strong international attendance is also expected via various delegation visits. The civil and commercial programme has exceeded expectations with representative groups already confirmed from the UK, Australia, Italy and the Middle East. The Military delegations programme has also progressed well with the organisers in discussions with all the key and emerging markets around the globe. In addition, the show organisers are working with all FIA exhibitors regarding engagement with the RAF and the UK MoD at all levels.

Amanda Stainer FIL’s commercial director comments: “Our civil and commercial delegations programme has been expanded to more than 20 delegations and this will give business people the chance to meet with senior government officials, airlines, procurement companies, tier 1 manufacturers and MRO providers. It gives companies the opportunity, which they might not have had before, to have these meetings on a one-to-one basis. This service is included in our exhibitor’s package and we encourage them to take it up.”

Much the same applies to the military delegations programme where more than 80 delegations are expected from 50 countries.

A major highlight for the show will be the appearance of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The event will see both F-35A and F-35B variants on display. For the many companies involved in the development of the aircraft who will be present at the show, the F-35’s appearance is a major opportunity to promote their achievements in the making of the aircraft to an international trade audience.

BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce, Martin Baker, Pratt & Witney, GKN Aerospace, Esterline, Kongsberg Gruppen, Alenia Aeronautics and Ultra Electronics to name just a few are all part of the F-35 global supply chain that will be exhibiting. For US defence giant Lockheed Martin, the F-35’s appearance marks over a decade of development and will be central to its participation at the event.

As well as the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, other aircraft anticipated to be either on flying or static display include the Antonov 187, Airbus A350, Bombardier C-Series, Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornet and Boeing C727.

Building business

For SMEs and other companies involved in the aerospace supply chain, networking and business engagement is a major focus for this year’s show. There will be an increased number of briefings and workshops taking place, led by the UK’s Aerospace, Defence, Security & Space (ADS) trade body. SAE International will be running an MRO workshop and Aviation Week a commercial manufacturing briefing.

Additionally, EUPIC (the EU Project Innovation Centre) will be hosting a conference regarding aerospace business opportunities in China. Alongside the popular Meet-The-Buyer event and Welcome Reception the show is expected to provide excellent business networking across all five days of the show week. There will also be a SME business lounge with facilities such as free Wi-Fi to provide more networking opportunities.

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Ms Stainer adds: “We see the SME market as a very important growth area for the show both in terms of exhibitors and attendees. In our Meet-the-Buyer programme we will have over 30 buyers engaging with suppliers. This gives SMEs in particular the chance to meet buyers face to face and demonstrate their products and services. It gives business people a foot in the door to meet with representatives from the major manufacturers and OEMs.”

Hybrid Air Vehicles is also hoping to demonstrate its Airlander airship, the world’s largest aircraft which is currently in the earliest stages of a flight test programme.

Centenary celebrations

This year the airshow coincides with Boeing celebrating its 100th anniversary. To mark the occasion the aerospace company which, has strong links to the UK, will be staging its ‘Above and Beyond’ exhibition at Farnborough.

“The UK and Boeing have a long and close partnership, dating back more than 75 years,” comments Sir Michael Arthur, president of Boeing UK and Ireland. “With such a strong partnership, supporting Her Majesty’s Armed Forces and the UK’s leading airlines since 1938, I am really delighted that we are able to share Above and Beyond with the UK.

“Our community initiatives already support the engagement of many young people with the opportunities that aviation and aerospace can provide. Above and Beyond will amplify these efforts many times over. It is an exciting time for Boeing and for our wider aerospace community in the UK.”

Other features in the halls include the Space and Innovation zones. The innovation zone will include some of the latest advanced engineering research from universities and research agencies keen to market their innovations to the industry.

Ms Stainer concludes: “The Farnborough International Airshow is the meeting place for the aerospace industry both for the defence and commercial sectors. No other event offers as much opportunity for visitors and exhibitors to meet new and potential business partners, government officials, colleagues and existing business customers. The final preparations are well underway and while many of our exhibitors are keeping news and order announcements close to their chests we expect the show will once again provide the media exposure to promote increases to their order books.”

Farnborough International Airshow



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