Celebration in the air

As well as marking its diamond jubilee, Farnborough 2008 has attracted exhibitors from emerging sectors and promises to be the biggest in the event’s history. Julia Pierce reports.


This year the UK’s largest aerospace event, the Farnborough International Airshow, celebrates its diamond jubilee.

The show — which takes place between 14 and 20 July at the Farnborough Aerodrome — is on schedule to be the biggest event in the airshow’s 60-year history in terms of exhibition space and exhibitor presence. The total number of exhibitors is expected to be over 1,500, from more than 30 countries.

This should make the show once again the ideal place to view the latest aircraft and associated technologies — at the last event in 2006, over £20bn worth of orders were announced and in total the event attracted 140,000 trade visitors.

New companies from emerging industry sectors are exhibiting for the first time. The show’s host the Society of British Aerospace Companies (SBAC), the UK’s aerospace trade association, reports that the number of exhibitors from the airport sector has increased this year, with facilities such as Bahrain International Airport and Dubai World Central exhibiting.

It also notes that the show is becoming increasingly popular with aircraft interiors companies. For the first time, Colombia and Bahrain will be represented at the event.

Meanwhile, in recognition of its growing involvement in the aerospace market, India will be showcasing helicopters built by Hindustan Aeronautics.

Alongside this, demand from rapidly growing sectors has meant that some areas will be even bigger than before. For example, the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) pavilion, and the Kallman Worldwide pavilion have been increased in size.

With so many displays to see, it can be hard to schedule visits to each company of interest.

So, for the first time, business visitors will be able to take advantage of an online appointment booking service that will allow them to plan meetings with exhibitors.

This year, the main exhibition hall has been redesigned for visual impact. Electronics and systems specialists Thales and Kallman Worldwide will have a joint presence in the centrepiece crystal palace, a four-storey, standalone glass structure specially designed for the centre of the hall. The ground floor will consist of an open atrium showcasing the company’s civil and military capabilities with complementary displays externally. The mezzanine floor will feature business meeting rooms, while the third floor will be entirely dedicated to dining. Finally, the top floor will feature a roof terrace and bar offering views of the rest of the show.

Elsewhere, GKN Aerospace is sponsoring the new Garden Café, which will include a display of some of its most notable achievements through 100 years at the forefront of the aerospace industry. ‘We will be celebrating our pedigree as one of the longest established aerospace manufacturers,’ said Frank Bamford, senior vice-president of business development and strategy.

Meanwhile, BAE Systems will have the largest presence at the show. Its focus is on presenting its latest technologies aimed at minimising human risk in battle, including UAV systems, a robotic spider that can carry out tasks such as reconnaisance, and its Headborne Energy Analysis and Diagnostic Systems, which analyse impacts suffered by soldiers to improve head protection where it is most needed.

For those interested in manufacturing and components, the Manufacturing Technologies Association (MTA) will be promoting the expertise of the UK manufacturing engineering sector.

‘We have 250 members, so our pavilion will feature a broad and diverse approach to what they can supply and the processes they support to advance the engineering spectrum,’ said the MTA’s business development manager Dr John Collins.

‘Much of the business that takes place at Farnborough is large, involving aircraft sales, but machine tool firms and manufacturers are the creators of these, even though people don’t often think about this.’

Muirhead Aerospace, a member of the Esterline Group, will showcase products and services, with a display in the engineering of linear electromagnetic (EM) actuators, including areas such as software design, testing and control and thermal management.

Meanwhile, Maxon’s stand will feature a representative sample from its range of 147,000 dependable precision motors, gearheads, encoders, controllers and other components. These are designed for industries such as aerospace where failure of components ranging from autopilot systems to reliable valve controls for the toilets is not an option. Visitors will be able to request free copies of the company’s latest catalogue.

‘At Maxon Motor UK we have highly-qualified and experienced product engineers who are ready, willing and able to work with designers on their projects,’ said chief executive Keith Ellenden.

‘They are all engineers, just like our customers, and they really love a challenge. They will come out to look at the project, do the calculations and present the solution. And if the answer doesn’t lie within our off-the-peg solutions, we can create a tailor-made one.’

Of course, the event is not just about doing business — it is also about celebrating engineering and aeronautical achievement.

The first five days of the show, between 14 and 18 July, will be trade days, followed by two public days featuring longer flying displays.

To mark the celebration of 60 years of the Airshow at Farnborough, the traditional air displays on the public days, Saturday 19 and Sunday 20 July, will feature 14 aircraft which first flew at Farnborough at the 1948 show, together with iconic aircraft from the following six decades.

Other planes performing during the event will be the F22, regarded as the world’s most complete modern fighter aircraft currently in active service, plus a range of civil, business and defence aircraft ,including the Airbus AB380; HAL helicopters; the Kestrel JP10; the MiG 29; the Eurofighter Typhoon; the F16 and F18; and the MB 346. On the Friday the Avro Vulcan will make its Farnborough debut post-restoration and, as usual, the show will conclude with a traditional grand finale from the Red Arrows.