By Rob Morris
A look at the biggest attractions, main conferences and forthcoming highlights of the International Paris Air Show.
When André Granet and Robert Esnault-Pelterie launched the International Paris Air Show in 1909, a legacy spanning almost a century was born. For the French dignitaries who attended, the event was merely a showcase for the industry's latest balloon and aircraft technology. Some 98 years on, it is recognised as the world's longest established aerospace show.
Indeed, attendance figures for 2005 show that 223,000 visitors and 1926 exhibitors turned up to the bi-annual event. This year, organiser Groupement des Industries Françaises Aéronautiques et Spatiales (Gifas) expects to attract similar numbers, with 563 exhibitors and 1200 small-to-medium-sized businesses registered by March.
"All exhibition space has already been booked by exhibitors from 37 countries," says Louis Le Portz, Commissaire Général of the show. "We note the significant presence of countries with a strong aeronautical tradition, such as France, Germany, Italy, Russia and the US, as well as increased participation from emerging aeronautical markets such as India, Turkey and the UAE. The presence of the European space industry and numerous French and European SMEs confirms that the Paris Air Show remains the world's premier aerospace event, attracting international interest and offering outstanding business potential."
Among the visitors, several manufacturers such as Boeing and Airbus will make an appearance during the event, which is held at the Paris Le Bourget Exhibition Centre from June 18-24.
Most aspects of the aerospace industry will be represented, including:
• Aircraft construction and assembly
• Space, spacecraft and satellite communications
• Aircraft engines, aerospace power-plants and related equipment
• Weapon systems
• Pilot and navaids
• Airborne equipment and systems
• Cabin interiors
• Subcontracting, mechanical items and metal working
• Composite materials and surface treatment
• Airport equipment and services.
A handful of Middle East companies have already confirmed attendance, such as aviation services provider Dubai Aerospace Enterprise and maintenance, repair and overhaul company Gamco. Hadid International Aviation Services, World Airline Services and Dubai International Airport are also making an appearance. Meanwhile, several international companies are expected to turn up, including Rolls Royce, UTC and Goodrich. While huge numbers are forecast, the organisers are keen to attract as many, if not more, people than the 2005 show. To that end, Gifas has joined forces with the Chamber of Commerce, Innovation Relay Centres and Regional Development Agency to launch the Business Technology Forum for B2Bs at this year's event.
Some 550 companies and 30 contractors will take part in the meeting, which is focusing on recent industry changes. Among the topics for discussion will be aircraft manufacturers that are outsourcing production activities after restructuring their businesses. In many cases, subcontractors and specialist businesses are then drafted in by the aircraft manufacturers and their suppliers to provide support.
"At a time when large manufacturers such as Airbus and Boeing are or will be subcontracting most of their production, it is important for subcontractors at all levels of the supply chain to be able to promote their expertise," says Le Portz.
The forum takes place from 10am and 6pm between 19-21 June and is expected to attract several leading companies, including Airbus, EADS, Dassault Aviation, Eurocopter and Finmeccanica. Networking may be the main objective for most trade visitors but businessmen with time on their hands can see a range of aircraft at this year's event.
The latest carrier planes and "stars of civil aviation" will be on display, according to Le Portz. Several Airbus models such as the A380 and Bombardier will be showcased, as well as Embraer's regional model and several aircraft from the Ukraine and Russia.
Representatives from business aviation will promote their latest aircraft, with Dassault presenting its Falcon 7X. Other chartered service providers scheduled to attend include Gulfstream, Raytheon, Piaggio and Pilatus. Aside from chartered jets and commercial planes, military aircraft will also be on display.
Some of the expected highlights include the Rafale, F-18 and F-16, and MiG fighters, while the world's leading helicopter manufacturers will also be present, such as Eurocopter and AgustaWestland. Representatives from the space sector are keen to showcase the industry's latest technology, with an ESA delegation and Russian officials among the trade visitors.
Checking out the competition and promoting their own services are the main objectives for most delegates. But when they aren't rubbing shoulders with other traders, exhibitors can discover how far the industry has come by visiting the Air and Space Museum.
The exhibition covers 18,000m
and offers an insight into two centuries of aerospace conquests, from the first balloon flights to the pioneering days of aviation. Life size replicas of the Ariane 1 and 5 launchers are some of the expected highlights, while two Concorde jets (including the first built, 001 prototype) will also be displayed.
Aside from the aircraft, the Concorde Hall will also play host to the Aerospace Trades, Professions and Training forum. Attendees interested in historical aircraft can visit a 1500m
marquee, with several Second World War aircraft to see. Among the fighter planes, traders can view the Yak 3, B26, Spitfire and Dewoitine D520.
Elsewhere, attendees can check out the Sovouz re-entry capsule, a cutaway section of the Boeing 747 and the first exhibition on Brazilian aviator Alberto Santos-Durmont as part of France's ‘Year of Brazil'.
For those who want to see the planes in action, a flying display will be held every day from 12pm to 5pm. More than 60 unconfirmed aircraft will take part, with crowds able to watch all the action on giant screens.