In July the Farnborough International Air Show will reflect an accelerating world aerospace industry while celebrating and drawing inspiration from its roots.
At the 11-17 July Show one of the world’s great aerospace companies – Boeing – while flying its latest products in the display will also celebrate 100 years of building commercial and military aeroplanes. The company is proudly fielding a Centennial Pavilion to parade its achievement milestones.
Meanwhile Farnborough International (FI) has just previewed a major development of its historic airfield site.
The company reveals that, in time for the 2018 Show, it will open a new purpose-built, permanent exhibition and conference centre less than 100m from the point where pioneer Samuel Cody took to the air in his British Army Aeroplane No 1 in October 1908, the UK’s first heavier-than-air flight.
Little more than a decade ago Farnborough aerodrome still looked, in some respects, as it did in the 1920s. Now, although most of the historic hangars and structures – like the wind-tunnel – have been preserved, they are dominated by 21st century glass and steel architecture as high-tech enterprises move in, and TAG Aviation’s elegant control tower and hangar/terminal complex define the airport horizon. Even the exhibition halls and chalet lines familiar to Show regulars are increasingly constructed to be permanent.
FI commercial director Amanda Stainer confirms chalets and exhibition stands will be sold out for the 2016 show. She says 67% of exhibitors will be international, 33% British, and the event will see its biggest ever participation by China, among 22 countries that have set up national pavilions.
FI has enhanced special reception facilities for delegations, and the proven “meet the buyer” enabling programme for small and medium enterprises will again be active.
Also repeated at Farnborough this year is the Innovation Zone, a showcase for gestating ideas looking for backers and buyers.
And Friday is designated Futures Day, intended to concentrate on the young generation, inspiring them to choose studies that will take them into the exciting world of aerospace engineering, design and operations.
Then as usual, on the final weekend, the public days are a time-honoured acknowledgement of the importance to the industry of generating public enthusiasm for all things aviation.
The air display detail has not yet been finalised, but there will be 3h 30min of it each day, ranging from the Lockheed Martin F35A and F35B Lightnings on their UK show debut to another unusual debutante, Hybrid Air Vehicles’ Airlander, a highly manoeuvrable airship that also generates aerodynamic lift.
The weekend display will show 50 aeroplane types, also including the Red Arrows, the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, a P51 Mustang, Catalina amphibian, plus energetic manoeuvring from a Pitts Special and other crowd-pleasers.
Farnborough also presents the UK Drone Show for the first time this year, demonstrating drone racing for sport, providing participative drone piloting simulation, and aiming generally to raise drone safety awareness. The slogan pushing drone safety says it all: “Don’t fly a toy, be a Drone Pilot”.
The romance of aviation is clearest when the brilliance of today’s aviation engineering is seen in its historic context, and to that end the RAF Museum will man a stand at the Show this year, heralding the RAF’s centenary to be celebrated at Farnborough 2018.
Meanwhile the historic aerodrome site’s own extensive legacy is guarded by the Farnborough Air Sciences Trust, founded to “make available to the public the story of Farnborough’s unique aviation history and the air science that it spawned.”