Despite the absence of some major US names and the proximity of Farnborough, this year's ILA will be at least as big as the 2002 event

The odds look stacked against Berlin's air show, ILA, which opens at Schönefeld airport next week (10-16 May). While the global economy and aerospace industry creak towards recovery, the outlook for Germany's economy remains bleak. The biennial event also faces fierce competition for manufacturers' scarce marketing dollars from this year's big air show, Farnborough, and EBACE, the Geneva-based business aviation gathering later this month. Several big US names, including Boeing, are absent again, while others have a limited presence.

However, Berlin has its friends. Airbus and EADS are major supporters of ILA and the event is a showcase for Germany's substantial stratum of medium-sized aerospace engineering companies. ILA has always portrayed itself as a gateway between the West and the industries of eastern Europe; this year is highly significant because of the former communist countries that have recently joined both the European Union and NATO. The show has also enjoyed good patronage from the CIS. ILA 2002 had more Russian companies than Farnborough and this year's representation will be even stronger, with a 10% increase in flying displays by Russian aircraft.

Numbers unchanged

Organiser BDLI expects overall exhibitor numbers to be more or less unchanged from 2002. Last time, the show broke the 1,000 level for the first time with 1,067 companies buying space. This year, there will be around 1,000 exhibitors again.

The organiser says it has addressed layout and logistics concerns, and has focused on several niche markets. One of these is rotorcraft. The show is to enlarge its HeliCenter, with a dedicated hall for helicopter suppliers and vendors in addition to manufacturers. Eurocopter will display its EC135 FHS fly-by-light demonstrator for the first time as well as a mock-up of the EC635. NH Industries' NH90 is expected to perform its first flying display. More than 70 conferences and other meetings are also taking place, including Flight International's own Unmanned Systems Europe, co-hosted by the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International at Berlin's Kemplinski hotel on 6-7 May.



Source: Flight International