Compiled by Kate Sarsfield/LONDON

SINCE ITS INAUGURATION in 1948, the Farnborough air show has blossomed into one of the largest and most important events on the aerospace calendar. Yet, with other show organisers relentlessly launching new challenges to Farnborough's superiority, the Society of British Aerospace Companies (SBAC) is investing heavily in upgrading the show to retain its status.

The 1996 event, therefore, will feature several major adjustments and enhancements to the infrastructure and other elements. The old-style chalets and halls have been replaced by modern column-free temporary structures "and a much improved erection and dismantling schedule". Electrical and telephone connections will also be improved. The show will have extra hard-standing areas for static-display aircraft.

The SBAC, committed to improving attendance on public days, will allow children aged 15 years and under to enter the show free of charge, when accompanied by an adult. "We will have more attractions than ever before [on public days] and a few other surprises besides," says public-day attractions manager Derrick Francis. Simulator rides and aviation-related play areas and activities have been introduced.

With the future of the Farnborough air show hanging in the balance, the airfield's owner, the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD), will be exhibiting on a grand scale. It is widely believed that the MoD will use the exhibition as a selling platform for the airfield. The SBAC has received assurances from the UK Government that the air show will continue on its present site until the year 2000, even if it is sold. Boosted by continued support from its political allies, the SBAC believes that there is no suitable alternative to the site for the biennial event.

When Farnborough International '96 is formally opened on 2 September by a senior British cabinet minister, it will reflect the tide of growing optimism in the aerospace industry. The USA will be present on a large scale, represented by aviation giants, including Boeing, Lockheed Martin, McDonnell Douglas and Northrop Grumman and a host of smaller companies. The European line-up is no less spectacular, with virtually all major companies exhibiting, including Airbus Industrie, British Aerospace, Rolls-Royce and VPK MAPO (which will display products from the Kamov, Klimov and Mikoyan design bureaux). Daimler-Benz Aerospace is returning to the show after its absence from the 1994 event, but there are notable absentees, such as Cessna.

Source: Flight International