In the weeks preceding Dubai 2001, the aerospace world was laden with gloom, and the air show organisers were struggling to convince many that there would be an exhibition worth attending.
In the aftermath of 11 September's atrocities, the US attack on Afghanistan and the general despondency across the industry, many companies either abandoned plans to exhibit, or scaled back their presence, while many potential visitors decided to stay home.
Those taking such action missed out on a show that was in the event applauded by most attendees. Companies were expressing satisfaction with the number and quality of delegations, particularly from the Gulf nations. The no-show of some US companies did not worry visitors. One US organisation not expected to provide aircraft for display was the Department of Defense, which in fact did send the Boeing F-15E and F/A-18 Hornet, and a Lockheed Martin F-16. Whether this was arm-twisting by the manufacturers or negotiations by the show's backers in Dubai remains a matter of conjecture.
Although there was only one major order announcement, Emirates' spectacular $15 billion spending spree on widebodies made headlines globally and gave a fillip to an industry desperately in need of good news.
Nor did Emirates stop there. It announced plans to expand its training facilities and a range of joint ventures with Airbus. Dubai's plans to become the Middle Eastern centre for aviation appear to be falling into place with the emirate now heading towards a time when it will be able to offer a range of aviation services.
As ever with Dubai, business jets played a central role, and despite the absence of Gulfstream, and Cessna's representation limited to its local distributor, the 2001 air show was no exception. As well as providing Bombardier and Dassault with the opportunity to present their latest programmes - the Global 5000 and Falcon 7NX - the show provided a chance for Embraer to demonstrate the Legacy business jet, a new corporate airline was launched and several support operations unveiled.
Defence has always been a central element of Dubai shows and this year was no different. Although the Mako advanced trainer/light attack aircraft development programme suffered a setback without the planned signing by the UAE air force and EADS of a memorandum of understanding covering the definition phase, the partners appear to be committed to the programme, signing up risk-sharing partners as well as UAE educational establishments and GAMCO, the Abu Dhabi-based maintenance organisation.
Source: Flight International