Annabel Wells/LONDON

For the organisers of aerospace events worldwide, and the manufacturers which exhibit at the shows, the biggest influencing factor of 1999 will be "recession" or "downturn".

Some organisers have merged shows, which should strengthen the presence of exhibitors, which will not be forced to choose between them. These include the Advanced Procurement and Logistics Systems (APLS) event, which has moved from its April slot to link with Continuous Acquisition and Life Cycle Support (CALS), presenting APLS/CALS Europe 99 in London in October. The new Defence Systems and Equipment International exhibition and conference in the UK in September replaces the RNBAEE, IMDEX and BSI events, and will feature visiting warships at London Docklands from 14-17 September.

All is not gloom and doom. According to one international air show organiser, the top end of the market is taking a long-term view, and does not intend to pull out of the areas most badly hit - Asia and Latin America. In Asia, local organisers report that bookings are at least level with those of previous events, or even up.

Although these figures are encouraging, those bookings will be on a smaller scale individually than during the boom years. While the prospect of rich pickings has at least been severely retarded, the big players are hanging on until the recession is over and they can get back to business as usual.

The LIMA show at Langkawai in Malaysia in November, for example, which suffered from withdrawals at its event in 1997, claims to already be 60-70% booked, although, as in the rest of the region, the size of the presence of individual exhibitors is expected to be considerably smaller.

The Australian International Air Show in Melbourne in February reports bookings up. A significant defence presence is expected at this show, with contracts for such requirements as a battlefield helicopter and airborne early warning system on offer.

Immediately before this show will be Airports '99, also in Melbourne, where there is expected to be lively debate about the effects of recent privatisation.

In South America, also going through the turbulence of recession, the main aerospace companies will maintain a presence, taking the long-term attitude that the market is simply too important to abandon. They will be at the second tri-service Latin America Defentech exhibition and conference, LAD '99, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in April, while the International Air Transport Association is to hold its annual general meeting in the same city in June. AERO '99, in Toluca, Mexico, in March, expects to maintain the level of its bookings made for its event this year.

Europe, as would be expected, will be dominated by the Paris air show. It will host the highly sought-after Flight International Aerospace Industry awards, for which entries are being invited for a total of 10 categories from air transport to training and safety, as well as for the prestigious Aerospace Personality of the Year award. Closing date for entries is 31 March, 1999.

Despite recession, the amount of material on aerospace events that pours into the Flight International office would indicate that the industry is thriving, from the major air shows through events organised by the various civil and military associations and organisations, as well as the educational establishments, which offer a vast choice of training courses, seminars, forums and other events.

The prospects for 2000 look good, particularly if, by then, the downturn has become an upturn.

The general aviation exhibition Aerofair 99, at North Weald in the UK in May, will, for the third time, feature a world-class aerobatic display, and a static display of a dozen aircraft representing a "century of aviation". The European Business Aviation Association will host its convention in April in Genval, France, and will feature speakers in open discussion from the European Union, the Joint Aviation Authorities and Eurocontrol.

Russia, despite its continuing financial problems, will host MAKS '99 in at Zhukovsky in August, and appears to have found the perfect slot in avoiding competition with other major events, and giving exhibitors time to move equipment from the previous major event, the Paris air show.

MSPO '99 will take place in September in Poland, one of central Europe's biggest potential military markets, as the country modernises the army, is evaluating a new utility aircraft for its air force and is updating its military communications systems. By the time of the show, Poland may very well have become a NATO member.


Organisers in the USA and Canada are confident of maintaining booking levels. The Helicopter Association International (HAI) will host its Heli-Expo '99 in Dallas, Texas, in February. The last event set a record for exhibit space and posted its highest attendance ever. This year it expects more than 12,000 visitors and 450 exhibitors. The HAI will also present its 38th annual "salute to excellence" awards.

Arlington, Virginia, will be the venue for SAR - The Americas, in May, covering continental issues involving air force, navy coast guard and EMS operations.

The Association of the US Army (AUSA) will stage its symposium and exhibition in January, in Falls Church, Virginia, with the theme of "the changing face of Army aviation", looking at the changing roles and missions and how they will be accomplished into the 21st century. AUSA will stage other events during the year, as well as participating in shows such as IDEX '99 and DSEi '99.

The former Airshow Canada, has been reborn as Aerospace North America, and will take place in Vancouver in August.

Source: Flight International