Aircraft orders could be hit by Asia-Pacific countries grappling with the currency turmoil in the region, GIFAS chairman Jean-Paul Bechat said at the show yesterday.

But he believes that in the long-term the region will remain the growth engine for world aviation.

"We monitor the position but we have not seen any cancellations. We have seen some airlines delaying their orders a little- but in the long term we are not worried."

In the Middle East, the French industry is fielding its biggest ever presence at Dubai, and the biggest national presence at the show. In addition to the French Air Force Mirage 2000-5 and Dassault Rafale, the Patrouille de France is thrilling the crowds with its Alphajets.

French Air Force Communications Director Col Robert Gosset says that an aerial armada of 21 aircraft made the flight from France to Dubai.

"It is the biggest participation of the French Air Force to an international aerospace exhibition," he says, adding that it was evidence that the French Ministry of Defence "-wants to increase its commitment to partnership between France and the UAE."

On the civil side, the Dassault Falcon 2000 and Falcon 900EX are also here.

Meanwhile, the UK, Russia and Germany are sending top-ranking delegations to Dubai '97. The Russian delegation is said to be one of the most powerful ever seen in the Gulf.

The nine-strong Russian party is headed by Valimir Salo, deputy minister at the Economics Ministry, and V A Pakhomov, deputy minister at the Foreign Economic Relations Ministry. The delegation also includes Youri Klichine, head of the aerospace industry and deputy commander-in-chief of the Russian air forces.

The official delegation is supporting 18 Russian companies at Dubai '97. Half of them are appearing outside Russia for the first time.

Britain's delegation is led by Lord Gilbert, minister for defence procurement. He is accompanied by Sir Charles Masefield, head of the UK's Defence Export

Services Organisation (DESO).

Source: Flight Daily News