This Dubai Airshow marks the last time EADS will exhibit at any major aerospace show before it officially changes its name to the Airbus Group on January 1, 2014. Fittingly, two of the company’s highest-profile Airbus-branded products–the A380 and A400M military airlifter–are participating daily in the show’s flying display, while an Egyptair A330-300 sits on static display and an A350XWB cockpit mockup graces the Airbus stand in the exhibit hall.
Boeing sees the reliability of the 787 Dreamliner improving to originally targeted rates within six months, company vice president of sales for the Middle East Marty Bentrott told a gathering of reporters yesterday during a pre-show briefing here in Dubai. Responding to Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker’s recent comments about his dissatisfaction with the reliability of the Boeing 787, Bentrott noted that the issues didn’t affect only Qatar, but that Boeing remains committed to resolving them as soon as possible.
Italy’s Piaggio Aero Industries (Stand 1906) announced before the Dubai Airshow that India’s Tata group is now its largest shareholder, with 44.5 percent of the company’s new equity.
Last Thursday Gama Aviation opened a new facility at Glasgow Airport in Scotland. The inauguration of the center is well timed, with two major sporting events planned to take place in Scotland next year. Both the Commonwealth Games, to be held in Glasgow from late July, and the U.S. versus Europe Ryder Cup golf match, to be held at Gleneagles (46 miles North-East of Glasgow Airport) in September, are expected to generate a lot of business aviation and VIP traffic.
Charter operator Gainjet (Stand 2306) recently expanded its fleet with the addition of a 68-seat VIP-configured Boeing 737-400. The Greece-based group has made a specialty of operating former Boeing airliners, with two other 737s already in service (one with 48 seats and the other with 60 seats). The fleet also includes a very spacious 62-seat 757-200.
The company’s XPR program provides performance upgrades for Hawker 400 and 800 series jets, with options for new avionics and upgraded engines. Purchase of an already upgraded Hawker 400XPR or 800XPR, at around half the price of a similar new aircraft, is another option for cost-conscious buyers.
This year’s Dubai Airshow marks the start of a new era in the event’s growth as one of the key dates in the aviation calendar. Having been under development for several years, the move to a new site here at Dubai World Central/Al Maktoum International Airport has been accomplished seamlessly. The move not only provides the show with a purpose-built facility with expanded road access, but also frees the former location at the busy Dubai International Airport from the burden of having to shut down airline operations during the daily flying display.
The Middle East and northern Africa have become fertile areas for marketers at Brazil’s Embraer, now the undisputed leader in terms of fleet presence in the region among the world’s regional airliner manufacturers. Of course, the nearly decade-long effort to gain a foothold in a region long considered the virtually exclusive domain of widebodies didn’t yield immediate results, but Embraer’s persistence has undoubtedly paid handsome dividends.
Boeing and a trio of Arabian Gulf airlines have set the stage for what could prove one of the most memorable Dubai Air Shows ever, as the parties neared conclusion of negotiations of reported contracts for up to approximately 200 of the new 777X, valued at some $80 billion at list prices. The deals appear likely to effectively launch the project here in Dubai, where executives for Emirates Airline have spent more than two years helping define the ultimate shape of the 350- to 400-seat jet, entry into service of which Boeing has targeted for around 2020.
EADS has an ongoing partnership with Siemens and Diamond Aircraft on serial hybrid propulsion. The three companies announced the first flight, in June near Vienna, Austria, of a DA36 E-Star 2 motorglider, the propeller of which was driven by an electric motor. The batteries were recharged in-flight via a small Wankel-type engine.
Separately, the European group is already developing the E-Fan, an electric two-seater for pilot training.