by Bikram Vohra
IADB: The Dubai air show 2021 ended with $79 billion in deals that included a boost for both Airbus and Boeing. Although Day four was relatively quiet vis a vis sale the incalculable gain from having an exhibition after two years was further enhanced by renewing old relationships and forging new ones.
If there was a winner it was Airbus with a catalogue of 408 aircraft, most of them single aisle narrowbodies. With over fifty hours of conferences and think tank discussions and mentoring the coming together sends out a strong message that aviation is on the trail back. The emphasis seems to be on creating a wider network of airports and engaging in route maps that tilt towards spokes for hubs and spoke to spoke low-capacity high frequency scheduled flights.
That surge of confidence was what permeated the five-day meet with over 1200 exhibitors and much excitement over the role of UAMs, drones and the impact of artificial intelligence. On display and certainly catching the eye was the Manta personal air vehicle, a high-performance aerial option. The Italian-designed two-seat Manta has VTOL capability and can fly like a fixed-wing aircraft while landing and taking off from helipads. The Manta is tomorrow’s car and with a range of 600 klicks and a top speed of 300kms an hour it can get you city to city in no time at all.
For bizz aviation fans Gulfstream brought out the G700, a new $75 million ultra-long-range plane that’s also the world’s largest purpose-built private jet. Its only real competition would be Bombardier’s Global 7500 which clocks in at $73 million.
According to a report by the Royal Aeronautical society a robotic UV aircraft interior cleaning system has been developed by Canadian company Aero Hygenx. It claims it can destroy 99.9% of bacteria and viruses, including Covid. The system features a small robot shuffling down the aisle shining a cleansing light over the sides. The UV light is harmful to humans, necessitating robot operation when there is no manpower around. Ethiopian Airlines has gone in for it. For sheer sensible novelty it also mentions Airspace security and defence specialists Fortem Technologies launching a new SkyDome System 3.7 designed to protect airports and other vital infrastructure from autonomous drone threats. The system includes a ‘seek and destroy’ drone that will chase after hostile drones and shoot a ’spider’s web’ over it to disable and eliminate the threat. Who knows it might become a mandate sooner than we think, the modern equivalent of bird aircraft strike hazard (BASH)
Meanwhile Brazil’s Embraer plans to hit the market in 2027 with a 70/90-seater turboprop to address what it sees as a growing intercity market especially in India and China. The prop will be smaller than the E2 and enjoy sustainable fuel advantage.
The baton now passes on to Singapore from February 15-18, 2022. According to the organizers it is Asia’s largest Airshow, the place to be for leading aerospace companies and budding players eager to make their mark in the international aerospace and defence market!
Leading industry players, government and military chiefs gather here bi-annually to contribute to dialogues, exchange ideas and seek solutions and strategies to advance the interests of the global aerospace and defence sector.