By Wg Cdr T.K. Singha, IAF PRO
The present-day version of Aero-India deemed the biggest air show in Asia began as a modest display of a few aviation assets as Avia-India in 1993. The biennial air show, renamed Aero-India since 1998, has only become bigger and more popular that must rank among one of the largest attended air shows around the world.
According to the statistics given by the organizers - Department of Defence Production (DDP) under the Ministry of Defence, the online request for registration of the general visitors this year has already exceeded the 1.75 lakh mark, a lakh more than the official 75,000 footfalls in 2009. The organisers are expecting the figure to reach 2.75 lakh. With enquiries and requests not showing any signs of abating, clearly Aero-India 2011 is on its way to top the charts.
Discounting Avia-India 1993, the growth in Aero-India since 1998 to 2005 was marginal. It began showing a quantum increase in the gross exhibition area only from the 2007 edition. While it hovered between the 7,000-18,000 sq mts mark from 1998 to 2005, it sharply rose to 30,000 sq mts in 2007 and 44,000 sq mts in 2009. This year, the organizers have increased the gross area to 75,000 sq mts, a significant 70 percent increase over 2009.
There are 675 exhibitors in this edition registering a 16 percent increase over the last edition that had 581 in all. As with all previous editions, this time around also international exhibitors score over the domestic ones in terms of participation. In 2009, the gap was marginal, 303 against 289. This time, the figure is 380 and 295, a growth of 25 percent for the international exhibitors against a mere five, for the domestic exhibitors.
With 30 countries set to participate this year including India, official representation from 60 countries number 350, a three-fold plus increase in the number of delegates, both official and business, with USA leading with 250, Germany-35, Italy-10, and 35 from remaining countries. Based on the online request for business passes, 70,000 business visitors and delegates will throng the venue, a figure twice that of 2009.
There are eight country pavilions and 63 chalets at the venue. While exhibition, air show, static display are integral to the air show, the concurrent events that will take place include media briefings and press conferences by Defence Minister, Chief of the Air Staff and exhibitors, business-to-business (B2B) meetings, product launches, technical presentations, workshops on defence acquisition procedures and offsets including industry roundtable meetings.
With a 62 percent increase growth in flight, static and flight-cum-static display by civil and military aircraft over 2009 this time, aviation aficionados await a visual treat of fighters, helicopters and transport aircraft both from the military aerospace sector as well as from the civil aviation sector from across the world.
Significantly, with 27 aircraft belonging to the civil aviation sector, it is a 54 percent representation in relation to the military component, making Aero-India 2011 truly an all-encompassing air show. In all, over 100 aircraft would be involved at Aero-India 2011.