The Dubai airshow is one of mega events of aviation where hundreds of exhibitors, manufacturers and aviation industrialists come head-to-head to portray their demands and displaying their products. Hassaan Khalid reports.
This year we saw, 371 new exhibiting companies, 80+ startups along with a stunning aircraft display of over 160 commercial, military, and private jets including the latest Boeing 777X, Bombardier’s Global 7500 and many more.
The event also hosted 387 senior military and civil delegations from 140+ countries along with 50+ hours of discussions & briefing content across cargo, sustainability, air traffic management and aerial mobility presented by nearly 250 industry speakers. The main motive of the airshow was the sustainable recovery of the aviation industry which went through a deep backlash in the past two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic. We saw the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) was cancelled along with Paris Airshow. Therefore, Dubai airshow is the first airshow since the pandemic. The Airshow is conducted at Dubai’s executive airport that is Al-Maktoum International Airport (OMDW / DWC) also known as Dubai World Central which is located approximately 37km South-west of Dubai.
Boeing 777X First International Flight
Boeing’s latest and most advanced commercial aircraft the Boeing 777X flew first time across its homeland, more specifically it performed an intercontinental 15-hour flight non-stop from Seattle to Dubai’s executive airport. This aircraft was on top of the wish list for almost every participant in the airshow. This aircraft flew first time in 2020 but still is far away from making its debut for commercial airlines. Boeing has already got hundreds of orders from airlines but still the aircraft needs certification from the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) which is most likely to be delayed until late-2023 due to lack of data and preliminary safety evaluation. Although, there are 300+ orders for the 777X that would like start it’s deliveries by the end of 2023 or first quarter of 2024.
Day-by-Day Events of the Airshow
The Dubai Airshow concluded after a 5-day marathon which included massive orders and agreements between the exhibitors and buyers. Here’s a day-by-day summary of the notable events of each day.
Day 1) The opening day of the airshow started in favor of Airbus as Indigo’s Partner Portfolio Airlines stacked up a huge order for 255 aircraft from the A320neo family. This order brings the total number of aircraft ordered by the company to a whopping 1,145. The order comprised of two variants the A321neo and A321XLR with deliveries expected to begin in the following year.
- Wizz Air: 102 aircraft (75 A321neo + 27 A321XLR)
- Frontier: 91 aircraft (A321neo)
- Volaris: 39 aircraft (A321neo)
- JetSMART: 23 aircraft (21 A321neo + 2 A321XLR)
The Head of Airbus International stated “We are happy to further expand our relationship with our great Indigo partners’ airlines Wizz, Frontier, Volaris & JetSMART who have acted fast and decisively over the last few months to position themselves for this landmark as the effect of this pandemic recedes and the world wants more sustainable flying”
On the first day of the airshow, we also saw Emirates and Etihad putting up a display of their special “Year of the Fiftieth” livery, Emirates had this livery on their iconic A380 and Etihad painted it’s A350-1000 with this livery as it’s the latest edition to the airline’s fleet.
UAE’s low-cost carriers (Air Arabia & FlyDubai) also painted their narrow-body aircraft into special livery which flew alongside Emirates and Etihad in the fly-past display over the airport. The Boeing 777X did a short flight over the airport with steep maneuvers that amazed the audience.
Day 2 & Day 3 also turned out to be significant for Boeing, Embraer and Airbus. Most exciting order we saw was of ALC (Air Leasing Company) which summed up a total order of 111 Airbus aircraft. It is the second largest order at the DAS21 after Indigo family order of 255 aircraft. The order consists of the following aircraft:
- 25x Airbus A220-300
- 55x Airbus A321neo
- 20x Airbus A321XLR
- 4x Airbus A330neo
- 7x Airbus A350F
Here’s the compelling thing about this order that A350’s freighter saw its first ever order. As we know, in the cargo category Airbus is not a good competitor with Boeing as only the A330 is only freighter aircraft of Airbus that entered into commercial service. Whereas, the A380F only remained as a conceptual aircraft that never really took off. Therefore, Airbus turned towards A350’s freighter variant that finally got its first order.
Boeing announced that 9 Boeing 767 would be converted to be used by DHL’s freight operations. Emirates also set forth order for 2 brand new 777F. Therefore, it gave Boeing a lead over 7 A350F order of Airbus.
Air Tanzania on 3rd day ordered 4 Boeing aircraft which included 2 Boeing 737 MAX, A 767F and a 787-8 Dreamliner. The fleet consists of Airbus, Boeing & De Havilland Canada. Airbus also stacked up an MoU for 28 Airbus A320 family aircraft by Middle-East’s Jazeera airways. The airline split-up its order into 8 A321neo and 20 A320neo. Currently, it operates with A320 from its hub at Kuwait International Airport (KWI / OKBK).
Day 4 & Day 5 gave some spectacular flying displays of Airbus A350 and the iconic 777X, however; due to the delay in deliveries of the 777X, Emirates decided to have a cut on its orders by 30, bringing the total number of aircraft to 126. Boeing still has to receive certification from the FAA after conducting all necessary tests. Emirates will replace the A380’s by 777X as Airbus has already ended its production for it. The final A380 is scheduled to be delivered later this month. As soon the pandemic gets over fully the demands are expected to be hiked significantly, therefore, the 777X costumers are concerned as the deliveries are already delayed nearly 2 years.
The show concluded at 5th day with Europe’s Aerospace giant Airbus securing most orders. In total, Airbus managed to get 408 orders which includes 269 firm and 139 commitments. According to sources, this airshow is regarded as the most successful till date which managed to get as many as 120,000 visitors. It clearly showed the recovery of air travel from the pandemic.
The airshow also hosted many conferences where international speakers came face-to-face to discuss the solutions of trending issues and innovations that might be helpful in future. For example, the Global Air Traffic Management which emphasized on the smooth flow of air traffic and the adjustments that might need to be made. The Cargo Connect conference put forward the sustainability goals in cargo sector and evaluating modern techniques to improve cargo handling along with effective time-management.
Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) also unveiled its latest jet, the Karakoram 8 NG which is a trainer lightweight aircraft. It is equipped with an air-to-air missile system and has a capacity of carrying 4.6 tons payload.
The next Dubai airshow is scheduled for 2023 which will feature more aircraft and aerospace companies which will assumingly have more orders for airlines as the industry would be recovered from the pandemic and the demand might be high to stabilize the momentum of the aviation industry.