Exhibitors at the Berlin Air show 2008 have every reason to be pleased, with an excellent response from trade visitors and the general public alike. Measured by numbers, the Berlin Air Show has no reason to be shy of comparisons with other international air shows: 241,000 visitors made their way to the temporary exhibition grounds at Berlin Schoenefeld Airport between 27 May and 1 June
The first few days were devoted to trade visitors, who also came in great numbers. By the end of the trade days the number of visitors had reached 120,000. This high number of industry representatives was noticeable in the number of deals that were concluded: during the show exhibitors announced the signing of orders worth over five billion euros.
There were also record numbers of aircraft. At none of the big global airshows are more aircraft represented than at ILA 2008. Besides the A380, which was the undisputed star of the flying programme, there were plenty of other highlights to marvel at: the C-5 Galaxy, B-1B, C-130J Hercules and other types flown by the USAF, the Eurofighter, P-3 Orion and a large range of helicopters belonging to the Bundeswehr. Among the more exotic species seen at the airfield were a Hungarian Mi-24, a Polish An-26 and a Polish MiG-29, a Hungarian Gripen and a Rafale belonging to the French Armee de l’Air.
Politically, the air show enjoyed support “at the highest level”. Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel opened the trade fair with a tour of the exhibits, while Federal Minister for Economic Affairs Michael Glos and Defence Minister Franz Josef Jung attended on different occasions. As a partner country to the ILA, India had a very visible presence. Not only was an Indian Air Force helicopter squadron to be seen flying in formation in the air display programme every day with their four Dhruv helicopters, but over 40 exhibitors from India had come to Berlin to present their services. Again, this year’s partner country took an active part in the conference sessions.
The conference programme took the form of over 80 conferences, ranging from extensive events like the “European Air Transport Congress” or the “European Technology Days” to very specialised conferences such as “Pilot assistance system for helicopters”. The Berlin Air Show sets the standard as far as space is concerned. No other international aerospace fair offers such a broad range of exhibitors from the space industry as the Berlin Air Show.
New activities at ILA included the Career Centre and the International Suppliers Centre. Both of these were well-received by exhibitors and visitors alike. In the Career Centre the ILA has created a communication platform that is internationally unique in this form, at which employers and would-be recruits were able to discuss the opportunities and prospects of a career in aerospace. If the shortage of aerospace engineers becomes any more acute, the Career Centre will gain further in importance.
The supplier industry currently faces major challenges, as all the systems manufacturers want to reduce the number of suppliers they use dramatically. Hence the International Suppliers Centre was an important element in the overall offerings at the airshow. A number of exhibitors and visitors were critical of the fact that the temporary premises were located on the building site of the future Berlin Brandenburg International Airport.
The consistently good weather caused a lot of dust to develop on the building site so that the aircraft had to be cleaned anew every day. There were also problems some days with access to the temporary car parks. These problems were always resolved by the organisers within a day. Once the airshow is over, the two organisers, the German Aerospace Industries Association and Messe Berlin, can turn their attentions to the next Berlin Air Show, which will take place between 8 and 13 June 2010.