Dubai Helishow 2008 - A Big Success

Major contracts signed, giving further impetus to the helicopter industry in the region

Dubai Helishow 2008 the 3rd edition of the biennial International Helicopter Technology and Operations Exhibition took place amidst much fanfare from the 11th to the 13th November 2008 at the East Hall, Airport Expo, Dubai, UAE.

The show, a one-of-its-kind trade show for the helicopter industry, was held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid  Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE, and Ruler of Dubai, and hosted by Mediac Communications & Exhibitions LLC.

Dubai Helishow & Dubai Air Medical & Rescue Show 2008, featured exhibitors from around the world, who showcased their products and services through indoor exhibits, Static craft displays, and flight demonstrations. The show attracted an audience representing different sectors including the Armed forces, Academia, Commercial Operators, Emergency Services, Government Agencies, Maintainers and Private Buyers.

Companies promoting themselves at this year’s show included AgustaWestland – Italy, Abu Dhabi Aviation – UAE, Abu Dhabi Police Air Wing – UAE, Aviator and Aviation – UAE, Boeing – USA, Emirates-CAE Flight Training – UAE, Eurocopter – France, Falcon Aviation - UAE,  Goodrich Corp – USA,  Gulf Helicopter – Qatar, Hawker Pacific Air Services – representative of Bell Helicopter in the Middle East , Horizon International Training Academy – UAE. MD Helicopters – USA, Russian Helicopters,  ICSS (Erickson Air-Crane) – Greece,  Kaman – USA, Pratt & Whitney – Canada, Rockwell Collins – UK, Sikorsky Helicopters – USA …. to mention just a few.

Owing to the popularity of Dubai Helishow, this year a number of new participants from around the globe took part including - Avicorp - Middle East, Bayards Aluminium Constructives BV- The Netherlands, Becker – UAE, cueSim – UK, Bristow Helicopters – UK, Bristow Academy - USA, Honeywell – USA, GENA Systems – Austria, Industria de Turbo Propulsores – Spain, Onboard Systems – USA, Pall Corporation- France, Priority 1 Air Rescue – USA, Simplex Manufacturing Company – USA, SRT Helicopters – USA and Tulsa Turbine Engines & Aircraft – USA ….   and many more.

The Abu Dhabi Police, represented by its Air Wing, showcased its helicopters and advanced technologies. Colonel (pilot) Ali Mohammed Al Mazroui Director of the Air Wing Department in his statement said that the “Dubai Helishow presented a good opportunity to showcase the services presented by the wing … Eight new state-of-the-art helicopters joined the fleet recently”.

According to Geoff Russell, Communication Manager, AgustaWestland an Anglo-Italian helicopter manufacturer - “the helicopter market is continuing to grow with the support from the commercial and military segments. There is a growing demand for VIP transport. Several police and law enforcement agencies in the Middle East are now operating helicopters for patrol, transports, rescue and public service missions” said Russell. He added that more than 100 orders have been placed for AgustaWestland’s medium twin-turbine helicopter AW 139. He said this on the sidelines of the Dubai Helishow.

Dubai Air Medical & Rescue Show 2008, a specialist exhibition accompanied by a one day conference focusing on the unique issues that the air medical and rescue sector face, was launched at the Dubai Helishow. This exhibition focused on air, ambulance, air rescue, air evacuation and other medical transport services and associated equipment. This was a significant development of this year’s show.

Another new feature introduced at this year’s show was a comprehensive one day conference organized by The International Helicopter Safety Team focusing on the safety issues faced by pilots worldwide.  The IHST is responsible for development of mitigation strategies to bring down military and civil accident rates by 80% in the next 10 years.

The Dubai Helishow also paved the way for the signing of a three year contract between Emirates - CAE Flight Training and the Caverton Offshore Support Group to be their exclusive Bell 412 training provider.  Emirates-CAE Flight Training also announced the signing of an agreement with Gulf Helicopter Company of Qatar. Under the terms of this agreement Gulf Helicopter Bell 412 pilots will undergo specialized training to meet special mission and regulatory requirements of Gulf Helicopter Company. The program includes simulator training on the CAE - built Bell 412 full flight simulator, enhanced classroom based training, and crew resource management (CRM).

His Highness Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the founder of Falcon Aviation services, and Joe Gigantelli, Vice President Sales, signed an agreement on Nov 11th at the Dubai Helishow establishing a Customer Support Center to be operated by Sikorsky Aerospace Services in Abu Dhabi for S – 76 ( R) helicopters. The facility will be the first S-76 helicopter Customer Support Center in the Middle East. Sikorsky Aerospace Services is the aftermarket business of Sikorsky. Falcon Aviation Services is a provider of helicopter charter and maintenance service based in Abu Dhabi. 

Mediac Communications, the organizer has just announced the formation of the first ever helicopter association in the region - Middle East Helicopter Association (MEHA). MEHA will serve as a platform to develop a highly professional and safety conscious industry, which will promote heliport development, operational efficiency and economic viability in the region. 

The significance of Dubai Helishow has been rising over the years owing to the overwhelming response from the region’s helicopter industry. Dubai being well placed to service the demand from the Middle East, Europe, Africa, Russia, India and Asia, there are huge benefits in investing in this field. Investment insiders have pointed out that the local investment communities have showed considerable interest in setting up a joint venture development to manufacture helicopters using latest technology from leading global players. As such, presently the interest in aviation related investments are high and also appears to be promising. The new Dubai airport facility is expected to handle 120 million passengers and over 12 million tons of cargo each year. The targeted annual movements of the new upcoming Dubai World Central International Airport are most impressive for light aviation – 60,000, the executive jet sector – 40,000 and the helicopter sector 35,000.

A whole gamut of business opportunities such as Air Taxi and Advertising has also opened up. Air taxi is a new business for Helicopter charter companies in the UAE which traditionally served the oil and gas industry. Helicopters could also be used for sky banners to target the advertisers and event promoters, as UAE has a significant outdoor advertising market predominated by super sized billboards, that can cost advertisers up to US $ 1 million a year, for just one site. Innovative and mobile flying banners are slated to have better impact and visibility, as they cover a wider geographical area which makes it appealing to the advertisers and event promoters at a lesser cost than static billboard displays.

Plans for the introduction of a military sector to the show for 2010 are also underway.  The military remains one of the largest customers for helicopters worldwide with the associated maintenance and equipment contracts worth millions. 

Ms. Maysoon A Abuhoul, Deputy Managing Director, Mediac Communications and Exhibitions LLC added “The response to the Dubai Helishow 2008 has been overwhelming and the show has seen a substantial growth overall from the previous editions. The launch of Dubai Air Medical & Rescue Show, Middle East Helicopter Association (MEHA) and International Helicopter Safety Symposium has made it all the more significant. Preparations for Dubai Helishow 2010 are already underway and Mediac plan to introduce a show comprising four sectors – Civil, Military, Aero Medical & Rescue and Avionics thus ensuring an even bigger turnout in the future”.  The dates for the next edition are 2nd – 4th November 2010.