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Editor's Blog and Industry Comments

Disappointment at the Farnborough Air Show

12 August, 2008
Three weeks on and the memory of Farnborough seems a distant one. The thing is, this year's Farnborough Air Show and Tradeshow was a singularly forgettable event. Yes, pretty much everything happened that should have happened and most of the usual suspects were present – but there was nothing special and nothing really stood out.
The organisation was slick enough but that, in itself, is insufficient with an institution such as Farnborough which demands something more sympathetic to the demands and expectations of the industries and enthusiasts from whom the organisers need continued loyalty. The thing is, while the world moves on and Farnborough needs to be keeping up with – or even ahead of – the game, its unique mix of family spectators, military delegations, government ministers and aerospace buyers is at its best when it is part of the event, not at a distance from it.

The comments from exhibitors were echoed by visitors. No buzz, little interest, no atmosphere, nothing of note happening; there were plenty of stand managers claiming that the balance of effort and expenditure would be shifting towards Paris and more than a few paying guests who regretted buying tickets, on trade days as well as the weekend. The overwhelming feeling was that this was much more than the product of unfortunate timing, the recession and its effects on the relevant industries merely made things appear worse than they would otherwise have been.

And the 'credit crunch' has, indeed, had an impact. Aeroplane manufacturers were said to be limiting order cancellations rather than looking for new ones but, of course, much of the industry's order book is currently full. The defense sector, however, has not yet felt the full force of the slowdown and, despite the organiser's insistence that Farnborough is not a defense event, it is nonetheless a very important part of the trade show's make-up.

Perhaps the most telling indication of how industry treated the event was the remarkable lack of press material available to the 1500 or so media representatives who turned up. And the media facilities are, maybe, best left without further comment. The organiser's attitude towards the press was made clear before the event started with numerous calls and emails to its communications team unanswered.

Despite this, DefenseFile has covered much of the news released at and since the show and we welcome visitor and exhibitor comments. So, if you have anything to say, email us now: and we'll cover it if it's printable and relevant!
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