Belgium low viz at Fairford and Farnborough

 

The annual Royal International Air Tattoo, the largest and most prestigious military air show in the world, is a meeting place of aircraft and personnel of air forces of all five continents. This year’s edition took place during the weekend of 15 and 16 July, the weekend preceding the Society of British Aerospace Companies’ International Air Show at Farnborough, one of Europe’s major aviation trade fairs. Many aircraft, their manufacturers and operators took this opportunity to gather at Fairford in an informal atmosphere to do some networking and to talk business without the constraining commercial stress typical of an aviation trade exhibition.

Apart from two white fleet aircraft, probably bringing in some high-ranking military representatives, Belgian participation equalled to zero: no aircraft in the static display, no aircraft in the flying display. The many Belgian aviation enthusiasts who came to Fairford had nothing to be proud of: no Belgian high performance jets, no rare Belgian aircraft types, no graceful Belgian flying displays. It was surely not because we do not have any of the aforementioned. Our midlife updated F-16s are state-of-the-art combat aircraft. Our Alouettes, Agustas and Magisters are so rare in Europe that they make many aviation enthusiasts delirious with joy wherever they appear. And their displays are of such a technical and artistic level that they would have been valid candidates for one of the many prestigious flying display awards. None of these, however, were to happen. A missed opportunity...

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 The public days of the SBAC International Air Show were held a week later during the weekend of 22 and 23 July. According to the official souvenir programme, a considerable area in Exhibition Hall One was reserved by the Flanders Investment & Trade agency of the Government of Flanders “with the aim to promote sustainable international business in the interest of both Flanders-based companies and overseas enterprises”. In practice, aerospace companies and interest groups from all over Belgium occupied that space under the common designation of Belgian Aerospace. Represented were, among others, the companies ASCO, BARCO, SABCA, SONACA and Techspace Aero and the interest groups Entreprises Wallonnes de l’Aéronautique (EWA), Wallonia Foreign Trade and Investment Agency, Cluster Wallonie Espace and Flemish Aerospace Group (FLAG). Some of these exhibitors announced interesting new contracts during the Farnborough Air Show. Additional information on these successes, however, could only be found on the companies’ websites, as their stands remained empty during almost the entire weekend. A missed opportunity...

The BARCO stand at Farnborough: successful, but empty…

The SABCA and Techspace Aero stands at Farnborough: impressive, but empty…

The SONACA and EWA stands at Farnborough: attractive, but empty…

 Text and pictures by

© Jos Schoofs (July 2006)

Last updated 25/07/06 09:57   Daniel Brackx

daniel.brackx@telenet.be