All the indoor and outdoor exhibition space at the Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD) 2014 exhibition has been sold out and demand for space is so high that 40 companies had to be turned down and put on an exhibition waiting list, according to the show organisers.
Briefing the media this morning on the show, to be held at Air Force Base Waterkloof between September 17 and 21, the organisers said that one exhibitor cancelled but their space was instantly filled as there are forty companies that want to exhibit but can’t find space, even though AAD 2014 has an extra, seventh, hangar this year.
At the moment there are 70 foreign military delegations from 50 countries scheduled to visit AAD 2014, together with 13 national pavilions and 300 companies (there were 14 national pavilions but Argentina pulled out due to their current financial situation). A number of first time exhibitors include Uganda, Australia, Lithuania, Spain and the United Arab Emirates.
Simphiwe Hamilton, Show Director, said he expected AAD 2014 to be bigger than the previous edition, which saw 40 000 trade visitors and 90 000 tickets sold for the two air show days.
Dean Mogale, AAD 2014 Policy Committee Chairperson, said the organisers have signed an agreement with the city of Tshwane to host the show through to 2018. Tshwane Executive Mayor, Kgosientso Ramokgopa, said AAD will be kept in Tshwane for the next three editions including this one. He said it was one of the most auspicious events on the aerospace and defence calendar, not only on the continent but in the world.
He added it was a significant revenue contributor to the country and noted that the aerospace and defence industries contribute to the economy and technological innovation – he pointed out that the Internet was originally developed by the military, for example. Ramokgopa said he wanted AAD to expose the youth to career opportunities in the aerospace and defence industries. Several thousand learners are expected to come to the show as part of the Youth Development Programme (YDP).
So far 10 000 tickets have been sold for the air show days on September 20 and 21. The South African Air Force will be flying and displaying the Gripen, Hawk, Rooivalk, A109 and C-130 while the Silver Falcons aerobatic team will wow audiences with precision flying displays. The Air Force Museum at Air Force Base Zwartkop will contribute a number of aircraft, such as the Vampire, Alouette II and III, Puma etc.
On the civil side, Bombardier, Gulfstream and other manufacturers will be displaying their jets such as the Global 6000, Gulfstream G450 and G650. Bombardier will have a Q400 on display and Airbus Helicopters will have several of its rotorcraft on show. The presence of many other aircraft is still being negotiated – for instance, Embraer is still deciding what to bring.
The Airplane Factory will try and set a world record at AAD 2014 by building one of their Sling light aircraft at the show, which is set to fly by the time the exhibition concludes.
Less than three months after it performed its maiden flight, the Paramount Group Advanced High-performance Reconnaissance Light Aircraft (AHRLAC) will fly in to Waterkloof at the beginning of the show and be exhibited as a static display. As the first military fixed wing manned aircraft to be designed and built in South Africa in decades, it is expected to attract considerable interest.
Unfortunately no unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) will be flying at Waterkloof. The organisers had hoped to have a UAV demonstration at Ditholo 50 km from Pretoria but this is not happening. However, the organisers noted that having UAVs flying is a priority for the next edition of AAD, by which time the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) should have finished drafting regulations on the operation of UAVs in South African airspace. Nevertheless, over a dozen companies will have their UAVs on static display.
Another disappointment to visitors will be the fact that the United States yesterday cancelled plans to bring out an eight-engined Boeing B-52 bomber. However, the US Air Force will fly out a Boeing C-17 Globemaster III and Lockheed Martin C-130H Hercules. The New Zealand and Pakistani Air Forces were contemplating bringing out aircraft to AAD but these plans have been shelved. Zimbabwe was scheduled to fly a K-8 jet trainer but after last week’s crash that killed two of their pilots, this is uncertain. However, a full air show schedule will be available just before the show starts.
Firefighting helicopters will perform a demonstration during the show while Paramount will have an anti-rhino poaching demonstration using a Gazelle helicopter. Other highlights include a vehicle mobility track, which will allow military vehicles to show off their capabilities, and a mini-war re-enactment.