Organisers gearing up for AAD 2018


The organisers of biennial Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD) exhibition are working hard in preparation for the September 2018 edition, and note that more than half of indoor and outdoor space has already been booked.

For 2018, the organisers want to put more of a focus on the commercial side to ensure the aerospace part of Africa Aerospace and Defence is maintained, and attracts exhibitors like Boeing and Embraer. Part of this will involve softening the AAD look and feel and extending courtesy invitations to the aviation sector. The organisers hope to achieve a 60:40 split between civilian and defence participation in 2018, according to AAD Marketing and Communications Manager Nakedi Phasha.

She was speaking during the re-opening of the Commercial Aviation Association of Southern Africa (CAASA) House Pub ‘Gear Down’ at Lanseria International Airport on 18 August. CAASA is one of the hosts and presenters of AAD, along with the SA Aerospace, Maritime and Defence Industry Association (AMD) and Armscor – the latter hosted AAD 2016.

Marketing efforts for AAD 2018 will include a media launch six months before the show next year, the unveiling of an official mascot, an attaches breakfast in November this year, a cocktail function at the DSEI trade show in the UK in September this year, and a memorandum of understanding signing ceremony in April next year.

At present, 63% of outdoor space (8 213 square metres) at Air Force Base Waterkloof has been booked; 52% of indoor space (6 353 square metres) has been taken and 38% of chalets (15) have been taken. Six aircraft are currently confirmed as attending. There are nine national pavilions booked, from Belgium, China, Germany, Italy, Jordan, Russia, the United Kingdom and United States. Four national pavilions are in progress, for Greece, India, Pakistan and Turkey.

The organisers emphasised that AAD is a boon to Africa’s economy, is an incubator for emerging African markets and products and is a catalyst for economic growth. According to an economic assessment by Dr Roelof Botha, AAD 2016 contributed R1.14 billion to South Africa’s economy. International visitors contributed more than R300 million; trade visitors over R150 million; the organiser’s office and operational costs both contributed over R150 million; stands contributed R130 million; public day visitors some R125 million; chalets around R60 million and exhibitor catering approximately R25 million.

A total of 33 800 trade visitors from 105 countries attended last year’s show, while 56 900 general public visitors also attended, mostly on the two air show days over the weekend. The largest number of foreign participants were from China, with 400 visitors, followed by Russia (240), the United States (220), the United Kingdom (155) and the United Arab Emirates (140). Other top participating countries in 2016 included France, Sudan, Italy, Pakistan, Germany, Turkey and India.

In addition, 444 accredited journalists from all over the world and 75 minister, secretaries of defence, chiefs of armed forces and acquisition and procurement officials were present. These formed part of the delegations from 37 countries around the world.

AAD 2016 featured 13 national pavilions, 86 civil and military aircraft on static display (out of 146 aircraft that took part in the show). Amongst its 24 978 square metres of exhibition space, AAD 2016 for the first time hosted an African Unity Pavilion as it attempts to attract business from the continent. In addition, there was an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) pavilion, presentation theatres, small, medium and macro sized enterprise (SMME) pavilion and learners’ military youth camp. Over 10 000 learners attended the 2016 show compared to 7 000 in 2014.

Although billed as the largest gathering of industry players in the aerospace and defence sector in Africa, it is facing competition from Morocco and Ghana, amongst others, which host the Marrackech Air Show and African Air Show respectively.