BILL READ and HARRY LAWSON report from the first day of the 2015 Dubai Airshow which featured plenty of sunshine, crowds of visitors and some spectacular flying displays - but significantly no major orders.

The colourful propeller boss of a Breitling wing-walking Boeing Stearman biplane



Day one got underway with all the fanfare that has come to be expected from the UAE. His Highness Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid al Maktoum, Vice President and Ruler of UAE, opened the exhibition and a royal tour of the show and visited a number of manufacturers, including Bombardier,. Could the CSeries regional jet become the CSeries by royal appointment? N



There's nothing like anticipation. Several of the opening press conferences were conspicuous by the absence of the companies scheduled to give the presentations.

In a strange turn of events, against the norm of international airshows, no sales were announced today by the big airliner airframers. Of course, it was always going to be difficult to beat 2013's bonanza year, but the big three Gulf airlines (Emirates, Etihad and Qatar) which usually set off the sales frenzy were keeping their wallets firrnly closed - having decided that their requirements were met for the moment. Will there be a few smaller orders during the week to add to the OEMS backlog.? 

Chinese stealth fighter targets sales

It's not at the show in person - but the J-31 is now gunning for sales.

One interesting briefing on the first day was from China's AVIC, which is looking for export customers to snap up its new FC-31 stealth fighter. While the prototype first flew in 2012, AVIC say the first flight of the production variant of the FC-31 will take place in 2019 with final operational capability available in 2025. Further details on the previously secret project were scarce, but the push to highlight the fighter at the show seems linked to securing a launch customer for the jet, as the China's air force is believed to already have the larger J-20 lined up. Will the FC-31 be an international sales hit like the F-35? Watch this space. 


The first day of the show had plenty of potential customers in evidence.

The press centre was aflutter with news of announcements streaming in from the exhibitors on the show floor. Embraer released its forecast for 70 to 130-seat aircraft in the Middle East. The manufacturer predicts that over the next 20 years 6,350 will be in demand by the Middle East in deals collectively worth $300bn. Embraer is also debuting its Legacy 500 business jet. Cessna Aircraft Company’s Cessna Citation Latitude made its official Dubai debut.

In business avaition, it was reported that there are at least 62 large cabin private jets for sale in the Middle East with a collective mark up worth $647m.

CSeries testing almost complete

While it, like Airbus and Boeing did not announce any new orders on the first day, Canada's Bombardier reported that the CS100’s flight testing is now almost 100% complete. It also revealed that Air Baltic will now become the launch customer for its larger (120-150 seat) CS300 - with deliveries to take place in the second half of 2016. 



Tracey Curtis Taylor has stopped over at Dubai on her solo flight from the UK to Australia

Aviatrix Tracey Curtis Taylor has stopped off at the Dubai Airshow on her mammoth journey to Sydney, recreating Amy Johnson’s famous flight from Great Britain to Australia. Ms Curtis Taylor told AEROSPACE that, although some of her trip had been hampered buy delayed starts due to bad weather, she is making good progress. Her Boeing Stearman biplane, Spirit of Artemis, is on display on the static line. She added that the weather in Dubai was brilliant to fly in and that Artemis was performing well. She has enjoyed promoting women in aviation at every stop she makes and is hopeful that her journey inspires others to take to the skies.


The first afternoon of the show featured a memorable flying display featuring a wide variety of aircraft. Here are some illustrations of the highlights

Arabian flights - the flying display was opened by an jaw dropping performance from the Al Fursan MB339 aerobatic display team.

No – it's not the picture that's upside down – it's the Mirage 2000

An A350 like you've never seen it before.

Blink and you miss it. The B1 bomber flew past at such high speed that you had to be quick to see it.

An F-16 goes through its paces

The F-22 wows the crowds

Rafale tears up the skies at the show.


The static line also featured a wide variety of aircraft.

Qatar Airways has brought no fewer than four aircraft to the show – an Airbus A350 and A380 and a Boeing 787 (shown above) plus a Gulfstream G650ER.


The prototype Antonov An-178 military transport aircraft, which was first shown to the public at the Paris Air Show earlier this year, is also on show at Dubai.

However, this time we were able .to get a view of the inside of the aircraft.


Crop duster with attitude - the Iomax Archangel

Seen on the flightline was the Iomax Archangel armed intelligence gathering aircraft in the markings of the UAE armed forces. Developed from the AT-802 Air Tractor border patrol aircraft, the two-seat Archangel is based on the Thrush 710P agricultural crop duster with the addition of podded underwing defensive aids and missile warning sensors.

Examples of the Archangel's weapons load

The aircraft can be armed with Lockheed Martin Hellfire missiles, Mk-82 laser guided bomb or Roketsan Cirit lightweight missile.


On the flight line was this Embraer Phenom 100E very light jet in Emirates livery. The Emirates Flight Training Academy has ordered five Phenom 100s plus five options with first deliveries scheduled to commence in 2017.



A model of the Zeppelin NT that Spirit of the Emirates hopes to order a trio of to provide tourist flights

The Spirit of the Emirates stand is promoting an initiative to construct a dedicated airship hub for flying lighter-than-air tourist flights over Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The project is the brainchild of Capt Khalid Al-Ansari who told AEROSPACE that he is currently seeking government funding to order up to three 246ft Zeppelin NT airships from Germany. “Airships don't come cheap,” he said.

A model of the proposed airship park with its customised hangar

The airships would operate from a specially dedicated airship park which would include a customised airship hangar, management offices, sport and health club, a museum and a mosque. Each airship would carry up to 14 passengers for aerial cruises at heights of 1,500ft. Passengers would be provided with an augmented reality hand panel screen to provide additional information on local landmarks.


Didier Machure (left) and Frederic Pinlet (right) are dedicated to seeing the original Concorde fly again.

Another of the stands in the exhibition hall featured representatives from the French Olympus 593 association who are dedicated to returning the original supersonic Concorde aircraft to commercial service. “The aeronautical adventure of Concorde are not simply a 'financial failure' … the venture represents respect for the former engineers and for those who, with them, built great nations.” they state in their publicity. More information on their campaign can be found on

Conference call

In parallel with the air show, three specialist conferences are being held – focusing on Offsets on 9 November, Airport Safety on 8-9 November and Gulf Aviation Training Event (GATE) on 10-11 November.


Happy as a plane with two tails. The flydubai Boeing 737-800 appears to have been augmented with two additional Qatar tails.



The exhibition includes an special area dedicated to 3D printing named the 3-D Print Show Pavilion. We will be looking at this subject and its implications to aerospace manufacturing in more detail later in the week.

The AEROSPACE team will be reporting on the latest news and events from the show in daily blogs throughout this week, so keep checking on each day. You can also get updates from the show through our reporter Harry Lawson’s tweets on @WhizzBangAnD


9 November 2015