BILL READ and HARRY LAWSON preview the highlights of this year's Dubai Air Show, held 8-12 November.

Curtain raiser - the Al Fursan MB339 aerobatics team perform a final dress rehearsal over an Airbus A350 on the day before the show (Airbus)

In recent years the UAE city of Dubai has established itself as an oasis of sun-drenched relaxation and shopping pleasure - and cemented its position as global aviation crossroads. But for one week in November the gentle desert breeze blows additional roar of jet turbofans and whirls of rotor blades towards the tourist haven. The source of this cacophony of aerospace uproar is found just due South West of the sprawling city at the fast-growing Dubai World Central airport at the biannual Dubai Airshow 2015. Held between 8- 12 November, the show will play host to over 1,100 exhibitors from over 60 countries. Over 160 aircraft will be on display including the latest in military and civil models.

Can this year’s show beat the $206.1bn order record of 2013?

Where other markets are struggling, the Middle-Eastern aerospace market is continuing to grow. The organisers of the 2015 Dubai Airshow hope to keep this growth on track. In the 2013 the show recorded $206.1bn worth of orders. Let’s take a peek at how this target is lining up…


In early November, Emirates began operating two A380s with special liveries of endangered wildlife. The first aircraft (above) features six endangered species while the second flight will feature a decal with rhinos and elephants. The decals took a team of 28 people 2.5 days to apply (Emirates). 

Confirmed to be on display will be Qatar Airways with its Airbus A350-900, A380 and Boeing 777 Dreamliner. A second A380 is also expected to be on show from the aircraft’s biggest customer, Emirates Airlines, which currently has 65 A380s in its fleet. On the low-cost side, Emirates’ regional subsidiary flydubai will also be showcasing a 737-800.

The Bombardier CSeries will be appearing in Swiss livery (Bombardier)

A late addition to the flight line is Bombardier’s CSeries CS100, an aircraft family whose future was uncertain until recently when the Quebec Government annouced it was investing in the project. The model at the show will be sporting the red and white of Swiss - the launch customer. After debuting at Paris earlier this year, can the CSeries pick up some much-needed orders at the show? Bombardier meanwhile maintains a strong presence in the Middle East operating a regional support office and parts depot in Dubai to support its customers. While there will be no Russian military aircrat at the show, Sukhoi will also be bringing an example of its Sukhoi Superjet.

Boeing is looking optimistic about growth in the region, predicting that the Middle East will demand 3,180 new aircraft over the next 20 years. Boeing’s current market outlook suggests that single-aisle airliners like the 777 MAX will command the largest share of orders, 1,410 to be exact. Boeing’s twin-aisle models will make up just under half these expected orders over the coming 20 years. The 777 and 787 are particularly popular orders for the region.

Boeing’s main rival Airbus will also be at the show with its new A350-900, the shortest fuselage version of the A350 XWB - with seats for 280 passengers in a typical three-class cabin with a range of up 8,200nm. Launch customer for the A350XWB, Qatar Airways, is also scheduled to receive the first A320neo before the end of the year. Expect fireworks from its outspoken chief at the show if it emerges that Airbus may have difficulty in meeting this target.  

And, while an Emirates A380 video involving the superjumbo flying in formation with two 'jetman' wowed the Internet before the show - the launch of a new re-engined 'A380neo' variant at Dubai has been played down. Home airline Emirates has been dangling the prospect of 200 fresh orders for a more efficient A380neo - but Airbus is still reported to be mulling the decision. The airframer also faces the challenge of meeting its sales target of 25 A380s by the end of the year - with only one month to go.

There is also a wide representation from aero engine manufacturers, including Rolls-Royce, GE and CFM, who are no doubt hoping for some big money engine contracts, should there be any announcements of major civil aircraft orders during the week. Also much in evidence are exhibitors from the airline support and service sector, including airports, MRO suppliers, training providers, as well as second and third tier engineering companies and UAV sector companies. More details of the latest news from these sectors will be reported on later in the week.


War tractor on show - iomax’s Archangel turboprop (Iomax)

The military presence at Dubai 2015 will, if anything, be reflective of current military situations around the globe, but more especially to the immediate vicinity of the Middle East. The rise of ISIS, shootdown of MH17, Russian ressurgence and Iran nuclear deal all feed into threats and requirements for air forces.

The UAE Air Force is represented by three F-16s, a Hawk and three Mirage 2000s and no doubt a number of international defence manufacturers will be keen to talk to them on what new generation fighters or trainers they might like to consider upgrading to. Rafale from France will be at the show, as willUkranian aircraft builder Antonov. Other defence companies represented include CATIC from China, Anglo-French missile specialists MBDA, and US companies Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, General Atomics and Raytheon.

Airbus will be showing off the A400M military transporter, which has recently passed grass and prepared ground landing certification. Airbus’s military contingent will be completed by a transport variant of the C295 and the A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport. BAE’s presence at the show is spearheaded by the Eurofighter Typhoon and the Hawk jet trainer, both in service in the UK and looking for export customers. Embraer is set to demonstrate its A-29 Super Tucano, a popular export seller. It has 220 firm orders with 13 countries and will surely be looking to build upon this. Also making an appearance on the static line will be US-based iomax’s Archangel, a modified model of the Thrush Aircraft S2R-T660 turboprop, which is in service with the Air Force of the UAE. Both these aircraft may be of particular interest to prospective military customers as they can be configured for counter insurgency (COIN) and light attack roles, a mission especially suitable for operations in current Middle Eastern conflicts. With the nuclear deal with Iran having made Saudai Arabia and Gulf states nervous, the US will be provideing reassurance of its Middle Eastern capabilities with the arrival of the F-22 Raptor, C130J and B-1, which are just some of the US contingent at the show.


The interior of Airbus Corporate Jet ACJ319 from 28 East. (28 East)

Among the business aircraft on display will be the Airbus ACJ319 from charter operator 28 East which Airbus claims features the tallest and widest cabin on the corporate jet market. Cessna’s Citation Latitude will be making its Dubai debut this year while Bombardier is represented by several business aircraft, including the Learjet 75. Bombardier is predicting 450 business jet deliveries to the Middle East between 2015-2034.


Bell 429 (Bell Helicopters)

Bell Helicopters will be bringing all the style and exclusivity of Dubai’s jet set lifestyle to the show with its Bell 429 with VVIP Mecaer interior. A mock-up of the long-awaited Bell 505 Jet Ranger X will be on display at Bell’s pavilion. Meanwhile Airbus Helicopter will be in attendance displaying its latest H160 medium twin engine mockup. Two Boeing CH-47 Chinooks will also be on show, as will two incarnations of the Blackhawk.


The view from space. Dubai’s famous Palm Jumeira and World island landmarks taken from Dubai Sat-1 (MBRSC)

As well as becoming an important regional aviation hub, Dubai is also looking beyond the Earth with a rapidly developing space industry. The UAE has its own space centre at the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) which in co-operation with Satrec in South Korea, launched DubaiSat-1 in 2009, the first remote sensing satellite to be fully-owned by a UAE entity. Optical and multi-spectral satellite images from DubaiSat-1 have been used to help in the construction of local infrastructure, including the Dubai World Megaproject, Palm Jumeirah, Palm Jebel Ali and the new Al Maktoum International Airport next to the show site. The satellite has also been used for disaster relief and environmental monitoring.

Dubai Sat-1 was joined in orbit in 2013 by Dubai Sat-2. The MBRSC is now working on plans to launch a third imaging satellite, KhalifaSat, in 2017. Initial work will take place in South Korea, after which the satellite will transported to the space centre headquarters to be completed.

However, the space centre is not just looking at near-Earth projects and has announced even more ambitious plans to launch an unmanned Mars probe to the Red Planet in 2021. The AEROSPACE team hope to bring you more details of the Dubai space centre’s future projects later in the week.


See Dubai flying on the outside of an aircraft (Emirates)

An extraordinary video is circulating featuring footage of an Emirates Airbus A380 flying low over Dubai accompanied by two fliers wearing jet suits. The carefully choreographed aerial display starred two jetmen, Yves Rossy and Vince Reffet, who were released from a helicopter and accompanied the A380 as it flew over the city at 4,000ft. See the video here on


Waiting for the crowds. The show is ready to begin.

The AEROSPACE team will be reporting on the latest news 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

8 November 2015