Farnborough 2018

The bi-annual Farnborough International Airshow wrapped up a couple weeks ago. I’ve lost track of how many MicroPilot has attended. It’s certainly more than 15 years since we attended Farnborough for the first time.

The highlight of the flight demonstration portion of this year’s show was a loop by a C-130 Hercules. This certainly upstaged the A400M demonstration, which was quite tame by comparison. Pretty stunning to see a big plane like a C-130 doing a loop, except I missed it. Fortunately, like everything else, it is captured on YouTube. It’s been years since I’ve had time at either the Paris, Farnborough or Singapore airshows to watch any of the flight demonstrations. I only caught the A400M because I left a little early on the last trade day. There are always too many meetings.

I’m fairly certain that the flight demonstrations are in decline. There certainly were far fewer aircraft on display on the flight line. And you can always tell from the noise when the fighter jets are flying even inside the trade halls. They make so much noise, it’s impossible to talk. In past years much of the afternoon was disrupted by their noise. Not this year. Only a single fighter showed up at this year’s Farnborough.

This is a trend in shows. The actual experience of being at the show is becoming less and less important. Sure, the C-130 looping at Farnborough caused a bit of a buzz. But certainly for every person who saw it at Farnborough 100 or 1000 will see it on YouTube and in other social media.

The exposure you gain by being at a show like Farnborough isn’t all that important anymore. Social media and the internet are much better tools for building awareness of your company. It’s the face to face contact you get at a trade show that is what is really important, the ability to build relationships. If you have a worldwide customer base, then there is no better place for meeting people in your industry than a big international trade fair.

The trade fair portion of the show was as big as ever. The size is limited by the size of the four exhibit halls. Just like previous years, there was no sign of any empty space. The booths were as large and impressive as ever.

Farnborough is not really a show for UAV or drone manufacturers. A few show up every year. All the large aerospace companies are there and often people from their UAV programs will attend. The Chinese were present along with a number of European manufacturers. The show is large enough that there are enough UAV companies to make it worthwhile for us.


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