After a four-year pandemic-related absence, Aerospace Manufacturing catches up with the Farnborough International team for what promises to be one of the event’s most significant airshows ever.
For decades, the Farnborough International Airshow (FIA) has been the most important global platform for the aerospace, aviation, and defence industry. Following the challenges of the last two years within the industry, the role of the event now carries greater significance with the Farnborough International Airshow promising unrivalled networking and insight-generating opportunities to support the reconnection of leaders from around the world and enable business growth and recovery.
Q) Firstly, what is the aim and intention for this year’s event?
Our aim is to drive actionable change to the wider ecosystem by bringing the global industry together in the UK for five days of unrivalled connection building and collaboration, building upon the success of the 2018 Farnborough International Airshow and 2020’s FIA Connect. We have worked hard over the last two years to develop ideas and improve features to propel the show to new heights and this work will be unveiled in July.
Q) Are there any changes to the showground in terms of new chalets and any improvements to Hall One?
The 2022 event will see the expansion of the airshow’s smart networking opportunities with the launch of the Business Connection Exchange, the evolution of turnkey chalets and a new Space Zone taking in place within one of the new 22,000ft sound stages on-site at Farnborough International Exhibition & Conference Centre, as part of the new Farnborough International Studios. For the first year, Hall 1 will have a Pioneers of Change Zone, highlighting the leading innovators within the industry and the last day of the show will see new Pioneers of Tomorrow event take place, which is a dedicated day to inspire, engage and recruit the industry’s future workforce.
Q) Which partners and stakeholders are you working with to inject some real thought leadership into our industry?
The 2022 event will see evolved and new ways to share insight, innovation and thought leadership. Since the last airshow in 2018 and FIA Connect in 2020, Farnborough International has continually engaged with the global aerospace and defence industry, understanding topics and themes on business’ agendas, the stories they want to convey and the challenges that need to be tackled. Farnborough International’s year-round approach to driving conversation within the industry has been cemented through its pioneering calendar of events, including Global Urban & Advanced Air Summit (GUAAS), Sustainable Skies World Summit and Space-Comm Expo, with the Farnborough International Airshow positioned as the epicentre of innovation, collaboration and insight.
Launching at this year’s airshow, the Aerospace Global Forum (AGF) is a revolutionary global platform that aims to champion change and drive immediate action, accelerating transition to the new, net-zero economy.
Developed by Farnborough International, AGF will bring global leaders together, across all sectors and geographies, to drive conversation and interrogate issues to actively change the world for the better for the very first time. Working with world-leading consultancies, such as KPMG, Deloitte and McKinsey, as well as US government officials, UK government departments and ADS, AGF will set the agenda for industry in the years ahead, discussing the new digital workforce and future leaders of the aerospace and defence industry, and preparing organisations for the new skills needed in an AI-fuelled world.
FINN Sessions will be returning to the airshow, with a curated programme of thought leaders, innovators and disrupters to showcase the upcoming trends of the aerospace industry.
Q) How are bookings progressing for exhibitor space at the show and will visitor attendance figures exceed those of 2018?
We have seen great interest from the global industry in returning to face-to-face interaction ahead of the show in July. Retention from previous exhibitors has been high and there has been a growing interest from new businesses getting involved with the airshow for the first time. With the increased demand and engagement across the industry, we are working towards 2018 visitor levels, which reached over 80,000 across the seven days, with more than 93% of the exhibition areas now sold.
Our exhibitor profile is currently 70% international with exhibitors from 49 countries, including the US, Mexico, Turkey, Brazil, Singapore, Japan, Korea, Romania, Qatar and Portugal.
Q) What is FIA’s official statement and stance regarding Russia at this year’s event?
Following the ongoing events taking place in Eastern Europe, we have made the decision to suspend Russian participation at the 2022 Farnborough International Airshow. Our hearts go out to the people of Ukraine, and everyone affected by the current situation. We continue to hope for a timely and peaceful resolution.
Q) What new tradeshow exhibitor broad themes and attractions can visitors expect to see at this year’s show?
Since 2018, we have continued to consult the wider industry on the themes, focuses and innovations they are working towards in years to come.
Steering the conversation on six core themes pertinent to the aerospace, aviation and defence industries, Farnborough International Airshow will focus on the future of the industry, sustainability, aerospace and defence thought leadership, space, future workforce and air travel. The themes will be reflected across the showfloor and within the event’s insight-driven features, including FINN Sessions and AGF.
Q) Will there be a ‘Meet the buyer’ feature this year and if so, what levels of success do you anticipate?
One of the most popular and longstanding features of the Airshow, Meet the Buyer Programme, has been reimagined and launched as the Business Connections Exchange for FIA 2022 to better connect key decision-makers from around the globe and to help create long-lasting partnerships.
For the 2022 edition, we have enhanced our bespoke matching system to significantly increase the relevance of meetings and the compatibility between the buyers’ procurement requirements and the suppliers’ offerings, providing fantastic business development opportunities and a platform for buyers to meet with relevant suppliers.
Our intelligent software, plus direct input from both buyers and suppliers, supported by our own diligence, means a much more strategic matching process.
Q) SMEs exhibiting at larger airshows are often overlooked by visitors because they are ‘hidden’ by the larger OEMs. What is FIA doing to ensure they receive enough prominence?
SMEs have always been a large portion of our engaged exhibitors at Farnborough International Airshow. We encourage all of our SMEs to engage with us early on in the process, so we can ensure our dedicated account team can elevate their presence at the show, including the SME-focused events, seminars and workshops taking place, the Business Connections Exchange and delegation programme. Dedicated insight and opportunities have been developed to ensure SMEs can make the most of their presence and have a successful airshow exhibition.
To ensure visitors are aware of all businesses exhibiting at the show, we have evolved our showguide to include a thematic taxonomy, enabling visitors to explore relevant exhibitor based on their services and expertise.
Q) Finally, will there be opportunity for visitors to examine the latest manufacturing technologies, including automation and digitalisation?
Through our consultations with the industry, we have seen an increase in manufacturing and digital-focused businesses come on board as exhibitors of this year’s airshow. While it is too early to know what will be showcased in full detail, visitors will have an opportunity to immerse themselves in the innovations on the show floor, which reflect the leading trends in the industry.
The industry will always need highly-skilled people in aerospace which creates high value jobs across the UK. Automation and digitisation within the industry is about remaining competitive, enabling the UK to increase production and remaining at the cutting edge of technology. Efficiencies and investment from the design and manufacturing stages through to production and maintenance are essential to ensure UK industry continues to be a global leader in this sector, bringing more high value and long-term careers to many.
The demand for STEM careers is growing every year, and within the industry and across manufacturing there is very high level of competition for engineers. Aerospace provides a springboard for STEAM subject roles, from apprentices crafting engines to coders building new data platforms. The younger generation is one of a life-long digital nature, which will enable skills and processes to be developed efficiently and evolved at an accelerated rate.
ADS’ own estimates suggest that across our sectors there were over 10,000 vacancies at the end of 2021, many of which could be filled by young people or those starting out in their careers. To encourage the next generation of talent to build careers within the aerospace industry, Farnborough International has partnered with ADS to launch the Pioneers of Tomorrow platform, taking place on the final day of the airshow, Friday 22 July.
Aimed at school children aged 11+ to school leavers, graduates and career movers, Pioneers of Tomorrow will introduce the next generation of leaders, innovators, and pioneers to employers, providing valuable insight into the wealth of career opportunities available throughout dynamic, global industries.