The just concluded Aero Show in Bengaluru was an initiative of the Government in India to promote business in the aviation sector. Starter in 1996, it has been conducted nine times till then, the last one being in 2013 when 570 companies from twenty nine countries, including 296 companies from India participated. The tenth edition was held in Bangalore between 19th and 22nd February 2015. These shows provide a platform for promoting business in the civil aviation sector. With the emphasis on ‘Make in India’ this year coupled with the opening up of the defence sector to foreign investment, there is every possibility of a positive spinoff for the Indian aviation sector.
More than seven hundred and fifty companies from India and abroad participated in this year’s edition of the Aero show. Many official delegations from 109 countries at the Ministerial/ Defence Head/ Secretary levels were present. About 150,000 business visitors and over three lakh general visitors made it to the venue. Having regard to the start-up culture that is spreading, there was a Youth Innovative Pavilion and also an Export from India Pavilion. The show affords an opportunity for military brass and decision makers to meet and strike deals. But all this serious work happens away from public eye and at quieter meetings. What the public remembers and usually associates with the aero show is the daredevil show put up by the pilots in their mean machines.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi opened the aero show exhibition and the air show at Yelahanka, Bengaluru. It is organised by the Defence Exhibition Organisation, which is a part of the Ministry of Defence. Ministers or officials of equal rank from USA, Russia, Israel and Germany were present, adding importance to the event. The air show featured six aerobatics teams and had women walking on the wings of the plane, even as it was in the air. There were also sky jumps from the US Special Forces Team. The Light Combat Aircraft – Tejas, the Advanced Light Helicopter – Dhruv, the medium fighter – Sukhoi 30 MKI, the newly purchased basic trainer – Pilatus from India were all on display. Dassault from France is put on show three Rafale fighters which it has for long been expectant of selling to India. For the general visitor, there were real sizes or slightly smaller versions of many aircrafts with cockpit simulators.
Regulars at the air show felt that the show this time was not of the scale of the last three shows at least when a number of celebrities were thrown in. But this time the focus seemed to shift more to the business side, with the ‘Make in India’ being the central theme. The mid air clash between two Red Bull crafts during the air show, notwithstanding, the air show was spectacular as always. As a thrust measure to ‘Make in India’ Modi reaffirmed that domestic companies would be preferred in awarding defence contracts and that India would aim for seventy percent of defence hardware to be made in India.