From advanced military hardware to corporate jets to the 600 or so trade exhibitors, the Australian International Airshow promises to have something for everyone.
This year will be the 12th airshow at Avalon Airport just outside Geelong in Victoria and airshow chief executive Ian Honnery says the program has been designed with everyone in mind, from the aviation enthusiast looking forward to the flying displays to the owner of an Australian SME keen to become a part of the global aviation/aerospace supply chain.
All this takes place in and around what essentially is a temporary tent city, albeit one with massive exhibitor halls, a dedicated conference precinct that is new for this year’s show, and corporate chalets by the runway. Not to mention a working domestic airport that will continue to handle a number of RPT flights every day of the event.
Meanwhile, there is also a grass airfield and aircraft park for visiting light aircraft and a heliport.
“I have no doubt having had a good look around the site and having led the team in the planning and preparation for the event that this is going to be the most comprehensive and sophisticated quality show that we have ever put on,” Honnery told Australian Aviation on Friday.
The event, which runs from Tuesday February 24 to Sunday March 1, is divided into two parts. The trade and industry component is held over the first three and a half days of the event, with the doors opened to the general public from 2pm Friday onwards.
On the public side of things, Avalon 2015 has planned a salute war veterans in the year the nation celebrates the centenary of ANZAC under this year’s theme “Heroes of the Sky”.
Among the vintage equipment that will converge on Avalon were 10 World War One full-sized replicas from New Zealand that included French Nieuport 11, a Sopwith Camel, a SE-5a, an RE-8 bomber and a Bristol F-2.
The Australian Vintage Aviation Society (TAVAS) will also be sending a number of aircraft from its collection to the Airshow, such as a DR1 triplane, an E-III Eindekker and a D-8 “flying razor”.
They will participate in simulated air attack manoeuvres.
Moving to the present day, Defence has confirmed a one-hour ‘showcase’ flying display that will include participation from the RAAF, Army and Navy.
Australian International Airshow 2015 director general Air Commodore David Pietsch said the showcase would be “an attack and extraction sequence” with Army parachutists jumping out of C-130J Hercules, the landing of a C-17 Globemaster heavy lift aircraft and other flying displays including air-to-air refuelling.
In addition to the involvement of the Australian Defence Force, the Republic of Singapore Air Force is sending three F-16Cs from its Black Knights aerobatic display team – the first foreign military formation display team to perform at Avalon in the show’s 23-year history – while a pair of giant B-52 Stratofortress bombers from the US Air Force will make their presence felt.
Defence Minister Kevin Andrews and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Warren Truss were also scheduled to attend.
There will also be 27 symposia, seminars or fora as part of Avalon’s conference program. Topics to be covered range from air traffic control to the development of unmanned aircraft.
Prior to the weekend, there is also some serious business that gets done at Avalon, with about 600 companies confirmed as airshow exhibitors and about 25 chiefs or deputy chiefs of Air Force, in addition to 36 international military delegations, attending.
“For industry, it is an opportunity for engagement, it is an opportunity for networking and to promote their brand because it is an event which attracts everybody,” Honnery said.
“As far as the Australian aerospace and defence industry is concerned what they are interested in getting into global supply chains.”
Honnery said Avalon was unique from other airshows around the world, given it aimed to include a major trade exhibition, an extensive conference program and an entertainment spectacle to entertain the general public that when combined together would prove attractive for aviation enthusiasts of any discipline.
“We’ve gone to an enormous amount of effort to reach all aspects of aviation in our shows,” Honnery said.
“For example, we have a lot more aircraft than the Paris or Farnborough or Singapore airshows have.
“And unlike Paris, Farnborough or Singapore we cater for all branches of aviation from airsport to general aviation, recreational aviation, regional aviation, corporate aviation right through to airlines and the military.”
Original equipment manufacturers (OEM) will also have a significant presence, with a large number of business and corporate jets on static display from the likes of Cessna, Dassault, Embraer and Gulfstream.
There were about 160 aircraft expected to be on static display, ranging from the F-22 Raptor to the Embraer Legacy 500 business jet to the Airbus A400M airlifter.