02.05.2014 Reflecting aviation developments for 105 years

02.05.2014 Reflecting aviation developments for 105 years

The ILA is synonymous with tradition and innovation. It is the longest-standing and most firmly established air show in the world. Nowadays, it is one of the leading trade fairs on the world calendar of aerospace events. The history of the ILA began with the International Airship Exhibition, which took place from 10 July to 17 October in Frankfurt/Main. Over a period of 100 days 500 exhibitors displayed airships, aeroplanes and balloons, which fascinated the 1.5 million visitors. On 25 July 1909 the Frenchman Louis Blériot became the first person to cross the English Channel by aeroplane. The event was news everywhere and heralded a new age of technical progress, with the conquest of a new frontier. People became fascinated with this third dimension, with travelling by air.


Following its successful debut in 1909, in 1912 and 1928 the ILA was held in Berlin. After 1945, when the Allied Control Council banned Germany from developing and producing aircraft, ten years elapsed before the country was able to regain control of its own airspace. On 1 April 1955, following the company’s relaunch, Lufthansa took to the skies again. The foundations had now been laid for the civil and military aviation industry to be rebuilt. On 5 May 1955 the German armed forces (Bundeswehr) came into being. It was at this time that the era of space travel began. In the mid-fifties, parallel with these industrial developments, the ILA experienced a revival. It was subsequently held for more than 30 years at Langenhagen Airport in Hannover.


In 1992, 64 years after it last took place in Berlin, the ILA Aerospace Exhibition returned to its original venue. Since then it has been held bi-annually in Berlin/Brandenburg. 2012 witnessed the inauguration of Berlin ExpoCenter Airport, the new state-of-the-art venue adjacent to BER, the capital’s future airport. This is where, 25 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the ILA will be taking place from 20 to 25 May 2014.


The ILA is coorganised by the German Aerospace Industries Association (BDLI) and Messe Berlin GmbH. This event comprehensively reflects the interests of all the various branches of the domestic and international aerospace industry at an international trade fair and conference that caters for the public as well. The ILA is also the only aerospace exhibition in Europe that acts as a platform for markets in Western, Central and Eastern Europe.


The history of the ILA spans 105 years. It is summed up in the following chapters detailing the chronological unfolding of events.


Birthplace of aviation in Berlin/Brandenburg


The history of the ILA began in the early years of the last century with the International Airship Exhibition, which first took place in 1909. Airships dominated this initial event, although aircraft could be said to have had their origin as far back as 1891 with the first flight by Otto Lilienthal from a hill known as Windmühlenberg in Brandenburg. Lilienthal’s flights, using gliders, formed the basis for the development of aviation, a process which is still as dynamic and fascinating today as it was then. The pioneering achievements of daring pilots and the advances in aircraft construction created a need for initiatives that would enable the latest achievements in aviation to be presented to a wider public. It was the Frankfurt city authorities who made the breakthrough, by setting up the first International Aviation Exhibition in Germany.



The very first ILA lasted exactly 100 days, from 10 July to 17 October 1909, and was not only the world’s first independent air show but also the first international platform for communicating ideas about aviation technology in this emerging industry. In the summer of 1909, after preparations lasting only one year, experts and the public alike were given a full display of the latest developments in the German airship industry and aviation technology. Airships from constructors such as Zeppelin, Parseval, Clouth and Ruthenberg were on show, along with balloons and many other exhibits. “Flying apparatus and models” were, however, still in the minority. “The extent to which the ILA promotes the idea of aviation can be judged by the numbers of people who were keen to undertake flights in untethered balloons, an activity that had previously been on a par with tightrope-walking”, as the aviation pioneer Georg von Tschudi wrote later in his memoirs. The star of the show was a Wright Brothers’ aeroplane, which had been giving flying displays in Berlin and was brought to Frankfurt for a week. Germany’s hopes rested on the biplane constructed by August Euler. By the time it closed the first ILA had attracted 500 exhibitors and one and a half million visitors. And even at that time it was very much a business trade fair. “The ILA was concerned solely with business”, as Orville Wright noted in a letter.



Following the first ILA, at the instigation of August Euler, the various different flying associations joined together in 1910 to form the federation known as the Deutscher Fliegerbund. The aviation industry association Verein Deutscher Flugzeugindustrieller was set up one year later in Frankfurt am Main. Thus, a direct link was established between the ILA and the organisation that later became the German Aerospace Industries Association (BDLI), which still exists today. Ever since the days when Lilienthal carried out his first experimental flights the Berlin/Brandenburg region has always been closely linked with developments in aviation in Germany and on a wider international scale. It is therefore not surprising that the event following on from the first ILA took place in Berlin, at the “birthplace of human flight”.


The ‘Yellow Dog’, a great commercial success


In 1912 the ALA (General Aviation Show) gave a display of German aircraft engineering capabilities in Berlin. Aircraft dominated for the first time: there were 25 of them, as well as seven airships.  During the opening ceremonies the aviation pioneer Hellmuth Hirth, then just 26, made a circuit over the halls. Less than ten years had passed since the very first powered flight. All the best-known aircraft manufacturers of the time were present in Berlin. One of the highlights was August Euler‘s biplane known as the ‘Gelber Hund’ (Yellow Dog), to which a sign was attached shortly thereafter stating: “Eight sold in one day”. There was a great deal of interest in Rumpler’s ‘Tauben-Limousine’, a model of an aircraft designed to carry three passengers in a fully enclosed cabin. Another of the attractions was a monoplane built by Prince Friedrich Sigismund of Prussia, with a particularly robust landing gear. A lot of attention also focused on the monoplane constructed by Dr. Fritz Huth, with a cigar-shaped fuselage made entirely of metal.



1928: ‘Oktoberfest’ on the Berlin Exhibition Grounds


The first International Aviation Exhibition after the end of the First World War took place in October 1928, and once again the venue was Berlin. At the time there was great public acclaim for the first East to West crossing of the Atlantic Ocean, by a Junkers W 33 Bremen, crewed by Köhl, von Hünefeld and Fitzmaurice. This achievement also alerted the American public to Germany’s capabilities in aviation technology, and helped to swell the crowds who attended that year’s ILA on the Exhibition Grounds on Berlin’s Kaiserdamm. The event was organised by the aircraft industry association Reichsverband der Deutschen Luftfahrtindustrie in association with the Exhibition, Trade Fair and Tourism Office of the City of Berlin.



The aircraft industries of 19 countries staged their displays in three exhibition halls in the shadow of the Radio Tower, the Berlin Funkturm, which had been erected just two years previously. Between 7 and 28 October 1928 the public and experts alike were able to admire some 150 aircraft, many aero engines and almost everything else connected with aviation. All the well-known German aircraft manufacturers presented their latest developments, ranging from a lightweight sports and training aircraft, the BFW M 21, to the four-engined Dornier Superwal. With more than 150 aircraft, Deutsche Luft Hansa was the world’s largest airline and was also represented at the ILA, where it promoted the advantages of air travel. One of the main attractions of ILA 1928 was a rally to Berlin-Tempelhof involving 40 aircraft.



1932: Focus on aviation as sport


At the next event in 1932 the focus was on aviation as a sporting activity. The list of exhibitors at the German Air Sport Exhibition (Dela) read like a who’s who of German aviation companies. Focke-Wulf, Heinkel, Klemm, Messerschmitt – they all came to Berlin. Highlights included a study for a ‘flying car’ (designed by Ludwig and Mertens) with a folding, three-piece windmill-type wing. Also on show was the ‘weekend aircraft of the future’ – a flying boat with a spacious cabin and ‘engines which could be maintained while in flight, and which could be augmented by a liquid-fuelled rocket to improve take-off performance’. 100 aircraft from all over Germany took off from Berlin-Tempelhof Airport for the Grand Dela Aviation Day and Air Race. For many years the Dela was the largest air show in Germany. No ILA events took place while the national socialists were in power, and another 25 years elapsed before aviation products and technology were able to go on display again.


A new beginning in Hannover-Langenhagen


After the Second World War, after Germany had regained control of its own airspace in 1955, the foundations were laid for the launch of the International Touring Aircraft Show, which took place in 1957 at Langenhagen airfield during the Industries Fair. This event heralded the subsequent thirty-year period of the ILA taking place in Hannover. Hary von Rautenkranz, an industrialist with a particular enthusiasm for aviation, played a large part in setting up the show in 1957 and put a great deal of effort into developing this project. Despite the presence of only 17 exhibitors at the industrial fair it proved to be a success, with 24 aircraft on display and some 20,000 visitors attending the four-day event. Business was brisk. According to a report on the show, “the participating aircraft companies and their representatives occupied booths for discussions in a spacious marquee,  and this was a scene of much activity”. The decision was taken to organise an annual air show, beginning the next year, thus preparing the way for the post-war ILA.


By the end of the 1950s the resurgent German aviation industry needed a forum covering other aspects apart from just air travel. With this in mind, in 1958 the BDLI, founded in 1955 as the successor to the Reichsverband der Deutschen Luftfahrtindustrie, created the Special Show for Aircraft, Aviation Equipment and Accessories, parallel with the German Industry Fair. A total of 54 companies came to Hannover-Langenhagen Airport. German exhibitors presented 13 post-war sports and passenger aircraft, two gliders and the Fouga Magister, the first jet trainer produced under licence in Germany for the country’s air force. Foreign exhibitors brought 15 sports and passenger aircraft to Hannover. The German aviation equipment manufacturer Autoflug attracted much attention with demonstrations of its ejector seat.


From 1959 onwards: the German Aviation Show


The 1959 show was officially opened by the Federal Minister for Economics, Ludwig Erhard, the ‘founder of the social market economy’. From now on it was known as the German Aviation Show. Visitors paid two deutschmarks for admission and were able to marvel at 16 German sports and passenger aircraft, including the Dornier Do 27 and the RW 3 from Rhein-Flugzeugbau, as well as 15 foreign aircraft including the Italian Falco F8L and the Helio H 391B Courier from the USA. Nevertheless, a number of large companies were absent from the first German Aviation Show.



However, the German Aviation Show achieved its breakthrough in 1960. As the news agency Deutsche Presse-Agentur reported: “The success of the German Aviation Show in Hannover exceeded all expectations”. Manufacturers of passenger and sports aircraft, military aviation companies, helicopter makers, aircraft engine manufacturers, equipment suppliers, a total of 170 firms from eight countries, and more than 100,000 visitors, came to Hannover. Federal Defence Minister Franz-Josef Strauss opened the event. More than 50 passenger and sports aircraft were sold during the fair. The programme of demonstration flights and aerobatic displays included 2,000 take-offs and landings. The powerful single-seater Lockheed F-104 Starfighter demonstrated its rate of climb, while almost daily a Lufthansa Boeing 707 circled the runway. When the show was over the BDLI decided to hold this event every two years, alternating with the Aérosalon Le Bourget in Paris.


The German Aviation Show achieved even greater success in 1962, when the organisers attracted 237 exhibitors from nine countries, and an attendance of some 175,000. While sports and passenger aircraft dominated on the open-air grounds the emphasis in the halls was on military aviation. With the growing importance of space flight a large area was also devoted to this subject, with models of the third stage of the Black Prince satellite launcher, a development project that was subsequently incorporated in the Ariane rocket.


The German Aviation Show continued to expand in 1964. 280 exhibitors from 15 countries presented their products, along with more than 100 aircraft. The construction of a third hall meant that the covered display area was increased by a third. The German VTOL aircraft, the VJ 101 (VJ stands for the German word for “experimental fighter”) made its debut. This experimental jet aircraft produced by Entwicklungsring Süd attracted considerable international attention. There were plenty of opportunities to admire the HFB 320 Hansajet from Hamburger Flugzeugbau GmbH too, the first jet passenger aircraft to go into series production in Germany. For visitors with a particular interest in space flight there was a 1:2 scale model of the Europa 1, which subsequently became known as the European launcher Ariane.



In 1966 the joint stands of the French aviation industry association and the British Ministry of Aviation indicated that the aviation sector in Europe would in future be collaborating on a much wider scale. As stated in a newspaper report, 94 of the “most modern and most interesting aircraft in the world”, could be found in Hannover in 1966: They included the Dornier Skyservant, a multi-role utility aircraft for transport and special duties, and the new C-160 Transall military transport. A special attraction announced by the organisers was provided by the daily formation flights by representatives of the French, Italian and British air forces.


The undisputed star of the 1968 show was Dornier’s experimental aircraft, the Do 31 E. The world’s only transport aircraft with vertical take-off and landing capability, thanks to its vectored thrust engines, was demonstrated in flight to fascinated spectators. The demonstration of another VTOL aircraft, the VFW-Fokker VAK 191 B, designed for reconnaissance and combat duties, was no less spectacular.


In 1970, for the first time since the Second World War, the Soviet Union brought two of its aircraft to Hannover. The Russians presented the Kamov KA-26, a light, multi-role helicopter with two contra-rotating three-bladed rotors, and the Yakovlev Yak-40, a three-engined, short- haul passenger jet. Just under 460 exhibitors from 14 countries came to Hannover on this occasion. One of the most popular demonstrations in that year was of the British jump jet, the Hawker Siddeley Harrier Mark 1. And in 1970, unmanned aircraft for special civil and military operations were also on show for the first time.



The star of the show in 1972 was the supersonic passenger aircraft made by the Russian Tupolev company. Its Tu-144 remained in Hannover for the entire duration of the air show, whereas the Anglo-French Concorde only flew in for one day. During the flying display the MBB Bo 105, the first series production multi-role helicopter to be built in Germany, attracted a lot of attention. A test pilot flew three successive loops, previously only possible with propeller-driven aircraft or small jets. The air show set a new record in Hannover with 200,000 visitors.



The German Aviation Show celebrated a number of debuts in 1974, including the European wide-body Airbus A300, in which Germany played a significant part. The Alpha-Jet trainer, a joint Franco-German project involving Dornier and Dassault-Breguet, also made its first appearance. Another eye-catching newcomer also demonstrated the strengths of the German aviation industry: the VFW-Fokker VFW 614 short-haul passenger jet, whose test pilot Leif Nielsen, demonstrated the capabilities of this compact jet. Spectators held their breath as, following a sudden, steep take-off, at an altitude of 400 metres, the aircraft was joined by the Airbus A300 and a Fokker F 28. Germany’s skills in space research were demonstrated using two full-size mock-ups of the Spacelab, which had been made for use in the US Space Shuttle.

In 1976 visitors’ interest was focused above all on the new Panavia Tornado multi-role combat aircraft, two examples of which were on display. Its brilliant flying displays delighted spectators. Dornier provided something for fans of veteran aircraft with the twin piston-engined Do 335A-02 fighter. This carefully restored aircraft with its distinctive rear-mounted pusher propeller had been sent over from the USA. In addition to a Junkers F.13 and a Messerschmitt Bf 108 Taifun spectators were also able to enjoy the sight of a legendary red Fokker DR 1 triplane.

In 1978 the ILA reverts to its original name


Fifty years on from the event of 1928 the air show reverted to its original name, when it became the ILA again in 1978. The International Aerospace Exhibition was no longer held to coincide with the Hannover Fair, thus giving it a greater measure of independence. The German President Walter Scheel came to see the latest developments in Hannover. They included the LTA (Light Transport Aircraft) project for a new feeder/multi-purpose jet-prop aircraft, and the New Technology Wing (TNT) from Dornier. Just under 60 sports aviators assembled at Braunschweig Airport on the final stage of their ILA rally. The ILA Flying Day on 4 May attracted almost 51,000 people, and the organisers recorded a total attendance of 230,000 as well as 352 exhibitors from 13 countries, making the old and new ILA an unqualified success.

With 364 exhibitors, visits by large delegations from the USSR and the People’s Republic of China, and an extensive programme of conferences, by 1980 the ILA had acquired even greater importance. Spectators were fascinated to see the giant Lockheed C-5 Galaxy transport aircraft and the AWACS system used by NATO. In civil aviation Dornier attracted a great deal of attention with its E-1 (later the Do 228-100) and E-2 (subsequently the Do 228-200) turboprop projects. The BK 117 multi-role helicopter, the result of a joint venture between MBB and Kawasaki of Japan, also interested many visitors.

In 1982 Federal Chancellor Helmut Schmidt became the first head of a German government to open the ILA. Among the aircraft he saw were the shortened Airbus wide-body aircraft, the A310, which made its world debut. There were also debuts for the Diamond I business jet from Mitsubishi Aircraft International and for the Piper Commuter T-1040. There was an impressive display by the formation flying team Patrouille de France, which painted a tricolour over the skies of Hannover with its eight Alpha jet fighters.  

In 1984, once again, it was the displays which formed the main attraction for spectators at the ILA, with aerobatics, formation parachute jumps and the skills of the five aerobatic teams. One of the main technical attractions exploited some ideas from the past: Gyroflug Ingenieur-Gesellschaft presented its two-seater Speed-Canard, which at first glance appeared to contradict conceptions of what an aircraft should look like. However, back in 1903 the Wright brothers also employed the canard principle, with additional wings mounted right at the front of the fuselage, to provide additional lift.

The ILA featured a Sino-German project in 1986. MBB signed a contract in Hannover with the People’s Republic of China for the joint construction of a short-haul aircraft. The 75-seater MPC-75 was to be powered by propfans and equipped with computerised controls and wings made of synthetic materials, but in the end it was never built. There was a lot of excitement surrounding the first four-nation presentation of the Eurofighter, and a full-size model of the new combat aircraft went on show. The actual star of ILA 1986 was already 50 years old: its typical droning sound announced the arrival of the legendary Junkers Ju-52 with the registration D-AQUI over Hannover. Known affectionately in Germany as ‘Tante (Auntie) Ju’, it began its new life following more than a year’s restoration work.

ILA 1988 also saw the ‘small’ Airbus A320 for short and medium-haul routes make its highly celebrated German debut. It was equipped with revolutionary electronics and featured fly-by-wire controls. There were numerous new developments in the fields of sports and passenger aviation. The Beechcraft Starship on display was the prototype of that company’s new generation of aircraft. Ruschmeyer presented its recently completed four-seater MF-85, made of synthetics, to the public. The stand of the ESA space agency attracted many visitors, and was dominated by a full-size model of the European Hermes space glider.

In 1990, the year following German re-unification, Russian companies demonstrated many innovations in Hannover. Tupolev exhibited its Tu-155 testbed with engines capable of operating either on hydrogen or methane. Antonov showed off its impressive An-124 Ruslan transporter, while Ilyushin exhibited its propfan-powered Il-76. Domestic companies attracted attention, among them Grob with its G 520 Egrett reconnaissance aircraft. This was the last ILA to take place in Hannover. The BDLI had decided to relocate the show to Berlin, the erstwhile and new capital, and to completely revise the ILA concept in order to create an international trade fair and conferences for the entire aerospace industry.

Back to its origins in Berlin/Brandenburg

The far-reaching political and economic changes that took place in Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall made it possible for the ILA to return to its historical location. ILA 1992 (15 - 21 June) at Berlin-Schönefeld Airport underlined its claim to being a major aerospace exhibition on the world stage. The event’s appeal was also enhanced by a return to its former location at the heart of an increasingly integrated Europe. As the most easterly aerospace show in the West, and the most westerly in the East, the ILA fulfilled an important role as a hub for East-West contacts in the aerospace sector. 517 exhibitors from 23 countries presented their latest products and services to 134,281 visitors. Airbus took the opportunity to present the European aircraft industry’s showpiece, still undergoing test flights at the time, at the ILA. With test pilots Udo Günzel and Bill Wainwright at the controls, the Airbus A340 came to Berlin for a three-day visit. For the first time at any air show Dornier presented its ultra-modern 30-seater Do 328, which could cruise at a speed of 640 kph. Among the aircraft making their debut at the ILA were the Grob GF 200 business aircraft with rear-mounted propeller, and the Jetstream 41 turboprop from British Aerospace. The programme of flying displays, which was subject to the strictest conditions following the accident at Ramstein in 1988, included impressive contributions by some of the aircraft used by the CIS air forces, such as the Sukhoi Su-24 and MiG-29, as well as the German air force’s Tornado combat aircraft.

The fact that the International Aerospace Exhibition is so strongly oriented towards business and the market led to the development of the ‘ILA means business’ concept at ILA ‘94 (28 May - 5 June). In addition to the specialist exhibition by the German and international industries, with 422 exhibitors from 27 countries, there was also an extensive programme of conferences and the introduction of the new and unique East/West Aerospace Center at ILA‘94. An East-West shuttle was set up especially for visitors from Moscow, enabling them to travel to and from Berlin in one day. The ILA also provided its 141,000 visitors with a highly attractive programme of information and displays. For example the Myasishchev design office from Russia displayed its high altitude M-55 Geofisika aircraft in the West for the first time. Lufthansa brought the latest addition to its fleet, the Airbus A321, to Schönefeld. A total of 252 different aircraft could be seen at the ILA Aviation Experience. The Space Action Hall used optical illusions to enable visitors to experience a landing approach by a spaceship on Mars and Venus. On a sad note, the Russian pilot Alexander Viatkin was killed during a safety acceptance flight for the programme of flying displays on the day prior to the opening of the ILA. His death led to the setting up of the Mayday Foundation, which has been providing support for distressed aviators and their dependents ever since.

With a record number of exhibitors, 578 from 30 countries, ILA ‘96 (13 -19 May) featured the entire range of products and services from the world of aerospace technology. The extensive conference programme comprised 59 conventions by national and international organisers. Once again the East/West Aerospace Center proved its value as a catalyst for East/West business. With 240 aircraft on the ground and in the air the ILA presented the largest range on offer at any comparable fair. They included the Airbus A300-600 ST Beluga, an enormous transport aircraft with a capacity of more than 45 tonnes. It dominated the open-air grounds, which were thronged with people, especially during the weekend. The Eurofighter EF 2000 made its first demonstration flight at any air show. Other aircraft making their air show debuts included the Airbus A319 and NATO’s new NH 90 multi-role helicopter. In 1996 attendance totalled 216,500, including 75,000 trade visitors, on the exhibition site at Berlin-Schönefeld airport.

With 825 exhibitors from 32 countries, an attendance in excess of 226,000 (82,000 of them trade visitors) and 278 aircraft, ILA ‘98 (18-24 May) was the largest and best-attended event ever. This was not surprising, considering it was even advertised in space. During the Space Shuttle mission STS-89 in January 1998, after the shuttle had docked with the MIR space station, NASA astronaut Bonnie Dunbar greeted her Russian colleague with an ILA flag. Meanwhile, on the ground it confirmed its value as a central market place for all areas of aerospace business, including the announcement and signing of contracts worth tens of billions. The star of the flying displays was the giant military transport, the Boeing C-17. The ILA convention programme included more than 50 conferences. A special exhibition entitled “50th Anniversary of the Berlin Airlift” was held in a 1,500 square metre marquee to commemorate what is still the greatest air transport operation of all time. For space enthusiasts the highlight was a full scale, accessible model of the European space laboratory COF (Columbus Orbital Facility).

With some spectacular contracts, more foreign and domestic trade visitors than ever, and high public attendances, ILA 2000 (6-12 June) featured some significant decisions by the European aerospace industry and fulfilled the high expectations of the industry, as well as providing an outstanding programme of flying displays that delighted the public by presenting many fascinating aspects of aviation. Three and a half days were reserved exclusively for trade visitors, and attendance on the southern section of Berlin-Schönefeld Airport totalled 212,000. By the time the halfway stage had been reached exhibitors had signed contracts and options totalling over 50 billion DM. With these impressive achievements ILA 2000 again confirmed its role as a major European market place for the entire aerospace industry. With a record number of exhibitors, 941 from 38 countries, the seven-day ILA presented not only 316 aircraft but also numerous products, systems and services covering every aspect of aviation and space technology. During the flying displays spectators were fascinated by the aerobatic team of the Patrouille de France, and by the American stealth bomber, the Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk, which made its first appearance at the show. Innovint Einrichtungs GmbH demonstrated that innovations in the aerospace sector do not always have to be large and spectacular. The world first that this Hamburg-based company introduced at the ILA weighed just 6.5 kilograms, and was the first child’s seat designed for use in passenger aircraft.

With contracts and joint venture agreements worth billions of euros, 1,067 exhibitors from 41 countries, 102,680 trade visitors from home and abroad and a total attendance of 215,150, the International Aerospace Exhibition ILA2002 (6 - 12 May) again confirmed its standing as a major European business centre for the entire aerospace sector. This successful event was rounded off by a new record total of 340 aircraft on display and an outstanding programme of flying displays. With its A340-600 and the new A318, Airbus exhibited its largest and its smallest models, while the Russian Beriev Be-200 amphibian was on show for the first time in Berlin. And how many air shows offer the chance to see an airship in flight? During the ILA flying display the 75- metre long Zeppelin Neuer Technologie (Zeppelin NT), the world’s largest and most up-to-date airship, flew over the amazed spectators. The constantly improving standards of professionalism and quality of the ILA were underlined by some 60 accompanying conferences, including leading political events such as the XIXth International Workshop on Global Security and the War on Terrorism, the Airbus Ministers’ Conference and the 1st International Parliamentarians’ Conference. This trade fair also drew attention to its importance as a platform for a strategically vital industry with visits by prominent politicians, headed by the German Chancellor, Gerhard Schröder. Some 3,400 journalists from 70 countries reported on the events taking place at the International Aerospace Exhibition.

The eastward expansion of NATO and of the European Union were dominant features of ILA 2004 (10 -16 May), which took place amidst a buoyant mood regarding future industry developments. During the four days reserved for trade visitors and the three open days attendance reached 201,500. This figure included 105,200 trade visitors. ILA 2004 was attended by more high-ranking delegations than ever before, as well as 120 deputies from 22 European countries. Visitors included the German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder. Leading representatives from the new member countries of the EU and NATO took the opportunity that ILA 2004 offered to exchange views and information. The defence ministers from Bulgaria, Georgia, Lithuania, the Ukraine and Turkey were among those who attended the International Workshop on Global Security. The four ministers with responsibility for the Airbus programme from France, the United Kingdom, Spain and Germany met at the Airbus Ministers’ Conference. The heads of the air forces of 19 European countries, ambassadors accredited to Germany and NATO ambassadors in Brussels, military attachés accredited to Germany and numerous delegations of economic policy-makers from many countries of Europe, North America and the Far East also attended ILA 2004 in search of information.

There were more than 65 conferences at which some 6,000 experts from the various commercial sectors of the aerospace industry discussed current issues. For seven days 987 exhibitors from 42 countries occupied the southern section of Berlin-Schönefeld Airport to present the entire range of products and services featuring current and future developments in aerospace technology. A total of 331 aircraft, several of them making their debut, could be seen on the ground and in the air, including a new Russian medium-haul jet, the 100-seater Tupolev Tu-334. By now in series production, the Eurofighter EF 2000 came to the ILA in 2004.

By the time it ended ILA 2006 had set an impressive attendance record. Between 16 and 21 May more than 251,000 visitors were registered, including 115,000 trade visitors. 1,014 exhibitors from 42 countries presented products, systems and processes from every area of the aerospace industry during the trade show, which now ran for six days. Much interest was focused on the Airbus A380, the world’s largest-ever commercial aircraft, which could be seen each day on the ground and in the air. The US air force impressed the crowds with the Boeing B1-B Lancer, a massive long-distance bomber, while Embraer from Brazil showed its Legacy 600 business jet for the first time in Germany. Numerous ministers from Germany and abroad visited the fair with high-ranking delegations, thus underlining the international importance of the event. The show also welcomed 70 parliamentarians from 17 countries. 2006 witnessed the introduction of the partner country concept at the ILA. That year Russia, which also had the largest international display, was the first partner country of the event. Among its exhibits were the highly manoeuvrable MiG 29M-OVT fighter. 4,100 media representatives from 70 countries provided comprehensive coverage of the main technical themes and the attractions for the public at ILA 2006.

Between 27 May and 1 June ILA 2008 confirmed its reputation as a showcase for hi-tech industries as well as a major attraction for the public. The attendance of 241,000 nearly equalled the record set at ILA 2006 (250,000). Around 120,000 trade visitors came to find out about the products and services on the 250,000 square-metre site, Germany’s largest temporary exhibition grounds, and to learn about the latest trends at more than 100 accompanying conferences. Contracts and business with a value of more than five billion euros were finalised during the event, including the largest-known order ever for civil aircraft at the ILA, which was placed with Airbus by Gulf Air (Bahrain) for 35 aircraft worth 3.2 billion euros.

For six days the record total of 1,127 exhibitors from 37 countries presented products, systems and processes from every area of the aerospace industry. Some 331 aircraft of all sizes and categories were on display on the ground and in the air, including many which made their first public appearance. India, the partner country, took full advantage of its largest-ever appearance at any aerospace trade show outside its own borders to present its wide-ranging capabilities, including a display of the aerobatic qualities of its Sarang helicopter, and to explore new business opportunities. ILA 2008 was opened by Dr. Angela Merkel, Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany. One of the event’s main themes was that of innovations aimed at significantly reducing aircraft emissions. The international Greener Skies Ahead Conference was attended by leading representatives of aircraft makers, aero engine manufacturers and various leading research establishments. The technology required and discussed here had been already developed for use, a fact amply demonstrated by the products and projects from the 24 exhibitors at the ILA Path of Innovation. In particular Airbus/DLR and Diamond Aircraft/Boeing showed that fuel cells, capable of zero emissions, could now be used in aircraft.  At the ILA Space Pavilion a study conducted by German industry dealing with a European manned space project, was demonstrated for the first time in public. There was also a Career Center serving as a contact point and source of information for anyone considering a career in the aerospace industries. Around 4,300 media representatives from 70 countries provided comprehensive coverage of the main technical themes and the attractions for the public at ILA 2008.

ILA 2010 impressively confirmed the air show’s standing as a business platform. Exhibitor numbers were the highest in the ILA’s 100-year history, with 1,153 exhibitors from 47 countries providing an outstanding display of products and services from all parts of the aerospace industry. Some 235,000 visitors were registered during the fair. The number of trade visitors rose slightly above the previous event’s figures, reaching 125,000. During the fair contracts and business deals were signed worth a total of at least 165 billion dollars (around 14 billion euros). The largest was a deal concluded by the Emirates airline which ordered 32 Airbus A380’s listed at an overall price of 11.5 billion dollars. This agreement represented the single largest business deal to date in the history of civil aviation. 300 aircraft went on display on the ground and in the air. Among the aircraft appearing for the first time on the global stage, in Europe and at the ILA were the new A400M military transporter, the German CH-53GA transport helicopter equipped with ultra-modern avionics, as well as the DLR-H2 Antares which, powered by a hydrogen fuel cell, is the world’s first zero carbon emissions manned aircraft.
ILA 2012, the debut event on the new exhibition grounds at Berlin ExpoCenter Airport, was an unqualified success. Exhibitor numbers were the highest in the history of the ILA, which now spans more than 100 years, with 1,243 exhibitors from 46 countries providing an outstanding display of high-tech products from all parts of the aerospace industry. As at the last ILA, around 230,000 trade visitors and members of the public came to find out about the products and services being exhibited. Over the course of the show they were able to enjoy a programme that featured a total of 36 hours of flying displays. At 125,000, trade visitor numbers remained high. 3,600 members of the media from 65 countries provided written and broadcast coverage of events at the Berlin Air Show, ensuring it received worldwide attention.

New concepts at the ILA spelled the inclusion of new sections and topics such as unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and eco-efficient flight, which met with keen interest. The UAS section exhibited a wide range of products, ranging from small unmanned systems to large unmanned aircraft for use in civil and military environments. The industrial innovations and research projects on display included aircraft seats, cabin concepts of the future, increasingly efficient low-emission engines, new materials and alternative aviation fuels, all of which underlined the industry’s ability to develop environmentally friendly aircraft technology that protects our climate.

During the fair 282 aircraft were exhibited on the ground and in the air. They included the world’s two largest airliners, an Airbus A-380 and a Boeing 747-8, as well as a Beluga from Airbus, the world’s most capacious transport aircraft. An A400M, the world’s most advanced military transporter, was on show in the air. World trade fair debuts included presentations of a Eurocopter Hybrid Demonstrator X3 and a solar-powered Elektra One Solar. The national aerobatics teams of Turkey and Poland, the partner country of the fair, put on flying displays for the first time at the ILA. The programme of flying shows spanned every era and included a 1936 De Havilland as well as a Eurofighter, MiG-29 and F-18. The German Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel and the Deputy Minister President and Minister of Economics of the Republic of Poland, Waldemar Pawlak, opened ILA 2012.


ILA 2014 will take place at Berlin ExpoCenter Airport from 20 to 25 May 2014. Turkey is the partner country of the event. 25 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall the ILA will be opening its doors for the twelfth time on exhibition grounds in Berlin/Brandenburg since moving to the capital in 1992.

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