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The 2016 MEBAA Show sets a new benchmark

Drones, Demand and Development Discussed in Dubai

The Middle East and North Africa Business Aviation Association (MEBAA) Show, the biennial business aviation show organised by the Middle East and North Africa Business Aviation (MEBAA), attracted more than 9,000 regional and global business aviation professionals. 

The event featured some 460 exhibitors in its purpose-built hall and static display area.

2016 event had first time attendees from Asia and nearly a third of exhibitors (27 percent) hailing from the USA.

The show was inaugurated by His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, CEO and Chairman of the Emirates Group and Chairman of Dubai World - widely regarded as ‘the man who put Dubai on the global aviation map.’

Touring the hall, His Highness Sheikh Ahmed took the time to talk with exhibitors, including Rockwell Collins, CAE, HAECO Private Jets, Executive Gourmet, the US Pavilion, UAS, Harrods Aviation, SD Pro, Sea Prime, X Jet, DC Aviation, Execujet, and the GDC Group. 

On the static display, His Highness Sheikh Ahmed, accompanied by Ali Ahmed Alnaqbi, founding chairman of MEBAA, entered a number of aircraft, including Qatar Executive’s Gulfstream G650ER, one of the world’s fastest business jets, which can seat up to 13 passengers and fly non-stop from the Middle East to North America.

On the first day, Boeing Business Jets took advantage of the perfect audience to announce the sale of its first BBJ MAX 7 to an undisclosed customer based in the Asia Pacific region. 

David Longridge, president at Boeing Business Jets, said that the aircraft would be available in 2022, adding that the company waited 20 years to launch the product in order to ensure that the jet had the increased range, but also that it could operate with a ‘real world’ interior.”

“The 7,000 mile range will connect key city pairings – like Dubai to New York - that were previously not possible in a BBJ, and increased cabin and cargo space makes this an unbeatable business jet,” he said. 

A number of other firsts on day one included the first-time exhibitor GI Aviation’s announcement of receiving its Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC) from the UAE General Civil Aviation Authority, enabling the start of commercial flights with its fleet of Swiss-made Pilatus PC-12NG aircraft.

Also, Honda Aircraft debuted its new HA-420 light jet in the region, featuring a unique over-the-wing engine mount configuration.

Middle East Airlines (MEA) confirmed its purchase of a second Embraer Legacy 500 business jet for its private-jet affiliate, Cedar Executive, which started operations with a brand-new Legacy 500, delivered in January 2016, from its base at Rafic Hariri International Airport. The second aircraft is expected to enter into service in mid-2017.

Furthermore, China’s Deer Jet announced the finalisation of its acquisition of major shares in UAS International Trip Support. UAS is now flight support partner for Deer Jet’s 90 strong aircraft fleet, including the world’s only BBJ 787 in VVIP configuration, the so-called ‘Dream Jet’. The deal is designed to increase both companies’ influence in the international aviation sector, according to Omar Hosari, co-owner, founder and CEO of UAS. 


New Exhibitors

The second day of the show was opened by Ali Ahmed Alnaqbi, founding chairman of MEBAA, who said: “It’s gratifying that the MEBAA Show continues to attract new exhibitors – both those who are new to market, and those who realise the value of the business aviation market to the region.”

One of them is Honeywell Aerospace that has been appearing at the MEBAA Show since it began, and this year its focus was on connectivity and services. 


As part of that, Honeywell announced a Wi-fi deal with Royal Jet, which chose Honeywell’s JetWave Ka-band satellite connectivity hardware and GoDirect cabin connectivity services on its new 34 seat, custom-made Boeing 737-700 Business Jet.

South East Asia’s IndoChina Aviation Centre is a first-time exhibitor at the event, with Director Christian Mosebach spending time meeting existing customers, because the company is keen to expand in the region. 

US-headquartered GoGo took an expanded space at the show to announce that it was now a truly global provider of global airtime services. Part of its offering on display at the heart of the event was an advanced In-flight Entertainment System (IFE), which now has multi-language capabilities, including Arabic, and offers automatic updates via the cloud, in the hangar. 

“We have seen WiFi move from ‘nice to have’ into ‘must have’ and today, people are switching operators based on WiFi services,” explained Lisa Peterson, vice president of marketing at Gogo. “Modern business travellers have three expectations: work, life and play. Work involves the need to check and send email, life means the ability to check in and check social networks, while play means the ability to enjoy services on-board like our IFE offering.”

GoGo’s fellow American exhibitors took nearly a third of the main show floor, with the US Pavilion showcasing mostly small-to-medium enterprises from 16 US states.


New technologies

Kurt Edwards, director general of the International Business Aviation Council (IBAC), who headed up a meeting of global business aviation associations during the show, described the so-called CORSIA (Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation) scheme as one of the biggest issues facing the world business aviation sector.

Some business aviation operators may have to pay heed to new market-based measures to offset carbon emissions, the CORSIA scheme, which is a result of industry talks stemming from the 39th International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Assembly.

In October 2016, 191 states at the 39th ICAO Assembly agreed to launch a global carbon offsetting scheme for international aviation. Of those, 66 states, representing more than 86.5 percent of international aviation activity, agreed their intention to voluntarily participate in the scheme from its outset. The scheme applies only to international flights between participating countries

Edwards added that the measures would take effect as a pilot, then first phase, for six years from 2020, and affect operators that produce more than 10,000 metric tonnes of emissions from international flights per year. From 2027, all nations with more than 0.5 percent of global international RTK, will be expected to join the scheme. 

“IBAC participates in the ICAO technical group working out the details of how CORSIA will be applied,” he said. “Given that it will only apply to those emitting more than 10,000 metric tonnes of CO2, and that aircraft under 5,700kgs are exempt, we understand it may affect around 100 business aviation operators globally.

“We are working to ensure administrative simplicity – it will probably mean that operators will simply have to keep detailed records of fuel used and emissions created.”

The UAE and Qatar have already voluntarily agreed to take part in the CORSIA scheme, said Ali Ahmed Alnaqbi, founding chairman of MEBAA, adding: “As the body representing the interests of regional business aviation, we are working with Edwards and IBAC to ensure any measures such as CORSIA are adopted amongst our members with minimal disruption to business continuity. 

“We are, of course, fully behind any measures which bring environmental benefits, and it is also worth noting that business aircraft tend to lead the market in testing cutting-edge technologies that often have environmental benefits, such as lighter materials, more advanced avionics, and winglets. Take a tour around The MEBAA Show today to see evidence of this.”

Overall, general aviation activity around the world supports 3.5 percent of global GDP, and air transport facilitated the movement of more than 3.5 billion passengers in 2015, as well as 35 percent of world trade by value. It contributes two percent of human-made carbon emissions.

While many smaller scale business aviation operators may be exempt from the CORSIA scheme, it is the first step in the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s moves to a global aspirational goal of carbon neutral growth from 2020, eventually expected to affect all flights. 


Futures Day 

With the regional business aviation industry set to need 1.2 million pilots, technicians and engineers in the next two decades, the MEBAA Show also played host to hundreds of students interested in pursuing a career in the Middle East and North Africa’s growing business aviation sector.

Ali Ahmed Alnaqbi, founding chairman of MEBAA, said that although the regional business aviation sector was still seeing healthy growth, attracting talent was its biggest issue. 

“Human talent is required across all aspects of the industry,” he said. 

“As well as representing the current concerns of the Middle East and North Africa business aviation community, we must also help ensure the continuing, and future success of the regional industry, which is forecast to be worth US1.3 billion by 2020.

Launched at the MEBAA Show in 2014, Futures Day provides a valuable opportunity for students interested in business aviation careers to meet some of the sector’s major players, and hear from industry-leading figures and companies.

Opening the Futures Day event, Josh Stewart, founder of XJet, a global private jet owners club, said: “I am envious, you are entering a golden era for engineers and pilots. We will see tremendous growth here, and with hard work, you will all have fantastic career opportunities.”

Stewart is behind plans to open a new XJet FBO at DWC, which he said would need 50-60 people across all disciplines to run.

“We are looking for passionate people, people with drive – if you are interested in aviation, the world is your oyster right now. I would encourage you all to consider a career in business aviation. It’s an exciting, interesting and extremely viable career,” he said. 

He stressed that the industry needs not only pilots, engineers and cabin crew, but also offers huge opportunities in all the ancillary services, such as management, flight support, marketing and HR.

Another key speaker addressing the Future Day business aviation audience was Dana Salloum, communications director of Boeing Middle East and Africa, who told the delegates that Boeing was always looking out for talented people, but noted the lack of STEM education and the dire need to ensure a future flow of engineers and pilots.

Boeing also took advantage of the Futures Day audience to announce a six-month paid internship for interested UAE residents to work with Boeing in Seattle.

Salloum concluded: “This is a very real opportunity. You will be working, learning and earning the same as our US interns”.

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