Aero-India: 5.5 lakh visitors; Rafale to fly

Last Updated 31 January 2019, 06:55 IST

The controversial Rafale jets will catch everyone's attention as they take off yet again at the 12th Aero India 2019, the biggest aerospace exposition this side of the world. The five-day show will come alive on February 20 at the Yelahanka Air Base here, beckoning an estimated 5.5 lakh visitors.

Despite initial fears of a poor turnout, 365 Indian and global aerospace companies have registered for the show so far. At least 53 aircraft will be on display, 31 of them taking to the skies for daily aerial displays. But this number will go up significantly, says a top Indian Air Force (IAF) official.

Three Rafale jets will be on display, two of them showing off their prowess in the air. The hugely popular flight displays are lined up daily from 10 am to 12 noon, and from 2 pm to 5 pm, February 20 to 24.

Eight Tejas, the indigenously designed Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), Sukhoi-30Mki, the Advanced Jet Trainer Hawk, Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH), Light Utility Helicopter (LUH), Light Combat Helicopter (LCH), trainer HTT 40, Dorniers, the Mi-17 choppers and a vintage Dakota will also be part of the flight displays.

An estimated 5.4 lakh visitors, both local and foreign, had turned up for the 11th edition of the airshow in 2017. “We expect a similar footfall, if not more this time,” the Yelahanka Air Force Station's Air Officer Commanding, Air Commodre Ravuri Sheetal told media persons here on Wednesday.

The civil aviation side of the airshow will be highlighted by the Airbus A330-900, both in static and flying displays. Falcons will be part of the business jet section, a regular at the airshow.

Speculations that the airshow might be shifted out of Bengaluru this time to Uttar Pradesh had sparked fears that the preparations could be affected. However, Air Commodore Sheetal maintained it was 'a matter of procedure' for the IAF.

Regardless of the airshow schedule, the Air Force Base always planned for the event. “The delay in fixing the venue has not affected us at all,” he said. State-owned aviation major, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is the event manager for this edition of the show.

Three weeks ahead of the show, the airshow venue resembled a work in progress. Exhibitors had begun to unload their displayware, the hangars were emptied for the design fabricators to take over, and the skeletal structure for two additional hangars were coming up.

(Published 30 January 2019, 14:48 IST)

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