‘Bengaluru best suited for air show’

‘Bengaluru best suited for air show’

DH file photo

Aviation and defence experts are not in favour of shifting Aero Show out of Bengaluru, even as there are talks of advancing the event.

“It is not a political event, so there should not be a political decision,” Air Marshall (Retd) B K Pandey told DH.

According to him, Bengaluru is best suited for the Aero Show due to its airfield infrastructure and the city being low-intensity airfield.

Bengaluru’s Yelahanka Air Force Station, which has hosted all the 11 editions of Aero Show till now, is home to a Training Command. There are five other air force training command stations in the country - one in Karnataka and four in Telangana, but Yelahanka has the highest elevation of 3,045 feet/928 metres.

Experts are skeptical of Uttar Pradesh as a venue. The state is home to two big air force stations - Bakshi Ka Talab AFS, Lucknow, and Agra AFS, but both are high intensity airports as Indian Air Force holds its regular operations of the Central Command from the two stations. “You can’t put the Aero show on a fighter base and expect it to carry on. Also, Agra is not an option as the city doesn’t have infrastructure to handle an event of international calibre,” Pandey said.

Sanat Kaul, chairman at International Foundation for Aviation, Aerospace and Development, also thinks Bengaluru is the best bet for the the show as the event attracts a lot of international attention.

There might be financial implications as well, in case the event is shifted out of Bengaluru. Mayskar Deo Singh, former director, Defence Exhibition Organisation, which is responsible for holding defence exhibitions in the country, said, “We used to deliver a profit of Rs 30 crore to Rs 35 crore to the government for the events, but in case of the Goa expo we made no profits as the infrastructure wasn’t available and the state government wasn’t co-operative.”

The ninth edition of Def Expo India, in 2016, was held in Goa, the home state of then Defence Minister Manohar Parikkar, instead of Delhi, where it was conventionally held. In April this year, the tenth edition of the expo was held in Chennai, the home state of Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

Experts say organising the air show is far more complicated than a Def Expo. “For Def Expo, you just need hangars. For the air show, you need airfield infrastructure and hangars,” Pandey said.

According to him, if a decision is taken now, to shift the air show, “there is no chance that the government can put up the infrastructure so soon”.

In case, the event is shifted to Chennai, the city’s airfield may not be ready to take an event of such high magnitude. The city three air force stations under the Southern Command - Tambaram AFS, Madurai AFS and Sulur AFS - all high-intensity airfields.

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