Memory lane

This month, air transport enthusiasts and industry officials from across the globe will gather for the UK's leading aviation event, the 46th Farnborough International Airshow.
ON SHOW: Several aircraft models will be displayed at Farnborough, including the Rolls Royce spitfire and A380.
ON SHOW: Several aircraft models will be displayed at Farnborough, including the Rolls Royce spitfire and A380.

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This month, air transport enthusiasts and industry officials from across the globe will gather for the UK's leading aviation event, the 46th Farnborough International Airshow.

Established in 1948 to introduce the British public to aerospace, this year's event commemorates 60 years of air shows held at the Farnborough Aerodrome. Since the air show was first held, the number of exhibitors has grown to 1200 companies from 187.

The event is organised by Farnborough International Ltd (FIL), a subsidiary of the Society of British Aerospace Companies (SBAC), the UK's aerospace trade association. With permanent headquarters at Farnborough aerodrome, FIL aims to provide a cost-effective exhibition without sacrificing high standards.

Before the Second World War, SBAC's membership consisted almost entirely of aircraft manufacturers. Since then, the society has seen a massive expansion and now welcomes all aspects of the aviation industry, from airframes and engines to materials, weapons and satellites. With an annual turnover of GBP18 billion (US$35 billion), the company has become an internationally recognised association, employing 151,000 staff. Despite its growth, the organisation's mission remains the same: to represent and co-ordinate members' activities.

Traditionally, the show was held under military instruction, but in 2004, Patricia Hewitt, then security of state for trade and industry in the UK, opened the show under civil regulation. The year's event was a success, with some 243,000 visitors attending the show.

Around 133,000 visited from Monday to Friday, while a further 110,000 attended that weekend. In addition, exhibitor numbers were up from 1240 to 1360, with 42 official military delegations visiting the show.

By 2006, visitor numbers had risen to more than 263,000, with a further 850 arriving as VIP guests. Show highlights included the Airbus A380, Red Arrows, Rolls-Royce Spitfire and a Babcock Slingsby T67 display, which took place during a thunder storm. Possible bad weather aside, event organisers predict the 2008 show will be another significant year in Farnborough's illustrious history.

RELATED LINKS: Farnborough Airshow 2008, New exhibition centre to go live, Online service available for visitors, FIL appoints new chief exec

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