India aviation show proves a big hit

October 18th, 2008 - 4:25 pm ICT by IANS  

Hyderabad, Oct 18 (IANS) India’s first-ever international exhibition on civil aviation, India Aviation-2008, proved a big hit with thousands of people flocking to the Begumpet Airport here Saturday to catch a glimpse of a variety of aircraft on the last day of the four-day event.After three days for business visitors, the show was Saturday thrown open to the public, who thronged the venue in large numbers.

So huge was the public response that the organisers had to stop sale of tickets for sometime. Over 3,000 tickets were sold in the first two hours.

The massive crowd also led to a traffic jam on Begumpet Road. The organisers expect 25,000 to 30,000 people would witness the show by the end of the day.

Men, women and children were standing in long queues since morning to witness the event, showcasing as many as 37 aircraft ranging from Boeing-777 300 ER to ultra light aircraft Sport Star Puls.

Though many were disappointed at not finding big bird Airbus A380, which flew back to France early Friday after a static display Thursday, the wide range of aircraft and helicopters in different shapes, sizes and colours wowed them all.

Though the first three days were for business visitors, many enthusiasts entered the venue by purchasing Rs.500 tickets. The ticket on the last day was priced at Rs.150.

Over 15,000 people visited the show in the first three days.

While big aircraft like Boeing 777 and Airbus 319, which were inducted into Air India fleet at the venue, were star attractions, the small aircraft like IL-114 from Uzbekistan, 10-feet long and four-feet wide Sport Star Plus of Czech Republic company Evektor-Aerotechnik and eight and six-seater Hawker caught everybody’s attention.

CRJ900 NextGen, Learjet 60 XR, Challenger 605 and Global Express XRS, all from Bombardier, Gulfstream and Beechcraft also added glamour to the show. Then there were helicopters from world leaders including Bell Helicopters and Eurocopters.

The visitors went around the venue and took snaps posing in front of the amazing machines. “I had seen aircraft from a distance but today I am having a closer look. It is really wonderful,” said Padmanabh Reddy, a 12th standard student, who was accompanied by his friends.

Selected groups were taken on a ride in choppers by a couple of companies. Others were overjoyed on being allowed to sit in a helicopter on static display.

More than 200 exhibitors from leading aviation and allied industries from around the world including Airbus, Boeing, EADS, HAL, BES, Rolls Royce, Engine Alliance, Cessna Aircraft Co, Bell Helicopter, Textron, ATR and Bombardier displayed their products at the show.

A key highlight of the show was an Indian Civil Aviation Museum, which provided a historical perspective of India’s civil aviation sector. Rare photographs and advertisements capturing the glorious moments of the Indian civil aviation and models of aircraft used by Air India in the last 75 years were on display.

With India Aviation-2008, the focus is back on Begumpet Airport, one of the oldest airports in the country. Established in 1930s by seventh Nizam Mir Osman Ali Khan, then ruler of Hyderabad State, it was shut down in March this year with the commencement of operations at the new international airport at Shamshabad, about 35 km from the city.

The event brought back life at the deserted airport, at least for a few days. With the ministry of civil aviation announcing that it would be a permanent venue for the biennial event, citizens can expect more such activities.

The aviation companies underlined the need for such airports in every major city to promote corporate and tourism aviation.

The state government plans to conduct international air shows at Begumpet airport and also set up an aviation university. A section of air passengers, airport employees and a few low-cost airlines are still demanding that the airport be re-opened, at least for domestic operations.

The event also highlighted a little known fact that the airport had hosted an air show way back in 1937. European manufacturers had displayed their aircraft before the Nizam - who took a keen interest in promoting aviation - and nobles of the princely state.

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