Apologies for the lack of the updates on the blog yesterday folks. I was stuck in a rut of an event yesterday which essentially ruined my day. However, if you are planning to be at the so-called Airshow earlier called India Aviation, and now renamed Wings India, save your money. Moreover, I have a good reason if you want to read along, and I place on record our incompetency in organizing such events. Alternatively, maybe just think of it as a rant and come along.
Having been over to a couple of Airshows in quick succession, such as the Dubai Airshow 2017 and Singapore Airshow 2018, maybe my standard of expecting an aviation event was higher, or maybe the standard of the event was lower. I have been to India Aviation 2012, where I met the experimental Boeing 787 for Air India, and the airshow was full of aircraft for static display. So I knew their potential. However, given the scarce amount of news flowing in from the event… I was circumspect of going over.
At any airshow, the newsflow starts to go up in the days leading to the event, so there is no way to judge the quality until the last day. For the Wings India 2018 event, the pre-event day press release said,
15 aircrafts by ATR, Honda, Trujet, Gulfstream, Boeing, Embraer, Dassault, Club One Air, Aeroteck, Zoom Air, Air India, NAL and others at the Static display area
My first shocker came at the media registration booth. It seems like there was no filtering, but there was no confirmation as well. At every other airshow, I had gone through a process to be accredited as a media person, which in some cases also meant having to present them my prior work for them to establish I was a media person. At Wings India, they also asked me for a press ID number, some archaic remnant for India. I wrote not applicable and went forward, but I never received a confirmation email until the end. Instead, I started receiving press emails earlier in the week, which signified I was registered. I turned up at the event only to recognize that everyone was Media there. Moreover, the real media was not there. So, almost all the biggies of Indian aviation journalism had skipped the event, except for one.
For an event that calls itself a focussed civil aviation event, all the aviation majors had cold-shouldered it. Airbus, which has their biggest narrow-body customer in the world based in India (IndiGo, and also Air India, GoAir), sent a small crew and no display at the exhibition. The news was swarming about Boeing bringing their latest planes, nothing came. Heck, even the civil aviation minister who was supposed to inaugurate the event did not turn up. Can’t blame him though, he was sitting in Delhi to submit his resignation. I hold him regarding all he did over the past years, but now he was going to resign in a change of political events the night before.
Walking on to the static display area came the next shocker, 4 or 5 business jets were all that was on display for an event that was top-billed as India’s civil aviation event par excellence. Not the 15 aircraft they promised.
Even people participating in the event did not deem it important to bring a plane for static display. Alternatively, perhaps these were just names crammed into the press release to drum up interest without authorization. I was already feeling stupid for trusting the press release to mislead me, over FlightAware data which was telling me hardly any landings there.
Even those who had chosen to display had much smaller displays rather than how they would be at another airshow of note. Take a look below…
Are you at #WingsIndia2018 in Hyderabad this week? Come visit our CFM booth no. 30 and see the #CFMLEAP model Exhibitor map: https://t.co/jwqOhgY0Td #aviation #avgeek @WingsIndia2018 pic.twitter.com/Xc4Hy2borP
— CFM International (@CFM_engines) March 8, 2018
— CFM International (@CFM_engines) November 13, 2017
— CFM International (@CFM_engines) February 6, 2018
However, the worst was yet to come. As I drifted through the day, it was lunch hour. Running on 3 hours of sleep, I needed to eat. This was when I realized there were perhaps as many eating options in the Food Court as there were exhibitors in the hall. Perhaps they will also go home disappointed with the low footfalls eventually.
I headed back however to the Media luncheon to catch up with folks and grab lunch. Now, at any other airshow, I’ve been to, the media lunch is a small cold lunch served as an aside. No one wants a mess, and journalists are far too busy to eat a lot. Except here. In Hyderabad, the Media Lunch room was bigger than the Media Centre that was established. However, everybody was able to walk in here. So Hyderabad Police, as well as the support staff, would be in the same queue as the accredited media. No disregard for them, but they were all provided packaged food at their posts as well. Moreover, after a while, they ran out of the number of plates assigned for lunch, so they just shut it down. No quality checks or filters about who could get there, so everyone was going to get in!
And the last bit that will live with me forever, was the way people behave at these events. There was apparently a fake journalist going around presenting his credentials from being a leading national daily, asking for swag from every display booth. Not just that, at the only non-government press briefing for yesterday, people jumped over each other trying to get USB sticks with the press kit thinking it was swag (yes it had a keychain attached, but so what?). What business does a photographer on duty have to stop taking good pictures of the event and jump into this pool?
Clearly, it was not business as usual. We really need more competent people organising these airshows. Otherwise, even Hyderabad Police was sitting whiling away the time waiting for the people to come in.
And India – Global Aviation Hub, well, is a white lie for now.
Are you planning to be at Wings India 2018? What has been your experience here?