From Thursday March 5th to Saturday March 7th the European Airshow Council organized its 14th Annual Convention in Hasselt (Belgium). With around 50 new delegates out of a total of 150 delegates from a large variety of countries the airshow industries once more showed that the EAC Convention is the first big rendezvous of the year in the European Airshow circuit.
100 YEARS OF AIRSHOWS
During this years’ EAC Convention all interested in the Airshow Industry, including Military and Civil Aviation Authorities, Performers, Organisers and Aerobatic Team representatives as well as Commentators and Journalists gathered in order to discuss standards of safety and excellence in the Airshow Industry. Participants from around the globe took advantage of the excellent networking opportunities offered by the EAC Convention. With delegates from across Europe and countries such as Argentina, Jordan and the West Coast of the USA, as well as a representative from the European Commission and the President of the International Council of Airshows (ICAS) the international scope of the EAC Convention was once more reaffirmed.
During this years’ Convention the airshow industry celebrated the 100th anniversary of the first airshow which took place in Reims (France) in 2009. Pierre-Alain Antoine (FR) remembered the early years of the airshow industry in the beginning of 20th century. Back in 1909 over a million spectators saw an air display in which only 18 planes participated. Mr Diego Canga-Fano (Spain – Deputy Head of the Cabinet of Antonio Tajani, Vice-President of the European Commission Responsible for Transport) looked into the pan-European challenges for the civil aviation in the near future.
In the key-note speech General Buyse (Chief of Operations and Training of the Belgian Armed Forces) elaborated upon the continued importance of airshows for recruitment purposes. “ In order to be able to fulfil this task airshow organisers need to be creative and need to be able to build bridges between civil and military participants and authorities”, General Buyse said. Today armed forces are deployed in various missions abroad. Therefore, an airshow not only offers an excellent opportunity to show the capabilities of the armed forces but also to show the tactics involved in operational missions.
With the Role Display the RAF created a new and dramatic kind of display showing in a superb way how to integrate operational tactics in an air display in combination with ground troops and pyrotechnics while ensuring that the flight safety was not compromised. Sqn Ldr Andy Pawsey who is considered to be the architect of the RAF Role Display was awarded the Paul Bowen Trophy by a unanimous vote from the multinational Board members of the EAC. Riyad Ayyoub (Chief of maintenance and engineering of the Royal Jordanian Falcons) on the other hand was awarded the prestigious Chairman’s award for his continuous contributions to the airshow industry during the past 25 years.
SAFETY AND VARIETY
Safety always has been one of the key missions of the EAC. In that respect the tone was set by an excellent presentation by John Cudahy (USA – Chairman of ICAS) who elaborated upon ICAS’ efforts to change the culture of air safety in the USA. James Black (UK) updated the participants on pan-European regulations and standardisations related to the aviation industry, which also includes airshows. On the same topic but from a somewhat different angle Dr Steve Jarvis (UK – Cranfield University) provided some psychological insights into how the mental workload of display pilots can rise to a level that it interferes with situation awareness.
Other new opportunities were discussed by Nigel Lamb (UK) and Chris Norton (UK). In their presentations the former drew on his extensive personal experience to describe the challenges of air racing and the latter outlined innovative marketing and sponsorship strategies behind the Blades Aerobatic Team. In their presentation Hans Rahmann (Germany) and Gerhard Fahnenbruck (Germany) of Stiftung Mayday (Mayday Foundation) discussed their efforts to provide post-incident stress management for pilots.
The range of subjects discussed was fascinating; delegates were challenged by other speakers who spoke of the challenges of designing and performing safe displays in the F-16, and the emerging requirements to combat noise limitations as well as carbon emissions at airshows. There was much to discuss and many ideas to take home to the 23 countries represented at the Convention.
This year’s EAC Convention attracted skilled speakers and excellent presentations and has been very successful. The large number of new delegates from across the airshow Industry has underlined the need for an international body that, together with ICAS, can take the lead in further improving the Airshow Industry.