The eighth AeroIndia air show here has broken all records for the number of visitors, with over 1.75 lakh footfalls recorded till Friday.
The focus of attention remained on the biggest tender India has floated to buy 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA).
The contract is expected to be awarded to one of the six contenders by September this year, according to officials.
“The MMRCA is the primary focus. With the orders likely soon, what will happen in the next edition in 2013, I wonder,” said Guy Douglas from BAE Systems India.
The increase in the number of aircraft manufacturers and air forces participating in the show this year indicates the increasing interest in AeroIndia, he added.
The first three days of the five-day air show, which opened Wednesday at the Yelahanka air base, were all about business.
But the show will be open for the general public to visit the flying and static display during Saturday and Sunday.
A large number of aviators and enthusiasts have gathered here to watch the spell-binding manoeuvres such as sharp turns, rolls and spins by fighter jets from all major global manufacturers, including US Lockheed Martin’s F-16s, Boeing’s F/A-18s, Saab’s Gripen and the Dassault’s Rafale.
These are part of the 95 military aircraft lined up in the static display area.
AeroIndia also has a large civilian aviation component with 54 percent aircraft on display from this sector.
Russian Sukhoi, Brazilian Embraer and Ukranian Antonov are some of the passenger plane manufacturers who are here this time around.
Indian vehicle major Mahindra’s aviation arm Mahindra Aero has got its GA-8 Airvan, an eight-seater small sized plane, to the show for static display.
Among the other interests in this year’s AeroIndia are the aerobatic displays by the Indian Air Force’s nine-aircraft Surya Kirans and the four-aircraft Czech Republic-based Flying Bulls flying the Zlin 50 LX aircraft.
The members of the two teams are mobbed every time they returned from their displays.
While the aircraft are lined up in the static display alongside the runway, the global manufacturers of aerospace products from nearly 700 companies have put up stations and pavilions.
Americans have the largest presence at this edition of AeroIndia with over 63 firms putting up their best foot forward, eyeing the $150 billion aviation market that India is likely grow into next decade.
“AeroIndia has gained in importance with each passing edition. And this year, it is no different. The organisers have done a great job,” says Boeing Defence Space and Security — India vice president Vivek Lall.
The countries have put up their indoor exhibition over five permanent halls that the Yelahanka air base has for the air show and the seven temporary hangars, all of which have been converted into indoor display area.
“India is a very important market for the global aviation industry and that is why we are here. This show is great,” says Viktor Konarev of Antonov, which intends to sell its AN-148 airliner to Indian domestic airlines.
Among the top foreign dignitaries to visit the show were US Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, German Defence Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, British Minister for Defence Equipment Support and Technology Peter Luff, British High Commissioner to India Richard Stagg and Ukraine’s Ambassador Oleksandr D. Shevchenko.
Russian aviation enthusiast Marina Lystseva has been a regular visitor to all major global air shows, including some of the oldest at Farnborough and Paris.
But her first visit to AeroIndia here has left her “very impressed”.
“Very impressive. In fact, the flying and static display of so many aircraft and helicopters at one place...I have never seen such a show before,” said Lystseva said Friday.