Runway to a Billion Opportunities


With steadily declining active cases coupled with world’s largest vaccination program underway in India, yet another positive development shaped up with the Government of India lifting off sanctions on all kinds of exhibitions. And as it has also started exporting vaccines to many other countries, India surely is a bright ray of hope for the world. Aero India 2021will mark the beginning of first major B2G exhibition since COVID in India. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has said that the upcoming Aero India show is billed as the ‘Runway to a Billion Opportunities’. The 13th Aero India, to be held from February 3 to 5 at the Yelahanka Air Force Station in Bengaluru will be hosted in a Hybrid format.

This edition of Aero India will promote Aatmanirbhar Bharat and Make in India initiative and here we take the opportunity to catch up with someone who has made it big in the exhibition industry by staying firmly fixed to his roots and promoting India strongly in his journey. He is also someone who has a rich legacy of working with the Aero India show and we catch up with him amidst his top-notch preparations for the 13th edition of the show.

Exhibition Showcase talks to Ravinder Sethi, CMD, RE Rogers India, as he waits at the airport for his flight to Bengaluru. He tells us that R.E. Rogers India are again sole appointed for Aero India in 2021. More importantly, he says “Aero India is the first global exhibition to reopen in India and R.E. Rogers are a critical part of this reopening process. Aero India 2021 sends a powerful message to the local and global industry – Indian exhibition industry has reopened. HISTORY IS IN THE MAKING !!” On being asked about his reaction to Government’s recent announcements, he says, “Reopening of India’s exhibition industry is the biggest achievement in our 35 years history. Build-up has started and we’re full of emotions to be back in the midst of boxes, containers, forklifts, and cranes.

On being inquired about the safety protocols, he says, “needless to say, the organizers and all the stakeholders are abiding by the strictest Covid protocols for the event.” Ravinder shared that their company has been associated with the Aero India show since its very inception – an impressive feat indeed!

On being asked about his memories of the early days, he shares, “In the early days, the organizers (Ministry of Defence) and the venue (Air Force base) had no clue of the exhibition industry and this was a huge challenge. Kudos to them for mastering our know how so fast and becoming one of the very best today. Air and defence shows are unique, requiring huge operational coordination where more than the volumes, it’s also the very sensitive nature of the products being handled which needs attention. I have some really fond memories and lifetime learnings working with this show.” Soon after, as Ravinder hurried to catch his flight to the show site, we were left inspired by the hope of resuming of physical shows once again – a sight that all of the industry professionals are so in love with!

Exhibitions Are Back To Foster Business & Trade


First Time Since Its Inception – A Hybrid Aero India

With a combination of both physical and virtual exhibition, the 13th edition of Aero India 2021 being held in Bengaluru from February 3 to 5 is being touted as the world’s first hybrid aerospace and defence exhibition. This edition of Aero India is being held only as a business event as the five-day event has been cut short to three days and two public days have been given a go-by due to COVID-19 norms. Around 600 exhibitors are participating from 14 countries including 74 international participants. This also includes 203 participants taking part in the virtual exhibition which will run in parallel.

Legacy of Aero India – A brief historyLegacy of Aero India – A brief historyThe first edition of the air show was held in 1996. During this Aero India Show, many manufacturers and service providers from the Indian aerospace and aviation industry meet the potential buyers of their products. After 1996, the 4th edition of the air show took place in 2003. About 176 exhibitors from 22 countries all over the world came to grace the show. In the year 2005, more than 380 participants came to the Aero India show’s 5th edition. In this show, many military and civil aircraft as well as aerospace products were displayed. The 2007 Aero India show was held at Yelahanka Air Force Station in Bangalore in Karnataka. The 7th edition was held from 11 to 15 February 2009, and included 592 exhibitors from over 25 countries. The eighth edition started on 9 February 2011. In recent years, the Aero India has emerged as one of the world’s most important and largest military aviation exhibitions. The Mikoyan MiG-35 and F-16IN Super Viper were unveiled for the first time at the 6th and 7th editions of Aero India respectively.

1st edition (1996)
The first edition of Aero India was held in 1996. Since then, the event has gradually earned international recognition, and has seen increased participation from exhibitors since then.


2nd edition (1998)

The second edition started on 8 December 1998 at the Yelahanka Air Force Base. It was inaugurated by George Fernandes, India’s Defence Minister. It included fly pasts by three Jaguars, three MiG-23s, three HAL Tejas, 9 HAL Kiran aircraft of the Surya Kiran aircraft of the Surya Kiran aerobatic team, Hawk 200, Mirage 200 and the Sukhoi Su-30 MKIs. This was followed by sky diving display by nine sky divers of the Akash ganga team. The exhibition stalls included displays by Boeing, Allied Signal, Bell Textron, Airbus Industries, Aerospatiale, Dassault, British Aerospace, HAL, DRDO, ADA, BEL and NAL. The French and Russian presence was especially strong, and the highlights were the detailed models of all Boeing commercial aircraft starting from Boeing 717 to Boeing 777.

3rd edition (2001)
Bangalore’s third air show opened at the Yelahanka AF Base on 7 February 2001.



4th edition (2003)
176 companies from 22 countries participated in the 4th edition of the event from 5 to 9 February 2003 in Yelahanka at the outskirts of Bangalore. It was inaugurated by the then Defence Minister of India, George Fernandes. About 50 delegations from the United States, Europe, Russia, the Middle East, Asia Pacific, Asia Pacific and Africa visited Bangalore for the event. The French delegation was led by the Prime Minister of France, Jean-Pierre Raffarin. A pair of HAL Dhruv performed their first display, and a composite formation was flown which was led by the Dhruv, followed by a pair of Kiran, Mirage 2000 and Sukhoi Su-30s.

5th edition (2005)

5th edition (2005)The 5th Aero India 2005, the biennial air-show-cum-defence exhibitions, was held at the Yelahanka Air Force Base in Bangalore from 9–13 February 2005. The Aero India 2005 attracted record 380 exhibitors from the world’s leading industries in the field of civil and military aviation, aerospace and airfield upgrade. The show included both air displays as well as static exhibitions of militaryand civil aircraft. A total of 80 aircraft including Fighters, Light Combat Aircraft, Advanced Light Helicopters, Intermediate Jet Trainers (AJTs), Maritime Surveillance Aircraft and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) displayed their flying skills and capability during the Aero India 2005 show. The Indian Air Force (IAF) and the Indian Navy also displayed their various aircraft. There were 32 official military delegations and over 250,000 people enjoyed the Aero India 2005 show, which is considered Asia’s premier air show.

The major attractions of Aero India 2005 were the leading fighter, advanced jet trainers and unmanned aerial vehicles from Russia, US, France, Britain, Israeli and India who took part in the flying as well as static displays at the show. The visitors enjoyed the spectacular flying performances and static exhibitions of the Russian MiG-29K, Su-30MKI and Il-78 tanker; the American F-15E, C-130J Super Hercules and P-3C Orion aircraft; the French vintage Mirage 2000 and Falcon 2000; the British Hawk 100, Jaguar and Sea Harriers, and the Indian Dhruv (Advanced Light Helicopter) and Intermediate Jet Trainer (IJT) and the Swedish Saab JAS 39 Gripen.

6th edition (2007)
This event was held from 7 February 2007 to 11 February 2007, at the Yelahanka Air Force Station. The attractions of the event were the Lockheed-Martin F-16, as well as the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, all contenders for the Indian Air Force’s 126 aircraft MRCA requirement. Also present were the Surya Kiran and Sarang acrobatic teams. The Surya Kiran team consists of nine Indian pilots, and have displayed skills by flying as close as 3–5 m at high speeds and have exhibited various formations like the arrow, diamond and concluding with the hearts. The Sarang team displays manoeuvres of Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH). During the rehearsals for the show, one of the Sarang helicopters crashed on 2 February 2007. The co-pilot was killed in the incident. However, the team performed the displays in the show. During the show, a HAL HJT-36 skidded off the runway when a tyre burst after the pilot aborted take-off as the aircraft’s canopy inadvertently opened up. Fortunately, there was no fatality.

7th edition (2009)
The 7th edition of Aero India was held on 11–15 February 2009. 289 Indian firms and 303 foreign companies participated in one of the largest international aerospace exhibitions in Bangalore. Armament majors from several countries, including Australia, Brazil, Britain, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Israel, Malaysia, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden,  Switzerland, Netherlands, Ukraine and United States. There were also country pavilions from Australia, Belgium, Germany, Israel and Romania. This year also saw China participating for the first time in Aero India. Ireland, Israel, Malaysia, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden,  Switzerland, Netherlands, Ukraine and United States. There were also country pavilions from Australia, Belgium, Germany, Israel and Romania. This year also saw China participating for the first time in Aero India.

The show was preceded by an international seminar (Aero India Seminar) on aerospace technologies and applications (9–11 February), hosted by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). Nearly 330 companies from 50 countries abroad and 230 from India set up exhibits. Some 30 military and civil aircraft gave flight demonstrations. The F-16, F-18, MiG-35D, Eurofighter, IJT, Dhruv, Hawk, C-17, Embraer 135 business jet Legacy 600, C-130J, Citation XLS, G 550, AN-12 Cargo and A-310 MRTT were on display. Some 70 more were on static display. Whose event manager will be the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII). Defense Minister A. K. Antony chaired the first meeting of the apex committee of the exhibition here Friday. “Addressing the top officials from several ministries and organisations, Antony said Aero India-2009 should be conducted in such a manner that it provides a benchmark for similar shows being organised in various parts of the world,” the official said.

The Indian Air Force brought out some of the vintage aircraft from its stable and flew them. The defence ministry also facilitated interaction between the overseas original equipment manufacturers and Indian business houses. “Similar interactions will also be encouraged between small and medium enterprises from home and abroad. Efforts are also being made to give exposure to students of technical and engineering colleges to encourage them to be part of the country’s aim of becoming a design hub in aerospace technologies in the foreseeable future,” the official added. The central government will spend nearly Rs. 200 million to augment the infrastructure in and around the Air Force Station Yelahanka.

8th edition (2011)
The 2011 edition of Aero India was held from 9 to 13 February in Bangalore. It was reported that the Chinese aircraft will not participate in this edition, due to rising trade competition between India and China. However these claims were false and China had its representatives present there. The highlight of the morning was the flight display in which several aircraft performed intricate manoeuvres. HAL Tejas, which flew in a formation in public view for the first time, was a key highlight, as it performed a vertical climb and then did a belly turn right in front of the podium.

9th edition (2013)
Aero India 2013 started on 6 February 2013 at the IAF’s Yelahanka Air Force base, Bengaluru and ended on 10 February 2013. 607 companies attended the air show, with 352 foreign and 78 official national delegations. The major foreign companies were from US (67 companies), France (49), United Kingdom (33), Russia (29) and Germany (22). Major attraction of this edition were the Dassault Rafale, Boeing C-17 Globemaster III, HAL Rudra, HAL Tejas, HAL Light Combat Helicopter, and the Russian Knights aerobatic team, who had come to India to perform for the first time.[24] Major aircraft manufacturing companies like Lockheed Martin, Saab, and the British Aerospace did not showcase any aircraft this time, however an air force F-16 was part of the static display. The Suryakiran aerobatic team did not take part as it was grounded.

10th edition (2015)

The tenth edition of Aero India was held from 18 to 22 February 2015. The main attraction of this year was the Make in India campaign by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Prime Minister Modi inaugurated the show and mentioned that its easier for Public, private and foreign investors to manufacture defence equipment in India after the reform of the defence procurement policies and procedure. He also mentions the simplification of offset procedures and mentioned the need to have strategic partnerships rather than buyer seller relationships.

The Small and Medium scale industries are also meant to benefit from being part of global supply chain by providing cost effective engineering solutions to global players. He also stressed the need to export equipment and also to ensure that it does not fall into the wrong hands.The Small and Medium scale industries are also meant to benefit from being part of global supply chain by providing cost effective engineering solutions to global players. He also stressed the need to export equipment and also to ensure that it does not fall into the wrong hands.

There is a requirement of one million skilled workers in the Aerospace industry in India in the next 10 years. The aim is to make the ensure that 70 percent of the defence equipment are made within the country in the next five years from the current 40 percent. This can create large number of jobs. Prime Minister Modi said that “A strong Indian defence industry will not only make India more secure. It will also make India more prosperous”.

Tejas on display
A total of 72 aircraft were part of the air show. The main attraction of the event was the fly past and demonstration by HAL Tejas, HAL Light Combat Helicopter, Sarang display team and air display teams from Sweden, UK, Czech Republic and Open sky jump by US Special forces. A total of 11 foreign military aircraft on display, out of which a majority of them from the United States including two F-15C Eagles, two F-16C Fighting Falcons, one Boeing KC-135 tanker, one C-17 Globemaster III and a P-8A Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft.

11th edition (2017)

The 11th edition of the Aero India was held from 14 to 18 February 2017. This edition of the show will see participation from a total of 549 companies (270 Indian and 279 Foreign), 72 participating aircraft, cover an area of 27,678 sqm and witness participation from 51 different countries. Four aerobatic teams are expected to participate in the show including Sarang Team (Indian Air Force), Surya Kiran Team (Indian Air Force), the Scandinavian Air Show Team (Sweden) and the Yakovlevs Aerobatic Team (Russia).

12th edition (2019)

The 12th edition of Aero India was held from 20 to 24 February 2019 in Bengaluru, Karnataka inaugurated by defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman. The theme of the event was Runway to a Billion Opportunities. The logo of the exhibition was inspired by the Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA). In this edition, for the first time, combined the defence and civil aviation segments into a holistic event with the co-involvement of the defence and civil aviation ministries in the event. More than 600 Indian Companies and 200 Foreign Companies participated and witnessed the largest Air show of Asia. The event was attended by the Yak aerobatic team from Britain, who gave a marvelous display with four Yakovlev Yak-7s and Yakolvev Yak-11s. Airbus also attended with their A330neo and CASA C-295.

Indian badminton champion P.V. Sindhu flew copilot in a Tejas on the third day of the show. The event however was marred by the crash of two Surya Kiran aircraft that had occurred on the day before the show, killing a pilot. On the third day of the show, a huge fire burnt over 300 cars parked in the parking lot. The fire was caused by a burning cigarette.

2021 – Preparing for a unprecedented 13th edition
Aero India 2021 will be held simultaneously as a physical exhibition and virtual exhibition with stalls being provided in both realms. A note from the Press Information Bureau said that this will result in greater engagement and exhibitors will experience a greater outreach to cater to those who could not join the event physically.

The attendees joining the event virtually can participate in seminars, interact with exhibitors and representatives, hold B2B meetings, and can view product details and supporting videos, it added. The Defence Minister Rajnath Singh chaired the apex committee meeting here to oversee the arrangement of Aero India in which Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa, Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, Secretary, Department of Defence Production Raj Kumar and Karnataka Chief Secretary P. Ravikumar were also present. On his part, Mr. Yeddyurappa assured full cooperation from the State to make the event a success. An MoU was signed by the Union and the State governments for active participation, shared responsibility and synchronised efforts since Aero India is one of the major international aerospace and defence exhibitions. With emphasis on promoting defence exports, the India Pavilion at Aero India 2021 next month will showcase a range of indigenously developed helicopters while Defence Minister Rajnath Singh is scheduled to hold a conclave of Defence Ministers from the Indian Ocean Littoral (IOR) states, according to a senior defence official. “We have matured in helicopters and have several in various categories. We are now capable of designing and manufacturing any kind of helicopter,” the official said.responsibility and synchronised efforts since Aero India is one of the major international aerospace and defence exhibitions. With emphasis on promoting defence exports, the India Pavilion at Aero India 2021 next month will showcase a range of indigenously developed helicopters while Defence Minister Rajnath Singh is scheduled to hold a conclave of Defence Ministers from the Indian Ocean Littoral (IOR) states, according to a senior defence official. “We have matured in helicopters and have several in various categories. We are now capable of designing and manufacturing any kind of helicopter,” the official said.

A Light Utility Helicopter (LUH), a weaponised Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) and a Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) will be on display inside the pavilion, the official said. A civilian version of the ALH will be on display outside. All these helicopters have been designed and manufactured by the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). In addition to the Defence Ministers’ conclave, plans are also on to hold an Air Chiefs’ conclave. Also, about six to seven official delegations are expected to be there at Aero India in addition to various companies. With less than a month left for the biennial air show, construction of the halls and facilities is at advanced stages of completion. Stating that there was a lot of interest in Aero India as other such major air shows have been cancelled, the official said, “More than 98% of the stalls are booked and about 93% of them have paid for it.”

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