2015 Event Review

Dubai Airshow – November 8-12
Location: Dubai World Central (DWC), Al Maktoum International Airport, Emirates Road, Dubai, UAE
Admission: Depended on the day and location (see report)
Parking: Free parking was available just outside the gate. Using a Taxi recommended.
Value: Good
Rating out of 10: 7
 
MCAS Yuma base commander
The Dubai Airshow is held biennially and the next show is planned for the 12-16 Nov 2017 at DWC. The Dubai Airshow is heralded as the biggest Aerospace event in the Middle East, Asia and Africa.
On arriving at DWC by taxi on Tuesday morning, [the typical taxi fare from Dubai city, around 37km one way was of about AED100, ie €25] the first day for us, it was very clear that the day ahead was going to be a scorcher. Already the sun's rays were intense and only stressed further upon realising that our taxi driver had actually managed to drop us off at the wrong spot! Skyview grandstand spectators are not permitted to access the air show from the main airport building. We were instead directed to walk along the outside perimeter of the airport towards the southeast and around some rather large parking lots complete with several of the latest models of SUVs, Range Rovers, Humvees and Ferraris. Its Dubai. So instead of cooling off with a cold beverage in hand we were instead treated to a 20 minute walk under the 40deg Celcius midday sun. Upon arriving at the correct entrance I asked one of the guards positioned there whether we could wait for the main gate to open somewhere in the shade. His reply was "This is Dubai, what did you expect!!" so initially our request was refused and it quickly became quite apparent that the midday walk was only going to be followed by the midday wait of around half an hour to 45 minutes on a dusty kerb.
To enter the Dubai Airshow the general public admission from the 9th till the 12th November was AED80 per person per day, equivalent to about €20. Tickets could be purchased online beforehand from around two weeks before and were electronically refundable to a credit card account in the event that the show was cancelled. The show on the 8th November was provided exclusively for groups of 20 persons or more. The Skyview grandstand is located just outside the perimeter fence of DWC. Access to the Skyview does not allow persons to enter onto the static park or the trade area at the air show. Admission to Skyview was available from noon till 4.30pm on the day. Displays commenced at 2pm. On Wednesday the 11th November the air show had to be cancelled due to strong wind conditions. The air show started at 2.30pm on Thursday 12th November. This review covers the displays held on the 9th and 10th November which proceeded punctually and as per programme. We did not have access to the trade show or the static park. Note we did not asked for a Media Pass for this event, as we truly wanted to see the vent from a general visitor's perspective.
Luckily we had emailed Skyview on several instances before travelling to Dubai and were fortunate to meet members of the Team who were very helpful and immediately let us in and avail ourselves of a giant tent which had been erected close to the food and beverage kiosks. Thank you Darren.
The Skyview grandstand has a maximum capacity of around 6,000 spectators but on the Tuesday barely held a thousand people on it. Dubai air show, like many events in the region, follows a more relaxed flow than its European counterparts. The freshly printed day's programme looked very promising and held around 15 displays ranging from the B1 Lancer and Dassault Rafale to the latest Airbus A350. Every major display was followed or preceded by a slower moving propeller powered aircraft or trainer. The aerobatic Al Fursan team opened proceedings on Tuesday with their seven smartly painted black and gold MB-339NAT meanwhile on Wednesday it was the turn of the superbly choreographed Italian Frecce Tricolori which got things underway with their team of ten MB-339PAN sporting the new tail tricolours and complete with their 55th year commemorative emblem on their aft fuselage.
Static aircraft parked on the main apron relatively nearby included (on the Tuesday) three A380s from Etihad, Qatar and Emirates while on Wednesday the Etihad A380 had been replaced by a National Airlines B747-400. Several medium to large sized executive jets filled the remaining part of the static park, i.e. aircraft such as the Bombardier Global Express, Embraer Legacy and Dash 8. Elements of military fast jets, training aircraft, helicopters and transports were positioned farthest from the grandstand and were barely visible, a huge disappointment.
All display aircraft except for the B1 and F22 operated from Al Maktoum itself. The runway threshold is situated around 2km away, towards the west, so from a spectator point of view this makes photography of aircraft taking off or landing virtually impossible. Not only is the runway quite distant but the gentlest of breezes quickly kicks up swirling sand under those hot and dry conditions. There is also no chance of seeing aircraft taxiing to or from the operational runway. Atmospheric conditions were hazy and for the most part of the afternoon the distant skyscrapers of Dubai city were barely visible against the skyline. Thankfully the sun is positioned directly behind the spectator throughout the afternoon.
I found it worthwhile to take up position on the grandstand a little bit early. Not only does this afford a good choice of seat but it also offers the odd take off and/or landing of aircraft which do not form part of the actual display, for example on Tuesday a UAE Chinook was orbiting around while on Wednesday a French Air Force designated A400M (civil register F-RBAG) made an impromptu display which was not listed on the programme.
I would like to take the opportunity to once again thank all the team at Skyview for their hospitality and help on both days of the show we attended. Had it not been for their kind assistance and the lift which they provided we would probably still be waiting for a taxi a week later.
Performers included:

Al Fursan MB-339NAT (UAE)

Frecce Tricolori MB-339PAN (Italian AF)

Dassault Rafale (French AF)

Airbus A350-XWB demonstrator

Eurofighter Typhoon FGR.4 (RAF 3 Sqd)

Pilatus PC-21 (Swiss AF)

Boeing B-1 Lancer (USAF)

Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor (USAF)

Lockheed Martin F-16 (UAEAF)

Dassault Mirage 2000-9 (UAEAF)

SR-22 (Emirates)

Super Mushak (Pakistan AF)

SAFAT 03 dual trainer and SAFAT 02 light helicopter (Safat Aviation Group, Sudan)

Boeing Stearman (Breitling Wingwalker)

We did not list any staic display as we had no acces to it
 
Report and photography by Christopher Mifsud for The Aviation Magazine

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