The 18th Dubai Airshow is now underway, running from November 13 to 17. Open exclusively to industry pros and media, it also offers a public grandstand for the thrilling flying displays—just register in advance. Here are the highlights from the Day 1 at one of world's biggest airshows.
UAE Space Agency holds challenge to choose lander for mysterious asteroid
The UAE Space Agency is holding an Asteroid Belt Lander Challenge for startups and SMEs during the 18th Dubai Airshow.
The challenge is meant for UAE-based companies that wish to be part of the Emirates Mission to the Asteroids Belt (EMA) by developing the lander for a mysterious asteroid, a senior official judging the pitches presented by the companies told Gulf News on Monday.
Hoor Al Maazmi, space science researcher at the UAE Space Agency, said seven companies are participating in the challenge that is taking place over the first two days of the airshow.
The UAE Space Agency hopes to launch EMA’s MBR Explorer, a spacecraft named after His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to the main asteroid belt located between Mars and Jupiter in 2028. The Explorer will fly by the Earth, Mars, Venus, and six asteroids before making a planned landing on the final asteroid, Justitia, in 2034. Set to travel 5 billion km into deep space, the MBR Explorer and its lander’s mission aims to add to our understanding of the foundation of the solar system and the presence and origins of the building blocks of life found in the asteroid belt, as well as prepare the ground for possible future resource extraction from asteroids.
“We already have people that are going to be managing the lander, but we're also looking for people who are going to look at specific parts of the lander and pitch proposals for what the lander is going to be doing, its design and everything (else),” said Al Maazmi, who is one of the three judges for the Lander Challenge.
Royal Air Maroc repeats order for 787 Dreamliner
Moroccan national carrier Royal Air Maroc placed a repeat order for the 787 Dreamliner, confirming two 787-9s in its order book. The carrier currently operates nine Dreamliners.
"The two Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners will enable Royal Air Maroc to expand in the short-term its long-haul network in response to the highly favorable market conditions in 2023," said Abdelhamid Addou, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Royal Air Maroc. "Simultaneously, the company is actively pursuing a significant tender to quadruple the fleet before 2037."
Royal Jordanian orders four 787-9 Dreamliners
Royal Jordanian has announced an order for four 787-9 Dreamliner jets as the airline expands and modernizes its widebody fleet. Jordan's flag carrier also reconfirmed at the Dubai Airshow a previous order for two 787-9s, bringing its total 787-9 backlog to six.
ICAO in push to cut travel time from Middle East to Europe, India
Efforts are on to modernise the oceanic airspace and cut travel time from the Middle East to Europe and India, a top official revealed.
A group under the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), that is responsible for air navigation in the Middle East region, is taking the lead in this, said Ahmed Ibrahim Al Jallaf, Assistant Director General of Air Navigation Services at the UAE’s General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA).
Speaking exclusively to Gulf News on the sidelines of a panel discussion at the Aviation Mobility Conference, Al Jallaf said that the airspace over the oceans globally is not properly invested in.
“Today, navigation and communication capabilities allow for the states to modernise the airspace over the ocean (the oceanic airspace).”
Al Jallaf said it means that “the separation between the flights would be much less than what it is today…and…the capacity will be improved by a major percentage. I believe that this is an area that the global industry should take interest in and should invest in it and should apply continuous improvement.”
Emirati astronauts meet UAE aerobatic team
Emirati astronauts Sultan Al Neyadi and Hazza Al Mansoori meet the UAE Air Force's aerobatic display team, Al Fursan, at the Dubai Airshow.
AirBaltic makes purchase agreement for 30 airbus
Latvian airline AirBaltic has signed a firm purchase agreement for 30 Airbus A220-300 aircraft.
“We are delighted to announce flydubai’s fourth aircraft order since launch. This aircraft order is special and this signals a new chapter to the airline,” said Sheikh Ahmed.
Emirates is placing an additional order wide-body aircraft with Boeing worth $52 billion, said Sheikh Ahmed. The airline is signing a purchase agreement for 55 additional Boeing 777-9s and 35 Boeing 777 8s. Including the previous orders, Emirates will now have a total order of 205 Boeing 777X on board. Deliveries for the 777-9s will start from 2025, said Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates Airline and Group.7-9
Watch: Sheikh Hamdan tours Dubai Airshow 2023
UAE equipped to tackle cybersecurity in aviation sector
With even ChatGPT being used in ransomeware attacks, the UAE is leaving no stones unturned in ensuring cybersecurity in the aviation sector, the country’s cybersecurity chief revealed at the Aviation Mobility Conference on the inaugural day of the 18th Dubai Airshow on Monday.
Dr. Mohamed Al Kuwaiti, head of Cyber Security for the UAE Government, said in his keynote speech that ChatGPT is used not “just in drafting an email or spams or even phishing emails, but even in writing some of the scripts and decoding some of the things that we saw and we investigated in a ransomware level. And this is where it's very important to actually take that into consideration.”
Explaining how the UAE is tackling such cybersecurity issues, he explained that the country’s cybersecurity strategy is built on five pillars: governance, coverage, protection and defense, innovation, and partnership. The country has implemented information assurance standards, numerous cybersecurity policies, and fostered collaborations through public-private partnerships.
The strategy focuses on building technology, skills, and capacity, recognising the human factor as a crucial element.
“Safety is our number one priority,” said Dr Al Kuwaiti.
He said the country has put in place certifications, standards, legislations policies and procedures to ensure cybersecuriy in all sectors.
“We have an ecosystem that allows the academia, the government and industries work together in order to come up with solutions that fit and meet many aspects of our cybersecurity requirements.”
Dr Al Kuwaiti also called for international cooperation and information sharing especially in the face of cyber threats like ransomware and the misuse of technologies such as ChatGPT.
First deal of the day
Dubai: Turkish budget carrier SunExpress opened the Dubai Airshow 2023 with an order for up to 90 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, split between 45 firm and 45 options for the manufacturer’s narrow-body aircraft. A joint venture between Turkish Airlines and Lufthansa, the all-Boeing 737 operator has an existing fleet of 66 planes.
“We have 45 confirmed orders, five options and purchase rights for 40 more aircraft,” said CEO of SunExpress Max T Kownatzki. With this order, the airline will essentially double its existing fleet in the next decade. “This is a CEO dream day,” said Kownatzki.
The confirmed order for 45 jets includes 28 Max 8s and 17 Max10s. The five options and 40 purchase rights are all for Max 8s, but the airline will have substitution rights.
“We also have an existing order for 42 aircraft placed in 2013 and 2019. And we are substituting some of the Max eights out of that order into 10. So the first ten we will receive is in 2027,” said the CEO.
Stan Deal, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, said Kownatzki’s predecessor exercised ten options for the 737 MAX 8 during the Dubai Airshow in 2019 when the aircraft was still grounded.
Riyadh Air unveils its second livery - in an iconic ‘iridescent shade’
Kicking off the days events, Saudi start-up Riyadh Air unveiled its second livery in a ‘virtual’ fashion at the Dubai Airshow. While the aircraft with the new livery wasn’t physically present at the Airshow, CEO Tony Douglas unveiled the iridescent, almost pearly white, livery using mixed reality medium.
18th edition of Dubai Airshow opens
With 1,400 exhibitors from 95 countries in aerospace, space, and defense, this year's show at Dubai World Central promises to surpass last year's 104,000 visitors.
Beyond fleet expansions, get ready for Boeing's B777-9, Gulfstream's cutting-edge jets, and Qatar Airways' impressive lineup. It all starts with Riyadh Air unveiling its new look, marking an exciting entrance into the scene.
There are 180 aircraft on display, including the Boeing 777-9, new liveries - Riyadh Air, Embraer's new profit hunter 'Tech Eagle', eVTOL vehicles and more.
How to get there
Organisers have recommended that registered visitors use the metro and free shuttle buses, which will operate from Ibn Battuta metro station directly to the Dubai Airshow site.
RTA buses and Dubai Airshow Shuttle buses will run from Ibn Battuta Metro station and The Address Dubai Marina from 7am to 7pm on a continuous loop to and from to the Dubai Airshow Site. Shuttle buses will also run from Al Maktoum Airport to Skyview at Dubai Airshow on a loop from 11am.
For the flying display - general public
The first shuttle bus from Ibn Battuta metro station to Skyview will leave at 11am, and the last shuttle bus returning from Skyview to Ibn Battuta metro station will leave at 7pm.
The Grandstand will be open from 1pm to 5.30pm on all days. Access for the general public will be limited to the Skyview grandstand arena only and not the main Airshow exhibition hall.