UAM AirInsight guest post by Dr. Sayem Zafar, Ph.D., Camel Works Design, UAE
Dubai Airshow always aims to impress visitors by doing everything in grand style, and the 2019 edition, held at Dubai World Central from November 17th to November 21st, most certainly did not disappoint.
This biannual event was a magnet for aerospace companies, manufacturers, and suppliers from all over the world. Gathered under one big roof to show off the very best of their production, the United States, Russia and China led the way in terms of numbers of exhibits and booths. Overall, this year’s edition boasted 1,288 exhibitors, 161 aircraft on static display and it closed at 84,043 trade attendees. By the end of the five-day event, amidst record-breaking attendance numbers, a total of $54.5 billion worth of deals was made. It has to be reported, however, that no major UAM deals were signed.
Commercial and military aircraft were not the only air-borne products on display at Dubai Airshow; unmanned aerial systems (UAS) were also a key part of the exhibition, ranging from small electric drones to high altitude long-range systems. Urban air mobility (UAM) systems developed by Boeing were also showcased at the 2019 Dubai Airshow. Although only a limited number of UAMs were on display, they attracted a great deal of attention; the tantalizing prospect of flying taxis for residents and visitors alike to hail and hop onto turned the display into one of the most exciting of the entire airshow.
Dubai, renown throughout the world for its futuristic spirit, is known to have shown a definite interest in implementing the UAM systems. Although Boeing displayed a limited number of UAMs, they impressed the visitors by demonstrating the real experimental prototype of Aurora’s Passenger Air Vehicle (PAV). This little gem is a two-seater electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft, equipped with nine motor-propeller systems – four on each side provide vertical lift, and a single-engine in pusher propeller configuration to provide forward thrust.
Boeing had both and indoor and outdoor spaces at this year’s Dubai Airshow – the latter to exhibit the PAV, and the former to display a model of their cargo air vehicle (CAV).
The show did not have a separate section for unmanned systems since the show’s focus is commercial and conventional military aircraft, however, although not present at the event, Volocopter, a German-based UAM system manufacturer, is known to have signed an agreement with Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA). Generally speaking, there was no real buzz about drones or unmanned systems at Dubai Airshow, and, at the moment, there have been no announcements about orders for any unmanned systems.