...The numbers show just what South Mississippi economic development
officials will be up against at the Farnborough International Airshow in July.
They’ll be among 70 delegations from 38 countries, all hoping to grab a chunk
of the world’s multibillion-dollar aerospace industry.
...The nearly week-long event will include 132,000 trade visitors, 153,000
public visitors, 1,393 exhibitors from 40 countries, 29 international pavilions
and 165 aircraft on display, and it will be covered by 1,800 media personnel.
...International air shows bring together all the key players in one place at one
time. It’s a great time to meet with companies spread throughout the world.
And it’s also a great time to make a splash. That’s just what South Mississippi
plans to do.
...The Aerospace Alliance, a four-state group that includes Mississippi, is
hosting a reception for about 500 aerospace executives and prospects at
London’s Kensington Palace the Sunday before the opening. The group will
be represented by over 100 participants, and each member of the group put
together a list of prospects they want invited.
...The event at Kensington, a palace of the British royal family since the 17th
century, is bound the get attention. But South Mississippi isn’t just depending
on that in order to turn some heads. The state of Mississippi will have its own
pavilion that will include individual kiosks for each of the state’s aerospace
regions, including South Mississippi.
...“The Mississippi Development Authority is providing tremendous support
for all the state and regional groups represented at this year’s show,” said
George Freeland, executive director of the Jackson County Economic
Development Foundation. He thinks the multiple levels of exposure gives
South Mississippi plenty of opportunities to show what it has to offer
...But when all is said and done, it’s the individual, person-to-person meetings
that matter most.
...“We’ve got individual meeting all week that are really stacking up,” said
Freeland. As in past air shows, the South Mississippi team goes with a list of
appointments. Some are repeat visits, some new, some are for specific
projects, some are not. It’s a dizzying round of meetings. At the very least,
the idea is to ensure South Mississippi is on a prospect’s radar.
...South Mississippi has considerable aerospace assets. It’s a member of a
select club of areas with a NASA facility. This one, John C. Stennis Space
Center, tests rocket and jet engines, and includes companies that build
aerospace propulsion systems and satellite components.
...South Mississippi also has a state-of-the-art plant that makes portions of two
types of unmanned aerial systems, and two areas approved for UAV flights.
There’s also a growing commercial airport that hosts a National Guard aerial
combat training center and one of the four Army National Guard helicopter
...Military activities range from special operations to aerial combat training.
South Mississippi has an Air Force electronics training center that includes
cyber security training. Ranges in the Gulf of Mexico and at Camp Shelby,
north of Gulfport, attract military from outside the region.
...The biggest companies in the aerospace industry have operations in South
Mississippi, and there are a number of smaller, agile companies doing
innovative work for the defense department. There’s also a cluster of
companies creating applications for geospatial technologies and another cluster
working with advanced materials.
...Every public university in the state has an operation here, and it has two
community colleges intent on training the workforce.
...That’s what they’ll drive home.
...But they will continue to stress that their assets are part of three large
aerospace regions. South Mississippi is in a state that has made aerospace a
target area, and it’s part of the I-10 aerospace corridor, which runs between
New Orleans and Northwest Florida. It’s also part of The Aerospace Alliance,
which involves Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Northwest Florida.
...The July 19-25 air show is expected to attract hundreds of thousands of
visitors and result in some $88.7 billion in business orders. The previous show
in 2008 attracted nearly 300,000 visitors. Exhibition space for this year’s show
is sold out.
...Unmanned aerial systems, a high growth segment of the aerospace industry,
will be prominently featured at Farnborough this year. The air show’s
electronic magazine, “First,” featured UAVs in the second issue with the cover
headline “Rise of the Machines.”
...And in a first for the Farnborough show, organizers have secured an
agreement in principal from the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority and airport
authorities to allow UAVs to be demonstrated as a regular part of the display
...That, along with the UAV pavilion, is bound to catch the attention of
Freeland, whose county builds portions of the Fire Scout and Global Hawk,
and he’s constantly on the lookout for ways to bring more UAV operations to
the Jackson County Aviation Technology Park in Moss Point.
...One of the subplots of this year’s show, as in previous shows, will be the
fierce competition between Boeing and Europe’s EADS to build tankers for
the U.S. Air Force. The 2008 Farnborough was five months after the
Northrop Grumman and EADS team won the Air Force tanker contest, and a
month after that decision was overturned after a Boeing protest. This year it
appears the chances for EADS building tankers in Alabama are a bit slim.
Northrop Grumman threw in the towel four months ago, believing the request
for proposals favored the smaller Boeing tanker. Now EADS is going it alone.
...An editorial in the Mobile Press-Register pointed out that the decision by
the European Aeronautic Defense and Space Co. to bid for the tanker without
Northrop Grumman is still a positive for Mobile. At worst, EADS’ move gives
economic development leaders in Mobile more time to tout this city’s capacity
for aerospace and defense work on the international stage. At best, EADS
could win the contract worth potentially $40 billion. - David Tortorano