PART 1: ILA 2024 was worth attending

This year’s biennial air show, ILA Berlin, was an event of superlatives. Around 600 exhibitors from 31 countries ran stands, booths, or entire halls, as in the case of Airbus, Diehl or European defense giant, MBDA. In addition to the many presentations and panel discussions, the daily air shows also provided numerous visual highlights for exhibitors and, at the weekend [08. – 09. June 2024], for the general public. They came in large numbers, the organizer speaks of 95,000 attendees, attracted by the fascination of aviation. The next ILA Berlin takes place from 10. – 14. June 2026.

The organizers of Messe Berlin placed the event focus on innovation, new technology, and sustainability. Three hot topics offering many takeaways and thus making it a trade show well worth attending. Mario Tobias, CEO of Messe Berlin, highlighted this in his summary: “This year, ILA Berlin has grown and become more international, underlining its role as Europe’s leading innovative trade fair for the aerospace industry. We welcomed exhibitors from all over the world – both long-standing partners and those new to the show or back after a long break. ILA mirrors the entire range of products of the industry and its value chain and is the ideal platform for dialogue and finding out about the latest trends in aviation and technical innovations.”

The use of H2 must be embedded in an overarching concept
Speaking of trends, ILA showcased remarkable concepts and projects aimed at replacing fossil fuel by green hydrogen in order to decarbonize the aviation sector. This is not just about the fuel as an energy source for aircraft, but a complete package that must be taken into consideration. During a panel, Nicole Dreyer-Langlet, VP Technical & Engineering Germany and Member of the Board of Management at Airbus, made clear what this entails: “In addition to the future fueling of aircraft with H2, it is also about fast refueling times, the storage of sufficient quantities of hydrogen at airports, the transfer of specialist knowledge to ground handling personnel, and high investments by all stakeholders in the conversion from fossil fuel to climate-neutral fuels.” To this end, the manager announced that Airbus will be setting up demonstrations in Scandinavia, New Zealand, Singapore, Paris, and Stuttgart, to impart knowledge and skills to staff on how to handle green hydrogen properly and safely. Ms. Dreyer-Langlet also confirmed that a first H2 powered Airbus jetliner will be airborne by 2035. This is an important statement, as there were indications in the ILA run-up that Airbus could postpone this date by several years.

Full house – aviation aficionados crowded on the apron and within the pavilions of the Berlin-held aviation shows – photo: courtesy ILA

ILA gives talent a forum
On the last day of the exhibition, the focus was on the Talent Hub. It was aimed at bringing gifted people of all ages and backgrounds together with representatives of the industry. 40 exhibitors from all sectors of the aviation industry took part in the Talent Hub. Around 1,500 participants attended, including students and school children, but also career changers and experienced professionals looking for new challenges and job opportunities.
The Talent Shop is noteworthy because when it comes to attracting young talent, aviation is in fierce competition with IT companies, automotive manufacturers, and the pharmaceutical industry, to name just three examples. A study by Maastricht University in the Netherlands, found that only 1.7% of the students surveyed could imagine working for an aerospace company one day. In contrast, 7.3% were interested in a future job in the IT sector, and 6.1% in the automotive industry.

Air freight was part of ILA
Even though the military presence was significantly higher than at previous events due to the Russian war against Ukraine, air freight topics were also at the forefront. This was primarily in connection with the overarching aspect of decarbonization and the net zero goal of airlines and their associations come 2050. CargoForwarder Global has picked out three sustainable concepts and products exhibited at the ILA, as examples that have the potential to become trendsetters, and illustrated them in separate articles in this week’s issue.

See PART 2.

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