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Makers of business jets and ultralight aircraft are reporting full order books. Helicopters, the "worker bees of the aviation industry", are in high demand for transport and emergency rescue applications. But the highest demand is for pilots of all aircraft types. The market for gliders and sailplanes, the leading companies of which come from Germany, is considered extremely stable worldwide, with a lively debate in the aircraft industry on the topic of air taxis.
At the moment, taking a quick, cheap and environmentally friendly hop from place to place in an air taxi is still just a dream. But according to Dr. Andreas Thellmann from the Urban Air Mobility unit at Airbus, interest in such vehicles is tremendous and development is starting to take off. This became clear during the AERO industry talks on the first day of the exhibition, with experts from the aviation industry providing detailed and professional insights into the various segments.
Gliders, sailplanes and ultralights, business jets and helicopters all belong to the general aviation sector, with sales amounting to more than 20 billion dollars worldwide. According to Kyle Martin, spokesperson for the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), the industry closed out the year 2018 with an increase in aircraft sales totaling 5.1 percent.
"A good year" was the review of Dr. Nicolas von Mende, board member of Atlas Air Service AG. He reported that his company sold a total of 18 business jets in 2018. "We're very well satisfied with this result," he said, going on to explain that with 750 business aircraft in service, Germany is the company's leading market in Europe.
Jo Konrad, chairperson of the German ultralight association DULV, reported that his market has been growing steadily for 35 years. "The level of interest in UL machines, which as of recently can weigh up to 600 kilograms [approx. 1320 pounds], remains very high. Business is booming."
Ultralight aircraft makers are one of the largest groups of exhibitors at the AERO in Friedrichshafen, which will be open until Saturday, April 13. The international aviation exhibition kicked off this year with a record-breaking 757 exhibitors from 40 countries. The proportion of foreign exhibitors is also unprecedented, with every second exhibitor coming from abroad. Roland Bosch, Head of AERO, reported that this year beat the previous record number of exhibitors, set in 2017 at 707 exhibitors, by 50. This represents an increase of seven percent. Every company of significance in the global general aviation segment will be in attendance at the fair on the shores of Lake Constance. "The AERO in Friedrichshafen is Europe's largest exhibition for general aviation, and with regard to innovations and premieres, it's the industry's foremost exhibition in the world," said Roland Bosch at an industry talk on Wednesday.
Afterward, Martin Landgraf, lieutenant colonel and acting head of the helicopter unit of the Baden-Württemberg state police, reported on the use of drones by the police. The police in Baden-Württemberg started a state-wide project in 2016 to test the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). For imaging purposes, UAVs have quickly attained a very high degree of acceptance and appreciation in police circles. The project is testing various multicopters of a number of manufacturers from the professional and commercial segment.
The AERO 2019 will take place from Wednesday, April 10, to Saturday, April 13, 2019, in Friedrichshafen, Germany. It will be open on Wednesday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.