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Turin's Aerospace & Defense Meetings 2009: Fighting the Downturn

Aerospace & Defense Meetings (Turin, 28-29 October), the only international business convention for the aerospace and defense industry organized in Italy, concluded its second edition whose numbers testify to its success: 1.000 participants (suppliers, buyers and professional visitors) of which more than 450 took part in a programme of 7,000 b2b meetings.
The initiative falls within the framework of the Torino Piemonte Aerospace, sponsored by the Torino Chamber of Commerce and managed by Piemonte Agency, providing international buyers with a preferential channel to meet and start business with some 70 top class aerospace & defense selected enterprises based in Piemonte.
In comparison to the first edition, just 19 months ago, the overall situation of the aerospace and defence has dramatically worsened. The financial crisis (which has been apparently and surprisingly overcome) took a devastating toll of the air transport industry and defence procurement spending, the two main flywheels of the sectors.
Decreasing orders, delayed payments and redundancies were some of the major problems quoted by the participants, some of them striving to survive. Public research funding is also decreasing, thus bringing to standstill many innovative projects, often carried out by micro-companies.
In any case, a dedicated event such as Turin's "Meetings" has shown itself to be a timely instrument to better face the production downturn.
The major exhibits at the show included the Alenia Aeronautica Sky-Y full scale mock-up, the DigiSky SkySpark experimental green aircraft and two micro UAVs for automatic aerial phoyography and ground monitoring developed by Turin-based Pro S3, the motorglider-like Evolution and the all-wing Wave, the latter is launched by a catapult and has two interchangeable wing platforms.
The event included six workshops, one “Do Business with” conference, where Alenia Aermacchi illustrated its purchase policy, and two collateral events dedicated to China and India. These took place the day before and the day after the convention itself. The event was backed by the Torino Chamber of Commerce and organised by BCI Aerospace in collaboration with Piemonte Agency.
For two full days, the participating companies had the chance to meet and build up targeted business relations and develop new projects with enterprises from all over the world. For big players and primes “Aerospace & Defense Meetings” was a unique occasion to optimize time in their research of new suppliers and solutions.
Compared to the 2008 edition, the international presence increased by 25%. For the first time, two Chinese delegations took part in the event: Avic (Aviation Industry Corporation Group), and Binhai New Area, from Tianjin. It was also a debut event for Japan, while Israel was present with a significant number of companies.
Overall, 24 nations were represented, including a number of the big international players. To name but a few: Boeing, Embraer, General Electric, Saab, together with the Italian Alenia Aeronautica, Alenia Aermacchi, Avio, Thales Alenia Space, Selex Galielo e Microtecnica. Quite a few aerospace clusters were also present: Aerospace Valley, Ile de France and Rhône-Alpes from France and Baden-Württemberg from Germany, as well as the Italian ones in the Naples (CampaniaAerospace), Rome (Distretto Tecnologico Aerospaziale del Lazio), Brindisi (Distretto Aerospaziale Pugliese) and Varese (Verese Aeroindustry) areas. These cluster were established in recent years taking as exemple Torino Piemonte Aerospace.
Aerospace & Defense Meetings also hosted a scientific agenda that included the SAE conference on Green Aircraft. Here, the focus was on environmentally-friendly technologies for air transport, a crucial aspect in the light of the strategic environmental priorities set out by the "Clean Sky", the biggest European research project (2008-2014) dedicated to the aeronautical sector. It involves 54 companies from 16 EU countries, all working together to develop new technologies for future air transport: ecologic, eco-sustainable, featured by the reduction of CO2 emissions and noise and by a “green” life cycle of design, production, maintenance and recycling/disposal.
In the same days, Torino was also the venue of the first operative convention of the European Arospace Cluster Partnership (EACP), the new European network dedicated to the aerospace sector, which includes the Torino Piemonte Aerospace project among its members.
Aerospace & Defense Meetings confirmed the technological excellence and the competitive position of the Italian aerospace industries, especially those of Piedmont. It will rotate with the Aeromart in Tolouse and thus return in 2011.

In the picture: A view of Turin's Aerospace & Defense Meetings 2009, with DigiSky SkySpark experimental green aircraft in foreground. (Aeromedia)

(Aeromedia, October 2009)