While aviation enthusiasts may wax lyrical about agility and speed in airshow displays at the Australian International Airshow and Aerospace and Defence Exposition (Avalon 2023), industry visitors will study every aircraft for its potential as a business opportunity.
The first four days of Avalon 2023, from Tuesday 28 February to Friday 3 March, will be all about the business of aviation, aerospace and defence. Closed to the general public, the purpose-built exhibition halls at Avalon Airport will become the region’s largest single aerospace industry networking and marketing event.
Avalon is big, by any standard. The 2019 exposition’s trade days broke records, attracting 698 companies from more than 25 nations and more than 38,000 attendances, including 161 military, industry and government delegations from around the world. It saw 370 of the latest light aircraft, business jets, helicopters, airliners and military aircraft on display, watched some of the world’s most potent machinery put through its paces in daily air displays and attended 36 separate conferences, symposia and briefings on everything from advanced technologies to airport design, major defence acquisition programs, advanced manufacturing techniques, export opportunities, flight safety and government regulation.
And the vast majority will be here again in 2023, including major manufacturers such as Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Boeing, and suppliers large and small, including many of the 50-plus Australian companies that together have won more than $1.35 billion worth of work on the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
They will come for the opportunities created by the sheer concentration of industry, government, defence and academia. Avalon 2023 is an industry melting pot for sales, product launches, customer relationship development and market research, for seeking out potential suppliers and for keeping an eye on major competitors.
Every Avalon includes formal programs and mechanisms designed to help participants promote to their markets, including:
- Specialist conferences and symposia, including conferences of Australian Defence Force chiefs, major government and defence agencies, industry associations and international organisations;
- An industry exhibition featuring Australian and international companies, with formal business to business and business to government networking programs;
- Australian and international defence, industry, government and scientific delegations, with formal delegation access programs;
- Small business and export development programs and presentations;
- A prestigious innovation awards program; and
- Programs promoting STEM, careers and skilling.
Although seasoned campaigners usually arrive with meeting diaries overflowing, the Australian International Airshow and Aerospace and Defence Exposition is still the place where a company’s future can turn on a spontaneous five-minute exhibition stand presentation to a potential customer they may have been chasing for years, or one they discovered as part of the Avalon exposition.
And according to Justin Giddings, CEO of Avalon 2023 organiser AMDA Foundation, that is the event’s reason for being.
“The Australian International Airshow is specifically designed as a platform for engagement between industry, defence, government and academia, with formal business-to-business programs to help generate that interaction,” Giddings said.
“We have a long track record as the premier aviation, aerospace and defence trade event in Australia and the Indo Pacific region. We provide a shop window for local technology innovators, and we take Australia to the world by bringing the world to Australia. As such we have become an important driver of Australia’s aerospace and defence sector.”
AMDA Foundation’s charter is to promote the development of aviation, aerospace and Australian industrial, manufacturing and information/communications technology resources.
Avalon 2023 is a means to that end, providing a major event platform that allows industry associations, businesses and government to simply “plug in” and network as part of the wider aerospace community, because effectively the whole community is there.
The event is strong on industry development and has a history of presenting the cutting edge of technology for Australia’s armed forces and civil industry.
At Avalon 2015 Northrop Grumman flew its Global Hawk High Altitude Long Endurance uncrewed aircraft into the event, providing many with their first opportunity to see a military uncrewed vehicle in the metal.
Avalon 2017 saw the first in-country public appearance of Australia’s new Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which returned in 2019 for formal display.
Avalon 2019 also hosted the Space Industry Association of Australia’s inaugural Australian Space Industry Conference, designed to chart how Australian industry can play a part in this $400 billion world market.
The 2023 edition of Avalon will build on the space theme, welcoming the Australian Space Agency as a sponsor and exhibitor and will be showcasing Australian companies that are already demonstrating Australian ingenuity and innovation as part of the growing international space industry, while growing this sector as an industry in its own right at home.
The innovation theme carries through to the event’s own Innovation Awards program. At Avalon 2019 seven Australian innovators were presented with Innovation Awards worth some $45,000.
The winners included an SME whose Sapphire Crystal clock has “fast-forwarded” Defence’s Jindalee radar upgrade by 20 years, another whose Non-Intrusive-Flight-Test-Instrumentation (NIFTI) package makes it possible to instrument a supersonic aircraft with a “stick-on” test sensor package in a matter of hours instead of weeks, and a young innovator who is using 3D printing technology to build extremely complex rocket motor nozzles that will reduce space launch costs by up to 25 per cent.
All have the potential to build capability for the Australian Defence Force, while also offering possible export market opportunities for Australian industry.
The Avalon 2023 team also aims to build focus on some of Australia’s critical sectors, such as the aviation maintenance and repair organisation (MRO) sector, flight safety, regional airlines, business aviation and civil aviation in all its forms.
With COVID issues easing around the world, international interest in Avalon 2023 is already strong, as industry welcomes a return to doing business face to face.
Avalon 2023 is strongly supported by the Royal Australian Air Force, Australian Department of Defence, the Victorian Government, Airservices Australia, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority and a host of agencies responsible for innovation, infrastructure and industry development.
“This is the premier aviation, aerospace and defence event in the region and plays an important role in development of Australian industry,” said Giddings.
“We look forward to welcoming the Australian and international community to Avalon 2023.”