Helitech to move to Farnborough; organizers strive to convince OEMs

Conference organizer Reed Exhibitions and the European Helicopter Association (EHA) are to part ways following this year’s edition of Helitech International in Amsterdam, the Netherlands — the last under the current partnership between the two organizations.

Organizers say the strong point of the new location is its airport, which provides attendees the ability to fly in and arrange demonstration flights.
Organizers say the strong point of the new location is its airport, which provides attendees the ability to fly in and arrange demonstration flights. Rob Reyno Photo
Advertisement

Reed has already announced the Farnborough International exhibition and conference center, in London’s outskirts, will host the 2019 edition of the show, which will be rebranded the “Vertical Flight Expo.”

Organizers say the strong point of the new location is its airport, which provides attendees the ability to fly in and arrange demonstration flights — something extremely difficult to do in its previous U.K. location at the Excel convention center in central London.

Meanwhile, the EHA hopes to organize a new event from 2020 in Cologne, Germany, in conjunction with the European Aviation Safety Agency’s (EASA) Rotorcraft Symposium. “EHA will no longer support Helitech,” EHA chairman Jaime Arque told Vertical. He hinted the 2020 event will be “with EASA and the OEMs.” EHA is to elect a new chairman on Friday.

The evolution of Helitech was a response to exhibitor feedback, according to event manager Teresa Heitor. The 2019 edition, in addition to being held at an airfield, will include unmanned rotorcraft, she said — hence the change in name to the Vertical Flight Expo. The new title will coexist with the “Helitech” name for a couple of years, she said. The British helicopter association (BHA) will be Reed’s partner in Farnborough.

The event “lost some of its soul” when it moved from Duxford airfield into urban exhibitions centers (in London and Amsterdam) from 2013, said Heitor. She believes her team has found the best of both worlds – a professional exhibition center next to an airfield – in Farnborough. She claims the site is a 30-minute drive from both Heathrow airport and Waterloo station. Shuttle buses will be available from Farnbrough Main station and hotels, she added.

“We need more aircraft, more pilots, and more technology demonstrations,” Heitor said. The show is envisaged as a biennial event in Farnborough. Making it annual or moving it to continental Europe is a future possibility, depending on the eventual impact of the UK’s decision to leave the EU.

Advertisement

Heitor’s team is now striving to attract airframers to the event – namely, Airbus Helicopters, Bell, Kopter, Leonardo and Sikorsky.

A senior executive at a manufacturer said that the four OEMs currently exhibiting in Amsterdam – Airbus, Bell, Kopter and Leonardo – are to meet and look for common ground on whether to book a stand for 2019. As of Oct. 17 at 12 noon, local time, Bell had cancelled a reservation (an agreement in principle, before contract signing), Heitor said.

The bone of contention between Reed and the EHA seems to have been the issue of revenue sharing.

A source familiar with the show’s history told Vertical that when the show was expanded under the EHA-Reed venture, the EHA was given a share of the revenues as a compensation for its efforts to promote the event. But the amount dwindled because some major exhibitors’ attendance was irregular. A new agreement that would have contributed to pay for EHA’s overhead costs could not be reached, partly because of an agreement between Reed and the BHA, the source said.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *