Guy Leitch, September 2022 – THIS MONTHS’ LONG DELAYED African Aerospace and Defence Expo (AAD) is a welcome shot in the arm for the South African aviation industry.

Guy Leitch.

AAD walks the tricky line of combining both the civilian and military sectors. This year there is a special emphasis on GA. Co-convenor is the Civil Aviation Association of South Africa (CAASA) whose acting CEO Kevin Storie says that CAASA is providing a brand-new GA hub at the forefront of the show. “This will boost the commercial and recreational side of aviation. The hub will provide direct access to a GA exhibition space and breakaway rooms for presentations. In addition, the Aero Club of South Africa gets its own outside display park for free.”

Storie points out that, “AAD is unique in that, unlike conventional airshows, it creates a powerful opportunity for the key players in general aviation to interact directly with buyers from all over the world, both from the civilian and commercial sectors. We are pleased to say that we already have almost all the key GA players signed up as exhibitors.”

“The growing demand for an exhibition’

South African aviation needs all the stimulus it can get – and AAD adds a lot of the required stimulus. Particularly baleful is the almost complete absence of funding for operational flying by the SAAF. Instead, our once highly capable air force has spent its money on big salaries for its massive overstaffing and for its vastly top-heavy ranks of generals and staff officers. The SAAF therefore cannot by its own admission afford to fly its Gripen front line fighter fleet and is struggling to give its pilots enough time in the air for them to remain current.

At the same time, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) have proven to be expensive systems. It is therefore good news that, at time of writing, the organisers are hopeful that the final sign-off will be obtained for a drone flying exhibition. This reflects the still growing demand for an exhibition to demonstrate the vast commercial and recreational opportunities in RPAS operations.

It is also good to see the South African home grown AHRLAC returning once again. The AHRLAC is an impressive aircraft up close.

The USA has declared its intention to have a strong presence at the expo. At time of writing it had announced that it is exhibiting the Boeing C-17 Globemaster, the Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker, a Lockheed C130J Hercules, a Boeing KC-46 Pegasus and a Sikorsky UH60 Black Hawk helicopter.

Finally – the future of aviation is being addressed by AAD’s youth development programme which is aimed at exposing learners to the complex technologies and innovation within the aviation and defence industries.

It’s great to have AAD back, and I look forward to meeting all our loyal supporters there.

It will be good to see the AHRLAC back at the show.
AAD is also about other military hardware.

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