The 60-second interview: Rees Ward, CEO of ADS

Posted on 18 Jun 2012 by The Manufacturer

Jane Gray talks to Rees Ward, CEO of the aerospace, defence, security and space trade body, ADS, about the imminence of Farnborough International Air Show 2012, the world’s largest trade show for its sectors.

Farnborough International Air Show 2012 will take place from July 9-15.

120,000 trade visitors are expected at the show in 2012 and there are around 1400 registered exhibitors.

In 2012 Farnborough International Air Show will launch a new zone for aviation security sponsored by FLIR Systems.

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TM: Why is Farnborough such an important event for those in ADS’ sectors?

RW: It is a vital and unique opportunity for the sector’s fraternity to gather and communicate in an efficient and direct way. You can do so much business at Farnborough. 2008 was our record year when £88bn worth of deals were struck at the show. And even the 2010 show, which took place at a difficult time for our sectors, was strong with £47bn worth of business done. This year 25 per cent of exhibitors are new to the show, so we should expect plenty of appetite.

TM: But Farnborough is not just about trade – how important are the public days?

RW: This is the other side of the coin. It more important than ever to take opportunities to celebrate industry in the public eye and to engage with the public. A show like Farnborough which attracts a wealth of professional and technical expertise is the perfect place for the general public to familiarise themselves with the detail of the industry. Perhaps most importantly the public days offer a chance to enthuse our next generation of aerospace engineers. We can parade the advanced technology the industry is creating and using every day.

“Farnborough has always been an international show, but this year the foreign delegations are particularly strong.”

TM: Exports have been a hot topic for government and industry as the economy seeks growth. Will this be reflected at Farnborough 2012?

RW: Government has been very clear on exports. They are the only way we can hope to grow and create economic stability alongside attracting inward investment. Farnborough International Air Show brings both those agendas together. Farnborough has always been an international show, but this year the foreign delegations are particularly strong. Russia, China and Brazil will all be there in strength. India is sending a big delegation and Mexico too has sizably increased it presence for 2012 after exhibiting for the first time in 2010. Civil aerospace is booming and I expect a lot of the international business at Farnborough will be in this area. But Japan has recently made important changes to its defence policy and this may prove significant for exhibitors.

TM: Do you feel that Government recognises the importance of Farnborough International Air Show? At ADS’ annual dinner in February the trade body’s president, Robin Southwell, compared the commitment of the Prime Minister to Farnborough unfavourably with that of the French President to the Paris Air Show.

RW: I can’t comment with regards to the Prime Minister. But so far a number of key ministers have expressed their intent to visit the 2012 show. More generally, there has been a marked improvement in ADS’ dialogue with government over the past three years. We are now recognised as the prime interlocutor for representing the interests of our sectors. This has come after several years of much needed consolidation in the trade body space for aerospace, defence security and space. We have now settled internally.