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Supersonic ILA: 95,000 Visitors, 600 Exhibitors Power 31-Nation Showcase

The International Aerospace Exhibition (ILA) Berlin, held from June 5 to 9, concluded with a triumphant display of global aerospace innovation, attracting 95,000 participants across five action-packed days. The figure marks a significant rise in visitor numbers.
Over 600 exhibitors representing 31 nations presented a dazzling array of hi-tech innovations and R&D projects, while 200 delegations from around 60 countries participated in high-level discussions. 
“Pioneering Aerospace” wasn’t just a slogan – it was a tangible theme. The event fostered discussions on critical topics like climate-neutral aviation, security and defence, and the expanding potential of space exploration. 
Some 350 speakers discussed the latest aerospace topics on four stages. Key subjects were climate-neutral aviation, security and defence and the benefits of space flight for humanity. 
For the first time, the Talent Hub brought together talented individuals of all ages and backgrounds with employers. Over 40 exhibitors from across the industry participated, attracting around 1,500 visitors, including students, career changers, and professionals seeking new opportunities.
Public interest mirrored the industry’s enthusiasm, with tickets for the open weekend selling out swiftly.
Forging the Future
Martin Kroell, a board member and the Small and Medium-sized Enterprise (SME) officer of the BDLI (German Aerospace Industries Association), emphasised the importance of ILA Berlin for the German aerospace industry. He noted that the event not only served as a platform to showcase the industry’s innovative capabilities to both trade visitors and the public but also benefited significantly from political insights and ideas. 
According to Kroell, ILA Berlin brought together all the key stakeholders necessary for maintaining technological leadership, facilitating discussions on crucial topics such as zero-emissions aviation, the defence of freedom, and Europe’s sovereign access to space.
Dr. Mario Tobias, CEO, Messe Berlin GmbH, said: “Whether the subject is eVTOL aircraft, climate-friendly propulsion systems or satellite networks – ILA stands for innovation, new technology and sustainability in aerospace more than any other event. As always, ILA topics are up-to-the-minute – this year’s event was impressive proof of that.”
 Strong Government Presence
Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz opened ILA Berlin with a tour, emphasising the federal government’s support for a leading German and European aerospace industry in civil aviation, defence, and space flight. He announced the purchase of 20 additional Eurofighters.
Scholz, accompanied by key figures including Federal Minister of Transport Dr. Volker Wissing, Brandenburg’s Minister President Dr. Dietmar Woidke, and Federal Government Coordinator of German Aerospace Policy Dr. Anna Christmann, opened the event.
From Drones to Stealth Fighters
The exhibition offered a comprehensive glimpse into the future of flight with a stunning display of over 100 aircraft. From agile drones and versatile helicopters to the awe-inspiring Emirates A380 passenger jet, the exhibition showcased the entire spectrum of aerospace technology.
Sustainability took centrestage, with the A321 XLR, boasting a 30 per cent reduction in fuel consumption per passenger compared to its predecessor, exemplifying advancements in eco-friendly aviation. 
ILA also highlighted the frontiers of research with the A310 Air Zero G, a platform for parabolic flight research, and the Do 328, a flying test bed for innovative green technologies.
Military aviation enthusiasts were treated to a dynamic display featuring the cutting-edge Loyal Wingman unmanned combat aerial vehicle, the powerful A400M transport aircraft, and the first-ever ILA appearance of the F-35 multirole stealth fighter. 
Zero Debris Charter 
The diversity wasn’t just on display, it was reflected in the deals announced. Germany’s Federal Minister secured €1.9 billion worth of H225 Super Puma helicopters for law enforcement, showcasing the event’s ability to facilitate major contracts. Sustainability wasn’t just a talking point; the Working Group on Climate-neutral Aviation presented recommendations, and over 40 entities signed the Zero Debris Charter to combat space debris.
Aviation Future Lab
The focus on the four stages was on the latest aerospace topics. Whether the subject was alternative propulsion systems such as hydrogen or batteries, or optimised manufacturing using lightweight designs, new materials and aerodynamics for minimising CO2 emissions – achieving zero-emissions aviation by 2050 was one of the key topics on the ILA Aviation Future Lab stage. 
The Advanced Air Mobility stage explored the future of three-dimensional mobility. Unmanned systems and electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft were a hot topic, with potential applications for wind turbine maintenance, medical supply delivery, and even search and rescue.
At the Defence Forum Air, under the slogan “Airpower Worldwide — Global Perspective / Regional Focus,” the Bundeswehr and industry highlighted the air force’s crucial role in maintaining peace, freedom, and security. Each of the three days focused on a different region: Central Europe, the Indo-Pacific, and the Global Perspective.
At the Space Pavilion, the emphasis was on the benefits of space flight for life on Earth. Highlights included the “Talking to Astronauts” segment featuring Matthias Maurer, Alexander Gerst, Thomas Pesquet, Nicola Winter, Amelie Schoenenwald, and Samantha Cristoforetti. 
ESA announced the launch date for Ariane 6 as July 9.
Here are some standouts among the participants at ILA Berlin 2024:
Emirates Joins aireg for SAF Push
Emirates has become the first international airline to join aireg, a German initiative promoting sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). The partnership signifies Emirates’  commitment to environmental responsibility and advancing SAF development.
The official signing ceremony took place at ILA Berlin 2024, with representatives from Emirates, aireg, and the German government. 
Sir Tim Clark, Emirates President, emphasised the need for collaboration in making SAF commercially viable and praised aireg’s leadership in this area.
Germany is a key market for Emirates, and this partnership strengthens their commitment to sustainability in the region. aireg aims to increase domestic SAF production and use in Germany.
The airline has already taken several steps towards sustainable aviation. It operates flights using SAF from various European hubs and collaborated with Shell to introduce SAF supplies in Dubai.
The A380 on display at ILA Berlin 2024 uses blended fuel containing SAF, showcasing their active contribution to reducing carbon emissions at the event.
Airbus Unveils Wingman Drone Concept 
Airbus showcased a novel “Wingman” concept at the Show. The unmanned fighter drone, controlled by pilots in manned combat aircraft like the Eurofighter, aims to augment manned capabilities.
Similar to a “show car” in the auto industry, the 1:1 Wingman model served as a design exercise, showcasing potential features like low observability, weapon integration, advanced sensors, and communication solutions. This model may not represent the final production version, but it lays the groundwork for future Wingman iterations.
The Wingman concept fills a gap identified by the German Air Force, which requires unmanned platforms to support manned fighter jets before the Future Combat Air System arrives in 2040. Tasks envisioned for the Wingman include reconnaissance, jamming enemy signals, and engaging ground or airborne targets with precision weapons.
“Command fighters” in manned aircraft will retain ultimate control of missions, leveraging the Wingman for protection and reduced risk while delegating specific tasks. This concept also aims to increase combat mass at an affordable cost, allowing air forces to match opposing forces in potential conflicts.
By introducing the Wingman, Airbus offers a German-made solution to enhance airpower effectiveness and potentially multiply the capabilities of fighter fleets in the 2030s. 
Safran Powers Bundespolizei
Safran Helicopter Engines will power the German Federal Police’s (Bundespolizei) new fleet of Airbus H225 helicopters, the selection of which was announced at the show. The 38 helicopters will be powered by Makila 2A engines.
The German Federal Police, which already operates a fleet of Makila-powered AS332 and H215 helicopters, is thus renewing its confidence in the engine. With this contract, its helicopter fleet will continue to be powered entirely by Safran.
The Makila 2A, powering all variants of the H225, is a 2,100 shp engine which will contribute to expanding the Bundespolizei’s operational capabilities. Makila 2A engine family has earned a reputation for reliability and robustness among operators operating in challenging conditions, notably in demanding police and defence environments. It has accumulated over 12 million flight hours.
Safran Helicopter Engines Germany in Hamburg monitors and supports 300 helicopter operators in Germany, Northern Europe, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, for a total fleet of 2,000 engines. In Germany, Safran powers the majority of police and armed forces helicopters. 
Diehl Unveils Modular Computer Platforms
Diehl Aviation made a strong showing at ILA 2024, showcasing its latest technologies across multiple areas.
The company unveiled its modular computer platforms, designed for enhanced flexibility, scalability, and weight reduction in future aircraft. These platforms are crucial for meeting the demanding needs of the Future Combat Air System (FCAS).
Committed to eco-friendly solutions, Diehl presented lightweight solutions for electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft (eVTOLs) and innovative products like the ECO sidewall, reducing weight and carbon footprint in passenger aircraft. Its ECO Efficiency Demonstrator highlighted a range of sustainable technologies for future air travel.
Diehl’s “Future Cabin” exhibit offered a glimpse into the future of passenger experiences. Featuring redesigned window areas, bio-inspired construction, and smart digitisation, the cabin prioritises sustainability, passenger comfort, and operational efficiency.
Lockheed-Rheinmetall Collaboration
Lockheed Martin, the global aerospace and deterrence company, and Rheinmetall, a leading international systems provider for security technology, have signed a collaboration memorandum of understanding (MoU) at ILA Berlin. 
The two companies aim to collaborate in areas including land, air and naval forces as well as in simulation and maintenance. Specifically, this includes rocket artillery systems, laser weapon systems, simulation and training for land vehicles and helicopters, short-range air defence (SHORAD) and other areas of cooperation.
Ray Piselli, vice president International at Lockheed Martin, said: “The MoU marks a further step in the development of Lockheed Martin’s maturing relationship with Rheinmetall and will deliver business opportunities for both companies internationally.”
Armin Papperger, CEO of Rheinmetall AG, added: “Both companies have specific capabilities and technological expertise that complement each other perfectly. It is our declared goal to serve our customers from this ambitious partnership with cutting-edge technology that combines the best of both companies.”
As part of the international F-35 supply chain, Rheinmetall will soon start the production of up to 400 F-35 centre fuselages. 
Rheinmetall Showcases Innovative Solutions
Rheinmetall solidified its role as a leading defence technology provider at the event, showcasing a range of innovative solutions. Its motto, “Taking responsibility in dimension air,” reflected its commitment to addressing current and future threats.
Skyranger 30 Air Defence System: This mobile air defence system, mounted on a Boxer 8x8 armoured vehicle, garnered significant attention. Its combination of mobility, firepower, and precision offers a robust solution against evolving threats.
Laser Weapon Demonstrator (LWD): Developed in collaboration with MBDA Deutschland, this demonstrator showcased the potential of laser technology for targeted defence against drones, missiles, and projectiles. 
LUNA NG Airborne Reconnaissance System: Responding to the critical need for real-time reconnaissance, the company presented the LUNA NG drone. This latest unmanned system provides exceptional capabilities for object detection and classification during extended missions. Concept models showcasing its potential for vertical take-off and landing and weapon engagement were also on display.
Loitering Munitions: Through a partnership with UVision, Rheinmetall showcased the Hero family of loitering munitions. These systems offer infantry units enhanced long-range reconnaissance and precise target engagement capabilities.
F-35 Fuselage Centre Section Production: Highlighting its role in advanced aerospace projects, Rheinmetall presented its progress on the F-35 Lightning II fighter aircraft. It’s constructing a new facility to manufacture fuselage centre sections for this advanced fighter, solidifying its position within the global aerospace supply chain.
ILA 2026: Takeoff to the Future 
From groundbreaking deals and sustainability initiatives to captivating space exploration discussions, ILA Berlin 2024 propelled the aerospace industry forward. 
ILA 2022 had culminated with 550 exhibitors, 72,000 visitors, 360 speakers, 60 aircraft exhibits and 159 delegations from 77 countries.
One can expect the 2026 edition, scheduled for June 10-14, to build on this momentum, showcasing even more cutting-edge technologies and fostering crucial collaborations that will shape the future of flight.

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