Industry sources tell HeliHub.com that a move for the Helitech show is likely. The popular UK-based bi-annual event is reportedly moving away from Duxford Airfield to the ExCeL conference centre in London with the contract set to be signed any day now. Under the revised name of "Helitech International", the show still appears to be scheduled for 24-26 September 2013 - the same dates previously quoted for Duxford - although we have not been able to 100% confirm this.
Duxford's Esther Blaine confirmed that 2013 dates have not yet been agreed for Helitech. When we suggested the event was moving to another location, she referred us to the event organisers Reed Exhibitions and declined to comment further. ExCeL's Gemma Parkhouse confirmed that Reed had been in discussions with the conference center to move Helitech there, but nothing has yet been signed. Helitech PR representative Carol Sneath was unable to confirm the move when asked, and would only say that the organisers are always looking to ensure the event's location is best suited to the people it serves.
A handful of potential exhibitors we polled were most unhappy with the expected move, though, to the extent that they would considering boycotting the event. The ExCel conference centre will provide a handy route in and out for European visitors with London City Airport nearby, but is seen as a difficult place to access for those living in the UK. London City's proximity is also a great problem - the threshold of runway 09 is just 500m east of ExCeL's buildings, and the extended centre line passes less than 100m to the south. The airport 's Geraldine Nolan confirmed that no helicopter movements are allowed there as part of their planning restrictions from when it opened in 1987.
Overall this means Helitech International would have no visitors by air, no demonstration flights and it's likely that all show helicopters will need to arrive and depart by road. A major step backwards, and a decision which flies in the face of the success of the airfield location both at Duxford and Redhill in earlier years. The move from Redhill to Duxford was made as a result of two consecutive Helitech shows being marred by weather and the water-logging of the airfield - a number of industry stalwarts look back with a wry smile and refer to those years as "Welly Tech".
Duxford has typically hosted between 40 and 80 rotary and fixed wing visitors on the south side of the airfield most show days, and the static park area typically hosts 40-45 helicopters for visitors to "get up close and personal" with, plus a handful inside the exhibition hall. The Helitech website describes the event as "a must attend event for key buyers and manufacturers in the rotary market" but our quick straw poll suggested that while most will still try to visit, they are all sceptical of the intent behind the move and think it is both bad for the industry and question the logic of the move in these recessionary times.
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