Over 60% of the worlds corporate airline fleet was represented in the Middle East this week at the show.

One of the biggest stories was Boeing Business Jets' announcement of the launch of the BBJ 777X, which it says is the longest range business jet ever.

Airbus is optimistic that it will confirm a launch customer for the widest business jet in the world when it inks the deal for the first ACJ350 XWB but in the meantime, it is focusing on the first ACJ320neo, which will be handed over to AMAC Aerospace in Basel in the next few weeks to outfit the cabin for the UK operator Acropolis.

Saudi Arabia

At the opposite end of the market, there was great interest in the Cirrus Vision, the personal jet which was making a Middle East debut at the show.  Private and general aviation is opening up in Saudi Arabia, the largest country in the region with 27 airports.

Saudi Arabia is predicting a demand for 5,000 pilots over the next five years. This was good news for Austrian manufacturer, Diamond Aircraft, which completed an order for 60 of its twin DA-42s and single-engine DA40s for the new CAE-led Saudi National Company of Aviation Academy in Dammam.

New names

There were new names in the halls too. It was goodbye Rockwell Collins, hello Collins Aerospace. The famous brand is now part of UTC and kicked off with a contract win signing a deal with ExecuJet for Africa's first "Stage" IFE and Jet ConneX satellite connectivity.

Dubai-headquartered flight support company JetEx revealed plans for a global expansion promising an additional 20 new fixed-base operators (FBOs) around the world over the next two years. Latest targets include Chile and China. JetEx also strengthened its arm with an agreement to become sales distributor to the Middle East, Turkey and Pakistan for the HondaJet.

Luxury

As you might expect, there were plenty of products and services aiming at the luxury end of the marke, from watches to food.

For example, Carter & White's portfolio of luxury linen that proved so popular in the yacht market is now being offered to private jet owners. The Giza Egyptian cotton sheets are woven to include personalisation such as your initials or a corporate logo.

If your taste is more towards matching your luxury limo then Airbus Corporate Helicopters think the cabin mock-up they were showing, designed and built by Mercedes Benz, could be part of the attraction for potential owners of the ACH145.

Innovation

Innovation was a key theme of the MEBAA conference, with calls for more disruption in the industry. While manufacturers were adopting 3D printing and robotics, speakers argued that aerospace could fall behind the curve through being hampered by overregulation and conservatism.

One company taking up the call was trip support and aviation services, Click Aviation Network, which is applying artificial intelligence to its Omega platform, allowing operators and suppliers access to the system which learns as it goes to make it easier and quicker to plan and receive services.

This is our last event wrap of 2018 but stay tuned for more in the New Year!

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