AERO history


The history of Friedrichshafen’s international aviation trade show started in 1978 with about 35 exhibitors.

AERO will embark on its 27th flight. Alongside events such as the EAA Oshkosh, the AERO Friedrichshafen constitutes one of the most important trade shows in the industry and, as Europe’s number one international trade show in general aviation, it plays an important role globally too.

At Lake Constance, numerous companies will be displaying their latest products and innovations, covering the whole industry from ultralights and gliders to business jets, helicopters and electric aircraft as well as avionics and maintenance. Formerly a biennial event, the AERO Friedrichshafen has now become an annual “must” for over 700 international exhibitors and 35,000 visitors, including pilots, aviation specialists and journalists. The public will see world firsts and European firsts, with about 700 journalists from around the world reporting on new developments in aviation. Due to its central location in Europe and considering its ultramodern facilities with next-door airport access, the AERO Friedrichshafen enjoys a distinctive locational advantage. 

The success of the AERO Friedrichshafen has depended not only on its strategic concept as a trade show specially tailored to the needs of general aviation and with a clearly defined target group, but also on Friedrichshafen’s reputation as a cradle of aviation. The early days saw major aircraft builders such as Zeppelin, Dornier, Kober and Maybach manufacturing their airships, seaplanes, engines and airplanes here at Lake Constance, thus establishing the image and expertise of Messe Friedrichshafen in all things aviation. 

International corporations such as Airbus Defence and Space, Rolls-Royce Deutschland Ltd. & Co. KG, Dornier, ZF, Zeppelin Metallwerke and Zeppelin Luftschiffbau all have roots in Friedrichshafen, and operate today as leaders in the aviation industry and other high-tech areas. The year 2012 saw a major anniversary in this field: 100 years of seaplane construction on Lake Constance.

1977: Launch with 14 exhibitors
AERO Friedrichshafen first began as part of the regional motorsports exhibition RMF. In 1977, that trade show included for the first time some 14 exhibitors who presented gliders and pilot equipment. Despite the atypical beginnings of this aviation trade event, audience response was much stronger than organizers expected. At the time, Europe had no comparable trade show for general aviation, so exhibitor numbers immediately doubled in the second year. Supported by a booming ultralight aviation sector, the trade show which was now called RMF/AERO grew at a tremendous rate. By the mid-80s, the AERO had exceeded RMF in both size and importance. Because of its international significance, the AERO was added to the UFI, the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry, in 1985.

1993: First stand-alone AERO
It was only a matter of time before AERO separated from its “mother trade fair” and continued forwards as a stand-alone aviation event. The jump to becoming a full-blown trade fair happened in 1993. 

While the AERO had already established an international presence in sports aviation by the early 1980s, increased activities led to new growth areas in the 1990s. This has resulted in strong expansion for the trade show in recent years, especially in avionics, aircraft maintenance and services, and business aviation. In the global market for general aviation, the AERO has become a major meeting point for the industry.

2002: Move to new trade exhibition site
Another significant turning point in AERO’s development was the move of Messe Friedrichshafen to its new facilities in 2002, right next to the airport. The new site has a much better infrastructure, offering excellent opportunities for the aviation trade show to develop and expand. After about 200 million euros in investment, the new facilities were opened in July 2002, giving a strong boost to AERO’s continued growth.

AERO Friedrichshafen Today
Today, AERO Friedrichshafen is one of the few aviation trade shows worldwide that can boast an ultramodern exhibition facility with next-door airport access. Exhibitors can taxi their airplanes from the runway right into the exhibition halls, using a purpose-built road that provides direct access to the airport facilities. Of the twelve new exhibition halls, three have been built with hangar doors that offer about 22 meters of clearance. Immediately next to the halls is a Static Display Area for business aircraft.

With around 630 exhibitors from 38 countries and on more than 80,000 m² of exhibition space, AERO Friedrichshafen 2015 provided its visitors with everything general aviation has to offer. Major focuses in 2016 will include business jets, single and twin-engine airplanes, light jets, sports aviation with an extensive range of ultralights, avionics, aircraft maintenance and services, and pilot equipment. According to trade fair surveys, the typical AERO visitor is a highly qualified professional seeking new technologies, products and industry contacts. Around 70% of all AERO visitors possess one or more pilot licenses.


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