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Air Trade Expo cancelled for 2013

The U.S. Air Trade and Technology Expo has cancelled plans for a show this year at the Dayton International Airport, the second time organizers have skipped the biannual expo since its launch in 2009.

Kent D. Owsley, the show’s chairman, said the military’s curb on travel with the threat of budget cuts ahead and defense and aerospace firms pulling back in participation in trade shows across the nation led to the decision to cancel plans for a show this year.

Similar trade shows have canceled across the country, he said.

“There’s just a large part of the economics that drive what can and cannot be done on these shows,” he said. “Right now, quite frankly, it’s very difficult.”

The five-member USATT Expo still hopes to revive the trade and technology conference to tap into the growing market for unmanned aerial vehicles and systems, he said.

The Teal Group Corp., of Fairfax, Va., has estimated worldwide unmanned aerial vehicle spending could reach $90 billion over the next decade.

The trade and technology show in Dayton started in 2009 after the U.S. Department of Commerce released a $1 million study that indicated defense contractors wanted an affordable alternative to sending staff and displays to trade expos in Paris, France and Farnborough, England.

While the Dayton air and trade show has had a rough time getting off the ground because of economic turbulence or defense spending reductions in recent years, a Dayton Development Coalition-organized UAS conference launched last year at Sinclair Community College has taken flight, officials said.

The April 23-25, 2013 gathering will be expanded a half day this year and focus on unmanned aerial systems technology and uses for unmanned aerial vehicles, from first responders in police and fire ranks to farmers in fields, according to Maurice “Mo” MacDonald, the Coalition’s vice president for military affairs.

“We want a heavy focus on technology this year,” he said.

Last year’s gathering at Sinclair attracted around 500 attendees, or about double what was expected, from the Air Force, Department of Homeland Security, NASA, the aerospace industry and other agencies. “It ended up being a larger conference than we had planned,” MacDonald said.

State leaders have dubbed southwest Ohio an aerospace hub. At Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, UAV research, development, testing and acquisition is a high priority for the use of drones in the military’s aerial fleet.

The region expects to compete to become one of six Federal Aviation Administration sites in the nation to test the integration of unmanned aerial vehicles into civilian airspace by mid-decade.

The FAA has put a decision on test site selection on hold indefinitely while the federal agency studies concerns about aerial drones intruding on citizens’ privacy.

Richard Aboulafia, a Teal Group aviation analyst, said successful aerospace trade shows have a cornerstone to build on and are persistent about putting on a show every year.

General Electric’s production of jet engines in Evendale and aviation parts in the Miami Valley could be a cornerstone for the region, he said.

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