It takes more than an hour to drive from downtown Dubai to Al Maktoum International Airport, the site of the city’s biannual air show. The runways are still surrounded by red desert sand. But like anything in this booming business capital of the United Arab Emirates, there are already plans to transform the airport into a major transportation hub surrounded by gleaming homes, canals, broad roads and cavernous warehouses.
Ambition, like heat and humidity, fills the air in Dubai, where nothing seems too big or too bold. That’s doubly true for aviation, a key link that tethers Dubai and nearby Abu Dhabi to the rest of the world. Two of the world’s fastest-growing airlines, Emirates and Etihad Airways, are based in the UAE, and Qatar Airways, based in Doha, is just a short flight away. They have grown into dominant global players in just a few decades.
Looking at the expansion through the lens of GE Aviation, another huge industry player, no other place in the world today has a higher concentration of GE jet engines. Their number will keep climbing. GE Aviation and its joint-venture partners hauled more than $17 billion in new business from the Dubai Airshow, which ended last week. That number includes a $16 billion contract with Emirates to maintain, repair and overhaul next-generation jet engines GE is building for Boeing’s 777X aircraft. Emirates has ordered 150 of the twin-engine, wide-body planes, and GE will be the exclusive engine supplier.
The first 777X will enter service at the end of the decade, but the tarmac at Al Maktoum this year had plenty of planes powered by GE tech. Once again, GE invited pilot and aviation photographer Adam Senatori to document the air show. His images were just featured in Wired, which did a special piece on him.
Senatori has been shooting air shows around the world for several years. He says that this year, Dubai organizers “curated a tight portfolio of aircraft and displayed them in a coherent manner.”
“The layout felt spacious,” he says. “I think that’s one of the most defining characteristics of the Dubai show versus Paris and Farnborough. The flight line is roomy compared to the tight confines of the other shows.” Here are some of the best shots from Senatori’s most recent visit.