In Review: What Happened On The First Day Of The Dubai Airshow?

Today marked the opening of the 2021 edition of the Dubai Airshow. While the show got off to a fairly slow start, Indigo Partners closed the day with a huge order for 255 aircraft, pushing Airbus into the lead in terms of show orders.

Dubai Airshow, United Arab Emirates, Boeing 787
The highlight of today’s show was a flypast of the UAE’s four national carriers. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

Today was a huge day, not only for the aviation events industry but also the aviation industry as a whole. After a brutal 20 months, and two major air show cancellations, the industry was once again able to come together to celebrate new orders, as well as to show off the latest and greatest in aerospace tech.

Airbus steals day one

In terms of commercial aircraft orders, Airbus definitely stole the show today. Initially, it seemed fairly uncertain if anything would be announced as the show day progressed. However, Airbus quickly gave us an answer, with a press conference held an hour before the show ended for the day.

Airbus, Indigo Partners, A321
Indigo Partners placed a huge order for 255 Airbus A321 aircraft. Photo: Airbus

Indigo Partners, a major Airbus customer, upped its commitment to the planemaker’s main narrowbody family. The company placed an order for 255 A321neo aircraft, split between the standard edition and the extended range XLR. The order will go to all four of the Indigo Partners airlines.

Boeing shows off the 777X

Boeing failed to clock any commercial aircraft orders on the first day of the show. However, this didn’t stop them from putting on a show themselves. The 777X took off for its first show flight outside of the United States (It had previously overflown the Boeing Classic golf tournament).

Dubai Airshow, Boeing, 777X
Boeing’s 777X completed its first flying display outside of the USA. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

The plane took to the skies at 14:00 local time and flew up and down the flight line having completed an incredibly steep takeoff maneuver. The jet completed twists and turns roughly 1,000 feet above the show, including some at an impressive bank angle. After around five minutes of showing off, the jet touched back down at the Al Maktoum International Airport.

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A celebration of the UAE

The airshow’s first-day flying display is typically opened with a flypast featuring Emirates and the Al Fursan jet display team. This year is a special year for the United Arab Emirates as it celebrates the 50th year since it was founded.

Etihad, Airbus A350, Dubai Airshow
Etihad’s Airbus A350-1000 debuted with a special Year of the 50th livery. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

In recognition of the occasion, both Emirates and Etihad brought aircraft to the show bearing special “Year of the 50th” liveries. Emirates brought the design on one of its newest Airbus A380s, A6-EVP. Meanwhile, Etihad brought one of its new Airbus A350s.

Emirates, Airbus A380, Dubai Airshow
Emirates’ Expo livery also made a fleeting appearance. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

However, the celebrations didn’t stop there. For the show’s opening flypast, Emirates flew a Boeing 777 with its Year of the 50th livery, alongside A6-EEU, an Airbus A380 wearing the airline’s ambitious Blue expo livery. These were joined by the UAE’s three other national carriers. Etihad with its Boeing 787 Greenliner (a program launched at the 2019 Dubai Airshow), FlyDubai with a Boeing 737 MAX 8, and Air Arabia with an A320.

What was your favorite part of Dubai Airshow day one? Let us know what you think and why in the comments!