The top brass from the world of aviation were expected to land in Abu Dhabi this morning for the First Global Aerospace Summit.
The use of unmanned drones as border and coast guards, as well as more down to earth topics such as how to make an airline pay and how to make going to the airport more fun, are all on the agenda.
Some 700 delegates, all leading figures from the world's aviation industry, are booked to attend the four-day event which is being hosted by Mubadala Aerospace at the St Regis Hotel on Saadiyat Island.
Held under the patronage of Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces - who will also open proceedings - the summit is being convened to demonstrate Abu Dhabi's credentials as a major player in the aerospace industry.
"We look forward to welcoming global leaders from across the spectrum, from airlines to original-equipment manufacturers, and airport operators to space travel businesses to Abu Dhabi, to engage in high-level strategy discussions that will have a real impact on the future direction of their respective sectors", said Homaid Al Shemmari, the executive director of Mubadala Aerospace, a unit of Mubadala Development, a strategic investment company owned by the Abu Dhabi Government.
"We also look forward to demonstrating how the summit will have an impact on citizens from the United Arab Emirates, through the summit's careers focused sessions. The good preparation done by Mubadala Aerospace for this summit will be apparent for all the participants from the various sectors, as another aspect of the excellence of the UAE, which has always shown through forums and exhibitions that are held in the UAE," Mr Al Shemmari said.
Among the delegates to the invitation-only event will be David Hess, the president of the US aero-engine makers Pratt & Whitney; Marwan Lahoud, the chief marketing officer of Airbus Industries' parent company, EADS; James Albaugh, the chief executive officer of Boeing Commercial Airplanes; Peter Harbison, the executive chairman of the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation; Reynald Seznec, the president and chief executive of Thales Alenia Space; and George Whitesides, the president and chief executive of Virgin Galactic.
Tony Tyler, the director general of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), will deliver a "state of the industry" address.
The summit comes after IATA announced Middle East airlines were leading the industry out of its downturn. The IATA said its February industry performance figures, showed "Middle East carriers have posted 23.4 per cent international growth … we estimate that the region has now fully recovered".
In addition to two days of panel discussions and strategy sessions, the summit also includes two further days of site tours.
Delegates will given the opportunity to visit Abu Dhabi Aircraft Technologies' engine workshop and state-of-the-art three-bay hangar; Abu Dhabi Airports Company's control tower; Etihad Airways' new facilities; and the technical area and control room used by Yahsat, the satellite broadcaster.
There will also be a visit tothe Al Ain International Aviation Academy; Strata's advanced composite aerostructures facility; and Horizon's flight training operations.
"In creating a unique agenda for the Global Aerospace Summit 2012 we have sought guidance from the industry at large through a specially created advisory board, and undertaken significant amounts of research to create and produce an event that will become a cornerstone of the aerospace, aviation and space calendars for years to come," said Nicholas Webb, a managing partner at Streamline Marketing Group, the organisers of the event.
"There is great enthusiasm from the industry about the discussions that will take place and, most importantly, the outcomes and action points that will arise from having such a high profile gathering of individuals and companies all under one roof," he said.