For the first time, the country’s civil aviation exhibition will be subsumed into the upcoming edition of Aero India to be held from February 20 to 24, 2019, a defence official said on Friday. So far, Aero India has been defence-oriented while a separate civil aviation exhibition is held in Hyderabad

“The 12th edition of the Aero India at Bangalore next year will feature theme-based activities. On Day 2, there will be a drone competition for start-ups and Day 4 will be women’s day. Indian origin U.S. astronaut Sunita Williams is scheduled to attend the show on Day 4. Other women achievers will also be present,” the official said about the event highlights.

The biennial Aero India began in 1996, and has emerged as the largest aerospace exhibition in Asia. It attracts all major aerospace manufacturers around the globe given India’s large armed forces looking at major modernisation and huge imports. Yelahanka Air Force station in Bangalore has hosted all the 11 editions so far.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to inaugurate the show and a vintage aircraft rally will be held on one of the days.

The tag line of Aero India 2019 is “Runway for a billion opportunities.” The logo is inspired by the indigenous light combat aircraft Tejas.

Several firsts are planned in the 12th edition of the show which includes a round table of global Chief Executive Officers (CEOs), a students event, academic seminars and photography contests.

The CEOs round table is scheduled on the inaugural day in which about 15-20 CEOs from global aerospace majors are expected to participate.

“Students will be encouraged to present projects related to the industry and is being promoted and monitored by the Defence Ministry. A Joint Secretary in the MoD is overseeing the effort,” the official stated.

So far 158 Indian and 106 foreign companies have registered. In comparison, Aero India 2017 saw the participation of 213 companies from 22 countries and 234 Indian companies.