ORDERS at this year's Farnborough International Air Show suffered a major slump compared to two years ago.

Companies took nine billion dollars worth of orders during July's week-long event, compared to 52 billions worth two years ago.

But the huge drop did not come as a surprise to SBAC, the organisers of the world's top aerospace business event.

Prior to opening day David Norris, SBAC marketing director, said that the Millennium show had attracted an exceptional response.

Given the impact on the industry following September 11, he said only a supreme optimist would forecast a repeat for 2002.

The figures released by SBAC this week proved that his warning was spot on.

Fewer spectators also attended this year's show, although fears that increased security would frighten off people in large numbers proved unfounded.

Around 290,000 visitors attended July's event compared to over 300,000 two years ago.

An SBAC spokeswoman said last Friday: "Overall we were very happy with the outcome of this year's show.

"The number of orders taken stood up well, it is just that the individual values weren't as large."

She claimed the show had once again confirmed its position as one of the largest aerospace exhibitions in the world, attracting 1,260 exhibitors from 32 countries.

Plans for the 2004 show, to be held from July 19 to 25, are already underway.

0 The aircraft industry's troubled times were reflected in last week's announcement of a 25.5 per cent drop in profits by BAE Systems which has its headquarters at Farnborough.