Industry trade shows are often a competitive field where few of the vendors are interested in anything more than selling their own wares. The airline industry is slightly different. While there is a great deal of competition, there is also networking between different manufacturers at these shows. Many of their systems are not competitive, and learning about them is important. There is a harsh penalty when safety is not the first rule, and all airline manufacturers want to build the safest machine possible. Learning, even from competitors, can make or break their business.
Because airplanes are complex machines, they require many different systems. Electrical, mechanical and hydraulic systems are all part of today's machines. A small company that builds the mechanical systems for flaps may be intensely interested in the hydraulic brake system of another manufacturer. Flaps and brakes are often used in combination to slow a plane when it lands. Each system can enhance the other, and experienced industry companies know this.
One of the more important facets of networking with other manufacturers is finding systems that will combine well. It is much easier to sell a complex machine if a manufacturer can recommend companies that have complementary sub-systems for their products. A manufacturer that creates plane bodies might be able to recommend a company that builds the best engines for certain plane sizes. They may also be able to recommend the companies that build the brake systems and electronic control systems for cockpits.
There are many reasons to attend an airline industry trade show. Many airline buyers are looking to see what improvements have been made on newer planes. They need this information to make their future buying decisions. The cost of training their workers to run the planes is also an added cost they will want to know.