On Friday the Mayor cut the ribbon on east London's latest boondoggle: the Emirates Aviation Experience, a tourist attraction with the lofty aim of "[providing] an insight into the operations and modern achievements of commercial air travel".
If the name hadn't tipped you off, the £4m attraction has been paid for by Emirates. Parked beside the Greenwich cable car terminal, the small building houses a model of a jet engine made out of LEGO, some interactive games demonstrating the principles of air travel, a full-size replica of an Airbus A380 nose cone, four flight simulators and (our favourite of the lot) a panoramic video showing a suitcase's journey through an airport baggage system. There's also a cafe and a shop selling Emirates swag.
Entry costs £3 for adults, £1.50 for children, but that doesn't include a go on the flight simulator. Want to try one of those out? You'll need to fork out £42 for a half-hour flight, or £35 if you go before 10am. Ouch.
Speaking at the launch, the Emirates CEO and Boris Johnson both enthused about the potential of the Aviation Experience to inspire a new generation of aviation enthusiasts. Perhaps, but it's also little more than a giant interactive advertisement for the airline. Diamond Geezer has written a good article about it, in which he coins the neologism brandtertainment: "An attraction funded by a major company, opened with the sole aim of boosting brand awareness and enhancing customer perception". He's documented countless examples, many of them around Greenwich peninsula and the Royal Docks, with the Emirates Aviation Experience merely the latest.
The attraction is open now. Will you be going?