A report of the highlights from the first day of the 2012 Farnborough Air Show on 9-15 July
Day 1 one of the Farnborough Air Show and despite cloudy and dull skies, rain held off enough to avert a waterlogged and soggy exhibition that many had predicted.
With the UK reeling in the past couple of weeks or so from yet more financial sector bad news, the British Government had pushed out the stops to support a global industry that actually made things. Leading the charge was Prime Minister David Cameron who received a tour of the Airbus A400M and A380, bringing with him what is thought to be the highest number of Government ministers to attend Farnborough to add support to the show and the UK’s aerospace sector. He said “”From this Government you will see nothing less than an unstinting, unrelenting, unflagging commitment to making Britain the best place in the world for aerospace businesses to invest, design, manufacture and export.” To boost the UK’s future aerospace talent, the PM announced funding for 500 Masters level degrees in aerospace engineering the next three years.
Let’s take a look at some of the other highlights.
787 flies in display
Making good on their promise to Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al-Baker, Boeing demonstrated the airlines’ first 787 Dreamliner in a spectacular flying display. Qatar is set to receive five Dreamliners this year.
MBDA reveal weaponised UAV concept
The European missile house revealed the latest in its Concepts Vision project – a company-wide brainstorm that encourages engineers to think ‘out of the box’ on future weapons. This year it was weaponised UAVs – with the company unveiling two mini-missiles suitable for launch by HALE UAVs – the 100kg Caelus and the smaller 7kg Gladius – as well as an innovative launcher, the Armatus, that would transfer targeting data wirelessly to the munitions. Interesting the larger Caelus would be powered by an electrically ducted fan, giving it two hours loiter time.
Boeing’s Ray Conner stresses production rate increases
Making his Farnborough debut as the new ‘flamboyant’ (according to one journalist) head of Boeing Commercial Airplanes was Ray Conner. He stressed the company is well prepared in boosting its production rate by 30%, noting that the 737 line at Renton was unrecognisable from 10 years ago thanks to Boeing’s relentless drive for efficiencies. They would bring that effort to making sure that the supply chain kept up, saying there was a “tremendous amount of focus on the supply chain” to meet the planned production rate boost – “all the way from the minerals in ground”. On new products he said the 737MAX was a “fuel sipping machine” – now boasting a 13% fuel efficiency improvement over the standard NG. Cooner also had a message for those thinking of getting into aerospace as a career, saying ”If you look around, you find people never leave – it’s the most exciting industry in the world”
CSeries gets lift – 15 to unidentified customer
Even before the air show started, some companies were already racking up the sales. Bombardier for example, announced a deal worth some $1.02bn for 15 CSeries airliners (five CS100s and 10 CS300s) to an undisclosed customer. Another boost to the CSeries came from an unexpected quarter when AirAsia’s Tony Fernandes revealed that Bombardier was pitching a new 160-seat version of the CSeries his way. Though both Airbus and Boeing believe that the threat of the CSeries has receded with the launch of their A320neo and 737MAX models – a more densely seated CSeries – launched by a bulk buyer like Fernandes could put Bombardier back in the game.
BAE Systems brownout system
BAE Systems gave details of its new Brownout Landing Aid System Technology (BLAST) designed to provide safe-flight capabilities for front-line helicopter crews in degraded visual environments. The system, which has been field-tested at Yuma Proving Grounds, uses an adapted radar from a missile seeker to provide helicopter pilots with a 3D synthetic display of landing zones in dusty, sandy and other adverse environment conditions. The system can also detect and warn of potential collisions with terrain while a helicopter is in flight.
Malaysia shows off its latest A380
At the show, Airbus once again elected to showcase the A380 in both static and flying displayswith the aircraft in the colours of Malaysia Airlines. It will be delivered to the Southeast Asian carrier in a matter of weeks, becoming the carrier’s second A380 to enter commercial service. The aircraft will be configured to provide 494 seats in three classes (a premium economy section presently incorporated is to be replaced by two further rows of business class accommodation prior to delivery).
Private tanker, a tanker for money
Private company Omega Air is displaying a KDC-10 MPTT DC-10 air tanker conversion which it is offering to military forces as a contract air-to-air refuelling service alternative to all-military operated tankers and transport aircraft. Omega already operates KDC-10s and Boeing KC707 tanker conversions for the US Navy and Royal Australian Air Force and plans to introduce A330s from 2020.
Why 2019 will be a LEAP year for CFM
Meanwhile engine maker CFM International revealed that it was aiming for 2019 to transition production to its new turbofan, the LEAP, which builds on 30 years of experience with its iconic CFM56 workhorse – which first entered service in 1982, powering a Delta DC-8 Super 70. CFM finished 2011 with some 1,500 engine orders, and delivered some 1,307 engines last year hinting that it will see another “four or five” engine orders placed this week. On rival next-gen narrow-body engine supplier Pratt & Whitney and its PurePower geared turbofan, CFM came out fighting – saying that the LEAP will have 10 fewer fuel tank fill-ups and 10 fewer delays than the GTF on the A320neo. CFM, which is on (five out of seven current and future narrowbodies) also had harsh words for Bombardier’s CSeries, saying that there was “not enough volume down the road to develop a unique engine for the aircraft”.
Udvar-Hazy kicks off MAX effort
One customer impressed by Boeing’s ‘fuel sipping machine’ was Air Lease Corp’s Steven Udvar-Hazy who opened his wallet to sign an a large order worth a list price of $7.2bn for 75 737MAX. This order, which splits into 60 737 MAX 8s and 15 MAX 9s (along with reconfirmation rights for a further 25) is the first order for Boeing’s new narrowbody from a leasing company.
More PurePower customers for P&W
Engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney announced an agreement with Philippines’ carrier Cebu Pacific Air to power the 30 firm and 10 option A321neo aircraft that the airline presently has on order with Airbus. The PurePower PW1100G-JM engine will enter service with Cebu Pacific in 2017. Meanwhile Pratt & Whitney also signed a memorandum of understanding with Norwegian Air Shuttle to power the airline’s 50 Airbus A320neo family aircraft with the geared engine, deliveries being scheduled for 2016 onwards.
AgustaWestland to double AW609 tiltrotor test fleet, enhance design
While AgustaWestland’s new AW169 helicopter made its public debut in the flying display, inside the Anglo-Italian company provided an update on its civil tiltrotor – the AW609. With former partner Bell gone, AW is firmly in the driving seat and plans to double the test fleet to four with two more prototypes. These will be flight tested in a ‘dual site’ approach in both the US and Italy. Certification is expected in 2016. However it is worth noting for the impatient that the company will be certificating the first civil production tiltrotor. The long time in coming to fruition though has brought some advantages, with AgustaWestland aiming to boost the MTOW from 16,800lb to 18,000lb and potential incorporate other refinements suggested by its suppliers. Approximately some 60 customers are still on the waiting list for the new type. However AgustaWestland believes that with the military V-22 Osprey now proven, civil customers with specific requirements of speed and range, will boost the AW609s attractiveness, saying “The V-22 is bringing entirely new capabilities to the military, and the AW609 will do the same for civil market – we are very confident of this”.
Bombardier boost support offerings
Meanwhile Bombardier boosted its global support for is business aircraft with the inauguration on Monday of a new Regional Support Office (RSO) at Farnborough. It also announced it had signed up Canadian airline Jazz, with 15 Q400NextGen turboprops to its new Smart Parts managed inventory programme
Well, someone didn’t get that ’Year of the MAX’ memo…
While all eyes were on Boeing MAX sales, Airbus slipped in an announcement for a deal four A321neos from Arkia Israel Airlines, the first Israeli customer for the type. No engine selection was made.
Rockwell Collins wins deals
Rockwell Collins announced avionics agreements with four European airlines – Thomas Cook, Iberia and Lufthansa selecting systems for their Airbus fleets whilst Swiss selected Rockwell Collins’ dual Head-Up Guidance Systems for its new fleet of 30 Bombardier CSeries aircraft.
Saab 340 MPA aircraft
Saab is showing its 340 MSA (Maritime Security Aircraft) based on the Saab 340 civil aircraft. The 340 MSA is fitted with 360 degree radar and a retractable multiple payload FLIR turret for air-sea rescue, fisheries patrol and other maritime surveillance missions. The sensors are controlled from a single-seat operator’s station in the middle of the fuselage with repeater screens in the cockpit. The interior of the aircraft can be reconfigured to replace some of the seats with an extra centrally-mounted fuel tank to increase mission times up to nine hours or to include space for life rafts and air-sea rescue equipment which can be jettisoned in flight from the rear fuselage cargo door.
Russia’s Irkut aims to balance civil/military sales by 2020
Russia’s aerospace sector has been under a cloud recently, with the tragic loss of a Sukhoi Superjet on a demonstration flight, controversy over arms deals to Syria, (and for Flanker fans at Farnborough – the non-appearance of the Su-27s of the Russian Knights). However, Irkurt President Alexey Fedorov is hoping for blue skies in the future – by having the goal of balancing the company’s civil and military to roughly 50/50 by 2020. The chief way in achieving this will be in the MS-21 narrow-body airliner – which is set to fly in 2015, with entry into service in 2017. In late June, Russian lessor Aviacapital-Service firmed an order for 35 of these airliners and Fedorov expects more sales to be announced later this year. He also revealed that the company is in some very preliminary discussions with certain European airlines over the MS-21 – and could include a low-cost carrier.
On the military side, Irkut is at the show with the first appearance at Farnborough of the Yak-130 ‘Mitten’, an advanced trainer and light combat aircraft. Fedorov explains that while Aermacchi’s sister aircraft the M346 is mostly a trainer, the Yak-130 has been designed from the start as an advanced trainer and light combat aircraft. It features a Fly-By-Wire system, able to be modified to simulate other fighters, such as MiG-29s, Su-27s or even F-16s or F-18s. In orders, the Russian Air Force is acquiring 55 aircraft, although the eventual buy is likely to be at least 150. It has also been purchased by Algeria, Vietnam and also by Syria with an order for 36. Having flown into a political storm with that last deal, latest reports suggest that the aircraft may remain ordered, but undelivered until the bloodshed reduces. Other international customers could be revealed in the rest of the year.
Top marks to Rolls-Royce for completely stealing the show with a half-scale giant model of a Rolls-Royce Trent engine built out of 152,455 Lego bricks. Check the video out here to this incredible model with moving fan and hot section parts The model, complete with moving parts, took four engineers eight weeks to complete. It even has its own twitter account @RRLegoEngine. It can be seen in the Innovation Zone, (also the location of the RAeS stand).
Stay ahead of all the news!
To follow all the news at Farnborough don’t forget to bookmark www.aerosociety.com and follow the daily airshow news on the Insight blog. For those on Twitter the hashtag is #FIA12 and the Editor Tim Robinson will be tweeting live from the show on @RAeSTimR