A report of the highlights from the second day of the 2012 Farnborough Air Show on 9-15 July
With brief showers in the morning, air show goers looked forward to a day of dodging between chalets and avoiding puddles. While the first day has seen ALC open Boeing’s 737MAX score, what further deals and aerospace news did the day bring? Let’s take a look below at the highlights.
F-35B and QEII carriers will be a “match made in heaven”, says Brit test pilot
While the UK’s U-turn in JSF’s from F-35C carrier variant to F-35B STOVL version may have prompted much debate and accusations that the MoD is buying a less capable version, one area where the F-35B does triumph is in, carrier qualifications and level of currency needed. In a briefing at Lockheed Martin, BAE Systems chief STOVL test pilot (and former Harrier pilot) Peter ‘Wizzer’ Wilson described the STOVL F-35B as ‘truly phemonenal’ adding that his best days are when he goes flying in the vertical mode. But this is far cry from the old Harrier days. According to Lockheed Martin chief test pilot Alan Norman: “The best thing about this jet is – it’s easy” He added: “you have to be an octopus to operate a Harrier”. Some idea of the way in which the Harrier pilot’s massive workload has been eliminated (thanks to UK work on the VAAC project) was that in sea trials with the USS Wasp, a F/A-18 Hornet pilot with only 20 vertical landings was able to master shipboard deck landings after only three or four tries.
And, while the HMD (helmet mounted display) is experiencing some issues (jitter of very minor flickering of the symbology), the helmet also provides unparalleled situational awareness in operations around the ship. Says Wilson: “It’s absolutely amazing to [glance over] and see the superstructure and a speed readout”. With the Royal Navy’s new QE2 carriers and the F-35 optimised for each other, Wilson says they should be “a match made in heaven”. The UK will officially take delivery of its first F-35 next week.
Some questions on the F-35 still remain. While test pilot Alan Norman revealed that in 2012, the F-35 was beating test point goals and flight goals by 20% and 24% respectively, there still remained restrictions on aircraft delivered to the main training base at Eglin, Florida – essentially limiting them to subsonic, daytime flight.
Flight test highlights later this year will see the F-35C hook modification tested, high angle of attack testing, and the first weapons dropped from the aircraft in stores separation trials. Additionally some intial ski-jump testing forthe UK may be brought forward from 2015, to help de-risk that particular aspect.
Another lessor for MAX, specs firmed up
The second day of the show, also brought the second MAX order from a leasing company – this time a commitment from GECAS for 75 737 MAX 8s alongside 25 737-800s. If finalised the deal would be worth some $9.2bn.
While the above deal wasn’t firm, in another press conference, Boeing put more bones on the 737 MAX’s performance, with firm range and maximum take-off weight (MTOW) specifications, confirming that the aircraft will indeed fly farther and offer greater revenue potential than its predecessor. Dependent upon variant, the 737 MAX will deliver an increase in range of between 400 and 540nm in conjunction with a MTOW increase of between 5000 and 7000lb as compared to the Next Generation derivatives.
Hawker finds Chinese buyer.
Bankrupt US manufacturer Hawker Beechcraft is to sell its business and general aviation aircraft division to Superior Aviation Beijing in China.
Orders imminent for Pratt?
Pratt & Whitney President David Hess delivered an upbeat update, reiterating that the engine manufacturer was “positioned for growth” across all four sectors of the company. Overall, the manufacturer is seeking to double sales by the close of the decade to around $24bn. In terms of the commercial engines aspect of the company, Mr Hess cited “extraordinary progress” with three new engines having entered test phases during this year alone. He maintained that Pratt & Whitney upholds a strong presence both within emerging markets and with leasing companies – referring to in excess of 2,800 orders for geared turbofan architecture engines – he went on to state that this backlog will increase prior to the close of the week.
Space for improvement
Speaking at the Space Day Conference Jean-Jacques Dordain, European Space Agency (ESA) Director General, stated that despite ESA’s continued success, it must change in order to maintain this position in today’s economic climate. In a sentiment echoed by fellow speakers, he argued that it is the right time for both the UK and ESA to take a new direction – competitiveness and growth are top priorities and international cooperation is key to delivering this objective.
Air Baltic boost CSeries
Latvia-based AirBaltic is to be the first customer to receive the first Bombardier CS300 regional jet in early 2015 in $764m deal. The carrier signed a letter of intent to buy ten CS300s and has purchase rights for ten more.
CTT breathe easy
Swedish aircraft de-humidification experts CTT Systems has received an order for its Cair System to be installed in a VVIP Boeing 747-8.
Irkut MC-21 programme update
Together with a full-scale mock-up of the aircraft cabin, Irkut delivered a comprehensive review of its MC-21 airliner family including updates from engine suppliers’ Pratt & Whitney and United Engine Corporation in addition to cabin and aircraft systems supplier Zodiac Aerospace Group. The Russian manufacturer also revealed an overview of the funding arrangements surrounding the development of the new family that is to incorporate $26bn of state support by 2015, internal funds of $1.5bn and Sberbank’s investment loan of in excess of $1bn.
A350-1000 back with Cathay order
Breaking a slow sales patch for the A350-1000, Cathay Pacific placed an order for ten Airbus A350-1000s, as well as converting 16 options for A350-900s into firm orders. In other Airbus news, Bhutan national carrier Drukair ordered an Airbus A319.
MRJ clarify new schedule
Speaking at Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation’s Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ) program update Rick Leach, President of Trans States Holdings (launch customer for the aircraft outside of Japan), reaffirmed commitment to the Japan’s “game changing aircraft” despite a slip in development schedule. Mitsubishi confirmed that the MRJ 90 is to be the first variant to enter service, subsequently followed by the MRJ 70. Deliveries to launch customer ANA are now scheduled for 2015.
Thales demo the 2030 ‘cockpit of the future’
Found in the Thales Pavilion was this interesting concept demonstrator for a future aircraft cockpit of 2030,. Watch the video below to find out more about it.
Enter the R-R TEN
Rolls-Royce has unveiled the Trent 1000-TEN engine designed for the -8 and -9 versions of the Boeing 787. The Trent 100-TEN (Thrust, Efficiency and New technology) is certified up to 76,000lb of thrust. In addition, R-R announced an order to provide Trent XWB engines for ten Airbus A350-1000s. The engine manufacturer is also to introduce nacelle maintenance services as part its Total Care support package for British Airways.
“Actionable ISR in a denied environment” says Raytheon
While the defence side of aerospace has been extremely quiet in terms of major news, ISR (or intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) is a major theme at the show. ISR, which can encompass UAVs, spyplanes and even airships is becoming ever more important, not only in traditional military operations, but also, according to Raytheon, in such ‘civil’ roles as critical infrastructure protection, and in relief efforts after natural disasters. At the show, the company shared its visions of how ISR would evolve. One cautionary note was that “customers will need actionable ISR in a denied environment”. No longer would UAVs or ISR assets be able to have free reign – with threats like improved air defences, cyberattacks, or GPS disruption or degrading of space assets. Though solutions like onboard processing and exploitation of AESA radar technology would help, it seems that the golden era of the past decade of (largely) unopposed ISR collection is now over.
Mexico’s Interjet firms up Superjet order
Interjet converted five options for the Sukhoi Superjet 100 regional jet, first signed in January 2011 as part of an order for 15 SSJs plus five options, into firm orders. Superjet signed an MoU to appoint Interjet’s Toluca facility to provide base and line maintenance.
The new ‘Satellite Applications Catapult’ technology and innovation centre is to be based at Harwell Oxford science, innovation and business campus in South Oxfordshire.
JetBlue Airways signed a 15-year OnPoint solution agreement with GE Aviation for maintenance repair and overhaul of its CF34-10E engines.
Boeing’s ecoDemonstrator to be an annual event
Just rolled out of the paint hangar in Renton is American Airlines and Boeing’s new 737-800 ecoDemonstrator, which is set to begin a 45 day test programme in Montana in August. The aircraft, on loan from American, features a range of ‘green’ technologies such as an adaptive trailing edge, variable fan nozzle (VAN), engine vibration reduction & regenerative fuel cells. The flight tests will also operational ‘green’ measures, such as continuous descent approaches, biofuels and single-engined taxiing. The company revealed that it plans an annual ecoDemonstrator flight test programme, with a 787 to be a testbed for CMC (ceramic matrix composites) engine technology in 2013. A advanced wing test is planned for 2014/15.
South African Top Gun school for Gripens
Saab is to open an advanced training centre for Gripen fighter pilots at Overberg Air Force Base in South Africa.
Bell gets 429 approval
Bell Helicopter Training Academy (BTA) has received European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) approval to provide pilot training on Bell 429 helicopters.
Cornwall gets new aerospace enterprise zone
UK Business Minister Mark Prisk (right) launches the new Aerohub (http://www.newquaycornwallairport.com/aerohub/) enterprise zone based at Newquay Airport in Cornwall which is expected to create up to 2,500 new jobs in the region.
Repair in comfort with Aero Sekur shelter
Aero Sekur unveiled at the show its inflatable climate controlled shelter, suitable for repairing aircraft (including those with composites) in harsh operating conditions in the field. The modular shelter is not one, but comes in a kit of around four or five, shaped to fit parts of the aircraft – allowing the shelter to provide the optimum working environment for personnel, whether the maintenance or field repair is taking place in Norway or Afghanistan.
The company has already received an order from a large customer, who approached Aero Sekur with a specific requirement. Though the company declines to name the buyer, and its promotional material shows a Harrier, another application would be to repair or maintain stealth coatings in the field – with the US Marines F-35 being an obvious candidate.
Allan Cook CBE addresses the skills gap
In a new feature for the Farnborough Air Show, the Royal Aeronautical Society brought its lecture programme to the show with a talk by Allan Cook CBE on ‘securing the aerospace skills base’. His lecture covered government support to the industry, the skills gap, the importance of encouraging STEM subjects in schools, universities and colleges. To watch the full lecture, see below.
For many at Farnborough, the social highlight of the week is the hughely popular RAeS Summer Reception in the convivial settings of 4 Hamilton Place. Sponsored this year by Raytheon, guests enjoyed food, music and networking out on the Society’s terrace.
Spotted near Martin-Bakers’ chalet, was the MB-themed golf buggy – complete with ejection seat triangles…
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