Salon du Bourget (June 17th - 23rd, 2013)
2013 marked the 50th anniversary of the bi-annual Paris Airshow (aka Salon Du Bourget), the largest event dedicated to the aerospace industry in the entire world. To mark this celebration, the show featured a number of first time visitors to complement the usual suspects of the aerospace market.
This year's edition was marked by several highlights, such as a strong Russian presence, a complete American military absence, lots of drones and a fierce sales competition between the two largest civilian aircraft manufacturers: Airbus and Boeing.
In total, some 150 airplanes (both modern and historic), helicopters and drones were presented on the vast static display and in the air.
Strong presence was obviously guaranteed by French manufacturers such as Airbus, Dassault, Bombardier and Eurocopter.
Other notable static manufacturers were: Bell Helicopters, Pilatus, Ruag Aviation, Piaggio, Diamond Aircraft, Gulfstream, Finmecca, Eurofighter, Saab, Bombardier, Beechcraft, Embraer, Antonov and Boeing.
Historic aircraft participation came in the form of the Breitling group: they sent over the Lockheed Super Constellation and the P-38 Lightning.
A strange looking aircraft in the static display was the Iomax ArchAngel. It is multi-mission platform integrated with sophisticated ISR, mission management and fire control systems, and capable of performing long duration military or civil security operations. Archangel is well suited for forward arming and refueling in austere, transitory environments in support of tactical operations. The list of technologic additions to the airframe is too long to recite, so here's a small overview:
As is the case each edition, the two aviation industry heavyweights Airbus and Boeing compete commercially to try and get the biggest orders and sales at the salon.
This edition, Airbus regained its global market share slightly after losing to Boeing last time. Airbus won 68.7 billion US dollars worth of business for a total of 466 aircraft sold, whilst Boeing managed order for 442 aircraft amounting to 66 billion USD.
For Airbus the A320 family continues its huge success in the single-aisle marked with 371 orders from six customers during the salon:
Most talked about aircraft for the Airbus company was the new A350-1000, which was still under test phase at the time, but did manage to do fly-by during one of its test flights on friday. The A350-1000 is a very significant upgrade in size from the A350-900. With its lightweight carbon composites, the new A350 targets Boeing's 777 and 787 Dreamliner. With a slight difference in build cost (A350 costs between 254 and 332 million USD and the 787 between 206-243 million USD), the airlines themselves must decide whether to go for the quieter A350 or the more fuel efficient Dreamliner.
Boeing had dominated the market for long-haul wide-body aircraft so far, but trouble with the li-ion batteries in its 787 Dreamliner pushed some customers in the direction of Airbus's new addition.
At the show, the A350 gained 69 more orders and commitments worth about 21.4 billion USD. Air France and KLM both placed an order for 25 A350-900s.
Additional orders came from Singapore Airlines (30 additional A350-900s) and Sri Lankan for 4 A350-900s.
United was originally also in line for Boeing's new 787-10 Dreamliner model (Boeing ‘s answer to the A350-1000 with a capacity of 210-250 passengers), but instead signed a firm deal for Airbus' A350-1000 aircraft worth 3.3 billion USD. It placed an additional order for 10 A350-1000s (on top of its previous order of 25) as well as upgrading its previous order for 25 A350-900s to the larger A350-1000 model to replace its Boeing 777s.
Airbus's troubling flagship, the largest commercial airliner A380 received a commitment for 20 aircraft by Doric Aircraft financing group, a leasing company which serves airlines such as Emirates and Singapore Airlines. Despite these sales, A380 sales still do not cover total development and production costs however.
The highest stake game is that of the new engine technology versions of the high volume selling Boeing 737 family and Airbus A320: respectively the 737 MAX and A320 NEO programs. Ryanair and Easyjet committed to 175 new 737-800s and 135 A320 Neo's respectively.
Boeing was a bit down on force on the show, with a 747-8 display impossible due to aircraft availability. However, they did provide two 787-8s for the show, in the colors of Qatar and Air India.
As far as the military branch of both manufacturers goes, the only presence at the salon was Airbus in the form of the A400M Atlas, with two of its five aircraft test fleet present and one of them displaying on a daily basis.
Airbus also sent their 100th C-295 (previously CASA) to the show, marked for the Royal Air Force of Oman.
Boeing suffered from the US government Sequestration budget cuts , so there was no C-17 display, nor was there any US military display for the first time in two decades at the Salon du Bourget…
The UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) market is expanding rapidly and it showed at this year's edition of the Salon du Bourget.
A large variety of drones was to be found at the show grounds. Grounds is the correct word as not a single drone took to the skies for any sort of presentation. This is not due to a lack of technology or lack of interest, but to a lack of UAV airspace. FAA regulations do not foresee any drone airspace until somewhere in 2015. European airspace regulations are even stricter and more difficult as far as drones go.
Drones gained their success in both Iraq and Afghanistan and gained in interest ever since, but the idea of the drone concept ranges back as far as the mid-1800s when Austrians sent off unmanned, bomb-filled balloons as a way to attack Venice.
The first modern battlefield UAV was the Israeli Tadiran Mastiff, which first flew in 1973, during the Yom Kippur War. Reason for this was Soviet-supplied surface-to-air missile batteries in Egypt and Syria causing heavy damage to Israeli fighters. For this, the Israeli developed the Tadiran Mastiff which featured a data-link-system, endurance-loitering and live video-streaming.
UAVs were seen to offer the possibility of cheaper, more capable fighting machines that could be used without risk to aircrews. Initial generations were primarily surveillance aircraft, but some were armed, such as the General Atomics MQ-1 Predator, which utilized AGM-114 Hellfire air-to-ground missiles. An armed UAV is known as an unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV).
There were many UAVs present at the Salon: the French made Safran, the Harop, IAIs latest Heron, Piaggio's P.1HH Hammerhead, The Neuron UCAV, the Textron Shadow M2, The Elbit Systems Hermes 900 MALE and the GAAS MQ-9 Reaper, etc.
In any case, the UAV concept is still debated all over the world with regards to its moral aspect. The “unmanned” aspect of UAVs is primarily what sets them apart from manned aircraft. This aspect is also what raises those moral concerns. Some believe that the asymmetry of fighting humans with machines that are controlled from a safe distance lacks integrity and honor that was once valued during warfare. Others feel that if such technology is available, then there is a moral duty to employ it in order to save as many lives as possible. Another potential moral issue with UAVs is that because they do not allow for pilot casualties, some fear that they will be used more frivolously, and that human lives affected by UAV-based strikes will not be regarded with as much consideration as with manned aerial attacks.
Show opener was a very quiet Airbus A320 which never left the ground. If you did not pay attention to the commentators, you might easily have missed it… yet it was equipped with a system that could subtly change the airline industry.
The A320 taxied quietly along the taxiway with both engine covered, to demonstrate a new electric taxiing system , a US/French joint venture between Honeywell and Safran.
The EGTS (Electric Green Taxiing System) uses a pair of 50 kVa motors mounted in-between the two wheels of the main landing gear, but only the outside wheel is turned by the motors. The power is supplied by the APU (Auxiliary Power Unit) of the aircraft which is normally running on the ground to provide electricity whilst the plane is at the gate.
The APU is also used during taxiing maneuvers as it only uses about a sixth of the fuel as the main engines would to perform the same actions.
The EGTS would thus eliminate the effort and fuel needed by the APU for taxiing purposes. The fuel savings could amount to 150 gallons during a multi flight day or four percent over the course of a year. These calculations include the extra weight of the EGTS installation.
EGTS boosts other potential benefits:
EGTS offers a little more benefits over similar systems such as Taxibot or WheelTug and just might be a small but important step forward in commercial aviation.
The public show days started off slowly, with small General Aviation aircraft taking to the skies first.
Start of the show was done by the Breitling Wingwalkers. The team is based in the UK (Rendcomb) and consists out of four Boeing Stearman aircraft painted in a nice white and orange paintscheme. They performed a dual display (two aircraft) at the Paris show.
The team is the only aerobatic wingwalking formation team in the world and have been displaying all over the UK and Europe for over 28 years now. Each aircraft consists of a pilot and a wingwalker girl. The girls strap themselves on top of the wing before taxiing and take-off. Once in the air, the pilots perform a breathtaking sequence of acrobatic manoeuvres, including loopings, barrel rolls, stall turns and even inverted flight, all with the wingwalkers on top of the wing. During the display the girls demonstrate their skills by doing acrobatic manoeuvres while they are strapped to the top of the wings of the aircraft. The girls face speeds of up to 150mph and up to 4G of g-force. They even climb back into the cockpit when they have finished their display, all whilst the aircraft is still in the air.
Next up was an Issoire APM 50 Nala Lb (F-WIZZ), a b rand new light aircraft designed by Philippe Moniot. The plane is entirely made up out of composite materials and was followed by the Stolp SA-300 Trescal Starduster.
The following display was the unusual shape of the LH Aviation LH-10 Ellipse, a two-seat light aircraft kitplane. The Ellipse was conceived by Frenchman Sébastien Lefebvre. An order for 10 aircraft was made at the Salon by Dubai-based company Jet Energy, who will be using it to monitor pipelines, oil rigs and tracking of smugglers trade.
The Extra 330 SC HB-MTR was flown by Catherine Maunoury, director of the Le Bourget Aerospace Museum and double world champion in aerobatics.
Mikaël Brageot also demonstrated his aerobatic capabilities flying his Xtreme Air XA41 D-EMKF.
Without a single doubt the most anticipated participants at the 2013 Paris Air Show were from Russia and Ukraine. Making its first trip outside of Russia was the Kamov Ka-52 Alligator attack helicopter.
The Ka-52 was originally conceived as the Kamov Ka-50 “Black Shark” or “Hokum” in 1987. This was a single-seat Russian attack-helicopter with a distinctive coaxial contra-rotating rotor system typical for the Kamov design buro. The Ka-50 was first unveiled at Zhukovsky in August of 1992 with a second production example making its foreign debut at the Farnborough airshow the next month. It was meant to replace the ageing Mil Mi-24 and also to counter the US AH-64 Apache.
The Ka-52 “Alligator” came forth as a requirement for a dedicated helicopter to conduct battlefield reconnaissance, provide target designation, support and co-ordinate group attack helicopter operations. Because of an increased workload for this task for one pilot, the Ka-52 evolved into a dual-seat helicopter.
Kamov opted for a tandem-seating because they believe this improves co-operation between the crew members.
As a result the Ka-52 has a softer nose profile and sports a radar system with two-antennas (mast mounted for aerial targets and nose-mounted for ground targets). As does the Ka-50, the Ka-52 retains the side-mounted cannon, but does feature six wing-mounted hardpoints as opposed to four on the Hokum.
The first official tests of the Alligator were completed in December of 2008 after which the type was delivered to the Russian Air Force.
The Ka-50/52-series is unique in the helicopter world in that it is equipped with a crew escape system whereby the rotor blades are jettisoned by explosive bolts prior to the ejection seats being fired.
More helicopters followed in the form of a joint two Eurocopter EC665 Tigre display. It was a combination of a mast-mounted German 74+05 UHT – Heeresflieger one and a French ALAT one.
The Tiger (or in French “Tigre”) is a twin-engined attack helicopter manufactured by the Eurocopter company, a joint venture between MBB and Aerospatiale. Development of the type started as far back as the Cold War, intented as an anti-tank helicopter to be used against a Soviet invasion of Western Europe.
Due to high development costs, the program was cancelled in 1986 where calculations predicted that supplying the German forces with an equivalent amount of AH-64 Apaches would still be cheaper than continuing with the production of the Tiger.
However, the program was re-launced the year after. Five prototypes were built and the first made its maiden flight in 1991. Due to the end of the Cold War and subsequent defense budget cuts, further questions were raised regarding the necessity of the program.
Germany was however increasingly keen on using the helicopter to perform a wider assortment of missions, aside to the anti-tank helicopter role. Following the MBB and Aerospatiale merger in 1992 to form Eurocopter, the future for the Tiger looked a bit better once more.
In June of 1999, both Germany and France publicly placed order for an initial batch of 160 Tiger helicopters and thus mass production could finally commence. The first official delivery to the French Army took place on March 18 th , 2005, with the first German Army delivery taking place the following month.
Foreign nations to operate the Tiger or showing interest in the design are the Australian Army (22 helicopters of the Armed Reconnaissance version) and the Spanish Army (24). Efforts to sell the Tiger to the British Army, Royal Netherlands Army, the Saudi and Indian governments have failed with the first two countries opting for Boeing's AH-64D Apache.
Currently, four type of the Tiger exist:
Obviously as it is a French based airshow, Dassault could not be permitted to be absent from the flying display. They displayed not once, but twice, their Rafale.
The Rafale is French-based Dassault's latest state-of-the-art twin-engine, canard delta-wing, multi-role fighter.
The Rafale dates as far back as the mid-1970 with both the French Air Force and Navy stating a desire for a new generation of fighter. Because their requirements were similar and in order to reduce cost, both departments issued a common request for proposal.
Several types were investigated, such as the smaller Mirage 2000 and the upcoming Eurofighter design. France was initially also one of the founding countries of the Eurofighter project (next to Spain, Italy, German and the UK), but a number of factors led the split between them and the other countries and they started their own project.
The end result was the Rafale A which made its first flight on July 4 th , 1986. After unsuccessful talks with Belgian, Dutch, Danish and Norwegian governments to participate in the Rafale project, the 30 billion USD project eventually got the green light from president Jacques Chirac in 1987. The end of the Cold War saw the French government cut back its defense budget and reorganize the French Air Force: the Mirage 5F was phased out and 55 Mirage F1C were upgraded to the F1CT. The budget cuts also prolonged the Rafale's development considerably.
In any case, the Rafale nowadays has a more then fierce competition from the Eurofighter, the Saab Gripen, the Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet and F-15E, the Sukhoi Su-35 and the upcoming F-35 Lightning II. This year's salon might be of great importance and kind of a do-or-die situation for Dassault as international orders for the Rafale seem to be very hard to come by.
Still under difficult negotiations are exports to India, Canada, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, but as mentioned above, the competition in this market segment is fierce.
Failed bids occurred from countries such as Brazil (lost to the F-18 Super Hornet), Singapore (opting for the F-15E Strike Eagle), the UK (obviously with the Eurofighter and the British participation in the F-35 project), Switzerland (opting for the Gripen as a replacement for their F-5s), Libya, South Korea (opting for the F-15K Slam Eagle), Morocco (opting for the F-16) and Oman (opting for the Typhoon).
In most cases it is the huge costs which seems to halter Rafale exports, with one fighter costing roughly 100 million USD and an operational cost of 16,500 USD for every flight-hour.
Currently three types are operational of the Rafale:
The show stayed with the French manufacturers as the Bourget Salon regular Airbus A-380 was to fly next, Airbus's largest commercial airplane. As with the Rafale, Airbus are struggling to sell and export the type. Of an envisioned sale of 1280 A380s, to date only 128 have been delivered with 324 orders still outstanding.
Countries operation the type as of January 2014 are:
Issues are the great costs coming with the type and airport modifications needing to be made in order to accommodate the huge two-deck wide-body A380.
Five A380s were built for testing and demonstration purposes with the first unveiled in Toulouse on January 18 th , 2005.
Current models include:
Back to the Russians in the form of the commercial Antonov An-158-100, a stretched fuselage version of the An-148. The An-158 is able to accommodate up to 99 passengers and only just received its certification in early 2013. The Salon was a great opportunity for Antonov to seek export clients for the type.
On April 18th , 2013, the first export of the type was made to Cuban airline Cubana de Aviacion.
Surprisingly the French-German consortium company Transall demonstrated its C-160 at the Salon. Already entering service as far back as 1963, the type will be replaced in the near future by the Airbus A400M Atlas.
The Russian built trainer/light-attack aircraft Yak-130 was back for an extensive display at this year's Salon, with the manufacturer hoping to complete export deals with Bangladesh.
The Russian Air Force already have a contract for 55 Yak-130 to be delivered by 2015.
The type was developed in the early 1990s in a request from the Soviet government to replace its ageing Aero L-29 Delphin and L-39 Albatros jet trainers. The Yak-130 made its maiden flight in April of 1996 and was displayed internationally for the first time at the 2005 Paris Air Show.
Current foreign operators are the Algerian Air Force (16 aircraft), Bangladesh AF (24 aircraft), Belarus (4), Mongolia (1) and Vietnam (8).
The Russian Air Force currently has 46 examples in service, with a requirement of between 72 and 200 aircraft.
Airbus's recent military development is the A400M Atlas, a four-engine turboprop transport aircraft.
The A400M project began as the Future International Military Airlifter (FIMA) group in 1982. The group was a joint-venture between Aerospatiale, British Aerospace, Lockheed and MBB who were in search of a follow up of the C-130 Hercules and C-160 Transall transport aircraft. Because of varying requirements and the complications of international politics, the project advanced slowly.
Lockheed left the group in 1989 and went on to develop an upgrade to their C-130 Hercules, which became the C-130J Super Hercules. Later on Italian based Alenia and Spanish based CASA joined the group which then became known as Euroflag.
The A400M is essentially a medium sized transport positioned somewhere between the capacity of the Lockheed C-130 and Boeing C-17.
The first flight of the A400M was on December 11 th , 2009 and the type eventually received its Type Certification on March 14 th , 2013. The first production aircraft was delivered to the French Air Force on August 1 st , 2013.
The A400M considerably increases the airlift capacity and range compared to the C-130 and C-160. It had a 17.71m x 4m x 3.85m cargo box and will operate in many configurations, such as cargo transport, troop transport, medevac, aerial refueling and electronic surveillance.
The cockpit is obviously a complete glass cockpit with the latest fly-by-wire technology.
A special feature on the A400M is that on each wing, the pair of propellers turn in opposite directions, with the tips advancing from above towards the midpoint between the engines. This configuration is known as DBE or Down Between Engines and allows to aircraft to produce more lift with lesser torque and propwash. It also reduces yaw in the event of an outboard engine failure. What is also special about the system is that in contrast all four engines are identical, only the propellers themselves turn in the opposite direction through the use of a gearbox fitted to two of the engines which simplifies maintenance and reduces supply costs.
As seems to be the case in most deals recently, the A400M is also having its share in export problems: in 2004 South Africa announced to purchase 8 aircraft, but cancelled later due to increasing costs.
Airbus also made a bit to the Canadian Air Force to supply the A400M to meet a tender request for 17 new tactical airlifters to replace their C-130Es, but lost to a combination of the Boeing C-17 Globemaster III and the C-130J Super Hercules.
The Chilean Air Force was also interested in 3 aircraft, but instead has turned to Brazilian manufacturer Embraer to order the KC-390 instead.
Current open orders include countries of the participating concern: Germany (53), France (50), Spain (27) and the United Kingdom (22), with further international orders from Turkey (10), Belgium (7), Luxemburg (1) and Malaysia (4).
Sole demonstration team to participate in the 2013 Salon was the native Patrouille de France, celebrating their 60th anniversary.
The Breitling Super Constellation proved a nice break in the military and commercial displays during the Salon. Swiss manufacturer Breitling sponsored the restoration of a C-121C Super Constellation N73544. It is currently registered in the Swiss Aircraft registry as HB-RSC.
The aircraft now belongs to the Super Constellation Flyers Association and is currently the only flying example in Europe.
Back to the Russians then with the Unkrainian Antonov An-72 making its international debut. The An-70 is also a four-engine medium-range transport aircraft. It is also the first large aircraft to be powered by propfan engines. It was designed in the early 80s by Ukranian design bureau Antonov as a replacement for the ageing An-12.
A first prototype was manufactured in 1994 and had its first flight in December of that year. The Russian Air Force immediately showed interest in the airplane, but quickly lost their interest after the prototype crashed on its fourth flight on February 10th , 1995. The cause was a mid-air collision with the An-72 chase plane. Antonov quickly manufactured a second prototype and continued to gain international interest in its design.
Antonov then tried to sell the An-70 to Western European countries, but lost the bid to the Airbus A400M project for obvious political reasons, mainly the A400M's EADS company being European based. To make matters worse, the second prototype also crash landed in January 2001 after losing power in two engines on take-off.
In 2002 Russia and Ukraine agreed on a 50-50 risk sharing deal on production, but in 2006 Russia announced its complete withdrawal from the project, leaving the project delayed due to an outstanding Russian debt of 60 million USD. In 2009 Russia paid its debt and resumed cooperation on the An-70.
The type is seeking further international spotlight and sales opportunities with its 2013 Paris Airshow presence, but things didn't go as smoothly as planned. On the first trade day the An-70 almost crashed with the Bourget tower screaming “too low, too low” during a low maneuver.
On the first public display day, the An-70 took off, circled around and then landed immediately. Apparently something was not feeling right with the way the aircraft handled after takeoff.
The Antonov's sales future might not be very bright as it was aiming at countries considering modernizing their military transports but lacking the budget for the C-130J Super Hercules or A400M. However fierce competition is coming from Brazil with the KC-390, Spain with the CASA C-295 and Italy with the Alenia C-27J.
Back to some more relax and nostalgic flying then with displays from both the Fouga Magister and Red Bull's Lockheed P-38 Lightning.
Next “unusual” display was the display of Sikorsky's long-serving work horse, the UH-60 Blackhawk. Because of the US sequestration, Sikorsky presented a polish license-built PZL Mielec S-70i. The S-70 family was developed in the early ‘70s as a replacement for the UH-1 Iroquois family of utility medium-lift helicopters.
The type made its first flight in October of 1974 and was put in competition against the Boeing-Vertol YUH-61A. The YUH-60A (military designation of the S-70 prototype) was eventually selected and entered service as the UH-60 Black Hawk with the US Army in 1979.
The S-70 is very popular in both civil and military roles as it is easily modified for new missions and roles, even including mine laying.
A load of different types have been produced:
In a sales point of view the popular S-70 has nothing to complain about. Civil foreign operators include the Colombian National Police, the Mexican State Police, the Saudi ministery of Interior, the Los Angeles County Fire Department, the US Customs and Border Protection and the Hong Kong Government Flying Service.
The list of military operators is even much longer, so we won't bother to list them all here.
Next up was “la pièce de résistance” of the Russian participation, the Sukhoi Su-35S fighter.
The Russian's latest multi-role fighter aircraft was first presented to the public at the MAKS airshow in Russia in 2009. As is the case with many manufacturers at the Salon, Sukhoi is also actively searching export customers for the type as it has yet to win its first export order. With their previous success fighter, the Su-27, being sold to operators worldwide, Sukhoi remains optimistic for future international sales.
The Su-35S is a further development and significant upgrade to one of Sukhoi's biggest successed: the Su-27 Flanker, the US Boeing F-15 Eagle counterpart.
The Su-35, NATO codename Flanker-E, is a single-seat, twin-engine 4th generation multirole fighter which sports the thrust-vectoring system.
The system became famous on military aircraft with the Hawker-Siddeley Harrier and is now used on modern fighters such as the Lockheed-Martin F-22 Raptor, the Lockheed-Martin F-35 Lightning, the Mig-29 OVT and various Sukhoi aircraft.
Thrust vector control is a system where the nozzles of a jet engine can be rotated in order to manipulate the direction of the thrust the engine is producing.
There are three thrust control systems currently active:
The Su-35 is a second modification of the Su-27M and is aimed to bridge the gap between Soviet 4th generation fighters (such as the Su-27M and Su-30MK) and 5 th generation fighter, the PAK FA. The Su-35M is therefore designated as 4++ generation fighter.
The Su-35 was a thorough overhaul in terms of airframe, avionics, propulsion and weapons systems. The result is a more compact and lighter airframe, with the center of gravity shifting more towards the rear of the airframe. As a result, the typical Su-27 canards were no longer needed. The dorsal airbrake was also omitted in favor of differential deflection of the vertical stabilizers.
Some nifty features of the Su-35:
During its 2009 MAKS debut the Russian Defence Ministry signed a 2.5 Billion USD contract for 64 Su-35 fighters.
At the show, Sukhoi test pilot Sergey Bogdan, displayed the extreme agility of the Su-35 by performing barrels, somersaults, a flat spin and off-course the famous “Pugachev Cobra”.
Final demonstration was of a Combat Insertion of a French Eurocopter EC725 Caracal. The Caracal is the French name for the military variant of the EC225 Super Puma, which is essentially a more powerful and modernized version of the Cougar. The EC725 first flew on November 27 th , 2000 and is in service with the French military since 2005.
The EC725 can be used for a variety of tasks, such as Combat SAR, troop transport, medevac and light cargo transport by means of an external sling.
I think the organization can say that the Salon was a successful one, even considering the absence of any US military aircraft. 2014 will see its British counterpart, the Farnborough show taking place.
Rendez-vous at Le Bourget in 2015…