Monday, 8 June 2015

Queen of air shows turns 51 with élan
·         All roads lead to Le Bourget
By Sangeeta Saxena
Paris. It is not just French wine, Eiffel Tower and Seine River which are cynosure of all eyes in Paris. Come the Parisian summer and the sky is the centre of attraction with metal birds of all shapes and sizes regaling the city with their displays. All roads lead to the Le Bourget and the one and all of the aviation world descend at the airport.  From 15 to 21 June, the aerospace industry will be in the spotlight in the aisles of the Paris Air Show, which is going to turn fifty one with élan. A superb showroom - the show  gives  an opportunity for industry players to meet, present their latest innovations , announce their marketing strategies, sales figures and deals and one upmanship is the mantra.

Established in 1909 and the world's oldest and largest air show, the Paris Air Show is a biennial event that aerospace professionals and lovers  will not dream of missing. Held every odd year at the oldest airport in France- Le Bourget Airport in north Paris- the show  is organised by the SIAE, a subsidiary of GIFAS, the French Aerospace Industries Association.
The show has come a long way since the first show created by André Granet and Robert Esnault-Pelterie which was held from 25 September to 17 October 1909 in Paris's Grand Palais. The venue was full to capacity and the success of this first exhibition led to wide acclaim for the event, which was then held annually. In 1909, 100,000 visitors attended the show to admire innovations from 380 exhibitors. This year  the show expects to host more than 2000 exhibitors from nearly fifty countries (France included), professional visitors from 181 countries (France included) exceeding 1,40, 273in numbers, approximately 300 official military and civilian delegations from hundred plus countries, more than three thousand journalists from around the world, a jamboree of nearly two hundred aircraft in both static and aerial display and it is the first Air Show worldwide to obtain the ISO 20121, rewarding their involvement in environmental matters.

 One dampener to the spirits at the show, will be the  US military aircraft which will not be a part of the  flying display at this year Paris air show. But  the US Air Force, with a contingent of up to a dozen types of aircraft in their inventory will compensate a bit.  "No US military aircraft will fly at the show," informed  the Paris air show's managing director Gilles Fournier whereas Russians will definitely display their fighter might in the skies. But the enthusiasm on the civil front is palpable with debuts from the two variants of Bombardier’s CSeries, a first Le Bourget flying display from the Airbus A350 and an expected maiden appearance in the skies of Dassault’s business jet, the Falcon 8X.
Also another attraction which becomes the talk not only of the town but of the world is the deals announced and signed. The orders battle between Boeing and Airbus, will no doubt be the news agenda. Bombardier, ATR, Embraer and Sukhoi Civil Aircraft will also have announcements to make and deals to sign.

Engine makers will also showcase themselves with claims that their engines will burn less fuel, need less maintenance and create less noise than the rival . Honeywell, Safran’s Turbomeca, CFM LEAP, Pratt & Whitney, GE Aviation, MTU and Rolls Royce are engine manufacturers who will see order bonanza at this year’s Paris  Airshow. Lesser told but the big stories are always engine orders at Le Bourget.
UAVs have unabashedly heralded as the bright future of warfare and surveillance, with exhibitors getting their drones to perform infront of the lucrative market. UAV business remains dominated by governments and law enforcement agencies, though commercial business is on the rise. Alongside the planes and helicopters on show at the Paris Air Show there will also be numerous displays of pilotless vehicles. Many of the latest are designed to carry weapons, and drones are already becoming common tools for surveillance, aerial video and photography. At the moment, the United States and Israel have a near monopoly on this lucrative market, but European players are trying to get in on the action. Israeli Heronby IAI, Italian Project Zero electric-powered UAV by Finmeccanica, Piaggio Aero's HammerHead, Parrot AR.drone 2.0 quadcopters to name a few will be the centre of attraction as always.
And can the display of missiles be left far behind at the air show? The talk of the show should be the locally developed Taiwani Hsiung Feng III “Brave Wind” surface-to-surface anti-ship missile is to be put on display abroad for the first time at Le bourget, along with other advanced weaponry and technical equipment produced by the nation’s defense and aerospace industries. All time favourites Raytheon and MBDA will be projecting their strengths and giving them tough competition will be Russian and Rafael missiles.

Among the thousands of reasons to visit U.S. exhibitors at the show is  the inaugural "HOT 100 List" which will spotlight the most innovative aerospace and defense initiatives and influencers in the U.S. International Pavilion.  As always the U.S. International Pavilion promises to showcases a concentrated cross-section of American companies, organizations, and industry advocates looking for new export opportunities and global business relationships. This year's Pavilion features more than 220 exhibitors.
On the other hand Russia is all set to be at Paris with  its largest aerospace industry representatives like the United Aircraft Corporation and United Engine Corporation, Rostec, Russian Helicopters, VSMPO-AVISMA and others. It will not only showcase but also be an active part of the flying display.
Apart from AVIC, 11 Chinese companies are expected to participate at this year's Paris Air Show, such as Commercial Aircraft Cooperation of China, China Great Wall Industry Cooperation, to demonstrate the latest results of China's aviation industry in technological innovation and enhance the overall integration into the world aviation industry chain. Also according to sources, Pakistan is reportedly planning to display up to three JF-17 Thunder fighter aircraft at the show and one of the aircraft is also supposed to perform flight demo.
Brazilian Embraer will have only one ERJ-135 on show. Sukhoi Civil Aircraft, will again display its Superjet 100 with partner Alenia Aermacchi. ATR will display a 72-600 at Paris. Japan’s Mitsubishi will have its  presence but no displays.
In addition to Falcon 8X dassault will show its other three in-service jets, the 900LX, 2000S, and the 7X. General aviation will be represented with three aircraft from Austrian airframer Diamond, including its new DA62, as well as the Pilatus PC-12 and RUAG Aviation’s Dornier 228. France’s Daher will be displaying its TBM 900 single turboprop for the first time at Paris. Gulfstream as always will be in the display area .

Choppers both military and civil mark their presence at Le Bourget by their extensive participation. Sikorsky’s S-92 and S-76B, Bell Helicopter’s   SLS, Bell 429 and Bell 407GX, AgustaWestland’s AW101, Super Lynx 300 , AW139 and AW119 Ke, NH90 by NH Industries and  Russian Мi-8/17, Мi-24, Мi-35М, Ka-62, Ka-52and Кa-32 amongst others will be the highlights of both the aerial as well as static display. Boeing-Bell product V-22 Osprey catches the most attention at the show and as always should be flying and adding beauty to the static area with its presence.

When it comes to the home continent pavilions from UK, Germany, Spain, Italy, France and many other medium and small representations from Europe will exhibit their aerospace technology and might.

Space agencies NASA and ESA will be showcasing their technology , achievements and larger than life models of rockets, launch vehicles and satellites. They will be complemented by numerous companies which are in the business of manufacturing for the needs of the agencies.

Industry at it’s maximum participation envisages Boeing, Finmeccanica, SAFRAN, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, BAE Systems, SAAB, Honeywell, Airbus, Rosoboronexport, Sukhoi, MBDA, Bombardier, Embraer, RUAG, KAI, Pilatus, Dassault, Hawker Beechcraft, CFM, Rolls Royce, Israeli Companies, Sirkosky, Cobham, Goodrich and Eurocopter to name a few along with government agencies taking up sprawling spaces at the show.
Indian participation at the Paris Air Show led by  Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has generally been a not-so-strong footprint. Unfortunately, there were no flight demonstrations by any Indian aircraft at the event for the last many shows. A Boeing 787 Dreamliner in Air India colours was the only Indian aircraft which was on display at the Paris Air Show 2013. Just keeping fingers crossed to see the tricolor in the Paris sky this time too.


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