Belgian Air Force Demo Team 2012
   Text & Pictures: Serge Van Heertum  © sbap 2013

The « Salon du Bourget » opened its doors on 17th of June, together with the 60th anniversary of the Patrouille de France, the first successful flight of the Airbus A350, but also together with the first delivery of the A400M to the Armée de l’Air, which should be formalized before the end of June. After the record breaking edition of 2011 for its number of exhibitors, the 2013 edition lived up to the expectancies of innovations that we’ll explain further in our article.

Like every time, the Paris airshow is the opportunity to see the media response to a new airplane, to see the signing of resounding contracts, even though the economic conjecture is clearly in crisis. The 2013 edition was indubitably marked by the return of the Russian aircraft industry that ensured demonstrations of their latest machines. First of all, the Yak 130, the multi-role training plane that was taken in service in the Russian Air Force not too long ago. Let’s not forget the presence of the Kamov KA-52 “Alligator”, which started its operational career back in 2010. It’s a combat helicopter, twin seats next to each other, heavily armed which, over time, should replace the fleet of Mil-Mi 24’s. Kamov is currently exploring the export market, fully aware of the sheer number of Mi-24’s used all over the world. The undisputed star was without a doubt the Sukhoi SU-35S, which appeared outside of Russia for the first time. It’s a latest generation combat aircraft with high performance, equipped with a 3D thrust vectoring system, granting it maneuverability second to none. Piloted by Sergey Bogdan, hero of the Russian nation, the aircraft displayed its incredible maneuverability and power in the skies over Bourget.

Another country that was strongly represented was Italy. No flight demonstrations, but a display by a lot of manufacturers. The Finmeccanica group, encompassing Aermacchi, Alenia, Agusta-Westland, etc… have shown, amongst others, a more combat-oriented version of the “Spartan”, the MC-27J Gunship. Let’s not forget the presence of the good old SF.260 in a turboprop version, but this time with the latest, state of the art avionics, replacing the analog gauges by a hypermodern glass cockpit. Agusta-Westland was also represented well, by the AW-169 and the AW-189, but also by the military version of the AW-159 “Wildcat”, in the colors of its future user, the Royal Navy. This helicopter is based on the “Super Lynx”. Finally, a futuristic project, the AW “Project Zero”. Half plane, half helicopter, it’s a tilt-rotor. We will get back to that further down the article. Still on the Italian side, the company Piaggio, who revealed its “Hammerhead” PPH-1, in worldwide exclusivity. This UAV, the biggest one yet, is based on the good old “Avanti”. The drone was developed for long duration, multi-role patrols.

A country that wasn’t represented as much at all, were the United States, due to the economic crisis. However, Boeing made a remarkable appearance by the presence of two B-787 “Dreamliner”, of which one gave a demonstration. Beech was also present, showing the new version of the Beech 350 and the “Texan II”, which is in direct competition with the Pilatus PC-21 and the “Tucano”.

You will notice that our article is split up into five parts.

The first part is an overview of the most interesting airplanes on display, as well as a view into the constructors hall.

The second part is about the Belgian participation in the salon. No planes, but an overview of different Belgian enterprises that play an important role in the world of aeronautics, and it’s clear that Belgium possesses many industrial assets, but also some genius ideas and concepts. The third part is dedicated to our future military transport plane, the A400M which, after many technical difficulties and considerable delays, slowly takes to the skies. As already mentioned, the first model should be delivered to the Armée de l’Air before the end of June. We’ll give you a walkaround of the plane, to give you a better view of the shapes and lines of this revolutionary transporter, and why not, motivate our modelers to create a super detailed model of the A400M.

The fourth part is about the demonstrations. Here the most modern planes of the aeronautic industry show their every facet. From the European industry to the Eastern participants, and a blink of an eye to the Americans, discover the best of the moment.

Finally, the fifth part is dedicated to antique airplanes, which also are a part of the salon, but some aerobatics demonstrations ass well, and planes that have proven their worth in the hands of famous pilots like Madame Catherine Maunoury, François “Raloche” Rallet, or Jack Krine, who always is smiling behind his notorious, “very British” mustache.

What was already confirmed as being the biggest « aeronautical Salon » in the world, has closed its doors on the 23rd of June, after a week of intense activity. It’s already possible to make up the provisional balance in several numbers. About 2115 exhibitors were on record, coming from 45 countries (5% more than 2011). 290 official delegations were received by different manufacturers, and the total number of professional visitors, and regular visitors was 350 000. 3200 journalists were registered, and about 10 000 articles were published. (and now you will tell me there are 10 001). The amount of orders placed during the salon is estimated at 115 billion Euros, and we can already say that Airbus has registered about as many orders as Boeing. We can probably state that the companies who had the most successful salon are ATR, on airplane level, and Safran on motorization level. Two negative points were the slight decrease in the number of visitors, the less than ideal meteo for the second part of the week is more than likely the cause for this occurrence, as well as a lot of difficulties on mobile telecommunications and internet. The service providers were overwhelmed by the explosion of the number of transmissions in the zone of Le Bourget.

The Paris Airshow opened with the first A350 test flight... ...also underlining the 60 years Patrouille de France and the first A400M delivery planned at end of the current quarter






In conclusion, we can say that the organizer GIFAS, was satisfied by this edition, and already has made the appointment for the next edition, which will take place from 15th until 21st of June 2015.

Appointment made!

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