TIM ROBINSON provides a look at some news and highlights of the first trade day at the Dubai Air Show 2017.

The Dubai Air Show officially opened its doors on Sunday 12 November. In what looks to be a classic year for new and usual aircraft on the static, inside the first day was dominated by headlines from home airline Emirates. Let's take a look at a few of the highlights.

Boeing scores Emirates commitment for 40 Dreamliners

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Emirates is now a Dreamliner customer (Boeing)

In a first day plot twist worthy of the wrong Hollywood awards winner being announced, media primed for a rumoured big purchase announcement from Emirates for 30-40 A380s from Airbus, were caught wrong-footed when a Boeing 787 model was brought in at the press conference for a surprise big order all right, but not from Toulouse. Emirates, which, to date has stuck to a two type fleet (A380 and 777) will now add a third with a commitment to 40 Boeing 787-10 Dreamliners – a deal worth $15.1bn at list prices. Deliveries of the new Boeing 787-10s will begin from 2022. Interestingly, the news release notes that that the deal supports "75,000 direct and indirect US jobs" - underlining Emirates' value to the US aerospace supply chain at a time when the airline is still in the crosshairs of American airlines over the Open Skies deal. 

Meanwhile the A380 deal is reported to be still in negotiation. Will Day Two see an announcement?

Japan's C-2 debuts at Dubai

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First international outing for the Kawasaki C-2.

Making its international air show debut at Dubai is the Kawasaki C-2 airlifter, four of which are now in service with the Japanese Air Self Defense Force (JASDF). Sized between a C-130 and a C-17, and powered by two GE CF6 engines, Japan is now aiming this medium transport at the international market. The JASDF has 11 C-2s on order and has completed operational evaluation including cargo and paratroop trials, with the aircraft in service with Dai 403 Hiko-tai at Miho. The C-2 has a maximum payload of 36tonnes with a 2,430nm mile range or a ferry range of 5,300nm.

CFM selected by Gulf Air

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Gulf Air chooses LEAP. (Airbus)

Engine manufacturer CFM signed an agreement with Bahrain carrier Gulf Air for the purchase of 58 LEAP-1A engines to power 17 Airbus A321neo and 12 A320nes, as well as an additional seven spare engines to support fleet operations. The $1.9bn deal includes a ten-year Rate Per Flight Hour agreement long-term service agreement. The order for the aircraft was first announced in January 2016. Gulf Air already operates 16 A320ceos powered by CFM56-5B engines.

A Scorpion's tale

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Four Scorpions are now flying. (Textron)

After taking part this year in the USAF OA-X light attack trial and international demonstrations (including Saudi Arabia), Textron gave a update on its Scorpion light attack/ISR platform – four examples of which are now flying. Though the company admits that the next phase of OA-X will most likely see the Scorpion eliminated in favour of a turboprop platform (one of which, the AT-6 Wolverine, is also made by Textron) the company says that OA-X was 'very successful' with the USAF in particular, being 'surprised' by the level of maturity of the Scorpion – given that two of the productionised aircraft used had rolled off the production line in early summer. The aircraft flew 21 sorties with 100% mission rate. Prior to OA-X the Scorpion had visited NAS Patuxent River, where it had been cleared to fire unguided and guided rockets, MG pods and 500lb guided bombs.

The USAF, according Textron's Bill Harris, VP Scorpion Sales was also impressed with the aircraft's highly adaptable 'plug and play' sensor and ISR payload features. Though the Scorpion might have lost out on OA-X, Textron revealed it is now talking to the USAF about other potential niche roles. Indeed, it may be that the USAF holds a similar experiment to OA-X, but this time focused on the ISR mission. 

As well as the USAF, Textron has also demonstrated the Scorpion to potential international customers, including a recent trial in Saudi Arabia where inert bombs were dropped. The aircraft is particularly easy to pick up and learn to fight ,say Textron test pilots, as well as sipping fuel compared to fast jets. The three large payload bays and the possibilities for non-traditional ISR also come in for praise – "its an ISR machine" said Scorpion test pilot Brett Pierson.

Honeywell wins Emirates support deal

In more Emirates news on the first day, Honeywell signed a 15-year Component Service Solutions agreement with the airline to maintain aftermarket components on the carrier’s fleet of Airbus A380 and Boeing 777s. The agreement covers comprehensive component repairs and support services until 2031.

Honeywell is also at the show promoting the benefits of 'Connected Aircraft' with Paul Page now Connectivity Sales Manager for Commercial Aircraft in the region. The benefits of installing high-speed broadband capability, such as Inmarsat’s GlobalXpress open up new possibilities in maintenance, safety and passenger services. For instance, one Honeywell product – 'Connected APU' launched with Cathay Pacific earlier this year harnesses datamining to cut reduce unnecessary maintenance has already enabled the airline to reduce APU removals by 35%. Page thus sees a big appetite for the Connected Aircraft for Middle East airlines.

China's AVIC shows off armed jet UAV

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Another Chinese UAV export winner?

China's growing strength in UAV exports made headlines at the Paris Air Show in the summer when it displayed a full-scale mockup (and weapon options) of its Reaper-alike Wing Loong II UAV. At Dubai, AVIC has gone one further with a static display of full scale mock-ups of the Wing Loong, Wing Loong II and a new jet-powered armed UAV called the Cloud Shadow. This UCAV, which resembles the General Atomics Predator C comes in three variants – a image/EO/IR reconnaissance version, an armed reconnaissance-strike version and a electronic reconnaissance (SIGINT/ELINT) variant. Powered by a WP-11C engine it has a range of 400km and can fly at 620km/hr

Today, armed UAVs are front and centre of China's defence export drive.

Middle East will need 2,600 aircraft over next 20 years

Over at Airbus, a briefing underlined the market opportunities the Middle East presents to aircraft manufacturers. The company predicts that the Middle East will need some 2,588 airliners of 100 seats and over as air traffic in the region continues to grow at 5.9% - above the global average. Interestingly this market forecast (which includes around 500 for replacement airframes and 2,000 new aircraft driven by growth) has both widebody and narrowbody demand equally balanced out.

Azerbaijan orders extra Dreamliners

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Extra 787s for Azerbaijan.

The first day also saw an $1.9bn order from Azerbaijan Airlines for five Boeing 787-8s. The airline, which already operates two 787s, also has a commitment for the later purchase of two large freighters which could be either 747Fs or 777Fs. Azerbaijan also signed up to be the launch customer for the 787 Landing Gear Exchange Program. With this programme, the carrier can exchange landing gears which need to be repaired or overhauled for a pool of certified landing gear maintained by Boeing maintains.

Local hero aims at light attack

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New name on the COIN scene.

Making its international air show debut at Dubai is the UAE's Cladius B-250 tandem-seat light attack/COIN turboprop. Developed with help from Brazil's Novaer, the B-250 features a Rockwell Collins Pro Fusion glass cockpit – the first time this flightdeck has been used in an attack aircraft. Built out of carbon-fibre, the B-250 is powered by a P&WC PT6A-68 turbprop and has eight hardpoints for weapons.

Countdown to E2 milestone

Embraer announced that it expects certification of its revamped E190-E2 regional jet within the next 90 days.

Right on target for QinetiQ and MGE

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Iain Farley, Managing Director International, QinetiQ, UK Secretary of State for International Trade Liam Fox MP and Mr Abdulrahman Ghanim, Chairman of MGE (Dubai Air Show)

The UK's QinetiQ and Middle East General Enterprises (MGE) have signed an agreement to establish a JV partnership to manufacture aerial and maritime training targets in the UAE. The JV will invest in a local facility to build these training targets, which include the Banshee aerial target and Hammerhead fast attack naval target. Establishing JV in the UAE, presents an opportunity to export targets and training services within the Middle East.

Solvay to supply composites

International materials and chemicals company Solvay has formalised a joint venture with Mubadala-owned company Strata Manufacturing to supply Boeing with advanced composite materials from a high-tech facility to be built in Al Ain in the UAE. Due to open in 2002, the new 8,500m2 advanced composite aerostructures manufacturing facility will be the UAE's first supplier of pre-impregnated carbon fibres used to manufacture composite structures, including Boeing’s new 777X.

Emirates to pioneer 'virtual windows' in luxury First Class cabins

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Luxury and privacy in Emirates First Class. (Emirates)

First conference of the day saw Emirates President Sir Tim Clark unveil the carriers' most ambitious and luxurious first class cabins yet on its Boeing 777-300ER. The new first class reduces the seat count from eight to six, but the suites now feature fully-enclosed cabins in 1-1-1 layout. In a first for the industry, Clark revealed that the centre cabin features 'virtual windows' with HD video piped via fibre-optics to give the passenger the experience of a window seat. The First Class suite, provided by B/E Aerospace and developed in partnership with Mercedes-Benz, also features Top Gear celebrity Jeremy Clarkson in a video promotion. Business class and economy have also received a makeover and the 300ER First Class cabin will also act as a pilot product for the upcoming 777X. Clark says that Emirates also intends to roll-out the First Class suite in its A380s, but that it is currently a 'work in progress'.

C-295 shows new teeth

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Fully loaded. (Airbus Defence)

On display at Dubai this year is a new variant of Airbus Defence multi-mission C-295 transporter – this time sporting weapons. The Armed ISR version features a range of weapon options including door-mounted 12.7mm machine gun or BK27mm cannon, along with anti-tank, laser guided rockets and guided bombs from Turkey's Roketsan – which is one of several weapon suppliers to sign agreements with Airbus Defence for integration onto the C295.

MC-21 production line in UAE?

Meanwhile Russia's state Rostec announced that it had begun preliminary discussions with the UAE on the joint production of a civil aircraft. The aircraft may be based on UAC's MC-21-400 passenger jet, with Rostec raising the possibility of a UAE production line. A working group is now being created to study it further, according to Rostec CEO, Sergei Chemezov.

Falcon adds more AW169s

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Falcon Aviation AW169 on static.

Signing an order from lessor Milestone Aviation Group for an additional three Leonardo AW169s on the first day of the show was Abu Dhabi-based Falcon Aviation, which provides a range of fixed and rotary-wing services including VIP charter and offshore support. The signing brings the Falcon AW169 fleet up to five helicopters, and the company also operates two AW189s and five AW109s. The new AW169s, which will be in multimission configuration, will be delivered in the first quarter of 2018.

Themed conferences

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Conferences for everyone...

A special feature of this year’s show are a number of themed pavilion, including Space, Cargo, UAS, Airports and Training. The Space Pavilion will include stands for the UAE Space Agency, Centre National D'études Spatiales (CNES) and ISS Reshetnev. UAE has already invested $5.4bn in space technologies and has the Mission to Mars Hope mission planned for 2021. The Cargo Zone is a focused exhibition area for airlines, airports, freight forwarders and vendors. Exhibitors include Roamworks, Turkish Cargo, RSA Logistics and National Air Cargo. Dubai’s Al Maktoum International Airport is already the world’s largest air cargo hub and aims to have the capacity to handle more than 12m tonnes of cargo per year.

Each of the five areas will also be holding a themed conference.

- Space Conference (13-14 Nov) - with speakers including Apollo 15 Command Module Pilot Col Al Worden, George Whitesides, CEO of Virgin Galactic, H.E Dr Mohammed Al Ahbabi, DG of the UAE Space Agency and Omran Sharaf, Project Manager, Emirates Mars Mission, Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC).

- Cargo Zone (13 Nov) - this event will include keynote presentations from representatives from Emirates Skycargo, IATA, examining both the international perspective, as well specific themes such as air cargo safety and security, cyber security, cargo compliance and dangerous goods, E-commerce, the needs of OEMs, MROs and service providers, air cargo handling systems and managing an effective supply chain.

-There will also be a UAS Summit (14-15 Nov), Airport Solutions Dubai Conference (14-15 Nov) for civil aviation authorities, regulators and airport operators and the Gulf Aviation Training Event (GATE) (13 Nov) to address the challenges of growing demand for pilots and the future for Middle East aviation training which will include panel discussions on training for pilots, crews and maintenance personnel.

The final day of the show on 16 November will be Futures Day aimed at inspiring the next generation of aerospace professionals.


The Royal Aeronautical Society at Dubai

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Stand 2018 to find out more about the RAeS.

The Royal Aeronautical Society, which has a local Branch in the UAE, will also be at the Dubai Air Show, on Stand 2018. Come along and find out about individual and corporate membership, inquire our professional development and career services and pick up a copy of AEROSPACE magazine.


And Finally....

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Everything is awesome...

Missing a crucial 4x2 part in your Lego Trent 700 engine? Local MRO Turbine Services and Solution may be able to help... 


Stay ahead of all the news

To follow all the news at Dubai don’t forget to bookmark www.aerosociety.com and follow the daily airshow news on the Insight blog. For those on Twitter, follow @AeroSociety and use the hashtag #DAS17. Editor-in-Chief Tim Robinson will be tweeting live from the show on @RAeSTimR

Tim Robinson and Bill Read
13 November 2017

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