TIM ROBINSON provides a look at some of the news and highlights of the second trade day at the Dubai Air Show 2017.
Day two dawned with Dubai Air Show visitors braving taxis, metro and shuttle buses to reach the venue at DWC and see the latest aircraft, technologies and products the global aerospace industry has to offer. Let's take a look at some of the highlights.
Boom to make supersonic powerplant choice in 2018
Giving a presentation of progress towards its goal of developing a 55-seat supersonic airliner, was Boom Supersonic's CEO and Founder, Blake Scholl. The company is set to fly its two-seat XB-1 demonstrator by the end of 2018, with Mach1+ testing to use Edwards AFB supersonic corridor – a nod to the original X-Planes.
Scholl also revealed that the company was now launched a factory site selection process for its still unamed airliner, which is set to be given an official name in early 2018. Boom sees a demand for 1,000-2,000 supersonic airliners over next ten years and Scholl revealed that as well as the 76 pre-orders announced at Paris earlier this year, the company is currently in talks with over 20 airlines about possible sales.
Scholl played down concerns over supersonic noise restrictions due to the aircraft creating sonic booms on the ground. The aircraft was smaller and has some shaping and thus will be quieter than Concorde, but he believes that there is a "sweet spot of intensity" where any booms will merge into background noise and the economics will still make sense. Boom is aiming to reduce the cost of a supersonic seat to around the cost of a subsonic passenger ticket. In any case, he noted, the business case for Boom does not rest on approval for supersonic overland flight.
A key bit of news, he told media, is that Boom is planning to downselect an engine in 2018, with the choice between a commercial turbofan derivative or a "clean-sheet powerplant". Service entry is planned for 2023.
Etihad flying test lab on display
Etihad Airways is demonstrating an enhanced passenger connectivity experience in a specially-fitted Airbus A320 on display at the show. Etihad Airways Engineering announced that, in partnership with Hughes Network Systems and Carlisle Interconnect and UAE-based satellite operator Yahsat, it had successfully tested a 50Mbps in-flight connection system in trials in Abu Dhabi. The enhanced connectivity will enable passengers to have access to HD streaming content, social media, online shopping and messaging apps. Etihad plan to begin offering the new high-speed broadband service to airlines within the next year.
Jetex opens new FBO at Dubai South and adds Oman
Business aviation services company Jetex Flight Support has been appointed as the first operator and manager of fixed base operations (FBO) in Oman. The ten-year agreement with the Oman Airports Management Company will see Jetex develop new FBOs at Muscat and Salalah airports. Jetex also formally opened its second FBO at Dubai South near Al Maktoum Airport and announced plans to build an aircraft hangar on the site by 2019.
UK company debuts armed multicopter
Making its Dubai debut was a new British company, Steel Rock, which had on display a family of multicopter UAVs. One of which, the Velvet Wasp, was armed with a low-collateral Textron Fury mini-missile. Another variant, uses a 40mm launcher to render IEDs inoperable from safe distance. Finally, the company's Eagle Owl UAV is a ISR platform, providing 2hrs in overwatch. Its multicopters can also perform resupply, delivery and humanitarian missions and Steel Rock had been one of the winners of DSTL's 'Last mile challenge' for automated logistics delivery to troops right where they need them.
As well as developing innovative UAVs, Steel Rock is also leading the way in next-generation C-UAS anti-drone tech. Its Nightfighter drone scrambler is lightweight, portable (a 'carbine'-like short version is aimed at special forces) and is extremely precise in that its directional antennas only disable the UAV that it is pointed at, and not other electronic equipment. The Nightfighter can disable the UAV, bring it down to earth safely, or even hijack it and send it back to its owner. With armed UAVs and aerial IEDs now becoming ever more widespread (as well as rogue UAVs) C-UAS is a fast expanding defence and security market.
Scihuan signs up for A350 predictive maintenance
Chinese carrier Sichuan Airlines has selected Airbus Flight Hour Services (FHS) and Airbus Real Time Health Monitoring Service (AiRTHM) to provide components and predictive maintenance support for its new fleet of four A350 XWBs. The Chengdu-based carrier is to shortly begin operating the A350 XWBs on its international routes, including Chengdu to the US. The two long-term agreements will provide guaranteed spare parts through pool access service and on-site stock at customer main bases, as well as component reliability management and maintenance. Sichuan Airlines was the launch customer for Airbus FHS in China for its Airbus A330 fleet.
RAeS boosts Middle East bizav links
The second Day of the show also saw the Royal Aeronautical Society reinforce its links with aviation in the region with RAeS President Sir Stephen Dalton handing over a Corporate Partner certificate to Middle East and North Africa Business Aviation Association (MEBAA) and in return, joining MEBAA as a member - confirming the Society's long term commitment to the region and business aviation.
Abu Dhabi Aviation now a Bell service centre
Textron-owned Bell Helicopter has appointed Abu Dhabi Aviation as an authorised Customer Service Facility (CSF) for Bell 412s and Bell 212 helicopters. Abu Dhabi Aviation claims to be the largest commercial helicopter operator in the Middle East, with 61 helicopters and four fixed-wing aircraft, providing aviation offshore oil support, VVIP passenger transportation, search and rescue, crop spraying, aerial construction, seismic support, firefighting in Europe and third-party maintenance support.
Rolls-Royce aims to make pilots 'appy with their engines
UK engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce was also busy with press announcements as it revealed that it had reached a new milestone in the development of its next generation of civil aerospace engines with the first run of its Advance3 engine demonstrator.
Rolls-Royce also launched a unique new range of apps designed specifically for customer airline pilots to give them a better insight into their engines. The Pilot App enables pilots and airlines to save fuel and reduce emissions by optimising the performance of their engines. Designed for tablet devices with Android, iOS or Windows operating systems, the apps include information relating to oil consumption and operating engines in a variety of environmental conditions. The first apps available will cover the Trent XWB, used to power the Airbus A350XWB and the Trent 1000 which powers the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Additional apps for the Trent 900, Trent 700 and Trent 7000 are to follow in the coming months.
UAE to launch astronaut corps
Having (almost) conquered the global aviation world via Emirates, Etihad and Dubai airports, the UAE is now setting its sights on space, and is set to set to announce the creation of its own national astronaut corps by end of year, according to Adman Mohammed Al Rais, Manager at Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre. The UAE will be looking for around 4-8 Emiraties, men or women, with 'The Right Stuff' to fly on missions to the ISS. He said that no decision had been made yet on whether these UAE astronauts would fly on US spacecraft (such as Boeing CST-100 or SpaceX Dragon) or whether they might be ferried to the ISS onboard a Russian Soyuz. However, he said that a key aim was that any national astronaut project would be 'sustainable' and not just a 'one-off'.
One potential future UAE astronaut is already had her DNA science experiment sent into orbit. Fifteen-year old Alia Al Mansoori,won a UAE Genes in Space competition organised by the UAE Space Agency, The National newspaper and Boeing earlier this year.
RAF still on track to add two extra Typhoon squadrons
Giving a briefing over at the Eurofighter pavilion was Air Vice Marshal Gerry Mayhew, OC No 1 Group, RAF who gave an overview of Typhoon operations and activity (including Operation Shader, Falklands air defence and air policing in Eastern Europe.) Despite the events since the last SDSR defence review in 2015, he said that the RAF was "looking to bring on two extra front-line Typhoon squadrons" along with extra capabilities such as radar, new weapons (Brimstone, Meteor and Storm Shadow) and HMD as part of its Project Centurion upgrade for the fighter. One piece of kit not to migrate from the RAF Tornado to the Typhoon will be the Raptor high-resolution digital reconnaissance pod, a capability that would be met in other ways. AVM Mayhew, responding to media questions on fourth/fifth generation datalink interoperability between F-35 and Typhoon, also revealed that the RAF was well ahead in solving this challenge, but refused to go into specifics, an oblique reference to the Babel Fish series of F-35/Typhoon interoperability trials. He also noted that the new 10-year industrial support contract arrangement for Typhoon, TyTAN, which was launched in 2016 between RAF and industry (BAE Systems and Leonardo) was already delivering efficiency savings of 30% in operating costs, allowing the service to plough this money back into planned upgrades for the aircraft.
Meanwhile, the company revealed that 2017 had been the busiest ever for Eurofighter, with the fighter notching up over 10,000 'swing-role' combat flying hours - "more than any other new generation fighter in service today", according to the firm. In operations over Iraq and Syria the RAF Typhoon force had flown over 900 missions, with RAF squadrons now on their second rotation in Operation Shader.
Orbis' new MD-10 is a welcome sight
One aircraft with a unique mission of helping to treat blindness and eyesight disorders worldwide is at Dubai this year – Orbis Internationals Flying Eye Hospital. Based on a converted FedEx MD-10, the heavily modified aircraft was delivered in 2016. Inside it features a state-of-art classroom, video conferencing, training/teaching room, operating theatre and recovery room with custom air conditioning and sterilisation. The operating theatre also uses the latest technology, including 3D monitors and even streams live eye operations via a dedicated website so students can watch surgery being performed and even submit questions.
Orbis' MD-10, which flies with a regular crew of 22, operates around the world to act as a mobile specialist eye teaching hospital – training local doctors, nurses and techancians in the developing world, the latest techniques and procedures to combat avoidable blindness and restore peoples sight. In the period 2012-2016, Orbis trained 10,385 doctors worldwide and 130,362 nurses and medical staff, working closely with local hospitals where the need is greatest.
Supported by FedEx and UTC among others, this aircraft is a one-of-a-kind humanitarian asset that delivers the most valuable aid of all – knowledge.
Rockwell gets onboard 777X
Rockwell Collins made a number of announcements during the day, the first of which was the selection of the company’s Head-up Guidance System for Emirates forthcoming 150 Boeing 777Xs currently on order. Emirates also selected Rockwell Collins’ GLU-2100 Multi-Mode Receiver and Digital Radio Altimeter for its 777X fleet. Rockwell Collins is also providing the integrated surveillance system on the 777X with MultiScan weather radar, select flight controls, the Avionics Gateway secure server router and communication and navigation radios.
It was also announced that the UAE’s new Calidus B-250 light attack aircraft is to be fitted with Rockwell Collins Pro Line Fusion integrated avionics
ExecuJet has announced plans to relocate its Dubai fixed base operations (FBO) and maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) operations to a single facility at Dubai new Al Maktoum Airport. The new 25,700m² facility will become ExecuJet’s regional headquarters for the Middle East with 13,800m² of on-site hangar floor space, and support services offices. Construction of the new facility is due to commence in early 2018 to be completed in 2019. The company currently manages two FBO and MRO facilities in Dubai, one at Dubai Airport (DXB) and another at Al Maktoum Airport.
ALAFCO firms up MAX order
Boeing and Kuwaiti aircraft leasing company ALAFCO finalised a $2.0bn order for 20 737 MAX 8s, first announced at the Paris Air Show in July.
CAE to set up Saudi flight training facility
International flight training provider CAE signed a collaboration agreement with the Saudi National Company of Aviation (SNCA) to set up a new CAE-authorised training centre at King Fahad Airport in Dammam, Saudi Arabia. Funded by SNCA, the new 40,000m² flight academy will provide training for commercial pilots, instructors and safety and quality control personnel.
Air Arabia lease deal to open up longer routes
Middle East low-cost carrier Air Arabia signed a lease agreement for six Airbus long range A321neo LRs with the Los Angeles-based aircraft lessor Air Lease Corporation. The 215-seat CFM-powered aircraft are to join Air Arabia’s existing fleet of 50 A320 aircraft from 2019 and will enable the airline to fly on longer routes.
CEFA shows off pilot training app
French pilot training and flight safety company CEFA Aviation, took the opportunity of the show to launch its new Aviation Mobile Services (AMS) pilot training app. Using this software, pilots and flight crews can view a re-creation of their own flights within minutes after landing while the events of the flight are still fresh in mind. CEFA hopes that the high-fidelity visualisations of landing, take-off and other flight moments derived from actual flight recorder data will help increase pilot awareness, safety and training analyse unusual conditions, landing patterns, with different aircraft controls – and training. A video of the AMS can be seen on:
New Leonardo CCO to get closer to customers
Thrown into the lion's den of a press conference in the new role of Leonardo's Chief Commercial Officer was Lorenzo Mariani, who revealed that the Italian group would be boosting its global network with a goal of doubling the number of offices dotted around the world, beginning in the new year. The recently created CCO mission he said was to strengthen the company's presence in the market and stimulate international market development and business. A second function, he said, was that Leonardo had recognised that a "great deal of our future growth is based on customer support". As well as greatly expanded network of global offices and regional representatives, Leonardo was also establishing a new organisation dedicated to customer support at the corporate level, reporting directly to the CCO.
Deer Jet's VIP 787 now available for Middle East high-flyers
Regular user of Gulfstream or Boeing 737BBJs but find them a little cramped and downmarket? If so then the amazing Boeing 787 VVIP Dreamliner owned by Deer Jet may be just for you. This ultra luxury bizjet, aimed at Heads of State, VVIPs and celebrities is now available to charter via UAE's UAS International Trip Support, which already caters to the high-end of charter market with BBJs and Gulfstreams. UAS CEO and co-founder Omar Hosari says the 787 costs around $60-70,000 a hour to fly – with the intended audience heads of state, ministers and their entourages. The VIP 787, only delivered in 2016, has room for 40 passengers, rest areas for crew, a giant lounge as well as a master bedroom and bathroom. Despite the hefty price tag for charter, the 787 VVIP is proving a huge hit at the show, says Hosari: "Everyone is wowed. They've never seen something this spacious". Indeed, Deer Jet is set to take delivery of a second 787 with a different interior, which UAS will also offer for charter – as Hosari believes the demand is there. Having taken over the charter for this luxury bizjet, UAS is set to intensify its marketing strategy to make the super rich and super powerful aware of the aircraft.
A lighter seat
Brazilian carrier GOL Linhas Aéreas Brazilian has placed an order for BL3530 economy class seats from Recaro Aircraft Seating to equip 60 new and 26 in-service aircraft. The light weight BL3530 seats are designed for short- and medium-haul flights, allowing passengers to charge their own electronic devices on board and to mount them on a holder.
The Royal Aeronautical Society at Dubai
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.
The presence of baking desert heat, formal business wear and a waterbomber aircraft present at the show would seem to suggest a obvious business opportunity for an imaginative entrepreneur - cooling showers delivered over a hot and sweaty crowd...
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