TIM ROBINSON and BILL READ provide a look at some of the most exciting news and highlights of the third trade day, 13 July, of Farnborough International Air Show 2016.
While the Wednesday morning saw bright blue skies greet visitors, by the afternoon a sudden downpour had once again wrong-footed the crowds. However, mercifully, this time it was fairly brief and there was no repeat of the massive floods of the Monday. Business on the Wednesday though was still extremely brisk and by the end of the day, the show had racked up orders worth $85bn – with 582 aircraft sold more than the 2015 Paris Air Show – and beyond the last quiet Dubai and Singapore shows. In fact, a straw poll of visitors and exhibitors revealed that many were pleasantly surprised by the level of business activity. Brexit uncertainty and the big manufacturers shifting into their focus to production had perhaps lowered expectations.
Let's take a look some of the top news from Day Three.
Are we on the cusp of the Hypersonic Age?
From the Jet Age to the Hypersonic Age? (Reaction Engines)
Beginning your presentation with a slide that claims “Space technology that will change the world in your life time” may seem like pure hyperbole and an open goal to the press to then hold you to, but Reaction Engines are confident that its SABRE air-breathing hybrid rocket engine is a true breakthrough – opening up single-stage to orbit and hypersonic flight. It is not just them either, the hybrid propulsion technology, which allows a single engine to operate from standstill to Mach 5 and then beyond has been verified by both ESA (which announced €10m funding this week) and the US Air Force Research Labs (saying a two-stage to orbit system based on SABRE may be game-changing). It has also seen investment from the UK’s BAE Systems, a company not known for backing unrealistic pie-in-the-sky schemes. SABRE then, paired with suitable platforms could open up low-cost space access or even hypersonic air travel. However while Reaction Engines has promised ‘in your lifetime’, it is still early days yet. A ground-based engine demonstrator is planned for 2020 – and beyond that some kind of aerospace vehicle is needed to further test the system. One challenge is that there is no aircraft currently available able to reach the speed to test SABRE properly. It is thus much more than an engine – but an entirely new aerospace transport system. However Reaction Engines say that a quarter-scale demonstrator will enable the company to “set a very clear path to applications”.
Of course, one big question remains is how much an operational SABRE-powered spaceplane like Skylon might cost. Developing the 787 Dreamliner, for example, a conventional airliner otherwise incorporating novel technology reportedly cost Boeing $32bn. Where might this funding come from? Reaction Engines believes that by making small steps and proving the technology at each stage, will allow them to leverage and unlock the much larger sums needed for commercial exploitation of this radical aerospace technology. While the sums are expected to be large, it is worth remembering that the UK’s HS2 railway has been estimated to cost £55bn. Is it possible then, that an entirely new aerospace and space access system could in fact cost less that a new railway that saves 15 minutes journey time between London and Birmingham?
Neo world order
More neos for the backlog.... (Airbus)
Synergy Aerospace Corporation, the largest shareholder of Colombia-based Avianca and the owner of Avianca Brasil, finalised a purchase agreement with Airbus for 62 A320neo family aircraft in a deal worth $62bn at list prices.
Fully immersive digital design
Dassault Systems 3DEXCITE fully immersive business jet cabin interior
Digital engineering specialists Dassault Systemes are showcasing some of their new concepts in the ‘3D experience playground’. Projects on display including applications for using ‘big data’ solutions to minimise aircraft downtime, reducing aircraft weight by developing new shapes for components using the generative design experience tool, improving efficiency in factories and the 3DEXCITE immersive tool which enables customers to walk around the interior of a virtual business jet, pick up, examine (and even throw) objects and customise the contents and décor.
Philanthropic airline aims to break mould
POP aims to put something back into the community. (POP)
AEROSPACE interviewed two of the founders of new start low-cost airline POP which is proposing to operate between the UK and India, donating 51% off its net profits to charity. Chairman ‘Nino’ Singh Judge and COO Graham Howat explained their plans to operate a A330-300 between London Stansted and Amritsar (Punjab) and Ahmedabad (Gujarat) - two routes not currently served by any other carrier. The aircraft will be wet leased, a contract which will include the provision of all crew and MRO support. Startup costs for the airline are to be crowdfunded - a deal which will include free off-peak seats and VIP treatment. It had been hoped to begin flying the new airline before the end of this year but this date has since been moved to the first quarter of 2017. “However, we intend to have the aircraft ready to show at the Paris Air Show in June,” said Nino.
Mind the ground!
easyJet has selected the Thales/ACSS T3CAS Terrain Collision Avoidance System - surveillance solution for its A320 neo and ceos. The system will be fitted to 136 A320s.
Unleashing the Typhoon
SPEAR was fired from a Typhoon earlier this year, (BAE Systems)
Over at Eurofighter, the company revealed progress on unlocking future capability for the multi-role fighter – with new weapons, sensors and software now coming on stream. Earlier this year, for example, Typhoon test aircraft have fired MBDAs SPEAR missile for the first time, carried out the the first powered Storm Shadow cruise missile test and launched the types sixth Meteor BVRAAM firing. Storm Shadow is expected to be fully operational with RAF Typhoons in 2018. In addition, Brimstone missiles have now entered flight trials on the Typhoon, with the first firing set for early 2017. After a roll-out in 2014 and numerous ground testing, flight-testing of the long-awaited CAPTOR-E AESA radar has now begun with two test flights, says Eurofighter. Being first tests however, these initial flights were with the radar turned off - the company expect to switch the AESA on in the ‘near term’.
While integrating Meteor, Storm Shadow and Brimstone in the short term will massively expand the Typhoon’s swing role capabilities – there is more to come. The planned Phase 4 Enhancement (P4E) package will unleash the full capability of the AESA radar, and add SEAD (SPEAR 3) and maritime strike weapons (Marte-ER), giving Typhoon pilots the ability to tackle almost anything, short of giant Independence Day-style alien motherships.
The evolution of Eurofighter will not stop there either. Eurofighter will be in service in the “2040s, 2050s and even 2060s” according to Paul Smith, Military Air Advisor and thus will be continually updated. His prediction for the most valuable upgrade for a 2040s Typhoon? Increased and enhanced networking to share and store data – and to enable it to command UCAVs in manned/unmanned teaming. Watch this space.
Diamond in the sky
Diamond Aircraft and Flight Calibration Services (FCSL) signed a firm order for a second DA62, just one month after the delivery of their first DA62.
Robot eyes speed up inspections
UAVs can speed up airliner production. Who knew? (Airbus)
Airbus gave a live demonstration at the air show of how drones can be used for aircraft inspection to reduce aircraft production quality times from two hours down to 10-15 minutes. The UAV, equipped with a high definition camera which took pictures automatically, was flown using an automatic flight control system supervised by a human pilot. The images, especially those showing scratches, dents and painting defects, are compiled in a 3D digital model, recorded in a database and then analysed. As well as being much faster, using a UAV also solves the problem of finding a cherry picker and the operators potentially damaging the aircraft with a mobile platform or ladders.
MAXs and freighters boost Boeing sales haul
Air Europa has been revealed as a mystery buyer of 737 MAXs (Boeing)
Boeing revealed the identities of two previously undisclosed customers already listed on its Order & Deliveries website. Egyptair is the customer for nine 737-800NGs while Spanish operator Air Europa (which ordered 14 787-9s in 2015) is the mystery buyer of 20 737 MAX 8s. An order from Yunnan-based Ruili Airlines for six 787-9s first placed in May was also finalised. Other Boeing news included a ten new orders and commitments for its Boeing Converted Freighters (BCF) programme. Bulgarian freight carrier Cargo Air and Lineas Aereas Suramericanas (LAS) Cargo from Colombia will each receive two 737-800BCFs. Air Algerie signed a commitment for two 737-800BCFs while an unidentified customer ordered four 767BCFs.
CFM engine milestone
Engine manufacturer CFM celebrated the production of its 30,000th engine.(CFM)
The event was attended by CFM CE Jean-Paul Ebanga, Boeing Commercial Airplane VP Propulsion Systems Nicole Piasecki and Erik Buschmann, Airbus Head of Propulsion Systems. In the 35 years since the first engines were produced, CFM has delivered more than 9,860 CFM56-5 engines to Airbus for the A320ceo and A340-200/-300s and over 17,300 CFM56-3/-7B engines for the Boeing Classic and Next-Generation 737 families.
Volga-Dnepr demonstrated the rapid loading and unloading of a deployable modular hospital on and off an Antonov An-124 heavy lift freighter. According to Antonov, up to 12 containers can be loaded in an hour. Based on a standard ISO freight container, the mobile hospital was customised by Marshall Aerospace & Defense and can be expanded sideways into a larger structure once deployed on the ground. To move the container, it is fitted with wheel assemblies which can be raised hydraulically and then towed to and from the aircraft. The container is lifted on an off the An-124 using a vertical lift crane fitted above the rear cargo door.
SuperJet unveils SportJet
Arrive refreshed and ready to win. (Superjet)
While Farnborough has seen a SuperJet SS100 represented by Ireland’s CityJet in the static, this week saw the Leonardo-Sukhoi joint venture Superjet International unveil an innovative third model to its stable – the SportJet. This features a cabin especially configured for transporting professional sports teams and athletes. This concept, with state of the art sports medicine and IT equipement would address factors such as jet lag, hypoxia and dehydration – ensuring that teams arrive in tip-top condition. Though this seems a highly niche market – Superjet estimate that the sports air transportation market is now worth $600m. It is also not the first tie-up between aviation and professional sports teams – wind-tunnels, for example have been using to optimize cycling and bobsled designs in order to give competitors that wining edge.
Download your copy of July AEROSPACE
Sample a taste of RAeS Membership with a free PDF download of the June issue of AEROSPACE magazine here.
Spotted at the Eurofighter Chalet was the Top Gear-style leaderboard of fighter pilots times around the fabled Mach Loop in the Typhoon simulator. Top of the leaderboard with a time of 2.04 – was a MiG-29 pilot from the Royal Malaysian Air Force - callsign ‘Foxy’ - real identity Major Patricia Yapp – the RMAFs only female fighter pilot. Do try and keep up boys.
Stay ahead of all the news!
To follow all the news at Farnborough 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 #FIA16. Editor-in-Chief Tim Robinson will be tweeting live from the show on @RAeSTimR