TIM ROBINSON and BILL READ report on some of the most exciting news and highlights of the second trade day, 20 June, of the Paris Air Show 2017.



This Paris Air Show 2017 coverage brought to you with the kind support of Gulf Aviation 


Boom, Boom, shake the room

Boom Aerospace's redesigned XB-1 demonstrator (Boom Aerospace)

Tuesday morning saw a presentation from supersonic commercial aircraft start-up Boom Aerospace with an impassioned talk from Blake Scholl, founder and CEO of Boom Aerospace. “We are talking about a supersonic renaissance,” said Scholl. “Speed matters. Airplanes aren’t cruise ships. We love flying but we love arriving more.”

Boom Aerospace plans to build the Boom supersonic jet (SSJ) which will reintroduce supersonic travel for commercial passengers. The interior of the Boom SSJ will be fitted with 55 business class seats. “These seats will not recline because we’ll fly during day,” explained Blake Scholl. However, there might also be a version for longer flights with 15 business class and 30 first class seats which could be converted into beds.

The Boom SSJ will make extensive use of carbon fibre composites, as these have the advantage of being more tolerant to high temperatures encountered during supersonic flight. Regarding the engines for the Boom SSJ. Scholl said that the aircraft would not need afterburners like Concorde. Although the engines and the engine manufacturer for the Boom SSJ have yet to be decided, Scholl described them as a ‘medium by pass ratio’ design which would have sufficient thrust not to need full power on take-off and reduce noise levels. The proposed engine was also described as a ‘Goldilocks turbofan’ which would provide supersonic speeds but yet also be quiet at airports.

To test the technologies needed to create the commercial passenger version of the Boom SSJ, Boom Aerospace is building a smaller Mach 2.2 supersonic demonstrator - the XB-1 - also known as the ‘Baby Boom’. The demonstrator has competed a preliminary design review and is now ready for assembly with GE, Honeywell, Tencate and Stratasys as manufacturing partners. Scholl explained how the design had been modified since the end of 2016 with the number of intakes increased from two to three and a change to the wing planform. The Baby Boom will be powered by a GE J85 engines used on cruise missiles. The XB-1 is scheduled to be completed this year with first flight in 2018. The first passenger flight of the full-size aircraft could follow as early as 2023.

“We have now had preliminary reservations for 76 aircraft from five world airlines,” said Scholl - although he did not reveal their identities. However, it is likely that one of the customers is Virgin Atlantic which was the launch customer for the design. “We’ve got enough customers to launch the design,” said Scholl.

Boom says that it has sufficient funds to complete the project. “We’ve spent $33m getting the SB-1 ready,” said Scholl. “We’ve got $41m in funding which will more than pay for the demonstrator. The 76 order reservations are backed by ‘tens of millions’ of dollars in non-refundable payments. We are confident that more money will be generated as the project develops. Boom is like chemical reaction - it needs four reagents - technology, customers, suppliers and investment.

Scholl also revealed the cost of a Boom SSJ - $200m - and the cost of a return ticket for a supersonic flight across the Atlantic and back - $5,000.

There are still many hurdles for the Boom SSJ to overcome - not the least of which is the ban on commercial supersonic travel over land. Scholl admitted that the issue of sonic booms was a problem but not an insurmountable one. “There is a lot of misinformation about sonic booms,” he said. “The 125db produced by Concorde was not as loud as thunder or even of your neighbour’s lawn mower. We’d love to get the overland rules changed once we get going.”

Scholl also revealed his ambition for the future as to build larger SSJs so that supersonic flight would be affordable to all. I’d like to see all the elimination of all subsonic flights over 1,000 miles with supersonic flights,” he said. “It’s not going to be easy but the secret sauce is mission. People get excited about supersonic flight - it gets you out of bed. It’s not just about time save but life gained.”

Brimstone Typhoon test imminent

A tweet asking about a mystery weapon (MBDA's SPEAR 3) spotted on a Eurofighter at Warton went viral on social media within 30mins of the aircraft rolling out on the runway, said a MBDA exec. 

While the Lockheed Martin F-35A has been busy grabbing headlines with its first appearance at Le Bourget in the flying display, closer to home there was an update from Eurofighter on the what is now the backbone fighter of European NATO countries. This year saw the 500th Eurofighter delivered and the fleet, in service now with eight countries recently passed the 400,000 flying hours milestone.

Notably, these hours have been racked up in operations both in the Middle East (under the UK's Operation Shader) and in Air Policing and joint exercises in the Baltics and Eastern Europe. This year has been the busiest ever for Eurofighters, said the compan's Head of Marketing, Raffael Klaschka, an ex-Luftwaffe F-4 and Eurofighter pilot. He noted that Luftwaffe Eurofighters deployed to the Baltic Air Policing missions had conducted 'Alpha' scrambles 28 times over four months thanks to Russian aerial probing. In comparison, an average Alpha QRA scramble in Germany takes place once a month. 

While it was always planned that the Typhoon would expand its roles and missions with new weapons, recently weapons integration has gone into high gear. The game-changing MBDA Meteor BVRAAM and Storm Shadow cruise missile are now in the final stages of integration and a Eurofighter Typhoon is set to test fire another new weapon, Brimstone, 'imminently' according to the company. 

However, with air-to-air combat in the news this week, Meteor (for Typhoon, Gripen and Rafale) is set to give these fighters a huge leap in air superiority, Said MBDA's Rob Thornley of Meteor: "it is the biggest change in air combat since the introduction of guided weapons". He added that is was "5-6 times more capable" than current medium range missiles and will change the way air combat is fought.

Boeing keeps NMA mostly a mystery

Boeing also teased plans for a possible future mid-size aircraft design to bridge the gap between the largest 737 and the smallest 787 - roughly in the 200-270 seat area. Mike Delaney VP Airplane Development - Development Programs, explained how the demand from airlines was for more seats, range, economic performance and point-to-point connectivity. To satisfy these demands, Boeing is working on plans for a possible new midsize airplane (NMA). Work on the new design is still very much in the planning stage, although Delaney hinted that it would include elements of existing Boeing designs and a somewhat mysteriously named ‘hybrid cross-section’. However, Delaney would not be drawn on the NMA’s possible size, configuration or time scale - other than it would feature ‘single aisle economics and twin aisle comfort’.



Airbus Helicopters unveil RACER demonstrator

If there is this much excitement over a model - wait til they see the real thing... 

Over at the EU's Clean Sky research stand, it was standing room only as Airbus Helicopters CEO Guillaume Faury unveiled a model of its RACER (Rapid And Cost-Effective Rotorcraft ) which it is developing under Clean Skys LifeRCraft. The RACER, a compound, high speed rotorcraft is designed to provide high-speed (400kph), but at an affordable cost – opening up new market niches in EMS, VIP and Offshore operations. The RACER will feature two RTM322 engines. The new configuration shows the design tweaked with pusher propellers at the rear and instead of a single high stub wing, a double wing, which gives better aerodynamics high stiffness and reduced weight. First flight of the RACER technology demonstrator is scheduled for 2020. 

Boeing goes large with more Big MAX orders

United States of MAX. (Boeing)

Following its cascade of orders announced on Monday, Boeing showed no signs of slowing down the pace with further announcements during Tuesday. The largest apparent order was for 100 737 MAX 10s from US carrier United Airlines, although it turned out that these were converted from an existing MAX order. United also ordered four 777-300ERs.

Chinese carrier Okay Airways ordered eight MAX 10s and seven MAX 8s, as well as signing an MoU for five 787-9s. Romanian carrier Blue Air ordered six MAXs and will also lease an additional six MAXs and six 737-800 NGs from Air Lease Corporation. Irish low-cost carrier Ryanair finalised an order for ten additional MAX 200s.

Lessors were also keen on acquiring the latest MAX with Aviation Capital Group (ACG) ordering 20 MAX 10s. Other orders from lessors included Avolon, which signed an MoU for 75 MAX 8s, China Aircraft Leasing Group (CALC) which ordered 50 MAXs - of which 15 will be MAX 10s; and Japan Investment Adviser (JIA) which committed to ten MAX 8s.

Azerbaijan Airlines committed to four 787-8s while Ethiopian Airlines committed to two 777F freighters and exercised ten options from a 2014 order for ten additional MAX 8s. 

Wanted: 255,000 airline pilots

Unveiling its first ever Airline Pilot Demand Outlook, Canadian training and simulation specialists predict that the global civil air transport fleet will need some 255,000 new pilots in the next 10 years. The report also found that there was a requirement to develop 180,000 first officers into captains – a higher number than any other decade.   In short said Nick Leontidis, CAE Group President, Civil Aviation Training Solution: "The airline industry will need 70 new type-rated pilots per day for the next 10 years to meet global demand". Can supply keep up with this demand?

Viva Le Bourget!

Fabrice Bregier, Airbus COO and President Commercial Aircraft, Tewolde GebreMarian, Group CEO, Ethiopian and Airbus COO John Leahy.

With Airbus super-salesman John Leahy set to step down at the end of the year, there was no slowdown in orders announced at his last ever Paris Air Show. Ethiopian Airlines ordered ten additional A350-900s to add to its existing eight on order and four in service. Delta Airlines ordered ten A321 ceos, following an order for 30 in May. Low-cost Latin America carrier Viva Air signed an MoU for 15 A320ceos and 35 A320neos. Meanwhile Chinese aircraft lessor CDB Aviation Lease Finance signed an MoU for 30 A320neos and 15 A321neos. In addition, 15 A320neo positions from previous order converted to A321neos

While deliveries, not sales are now the top priority for the aviation industry at the peak of its cycle, what was the secret of Leahy's success? "It isn't luck" he said. "You make your own luck. Airbus has spent 30-40 years building the best product line out there".

Deflector shields on

Bart Reijen, CEO of Satair (right) proves the effectiveness of the metaAIR screen which deflects a green laser beam back from George Palikaras, CEO of MTI (left).

The Satair Group, which is wholly owned by Airbus, announced a new agreement with Canadian manufacturer Metamaterial Technologies Inc (MTI) to launch a new optical filter which can be used to protect aircraft from laser beams. The product has been launched as a counter to the reported 10,000 incidents a year in which hand-held ground-based laser beams have been directed at low-flying aircraft, endangering the safety both the flight crew and passengers. MTI optical filters division Lamda Guard has produced a metaAIR laser strike protection system consisting of a nanofabricated optical screen which covers the interior of a cockpit window. Three years of tests by Airbus and MTI have shown that the screens can not only reflect laser beams but can also protect pilots from UAV rays encountered during flight. The metaAIR will be developed initially for the Airbus A320 family and then for other airliners and aircraft.

Embraer adds to E-Jets orderbook

Eyes on sales...

Brazilian manufacturer Embraer also announced a number of orders for its E-JET family of regional jets. Belavia ordered a E175 and a E195; Fuji Dream Airlines ordered three E175s; and Japan Airlines and KLM Cityhopper ordered one and two E190s, respectively. There were also an order for ten E195-E2s and a commitment for 20 E190-E2s from undisclosed customers.

Bell Helicopter set for milestone military deliveries this year

AH-1Z will boost Pakistan's defence capabilities

A press briefing at Bell Helicopters provided a opportunity for the company to reveal that later this year would see the first export deliveries of two of their rotorcraft products to international customers. Taking delivery of the first Bell/Boeing V-22 Osprey to foreign customer in September/October is Japan – which is acquiring five tiltrotors for the Japan Ground Self-Defence Force.

Bell's AH-1Z, in service with the US Marine Corps, is also set to be delivered to its first international customer, Pakistan in the autumn. The country is acquiring 12 Zulu model gunships, with three to be handed over this year and the remaining nine in 2018.

Silicon Valley and aerospace – best buds or sworn enemies?


Set aside in the Concorde hall at the Musee du Air this year at the show was a new exhibition space called Paris Air Lab, devoted to tech start-ups, innovation, virtual reality which is now making waves across the conservative aviation industry. Whether it is reusable rockets, flying cars, space hotels or supersonic passenger flight, new Silicon Valley-style tech firms are aiming to disrupt and drive change.

One event at the Paris Air Lab, saw a TED-style debate with the legacy aerospace sector represented by France's Grégoire Aladjidi, Head of Safran Corporate Ventures and François Chopard, CEO and founder of Starburst Accelerator, the worlds first 'global aerospace and aviation incubator'. The title of their debate: 'Does the future of the aerospace industry belong to startups?'

Safran's Aladjidi noted that recently: "Something's happened - would anyone imagine this [Paris Air Lab] two years ago?" Chopard, as might be expected, was highly positive of the start-up culture and innovation accelerating aerospace development saying "SpaceX developed rocket engines in almost no time – it was thought to be impossible"HE predicted that there would be supersonic passenger flight in a decade, & 5,000-10,000 people living in LEO in the near future.

While clearly start-ups and the tech sector influence have gone way beyond a gimmick, with everyone from Airbus to Lockheed Martin keen to embrace things like big data – there are grounds for caution. Is the rash of start-ups in Silicon Valley just because there is unlimited money for any idea, however crazy? But perhaps more importantly what will happen when the practicality of aviation's long-established safety regulations, airworthiness, chapter IV noise restrictions etc collide head-on with some of the more riskier start-up ideas? In 1903, the Wright Brothers were a start-up, but they entered a world of no regulations in which Darwinian selection quickly culled bad ideas. Today it is far different. Can these two approaches be resolved?

Commercial Hercules makes debut

The LM-100 is similar in many ways to the C-130J but also has a number of differences - including covering up much of the previously exposed interior walls to make it safer for commercial operations.

Another test aircraft at this year’s show is the LM-100J - Lockheed Martin’s new commercial variant of the C130J Hercules. The 17th different variant of the C-130J Super Hercules platform, the LM100J is an updated version of the L-100 which Lockheed Martin produced from 1964-1992. The LM-100J has just begun its flight test programme, having made its maiden first flight on 25 May.

"The LM-100J has performed remarkably well in flight tests just two weeks after its first flight. Because of this strong performance, we decided to fly the LM-100J to Paris to be on display at the world's greatest airshow," said George Shultz, vice president and general manager, Air Mobility & Maritime Missions at Lockheed Martin.

By swapping in and out different modular units, the cargo hold of the LM-100J can be changed depending on different mission requirements. Possible roles for the LM-100J include oil exploration and spill clean-up, mining logistics, aerial firefighting, medevac/air ambulance, humanitarian relief operations, VIP transport and aerial spraying. 

Supporting Poseidon

Boeing also announced a new three-year contract to support the Indian Navy’s fleet of P-8I fleet of maritime patrol aircraft, including engineering, support and planning. The Indian Navy currently operates eight P-8Is and has four more on order from Boeing to be delivered from 2020.

Designing the Factory of the Future 4.0

What will the future aerospace workplace look like?

Over at French engineering group Assystem, the company revealed its vision for what a Factory of the Future could look like in the 2020s. Taking as an example product, an aerial taxi and VIP VTOL personal air vehicle, Assystem envisages that a FoF could be made 50% automated with cobots helping out and aerial drones delivering parts just-in-time. The aerial taxi market would require automotive style volume production, with a 'Takt time' of just 6 mins. This could mean that a customer might be able to order an aerial taxi and have in delivered in just two months. The goal here would be to reduce the manpower hours per aircraft from the tens of thousands currently in traditional aerospace manufacturing to just 40hrs or double that of the 20hrs of the car industry.

Assystem's vision sees smart connected workers, and a highly diverse workforce. Exoskeltons, for example, might not only enable workers to shift heavy loads, but could also enable disabled workers to perform the same tasks. Other innovations would be an on-site academy or further career centre, to upskill workers.

Virtual and augmented reality too would play a big part – not only in design and manufacturing, but also in sales and marketing. Customers for example could visit a 'virtual showroom' try different interiors in VR and then place an order. Thanks to the way in which data would be shared, a customer might also be able to customise and change their order (for example the paint scheme) until the very last minute, without the factory breaking a stride. Assystem even believe that robots or Google Street would allow customers to take virtual factory tours to check on the progress of their air vehicle. 

In short, the Factory of the Future could be agile, lean, smart and green. 


Airbus launches global A400M photo contest


The competition will launch at the Paris Air Show 2017 where the A400M will take part in the static display and will run until 24th November, with winners set to be announced in December. 

For more details and terms go to www.A400m-photocompetition.com to enter. 

Follow the A400M Annual Photography Contest online with #InPlaneSight #A400M


And Finally…


Other terrible jokes are available...

With temperatures described as varying from 'scorching' to 'hotter than the sun' – it was no wonder that some Le Bourget visitors started seeing Mirages in the heat....

Download your copy of June AEROSPACE

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Stay ahead of all the news!

To follow all the news at Paris 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 #PAS17. Editor-in-Chief Tim Robinson will be tweeting live from the show on @RAeSTimR 

News Team
21 June 2017