Military, Products

A Blast From the Past

By Douglas W. Nelms | June 1, 2006

After more than five years spent recovering from accidents and mistakes, the V-22 returns to a European air show. It will be far from the only rotorcraft at Farnborough.

After several years of struggling to salvage the tilt-rotor program, contracting partners Bell Helicopter and Boeing are leasing two MV-22s from the U.S. Marine Corps to participate in flight demonstrations at the Farnborough Air Show next month.

Crews from Marine Tilt-Rotor Test and Evaluation Sqdn. 22 (VMX-22) will fly the aircraft across from MCAS New River, N.C. via Goose Bay, Newfoundland, accompanied by a tanker for in-flight refueling. Farnborough is roughly 2,300 nm from Goose Bay. The MV-22s are to participate in the British Royal International Air Tattoo June 15-16.


"It is particularly rewarding this year that we get to show off the V-22 tilt-rotor" said Bell CEO Mike Redenbaugh. "Bell can show this select audience the technology that sets us apart."

Farnborough organizers launched the Business Aircraft Park at the last biennial show and said they booked 50 percent more space there than they projected in 2004. This year, the park has been moved to become a central feature of the show. It will be close to Chalet Rows J and K and more easily accessible from the main exhibition area. The organizers expect the park's static display to triple in comparison to the area in 2004.

A "show within a show," the Business Aircraft Park will be held July 17-19, during which exhibitors can conduct demonstration flights for potential and existing customers. After July 19, manufacturers will move their aircraft to their static areas.

Helicopter companies that have committed to displaying in the Business Aircraft Park included NHIndustries (which produces the NH90), India's Hindustan Aeronautics, Ltd. and Sikorsky. Bell plans to display in its own static park by its chalet. The U.S. Defense Dept. also will have helicopters on display.

The flying and static displays will be full to capacity, with the Airbus A380, the world's largest passenger airliner, making its U.K. air show debut. The A380 flew at last year's Paris Air Show, but its demonstrations were limited by restrictions on the type, which is still in development. The giant aircraft only performed with its landing gear down, for instance.

With the exception of MD Helicopters, all the major helicopter manufacturers plan to be at the show, as do prime contractors such as Lockheed Martin, team leader for Team US101 and the U.S. Navy's MH-60R and S programs. MD Helicopters said it will stick to its tradition of exhibiting only at shows that are specific to helicopters or helicopter industries, such as the Airborne Law Enforcement Assn., whose annual meeting in the United States coincides with Farnborough.

In addition to the MV-22s, Bell plans to exhibit a model of its XHawk. Based on the City Hawk developed by the Israeli company Urban Aeronautics, the aircraft is described as a fan craft with ram jet rotors embedded within its body that allows it to operate closer to buildings in an urban environment (Rotorcraft Report, April 2003, page 9). Bell has agreed to partner with Urban Aeronautics on development, production and sales of the aircraft. Along with the XHawk, the company will be promoting its 429, 417, Eagle Eye and U.S. Army Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter at its stand and will have a 407 and 430 on display at its stand-alone chalet and display area.

Bell's exhibit reportedly will be its largest at Farnborough since 1998.

Boeing said it will be displaying its AH-64 Apache, and may provide demonstration flights for potential customers. A Royal Netherlands Air Force AH-64 is expected to perform aerobatics during the flight demonstrations and the British Army is expected to be displaying at least one of its Rolls-Royce/Turbomeca RTM332-powered Apaches at the show. The British Apaches are scheduled shortly afterwards to deploy to Afghanistan, becoming the first RTM-332-powered Apaches in that combat arena.

AgustaWestland, co-located with parent company Finmeccanica at outside site OE2, will show its range of helicopters alongside the AgustaWestland pavilion. Military helicopters on display will include the 16-ton, three-engine EH101, A129 attack helicopters and the Super Lynx 300. Civil aircraft are to include the A119 Koala and Grand and two AW139 medium twins. AgustaWestland also plans a Capabilities Pavilion in which it will be showing and demonstrating its latest training and integrated operational support technologies and capabilities.

"These are designed to show that our company is a true total-capability provider, delivering world-leading training and support services," said AgustaWestland CEO Giuseppe Orsi. "Our focus is to deliver to our customers a capability that meets their requirements in the most cost-effective way and the way we do this will be there for visitors to see."

Sikorsky will be demonstrating its advanced technological capabilities. Any of its military aircraft to be displayed will be provided by the U.S. military in the U.S. pavilion, according to the company.

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) will be represented in the Assn. for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) pavilion in Hall 1, Stand B16. AUVSI lists itself as the world's largest non-profit organization devoted exclusively to advancing the unmanned systems community. At least four companies--Athena Technologies, CDL Systems, MicroPilot and Northrop Grumman--had signed up for the pavilion, with several others pending, according to the association, which claims 180 corporate members.

Numerous systems companies will be in attendance at the show, such as ITT, highlighting its ALQ-211 family of electronic warfare systems. The ALQ-221 was chosen last year by the U.S. Army's Technology Applications Program Office for special-operations Army helicopters to provide advanced radar warning, situational awareness and electronic countermeasures capabilities.

Chelton Flight Systems plans to display what it says is the world's first FAA-certified synthetic vision EFIS, which is now STC'd on more than 700 airplane and helicopter models. Chelton Flight Systems is a subsidiary of Cobham plc, a publicly-traded U.K. aerospace and defense electronics company, part of the Cobham Avionics & Surveillance Div.

Honeywell said it will be displaying graphically its integrated helicopter cockpit technology, along with its T55, CTS-800 and HTS-900 engines.

Rolls-Royce will be emphasizing the Rolls-Royce/Turbomeca RTM332-powered NH90, which is to have first deliveries to the German, Finnish, Swedish and Greek militaries this year, according to Alex Youngs, the company's director-business development for helicopters. The LHTEC 800 engines will also be prominently displayed with the Future Lynx, powered by the CTS800, and Sikorsky's X-2 demonstrator, powered by the T800-LHT-801. The Model 250 will also be displayed.

Goodrich plans its own combined exhibit and chalet facility outside Hall 1

Sales of chalet and exhibition space is up about 6 percent over the last Farnborough and the show "will certainly be bigger than" the 2004 show, which had 1,360 exhibitors from 32 countries, 133,000 trade visitors and 110,000 public visitors, according to Rachel Lamb, Farnborough International Ltd. exhibitions manager. By late April, 1,400 exhibitor had signed up, 100 of them new ones, she said. Spain and Mexico will exhibit as nations for the first time.

Aircraft on static display are expected to equal or exceed the 113 exhibited in 2004.

While floor space at the show is finite, Lamb explained, the number of exhibitors could increase as more companies joined the multiple national pavilions provided at the show.

The number of exhibitors as of May 18 had reached 1,241.

"We can promise the world's aerospace industry an exciting and dynamic event this year with growth and innovation in every area of the show," Farnborough International's managing director, Trevor Sidebottom, said. He said show organizers had "taken a number of initiatives to reduce costs, improve value, and provide better and more flexible facilities."

Sidebottom also confirmed the continuity of the show.

"We are looking to the long-term with firm show dates through to 2016 announced and contracts placed with de Boer Structures through to 2012 for the vital temporary chalet and exhibition buildings," Sidebottom, said.The Farnborough show is essentially a "tent city" that is erected every two years for the air show, then dismantled at its conclusion.

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