Paris Air Show: Technology, business, and emotion

ARTS recently attended the Paris Air Show in Le Bourget as an exhibitor for the first time. The event, which was being held for the fifty-second time, provided the ideal platform for maintaining existing contacts and forming new relationships. Projects that ARTS is involved with had a strong presence, both on the ground and in the air. It’s now time for a personal report, looking back over the event as a whole.

 © Patrick Holland-Moritz

9:30 a.m. Le Bourget. Shuttle buses are pouring passengers out at the entrance gates to the 52nd Paris Air Show, with “Bienvenue – Welcome” written above them in white letters against a blue background. In front of them: long queues at the security checkpoints, but nonetheless, there is a relaxed mood among the visitors. No one is pushing forward and no one is complaining.

As a freelance writer and photographer, I’m travelling on behalf of ARTS today – and it’s my first visit to the Paris Air Show. It’s also ARTS’ first time in attendance, at least as an exhibitor. In other words, all the stars are aligned for an exciting time in Paris.

Business conference, innovation showcase, and air show in one

Melanie Wolf, ARTS’ B2B marketing manager, is waiting for me at the entrance behind the security checkpoint, and we walk together over to Hall 2A, where ARTS is exhibiting at the joint bavAIRia stand, which is a network of Bavarian businesses in the aviation and space sectors. The airconditioned halls make the summer heat survivable – but we want to get outdoors as quickly as possible to feel the pulse of aviation and take a look at all the latest innovations.

I am experiencing the Paris Air Show (or, in French, the Salon international de l’aéronautique et de l’espace) as a combined business platform and event for aviation fans. In the first half of the week, the giants of the sector have signed contracts for aircraft orders worth billions, with new products being launched and press conferences taking place. The international aviation industry shows off what it can do. Alongside heavyweights such as Airbus and Boeing, smaller firms such as ARTS are important contributors to the industry.

Upon my arrival in the second half of the week, the atmosphere has become noticeably more relaxed. Now that the days reserved for industry visitors are over, the focus is on the general public. The Paris Air Show is an experience for families and aviation enthusiasts, with the highlight being a superb programme of flights.

Airbus A380: so close you can touch it

On the airfield, general aviation aircraft are parked up alongside vintage aircraft and military jets. Civil and military aircraft are so close you can reach out and touch them. The P-51D Mustang, “Nooky Booky” has made an appearance. An N3N (no: F-AZNF is not a Boeing Stearman) is parked up nearby. All eyes are also on an American-registered Beech 18, lovingly polished to a dazzling shine.

Once again though, the Airbus A380 is the star of the show. With a take-off weight of up to 575 tonnes, the XXL airliner has a wingspan of just over 80 metres, with a tail fin that towers 24 metres into the air. While these figures are obviously nothing new (with the A380 recently marking the end of its first decade in service), its dimensions never fail to impress when you experience this amazing piece of technology in person.

On the other hand, the winglets of the A380plus generation are a novelty – and ARTS was involved in this project. Less induced resistance at the wingtips should result in reduced fuel consumption. Also in attendance was the A321neo, another aircraft where ARTS’ engineers made a contribution.

The Airbus A380 and the A380 could be seen in flight and on the ground at the Paris Air Show in Le Bourget.

The Airbus A380 was on display at the 2017 Paris Air Show 2017, while the new A380 was also presented at the event. - © Patrick Holland-Moritz

The space industry at the Paris Air Show

The Paris Air Show also has plenty to offer space fans – while space is also one of several sectors in which ARTS is active. The open air space features an Ariane 5 Rocket as a permanent exhibit. The biggest draw, though, was ESA’s Mars Rover. Novospace’s Zero-G Jet is another tool used in space research. In its past life, the jet flew as a German government A310 under the name of “Konrad Adenauer.” Today, however, it tends to be used to fly parabolic loops to allow passengers in the cabin to experience a few seconds of weightlessness.

In one of the halls, OHB System AG provided an insight into the European Satellite Navigation System, Galileo: the company has contributed 22 satellites to the programme. The Fraunhofer Institute, a key ARTS partner in the space sector, was also in attendance, and our blog article provides an insight into the Fraunhofer Space Alliance’s far reaching network.

One of our personal highlights of the Paris Air Show was the appearance made by Alfred Worden. You might know who he is: which doesn’t matter, because Melanie Wolf and I didn’t know him either. However, he was part of the Apollo 15 moon mission and had the presumably thankless task of orbiting the moon while his colleagues got to land on its surface. His words were an exciting journey into a bygone era of American space flight.

Concorde as a breeding ground for innovation in aviation

The Aerospace Museum, the Musée de l’air et de l’espace hosts two Concorde aircraft all year round. During the show, a variety of innovations congregate under the supersonic jet. For example, the Aeromobil – a flying car with a seven-figure price – came from Slovakia while Airstar Aerospace from France presented a tethered balloon for use in earth observation missions.

Anyone who wants to can use VR glasses to delve into virtual worlds, piloting a helicopter or flying in a military jet. Thales wanted to raise its profile by providing virtual reality experiences for budding astronauts.

There were further innovations outdoors on the Static Display, including the SureFly, a multicopter from the USA, with an internal combustion engine being used as a generator to power the electric drivetrain. The manufacturer, Workhorse, has its sights set on commuters and others who dream of soaring above the traffic.

One Israeli project, known as Eviation Alice, appears particularly ambitious. It involves the development of an electrically powered aircraft that should be able to transport eleven people with a range of around 1,000 kilometres. While the air show “only” features a miniature drone, the full sized original is planned to be flying by mid-2018.

The Airstar, a tethered balloon, was presented at the Paris Air Show.

The Airstar is used for a variety of purposes, including as a stationary airship. - © Melanie Wolf/ARTS

A visitor wearing VR glasses tests out a virtual helicopter flight in a helicopter.

Visitors to the Paris Air Show could delve into virtual worlds by trying on VR glasses. - © Patrick Holland-Moritz

The SureFly, a hybrid helicopter, was exhibited at the Paris Air Show.

The SureFly hybrid helicopter could be observed up close at the Paris Air Show. - © Patrick Holland-Moritz

Airshow: It’s Showtime

The French Air Force display team showed off its formation flying skills at the Paris Air Show.

Pilots of the French Air Force display team showed their flying skills at the Paris Air Show. - © Patrick Holland-Moritz

Apart from the commercial aspects of the show, the Paris Air Show features plenty of moments to give you goosebumps! One of those is the appearance by the French Air Force display team, with pilots showing off their formation flying skills in old Alpha jets, drawing the colours of the tricolore, the French national flag, in the sky.

Also to be seen in the skies above Paris: the A380 as the highlight of a comprehensive display programme from Airbus, veteran aircraft such as the DC-3, as well as a variety of helicopters and military jets. Eyes to the sky, cameras at the ready, and enjoy!

The 52nd Paris Air Show in figures: more orders, fewer visitors

The overall results of this year’s event were somewhat mixed for the organisers. Orders with a total value of 150 billion euro were placed – a new record. Contracts for 934 civilian passenger aircraft, worth $115 billion US, were signed by Boeing, Airbus, Embraer and Bombardier. “Boeing nabbed the lion’s share of the orders, with declared purchase intentions for 571 aircraft with a list price of over $74 billion US. The new Boeing 737 MAX 10, which was launched at the event, resulted in 371 purchase contracts or purchase obligations being signed,” reported the aviation portal.

However, the visitor numbers were a negative factor, with 322,000 visitors in attendance, a fall of eight per cent compared to 2015. There were 142,000 industry visitors and 180,000 general guests, and the organisers blame a combination of a heatwave and stringent security provisions for the drop.

140 civilian and military aircraft landed at Le Bourget Airport, including many world premieres. The following models were all on display in Paris for the first time ever:

  • Airbus A350-1000

  • Airbus A321neo

  • An-132D

  • Boeing 737 MAX 9

  • Boeing 787-10

  • Elixir

  • Embraer KC-390

  • Kawasaki P-1

  • Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II

  • Lockheed Martin LM-100J

  • Leonardo M-346FA

  • Mitsubishi MRJ

  • Diamond Aircraft DART-450

  • Daher TBM 910

The 53rd International Paris Air Show will be held from 17 to 23 June 2019, and ARTS will be there once again.

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