AERO Friedrichshafen 2009
Seven of the Hottest New Innovations
By Kent P. Misegades
The new Syncro from FlySynthesis, debuted at AERO 2009, exemplifies classic Italian styling both inside and out, showing the influence of the company's female chairman, Sonia Felice Accaino. See AERO photo gallery
April 9, 2009 — The 17th AERO European general aviation trade show drew to a close on Sunday, April 5, in Friedrichshafen, Germany. With a 12 percent increase in exhibitors and a 14 percent increase in general attendance, the event was resoundingly upbeat. In conjunction with the event, the ASTM International Light-Sport Aircraft (LSA) Standards Committee held its semi-annual meeting to review and update the current standards, with broad representation from European and Asian civil aviation authorities (see related story).
Innovation was evident everywhere. Some of the most innovative new ideas I saw were from companies largely unknown in the United States. To what degree these products will be seen in the U.S. in 2009 is not certain, but innovation is innovation, and with continuing globalization of the aviation industry, national borders become less of a deterrent to technology exchanges.
While there were some terrific-looking new airplanes at AERO, few would really qualify as “innovative”; thus my choice of the “Hottest Seven” whose work is clearly outside the box.
An official summary of the event, including attendance, exhibitor and press statistics may be found here: http://www.aero-friedrichshafen.de/html/en/home/home.php?lid=15301
1. The mid-engined LSA “ISATIS” from Aero James
One of the more innovative new designs to appear at AERO 2009 was the mid-engined ISATIS from the French company AeroJames. Its developers appear to have succeeded in their goal to produce an airplane with the visibility of a helicopter at the price of a conventional LSA. A 100-hp BMW motorcycle engine with its proven FADEC system drives a three-bladed propeller through a carbon fiber shaft and unique balanced inertial clutch. The first two aircraft will be delivered in 2009 to US customers.
2. Alatus-ME Motorglider
RandKar, the exclusive distributor of the Ukrainian Alatus-M motorglider, has teamed with Electravia, specialists in electric-powered aircraft, to offer the Alatus-ME. Not only does this quiet, low-cost, electric-powered, self-launching glider offer respectable soaring performance, but at the end of the day its owner can easily disassemble its unique fabric-covered wings and fuselage components and transport the plane home without the need for a trailer.
3. Flight Design’s Hybrid Engine
Germany’s Flight Design has developed a hybrid propulsion system combining the proven Rotax 914 engine and a 30 kW (40HP) motor. The system is capable of developing 160-180 HP for five minutes, sufficient time for most light aircraft during their initial climb. During cruise, the engine’s Lithium ion batteries are recharged and available for additional power as needed. While the powerplant has only been operated from a test stand, Flight Design plans to make its first flight tests in 2009 and display the system at AirVenture 2009.
4. Fly Synthesis Syncro & We Fly!
The Italian aircraft manufacturer Fly Synthesis introduced the new Syncro LSA design at AERO 2009, heralding a new generation of style and comfort to the Light Sport market. The company also displayed its popular Texan low-wing LSA craft with modifications made especially for the “We Fly!” formation flight team of Italian paraplegic pilots the company sponsors. Aircraft artist/designer Mirco Pecorari’s handiwork was evident in the dramatic paint schemes chosen for Fly Synthesis airplanes.
Developed by a group of three Swiss engineers, FLARM (the name derived from “FLight alARM”) is a system of low-cost avionics providing selective warning for potential collisions between light aircraft. Originally developed to improve safety during soaring contests, over 11,000 FLARM units are now in use, mostly in Europe, in a wide variety of light aircraft. The compact “Butterfly” display for FLARM data was particularly popular at AERO 2009. Alas, FLARM is not yet approved for use in the U.S., however its developers appear to anticipate this, as many systems are now capable of accepting Mode-S/ADS-B inputs.
6. Pipistrel – Virus SW / Fuel-Cell Power
Slovenia’s Pipistrel, manufacturer the NASA/CAFE award-winning SINUS and VIRUS airplanes, displayed their entire product palette at AERO 2009. Especially noteworthy was the new VIRUS SW, whose new wing has been designed to fit American T-hangars. Both of Pipistrel’s sleek BEE and TAURUS self-launching sailplanes now have electric power options, and the company has teamed with Germany’s Hydrogenius project to develop a fuel-cell powered aircraft.
7. Yuneec International's Electric Airplanes
While others are making their first tenuous attempts at electric-powered flight, Yuneec International, a British-Chinese joint venture that evolved from a successful model airplane business, surprised visitors attending AERO 2009 with an entire display of electric powered aircraft, from the E-PAC paramotor to the EP 200 twin aircraft that may be shown at AirVenture 2009.