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Paris Air Show Opens, Runs Through June 23


By Marino Boric, EAA European Correspondent

June 20, 2013 - The 50th Paris Air Show - Le Bourget 2013 - opened on Monday, June 17, and runs through Sunday. One of the most important aviation events in the world, Paris is often the stage for aircraft announcements from the industry's "big" names.

As in previous years, the first days of the show are filled with one sales announcement after another in the civil and military sectors. (Noticeably absent from this year's show: the U.S. military.) But it's not all glamour and multibillion dollar deals; I was able to find some news a little bit more down to earth that one would not be surprised to see at Oshkosh.

EADS   PC-24
EADS E-Fan Trainer

EADS unveiled its two-seat tandem E-Fan technology demonstrator aircraft on Monday, sporting an appropriate registration F-WATT. The plane has been in the works for eight months and will fly by the end of the year, with production within three years, according to Didier Esteyne (ACS). It is designed for training, glider towing, and aerobatics, but the job of integrating the airframe, lithium-polymer batteries, and electric fan motors foreshadows the far bigger task of the ultimate goal: an E-Airbus.

The E-Fan is all carbon fiber featuring two electric engines driving variable pitch propellers. It is the first electric aircraft featuring ducted fans to reduce noise and increase safety. Total static engine thrust is about 330 pounds (1.5 kN) with power coming from two battery packs in the wings. The length of the aircraft is 22 feet with a wingspan of 31.2 feet.

The powered main landing gear allows taxiing without the main engines and provides acceleration during takeoff up to 38 mph. To guarantee simple handling of the electric engines and systems, the E-Fan is equipped with an E-FADEC energy management system. MTOW is 1,212.5 pounds, giving it the thrust-to-weight ratio of an Airbus A320. We could possibly see the E-Fan in Oshkosh someday.


Pilatus PC-24 makes its Paris debut
Less than a month after Pilatus surprised the business aviation community with the launch of its first jet, the PC-24, the Swiss manufacturer brought a mock-up of the six-seat, $9 million superlight twin aircraft to Paris. The company is branding the plane as a "super versatile jet" due to its large cargo door and its ability to operate from unpaved runways and grass strips.

Su-35   Spacejet

Sukhoi Su-35
One star of the show this year was the Sukhoi Su-35 Flanker-E, which made its Paris debut. This is the first Russian-built fighter to appear in Paris since the Su-30 Flanker crashed there in 1999. The powerful twin-engine jet fighter performed an impressive 12-minute flight demo showcasing the seemingly impossible maneuverability given by its multi-axis thrust-vectoring Saturn 117S afterburning engines generating 31,900 pounds of thrust.


AOK Spacejet
French company AOK showed a mock-up of what it claims to be the world's smallest twin jet, the single-seat Spacejet. Brainchild of designer Rémi Cuvelier, Spacejet is built of carbon fiber, Kevlar, and epoxy resin. Markets include private owners, surveillance, and training, as well as a flying target/drone.

Spacejet's three-surface design features a box wing with symmetrical supercritical airfoils and only a 13-foot wingspan. Onboard are a retractable single-track undercarriage and an emergency parachute system. The Spacejet is powered by two Czech TJ100 PBS jet engines with 247 pounds of thrust for an expected cruise speed of 430 knots and a stall speed of 67 knots. Empty weight is 310 pounds and MTOW is 1,100 pounds. Maiden flight is expected this year, and it's likely we will see the Spacejet as an experimental kit at AirVenture Oshkosh 2014.

Piaggio   AgustaWestland

The Italian manufacturer Piaggio has launched into the UAV market with the unveiling of its P.1HH Hammerhead, a surveillance and reconnaissance variant of its uncommon Avanti II twin-pusher business turboprop. The aircraft was built in just more than 10 months and already started taxi trials. Maiden flight is scheduled for late fall this year.


One of the most unusual sights in Paris was AgustaWestland's Project Zero technology demonstrator. This combination helicopter/fixed-wing aircraft features tiltable ducted rotors that are integrated into the aircraft's wings to transition from vertical to horizontal flight.

Lift needed for horizontal flight comes from the demonstrator's blended fuselage. The fans (rotors) of this all-electric concept study are directly connected to the electric motors that spin three-bladed propellers. Each blade is individually controlled to allow for a variety of different pitch settings in a single prop revolution.

AgustaWestland is a firm believer of the tiltrotor concept and is already developing the AW609, due for certification in 2017.

Thales   EGTS

Thales is aiming to make pilots' lives easier with its Avionics 2020 future cockpit concept featuring touch screens and a host of features to make a more flexible flying experience. The manufacturer says it will be feasible to introduce within the next seven years.

The most striking thing about its appearance is the lack of mechanical switches, knobs, and buttons. Thales is showing the technology in a configuration with four large screens in front of the pilot, one head-up display, and two smaller screens closer to the pilots on each side of the throttles and near the seats.

This system allows pilots to send important data from the main screens onto a separate tablets via a swipe of the screen. The system is scalable to fit different aircraft and missions, including military applications and helicopters. The systems manufacturer decided to use this touch-screen technology for the cockpit that eliminates the overhead panel in a cockpit. The flat screens feature gray shaded graphic representation with red and yellow alarm messages, plus the smaller screens give pilots "vibration feedback" of engaged functions.


Safran/Honeywell Electric Taxi System
Safran and Honeywell demonstrated its electric green taxiing system (EGTS) onboard an Airbus A320 test aircraft. The companies estimate that EGTS can save as much as 4 percent on fuel costs for an Airbus A320-sized aircraft traveling 500 nm, not to mention significant noise reductions.

The two manufacturers tested a prototype of the electric-powered main wheel drive system earlier this year and have taxied about 115 miles thus far in trial runs. Weight of the system per drive unit is close to 220 pounds. Entry into service is planned for 2016.

Flaris Jet   Sagita

Flaris LAR01, VLJ from Poland
Polish start-up aircraft manufacturer Flaris surprised Paris with its prototype single-engine jet LAR 01. Maiden flight is planned by the end of the year, and the manufacturer aims to bring one to Oshkosh next year.

The aircraft has already completed low-speed taxi tests and, following the show, will start high-speed ground testing, said Anthony Krol, Flaris sales manager. Flaris expects EASA and FAA Part 23 certification in late 2015. The $1.5 million, all-composite jet sports a nose-mounted ballistic parachute, wide rear-hinged pilot and copilot doors, car-like cabin, detachable wings and horizontal stabilizers, a fuselage-mounted fuel tank, and electric de-icing system.

The composite wings have aluminum spars and fuselage structural reinforcement parts. The prototype is fitted with a FADEC-controlled, 1,460-pound-thrust Pratt & Whitney Canada PW610F, but Flaris is also considering the PW615, as well as engines from Williams International and Price Induction.

Target performance specifications include 820-foot takeoff distance from a grass field, 380-knot max cruise speed, 62-knot stall speed, 45,000-foot ceiling, and 1,400-nm range. Empty weight is planned to be 1,543 pounds, MTOW 3,300 pounds.


Sagita Helicopters
This Belgian manufacturer is rethinking ultralight helicopter propulsion with the Sherpa, aimed at offering a simpler, more efficient, and more reliable rotary wing. The company is using the TDR transmission system for rotor motion - the main rotor is directly driven by a turbine that's powered by hot air and exhaust gases from the helicopter's powerplant.

Sagita claims 85 percent efficiency gain over traditional gearbox-driven rotors and abolishing the tail rotor. Rather than driving the rotors directly, the Sherpa's 130-hp combustion engine drives a compressor that feeds some of its air to the engine to aid combustion, while the rest draws heat from the Sherpa's cooling system before being mixed with engine exhaust gases to heat the air to 212°F. The compressed hot air stream drives two turbines that are located in the rotor heads of two rigid contrarotating rotors.

Sherpa is a two-seater with a streamlined fuselage. The cockpit is about 4.8 feet wide and 4.1 feet high. Length (excluding rotors) is just less than 16 feet. Projected empty weight is 573 pounds with a useful load of 377 pounds.

Expected cruise speed is 85 knots with a range of 250 miles - maximum flight time of three hours - and ceiling is 6,600 feet. The price is expected to be about $185,000, and the first flight is planned for 2015.


Diamond Aircraft - Embry-Riddle
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University President Dr. John P. Johnson and Diamond Aircraft Industries CEO and owner Christian Dries signed a partnership agreement to establish the global manufacturer's presence at the university's Daytona Beach Campus. As part of the agreement, Diamond will expand its current international research and development program and other initiatives working with Embry-Riddle students, staff, and faculty from the university's engineering and aviation colleges as well as its Eagle Flight Research Center. This partnership involves coordination with students, faculty, and facilities at the university's Research and Technology Park.


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