The aura surrounding Aero India 2013 is: lacklustre, as rightly predicted on this site. This year’s edition of the airshow lacks the punch and glamour that was associated with Aero India 2011.
The Boeing 787’s hopefully temporary grounding was reason for media personnel to throng the Boeing stall. And quiz Dinesh Keshkar. Boeing made its mistake of endeavouring on a project that pushed the application of technologies to a scale unseen before, AND offshoring the development work. Boeing employees back in the US are laughing at the management’s poor decision that now costs them a lot, lot more than what they thought would cost by keeping the development in the United States. As airplanes get complex, testing lacks the comprehensiveness in the light of existing and sometimes archaic regulations. This leads to what we’ve all witnessed with the Boeing 787.
The apron somehow seemed empty. The Airbus A330MRTT that was expected, didn’t show up on day one. There was no sign of the Russian Knights at the airbase. Bombardier’s press statement of having the Challenger 605 and the Global 6000 seems a promise unkept, atleast on day one of the show.
Embrarer was represented by its Lineage 1000, Phenom 100, and the EMB135BJ (Business jet variant of the Embracer 135). Cessna surprisingly was present at the show, with its VLJ Cessna Mustang. Parked right next to it was its class competitor, the Pilatus PC-12NG flying for Jindal. Hawker Beechcraft was represented by one Kingair somewhere far down the ramp, almost out of visual range. The IAF’s new Pilatus PC-7 MkII was seen on static display in gaudy colors.
Dassault parked a Rafale in the exhibition area, for everyone to come up close and get a glimpse of the aircraft in Armée de l’Air markings. Dassualt also brought a Falcon 900EX, a Falcon 2000LX, and a Falcon 7X to the show, making it the single largest exhibitor this time. The surety of the US$10B MMRCA deal being closed is reason enough.
The C-17 Globemaster was parked beside the KC-135 tanker.
An unexpected visitor: the Long EZ was present on static display.
On the flying side, Rafales, and F-16s were parked. The Flying Bulls performed wonderfully, and was good talking to the formation lead, Radka.
The rest were planes from the Indian Air Force, that appeared more like fillers than anything else. A DO-228 from the Coast Guard, A MiG29, MiG21, Jaguar (with a Honeywell F125 engine parked right beside, symbolising the confirmation of Honeywell winning the Jaguar re-engine deal). A IAF C130J, Sukhoi 30MKI, Mirage 2000…all fillers.
A WWII restored Tiger Moth took to the skies.
Enter the stalls, and the cut in individual spending is visible, everywhere. Welcome to Aero India 2013: the anti-climax of 2011.
September 2012 was when Radka told me of her wish to return to India for another performance. January 2013, The Indian Government suddenly invited the Flying Bulls to take part in Aero India 2013 at Yelahanka Air Force Base, Bangalore. A swift response followed, with the Flying Bulls aerobatic team disassembling their aircraft and shipping them to India. Radka, the formation lead of the Flying Bulls, in the meanwhile, talks more about herself, and her flying.
Click Here to Discover more about Radka and her flying in this exclusive interview, which will also be published in the Air Show’s special issue of SP’s Airbuz.
Aero India 2009 didn’t have much. Infact, the organisers felt the whole place to to look so empty that they brought in “fillers” from the IAF (Indian Air Force). MiG 21, 27, 29, Mirage 2000, the BAe designed and HAL produced Hawk, The advanced light helicopter, “Dhruv” ALH, the Russian made Mi-35, SEPECAT Jaguar, and airplanes of yester years: Pushpak, Havilland Mk IV…. had no real role to play in the serious game of an Airshow such as Aero India, where only “Business Visitors” can view airplanes meant for “General Interest”. Few Business airplanes that could have meant more to business visitors were parked far off, beyond visual range.
Aero India 2011 was the best, by far, and it may be quite a while before an airshow of that scale returns to Bangalore.
View the photos taken at Aero India 2009, by CLICKING HERE.
A quick look at Aero India 2011 (in photos) will let you know how big it was….and how small we may expect this year’s to be.
The crowd puller: The Surya Kiran Aerobatic Team has been disbanded, and will not perform. The Flying bulls, however, will be present. As for aircraft at the show: most defence deals have been closed, making no sense for the then contenders to participate. Budgetary cuts are in effect, and the civil market in’t good enough to lure manufacturers to sell airplanes.
Only those that have won bids are expected to perform, out of compulsion.
Here are the pictures taken at the last Aero India (2011). CLICK HERE.
Aero India 2013 will air-show the Dassault Rafale, with Cedric Ruet at the controls. Contrary to my previous post, the Rafale is being displayed, thanks to a confirmation from Cedric himself! Enjoy, and I hope you all get to meet him at the airshow! Here are photos of him and his beauty (beast?) in action at Aero India 2011 (2 years have passed!)
Aero India 2011 was the biggest ever; Aero India 2013 may be lacklustre.
Updates: Expect the Rafale, the P-8I, and the C-17 Globemaster at the show.
Defence Airplane Manufacturers and Airplanes on show.
Let’s turn the clock 2 years back. January 2011. The year was the most anticipated for many aircraft manufacturers in the defence segment. India’s single largest defence deal tender, the Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) Competition, for 126 multi-role combat aircraft was out, and six airplane manufacturers were high on PR and advertisements, attracting crowds to the stall and the airshow itself with offers that included a flight on their real airplane, a flight for a celebrity, flight simulator rides for almost everyone entering their booth. Spirits were high, competition was stiff, and Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Dassault, MiG, Saab, and the EADS led consortium responsible for the Eurofighter were all out to thrill and please.
The Indian Air Force’s ailing transport fleet needed new, better performing airplanes. The IAF’s first Lockheed Martin C130J had just arrived, and had made it to the Airshow for both publicity, and to identify new vendors who could help with avionics and databases. The Boeing C 17 Globemaster had been selected by the Indian Air Force in 2009, to meet its Very Heavy Lift Transport Aircraft requirement, but the order was yet to be finalised.
2011-2012 was indeed a good time for those who were successful in the bidding process. The MMRCA deal for US$20 billion was awarded to Dassault for their Rafale. Pilatus’ trainer, the PC-7 MkII, won the US$ 523 Million contract. An order for 10 C-17s was finalised. Early 2013, Airbus won the contract for 6 MRTTs. In short, the perceived gaps in the fleet have been plugged, and tenders closed.
As for the Indian Navy, the first Boeing P-8I was delivered in the December of 2012; India approved the USD 1.5 billion Boeing 737NG modified aircraft deal for Navy in the February of 2012.
Come 2013, there is no reason for anyone to put up a grand show. No reason for companies to spend money on air displays, chalets and booths that won’t win them an order. No reason for companies that have won contracts to undertake customer demonstration flights. Unless they just want their presence to be felt. [Edit: Dassault Rafale will be flown at the show; Aircraft will be from the French Air Force, the Armée de l'Air]
There will be formation flights, and air shows, but all, except for the Flying Bulls, will be from the Indian Air Force. Unless the French are roped in to air display the Rafale, which somehow seems unlikely. [Edit: The French are flying their Rafale. Also, the C-17 Globemaster may fly at the show. The P-8I may mark its presence as well; So may the A330 MRTT]
Civil Airplane Manufacturers and Airplanes on show.
Last year, the Embraer Lineage 1000, Embraer ERJ 135BJ, Embraer Phenom 300, Embraer Phenom 100, Pilatus PC-12, The Gulfstream G 550, Gulfstream G450, Piaggio Avanti, Cessna 208B Grand Caravan, Cessna Citation X, Dassault Falcon 2000DX and LX, Falcon 7X, Beechcraft King Air 250, Hawker 4000, Hawker 900XP, Sukhoi Superjet 100, Saab 2000, and Saab 340 were the airplanes on show, representing Business and General Aviation. Some of the very same airplanes were at India Aviation 2012, which is exclusively for Civil Aviation. Given the poor health of the Indian civil aviation industry, and fulfilled regional airplane orders (Spicejet’s Q400s and Jet Airways’ continued loyalty to ATR), Saab has no reason to participate, though it is listed as a sponsor at Aero India 2013.
Based on the below figures of Business Jet Airplanes in India, Dassault, Embraer, Gulfstream, and Hawker Beechcraft may be encouraged to make their presence felt with some of their airplanes (including a turboprop from Beechcraft). Cessna is expected to keep out altogether, while Bombardier may show up with its rebranded Global XRS as the Global 6000, if not any other airplane. Considering that this show may attract lesser high profile visitors, due to closed tenders, the business airplane turnout may be even lesser than anticipated.[Edit: Gulfstream may not have an airplane on display]
Piaggio Aero, in which the Tata Group has a 33% stake, may display the P 180 Avanti II. With the crisis faced by Deccan Charters, and his fleet of Pilatus PC-12s and Grand Caravan’s up for sale, the present market value for the two airplane types may be low enough to discourage Pilatus or Cessna from selling new airplanes. The absence of Cessna’s airplanes at India Aviation 2012 strongly indicates its absence at this year’s defence show. Pilatus will, however, be represented at the show.
The Boeing’s 787 hype is long gone; Airbus has no visible future for its 380 in India; If the 787 arrives, which is unlikely, it may possibly be due to the pressure placed on the airline as a face-save for this year’s airshow.
Honda, with its new Hondajet, may not represent its airplane at the show, as assumed by Honda’s silence to my mail enquiry.
Welcome to Aero India 2013: The anticlimax of Aero India 2011!
Business Jet Statistics: India
Dassault: 18 Falcons (13 Falcon 2000, 4 Falcon 900, 1 Falcon 7X)
Embraer: 10 (6 Phenom 100s, 3 EMB 135BJs, 1 Lineage 1000)
Cessna: 31 Citations (4 CJ1/CJ1+, 10 CJ2/CJ2+, 8 Citation XLS, 1 Citation III, 7 Cessna Citation II, 1 Citation 5)
Gulfstream: 8 Gulfstreams (1 G100, 3 G 200, 1 G IV, 1 G V, 2 G 550)
Hawker Beechcraft: 26 Hawkers (2 Hawker 400, 1 Hawker 400XP, 2 Hawker 750, 13 hawker 850XP, 7 hawker 900XP, 2 Hawker 4000,) + 5 Premier 1A
Bombardier: 4 (1 BD-700, 1 CL-300, 1 CL 850, 1 CRJ 200) + 4 Learjets (1 Learjet 45XR, 3 Learjet 60XR)
If you’ve flown a Cessna 172 with only 2 people on board, you know how the aircraft performs with its 160hp engine at approximately 1,000kgs takeoff weight. Now imagine a 720kg –all up airplane with a 300hp engine. With more than 2.5 times the power ratio of the Cessna 172R, the capabilities of Zlin Z-50LX, an aerobatic airplane flown by the Flying Bulls Aerobatic Team, can only be imagined.
When Radka Máchová, formation lead of the Flying Bulls Aerobatic Team, sent me a message that she’ll be performing at Aero India 2013, I was all too excited to meet her again. This time though, I want everyone – who will look up to their performance in awe – to go beyond the aerobatic display, and right into the airplane, right beside the three men and one woman who bring mere metal to life.
The Personal Touch
Honestly, the first time I saw the Flying Bulls perform: it was a set of four, propeller driven colourful airplanes that left behind a trail of smoke in the sky as they flew some manoeuvres together. The flying was brilliant, the display fantastic, but I couldn’t see beyond.
I accidently bumped into Radka Máchová, when she passed the Honeywell stall that I was manning. I instantly recognized her, and got a photo clicked with the “Super Flying Lady”. She’s well known; very well known, but on ground, she doesn’t fly with the nose high. Full of energy, she left behind an aura that egged me to know more.
No phone numbers, but an internet connection was all I had to read up on Radka. With the little I knew of her, and her well founded passion for flying, I stepped out this time to watch them perform. I must tell you, their performance seemed so much better, with the thought that someone I’ve met, someone I know something about, is up there, flying that airplane. It’s no longer a machine, but a soul that’s come to life. But there’s so much more to know.
Seeing isn’t believing
To most, the first glimpse at an airplane with propellers is, “Oh, that’s old technology”. Not really. The airplane they fly, the Zlin 50LX, is no longer in production, but its performance is something that most jets -including some fighter airplanes – cannot match.
The cockpit is absolutely simple: there are hardly any instruments, and nothing fancy that people are used to seeing in modern 4th generation airplane cockpits. This is where you start appreciating the team: It’s amazing precision in tight formations: all possible only by experience, practice, and most importantly: skill. Eyes, ears, and a good feel of the airplane: eliminate the need for the on board instruments.
Then what is it that separates these famous aerobatic pilots from the rest? What drives them to perform? What else do they do apart from flying? What did they do that got them there? What is it that they feel when they fly? All this and more, when I speak to Radka Máchová, as she gears up to fly with her team at Aero India 2013, between the 6th and the 10th of February, 2013.
A month to go!