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2014 UK Airshows : FEATURE

Farnborough International Airshow Media Launch

“Farnborough” is the best known brand in the airshow industry. The 7 day event is a major shop window for the global aerospace industry and as such attracts major players from the aerospace, defence and space industries. The weekend public days are also a major attraction in their own right. 2014 sees a major step change for the event with some important debutant aircraft, new facilities and a completely new look for the public weekend.

Paul Johnson/Flightline UK reports from the Media Launch. All photography by the author unless credited otherwise.

Like many other industries, the aerospace industry has faced some challenges over the past few years. Competition has become tougher and that is very true for the big international trade airshows such as Farnborough, ILA Berlin, Paris and Dubai. Farnborough’s response since 2012 has to be invest more in to the show, particularly in terms of the exhibition space. The first row of permanent chalets has just been completed and these can also be used for other events when the airshow is not on. Future development plans will see further rows of permanent chalets and a permanent Hall 1 structure joined Row ‘A’ and the impressive “FIVE” exhibition hall. “Row A” was opened at the Media Launch on 14th May by Sir Gerald Howath and Farnborough’s Chief Executive Shaun Ormrod.

The response from the industry has been positive with the exhibition space for the 2014 selling rapidly and some large delegations promised from around the world. There is of course some concern over Russian involvement with the show with the situation around the Ukraine. As far as companies attending the event, which involves some major space and aerospace companies, it is business as usual so far. However, invites have not gone out to Russian military and government delegations. The situation is under review and Farnborough are taking advice from the relevant agencies.

In terms of aircraft on display, the trade event is sold out with a waiting list now in effect for further companies wishing to bring their aircraft to the show. The star turn will be the F-35B Lightning II which will perform on all five day days of the trade show and over the weekend for the public days. The F-35’s attendance will see an RAF pilot, Squadron Leader Hugh Nichols, display the aircraft for the first time at an international event. Wing Commander Jim Scholfield gave the Media Launch a briefing about the RAF’s F-35 which he described as one of the easiest aircraft he flown and an incredible advance for RAF and Royal Navy capabilities.

Other highlights include a large airbus contingent including the new A350, A400M and A380. At the opposite end of the scale, exhibitors will be showing the latest unmanned systems and other innovations such as surveillance paramotors by a company called ParaJet!

Farnborough also claim to have their largest ever presence by the US Department of Defence with a number of aircraft on static display and an increased presence in the exhibition halls. Boeing will be displaying their F/A-18F Super Hornet too and Textron AirLand will debuting the Scorpion light attack aircraft. Turkey’s TAI will be making their first appearance in the Farnborough flying display with the T129 Attack Helicopter alongside their Unmanned Aerial System on static display.

Always a hot topic at any Farnborough is the changeover from the Trade to Public Airshow which often sees some interesting gems head home before the public get a chance to see them. FIA Chief Executive Shaun Ormrod said that as organisers they were acutely aware that the early departure of some aircraft causes disappointment and where possible they try to encourage exhibitors to stay for the weekend with their aircraft.

The first day that the public will be access, though in limited numbers will be the Friday which is also “Futures Day” aimed at promoting the aerospace industry to young people from schools and universities . The day has ground in popularity with the numbers of schools and colleges attending increasing year on year. The Royal Aeronautical Society will be showcasing their “Build a Plane” project as part of Futures Day. Present for the media launch was the Marling School’s aircraft, Rans S6 Coyote II G-SBAP.

Friday and the public days will see a significant change on the ground. “Farnborough Live” will be launched in 2014 with its own stage area and big screens around the show site. Television presenters Angelica Bell and Michael Underwood will present on stage with short films and live demonstrations promoting aerospace. Autocar magazine are also getting involved with some unique drag races on the main runway which will see a Morgan Three-wheeler take on the Spitfire and a much more modern drag race pitting the pinnacle of automotive technology against that from the aerospace industry.

The theme of the public weekend will be “100 Years of Aviation.” The static displays will be bolstered by more aircraft with an area set aside for 100 Years of training aircraft featuring aircraft from The Shuttleworth Collection and other museums. Also taking part with the Royal Aircraft Establishment Aero Club who are still very much a part of Farnborough Aerodrome offering the many engineers and workforce from the Aerospace Park the chance to fly. The Aeroclub had their de Havilland Chipmunk T10 is display for the launch which looked absolutely immaculate.

In the air, the Great War Display Team will be an important part of the flying display representing aviation during the 1914-1918 First World War. Some of their aircraft displayed at the launch but for the actually event they will be at full strength.

In the air, Farnborough have put together one of their most exciting line-ups ever for the public day flying displays. Many of the trade display will take part including the F-35B Lightning II and the F/A-18F Super Hornet and of course, the Red Arrows will be headlining the displays in their 50th display display season. However, FIA’s Flight Operations Manager Sarah Harding was able to announce an exciting package of other aircraft specifically brought in for the Public Days. After over a year of negotiations, the Spanish Navy will be bring one of their McDonnell Douglas AV-8B Harrier II aircraft to take part in the flying display. A whole range of historic types will join the Harrier including the Avro Anson, Rolls Royce Spitfire PRXIX, the Douglas C-47A Skytrain which performed at the Media Launch, Meteor and Vampire plus the F-86A Sabre and the Breitling Lockheed Super Constellation.

Making’s it UK debut will be a Messerchmitt Me262 replica. The aircraft will come from Messerschmitt Sstiftung and this appearance will be the first time that the shape of the Me262 has been seen in British skies since captured examples of the type were evaluated by the Royal Air Force. Away from the military and historic aircraft there will be show stopping displays by Mark Jefferies in the Extra 300SC and a fourship display from the Breitling Wingwalkers.

We looking forward to seeing how Farnborough’s plans develop over the next few weeks as the show approaches. Tickets are available from http://www.farnborough.com.

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