Bigger crowds offset slow sales at ILA 2002
ILA has doubled in size since it moved to Berlin Schoenefeld Airport from Hanover 10 years ago. Opening on May 6, this year’s event attracted 1,067 exhibitors from 40 countries (up from 941 at ILA 2000) and 340 aircraft. During the first three days 90,000 trade visitors attended the event, 6,000 more than expected.
German Chancellor Gerhard Schroder opened the show. “ILA is an important gateway for the aerospace industry. It clearly indicates that Germany is and will remain a vital center for the development of aviation and space flight,” he said, adding that the federal government will continue to lend financial support to vital aviation and space programs.
While Boeing did not attend ILA this year, some of its aircraft were on display, including a C-17 Globemaster III nicknamed The Spirit of Berlin, Spanish air force F/A-18Cs and a re-engined 707-300.
This ILA was the first for EADS, which was in heavy attendance at the event. ILA 2002 proved a convenient place for the industry to present detailed financial reports of the past year and short-term market projections, and EADS lunged at this opportunity. “Although commercial aviation has slowed down, our financial position has remained strong and healthy,” said EADS CEO Philippe Camus, adding “we are now a fully established company” with an order book of e183.3 billion ($167.25 billion).
Germany’s largest engine maker, MTU Aero Engines, displayed its six-stage, high-pressure compressor for the troubled Pratt & Whitney PW6000 powering the Airbus A318. The company already holds a 15-percent share in the project. At the Berlin show, MTU and P&W signed a letter of intent to cooperate on the PW800, designed for new regional aircraft such as the Sukhoi/Ilyushin/Boeing RRJ. MTU will provide the compressor section for this powerplant.
Competitor Rolls-Royce signed an agreement with Tupolev and RSK MiG for the R-R Deutschland BR715 on the Tu-334. It calls for a six-month feasibility study on joint development, certification and production of a Westernized Tu-334, slated for certification in 2005.
Eurocopter Celebrates 10 Years
Eurocopter celebrated its 10-year anniversary under the slogan “10 designs in 10 years.” Last year it delivered 335 helicopters. A recent order for 11 EC 135s and two EC 155s came from the German Federal Border Patrol “Bundesgrenzschutz,” boosting its fleet to 22 and 15 of the helicopters, respectively.
Its EC 130B4 made its debut at ILA. That rotorcraft is an eight-seat derivative of the AS 350B3, and was accompanied at the show by the EC 635, a military variant of the EC 135. The EC 145, a BK117C1 with an “Avionique Nouvelle” glass cockpit and improved cabin, made its flying debut at ILA. This ship was decked out in the colors of the police of the German Federal State of Hessen.
Another newcomer to the ILA show was the PZL Swidnik SW-4 lightweight multipurpose helicopter, the newest indigenous design from the Polish manufacturer, albeit that has been in development for nearly two decades. So far four SW-4s have been built, including a full-scale mockup and an airframe for ground tests.
Two prototypes have amassed more than 600 flight hours. One of them, SP-PSZ, was displayed at last year’s Paris Air Show, where the model made its international debut and the bright-yellow helo led the afternoon airshows. ILA 2002 saw another airframe, the bright-red SP-PSW, which participated in aerial displays and was available for close inspection in the static area.
The SW-4 has a three-blade main rotor and two-blade tail rotor, both made of epoxy/fiberglass composites. Both the gearbox and rotors were designed in Poland. The helicopter has a cruise speed of 122 kt, maximum climb of 1,575 fpm and range of 414 nm. SW-4 certification is expected to be completed by the end of this year, with deliveries slated to commence next year.
Fairchild Being Watched
Fairchild Dornier’s presence was confined to the 328JET on static display. Company officials at the show were being hounded by the media. They said the 728 prototype is “being prepared for flight” and that the search for a strategic investor continues, so far without success.
Bombardier said it is following the situation with great interest, but has nothing to announce. “When we are ready to announce something, we will do so,” officials of the Canadian company said. They portrayed the situation as “not clear,” as the newly appointed Fairchild Dornier administrator, Dr. Eberhard Braun, has yet to present his rescue plan. “We are following the situation as our colleagues do, but not going any further than that,” Bombardier said.
Some Fairchild Dornier businesses remain profitable, including parts production for Airbus airliners. Also showing a profit is maintenance service for regional aircraft, military jet trainers and helicopters. The company hopes to resume 328JET deliveries, including eight to China’s Hainan Airlines. Fairchild’s loss-leader is the 728 program, which still needs $1 billion to complete certification. If funds are not found by the middle of this month, the program will be either frozen or terminated.
Bombardier was one of the few manufacturers that announced new orders at ILA 2002. Those sales, which total $58 million, account for two Learjet 60s to Germany-based Jet Connection and a Global 5000 to an undisclosed customer.
ILA visitors also saw many historic airplanes fly over the skies of Berlin, including the Etrich Taube, Albatros B2, Messerschmitt Bf.108 and Bf.109 and Junkers Ju-52.