Paris Air Show celebrates centenary

The 48th installment of the Paris Air Show, held June 15-21, represented the event’s 100th year, and organizers claimed a record number of exhibitors.

The 48th installment of the Paris Air Show, held June 15-21, represented the event’s 100th year, and organizers claimed a record number of exhibitors. While the display aircraft total was down from previous years, some significant aerial innovations were parked on the tarmac, including the new Sukhoi Superjet 100 regional jet, a full-scale mockup of the 16-seat Eurocopter EC175 civil helicopter, and the Schiebel (Vienna, Austria) Camcopter S-100 unmanned rotorcraft.

The composites-intensive Camcopter made the first-ever flight of an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) at the show, and was the first UAV to be featured in the official flight displays, thanks to its recent European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) certification. Other unmanned systems on display included Elbit Systems’ (Haifa, Israel) Hermes 90, a new member of the HERMES family of UAVs, and the Hermes 450 UAV, which can carry various payloads weighing up to 150 kg/330 lb.

Bell Helicopter Textron (Ft. Worth, Texas) displayed its 407, 412 EP and 429 rotorcraft on the flight line, but had to field questions about a worker strike initiated on June 13 at the company’s Ft. Worth facility. The company’s military helicopters are in demand, but civil aircraft sales are down, according to published reports.

Unlike in recent years, few commercial plane orders were placed at the show. Many attendees were disappointed that the Boeing 787 Dreamliner did not fly in Paris, but Boeing Commercial president and CEO Scott Carson said the plane was still on schedule for first flight by the end of June, about two weeks after the show (and after this issue went to press). Boeing reported that a second complete 787 was moved to the flight line on June 15 as the company gears up for flight testing. In a June 17th interview at the show with Jon Ostrower of FlightGlobal.com, Boeing’s VP of airplane programs, Pat Shanahan, suggested that the company is nearing a decision to open a second 787 production line to meet demand. Because labor stability is a key factor in the selection of its location, the site has not been determined.

Among the composite material suppliers on hand, Hexcel (Dublin, Calif.) displayed an Airbus A350 XWB wing spar demonstrator manufactured by Airbus UK (Filton, U.K.), using HexPly epoxy prepreg with HexTow carbon fiber. The A350 primary structures prepreg contract is expected to generate revenues for Hexcel of more than $4 billion (USD) through 2025.  Hexcel also showcased the Alenia Aermacchi (Venegono Superiore, Italy) Double Degree of Freedom (2DOF) Zero-Splice Acoustic Panel, which is manufactured with Hexcel’s trademarked HexWeb AcoustiCap honeycomb and HexPly carbon fiber prepreg. The panel’s sound absorption capability, achieved through the use of AcoustiCap, is enhanced by the panel’s “zero-splice” configuration, which prevents the generation of scattering modes while it offers a wider sound-reduction area and a low-weight solution for jet engine inlet designs.

Advanced Composites Group Ltd. (ACG, Heanor, Derbyshire, U.K.) spotlighted its out-of-autoclave (OOA) technology for aerospace. In a companion display, ACG showcased an integrally stiffened panel and a one-shot honeycomb panel, both manufactured using its Airbus-qualified MTM 44-1 OOA prepreg. ACG also promoted two other OOA aerospace structural materials, MTM45-1 and MTM46, both of which reportedly have the largest available Public B- and A-basis databases generated via FAA-accepted methodology at both lamina and laminate level. Also on display was a range of aircraft interior prepreg materials qualified to Airbus specifications.

Read more about the Camcopter S-100 in “Applications,” HPC November 2008. See link at right.