May 1, 2013 - AERO Friedrichshafen 2013 is over, and for the first time in a long time I was sad that it lasted only four days. Why? Because I wasn't able to see it all.
My feet are relieved, though, because they walked miles and miles - commuting from one press conference or product announcement to another-discovering even more interesting products in the exhibition halls along the way.
Products on display hit virtually all aspects of aviation except commercial airliners and military aircraft. Everything was represented on the southern border of Germany along Lake Constance: ultralight and very light aircraft (VLA), single- and twin-engine aircraft, turboprops and gyrocopters, kites and trikes, as well as many suppliers and service providers.
Maintenance, avionics, and the latest business jets in general aviation were also there, complemented by electric aircraft and helicopters. The show organizers credit the presence of exhibitors from the glider industry, who returned in 2013, for this year's marked increase in visitor numbers. According to AERO, attendance rose to 32,600 from last year's 30,800.
The 21st AERO Friedrichshafen confirmed that AERO is the largest European light aviation and GA air show. This year's show featured 630 exhibitors from 35 countries. EAA members received free admission when showing their membership card and they could admire the 30-foot banner of the AirVenture grounds in Hall B3.
Since AERO grew from a biannual event to an annual one several years back, some people voiced concerns as to whether that was doable. We can answer now, "Yes it is possible." Instead of slowing down because the economic indicators were not positive in some European countries, the pace has actually increased.
I noticed that most manufacturers were looking for investors and markets that were previously not on the radar. At one time America was just about the only market of interest outside Europe, but that has changed. Markets like South America, India, and increasingly China are now appealing to European manufacturers.
SeScaleWings and FK-Airplanes - Exhibit B2, 101
German designer Peter Funk showed his new Bücker Jungmann, the FK 131 microlight patterned after 1930s-style aircraft that will be manufactured in a limited series. ScaleWings Modelltechnik GmbH and its owner, Hans Schwöller, in cooperation with FK-Lightplanes, also debuted a new reproduction of the legendary P-51 Mustang, the FK-51 Mustang.
FK-51 Mustang is a composite scale replica that not only reproduces every rivet row and original metal parts, but also simulates the original metal surface shine and the sound of the original engine. This tandem twin-seater with retractable gear will be powered by Rotax 912/914 engines. Other engines up to 200 hp (an innovative 4-V engine is in the pipeline) are possible, which the company stated could raise the max speed to nearly 220 mph.
JMB Aircraft - Exhibit B1, 309
JMB from Belgium displayed the retractable gear VL-3 that in the days before AERO received German certification-presented during AERO by the German DAeC (Deutscher Aero Club E.V.) authority. JMB claims to have the world's fastest side-by-side UL aircraft sold in Europe in retractable- and fixed-gear versions. Owners (the Guisset brothers) report the company's increasing sales is leading to the tripling of the production capacity. JMB announced four aircraft sales during AERO 2013.
The company claims that the VL-3 with retractable gear has a range of 1,750 nautical miles. JMB is weighing options to attend AirVenture Oshkosh.
Galicia Avionica (GAV) - Exhibit: B1-119
The Spanish manufacturer experienced a successful year that began at AERO 2012. Galicia showed its amphibious Freedom S100 with modifications including a new wing. The company reported it is considering attending AirVenture 2013 with a Freedom S100 mockup (the flying aircraft has to stay in Europe for certification work).
C2P - Exhibit B4, 305
Slovenia's C2P announced the decision to build its ONE airplane itself for the European and U.S. markets. Two different versions of the ONE will be available: a two-seater with a MTOW of 1,320 pounds, and the ONE 2+2 with a MTOW of 1,580 pounds to be sold as an experimental. The model C2P showed this year has a new wing, flaps, and ailerons as well as a new horizontal tail. Engines offered include the Rotax 912ULS, 912iS, and 914. Prices start at $132,000.
Pipistrel - Exhibit B1, 317/321
Pipistrel's Panthera, a sleek and fast four-place aircraft, made its flight just weeks ago, and the company flew its prototype from Slovenia to Friedrichshafen for AERO. The company will show the Panthera at AirVenture 2013. Pipistrel anticipates fist delivery of a kit Panthera in 2014 or 2015.
Also debuted at AERO was the Alpha Trainer, which is powered by the 80-hp Rotax 912, but will be offered in two different versions, one for European UL and the other for the U.S. LSA category. In addition, Pipistrel plans to show the Virus SW with the Rotax 912iS. UL certification is underway
Trixy Aviation - Exhibit B1, 111
Trixy Aviation owner Rainer Farrag of Austria announced receipt of the certification document from the DAeC for the new rotor head fitted with longer (21.22 feet) rotor blades on its G 4-2R autogyro. Farrag said the company is hoping to attend AirVenture Oshkosh and display in the Innovation Pavilion with a land/air transport system-stay tuned.
I.C.P. - Exhibit B4, 205
Well-known Italian kit and ready-to-fly aircraft manufacturer I.C.P. launched a new UL/LSA engine, the ICP M09. The two-cylinder engine has 1223cc displacement and delivers 155 hp at 7,000 rpm. Other versions are in the pipeline with power ratings from 95 to 150 (turbo) hp. The 115-hp engine will cost around $15,830.
ICP unexpectedly debuted its new aircraft model, the Savannah T - a tailwheel version of the well-known tri-gear model.
Robin New Aircraft - Exhibit A5-335
Robin New Aircraft, airplanes with the wooden structure and gull wing from France, are being built again. The manufacturer reassumed production of its single-engine aircraft family - DR400 and DR500. Models Dauphin, Major, Regent, President, Remorqueur, and Ecoflyer are now back in production. Main differences are powerplants and equipment. There is a wide choice of engines for Robin airplanes - either conventional Lycoming or Centurion 2.0 diesel engines.
Stemme - Exhibit A3-313
Stemme, a famous aircraft manufacturer in Germany, will participate this year at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, showing the S10 and the S6RT motorgliders. Stemme has begun the international company relaunch and is keen to showcase its unique products to potential U.S. customers. The S10 it is still the best-performing aircraft in its class with a glide ratio of 50:1, featuring a retractable/folding propeller in the nose and the mid-fuselage-mounted engine that is rod connected to nose-mounted propeller.
Aquila - Exhibit A7-121
This well-known German aircraft manufacturer is on its way to Oshkosh, where it will appear for the first time with a U.S. importer. The A211 is the modified A210 that features a revised cowling and bigger/redesigned spinner together with the new canopy. The A211 and a newly shaped hood give the VLA low-wing composite construction aircraft a new, distinctive look. Together to the new wheel fairings, the A211 features new Beringer wheels and brakes. The cockpit has also been revised, now featuring a centrally positioned trim indicator, optional electronic engine monitoring, and improved ventilation. Flight performance has improved: The takeoff distance over a 50-foot obstacle is now 393 feet shorter. European and U.S. certifications are anticipated soon.
Lightwing AG - Exhibit B1-327
Lightwing AG was founded in 2000 with the goal to develop light-sport aircraft. Since the introduction of the European UL class in 2005, the Lightwing AG holds the production and distribution license for the German LSA Ikarus C42 for Switzerland and Liechtenstein. The Lightwing AC4 actually was designed more than a decade ago by the designer who created the top-selling German UL aircraft Comco-Ikarus C42. The AC4 looks like a larger C42.
The Lightwing AC4 looks nothing like a microlight. Occupant safety is very important to Lightwing AG, so it incorporates the seats with roll-bar protection. The maiden flight of the Rotax 912iS-powered aircraft from Switzerland is planned for the next week.
The AC4 will cost $197,880 and should debut in the U.S. at AirVenture 2014. Currently Lightwing AG is in the process of earning the EASA CS-LSA license. German magazineFliegermagazin
named the AC4 AERO's "Newcomer of the Year."
Under the display heading "Observe by Air," DiNelly Aerosystems Ltd. presented its new eXoGyro gyrocopter - a versatile, cost-efficient aerial platform for airborne surveillance. The most visible difference is the large (58 inches wide, 87 inches long) passenger compartment. This autogyro features four entry doors and a rotor mast that can be tilted 4 degrees in all directions for adjustment of CG for different loads. The manufacturer will be on display at AirVenture 2013 priced from $141,154 for private users to almost $200,000 for professional use.
This new DiNelly eXoGyro has been developed primarily for the commercial user. The 1.6-cubic-meter cabin provides the necessary space to install a variety of airborne sensor systems for mapping and other observation purposes. Alternatively the machine can be operated with up to five seats depending on national regulations. Because the eXoGyro will be certified under the UL class (Germany) the change of sensor systems do not require an STC.
DiNelly says the eXoGyro will be available in 16 different configurations, covering such missions as first responder, mobile lab, aerial sensing, tourism, security and safety, and police and military.
DiNelly was founded in February 2012 to develop a multifunctional gyrocopter. Maiden flight of the Rotax 912iS-powered prototype is planned for end of May. DiNelly said that the German certification procedures should be finished by end of June and first customer deliveries are due August 2013. Pilot training is provided by the company's flight training center.
Rotax - Exhibit A3, 301
Rotax was present at AERO through its German dealer, Franz Aircraft Engines Vertrieb GmbH, and held an interesting press conference on Friday.
In 2012, BRP launched the Rotax 912iS engine and began deliveries in the spring. So far 22 aircraft OEMs have completed the "design-in" of the Rotax 912iS that is now available on 26 different aircraft types. Another 25 aircraft are in the process of being readied for 912iS installation.
BRP said that, according to its data, the 912iS is yielding 36 percent better fuel economy than the 912 ULS engine – significantly better than the 21 percent announced last year when the engine was launched.
BRP also announced the new Rotax Extended Service Terms (REST) program, a new warranty extension program for owners of 912 series engines. The "One-Year Plus" program includes a one year warranty extension or 200 additional flight hours, whichever comes first, and the "Full TBO" program, which means three years of additional warranty or reaching of TBO (Time Before Overhaul) of 2,000 flight hours, whichever comes first.
This program will be offered to all customers that have a four–stroke Rotax engine that is already covered by a warranty. Further details about the REST program will likely be released during AirVenture and will become effective in fall 2013.
See you next year in Friedrichshafen for AERO 2014, April 9-12.