Farnborough welcomes bizav
Last week the Farnborough International Air Show dominated skies to the south-west of London. Despite traffic problems and long security lines many thousand visitors moved through the Show’s exhibit halls, inspected the static display and enjoyed the daily air show.
Of course, this is one of London’s major business airports but it has pretty much been “business as usual” despite intense air show activity. According to Brandon O’Reilly, Chief Executive of TAG Farnborough Airport “we have been able to accept all our normal business aircraft clients – and the air show has brought additional traffic for the airport”. Fortunately, TAG’s large general aviation facility is opposite the show grounds, which allows for a harmonious separation of the two activities. On the first day of Farnborough International, 2016, there were more than 40 business jet arrivals and the only restriction for visiting aircraft was during the afternoon air show “but our clients understand and are happy to work around the airshow timetable” says O’Reilly.
During the week prior to the Air Show, demonstration aircraft have to fly to gain official approval for their airshow routines “and that does mean that some of our customers have to wait for departure until the flying is finished” says O’Reilly “but actually, they generally quite enjoy being at the centre of the action”. With up to 100 business jets using the airport on any day, Farnborough controllers have to be on their toes – and they have the added complication that the runway is sometimes obstructed by large airliners positioning into their static display positions.
But, what of the air show itself ? With more than 100 aircraft on display, there were many newcomers. For the first time, the Lockheed Martin F-35B fighter joined the flying display, giving an impressive demonstration of its hovering abilities. The new generation of airliners was out in force with the Airbus A320Neo, Embraer E-190E2, Bombardier CS100 and Sukhoi Superjet all ready for close inspection. Embraer brought along its brand new KC.390 military tanker/transport – and Diamond Aircraft demonstrated its promising DART-450 trainer/reconnaissance aircraft.
With only a few weeks since the EBACE business aviation meeting in Geneva, one might think none of the business aircraft manufacturers would attend – but that was not the case. Gulfstream was proudly showing off its new G500, fresh from a high speed dash from Savannah to Farnborough, achieved in just 6 hours, 55 minutes, flying at Mach 0.9. Not to be outdone, Dassault displayed a Falcon 2000LXS and a Falcon 7X and Embraer showed the new Legacy 500 for the first time at Farnborough. So, is it really worthwhile for them to come to the show ? “We certainly think so” says Marco Tulio Pellegrini, boss of Embraer Executive Jets, “because many people at this show will never attend EBACE – and the many governmental delegates are good potential customers for our aircraft”. Whatever their interests, it certainly seems that the Farnborough visitors enjoyed the show – despite some torrential downpours provided by the notorious English summer.