Paris Preview

THE BI-ANNUAL Paris Air Show is looming on the horizon. Taking place at Le Bourget Airport on June 11 /20, this will be the 40th Salon de L’Aeronautique et de L’Espace.

In previous years the show was only open to the public on the last few days, a la Farnborough, but this year the organisers have made the first three days of the show available for public entry as well. Therefore access will be available on June 11, 12, 13, 19 and 20, with June 14/18 restricted to trade visitors only.

The flying programme is scheduled take place daily from 1200 and 1700 hours. But on June 11/13 it will begin one hour earlier to accommodate the Breitling Masters aerobatic competition.

This year the show will feature 1,569 exhibitors from 38 countries, who hope to sell their wares in the current depressed marketplace.

Having said that, this year’s Paris show is expected to attract 400,000 visitors, of which over 2,000 are reported to be journalists.

Over the years the Paris Air Show has seen an impressive number of ‘firsts’ take place, in 1957 the Soviet Union made its first appearance at the show, in 1973 the European Airbus made its first appearance, 1985 saw the first participation by the Chinese at Paris and in 1989 the Russians returned in force with Su-25s, Su-27s, Mi-28, MiG-29 and the mighty Antonov An-225.

This year’s Paris Air Show will be no exception and with around 190 aircraft on show, there are bound to be items to interest all tastes in aviation.

Among the wide range of aircraft types on show, the Soviet presence will no doubt dominate the proceedings. At the time of writing it is expected that there will be up to 28 aircraft from the CIS. Planned to appear is the single-seat high-altitude research aircraft, Myasischchev M-17 Mystic-A, as well as the new Mi-38 helicopter, which at the time of writing is yet to make its first flight.

Water bombing variants of the Antonov An-32P and Ilyushin II-76TD are also on the list of participants.

Mikoyan are planning to display the export version of the MiG-29, the MiG-29SE, one of three MiG-29s present at the show. Not to be outdone, Sukhoi are sending a Su-27 and Su-27UB along with the latest Su-31 variant. Also expected is one of the latest Su-29 aerobatic aircraft.

Part of the Czech contingent, the Garrett TFE731- powered Aero L-139 Albatros trainer will be on display.

Home-grown talent will be on show, with examples of Dassault’s Rafale B, C and M along with a Mirage 2000-5 and 2000D well to the fore.

There is a distinct lack of United States military participation, however, approximately 100 American companies will be displaying their wares this year in the American National Pavilion, with a Lockheed F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft on show at the entrance to the pavilion. To compensate for the lack of American types, the Italian Navy are reported to be sending a TAV-8B Harrier.

Israeli Aircraft Industries (IAI) will be showing an upgraded MiG-21, the 2000 variant. This will be the first time that this supersonic fighter has appeared at a Paris show, IAI will also be showing a Grumman S-2 Tracker, which is expected to be the first of the company’s turboprop conversions of this venerable aircraft.

Sadly one of the stars of last year’s Farnborough show, the SAAB JAS 39 Gripen will not be appearing at Paris, due to its test flying schedule.

Along with the many civilian aircraft on show, this year’s Paris Air Show looks to be up to its usual high standard, even in these downmarket times.

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