Tag Archives: avgeek

Dubai Airshow 2017: What a week!

Back in the office after a week of Arabian sun the world can seem an altogether colder experience, less like warm evenings spent writing stories and crunching videos beneath Dubai’s glittering spires.

In a bid then to sooth the winter blues we’ve taken the entirely selfish decision to return again to the DWC flight line and massed ranks of companies, products and people in the exhibition hall.

Given that it was an airshow it is unsurprising that much of the material we gathered and mulled over during the course of the week concerned aircraft. From trainers to light attack, rotary to transport, the show had it all.

Among the most noticeable was Japan, keen to show off its C-2 and in simply travelling to Dubai managed to complete the trans-continental flight section of its test and evaluation process.

In-country manufacturing capability was also on the agenda, with the UAE looking to expand its industrial base to allow and enable domestic production of a range of platforms and systems. Among these was Calidus’ B-250 light attack aircraft.

Elsewhere, the UAS Summit, sponsored by Shephard, took in all the comings and goings in the UAE’s burgeoning drone industry. From applications to regulations, the panellists, keynote speakers and audience covered the topics length and breadth, concluding with minutes to spare.

One significant point was raised early on the first day touching on the UAE’s approach to the question of operator regulations.

Finally, after what was a tough but thoroughly rewarding week we came down to the final set-up and the wrap of some of the highlights on the flight line. By this time, around about the 60 hour mark of show coverage, our rotary editor, Helen Haxell, thought it apt to sign off in a style that is likely to become a signature all of its own.

Thanks to everyone that checked out the show site, read the stories and viewed the videos. We look forward to doing it again in two years.

The art of flying: Or how to lose friends and alienate people

This week BALPA released seven reasons not to be scared of flying as Brits go on their holidays this August Bank Holiday weekend.

BALPA sought to address the anxiety of nervous flyers, reassuring them about turbulence and stating that it was highly unlikely for a modern aircraft to be brought down by it – although to always wear a seat belt when seated.

‘More than 3.5 billion people flew safely on 37.6 million flights last year and there were only four fatal accidents,’ the BALPA release noted.

Here at Shephard we are adept at flying as we attend shows across the globe from Eurosatory 2016 in Paris, DIMDEX in Doha to FIDAE in Santiago, Chile [we have more shows coming up, including AUSA in Washington DC, Helitech International 2016 in Amsterdam and MSPO in Poland: see www.shephardmedia.com for further details – ed].


Therefore, things like turbulence over the Atlantic or storms as you travel across the Pacific are small fly to us.

However, during a group therapy session at Shephard Towers, we have shared our top five bugbears (in no particular order) when flying. If you would like to contribute to the list, please do make your suggestions in the comment box below.

1.The toilet – The reasons for why are endless – like the queue when there’s 30 minutes till landing. Like the time one of our journos went to the toilet forgetting they had taken their shoes off only to stand in an ominous puddle. On one long haul flight to the States, Shephard had to come to the rescue when people struggled to understand the mechanics of the toilet door once inside the cubicle.

‘They kept pushing the door, thinking they were stuck. Sitting by the toilet, I had to save each one, telling them to step back from the door so it opens. They thought I was some kind of engineering genius.’

2. People – Hell is other people on a ten-hour flight – whether they are reclining and making you spill your Stella Artois onto your lap or they have a child that either looks at you through the seats or howls the whole journey.

Passengers on aircraft are challenging beings: taking off socks as well as shoes, loud eaters, the utilisation of a Ped-egg on one’s feet is something that cannot be unseen, and the shoving in of overhead luggage.

737 Space Bins at 737 Configuration Studio

Overhead luggage is like a game of chess. Bet her fellow passengers aren’t smiling.

3. Food – Nothing is more satisfying at 30,000ft than a dried roll, limp-looking lettuce and a plastic ham sandwich. Man on the moon? Simple. Aerodynamic aluminium carrying up to a few hundred people? Done. Non-dry, unpalatable, plastic food made tasty and appetising – it’s an evolution not a revolution.

4. Cabin crew – With the utmost respect to those that service us in the sky in a challenging environment that smells of stale eggs an hour in. Sometimes a surly cabin crew can bring a damper on our excitement of travelling to faraway lands reporting on military logistics or recent procurements and acquisitions. Service with a smile is always welcome.

Gareth asleep

5. Ourselves – There’s nothing worse than having a soirée the night before to let loose after a physically and ‘journalistically’ challenging show to then get on board a plane feeling ruff [#national dog day], watching the same films on repeat like Toy Story 3 and general restlessness as the journey edges into its nine hours across time zones enforcing the loss of a day in the process before returning to work the next day.

H215’s whistle-stop tour

H215 US Tour 2016

Seamlessly blending in with the minimalist white and blue colour scheme of Airbus Helicopters’ stand at HAI Heli-Expo in Louisville, Kentucky, this year, the H215 on display was having some quiet time (if you disregard the waves of visitors poking and prodding the exterior and perching across the accessible pilot’s seat to see the avionics) before it kicked off its US tour the day after the exhibition.

h215 other

The day before the show was due to end, I received an email from Airbus Helicopters offering me a ride on the type before it was to leave Louisville and fully embark on the trip.

As someone who had never actually been up in a helicopter before, you can probably guess my answer.

After the fun of arriving at the wrong side of Bowman Field – a few kilometres southeast of downtown Louisville – and missing the first scheduled flight, I eventually made it to the correct location, where there was a pristine white H215 waiting to pop my helicopter ride cherry. My new flight time was 2:15pm, somewhat appropriately.

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It appeared Airbus Helicopters was also using the opportunity to demonstrate the capabilities and flight controls to some pilots who had not been up in the type before, as a number waited in the pre-flight ‘green room’.

As 2:15 came, it was time to board. The video below shows a few moments of the 30-minute flight, where you can also hear the pilot’s comms as he provides some tips to the co-pilot on how to properly control the 8.6t machine.

Previously known as the AS332 C/L1e, the type was relaunched in November 2015 as the H215, with the OEM confirming that from 2017 it will be produced in Brasov, Romania.

The utility machine is being pitched at a number of markets and the US tour will see fire-fighting high on the itinerary, as it makes its way to the Aerial Firefighting International event in Sacramento later this month, where the type could be announced as the winner of the 15-helicopter tender put out by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

After a pretty smooth ride and an Airbus Helicopters goodie-bag on departure, I was ready to leave Louisville and head back to London – unfortunately in a slightly less impressive United Airlines 767 from the 1990s that was, quite literally, falling apart.

Keep an eye out on the RotorHub news stream, where updates on the type and the aforementioned fire-fighting tender will be posted.