Big Names And Big Planes At The International Air Show in Paris, 2011

It’s an extravaganza and Paris is the place to be if you’re an aircraft enthusiast. The International Air Show, being held in Paris at the Le Bourget Airport, was thrown open to the public yesterday, four days after it started on the 20th of June. You might want to hurry, as it closes on the 26th of June. Here we give you the scoop on the gala event the big news, the big names and some stunning photos.

The Le Bourget on Day 1

An introduction: A brief one

The International Air show has been occurring since 1908 once every two years, twice interrupted by the two world wars. Since 1949, it has been held in odd years. Paris’s Le Bourget has been its location. It’s the most prestigious event in the aviation industry and certainly the largest. Paris Air shows have been known to be the place where big deals have been made in the past. It has been the focal point where huge number of exhibitors showcase their products, innovation gets noticed and big companies announce big planes and massive deals.

While the first Air Show saw 380 exhibitors, the present one boasts exhibitors numbering well over 2000. The show has been visited by 138,000 as per the official count till today. That can only increase exponentially during the open days from 24th to 26th.

The show pieces

If you’re planning to go to the show, there are two flight simulators to help you realize a real flight experience. (Entry fee:   €5 per person).

The premier this year is the Solar Impulse. It has been built by engineers at the prestigious Ecole Polytechnique Institute and it aims to circle the world, powered by only solar power. One of the builders, Bertrand Piccard, co-piloted the first balloon across the world. He wants to do it again and in style. The plane is a small and light aircraft, designed for solo flight. It delivers the power of a scooter using batteries that will be charged during the day, while in flight, and will be enough for night flight. It is a Special Guestat the Air Show.

The Solar Impulse
The "Special Guest" at the Air Show

There will be other pieces of genuine inspiration on display. One of them being the biofuel powered aircraft design made by EADES – ZEHST – that can fly at supersonic speeds. (We told you the amazing story here). Further, there is an Austrian innovation of a wingless aircraft. (We told you about this too.)

The Big Players

Both Airbus and Boeing, rivals, have unveiled new aircrafts and have done big business signing bills worth big bucks. However, Airbus has completely outdone Boeing in this respect. However, that’s another story for some other time.

Airbus showcased its A380, the grand old warhorse in the civil aviation sector since 2005. It has seen a huge number of orders, the largest from Emirates (90 orders). The smash hit from Airbus has been the A320 neo.

The A380 takes flight
The A380 majestic in flight
The A320 Neo

Boeing showed off its Boeing 787 Dreamliner on the 21st of June.

The Boeing 787 Dreamliner

Several military aircrafts were also put on display. The US Air Force performed a test flight of the Boeing C-17 GlobeMaster III on the 23rd of June. Rafale, made by Dassault, a fighter jet, was test flown and what a spectacle that was!


The Rafale
The Rafale test flight at the Air Show
The Boeing C-17: From the cockpit
The F-16 fighter jet showcased
The Amphibious aircraft Beriev Be-200 sprays water as a demonstration at the Air Show

Actor and star John Travolta added some celluloid glitter as he climbed in the cockpit of a Lockheed Super Constellation.

Actor John Travolta at the cockpit

Remember that the extravaganza ends on the 26th.


Wingless Aircraft Takes To The Sky; Unveiled At Paris Air Show

Who needs wings when you can fly without them? The Austrian aeronautical firm, Austrian Innovative Aeronautical Technology (IAT21) revealed the design of an aircraft that can fly without any wings or rotors. Unstable, you say? Not in the least bit. The wonder was unveiled at the Paris Air Show a day ago. Seems wingless is the new ‘in’.

The D-Dalus

The name is Dalus, D-Dalus! It’s named after the tragic Greek character Daedalus, who flew too close to the Sun so that his wings melted away and, consequently, he lost his son. Well, being wingless here is no tragedy for this innovative design, as it can not only fly, but also hover.

The D-Dalus

The D-Dalus is powered by rotating discs, equipped with blades whose angle can be altered mid-flight, through 360 degrees. The turbines rotate at 2200 rpm. It is, thus, able to launch vertically and hover around. It can fly at the speed of a jet and also push itself against the deck of a ship sailing in rough weather. It produces surprisingly low noise, and is as quiet as a whisper’ according to the aeronautical firm. If put into espionage, it will be a wonder-craft.

Capabilities and further plans

Right now, D-Dalus is just a prototype. It has been flown under laboratory conditions and has not been ruggedly tested in the great outdoors. It can carry a modest 70 kg as cargo. IAT21 is looking forward to using this technology for passenger planes or planes for heavier cargo. IAT21 is improving the prototype to build something suitable for rescue operations, especially in places where it is difficult to reach by any means other than air. It is also looking into surveillance technologies.

IAT21 plans to unveil the D-Dalus at other places soon, as well as put it into service!

Biofuel Powered Supersonic Rocket Plane To Go From Paris to Tokyo in 2.5 Hours

The future of commercial air travel is here, or will be in a few years. EADS, the European Aerospace giant, revealed its plans for a biofuel powered supersonic ‘rocket-plane’ that will take passengers from Paris to Tokyo (air distance of more than 12,000 miles or 19,500 km) in a mere 2.5 hours. That means it will fly at a hypersonic speed of  5000 km/hour (Sound travels at 1200 km/hour). The plane is, however, slated to be in operation only in 2050.

The design prototype for the Zehst

The Future: Fast and Not So Furious

The capacity of the Zero Emission Hypersonic Transportation (Zehst) will be about 50 to 100 people. It will use engines fueled by biofuel made from sea-weed to take-off and will switch over to its rocket engines at high altitudes. The rocket fuel will be (nearly) pure hydrogen burning in oxygen, providing more bang for the weighty buck, while contributing no pollution whatsoever. The only exhaust will be water vapour.

The rockets design prototype unveiled by the EADS


The design of the aircraft

As EADS’s chief technical officer, Jean Botti, said,

You don’t pollute, you’re in the stratosphere.

Yes, you heard it right stratosphere. While most of today’s planes fly in the troposphere at about a height of 10 kilometers above the Earth’s surface, the Zehst will cruise at an altitude of 32 kilometers, or 20 miles.

Whether to whet up nostalgia or not, the Zehst design will mimic that of the Concorde, the iconic supersonic passenger jet plane, which was put out of commission on 26th November, 2003. Japan is in collaboration with EADS on this project, since it has already developed the rocket technology. The project is expected to be worth around $300 million.

The last flight of the Concorde


The Zehst project was announced at the Le Bourget airport today (19th June), just a day before this year’s Paris International Air Show (from the 20th to 26th of June). The Concorde will be on display at the Bourget for the biannual Air Show. (If you are in Paris, the Air Show will open for the public on Friday, the 24th.)

A prototype of the Zehst should be built by 2020, EADS hopes. The plane will be in operation in 2050.

Clean and fast that’s the future for aerospace technology.