Tag Archives: Le Bourget

Oh la la! China’s newest Triple 7 shows up in Paris

In a nice show-off China Airlines’ (Taiwan) newest 777-300ER landed at Paris-Le Bourget on 13 June 2015. The aircraft will be on static display from Monday 15 to Thursday 17 June at the international airshow currently being held at Le Bourget, with visitors being allowed to take a tour inside.

China Airlines currently operates five newly configured 777-300ERs on routes serving Hong Kong, Bangkok, New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. The airline is scheduled to receive five more in the next couple of years to support the launch of new European and North American routes.

Based in the northwestern city of Taoyuan, China Airlines is Taiwan’s largest carrier, with 115 destinations in 29 countries and regions worldwide. The airline operates more than 100 flights weekly from mainland China to Taiwan, and that number is expected to grow as liberalization of rules and regulations continues, allowing more mainland Chinese tourists to fly into and through Taiwan.

Source: Boeing
Featured image: The sixth Boeing 777-300ER for China Airlines shows off in Paris (Image © Boeing)

Stealing Thunder: Paris preview

UPDATED 10 June | One week prior to the Paris Air Show at Le Bourget, it’s clear that Pakistan stole everybody’s thunder by sending over three JF-17 Thunder fighter aircraft. The aircraft left Pakistan for France on Sunday 7 June. Le Bourget kicks off on Monday 15 June, with other high lights being the Bombardier CSeries and a sizable delegation from both Boeing and – remarkably – Qatar Airways.

Update 10 June: Airbus has confirmed an Airbus A400M will take part in the flying display. The company says it has complete confidence in the aircraft

The JF-17 is a joint endeavour by Pakistan and China, both already operating significant numbers of the type, although the Chinese prefer to call it the JC-1. Several countries have shown interest in the type, Argentina reportedly being one of them. One JF-17 will be on static display at Le Bourget, while the other two will be used for a solo flying display.

Bombardier
The Paris Air Show marks the debut of the Bombardier CS100 and CS300 airliners, both still in development and in need of customers. Swiss was officialy announced as launch customer for the CS100 earlier this year, with deliveries commencing no sooner than next year.

First flight of the Bombardier CSseries on September 16, 2013 (Image © Bombardier Aerospace)
First flight of the Bombardier CSseries on September 16, 2013 (Image © Bombardier Aerospace)

Boeing
On the military side of things, Boeing will bring a CH-47F Chinook, P-8A Poseidon and F-15E to Paris. The no-show of the F/A-18 Super Hornet is noteworthy, as the type is rumoured to have drawn interest from Kuwait. Other sources mention Kuwait is now eyeing the Eurofighter Typhoon, however. The P-8A is a serious contender for the UK, with an order on the cards in the not too distant future. Boeing will also present a 787-900 Dreamliner in Vietnam Airlines colours, plus a China Airlines 777-300ER.

For the US, an A-10C Thunderbolt tank killer should also pay a visit to Le Bourget. The type is currently deployed in Europe and the focus of a Boeing-effort of selling used airframes to interested nations.

(Image © Boeing)
Boeing sends one 787-9. Qatar Airways however also has a Dreamliner in display in Paris. (Image © Boeing)
Final approach at Spangdahlem of one of a dozen A-10s the USAF sent to Europe in light of Russia rising (Image © Dennis Spronk)
One of a dozen A-10s the USAF sent to Europe in light of Russia rising (Image © Dennis Spronk)

Airbus
Closer to home, Airbus is dispatching a A350XWB and an A380 to Le Bourget. It is uncertain if the Airbus A400M will be present at all after the fatal crash on 9 May in Seville, Spain. Airbus Helicopters will show a lot of its portfolio during the show

The Russians stear well clear of this year’s airshow.  Ukrainian aircraft designer Antonov is taking the opportunity to present its new An-178, only a month after the type’s first flight.

Qatar
Quite remarkable is the presence of Qatar Airways at Le Bourget with an Airbus A380, A350, A320, A319 and a 787 Dreamliner. The major delegation fits into the current aggressive Qatar Airways marketing in Europe, which many European airlines see as a major threath to their business. It is said the recent order for 24 Dassault Rafale aircraft has opened many French doors for Qatar – the door of the Paris Air Show apparently being one of those doors.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image (top): Noisy Thunder. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

(Image © Airbus)
(Image © Airbus)

Swiss launch customer CS100, debut at Le Bourget

Bombardier Commercial Aircraft is sending the CS100 to its international airshow debut at Le Bourget nex month, the Canadian company said on 7 May. The aircraft will also pay a visit to Zürich, Switzerland as part of a demonstration organized for Swiss International Air Lines’ local stakeholders. Swiss is launch customer of the CS100, receiving the first airliner in the first half of 2016.

The CS100 first flew on 15 September 2013. Swiss was previously announced as the launch customer for the CSeries aircraft program after parent Deutsche Lufthansa AG (Lufthansa) signed a firm purchase agreement in 2009 for 30 CS100 single-aisle aircraft for Swiss.

Bombardier has booked orders and commitments for 603 CSeries aircraft, which include firm orders for 243 CSeries airliners.

Source: Bombardier
Featured image: First flight of the Bombardier CSseries on September 16, 2013 (Image © Bombardier Aerospace)

First French AWACS update complete

France_E3F_AWACS_Sentry
In flight: a French Boeing E-3F AWACS aircraft. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

Boeing and Air France Industries KLM Engineering & Maintenance (AFI KLM E&M) have successfully completed the Mid-Life Upgrade modification on the first of four E-3F Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft for the French Air Force. The upgrade is part of a 2010 agreement between France and the US.

In June last year, AFI KLM E&M began upgrading the electrical, mechanical and structural systems and mission hardware on this aircraft. The Mid Life Upgrade – the largest ever for French AWACS – will provide the fleet a robust picture of the battlespace and more actionable information while reducing aircrew workload.

The aircraft now will undergo ground and flight tests at Avord Air Base before being delivered to the Air Force later this year once qualified by DGA. The upgrade is the most important to date for the French fleet and is modeled on the Block 40/45 contract developed for the U.S. AWACS fleet. “The Mid-Life Upgrade capability of this airborne surveillance, command and control platform is unrivaled,” said Steve Swanz, Boeing’s French AWACS program manager.

While the first AWACS aircraft was housed at the AFI KLM E&M site at Le Bourget Airport near Paris, the three other AWACS aircraft will be upgraded in a new facility owned by AFI KLM E&M at Charles De Gaulle Airport in Paris. A dedicated Boeing team will continue to provide on-site leadership, engineering, quality assurance support, hardware and software while working together with the Air France Industries modification team.

Forty Viper Years

USAF_F16tbirdssolo
No article about forty years of F-16 Fighting Falcon is complete without one of these guys.
(Image © Elmer van Hest)

It’s extraordinary to think that back in the early seventies, an average computer was the size of an average refrigerator. But that probably wasn’t what was going on in the mind of test pilot Phil Oestricher when he – albeit unintended – took the YF-16 to the air for the first time forty years ago, on 20 January 1974. It was the soon to be first large scale mass produced fighter jet flying with microchips and fly-by-wire, and boy did it almost end in disaster. Eventually of course, it came out a winner – and the flying proof of a digital, computerized future.

Oestricher and the people at General Dynamics must have watched in horror as the prototype YF-16, stuffed with micro computer technology that was basically unheard of in those days, accidentally got airborne during a fast taxi test at Edwards Air Force Base. What followed was an almost comical struggle between a pilot – wanting not to fly – and his aircraft wanting to fly. In the end, Oestricher (read his story here) decided to take the aircraft up. He landed back at Edwards immediately after, safely ending what later became known as ‘flight zero’. Two weeks later, he took the YF-16 up for the official ‘first’ flight.

Phenomenal
That wobbly ‘flight zero’ in no way illustrates the phenomenal success the General Dynamics F-16 Fighter Falcon – or Electric Jet or Viper – became soon afterwards. As small as the aircraft is – 14.8 meters long and 9.8 meters wide – as big was and still is its commercial success. The USAF was of course the first user, but in ‘The Sale Of The Century’ the F-16 was also sold by the hundreds to Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway and Denmark. The deal was signed following the 1975 Paris Le Bourget airshow, where pilot Neil Anderson demonstrated the previously unseen manoeuverability of the YF-16.

A Belgian F-16BM, seen here pulling Gs in its natural element; the blue yonder. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
The four European Participating Air Forces (EPAF) purchased no less then 524 F-16s altogether. First up: Belgium. A F-16BM is seen here pulling Gs in its natural element; the blue yonder. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Champions of the special paint, that's what the Belgians are. Number 31 'smaldeel' at Kleine Brogel airbase keeps up the tradition of painting aircraft in tiger colours. (Image © Robert van Zon)
Champions of the special paint, that’s what the Belgians are. Number 31 Smaldeel at Kleine Brogel Airbase keeps up the tradition of painting aircraft in tiger colours. (Image © Robert van Zon)
Denmark_F16AMshelter
Since the eighties, hardened aircraft shelters are as much of a natural habitat for F-16s as the sky is. It’s where a lot of European Vipers spend much of their time, like this Danish F-16AM at Skrydstrup airbase.
(Image © Elmer van Hest)
This Bravo is called Orange Jumper, because of its large orange badge. It belongs to the test unit of the KLu. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Another F-16 takes shelter. This time, it’s an F-16BM, used by the Royal Netherlands Air Force for test purposes. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
But the Dutch also have had their share of special paints. Here, two Vipers with special tails are seen at Volkel airbase. (Image © Robert van Zon)
The Dutch also have had their share of special paints. Here, two Vipers with unique tails at Volkel Airbase. (Image © Robert van Zon)
Whereas most F-16 users choose the standard 3-tone grey livery, the Norwegians opted for overall light grey... and they didn't do special paints very often. (Image © Robert van Zon)
Whereas most F-16 users choose the standard 3-tone grey livery, the Norwegians opted for overall light grey… and they didn’t do special paints very often. (Image © Robert van Zon)

Versions
Nowadays, 24 countries use the various further developed versions of the original YF-16. The two prototypes were followed by several pre-production aircraft, after which serial production started on three lines, which eventually became five lines in as many countries. The A/B versions were followed by the C/D versions. More recently E/F and I versions entered service. More obscure Fighting Falcons are the delta winged F-16XL and the General Electric J-79 equipped F-16/79. The US Navy’s (T)F-16N aggressor aircraft were also relatively short-lived.

Practice what you preach. It's no wonder the USAF equipped the Thunderbirds with F-16s in an early stage. Who needs marketeers? (Image © Robert van Zon)
Practice what you preach. It’s no wonder the USAF equipped the Thunderbirds with F-16s in an early stage. Who needs marketeers? (Image © Robert van Zon)
The F-16 has been used over hotspots for decades, one of those hotspots being the Korean peninsula. This USAF F-16C is based at Osan. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
The F-16 has been used over hotspots for decades, one of those hotspots being the Korean peninsula. This USAF F-16C is part of the 51st Fighter Wing, based at Osan. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
The US Air National Guard is by no means a stranger to the F-16.  (Image © Ralph Blok)
The US Air National Guard is by no means a stranger to the F-16. (Image © Ralph Blok)
US Navy F-16Ns weren't around for very long, although this specimen (serial 163576) remains preserved at NAS Fallon, NV. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
US Navy F-16Ns weren’t around for very long, although this specimen (serial 163576) remains preserved at NAS Fallon, Nevada (Image © Elmer van Hest)

Orders
More than 4,540 F-16s have been produced, mostly at the Lockheed Martin production line at Fort Worth. Apart from the four first European customers, Israel, Venezuela and Pakistan were among the early adopters as well, ordering aircraft in the early eighties. More recent customers include Chile, Morocco and Iraq. Lockheed Martin took over General Dynamics in 1993 and now has 48 aircraft remaining on order, according to a statement released on Thursday. Among the remaining orders are aircraft for Oman and Iraq. When asked, the company wouldn’t comment on any special activities relating to the Vipers’ 40th birthday.

Turning more oriental now with this Samsung built, Republic of Korea Air Force (RoKAF) F-16D, seen on approach to Seosan airbase. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Turning more oriental now with this Samsung built, Republic of Korea Air Force (RoKAF) F-16D, seen on approach to Seosan airbase. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Pakistan_F16Atakeoff
Pakistan was an early adopter and ordered the F-16 as early as 1981. The aircraft above was part of that order. More recently, Pakistan received brand spankin’ new F-16C/D fighters. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Pakistan_F16Atopside
Topside! (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Cruzex 2013 marks the first time forces from Venezuela and the US are training together, after years of political and ideological arguments between the two countries. The death of former Venezuela president Hugo Chávez in March this year, clearly changed the mood. (Image © Ralph Blok)
Cruzex 2013 offered a good opportunity to see some of those rare F-16s from Venezuela. (Image © Ralph Blok)
Strike a pose! Portugal operates a few dozen F-16s, of which 15108 was delivered in the mid-nineties. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Strike a pose! Portugal operates a few dozen F-16s, of which 15108 was delivered in the mid-nineties. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Blue skies and not a storm in sight. Or is there? The Lockheed Martin F-16I is actually called 'Sufa' (Storm) in Israeli service. A perfect storm which makes for a nice picture. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Blue skies and not a storm in sight. Or is there? The Lockheed Martin F-16I is actually called ‘Sufa’ (Storm) in Israeli service. A perfect storm which makes for a nice picture. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Turkey_F-16soloturk
Another topside, and this time it is the shiny upper surface of Solotürk, the demo aircraft of the Turkish Air Force. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Greece ordered several batches of Fighting Falcons over the years, totaling 170 aircraft. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Greece ordered several batches of Fighting Falcons over the years, totaling 170 aircraft.
(Image © Elmer van Hest)
Poland operates some of the most advanced F-16s in Europe. (Image © Robert van Zon)
Poland operates some of the most advanced F-16s in Europe. (Image © Robert van Zon)

Second hand
Many Vipers have changed ownership already, with the US selling or leasing lots of of their surplus aircraft to other countries. Early model F-16A and B aircraft soon found their way to Israel, and later on similar aircraft were also delivered to Jordan. A small number of US F-16Cs went to Indonesia.

Belgium and the Netherlands are also in the business of selling Vipers abroad, customers being Jordan and Chile. Some F-16s are third hand already, as Portugal sold second hand Vipers to Romania last year.

Italy used former US Vipers as a stop gap until enough Eurofighter EF2000 were delivered. These were of the F-16ADF kind, a specialized version for air defence. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Italy used former US Vipers as a stop gap until enough Eurofighter EF2000s were delivered. The AMI flew the F-16ADF, a specialized version for air defence. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Jordan flies former US Vipers as well, plus aircaft bought from the surplus inventories of Belgium and the Netherlands. This a former Belgian aircraft, now in Jordan service. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Jordan flies former US Vipers as well, plus aircraft bought from surplus inventories of Belgium and the Netherlands. This a former Belgian aircraft, now in Jordanian service. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Former Dutch F-16s also found their way to Chile although this aircraft is seen here on exercise in Brazil. (Image © Ralph Blok)
Former Dutch F-16s also found their way to Chile, although this Chilean aircraft is seen here on exercise in Brazil. (Image © Ralph Blok)

In the pocket
The whine of either the Pratt and Whitney PW220 or General Electric F110 that equips the F-16 will be heard for many years to come, as Vipers are started up at airfields around the world to fill and patrol the skies. The computerized F-16 paved the way for many military and commercial airplanes, and also for many technological applications that are now standard in every household, and possibly even in the pocket of your jeans – if that’s where you keep your cellphone.

It’s extraordinary to think what an impact this little agile fighter has had. It sure didn’t look that way on 20 January 1974. Cheers!

© 2014 AIRheads’ editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image: No article about forty years of F-16 Fighting Falcon is complete without one of these guys.(Image © Elmer van Hest)

If there ever was a universal signal, it's thumbs up! This Turkish F-16 pilot shows his satisfaction after a successful mission. (Image
Thumbs up to the F-16! (Image © Elmer van Hest)