Farnborough 2016 Airshow
I have been making the bi-annual pilgrimage to the Farnborough air show since 1964 when I was a schoolboy, attending the show professionally as a journalist, every two years since 1974 – that’s a lot of flying displays. Over the last 10 years, however, when attending Farnborough (and Le Bourget, aka the Paris air show), the opportunity to meander through the static park and sit and watch an afternoon’s flying has been somewhat curtailed, due to the requirement of electronic delivery and Online instant news.
This year, however, I thought it might be different, having retired from full-time journalism last November. Sure, I had a couple of freelance commissions, but I thought I’d have more time to meander. As is well known, no battle plan survives contact with the enemy! The first restriction was I could only attend the show for the two days, as the public weekend (with a longer flying display) coincided with an important family occasion involving The Domestic Authority. To ignore this event would have been foolish to say the least.
No matter, I’ll still have time to wander and watch the industry flying display ... wrong! To begin with, age (and arthritis in my knees) has caught up with me and I’m slower on my feet, so no dashing from one aircraft to another. By pure chance, moving between press conference locations (to cover my two commissions) I caught the Red Arrows formation flypast with an F-35B Lightning II mid-morning on the first day but was unable to record it photographically.
Then there was the weather ... at about 1345h on Monday, the heavens opened and what can only be described as a monsoon descended on the show, just as the Airbus Industries aircraft were completing their set ... and that effectively closed the flying for the day. By 1500h, the exhibition halls had to be evacuated, due to the quantity of water pouring down and flooding the electronic infrastructure.
So on the Tuesday, I made an attempt to catch up the static park at least. I got about half way around... and later caught the F-35B and P-8A Poseidon flying demonstrations. I had an interesting show but, due to the various circumstances, is best likened to the Curate’s Egg (good in parts).
The following gallery of pictures offers a partial coverage of the aircraft on display, offering a flavour of what was on display but by no means can it be said to be comprehensive. Let’s hope I do better at Le Bourget next year.
A general view of the eastern end of the static park from the Media Centre, to set the scene [All photos copyright Michael J. Gething)
Starting with Agusta Westland which, since the re-branding of parent group, Finmeccanicca as Leonardo, is now known as Leonardo Helicopters, here is the AW 149
A civil AW 139 from the search-and-rescue (SAR) organisation that has now taken SAR coverage over from RAF and Fleet Air Arm Sea Kings
Originally known as the EH101, the AW 101 was shown in its Italian Air Force Combat Search-and-Rescue variant
Teamed with Raytheon and Honeywell, Leonardo (formerly Alenia Aerospace) is bidding a version of its M-346 trainer, designated T100, as a replacement for the US Air Force T-38C jet trainer
Leonardo continues to promote its MC-27J special mission transport/gunship
Evolved from the Westland WG.13 Lynx/Super Lynx, the AW 159 Wildcat is now replacing Lynx in UK Army Air Corps and Fleet Air Arm service – the latter’s HMA.2 variant being displayed
The US military were back at Farnborough this year, with this grouping showing a USAF F-16C ‘Viper’, US Army UH-60 Black Hawk and USN F/A-18E Super Hornet
More usually known for its range of Su-27/-30/-35 ‘Flanker’ fighters, Sukhoi was showing its civil Superjet airliner at the show
The Do 328TP is the latest iteration of this twin-engined commuter airliner, currently being developed by Sierra Nevada in collaboration with Turkey
From the Ukraine is the latest Antonov transport, the An 178, looking a bit like a twin-engined BAe 146 on steroids
Back with Leonardo, the company was promoting the latest version of is M-346, the armed M-346FT fighter lead-in trainer
Sweden’s Gripen was represented by a mock-up of the latest JAS 39 Gripen-E from Saab
It seems that special mission versions of the ubiquitous King Air 350 are now ten-a-penny, with L-3 Communications showing its Spyder variant, featuring 9among various sensors) a pair of L-3 Wescam MX-15 electro-optic/infrared sensor turrets
Pilatus of Switzerland in known for its trainer aircraft and the latest in the line, the PC-21, was on display at Farnborough
This grouping of Airbus products shows the A380 airline, A400M Atlas, C-295 transport and A350neo airliner
Small point-and-shoot cameras are not idea for taking airborne shots, but here is the Lockheed Martin F-35B Lighting II fighter during its display ...
... while this picture of the large screen coverage of the flying aircraft shows another view of the F-35B and its enormous vertical fan door
The Boeing P-8A Poseidon, nine of which were ordered for the RAF during the show, clearly shows its 737 airline ancestry (but then the Nimrod was evolved from the Comet) ...
... while, again, a shot of the large screen coverage shows a little more detail than my camera could catch
And finally ... with Sikorsky now firmly within the Lockheed Martin stable, the company showed a Polish-built example of the UH-60 Black Hawk at its pavilion, with its own INFIRNO electro-optic/infrared sensor turret mounted under the nose