Held at Sywell Aerodrome, Northants, from 31 May to 2 June, AeroExpo 2013 was billed as the UK’s Festival of Aviation with a wide ranging exhibition of products and services. A large selection of aircraft manufacturers, operators and exhibitors were present with the event also providing the opportunity for owners and operators to fly in and see for themselves what was on offer. Tom Gibbons reports for GAR.
Contrasting markedly with the hustle and bustle of the huge Farnborough International and Paris Salon events, AeroExpo illustrated the strides taken in General Aviation since the dominant days of the likes of Cessna, Beechcraft and Piper with Cirrus, Eclipse, Robinson, Tecnam and Vans being just a few examples of the manufacturers that have broken into the GA market.
GAR called in to Sywell on the Saturday afternoon for a brief visit with the fair weather bringing a good selection of visitors and the visiting aircraft park bearing testament to the popularity of both the event and the venue. What was immediately clear was that general aviation doesn’t appear to be suffering too much from these trying economic times, and, with over 150 confirmed exhibitors spread throughout the three dedicated display hangars and outside display areas, there was plenty to take in.
At the higher end of the market and dominating the concrete outside were two examples of the rugged and versatile Pilatus PC-12NG with the official UK and Ireland distributor of the type, Pilatus PC-12 Centre UK Limited, exhibiting Manx-registered M-DRIL along with a Luxembourg-registered example, LX-NEW. With over 1,200 of the type sold worldwide, the PC-12 continues to provide a cost effective alternative to the many corporate jets on offer and there was plenty of interest being shown in both examples. Aura Aviation displayed an example of the similar DAHER-SOCATA TBM850, the world’s fastest single-engined turboprop and another alternative to jet powered luxury.
Elsewhere, German distributor Piper Deutschland showed a single PA-46 Meridian and the latest PA-34 Seneca V equipped with the three screen Garmin avionics suite on show, whilst fellow US manufacturer Cessna was present with the new Turbo Skylane JT-A, a Jet A fuelled variant of the 182, rather than low-lead AVGAS, that was flown across to Sywell from Wichita, Kansas, for display at AeroExpo. A single example of the Beechcraft King Air twin prop was also present albeit in C90 form. Contrasting starkly and looking far more utilitarian was the Australian-manufactured GippsAero GA8 Airvan; this boxy aircraft has been designed specifically to meet the demands of rough field operations and it certainly looks the part with large tyres, rugged undercarriage and high-set wing.
Other types to be seen were the sleek Cirrus SR22 from Cirrus Aircraft UK, Aeris Aviation with the minute Eclipse 550 ultra-light corporate jet, Tecnam UK’s P2002JF and P2006T and examples of each of Robinson’s popular light helicopters, the R22, R44 and new Rolls Royce RR300 turbine-powered R66 from Sloane Helicopters along with a single A119 Koala.
Some of the more obscure types to be found included the Czech Sport Aircraft (Omega) Sportcruiser, Lambert-Aircraft Mission M108, Bristel Speed Wing and the Slovenian Pipistrel Virus 912 – a vivid illustration of the diverse range of aircraft manufacturers competing for custom in the GA market and a situation that can only continue to provide healthy competition within the industry and a fabulous choice of product for the established and budding aviator alike.
Whilst too much to fully take in with just an afternoon visit, it was noteworthy to see the range of Vans RV aircraft present at the fly-in that took place over the period of AeroExpo with examples from Eire and The Netherlands noted amongst the hordes of UK-registered aircraft. Quite a bargain at £11.00 for a ticket purchased on-line and certainly an eye opener for someone like me who had long lost touch with the grass routes of aviation.
Throw in the superbly flown aerobatic displays from the Trig Team’s pair of Pitts Specials and Gerald Cooper with his SBach 300 and I walked away having again been entertained and educated by the world of aviation – well done AeroExpo!