aero friedrichshafen 2019 – aero reaches new heights

May 27, 2019

This year’s AERO in Friedrichshafen, the annual General Aviation show in southern Germany, was one of the most successful ever. The 27th edition of the trade fair impressed with a large number of innovations, a high number of exhibitors and a comprehensive, high-caliber conference program, writes Volker K. Thomalla

With 757 exhibitors, AERO 2019 set a new record in the more than 40-year history of the annual General Aviation fair set along the shores of Lake Constance in southern Germany. Many novelties awaited visitors, who had found their way to Friedrichshafen from 10 to 13 April. For those who weren’t able to make it, here’s an overview of some of the highlights.

French manufacturer Daher flew a model year 2019 TBM 910 turboprop aircraft to the event. It was subsequently sold by Rheinland Air Service (RAS), Daher’s authorized distributor for Germany and Austria, to a European customer, who took delivery of his new TBM after AERO. “We are pleased that the latest TBM 910 version is meeting the expectations of European customers, who recognize our commitment to using intelligent functionality to further improve safety and operability,” says Nicolas Chabbert, Senior Vice President of the Daher Airplane Business Unit.

The newest version of the TBM 910 features automatic icing detection. When icing or ice accretion is detected by the sensor – and if the pilot does not take action – the system will activate deicing devices such as the airframe, windshield, propeller and the engine’s particle separator. An amber CAS (Crew Alerting System) message is displayed by the avionics, advising the pilot to clear the automatic activation and revert to the manual control mode.

Daher also had its newest flagship on display in Friedrichshafen, the TBM 940. It has the automatic icing detection, too, but is also equipped with an auto throttle system that reduces pilot workload. The TBM 940 features a Garmin G3000 avionics suite while the TBM 910 comes with a G1000 NXi.

Another first at Friedrichshafen was the HondaJet Elite, which was announced at EBACE last year. The aircraft on display at AERO is the first HondaJet Elite in Europe. The Elite, an upgraded version of the original HondaJet, features several improvements, including more range, less noise from the engines, a lighter structure and a revolutionary cabin sound system. Some of the features of the Elite are retrofittable to existing HondaJets.

Pilatus is a loyal exhibitor at AERO. This year, the Swiss manufacturer not only had two PC-12 single engine turboprop aircraft on display, but also its PC-24 Versatile Jet. Last year Pilatus delivered 18 of this light jet to customers. One of the customers for the PC-24 this year is the Swiss Government, which intends to use the aircraft for intra-European flights. Pilatus is expected to open the order book for the aircraft again soon, which was closed after selling 80 aircraft within 36 hours at EBACE 2014. It hasn’t been opened since.

Quest Aircraft from Sandpoint, Idaho, brought two aircraft to Friedrichshafen. The Quest Kodiak 100 and the newest addition to the manufacturer’s product line, the Kodiak 100 Series II, which features the Garmin G1000 NXi avionics suite and other improvements to the aircraft’s equipment. The Kodiak Series II was shown for the first time in Europe.

The smallest business jet on display was a Cirrus SF50 Vision. Cirrus has just presented the type’s newest G2 version, which can climb to 31,000 feet and has a range of 1,275 nm with two people on board. Pat Waddick, president of innovation and operations at Cirrus Aircraft, said that over 200 pilots have now been type rated on the SF50.

Meeting Pilots and Operators

AERO is a trade show where aircraft manufacturer and suppliers meet individual pilots and aircraft operators who mostly fly their aircraft themselves. Suppliers like Garmin International, Blackhawk Modifications, Jeppesen, MT Propeller, Bose Aviation, amongst others, were satisfied with the number of customer contacts they had during the show. Textron Aviation used to be an exhibitor at AERO for years, but decided not to exhibit this year. Their King Air and Citation line-up was definitely missed!

A Focus on Business Aviation

The German Business Aviation Association (GBAA), in cooperation with the show organizers and Atlas Air Service of Bremen, Germany, organized a Business Aviation Conference. The event addressed topics like Business Aviation – a time machine; ADS-B for Business Aircraft; ambulance flights and humanitarian missions with Business Aircraft; and the value of Business Aviation for society. The organizers expressed their intent to continue with such a conference next year.

ADS-B was a hot topic at the show as operators are becoming aware of the approaching ADS-B mandate – which is January 1st 2020 in the US and June 7th in Europe. Laurent Gauthier, owner and CEO of Air Plus Maintenance reported that his company was approached by several fleet operators to retrofit their aircraft with new avionics. Atlas Air Service only has 45 slots left for ADS-B modification this year. Both warn that there will be no extension to the ADS-B compliance deadline, as has been stated by both the FAA and EASA.

Introducing AeroVue Touch

BendixKing introduced a new, fully integrated avionics suite at AERO. AeroVue touch is targeting Class III aircraft and is complementing the AeroVue avionics suite, which is already available for larger turboprop and jet aircraft as a retrofit. The new avionics suite is exceptionally light-weight (weighing only 57 pounds including autopilot). BendixKing was able to reduce weight by using smart displays that are connected by WiFi and Bluetooth and thus don’t need wires between the units. The only wire necessary is the connection to the aircraft’s power supply.

A Push Towards SAJF

Pete Bunce, GAMA president and CEO, reported at AERO that 2018 was a good year for the industry with deliveries in all segments beating previous year’s numbers. He reported also that an industry-wide initiative is under way to bring as many aircraft as possible from the OEM’s on sustainable alternative jet fuel (SAJF) to EBACE in Geneva in May. There will be several airports where the participants can fuel their aircraft on their way to Geneva. There will be upload locations on the US East Coast, in Norway, France and the UK, said Bunce. The industry wants to promote the use of this fuel to reduce carbon emissions and become more sustainable. “There’s no additional testing necessary. It meets all the specifications. It’s jet fuel”, said Bunce.