Paris Air Show – Video of the flying demonstrations

The Paris Air Show restricts access to press and industry professionals from Monday through Thursday, which would seem to make it the ideal time to visit the show, assuming you could get your hands on a pass.

Gadling editor Grant Martin and I managed to attend, hoping to see some of the latest innovations for future travelers. We caught the new Boeing 787 electronic window shade on video and watched the debut flight display of the Sukhoi Superjet 100 airliner.

Exhausted from the traveling that day, we decided to enjoy the perfect weather to catch the flying display on Wednesday. I even came back on Sunday to compare the differences in the show between the industry days and the general public weekend show.

Even though there are huge crowds on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, the overall mood is much more friendly, with a greater sense of excitement present. Just take a look at these two pictures of the show to see if you can sense the difference:

Shoot me if I ever attend an airshow in a suit:

There were just a few smiles during the week, but the crowd really seemed to be enjoying themselves over the weekend. No doubt the economy has been in the back of everyone’s mind in the industry, while the general public attended the show simply to be entertained.

And entertained they were. Video after the jump.

The one thing that the Paris Air Show and Farnborough in England have over the typical stateside airshow are the civil aircraft flying displays; something I was eager to see for my first time visiting the Paris Air Show.

The flying display began with an impressive BD-5 reincarnation called the LH-10 Ellipse that manages to fly at 200 knots (230 m.p.h.) while sipping just 5 gallons an hour. That’s about 40 miles per gallon.

The Eurocopter Tiger helicopter proved once again that it’s capable of an impressive array of aerobatic maneuvers, including a loop, a roll, split-S and this stunt that I’ve never seen before:

After Airbus flew the A300, A320, A340 and the A380, it was time for the aerobatic solo performances. An F-16, Mirage III, Dassault Rafale and Eurofighter Typhoon flew, and on the weekend we saw the graceful French aerobatic team La Patrouille de France take over the show.

The Sunday show ended with a few fly-bys of a Lockheed Constellation from Breitling, a B-17, a PBY and the first Dassault aircraft, an MD 315 Flamant.

Disappointingly, Boeing had a very limited presence at the show, with just a ‘chalet’ available by appointment only. Grant and I managed to walk through the building that was located right on the flight line next to other industry heavy weights, and take in the view from upstairs, but it was set up for meetings and as a perk for important customers.

Maybe the 787 will make its public debut at Farnborough next year. If so, Gadling will hopefully be there.

Check out the rest of Gadling’s Paris Air Show coverage.

Paris Air Show 2009: Video of the new Boeing 787 cockpit window

Yesterday we showed you how passengers on the 787 will have it ‘made in the shade.’ When I first heard about the electrically dimmable window shade feature, I asked Randy Baseler, then VP of marketing at Boeing, whether this type of technology might find its way into the pointy-end of the airplane.

Randy explained back in 2006:

Here is what we can tell you at this point. The flight deck on the 787 does not currently have dimmable windows. The demands of the flight deck are different from those for passenger windows, as would be the technology involved. We’re working hard on coming up with a way to do this in the flight deck, and we’re looking at a solution that might be retrofittable.

So when I saw a 787 window on display at the PPG booth at this year’s Paris Air Show, I just had to know. Will we finally be able to throw out our plastic stick-on shades or, worse yet, a newspaper, map or cabin safety briefing card? Pilots are desperately in need of dark shading on the sunny side of the airplane.

Boeing has in the past decade offered a sliding yellow shade that doesn’t really block much sunlight, and there have been various plexiglass shades previously, but these only supplement the passenger safety briefing cards and newspapers we cram into the window to block us from the sun.

Mark Cancilla of PPG explained that there’s a solar reflective coating on the 787 windows which would help reduce the temperature in the cockpit. He also pointed out the gold tint, caused by the thin-film gold that’s needed for the airplane’s anti-fog system.
I was a bit shocked to see how tinted these windows would be. How would that affect the photos I take from the cockpit at altitude? Looking closer, it seemed the white display behind the window highlighted the gold film, but when looking back toward the show floor this window appeared to be similar to other Boeings.

The anti-fog capabilities of the new windshield will eliminate the need for 50 m.p.h. air to blast across the windows, which will result in less noise.

Let’s let have Mark show you more about the 787 window:

After being awake for nearly 24 hours, Grant and I kept each other in good spirits with a few light hearted comments. When we saw the full size cabin shell for the A350, I noticed the cockpit windows were painted black, A shade that I jokingly found to be perfect on those early morning eastbound flights. Could this be Airbus’s answer to my frustrations?

Check out the rest of Gadling’s Paris Air Show coverage.

Paris Air Show 2009: New 787 Dreamliner window shade technology

If you’ve been following the development of the Boeing 787, you may have heard about the electronic shades on their extra-large passenger windows.

So far, we’ve had to imagine how effective this technology would be, knowing it would be over a year before the first revenue flight of the Dreamliner.

Luckily, we managed to find the PPG Industries booth at the Paris Air Show, and scored a demonstration of this signature feature of the 787 known as Alteos Interactive Windows.

We’ve all been on airliners with plastic shades that frequently become stuck between the interior panel above the window. Sitting in that seat can be torturous on a sunny day. Not to mention the scratches they produce on the plexiglass inner pane.

Boeing and the airlines have found that these mechanical window shades represent an added maintenance cost, and for that reason, these reliable electronic shades will be a standard feature on all Boeing 787s and possibly other airliners in the future.

Passengers will be able to control the windows through five different settings, which take about a minute and a half to go from full dark to fully bright, at least on the version we saw. While this delay is a limitation of the design, the gradual transition could be a nice feature for passengers sleeping nearby.

Mark A. Cancilla, Director of Commercial Transparencies at PPG gave us a demonstration:

Flight attendants will have some control over the cabin as well. During a movie or as the sun begins to rise after a transatlantic flight, they’ll be able to lower the brightest setting without eliminating the view for someone who would rather look outside. And catching one of those sunrises can be more entertaining than an old sitcom episode you’ve seen three times that month anyway.

For some reason, I had imagined the darkest setting wouldn’t be dark enough, but I was thrilled to discover that PPG had designed a system that would allow as little as just .1% of the light to come through. Boeing has chosen a range of 70% transparency down to .1% for the Dreamliner over the five available steps.

The technology for these windows originally came from the automotive industry. In fact, you may have it in your car. The auto-dimming rear view mirror found in newer cars is the same technology behind these shades.

But will this technology make it into the pointy-end of the airplane or will pilots continue to resort to newspapers and safety briefing cards to shade themselves from the sun? We learned a bit about the 787’s cockpit windows and the new technology they’ll be using as well.

Check out the rest of Gadling’s Paris Air Show coverage.


Paris Air Show 2009: A sense of scale

Covering the Paris Air Show is like trying to cover a football field with a napkin. There is so much space, depth and gravity to each display that you could spend a week going through each exhibit hall and still not get the full picture.

The above photo is a great example. This landing gear will be part of the new Airbus A350 aircraft, a model that still hasn’t been fully developed, but that’s generating a lot of buzz.

Standing right next to the gear you get a sense of the size of that aircraft. Each of the wheels comes up to your chest, which means the entire system is over 15 feet tall. And this is one corner of one display, in one corner of hall 3. It adds up quickly.

Engines have the same effect, with Pratt and Whitney, United Technologies and GE all bringing out the big guns for jaw dropping passers by. Check out one of the GE GENex engines that’ll be used on the Boeing 787 (with composite fan blades!) on display after the jump.

Photo of the Day (6/18/09)

Gadling’s photo of the day today was taken by Sean Roskey, who managed to capture this shot of Gadling’s editor, Grant Martin enjoying a tour of the 767 cockpit given by yours truly before heading off to the Paris Air Show.

Given Grant’s near destruction of Virgin Australia’s 777 simulator, we made sure he didn’t touch anything.

Are you a Flickr user who’d like to share a travel related picture or two for our consideration? Submit it to Gadling’s Flickr group right now! We just might use it for our Photo of the Day!