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Impressions from Aero

Just back from Aero. Not sure what I expected, but while it was a worthwhile and informative day, I left with mixed feelings. My (certainly very subjective) impressions were:

  • There’s a ton of very similar ultralights. They look the same, do the same, whatever. I’m aware it’s a free market, but do “we” need 20 very similar models, all priced well above EUR 100? Some stated performance numbers seemed extremely optimistic, especially for that Swedish fast UL.
  • Glas cockpits everywhere. A ton of alike computerized instruments. Are we playing computer games or operating simple flying machines while enjoying the landscape? Is all that fancy stuff really necessary to enjoy flying / traveling, or distract from it?
  • New small GA airplanes are for the most part too damn expensive for what they offer, especially given the low prices of used aircraft. Who on earth would spend $750k on a Cirrus? “Everybody’s” hurting for money. Why does nobody seem interested in affordable flying, just shiny new stuff that might work worse than what we had 30 years ago?
  • E-anything is up and coming, but probably still 5-10 years away from mainstream. Very promising development though.l, especially for soaring.
  • I sadly didn’t feel much about the pure spirit of flying, for lack of a better word, but mostly commerce. Likewise, the worsening environment GA faces (especially when you want to derive true utility from your hobby, at least in terms of freedom and traveling) didn’t play much of a role.

Sorry of that sounds too negative and naive. Many of the critiques are obviously very wishful thinking for a commercial venue like the Aero.

On a positive note, I saw plenty of EuroGA flyers in the newspaper bins at the exit. Hope there’s a lasting spike in web traffic here. :)

LFHN, LSGP, LFHM

Zorg wrote:

I sadly didn’t feel much about the pure spirit of flying, for lack of a better word, but mostly commerce. Likewise, the worsening environment GA faces (especially when you want to derive true utility from your hobby, at least in terms of freedom and traveling) didn’t play much of a role.

What exactly do you mean? They seem very conflicting these two arguments of yours.

I agree, @Zorg

I think the reason you see so many similar ultralights is that nobody is buying most of them. They are here every year, but mostly different ones. The fair is full of nonexistent products looking for a positive market reaction, or investors. This year I did not even bother to take any photos of them. I think they are in last year’s thread.

The huge number of glass cockpit avionics for the ultralight/homebuilt market is there because the barrier to entry is very low and it’s a fun project for a bright kid who can buy an evaluation board for something like an ARM processor, a big colour LCD, an off the shelf AHRS module with RS232 output, and who can write some C++. We met a few of these developers.

Feedback from some exhibitors suggests that the numbers were down but the “quality” was up.

The show is best for meeting up with people.

Yes I did mail a load of leaflets to the organisers some weeks ago and they did put them at two places. Most of them were gone by the time we left yesterday evening.

My son and I brought a load more and were going to hand them out to the captive audience at the dinner (which was great – 18 people turned up and it was super to meet you all) to take back to their airfield cafes when viable, but they got left in the hotel… So if anyone is able to leave some at their airfield, please do let me have your address and I will post them to you.

Administrator
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Peter wrote:

I think the reason you see so many similar ultralights is that nobody is buying most of them

That’s not true. They sell in buckets when compared to Cirrus’es and C-172s. You should travel some more to the smaller (3-600 m grass/gravel) strips around and see what actually goes on in private aviation. I agree that they all look the same, but that’s mostly because they have the same specs (a Rotax 912, composite, MTOW 450 kg) and they all want as high cruise speed as possible while not exceeding the max stall speed of 65 km/h. There are lots of other types also though, but they are much less “techy”, so there are nothing to show at a place where the whole idea is to show new tech, and new products.

Peter wrote:

The huge number of glass cockpit avionics for the ultralight/homebuilt market is there because the barrier to entry is very low and it’s a fun project for a bright kid who can buy an evaluation board for something like an ARM processor, a big colour LCD, an off the shelf AHRS module with RS232 output, and who can write some C++. We met a few of these developers.

Just like any certified Garmin unit, only they charge 10x the price (also compared to their own non certified units). The main difference is the non-certified units use the newest subsystems developed for the UAV market, while the certified ones use 20 year old technology. The market is huge and very much alive. When a person purchase a used non certified aircraft, the first thing that gets upgraded is the panel. It’s easy, requires no major modifications of anything structural, it doesn’t change the specs of the aircraft, and the result is immediate and always cooler than the old panel It’s kind of funny though, for VFR all you need is ASI, alt and a phablet running SD. But, there is much more to light aviation than simply getting from A to B, or even just getting into the air.

I was really disappointed this year.

The same procedure as last year.

EGBE - Coventry

For me highlights:

  • Meeting some people only ever “met” online with a great dinner
  • Good company from @Rosewellian on flight down and back
  • Cirrus Jet – impressed with the fitout and look of the aircraft
  • CJ3+ always good to have something to aim for that is faster/higher

Disappointments

  • A number of stands where the hosts were too busy chatting and made no effort to offer to help
  • HondaJet – styling hasn’t grown on me.
  • Eclipse – think the Cirrus Jet will kill it off in the very small light jet segment – while the Eclipse is much faster, most people don’t need that speed
  • TBM900 – Seeing it surrounded by Pilatus, M2, HondaJet, CirrusJet etc. I think it is just getting a bit pricy for what you get. Same goes for the M600 from Piper, SETs getting silly prices now IMHO.
Last Edited by JasonC at 24 Apr 11:14
EGTK Oxford

I didn’t see any Cirrus Jet, only a ten year old mockup….

I wasn’t generally disappointed. I guess it’s all about expectations.

Sure, when the Cirrus Jet is certified, it will blow away the Eclipse in terms of numbers sold. I do think that it is simply a beautiful aircraft though; like it much more than the Cirrus.

Another beautiful aircraft – as always – the Waco. Note that this one was D-registered:

Last Edited by boscomantico at 24 Apr 12:52
Frankfurt (EDFZ, EDFE), Germany

BTW, the Cessna presence was hillarous. Inside the halls, there was one lonely TTx there. I asked a Cessna rep:

“What year is this one?”

“Err, it’s a 2015, err, I believe”.

“What have been the innovations in 2015 and 2016?”

“None”.

“How much exactly does this one here weigh?”

…and he obviously gave me the standard POH empty weight. He didn’t even seem to know the difference….

That was enough for me.

Look at the appalling optics if that aircraft…

Fuel port seals:

Wingtip light assy:

Hinge fairing:

Sad to see how Cessna has abandoned the piston segment, without openly admitting so…

Frankfurt (EDFZ, EDFE), Germany

I had been to EDNY several times but not every year and skipped 2014 and 2015. So there was something to see for me for sure. And there is always something new, but sometimes you really need pay attention to find it it. And of course, the social aspect is also important, especially if you are in GA sector for some years – you can easily get drunk by the end of the day if you want and are not planning to fly out

Overall the progress of GA is not that fast so comming to EDNY yearly expecting breaking news in every second booth is overestimation. Once I read an IT magazine and an article about unmanned cars. “dear readers, you need to understand the speed at which automotive is moving – this is very very slow industry”. Obviously the writer didn´t know what aerospace is about.
Do you see the newest of Cirrus? Might be present already last year but the first time I see this radical development.

another segment I noticed is the app/planning software/apps. Nice graphics, creative business models what is free and what is paid premium – but there is important aspect missing – data. “We need 100 pilots for test” – and folks were filling forms giving great voice of customer for free – why not. But I skipped the form and played a bit with software – looking easy and straightforward – unless I found out they still have LKHO in the database – closed since 2009. Any runway at that soft was definted by width and heights. There are runways of 890 m height. So these two elements are telling me how credible the system is.

highlights – nice Fi 156 Storch from Storchenfreunde. And some vintage gliders.

Last Edited by Michal at 24 Apr 19:17
LKKU, LKTB

Oh yes; a different door handle for 2016…

That probably sums up Aero pretty well as far as exhibited products are concerned.

Administrator
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom
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