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Typhoon - no longer a pipedream!!Of pipedreams, plastic planes & politicians

Gary Parsons reflects on this year's Internationale Luft-und Raumfahrtausstellung (ILA) at Berlin-Schönefeld - pictures by the author and Frank Togher

Pipedream <noun> - Extravagant fancy, impossible wish.

Berlin's ILA 2004 passed without fanfare over the week of 10-16 May, the show seemingly burdened with a lacklustre feel after the cancellation of many promised participants and a week of mostly cold, dull weather that played havoc with the scheduled flying display programme each day. Despite the inclement weather, 201,500 trade visitors and members of the public attended the seven-day event.

I Love Aeroplanes
Welcome, Berlin style
I hope it's supposed to do that...
Team 'Flieger Revue'
All-metal triplane!
Messerschmitt M17
Airbus A318
Airbus A318
A340 - with the rear door open, 'Longer, further, fart'...
Airbus A340
Airbus A340
Airbus A340
Lufthansa Ju-52
Fiery PC-7
An-124 Condor
Patrouille Swiss
EF2000GT - Typhoon to you and me
Tornado formation
Tornado solo
Tornado buddies
Harrier GR7s
Douglas veterans
Alpha Jet
Soft landing from the Transall
One thing all trade shows suffer from is background 'clutter' - information boards, stands, tents, fences - you name it, you'll find it somewhere. It makes for very challenging photography, especially when it's as grey as a Tory on a Party Political Broadcast and the drizzle is providing a lovely blurred filter effect. Who says airshow photography is easy?

More high-ranking delegates visited ILA2004 than in previous years - among these were the German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, who again opened the event, as well as 120 deputies from twenty-two European countries. Leading representatives from the new member countries of the EU and NATO made use of this year's ILA to exchange views, the defence ministers from Bulgaria, Georgia, Lithuania, Ukraine and Turkey attending the 'International Workshop on Global Security'. The four ministers with responsibility for the Airbus programme from France, the United Kingdom, Spain and Germany met at the Airbus Ministers' Conference, as did ministers representing the Eurofighter programme. There were more than 70 conferences at which some 6,000 experts from the various commercial sectors of the aerospace industry discussed current issues.

Dornier reborn
The Dornier 24 was the most successful flying boat in Germany in the 1930s. Its flying characteristics were excellent, and it was capable of operating from rough seas. 294 aircraft were built, some remaining in service until the 1970s. The early '80s saw the re-birth of the Do24 in the Do24-ATT, based on the original flying boat but improved with Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-45B turbine engines, a new wing and landing gear, making it a truly amphibious aircraft. Previously on loan to the Flugueft Obschleishen Museum in Germany, it was shipped to the Philippines in 2003 and reconfigured to accommodate ten passengers and five crew-members.
Completely restored and fitted with state-of-art technical equipment, its interior is tastefully appointed but still retains the original look. During the summer of 2004 its creator, Captain Iren Dornier (grandson of Dr. Claude Dornier who founded the company) is recreating the world tour of the Do-X flying boat of the 1930s, visiting many of the same locations. Primarily to encourage awareness and support for the development programs of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), Captain Dornier is donating a portion of the funds generated from this endeavour to the UNICEF (Philippines) to build schoolhouses for the abandoned and neglected Filipino children, who now number more than 400,000 in Metro Manila alone.

New news would be good news

But even so searching for news was difficult - things now move very slowly in the aviation development world, and there is reluctance amongst the manufacturers to commit prototypes to public display before being Plastic Global Hawkfully developed into production examples. Very little was new, especially in the military sphere, and the United States was conspicuous by its absence in the flying displays - only a token handful of European-based aircraft graced the static park and the ubiquitous plastic JSF could be found outside the Lockheed chalet. Maybe it actually stands for Just Super-Ficial? Maybe it doesn't really exist, except in some clever super-animated video and in museums. With the threat of some European partners pulling out of the programme, principally Norway and Denmark, you'd have thought Lockheed Martin would make an effort to entice them to stay. Rumours that proposed production lines feature polystyrene moulds have yet to be disproved…

Super Swiss Star
Super Connie
In competition with the Dornier for attention in the veteran aircraft category was the Super Constellation from the Swiss foundation 'Super Constellation Flyers'. One of only three airworthy Super Connies, N73544, it has been leased for five years under a contract with the owner, Benny Younesi. The foundation hopes to purchase the aircraft outright once a sponsor can be found. Based at the EuroAirport of Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg in Switzerland, N73544 made her flight from Camarillo, California to Switzerland between 26 April and 8 May 2004. On the way it visited Omaha (Nebraska, USA), Manchester (New Hampshire, USA), Stephenville (Newfoundland, Canada), Prestwick (Scotland) and Paris Le Bourget. Swiss watchmaker Breitling was one of the sponsors of the ferry-flight.
Built at Burbank with the construction number 4175, N73544 was delivered on 1 November 1956 to the Military Air Transport Services (MATS). Phased out of active USAF service in 1962, it went to the Mississippi Air National Guard's (ANG) 183rd Air Transport Squadron. After retirement in 1972, it flew to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, for storage and eventual disposal. Here Aviation Specialities obtained the C-121C in trade of the Boeing 307 it then possessed. On arrival at Aviation Specialities' airfield at Falcon Field it was gutted of military equipment and converted into a crop-sprayer. In late 1983 it was moved to Chino and purchased by Daryoush 'Benny' Younesi and a partner for Winky's Fish Company, the plan being to haul tuna from the Philippines to Tokyo. The company had two Connies, and one actually made a few trips before being impounded at Manila in 1988, where it still sits.
Absolutely hemmed in the static, it was impossible to photograph - this one's just not worth enlarging...
The aircraft remained firmly on the ground at Chino until 15 January 1984 when she was flown to Camarillo. As it approached the field, one of the R-3350s had its propeller feathered and another was on fire. Once on the ground, the Connie was pushed to a remote end of the field and left there, its condition deteriorating. In 1991 Benny formed the Constellation Historical Society (CHS) and gathered a dedicated band of volunteers who eventually brought N73544 back into flying condition. Their hard work came to fruition on 23 June 1994 when a successful test flight was made. Since then the aircraft has seen constant improvements, and it has been flying regularly on the US air show circuit. It is hoped that the Super Connie will visit Flying Legends at Duxford in July.

Today's aviation industry seems to live on pipedreams, constantly looking forward to the realisation of the next big project. Eurofighter's Typhoon is finally there, some twenty years after EAP and ten years since its first flight. The talk of trade shows for those last twenty years, at last we can see the tangible goods - Chris Worning's stunning routine in a genuine production 'Taifun' Taifun fun(the Germans simply call it Eurofighter, but we won't) was the highlight of the trade days, the light-switch afterburners of the EJ200 engines lighting up the drab sky each day. But, for long as we can remember, talk has been about other projects - JSF, A400M, F-22 et al.

One project that is seemingly outstripping all others is Airbus's A380, introduced in a fanfare about eight years ago but is due for its first flight this year. The first engine destined to power the A380, the Rolls-Royce Trent 900, made a successful first-flight aboard Airbus's A340-300 testbed at Toulouse on the last day of ILA 2004.Too late for ILA and Farnborough this year, but '06 should see the first production aircraft gracing the skies. Taking up the Airbus baton at Berlin in the display were the diminutive A318 and broomstick-like A340-600, both thrown around the sky in the style we have become accustomed to over the last few years. The A380 should be some sight in the future, a frame-filler for sure.

German efficiency

Military focus was very much on the four major programmes to eventually equip the German armed forces in the near future, namely Typhoon, Tiger, NH90 and Airbus MRTT (Multi-role Tanker Transport).


Germany has ordered 180 Eurofighters (or Taifun as we think they should call them) and, unlike the UK, seems to want to procure them all to replace the F-4F, MiG-29 and Long hair of the Law...Tornado. At ILA, four Defence Ministers gave their unwavering support for the programme - Mr Ivor Caplin, Under Secretary of State for Defence (UK); Hon. Philippo Berselli, Under Secretary of State for Defence (Italy); Excmo. Sr. Carlos Villar Turrau, General Director of Armament & Materials (Spain); Dr. Peter Eickenbohm, Permanent Secretary of Defence (Germany). Although they stood in front of the plastic Typhoon at the show, at least there really was a real one in the static park…flying in the display was one of the 44 German Typhoons from Tranche 1 of the production line, currently with the Fighter Wing (Jagdgeschwader/JG) 73 "Steinhoff" at Rostock-Laage in Northern Germany for type acceptance, much in the same way as 17(R) Squadron is operating from Warton.

Undercover X-31
This was as far away as you get within the greenhouse
Another 'veteran' aircraft that was a surprise to see was the X-31. Housed in a large 'greenhouse' at ILA, this rare technology demonstrator aircraft is the successful result of transatlantic co-operation between German and US engineers, scientists, pilots and national authorities. Prime programme partners were the aerospace companies EADS (formerly MBB and Dasa, respectively) and Boeing (previously Rockwell International), the German Military Procurement Agency BWB, the US agencies DARPA and NASA, and the US Navy. The X-31 flight test programme was first launched in 1990 and finally concluded in April 2003, with two demonstrator aircraft built.
Thanks to thrust-vector control by using the deflection of the jet's exhaust as an 'additional control surface', the X-31 was able to perform breath-taking flying manoeuvers, in particular at low speed and at extremely high angles of attack beyond the stall barrier, impossible for conventional aircraft. During two separate programme phases totalling roughly 400 test flying hours, the advantages of the X-31's three-dimensional thrust-vector control technology have been intensively flight-tested and analysed for future application. In particular, the operational edge of the X-31 in the post-stall regime of the flight envelope at ultra-high angles of attack with 70 degrees and more, was one of the most remarkable results of the EFM phase.
US/German co-operation
After a successful programme conclusion, this X-31 was transported to Germany on board an American military airlifter and reached Munich on 22 June 2003. Following an agreement between the US and the German authorities, the aircraft is to be displayed at the 'Flugwerft Schleissheim', a dependance of 'Deutsches Museum', Munich, for a five-year period. After that, the remarkable aircraft will be admired in an aviation museum in the US - but it's not allowed to get wet!


The Eurocopter EC 665 Tiger is an attack helicopter manufactured by the Eurocopter Group. In Germany it is known as the Tiger; in France it is called the Tigre. Germany has ordered 80 aircraft, all of the UHT version and has a total requirement for 212 aircraft (although this is unlikely to be achieved with recent defence cuts). The Tiger UHT (i.e. Unterstützungs Hubschrauber Tiger or Support Helicopter Tiger) is a medium-weight multi-role fire support helicopter built for the German Army. It can carry Trigat "fire and forget" and/or HOT anti-tank missiles, as well as 68 mm air-to-ground fire support rockets. For air-to-air combat Stinger missiles can be fitted. Like the Apache Longbow it uses a mast-mounted sight which has a second-generation infrared channel and a TV channel. Countermeasures include radar/laser/missile launch/missile approach warning receivers and decoy launchers.



NHI's NH90 is a twin-engine, ten-ton multi-role helicopter manufactured by NHIndustries, a company established by Agusta, Eurocopter and Stork Fokker Aerospace. Germany has ordered 80 of the TTH (Tactical Transport Helicopter) version for the Army and Air Force with the option for a further 54 in the future. The primary role of the TTH version is the transport of twenty troops or more than 2,500 kg of cargo, heliborne operations and search & rescue. Additional roles include medical evacuation (12 stretchers), special operations, electronic warfare, airborne command post, parachuting, VIP transport and flight training. The first serial NH90 helicopter to come off the Eurocopter production line in Germany was publicly presented at the ILA Berlin Air Show on 11 May, having performed its maiden flight the week before on 4 May at Eurocopter's Donauwörth facility in Germany.

Airbus MRTT
'You must be joking' Dept.
Spamcan. I'm told
Just to prove the Germans do have a sense of humour, old favourites such as An-2 D-FUKK were on display.
Dornier Seastar

Airbus MRTT

Opening the flying on Thursday, the Airbus tanker was devoid of Tornado chicks, but demonstrated the Luftwaffe's desire to be independent during overseas deployments. While operated for some time as a pure transport aircraft the tasking of four of the Luftwaffe's seven Airbus A310s is to be extended through the addition of an aerial refueling capability. The aircraft are manufactured and modified by EADS/Airbus Industrie and the conversion involves the installation of two AAR pods under each wing, four additional fuel tanks (extra 28,000kg) giving a total capacity of almost 78,000kg, a Fuel Operator Station (FOS) to control fuel offload, cameras etc, military radios and exterior lighting, reinforced wings and aircraft floor together with some minor cockpit modifications.

Schönefeld set for the future

The long term future of the event at Berlin/Brandenburg is assured as the result of a declaration of intent signed by the Land Berlin, the Land Brandenburg, Flughafen-gesellschaft FBS (the airport company) and the organisers of the ILA, the BDLI and Messe Berlin, covering the next three events up to and including ILA2010. ILA2006 will take place from 15 to 21 May 2006, again using the southern side of Berlin-Schönefeld Airport, before its expansion as BBI International.


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