I’m just back from ILA in Berlin and for a show that often gets dismissed as little more than a local air fair, there was plenty going on, with flying displays by the A380, the thrust-vectoring MiG-29, and a replica of the Messerschmitt Me262, the first operational jet fighter. For the journalists among us, there was also plenty of news, including more woes for Airbus over the A350, which we’ll be reporting in the 23-30 May issue of Flight International, content of which you can view here. We also launched Flight TV at the show. You can watch it here.
The show is certainly bolstered by the big-time presence of EADS and Airbus and their associated companies, such as Eurofighter, Europrop International and Eurojet. And, despite the absence of Boeing and some of the other big defence players, such as Dassault Aviation, the presence of a huge Russian contingent and a good showing from a number of niche sectors, including helicopters, spaceflight and general aviation, means the show has a bustling, cosmopolitan feel.
Doing Flight TV was great fun – a very different experience to doing the weekly magazine or even our show dailys Flight Daily News and Flight Evening News. For those of us brought up in print journalism, it was an introduction to a whole new way of conveying a message…where pictures tell the story as much if not more than the words.
Getting the stories was often a challenge. Two of my colleagues were detained by over-vigilant US military police when they slipped past a cordon they shouldn’t have and started filming USAF hardware close up.
I was also in one of the strangest locations ever for a press conference – the inside of a Ilyushin Il-76. It must have seemed a good idea at the time, for cargo carrier Volga-Dnepr to announce the start of commercial flights using the new generation Il-76TD-90VD inside that very aircraft. The problem was, they probably hadn’t counted on the number of people that would turn up – twice as many as they had seats for – or the warm weather. After 30 minutes of presentations and question-answering from the five executives sitting behind a table at the front of the cabin (which had to be translated each time by the PR man), the atmosphere at the back of the aircraft – where a few of us were trapped, standing in our suits – was getting decidedly tropical. The trouble was, escaping meant barging past the entire audience and squeezing past the top table to get through the only available exit and down the steps.
The biggest disappointment of the show for me – and many people I spoke to - was that the A380 wasn’t painted in Lufthansa colours. Lufthansa is the biggest customer for the A380 after Emirates and the first European carrier to take the aircraft. Still, there are rumours, as I write, that the superjumbo might make a flying appearance this weekend carrying the temporary livery of the German airline.