Australia special: Avalon to stage a legendary event

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This year's Australian International Airshow and Exhibition is expected to be the biggest yet, says organiser Airshows Downunder.

The event will be held at Victoria's Avalon Airport, 55km (34 miles) from Melbourne's central business district and 18km from the centre of Geelong, from Tuesday 20 March to Sunday 25 March, with industry trade-only days from 20-23 March. The show is open to the public from the afternoon of 23 March, for the Boeing Night Alight flying display, through to Sunday 25 March.

Two years ago the event attracted a record 520 national and international exhibitors, trade visitors and participating aircraft were at an all-time high, and 170,000 people attended the public days, says event chief executive Ian Honnery. Before 2005, the show was held in February, but was switched to March to avoid clashes with other international air shows.

The static park and tarmac displays will feature almost 1,000 aircraft, from combat jets to experimental and historic aircraft.

Business jet manufacturers will be out in force. Bombardier's display of business and corporate jets will include the Learjet 60XR, the Challenger 850, Challenger 604 and Global 5000, while Gulfstream will show its G550, G200 and G150. Local Dassault and Raytheon sales representative Hawker Pacific will display the Dassault Falcon Jet 900EX and Raytheon Hawker 850XP.

Cirrus Australasia, which has secured strong sales in the region and is now setting up local production, will have the SR20 and SR22 in the static display. Local general aviation manufacturers Gippsland Aeronautics and Seabird Aviation will show their GA8 Airvan and Seeker SB7L-360 surveillance aircraft, respectively, both of which are achieving sales success around the world. New Zealand aerobatic training aircraft manufacturer Alpha Aviation will show its R160A, now with US Federal Aviation Administration certification, adding to its New Zealand and European approvals.

Military aircraft will be out in force, with the Royal Australian Air Force showing off its Boeing C-17s, BAE Systems Hawks Lockheed Martin C-130s and General Dynamics F-111s, plus other aircraft. The Australian Army will be represented by the Bell 206B1 and UH-1H Iroquois, Eurocopter Tiger and Sikorsky S-70 Black Hawk, while the Royal Australian Navy will have its Eurocopter Squirrels, Sikorsky Seahawks and Westland Sea King 50s on display.

The US Air Force will be present with Boeing F-15s, KC-10s and C-17As, Lockheed Martin F-16s, and a flyover by a Boeing B-52. Two US Navy Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornets will take part in the flying and static displays, offering a chance to see the next aircraft to fly in Australian colours. The government last week ordered 24 F/A-18F Block II Super Hornet multirole aircraft to replace ageing F-111s and as a stopgap until delivery of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.