Hoping to spark interest in general aviation in the UAE and wider region, the Blades aerobatic display team is performing at the Dubai show daily with its Extra Aircraft 300s.
But Blades pilot Ben Murphy – a former Red One in the UK’s Red Arrows – is crossing his fingers that the UAE’s civil aviation regulator will rubber stamp its application to carry passengers during display flights.
“We are the only aerobatic airline in the world,” says Murphy. “That’s our USP.”
The Blades have been out in the UAE for the past three weeks, which, as well as helping the team to escape the worst of the British weather and keep flying, is allowing it to “help the UAE boost the general aviation industry”.
Murphy says that although the BAE Systems Hawk T1s flown by the Red Arrows are faster, the Extras are more agile: “You can put it into places that you can’t with the Hawk,” he says. “It’s far more fun.”
The Blades are one arm of UK aviation services firm 2Excel, which also includes MRO and charter arms.
It is also in the early stages of design work to convert a former TUI-owned Boeing 757 into a flying testbed to trial radars and avionics on contract to Leonardo as part of the UK’s Tempest sixth-generation fighter programme.
On top of that, 2Excel will later this month begin operating a pair of Beechcraft King Air 200s as search assets for the UK’s Maritime & Coastguard Agency.