Graham Warwick

There is another major airshow taking place this week, across the Atlantic, forcing some companies to make a choice between exhibiting at Farnborough or at Oshkosh - the biggest event anywhere in the general aviation industry's calendar.

Some 800,000 people are expected to attend the Experimental Aircraft Association's (EAA) AirVenture 2000 show, which runs from 26 July to 1 August at Oshkosh, Wisconsin - and many will come with the intent of buying something, from a GPS receiver to a GA aircraft.

The EAA plays down any conflict between its long-established Oshkosh show and the newly repositioned Farnborough. "The shows have two completely different audiences and the impact has been negligible," the organiser says.

The annual AirVenture show is aimed primarily at pilots, with its massive displays of aircraft ranging from ultralights to warbirds. But in recent years the show has become recognised as a major showcase for all aspects of the GA industry, up to and including business aviation. Cessna and Raytheon, as well as New Piper and Mooney and GA newcomers Cirrus and Lancair, will have a major presence at this year's Airventure. Sino Swearingen, meanwhile, has selected Oshkosh over Farnborough as the venue at which to promote its SJ30-2 light business jet. Airventure also attracts international exhibitors, among them Socata with its single-turboprop TBM700.


"The reputation of the show as a major player has grown, perhaps because people come here to buy, not just window shop," says EAA. The wealthy private pilots who flock to Oshkosh are also lucrative sources of investment for the many fledgling projects always to be found within the GA sector. "People with ideas come searching for people who are looking to invest," EAA says.

The only noticeable impact of the clash with Farnborough, the EAA says, has been among the media, "which have had to choose one over the other or send smaller groups to both". That could be a shame, as AirVenture 2000 promises to be an eventful show.

Eclipse Aviation, which has electrified the GA industry with its well-funded plans to develop an $800,000-class personal jet, plans to unveil a full-scale mockup of the Eclipse 500 at Oshkosh. The Albuquerque, New Mexico-based company will announce guarantees on price and performance, and begin converting deposits into orders. Eclipse will also lift a little of the veil of secrecy surrounding the six-seat twinjet's revolutionary powerplant, the 800lb-thrust EJ22 small turbofan, which is under development - along with the aircraft itself - by Williams International.

VisionAire, which has been struggling to get its Vantage single-turbofan business jet programme back in the air after technical and financial problems, expects to announce some progress as Oshkosh. The St Louis, Missouri-based company also promises to provide exciting news about its Spirit two-seat jet project. Explorer Aircraft will debut its turboprop-powered Explorer 500T utility aircraft at Oshkosh. Designed in Australia, but to be certificated and produced in the USA, the Explorer appeared at last year's AirVenture in its original piston-powered form. Now the aircraft has been re-engined with the definitive Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6-135 turboprop - an Orenda V-8 version will follow - and Denver, Colorado-based Explorer plans to begin taking orders at Oshkosh.


Another turboprop debutante will be the Groen Brothers Aviation (GBA) Jet Hawk 4T - a four-seat gyroplane with vertical take-off and landing capability. The Jet Hawk is a version of the Salt Lake City, Utah-based company's piston-powered Hawk 4 re-engined with a Rolls-Royce 250 turboprop. GBA hopes to certificate the Hawk 4 next year, followed by the Jet Hawk 4T in 2002.Looking for investors more than orders at Oshkosh will be two unusual Burt Rutan-designed aircraft: the push-pull ADAM 389 and the asymmetric-twin Boomerang from Morrow Aircraft. Both are unconventional, all-composite piston twin aircraft typical of the innovative designs that make Oshkosh a fun show to attend.

Source: Flight Daily News