Almost 600 guests took time off from the Paris air show to attend the eighth Flight International Aerospace Industry Awards, held in the splendid surroundings of Paris's Le Grand Hotel Inter-Continental on 18 June. It was an evening where conversation sparkled and magicians dazzled guests with tricks performed at the tables. But the real stars were the 12 award-winners. These include this year's Personality of the Year, Jürgen Thomas, dubbed the "father of the 380". Flight International's new editor, Murdo Morrison, welcomed guests, stating that the previous 12 months had been a remarkable year for aerospace, with the launch of Boeing's sonic cruiser studies, the Concorde crash and a further push towards consolidation in the manufacturing sector, despite the EC shunning of the GE Honeywell merger. Amid challenging economic conditions, finalists and winners had continued to raise the standards of the awards.
Global Hawk flies unmanned to victory
Northrup Grumman's RQ-4A Global Hawk unmanned air vehicle won the Military Aviation category. Its completion of the advanced concept technology demonstration follows a year of successful military exercises including NATO's Linked Seas 00, in which it completed its first transatlantic flight, and the Joint Task Force Exercise. In the course of these exercises, the aircraft showed it could achieve fully-autonomous taxi, take-off and landing without putting a human pilot at risk. Global Hawk, which is able to fly unaided at long range and high altitudes using off-the-shelf technology, first flew between Florida and Portugal in May last year.
IAI Arrow homes in on top missile target
Israel Aircraft Industries' (IAI) Arrow anti-ballistic missile system took top honours in the Space and Missiles award section. The Arrow, which was formally inaugurated into the Israeli Air Force's arsenal in March, performed tests last September in which it destroyed an air-launched Black Sparrow missile mimicking the flight profile of an incoming ballistic weapon.
Other finalists included Northrup Grumman's BAT munition, which is the first precision submunition to use airborne acoustics to autonomously detect and attack targets.
Smiths' verbal command
Smiths Aerospace's speech recognition module (SRM) for the Eurofighter won the Avionics and Aircraft Systems award. The Smiths SRM is the first direct voice input system in production and could dramatically impact future military cockpit design. Using it, pilots can control 26 core functions verbally, relieving stress and reducing workload. The module should lead to increased aircraft safety and faster response times and is the culmination of more than 20 years' development. Smiths is now looking to make single-seater military aircraft versions of the SRM.
Internet hubs win jointly
This year's Corporate Strategy award has joint winners, with the judges recognising that Aerospan.com and MyAircraft had both excelled in their fields last year. Aerospan, which was launched by SITA, was judged to have established itself as a leading business-to-business e-commerce site. It puts aerospace suppliers in direct contact with one another and anticipates up to $100 billion worth of transactions. Honeywell and United Technologies' launch of MyAircraft and subsequent merger with AirNewco to form Cordiem, was praised by the judges for creating a stable internet marketplace for the aerospace sector. MyAircraft was the first electronic trading hub to be approved by the European Commission.
GE90 powers ahead in propulsion
The GE90 from GE Aircraft Engines has followed on from its commercial success by winning the Propulsion award.
The powerplant took almost 75% of all Boeing 777 engine orders in 2000 in its various models. The -115B was launched to power longer range 777s and the company launched the 777-200ER-specific -94B last year. The GE90 has benefited from over 10 years in development, with last year marking the engine's commercial breakthrough.
Other finalists were MTU Aero Engines, for its EJ200 which powers the Eurofighter, and Orenda Recip, whose OE600A advanced piston engine received certification last year on its first retrofit platform.
Mr A380 is Personality of the Year
Airbus has Personality of the Year winner Jürgen Thomas to thank for his determination and persistence in making the Airbus A380 a reality. As senior vice-president of the manufacturer's Large Aircraft Division, Thomas was the driving force behind the 555-seater A380. At a time when many considered that an ultra-large airliner could never be a commercial success, he drove the then A3XX project forward towards launch.
Thomas took charge of a multi-disciplinary team from the project's European partners and unified them around one common goal. Authorisation to offer the A380 was achieved in June 2000 and the programme was launched at the end of the year. It is this drive and determination that the judges rewarded last week in Paris, recognising the launch of the A380 as a major industry milestone.
Clear success vision
Cockpit visibility tool the Emergency Vision Assurance System (EVAS) received top marks from the panel of judges in the Training and Safety category.
EVAS Worldwide took the award for its device that provides visibility to pilots in smoke-filled cockpits. The danger of smoke rapidly filling the confined space of the cockpit was highlighted in 1998 when a Swissair MD-11 crashed off Nova Scotia. Crew struggled to see their instruments as the aircraft ditched into the Atlantic.
Over 1,000 EVAS have been built and sold, with fractional ownership operators Executive Jet and Raytheon Travel Air equipping their entire fleets with the system.
Infrastructure prize for FAA
Some of the USA's busiest airports have benefited from the country's Federal Aviation Administration's Traffic Management Advisor (TMA), for which it won the Infrastructure and the Environment award.
The TMA, which is part of the FAA's Free Flight programme, aims to minimise airspace restrictions and increase the efficiency of the national air traffic control system. The goal of the programme is to improve existing resources, increase user choice, provide more open skies and safely increase system capacity without compromising safety or increasing controller workload.
Asian oil rig helicopters fly safely for 33 years, securing prize
Brunei Shell Petroleum's helicopter safety record brought the Business and General Aviation award to the Asian sultanate's subsidiary of the Royal Dutch Shell Group.
The Brunei Government and Shell Petroleum joint venture's Sikorsky S-61N fleet notched up over 150,000 flying hours and 740,000 take-offs and landings over a 33-year span without a single fatal incident or injury to passengers, crew or the public. This record is a remarkable achievement in the offshore oil industry, said the judges.
Lockheed Martin's AFTI F-16 scoops Engineering award
Lockheed Martin's advanced fighter technology integration (AFTI) F-16 aircraft took the Engineering, Maintenance and Modification award after successfully completing seven flights using Lockheed Martin's power-by-wire technology.
Lockheed Martin took the award for the test flights, towards the end of last year, of the system. It was the first time that a manned aircraft of any type had flown with a total electronic actuation system, without hydraulic or mechanical back-up.
Power-by-wire is set to revolutionise aircraft design and manufacture, said the judges.
Unanimous choice for A380
The launch last year of the double-decker Airbus A380 won the European manufacturer the Air Transport award. The A380 is based on latest technologies, with Airbus believing it provides the best solution to growing air travel between major air hubs in today's increasingly congested air traffic environment.
Airbus confounded the critics in securing an initial 50 firm commitments and 42 options for the 555-seater aircraft to allow it to be launched.
The judges were unanimous in their selection of the A380 as the winner for the category, with one judge declaring the A380 in his view the most significant development of the past 12 months for the commercial aviation sector.
Source: Flight International