Russian Jets Shine at Paris Air Show

There were plenty of storylines worth following as the Paris Air Show opened yesterday at the famed Le Bourget Airport. The Russians are filling the void left by the absence of U.S. military aircraft and the heated rivalry between Boeing and Airbus is growing more fierce as billions of dollars in deals are on the line.

Thanks to the ongoing sequestration, the U.S. military brought no aircraft to Paris this year. That left the skies wide open for the Russians, who are wowing the crowds this week with heart-stopping routines by the Su-35 multirole fighter, a fast and agile jet with excellent thrust-to-weight ratio that is attracting notice from military leaders throughout the world primarily because, unlike fifth-generation fighters from the U.S., it is a no-nonsense design that can be made cheaply.

To see the Su-35 in action, check out this Paris Air Show video courtesy of

This week’s show is also seeing the international debut of Russia’s Kamov Ka-52 Alligator helicopter, as well as demonstration flights of the Yak-130 military trainer. The routines are sure to make it a Salon remembered as the year the Russians returned to top form.

While Russian jets tore up the skies overhead, the Paris chalets hosted blockbuster deals. Just days after Airbus flew its first A350 “plastic” airliner on its maiden test flight, Boeing arrived in Paris confirming the rumor that it will produce a stretched 787 Dreamliner known as the 787-10. At the press conference announcing the 330-passenger jet, Boeing said it has already received more than 100 orders worth $29 billion at list prices. Airbus announced billions in orders for its ledger, as airlines made commitments for hundreds of A320 single-aisle jets.

Embraer got in on the action as well, launching the E175-E2 airliner, which can seat up to 144 in high-density configuration, and announcing orders for more than 200 of the regional jets, nearly half of them to launch customer SkyWest.

On the business aviation side, Gulfstream brought its G650 to its first major air show after the ultra-long-range jet made its debut this spring at EBACE in Geneva. Bombardier, meanwhile, announced that charter operator VistaJet has placed firm orders for 20 Challenger 350s and options for 20 more, with deliveries to begin in mid-2014.

In other show news, Daher-Socata introduced the TBM 850 MMA (multi-mission aircraft), a new surveillance and reconnaissance version of its TBM 850 turboprop single. The military role is not new to the TBM series, and more than 40 special missions versions are in service around the world. But the newest model introduced in Paris has a fully retractable electric turret mounted under the aft fuselage.

A Poland-based firm called Flaris unveiled the prototype of a five-place, single-engine very light jet called the LAR 01 that would sell for $1.5 million a copy. The prototype is fitted with a Fadec-controlled, 1,460-pound-thrust Pratt & Whitney Canada PW610F and the avionics would be a dual-screen Garmin G600 system.

Finally, Bell Helicopter announced a new helicopter code-named SLS (for “short, light single”) that will be powered by a Turbomeca Arrius 2R turboshaft engine. Specs include a speed of 125 knots, 360- to 420-nm range, a useful load of 1,500 pounds and 11,000-foot ceiling.

The Paris Air Show runs this week through Sunday.


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