Flying Report: Aero Friedrichshafen 2012

Springtime EU airshow hits the big time.

Aero Friedrichshafen

Aero Friedrichshafen

** The Pipistrel Virus on display at Aero
Friedrichshafen 2012**

The importance of foreign markets to U.S. planemakers was apparent at this year’s Aero Friedrichshafen, which concluded a remarkably successful 2012 edition this weekend with record attendance from exhibitors and visitors alike. A total of 30,800 visitors stopped by to check out the wide variety of airplanes and other products presented by 550 exhibitors.

While Aero started as a modest, sport aviation show, it has grown by leaps and bounds. There were a number of jet manufacturers at the four-day show, including Hawker Beechcraft, currently going through financial restructuring but making its presence felt strongly with a number of airplanes there, from its newly restyled Bonanza to its King Air 350. Other bizjet makers in attendance included Cessna, Embraer, Cirrus and Socata, further showing how Aero has become a major springtime destination and gateway to Euro markets, which have come to constitute an increasingly important part of the business aircraft market.

But some of the biggest news at Aero had to do with smaller airplanes, including the surprise showing of an airplane from one of the most intriguing manufacturers on the scene, Pipistrel, which showed up with a flying prototype of its four-seat Panthera, a 200-knot, 10-gph cruiser. Pipistrel also announced that Matevž Lenačič had completed his round-the-world flight, landing back home in Slovenia after having crossed the Atlantic and Pacific, visiting Antarctica and topping Mount Everest along the way. Lenačič had originally planned to attend Aero, but protracted icing conditions over the Alps forced him to bypass the show.

FlightDesign announced its new Rotax 912 iS powered CTLSi model. Jeppesen unveiled Euro coverage for Garmin handhelds (great news for many at the show), PC-Aero was showing off several solar powered aircraft, and Hawker Beechcraft had on display its King Air 350 ER special missions aircraft.