“We need the Mars! Get the Mars!” shouts a frantic firefighter over the VHF fire frequency. A wildfire is racing up a hillside on the eastern fringe of Osoyoos, B.C., Canada, and seems certain to engulf a house in its path. Helicopters are bucketing water onto the flames in an effort to slow the fire’s advance, but still the flames leap up the side of the valley unimpeded.
The rival contenders for the huge U.S. Air Force KC-X competition for a new aerial tanker have been briefing the relative merits of the KC-30 and the KC-767 all round the show this week. But political considerations apart–and there are plenty of those–it all boils down to a simple fact: size matters.
EADS Military Transport Aircraft (MTA) has set its sights on half of the aerial-refueling-tanker market estimated at 600 aircraft for 30 countries over the next 20 years and has brought the first of four A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) airframes for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) here to underline its capability in the field.
Italian civil aviation authorities suspect fuel starvation or contamination for the crash of a Tunisian ATR 72 off the northern coast of Sicily on Saturday. The accident claimed at least 13 of the 39 occupants, three of which remain missing.
A DC-10-10 airliner modified for aerial firefighting is making a spectacular debut at this year’s show. The DC-10 Super Tanker dumps 7,000 U.S. gallons of water in only eight seconds along the airshow flightline, from a series of external tanks mounted along the centerline (see picture page 1).
The first of four Boeing 767s destined for the Japan Tanker Program arrived at the modification center in Wichita, Kansas, last week for conversion into a KC-767 aerial refueler. The Japan defense agency ordered the tanker for the Japan air self defense force in 2001 after a competition between the KC-767 and the Airbus A310. Boeing plans to deliver the first Japanese KC-767 in December 2006.
Bloodied and bruised by the U.S. Air Force tanker fiasco, Boeing has fought back this week by bringing the first KC-767A to the Paris show. But yet another damning report on the aborted U.S. lease deal has not only further tarnished the company’s reputation but also cast doubt on whether the Pentagon really needs a new fleet of tankers anytime soon.
When Minden Air contacted BAE Systems’ regional aircraft division to ask about leasing a 146 jetliner to use as a water-bomber, it came as something of a surprise to director Mark Taylor. “When they explained the characteristics they were looking for, we began to see its potential,” he told Aviation International News.
Unless you have stood next to a Bell/Boeing V-22 Osprey tiltrotor–and you won’t be able to at Le Bourget this week because it’s not here–it is difficult to fully comprehend what an impressive piece of engineering it is and what a struggle of wills it must have taken to bring it to this stage.
Just before the 2003 Paris Air Show, the long-running saga of the Airbus Military A400M finally resulted in a definitive launch for the project, when seven European nations signed up to purchase 180 of the military transports.