This year–as in years past– Farnborough attendees can expect a frustrating trip to the show, with gridlock between the venue and the M3 a near certainty. For attendees who want to avoid spending hours in the car, PremiAir is offering flights from the London Heliport in Battersea to the show site. The 20-minute flight in an executive-configured Eurocopter AS 355 sells for about $1,500 (£775).
The new Farnborough International Venue and Events (FIVE) facility has been open for events since late 2007. This week it houses the BAE Systems Pavilion (Outdoor Exhibit 11, near the west end of chalet rows A-D and behind row K). Farnborough International created the venue in an effort to use the show site for business and social events outside the air show calendar.
As the British subsidiary of a leading American defense contractor majoring in sensitive communications and intelligence technologies, General Dynamics UK (Chalet A34) treads an interesting but complex path. On the one hand, the company is a portal for the import and adaptation of U.S. systems that help the British armed forces achieve connectivity and interoperability.
Tomorrow evening, the UK’s Oxford Airport (Hall 4 Stand G22) will open its $5 million business aviation terminal as its new owners push ahead with ambitious expansion plans. It already has attracted its first tenants: aircraft operator and maintenance provider PremiAir and air taxi operator VLJ Consultancy.
Underscoring the universal appeal of the Farnborough International 2008 airshow, the organizers have again dedicated space for specialty sectors or disciplines, with areas reserved for business aircraft manufacturers and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). It also is featuring International Youth Day on Friday, as the show week ends (see box).
Farnborough Airport may be packed with an odd assortment of aircraft for this week’s show, but ordinarily it is strictly business. Under the ownership of TAG Aviation (Chalet K15-16), the former Ministry of Defence site has been transformed into one of the London area’s leading business aviation gateways.
England’s Oxford Airport will be the new home of PremiAir’s fixed-wing maintenance operations. The company’s Hawker Beechcraft authorized service center will make the move next September from PremiAir’s headquarters on Blackbushe Airport, Surrey. The Blackbushe facility will become a dedicated rotary-wing maintenance base.
Bristow Helicopters has taken delivery of all six Sikorsky S-92s it had on order. The 26,500-pound-mtow twins will fly to offshore oil and gas installations from Scatsta Airport in Shetland. The £70 million ($140 million) investment includes the helicopters, training, tools and equipment. The S-92 fleet will support the integrated aviation consortium, the partners of which are Shell, BP, CNR, BP and Petrofac.
London Heathrow Airport is becoming more accessible to business aircraft operators thanks to the downturn in airline traffic. Following the controversial abolition of opportunity slots in 1998, the UK gateway had become almost unusable for ad hoc corporate flights.
British Airways (BA) ditched its business jet charter service just six months after launching it with charter broker Air Partner, the result of cost-cutting after September 11. Meanwhile, Virgin Atlantic said it is reconsidering its plans to operate business aircraft through a program dubbed Virgin Jetset.