My Paris Air Show 2017 Experience
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As a kid, I had dreamt of becoming pilot. The appeal of commanding a plane and travelling the world while getting paid a huge sum made it more a dream job. Wouldn’t it be cool to fly so close to the clouds and enjoying an awesome view?
Imagine my delight when I received an invitation from AirAsia to cover the 2017 Paris Air Show and the Skytrax World Airline Awards. Without hesitation, I said “YES!” I cleared my calendar for this one.
After all, who could resist flying off to Paris?
I may not be piloting the aircraft but, hey, I get to witness this spectacular event in the City of Love with all the French flair.
The Paris Air Show is held every two years. Now on its 52nd year, how could I afford to miss it? The opportunity to be part of such an event where industry leaders showcase the best aeronautics and space equipment, and attended by enthusiasts and admirers alike from all over the world. Truly an international event worth the wait. (I could finally see the actual planes that are part of my die cast model collection!)
Set last June 19 to 25, the 2017 Paris Air Show boasted of a collection of aircrafts on display, the latest in the industry. Getting to the venue is not a problem; there are many points of easy access that make the journey an experience. We were lucky we were able to visit the air show on the first day. The first two days are only for media and industry professionals. I suppose the organizers simply intended to whet public’s appetite for more by making us wait.
From what I’ve researched, this is also an opportune time for commercial, as well as military, aircraft designs to be marketed and sold. Touted as a massive commercial event, I can only speculate at the number of multi-million deals that took place.
Anyway, I should definitely mention the aerial exhibition. It was awesome, spectacular, even a bit scary sometimes, how the pilots did their maneuvering. Aerial acrobatics are so amazing.
Among the many aircrafts on display, the one that particularly amazed me, apart from the A350, was the autonomous helicopter from Workhorse Group Inc. based in Loveland, Ohio in the US, the same maker of the HorseFly package delivery drone that has been tested by United Parcel Service (UPS). The larger SureFly helicopter concept is designed for short hops, aimed at commercial transportation, emergency responders, the military and even city commuters. Called a “personal helicopter/VTOL aircraft” by the company, it is a two-seater hybrid-electric air craft capable of taking off and landing vertically.
It’s designed to be safer and more stable than typical helicopters thanks to its redundant design. Its four arms atop the cabin are each equipped with two contra-rotating propellers powered by electric motors, with a backup battery system to drive the motors in the event of failure of the gas combustion engine; in an emergency, a ballistic parachute can be deployed. It’s also easy to pilot, so that’s a huge bonus.
According to Workhorse, early models will be pilot-operated, with flight tests scheduled for this year, but the goal is to eventually introduce autonomous versions capable of carrying payloads up to 182 kg. Imagine that, right? The fuselage, propeller arms and propellers themselves are fabricated with carbon-fiber composites.
Sounds awesome, doesn’t it? Suddenly I was a little kid again with the dream of flying.
While in Paris, I got to cover the prestigious 2017 Skytrax World Airline Awards. It’s practically the Academy Awards – but for airline industry. It was a flying enthusiast’s dream event.
The show was held at the Musee de l’Air et de l’Espace in Le Bourget Airport together with the World Air Show. AirAsia Group won again as the ‘World’s Best Low-Cost Airline 2017’ – for a record ninth year in a row. The group also bagged the ‘Best Low-Cost Airline in Asia 2017’ award, while its long-haul sister airline, AirAsia X (AAX) Bhd, took home the ‘World’s Best Low-Cost Airline Premium Cabin’ and ‘World’s Best Low-Cost Airline Premium Seat’ awards for the fifth year in a row.
Believe it or not, AirAsia and AAX have already won a whopping 25 Skytrax World Airline Awards since the awards were introduced in 2001. Not an easy feat!
For the curious, Skytrax works as a quality advisor to the air transport industry. Because of that, the airlines we know and love can perform better and offer better-quality services.
Together with these awards, AirAsia is also Asia’s largest low-cost carrier by passengers carried, with an extensive network covering more than 120 destinations in 26 countries across Asia, Australia and New Zealand, the Middle East and the US.
Overall, this year’s Paris Air Show was truly an amazing experience. This was probably the most organized event I’ve ever attended – from security check to issuance of ID’s, everything was seamless. The venue was incredible and organized in the best possible way. And of course, who could forget to mention the French cuisine?
After this experience, who knows? Maybe I’ll find myself back in Paris for the 53rd Air Show. It’s an event you should definitely consider going to yourself.