The “Internationale Luft- und Raumfahrtausstellung” (ILA) in Berlin is coming to an end and I finally managed to get the majority of my photos online! The Berlin Air Show is the third biggest aviation and aerospace exhibition of its kind and it hosted huge numbers of civil and military aircraft, helicopters and drones. Despite having to do some voluntary work for our German pilot’s association, I managed to sneak away from our stand a few times and also met with my dear colleague Mario Aurich, who was also part of the press team at the maiden flight event of the Ethiopian Airlines Dreamliner with me.
The Display was naturally dominated by Airbus and EADS. The military transporter A400M could be seen from the outside, but access to it was handled very strictly and only few were allowed to enter. An A380 of Emirates (reg. A6-EDC) was present during the first two days of the show, but wasn’t there during the public days… As a replacement one of Airbus’ Beluga transport aircraft arrived on day four of the ILA and presented some good photo opportunities to those who were day (which did not include me). EADS and other manufacturers put different drones on display, including an Euro Hawk and Cassidian European UAS. These things are massive and it really scares me to know that they might be operating in the same airspace like us, having lost control by losing the radio connection to the controller!
The only civil Boeing aircraft was a 747-8 of Lufthansa that was christened on day 1, but left on the first evening already. But the military division certainly made up for it! A highlight was the NATO AWACS Boeing E-3A. Without a problem you could take a look at the work stations that are used for air to air and air to ground surveillance. Some members of the international crew were always available to answer questions and you could even take a look into the cockpit – a truly fascinating sight! It is hard to imagine that these aircraft were widely used only decades ago and it was great to hear that the E-3s will remain in service for many more years, as they have recently received an upgraded interior. If it wasn’t for the problems all old aircraft have (e.g. corrossion), I am sure they would be kept in the air for ever!
The Italian Air Force displayed one of their four Boeing KC-767A (based on the 767-200) that are based in Pratica di Mare near Rome. The cabin is fitted with around 200 seats and the aircraft can also be used to refuel others in the air. Once again, a cockpit visit was no problem and it was the same with a Boeing C-17 Globemaster III of the US Air Force! As always on air shows, the US aircraft could be explored from the inside and I would have never thought that the cargo compartment would be two storeys high!
Especially the younger generation enjoyed climbing into some fighter jets! I didn’t want to wait to get into a Mirage of the French Air Force, so I went straight to the Tornado of the Royal Air Force (okay, I did talk to the guys of the British King Air first). Let me tell you: the Tornado cockpit is tiny and I am way to tall for it at 1,92 m height! I can’t even imagine sitting in with a helmet and flight suit on…
As the ILA took place in Berlin, the German forces naturally had a strong presence at the air show as well. Despite the many helicopters and trucks, they had a Lockheed P-3C Orion (now way of getting close to that aircraft) and an A310 Medevac at the air show. Finally having a chance to find out where my tax money goes, I headed for the A310 and was surprised of how big the interior is and how many patients you can treat in there! Whatever your condition is, you will get the best treatment possible in an aircraft on board this ship. Even though they sometimes just fly a couple of wounded or sick passengers to a first-world hospital, every care is taken and no cost spared. It is good to know that this aircraft is there to take our soldiers home or to help injured children when they need help most (e.g. Libya, Afghanistan).
Many smaller aircraft of the private or business aviation category were also present, but I somehow felt that they neglected by most of the visitors… A personal highlight for me was the “Ash Cloud Hunter” of the DLR (German Aerospace Center) that can be used to detect ash clouds. It can be fitted with all kinds of sensors and probes and scientists all over the world use it for research! Right next to it was a Cessna Grand Caravan of the DLR that is being used for aerial photography and landscape analysis. The crews of both aircraft kindly showed me around and having worked on the subject of volcanic ash in our pilot’s association, it was a great opportunity to see how research in that field is actually done! Here is a photo of the interior with the probe mounts:
There were many more aircraft on display and the halls were packed with exhibitors and their products. Even though there were a few disappointments, I can say that the ILA Berlin Air Show 2012 was a great opportunity to get in contact with other pilots and to take a look at their equipment. It once again showed me what a broad field aviation is!