AERO Friedrichshafen 2010

Showcased at this year's AERO was the Millenium Master, new Italian/German 180-mph cruise Rotax-powered composite tandem.

Located on the shores of emerald-green Lake Constance, whose clear waters originate in the nearby Swiss Alps, AERO Friedrichshafen is Europe’s largest trade show dedicated to general aviation.

It is also my second home, having worked as an aerodynamicist for the German aircaft maker Dornier in the 1980s. Since marrying a Lake Constance fräulein in 1982, I’ve had the pleasure to make annual visits since then to what is one of the most beautiful spots on the planet, made even better for pilots by a rich aviation heritage that includes names such as Zeppelin, Dornier, Pilatus and even Learjet, whose original design was developed by Bill Lear working with engineers at Swiss FFA, located across the lake in Altenrhein.

AERO 2010, held this year April 8-11, was once again a showcase for new aircraft and technology across the entire spectrum of general aviation, from foot-launched gliders to trikes, European-made ultralights and Light Sport Aircraft (LSA), rotorcraft, twins, turboprops and bizjets. Despite several no-shows from companies that chose not to join in the shift from a biannual to an annual event, AERO organizers expressed satisfaction with this year’s event. A few statistics sum up the results: 504 exhibitors, 45% of whom came from outside Germany; 39,700 visitors from 31 countries and five continents; one out of every five attendees was a licensed pilot; and numerous aircraft sales were booked by exhibitors with one, Italian Tecnam, reporting 28 sales.

Mockup of the Elektra One from PC-Aero, a serious contender for the $1.5 million NASA/CAFE Green Flight Challenge 2011.

Mockup of the Elektra One from PC-Aero, a serious contender for the $1.5 million NASA/CAFE Green Flight Challenge 2011.

A dizzying array of European microlight, ultralight, LSAs and “echo”-class (Part 23) aircraft were shown, many for the first time. Especially impressive were the clear gains made in just one year among electric-powered craft, with a number now in production. A clear trend could also be seen towards more refined interiors, even in the numerous gyro copters and trikes that were spread across the nine cavernous halls of the Friedrichshafen Messe. New avionics were also popular, with one major name, German Becker Avionics, entering the MFD market.

Prototypes of Becker Avionics' new MFD6203, AR6203 COMM and BXP6403 transponder.

This Sherwood Ranger kit biplane from The Light Airplane Company (TLAC) of Norfolk, England, is covered in Cub Yellow and Silver Oratex 600.

FD-Composites from Arbing, Austria, attracted crowds to its futuristic Arrow Copter. Small wings provide additional lift while serving as the craft's landing gear and fuel tanks.

AERO 2011 will be held April 13-17. For more information: AERO-Expo.com.

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