Category Archives: Airshow News Europe

Royal Navy Black Cats become Wildcat Demo Team

YEOVILTON | The Royal Navy’s helicopter display team have been temporarily re-branded to reflect the team’s continued status as a solo display.

The Black Cats, as the team was formerly known, announced they will be changing names to the Wildcat Demo Team on Instagram on Wednesday 8th January. They also confirmed that, as with the 2019 display season, they will perform only solo displays in 2020.

“While flying one helicopter, the title of The Black Cats just didn’t seem to fit,” the team said. “We hope to return to a dynamic pair of Wildcat[s] in the future, however, until then we are proud to fly onto the 2020 display circuit as the Royal Navy Wildcat Demo Team.

Photo: James Connolly

The Black Cats were formed in 2001, then known as the Lynx Pair and flying two Lynx HMA.8s, and gaining the Black Cats name in 2004. As the Navy transitioned from the Lynx to the Wildcat HMA.2, the Black Cats downgraded to a solo Lynx in 2013, performed with one Lynx and one Wildcat in 2014, and finally performed with two Wildcats in 2015 and 2016.

The team, which comes from 825 Naval Air Squadron at RNAS Yeovilton, did not perform in 2017 or 2018 due to operational commitments. They returned as a solo display in 2019, and initially expressed hopes to resume two-ship displays in 2020. Sadly, airshow fans must wait at least another year to see the Black Cats flying with two Wildcats again.

Frecce Tricolori’s 60th anniversary season to end with international airshow at Rivolto

RIVOLTO | Italy’s national aerobatic team will celebrate their 60th anniversary this year with a special logo and an international airshow at their home base.

The Italian Air Force revealed the new logo on Saturday 21st December 2019. The design features a stylised number 60 and the three red, white and green arrows from the Frecce Tricolori’s official emblem. An airshow will be held on the 19th-20th September 2020 to mark the occasion.

The Frecce Tricolori usually mark anniversaries once every five years with major international shows at Rivolto. The last show, held on the 5th-6th September 2015, featured the Midnight Hawks, Patrulla Aguila, Saudi Hawks, Team Iskra, Patrouille Suisse and Turkish Stars, as well as solo displays from a Polish Air Force MiG-29, Italian F-2000A Typhoon and Austrian Saab 105, among many others. Historic aircraft, including several which served with the Italian Air Force, also participated.

The team is the joint largest jet aerobatic team in the world, flying ten MB-339PANs. They are famous for their dynamic solo manoeuvres, large formations and impressive crosses, as well as their distinctive red, white and green smoke.

Red Arrows Supervisor teases “some semblance of a tour” in 2020 during podcast

LAS VEGAS | Red 10 Sqn. Ldr. Adam Collins has teased a Red Arrows mini-tour in 2020, indicating the team will be heading to mainland Europe in the second half of the season.

Collins was speaking on the Show Centre Airshow Podcast with Ric Peterson, Matt Jolley and Rob Reider at the International Council of Air Shows Convention in Las Vegas when he was asked about his team’s 2020 season.

“I’m busy planning the season at the moment,” he said. “We’re going to be primarily in the UK this year. We’re then dipping in and out of [mainland] Europe for some semblance of a tour later on in the season, and we’ll see what shape that takes in a couple of months’ time.”

Ric Peterson, the commentator for the Sanicole Airshow in Belgium, then added: “I’ll get a chance to see you over in Europe again, without giving too much away from an upcoming schedule, but it looks like you may possibly be at Sanicole, and we’re looking forward to that.”

“Well, we’re looking at it at the moment. We still need to have our season ratified, but fingers crossed we’ll be at an airshow in Europe near you soon,” replied Collins.

The Red Arrows have recently returned from an 11-week tour of North America and are currently training for their 2020 season at RAF Scampton. Large-scale tours, like the team’s North America visit and their Far East tour of 2016, are typically up to two years in the making.

Airshow returns to Tees Valley after three-year hiatus

TEESSIDE | Airshows will return to Tees Valley in May 2020, with a one-day event announced at the newly-renamed Teesside International Airport.

The Tees Valley Airshow will be organised by Chris Petty and Steve Davis, the same team behind the Skylive Airshow, held in 2016 and 2017 when the site was known as Durham-Tees Valley Airport. The event was scrapped due to uncertainty over the airport’s future and rising costs.

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “I’ve been working on trying to get a new airshow off the ground for a while and now that we’ve brought our airport back into public ownership and saved it from closure, we have the ideal venue once again.

“The time has never been better to make the Tees Valley Airshow a firm fixture in our region’s calendar, once again, and I look forward to seeing it fly.”

Applications have been submitted for displays from the Royal Air Force and other display teams. The Tees Valley Airshow will be staged on Sunday 24th May 2020, with tickets on sale for £5 per person, plus a £5 parking charge. Tickets on the gate will cost £10 per person.

French Air Force to stage two-ship Rafale tactical demonstrations in 2020

The French Air Force will launch two-ship Dassault Rafale C tactical demonstrations in 2020, although the display will not be an official demonstration team.

The news, broken by over the weekend, suggested that a new team known as Rogues Victor would be formed for the 2020 display season. However the Escadrons de Chasse of the French Air Force have since said the new tactical demonstration will be provided by a number of squadrons throughout the year, and will not have a name.

This appears to suggest a similar arrangement to the French Navy’s two-ship Rafale M tactical display, which is provided by pilots from 11 Flotille and 12 Flotille.

The Air Force also said that the new team would not necessarily supplant or replace Couteau Delta, a two-ship Mirage 2000D tactical demonstration team which was suspended after the 2018 airshow season due to operational commitments, but has not been disbanded.

The French Air Force has a long history of two-ship tactical demonstration teams, with previous teams including Ramex Delta flying the Mirage 2000D, Raffin Mike flying the Jaguar E and Voltige Victor flying the Mirage F1.

Since 2009, the French Air Force have also had an established Rafale C solo display team, which is considered one of the world’s top solo jet displays.

Patrulla Aguila could keep C-101 for several years, despite PC-21 procurement

MADRID | Despite the news that the PC-21 will take over from Spain’s ageing C-101 Aviojets from 2021, Patrulla Aguila could keep their C-101s for several years yet.

Spain’s public procurement agency confirmed rumours on Tuesday 26th November that the country has purchased 24 Pilatus PC-21s from Switzerland. Known as the E.27 in Spanish service, the PC-21s will initially replace Spain’s 35 T-35 Pillán aircraft used for elementary flying training and some of Spain’s 64 C-101 Aviojets used for basic jet training.

The first of the 24 new planes will arrive in March 2020, with the last arriving by autumn 2021. They will completely take over elementary and basic flying training from 2022 onwards.

The announcement prompted speculation that Patrulla Aguila, Spain’s main aerobatic team, could switch from the C-101 from the PC-21 within the next few seasons as the Aviojet is phased out. However, the new procurement does not affect C-101s used for advanced jet training, which will remain in service until at least 2027 according to current plans.

Photo: Peter Lawrence

Next decade, Spain is likely to seek a jet-powered training aircraft to replace the remaining C-101s, as well as its F-5B fleet. This type could also be the replacement for Patrulla Aguila’s C-101s. The M345 Master, already earmarked for use by Italy’s Frecce Tricolori, is currently considered to be a frontrunner.

Early this year, it was revealed that Spain and the Republic of Korea were negotiating an aircraft swap which would see Spain swap up to six surplus A400Ms for 30 KT-1 Woongbi turboprop trainers and 20 T-50B Golden Eagle jets from Korea Aerospace Industries. While it was rumoured that the T-50s would be destined for Patrulla Aguila, both types could feasibly be used by the team and are already flown by the Jupiter Aerobatic Team and Black Eagles respectively. Unfortunately, no deal seems to have been reached, and the procurement of the PC-21, which will fulfill the same role as the KT-1, seems to confirm this.

It is also possible that Patrulla Aguila could take on the PC-21, particularly if further examples are ordered in the future. Currently, two aerobatic teams fly the type: the Qatar Display Team and the RAAF Roulettes. However, the current order of 24 aircraft would be severely overstretched if they were to take on both the training and aerobatic role, making it unlikely that any change of aircraft takes place in the near future.

Although the C-101 entered service in 1980, it is far from the oldest aircraft used by a major military aerobatic team. The Hawk T.1 – the type used by the Red Arrows – entered service in 1976, while the CT-114 Tutors used by the Snowbirds came into service in 1963. Both jets have been retired from active duty within the British and Canadian air forces, but have been kept on solely for use with their aerobatic teams. In both cases, the ageing jets are planned to soldier on for at least another decade.

“Spectacular public event” will replace Biggin Hill Festival of Flight in 2020

LONDON | Biggin Hill Airport plan to mark the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain in 2020, despite large-scale infrastructure projects at the airport, it was announced today.

However, the annual Festival of Flight will not go ahead, as the former Fighter Command base attempts to become London’s biggest airport for business aviation, as well as developing an on-site hotel and aerospace and technology college.

David Winstanley, CEO, London Biggin Hill Airport, said: “These significant infrastructure projects that deliver the undertaking given to the local community in 2015, will have an impact on the airport’s ability to stage the Festival of Flight in 2020. However, in its place we are well underway in our preparation for a spectacular public event along with other commemorative events which will honour those that served in The Battle of Britain during the 80th anniversary year, here at the most famous of all of the Royal Air Force fighter stations”.

Biggin Hill was a key fighter station during the Battle of Britain and has a long history of hosting major airshows themed around the battle. From 1963 until 2010 it hosted the internationally-acclaimed Biggin Hill Air Fair, followed by the Biggin Hill Festival of Flight from 2014 onwards.

CAA propose sweeping new restrictions on pyrotechnic air displays

GATWICK | The UK’s Civil Aviation Authority has published draft regulations which will restrict pyrotechnic air displays, including sweeping new altitude minimas.

The latest draft CAP403, one of the key regulatory documents governing UK air displays, is currently undergoing a consultation period, which will end on the 29th November. The new rules are likely to come into force early in 2020.

Night display team Aerosparx (pictured) described the changes as “unnecesary”, adding that they would make displaying “more difficult and more dangerous”.

Among the new rules, a minimum altitude of 500 feet will be imposed for off-airfield twilight displays. At other times, the minimum altitudes for off-airfield shows is 200 feet over land and 100 feet over water. The CAA also warned that they may impose a higher minima on a case-by-case basis. This means the minimum altitude for seaside twilight displays at shows such as the Bournemouth Air Festival will be increased by a factor of five.

The draft CAP also bans spinning and gyroscopic manoeuvring at twilight, and advises pilots not to perform manoeuvres which take them away from clear visual references. Twilight is the 30 minute period between sunset and the official start of night-time, after which no public flying displays are permitted under CAA rules. Almost all UK pyrotechnic displays take place during this period.

New regulations are also proposed for displays involving pyrotechnics. To avoid fires on the ground, the CAA say all pyrotechnic material must have burned out before it reaches 200 feet, effectively imposing a minimum altitude on all pyrotechnic displays of 200 feet.

Although the rule exists to reduce the risk of fires on the ground, it will also cover cold-burning pyrotechnics with no fire risk, which are currently used during displays at much lower altitudes. These rules will effectively outlaw several established display sequences and manoeuvres, such as pyro chasers, pyro walls and pyro pylon runs.

Outside of twilight and pyrotechnic displays, the draft CAP also clarifies expands upon existing rules on risk management, formation displays, the role of the Flying Control Committee and several other topics.

Pyrotechnic air displays and twilight displays are among the few areas of the UK airshow industry to have seen significent growth over the past few years. Civilian British aerobatic teams now set the standard globally, performing their unique displays across Europe and Asia. The number of air displays which feature twilight performances in the UK is also rising.

The document can be viewed here and a response to the consultation can be made here until the 29th November 2019. Responses should be thoughtful and evidence-based, and must clearly reference named paragraphs of the draft CAP.

Teignmouth Airshow under threat as council vote not to provide funding

TEIGNMOUTH | One of the UK’s youngest airshows faces an uncertain future after Teignmouth Town Council voted not to provide funding for next year’s event.

The airshow organisers said last year’s airshow cost £80,000 to host and attracted 30,000 visitors to the town over three days. Bids have been made for the Red Arrows and other RAF assets for next year’s edition, they added.

However, with no council funding, the event will have to rely on support from local businesses and members of the public. The show, which is scheduled for the 3rd-5th July 2020, will only go ahead if sufficient money can be raised.

The Teignmouth Airshow was first proposed as a two-day airshow split between the towns of Teignmouth and Dawlish, with the latter hosting its own successful airshow until 2015. However, as Dawlish Town Council were not prepared to support the show financially, Teignmouth were forced to host their own independent one-day airshow in July 2019. It featured five air display acts, including The Blades and an RAF Typhoon FGR.4.

Teignbridge District Council, who provided no funding for the Teignmouth Airshow 2019, have already re-affirmed their commitment not to support the Teignmouth Airshow in 2020. They said the decision was in line with their decision not to fund the now-defunct Dawlish Airshow and with the Liberal Democrats’ commitment to combat climate change.

The decision of Teignmouth Town Council on the 12th November 2019 not to fund next year’s Teignmouth Airshow now leaves the event’s future hanging in the balance. The show, which is scheduled for the 3rd-5th July, will now only go ahead if sufficient funds can be raised privately.

The nearby Torbay Airshow faced a similar problem this year after Torbay Council’s budget overspend forced them to withdraw their financial support for the show. The event managed to attract sufficient sponsors to go ahead in 2019, and will continue in 2020 under the name English Riviera Airshow. However, the Torbay Airshow attracted a much larger crowd of 165,000 and a more covered list of performers before the council withdrew their funding.

The Victory Show to be held for the final time in 2020

COSBY | One of Britain’s largest Second World War-themed events is to be staged for the final time next year, the organisers announced today.

The 2020 show, which is expected to bring together vintage aircraft, vehicles and combat re-enactors, will mark the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War and the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain.

However, the event organisers said on social media today: “The Victory Show dates for 2020 will be 11th, 12th & 13th September. This will be our FINAL SHOW!! After fifteen amazing years of running the best event of its type in the UK we will be closing our gates for the last time.

“We would like to thank all who have contributed to the show in every capacity, especially our lovely friends of WWII.”

In the past, The Victory Show was regarded as one of Britain’s premier warbird airshows. However, it ran into problems in 2016, when restrictions on the display box imposed by the Civil Aviation Authority made flying all but impossible, and forced the cancellation of the aerial displays.

The show returned in 2018 with a modified curved display line, which proved popular with photographers, but precluded traditional aerobatic performances.