You can keep up to date with all the latest news on the coronavirus outbreak, and its impact on the airshow industry, with our live blog.
AQABA | The inaugural Aqaba Airshow in Jordan has been postponed until further notice, as Jordan clamps down on visitors from infected countries.
The show, which was due to run from the 20th-21st March, had been intended to promote tourism in Aqaba, which is close to Petra and Wadi Rum. It had been due to feature the locally-based Royal Jordanian Falcons and Royal Heritage Flight, as well as European teams such as Aerosparx, the Pioneer Team and the Flying Dragons.
However, Jordan will be imposing a ban on direct flights on several European countries from next week, including Germany, which would affect the number of visitors able to travel to the event. The nationwide lockdown in Italy – home of the Pioneer Team – could also hamper their ability to attend the show.
An official statement said: “Due to the current global medical situation related to the Corona Virus (COVID-19) and based on the measures taken and followed by the government of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan to deal with the current situation in a way that guarantees public safety and any precautionary measures taken in this regard, please be informed that Aqaba Airshow 2020 which was intended to be held at the end of this month has been postponed till further notice and all procedures related to this decision will be taken and conducted with the participation of all official and unofficial parties involved.”
A new date is likely to be chosen later this year.
ISLAMABAD | An F-16 belonging to the Pakistan Air Force has crashed in Islamabad while practicing for the Republic Day parade, killing the pilot.
Wing Commander Nouman Akram died in the accident, which is now the subject of an inquiry by the Pakistan Air Force. There were no casualties on the ground or damage to property.
The jet was rehearsing a solo aerobatic display, due to be performed at the Republic Day parade on the 23rd March. The parade typically includes several solo displays from the Pakistan Air Force, such as the F-16 Fightning Falcon or JF-17 Thunder, as well as flypasts and a performance by Pakistan’s aerobatic team, the Sherdils. Foreign air forces, including those of China, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, have also performed on occasions.
BATAM | Indonesia’s Jupiter Aerobatic Team made it within 30km of the Singapore Airshow before abruptly cancelling their visit and turning for home today.
The team of six KT-1B Woongbis confirmed their participation in the prestigious show on Sunday 2nd February, flying to the event via the island of Batam, where they staged an aerial display. However, on Wednesday, the head of the Indonesian Air Force Information Service, Marsma Fajar Adriyanto, suddenly announced that the team would be turning back to their base in Yogyakarta.
Although no reason was given for the team’s cancellation, it could have been a move to protect the team from the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, with 18 cases confirmed in Singapore so far. Also on Wednesday, China’s People’s Liberation Army Air Force announced that their crack aerobatic team, August 1st, would be attending the event, supported by a pair of Il-76 transport aircraft based near the city of Wuhan, where the outbreak began.
The Republic of Korea’s own aerobatic team, the Black Eagles, had already cancelled their appearance at the show, again citing the coronavirus outbreak, and several exhibitors have pulled out.
Jupiter Aerobatic Team have twice flown at the Singapore Airshow; the team made their debut in 2014, but a diplomatic spat between Indonesia and Singapore saw the team abandon the event early. They returned in 2018, performing for the duration of the show.
The Singapore Airshow will be held on the 11th-16th February and will be open to the public on the final two days. For more information, read our guide to the Singapore Airshow.
IZTAPA | An American airshow pilot and two spectators were killed during a practice flight for the LXV Anniversary Airshow in Iztapa, Guatemala, on Friday 24th January.
Steve Andelin was piloting a Zivko Edge 540T as part of Kirby Chambliss’ Red Bull-sponsored airshow act, according to local media. At least two spectators also died when the aircraft crashed in the showground area, and another was seriously injured. The aircraft wreckage came to rest in a nearby river.
A statement on the Team Chambliss Facebook page the day after the crash said: “It is with great sadness that Team Chambliss confirms that our friend and pilot, Steve Andelin, along with two spectators, lost their lives at a private air show in Guatemala on Friday, January 24th.
“Steve Andelin was flying a plane which carried Red Bull branding, owned by Kirby Chambliss. We are deeply shocked and extend our deepest sympathies to the families involved in this tragic accident.”
They asked the public not to circulate video footage of the accident, out of respect to those who lost their lives.
Mr Andelin was a test pilot for Zivko Aeronautics and an airline pilot. He had spent two years on the United States Aerobatic Team.
The Director General of Guatemala’s civil aviation regulator, Francis Argueta Aguirre, offered his deepest condolences to the friends and family of all those who lost their lives.
The next edition of the World Air Games, scheduled to be held in Turkey in the autumn of 2022, has been cancelled, as the FAI say they will review the event’s format.
The Turkish Aeronautical Association, who successfully bid to host the 2022 Games, asked the Federation Aeronautique Internationale (FAI) to postpone the event until 2025 due to “the current difficult economic situation in Turkey”, according to an FAI news release. However, the FAI and the Air Sports Commission President decided instead to cancel the 2022 Games altogether.
In their statement, the FAI also said that they would undertake an overall review of the event’s concept and format “before deciding on any future edition of the Games”.
FAI President Bob Henderson said: “This has not been an easy decision to make. However it has been taken with all interests at heart and with a long-term and strategic view. The FAI World Air Games is the flagship event of the Federation and, as such, we must make sure that it be held in optimal conditions.”
The World Air Games are the flagship event of the FAI, who are the world governing body of air sports. The Games have previously been hosted by Turkey in 1997, Spain in 2001, Italy in 2009 and, most recently, the United Arab Emirates in 2015. The 2015 Games saw competitions at 7 venues in 19 disciplines, which included racing, aerobatics and precision flying, encompassing drones, parachuting, helicopters, fixed-wing aircraft, autogyros and paramotors. It also included air displays, headlined by Al Fursan.
MATSUSHIMA | The aerobatic team of the Japanese Air Self-Defence Force have been told to “be ready” to participate in this year’s Olympic Games, which are to be held in Tokyo.
On Friday 17th January, jets of the Blue Impulse began practicing drawing large rings in the sky over Higashi-Matsushima City, where the Olympic Torch is due to touch down on the 20th March.
The Air Self-Defence Force said it has not been decided whether Blue Impulse will participate in this year’s Games, but the team began practicing on Friday after the Olympic Organising Committee told them to prepare to participate in the torch arrival ceremony and other events.
Blue Impulse famously drew the Olympic rings during the opening ceremony of the 1964 Tokyo summer Games, with five F-86 Sabres drawing the interlocking rings with white smoke at a height of around 10,000 feet. They also performed a short demonstration with coloured smoke, matching the colours of the Olympic rings, at the opening ceremony of the 1998 winter Games in Nagano.
The team have generally refrained from using coloured smoke in recent years amid concerns that chemicals could stain the ground. However, the Japan Times reported last month that the Air Self-Defence Force has improved its smoke and that the team are expected to draw the Olympic rings in full colour at March’s arrival ceremony.
The Blue Angels are no stranger to major international sporting fixtures. In 2002, the team performed a display over the first match of the FIFA World Cup. In September 2019, the team drew a cherry blossom with white smoke to mark the start of the Rugby World Cup. Blue Impulse are also well-known for drawing patterns in the sky during their display, including a five-pointed star.
Based at Matsushima, Blue Impulse currently fly six Kawasaki T-4 intermediate jet trainers in a white and blue paint scheme.
HECKLINGTON | Aircraft from the XtremeAir XA-41/Sbach 300 and XA-42/Sbach 342 family have been banned from aerobatic manoeuvres by the aircraft’s manufacturer.
XtremeAir GmbH placed restrictions on the highly advanced aerobatic aircraft family in a Service Bulletin on Monday 23rd September, which said both the left and right hand diagonal struts of the engine mount had been found to have separated during a routine inspection of an XA-42. The bulletin bans all aerobatic manoeuvres with immediate effect and requires a placard reading “AEROBATIC MANOEUVRES PROHIBITED” to be placed in the cockpit, in view of the pilot.
The manufacturer also says a ten-minute visual inspection of the engine mount must be completed before each flight. This inspection was previously required only once every ten aerobatic flights.
EASA published an Emergency Airworthy Directive the following day, which said cracks had been found on the engine mount, which “could lead to in-flight detachment of the engine, possibly resulting in loss of control of the aeroplane”.
The XA-41 and XA-42 are popular with airshow and competition aerobatic pilots, and are also used by aerobatic teams including Team Xtreme from South Africa, the Flying Bulls of the Czech Republic and the UK’s Matadors Aerobatic Team.
The aircraft had already been under the spotlight after cracks were detected in the engine mount during a separate inspection last year.
CHIBA | Australian pilot Matt Hall finally achieved his dream of being the Red Bull Air Race World Champion as Yoshi Muroya enjoyed a third emphatic victory at his home race.
Three times the runner-up, Hall soared to victory by claiming third place at the final race of the season, just behind home hero Yoshi Muroya and Kirby Chambliss. Muroya had a challenging day, losing his Round of 14 heat against Ben Murphds by 0.015 seconds, but progressed as the fastest loser and won every subsequent heat he flew.
|Race finish||Pilot||Country||Race points||Final time||Penalties||Quali finish|
|7||Francois LE VOT||FRA||12||1:02.936||+5||3|
2018 world champion Martin Sonka lead the title chase into the final race, but was knocked out in the Round of 14 heat against Nicolas Ivanoff when he picked up a one second Over-G penalty. He ended the season in third place overall. Ben Murphy, the latest pilot to join the tour, stunned with a fourth-place finish in only his second season.
|1||Matt HALL||Matt Hall Racing||AUS||81||⇧|
|2||Yoshi MUROYA||Team Falken||JPN||80||⇧|
|3||Martin SONKA||Red Bull Team Sonka||CZE||68||⇩|
|4||Ben MURPHY||The Blades Racing Team||GBR||48||=|
|5||Kirby CHAMBLISS||Team Chambliss||USA||48||⇧|
|6||Pete MCLEOD||Cashback World Racing||CAN||48||⇧|
|7||Nicolas IVANOFF||Team Hamilton||FRA||47||⇩|
|8||Mika BRAGEOT||#11RACING Team Eyetime||FRA||44||=|
|9||Michael GOULIAN||Team Goulian||USA||42||⇩|
|10||Juan VELARDE||Team Velarde||ESP||39||⇩|
|11||Francois Le Vot||FLV Racing Team 12||FRA||34||⇧|
|12||Cristian BOLTON||Cristian Bolton Racing||CHI||27||⇩|
|13||Petr Kopfstein||Team Speilberg||CZE||10||=|
|14||Matthias Dolderer||Matthias Dolderer Racing||GER||6||=|
Earlier this year, Red Bull announced they would be ending their support for the series, which began in 2003, due to lower than expected interest. The race organisers shortened this year’s series from eight to four races, and announced the series would not return in 2020.
SANTIAGO | A GameBird GB1 operated by the Chilean Air Force’s aerobatic team crashed in a residential area during a test flight on Saturday 7th September.
The aircraft crashed in Santiago’s El Bosque neighbourhood near El Bosque Air Base. Firefighters confirmed that eight people on the ground were injured in the crash, with one suffering minor burns and seven being hospitalised due to smoke inhalation.
The pilot was identified in a brief statement on the Halcones’ Facebook page as Cristobal Contreras, who has served with the team for several years. The team said he escaped “practically unharmed”, but local media report he suffered minor injuries to his head.
The Halcones are Chile’s national aerobatic team, formed in 1981 on the Pitts Special. The team later upgraded to the Extra 300L in 2003. In March 2019, the Halcones announced the team had selected the GameBird GB1 as their next aircraft, with the first delivery taking place in July this year.
The Halcones are not performing public displays this year while they transition to their new aircraft. They are expected to make their display debut with the GameBird at the FIDAE aerospace and defence show in Santiago on the 31st March-5th April 2020.
An investigation into the cause of the crash has been launched.