Category Archives: Airshow News World

Airshow debuts and combined displays planned for next month’s Aero India

BENGALURU | Aero India 2021 is to feature three flying display debut from the Indian Air Force (IAF), as well as the first ever combined performance of its two aerobatic teams.

Photo: James Connolly

According to The Deccan Herald, Air Force bosses hope to display three types that have never before flown at Aero India in the hands of the IAF: the CH-47F Chinook, AH-64E Apache, and one of the air arm’s new Rafale EH/DH jets, the first of which was delivered in July 2020. The latter will participate in a 41-aircraft opening flyby on the first day of the show, alongside the Sukhoi Su-30MKIs, a C-17 Globemaster, Antonov An-32, Mil Mi-17, and more.

42 planes are then expected to take part in the main flying displays, held each afternoon. This will include a variety of IAF aircraft, such as the Sukhoi Su-30MKI, and a trio of its HAL products: the Light Combat Helicopter, Light Utility Helicopter, and Tejas Light Combat Aircraft. The C-47 Dakota of the IAF’s relatively new Historic Flight squadron will also participate.

Also eagerly anticipated is a combined display of the IAF’s two aerobatic teams: Sarang, flying four HAL Druv helicopters, and Surya Kiran, flying nine BAE Hawk Mk.132s. Air Commodore Shailendra Sood, Air Officer-Commanding of the Yelahanka Training Command, told The Hindu that it will be the first time the two teams have delivered a combined display, promising that it will be “the highlight” of the show.

As well as being the first time the two teams have delivered a combined performance, it will also be Surya Kiran’s first performance at Aero India with the aircraft trailing since they upgraded to the Hawk in 2015, with smokewinder systems finally being added to two some of the team’s jets in October 2020.

Photo: Indian Air Force

International aircraft are also expected to participate, with Airbus contributing the C295 and A330 MRTT to the static display. Eight unspecified international aircraft are expected to join the flying display, including planes from the United States and France, but organisers have stressed that, due to the coronavirus pandemic, these plans are changing regularly.

Aero India will be the first major airshow of 2021, and the first trade airshow to be held since the early days of the coronavirus pandemic. The hybrid show will feature a mixture of physical and virtual business events, with in-person guests required to provide an up-to-date negative coronavirus test result taken within 72 hours of entry.

This year’s show has been shortened from five days to three, with the public weekend being axed this year. However, the Deccan Herald reports that 3,000 members of the public will be admitted to a seperate area each day, offering views of the aerial performances. Admission to the trade exhibition will be capped at 15,000 each day.

The total maximum visitor number at this year’s show is therefore approximately 54,000 – less than a fifth of 2019’s figure.

Photo: Tom Wittevrongel

Organisers will be keen to avoid the negative headlines of the previous edition of Aero India, which opened with a fatal mid-air collision and closed with a large and destructive fire ripping through one of the event car parks, gutting over 300 vehicles.

This year, at least two Mi-17s, one An-32 and one Su-30 will be stationed at the show to provide fire cover, medical evacuations and air superiority respectively. Isolation centres have also been established around the venue, in case guests develop coronavirus symptoms on site.

Aero India 2021 will be held at Yelahanka AFS in Bengaluru on the 3rd-5th February.

World Championship Air Race partners with air sports governing body

LONDON | The governing body of air sports, the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI), has formally agreed to partner with the fledgling World Championship Air Race (WCAR), with racing to begin in 2022.

WCAR announced in early January that they will become the official successor to the much-loved Red Bull Air Race (RBAR) series, which ended in 2021. Many RBAR competitors and organisers are expected to take part in the new series, with Jimbo Reid, Paul Bonhomme, Jim Dimatteo and Nigel Lamb all confirmed as members of the advisory board.

Willie Cruickshank, WCAR Race Series Director, said: “We are delighted to announce this exciting new agreement between the FAI and World Championship Air Race to bring city-centre air-racing back to the public.”

“World Championship Air Race now has the commitment from the best race pilots in the world, flying the best aircraft, under the exclusive jurisdiction of the world governing body, putting us in a very strong position as we build towards Season 1 which we plan to debut in early 2022.

The FAI have granted WCAR with exclusive staging rights for manned air-gated air racing for at least the next 15 years. They will also provide safety oversight and governence for the new series.

By the fifth season of WCAR, organisers plan to have four tiers of competition: Aero/GP1, the top tier of competition, similar to RBAR; Aero/GT, a feeder competition for less experienced pilots; VTOL/J, for jet-powered Vertical Take Off and Landing (VTOL) aircraft; and VTOL/E for electric VTOL aircraft. Aircraft competing in Aero/GP1 and Aero/GP will consist of raceplanes such as the Edge 540 and MXS-R, but organisers hope these will run on sustainable, low-emission fuel in future seasons.

They will also establish the WCAR Academy, helping to introduce new talent to the sport. The academy will be headquartered in the UK, with training facilities across the world.

Another major aim of WCAR is to expand the event to include side acts, live music performances and an Aviation Tech Village in each host city.

Late last year, the sport got a boost from Greenpro, a capital investment company from Malaysia. Greenpro said the new series will be flying into cities around the world, with races planned in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Australia, India, China, South Africa, United Kingdom and France.

Stunning new manoeuvres in Black Eagles’ new airshow routine

WONJU | The Republic of Korea Air Force’s Black Eagles have put the coronavirus pandemic to good use, developing a series of stunning new manoeuvres not performed by any other aerobatic team.

Photo: Adam Landau

It’s not often that a major aerobatic team brings something genuinely new and unique to the table, but the team have used their coronavirus-enforced extended training period to do just that, revamping their display routine and developing several stunning new moves. The new display was perfomed for the public for the first time in late October, as coronavirus restrictions in the country are eased.

It is the first major update to the Black Eagles’ display routine in almost a decade.

New manoeuvres include the Vortex, which replaces the Box Break, and sees four aircraft approaching the crowd in card formation before dramatically rolling across each others’ paths to swap sides of the formation. The jets then quickly transition to trail formation and pull away from the spectators.

Later in the show, the Gourd Bottle has been replaced with the Clover Leaf Cross. The old move saw six aircraft perform a loop far in front of the crowd before splitting into two elements, which both then ran in opposite directions down the display line. The aircraft now break while pulling up into the loop and complete the manoeuvre in opposing directions, crossing dramatically as they exit the loops. Lasting around 30 seconds, the Clover Leaf Cross takes only half the time of the Gourd Bottle, and can take place  much closer to the crowd.

Also gone is the Cross Break, a two-ship opposition break while flying away from the crowd. This has instead been incorporated into a new manoeuvre called Rock and Roll, in which one jet performs slow aileron rolls down the display line and a second barrel rolls around it. After passing the crowd, the old Cross-Break ends the manoeuvre.

Other tweaks include more regular use of coloured smoke during the display, more photogenic opposing passes and an enhanced solo routine at the end of the performance. While previously the solo routine had consisted solely of a loop and a minimum radius turn, it now consists of a much more sophisticated half-vertical eight and spiral dive back towards the crowd. As with the Gourd Bottle, one of the team’s opening loops has also been repositioned to allow it to be flown closer to the spectators.

Finally, the team’s traditional landing break has been improved significantly. After performing a downwards bomb burst directly above the airfield, the eight jets now enter incredible turning descents as they fan outwards – a concept never seen from a major jet team before. The new manoeuvre (see below) is known as the Tornado Landing, as it will set up all eight jets into a safely-spaced landing pattern.

All of the Black Eagles’ crowd-favourite manoeuvres remain in the show, such as the Dizzying Break, Rainfall, Two Ship High-Alpha and Loop, and the Taeguek, which sees a pair of jets drawing the national symbol of Korea in the sky with their smoke trails.

The Black Eagles are recognised as one of the world’s premier aerobatic display teams, and fly the locally-produced T-50 Golden Eagle. They have performed internationally in the UK, Malaysia and Singapore.

More details on Red Bull Air Race successor series, due to start in Q4 2021

LONDON | The much-loved Red Bull Air Race, discontinued in 2019, is set to return to the sporting calendar next year, with familiar names expected to take part.

The World Championship Air Race, first teased as a successor to the Red Bull Air Race in late 2019, was originally aiming to hold its first race later this year. However, following months of silence amid the coronavirus pandemic, some began to wonder if the plan to ressurect the global air racing series had fallen victim to the pandemic.

Relatively recent updates to WCAR’s website show that the idea is very much alive, with the first series now expected to start in the fourth quarter of 2021. “Once confidence levels are high enough to commit to exact dates for live events, we will announce full details of the WCAR race calendar,” the website says.

The sport will take place at a mix of new and old air race locations, including land and water tracks. Organisers are also hoping to incorporate a broader festival into the event format. Back in March 2020, organisers predicted a 10-race season, taking place in four continents.

Currently, all fourteen race teams that competed in the 2019 Red Bull Air Race World Championship Masterclass level have registered their interest in competing in the new series, along with new teams emerging from the Challenger Class. Many other familiar names will be returning to provide support and advice, with former RBAR Operations Managar Willie Cruickshank taking the position of Series Director. Former British racers Paul Bonhomme, Steve Jones and Nigel Lamb are also involved, as well as RBAR’s Technical Director Jim Reed and Race Director Jim DiMatteo.

The new series will be split into three tiers of competition: the top tier will be the AeroGP1, involving twelve race teams, with the second tier being AeroGT, a feeder competition involving three teams of up and coming pilots competing in a Le Mans-style relay format. Initially, these competitions will use the same highly-modified raceplanes as the Red Bull Air Race, WCAR hope they will be using sustainable biofuels by 2022, and will be converted to fully-electric power in the future. The aircraft will race around Red Bull Air Race style tracks marked by inflatable pylons.

The third tier will vocus on personal VTOL transport technologies, starting with “jet pack” vehicles in its first series. It is again hoped that this will shift to eletric-powered technology in the future.

WCAR has been recognised by the FAI as the official successor to the Red Bull Air Race, and has been granted an exclusive license to promote track-based air racing for the next 15 years.

Danish Airshow 2021 will not take place due to coronavirus uncertainty

KARUP | The Danish Airshow will not be held in 2021 because the organisers are reluctant to organise an event amid the uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic, it was announced today.

In a Facebook post, the organisers acknowledged that the situation may have improved by the show’s intended date of Sunday 20th June. However, as this is far from certain, they said that they have chosen not to press ahead with planning work for the show, which was due to begin around now.

The airshow, which is the largest in Denmark and is organised in collaboration with the Royal Danish Air Force, was expected to attract around 130,000 spectators to Karup Air Base next year. 2020’s show, slated to be held at Karup on the 14th June, was also cancelled.

Three major airshows in 2021 have already been cancelled as a result of the pandemic: the Danish Airshow, the Langkawi International Maritime & Aerospace Exhibition in Malaysia, scheduled for March, and the Rygge Airshow in Norway, scheduled for June. Like the Danish Airshow, the Rygge Airshow was also cancelled because organisers did not wish to press ahead with preparations for the event when the situation next summer is unknown. Meanwhile, the Australian International Airshow has also been delayed from March to November 2021, to maximise the event’s chances of going ahead.

Most epidimologists agree that life in Europe is unlikely to return to normal until summer 2021 at the earliest, due to a combination of seasonal changes and the challenges of approving and distributing a vaccine. However, it is hoped that, as airshow organisers have ample time to plan alternative event formats, and a vaccine could be widely available before the next airshow season, many airshows could still proceed safely.

MAKS gunning for Korea’s Black Eagles – but US has power to veto visit

MOSCOW | The MAKS International Aviation & Space Salon in Russia has invited the Republic of Korea Air Force’s Black Eagles to perform at next July airshow, but the USA has the power to block the T-50 being displayed in Russia.

The airshow’s director, Alexander Levin, met in September with the Republic of Korea’s Air Attache to Russia, during which the team’s participation in next year’s airshow was discussed, according to a press release from MAKS. An official request has been send to the RoKAF’s high command in the last few days, various Russian media outlets have reported.

Formed in 1953, Black Eagles currently fly eight T-50B Golden Eagles, supersonic advanced jet trainers and light attack aircraft produced by Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI). Making their overseas debut during a high-profile UK tour in 2012, the team have since performed both in Singapore and Malaysia, and are recognised as one of the world’s premier aerobatic display teams.

However, such a visit could be blocked by the US government under the Arms Export Control Act, which was used to stop the Black Eagles performing at Airshow China in 2014, just days before the team were due to leave Korea. The act, which prohibits the export or demonstration of American military technology in “enemy states”, applies to the T-50 thanks to its General Electrics engines, and development support provided to KAI by Lockheed Martin. Instead of staging their dynamic air display, Black Eagles pilots attended Airshow China without their aircraft, meeting spectators and signing autographs.

The majority of the Black Eagles’ overseas appearances so far have been motivated by KAI’s desire to export the T-50, which could concern the US government. KAI – who have part-funded some previous Black Eagles tours – could also be less willing to take part, given there are few, if any, potential T-50 customers in the region. The T-50 would also be flying head-to-head with Russia’s own Yak-130 at MAKS 2021, which competes in the same marketplace as the T-50, but has seen more export success.

The Black Eagles’ sole trip to Europe so far was the result of years of planning negotiations, and saw the team’s jets being partially dismantled and transported to the UK by air. Speaking to This is Flight in 2014, the then-commander of the Black Eagles said it was the team’s ambition to undertake a second tour to Europe, this time ferry-flying the T-50s across Russia. The team’s trips to southeast Asia have been conducted in this manner, with fuel stops in Taiwan.

It has also been speculated that the Black Eagles are considering a wider tour in July 2021, which could include MAKS and the Royal International Air Tattoo in the UK. While the Royal International Air Tattoo typically invite the RoKAF to participate, the dates of the two shows – seperated by only two days – would make such a tour practically impossible.

Despite many obsticles, MAKS has a history of attracting rare aerobatic teams, and became the first and only European show to host the Chinese Air Force’s flagship August 1st display team in 2013. Like the T-50, the J-10 fighters operated by August 1st had a low chance of scoring export orders in the region.

Iran sets up bizarre aerobatic team with knock-off jets, paint scheme and logo

TEHRAN | The Iranian Air Force today took delivery of three indiginous HESA Kowsar fighters, seemingly destined for a new aerobatic team.


A newly-delivered Kowsar at the delivery ceremony today. Photo: Iran_Newsroom.

The Iranian Defence Ministry handed the three aircraft to the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force (IRIAF) in a ceremony on Thursday 25th June, at which the specially-painted planes performed formation manoeuvres and flypasts.

Iran’s most recent official aerobatic team, Golden Crown, flew eight Northrop F-5Es up until the Imperial Iranian Air Force was dissolved in 1979. In recent years, Iran has harboured ambitions to create a new team, with the commander of the IRIAF stating in February this year that he hoped a three-ship Kowsar display would be ready in time for the Army Day parade in April. Although the deadline has been missed, the special paint schemes, along with the matching pilot helmets and routine of formation flybys, would suggest that the three jets delivered today are intended for aerial displays.

The Kowsar is an Iranian-built derivative of the Northrop F-5F, which made its first flight in 2018 and is claimed to be a 4th generation fighter. However, one of the Kowsars delivered today is a 43-year-old modified F-5F, still wearing Northrop decals on the ejection seat, despite Iran insisting that the Kowsar is entirely indiginously produced.

 File:RoKAF Black Eagles Singapore Airshow 2014.jpg - Wikimedia Commons
Almost identical: The new Iranian jets (left) and the Black Eagles (right). Photos: Iran_Newsroom and Alert5 (via Wikimedia Commons)

Aside from the knock-off F-5s, airshow enthusiasts will note several more bizarre elements of the new team. The paint scheme is remarkably similar to the design applied to the underside of the Republic of Korea Air Force’s Black Eagles team, even mirroring several minor details of the Black Eagles’ design such as the number and position of the Black Eagles’ styalised trailing edge feathers.

Footage broadcast on Iranian television also shows the pilots wearing matching helmets, which very closely mirror the helmet design and logo used by the Italian aerobatic team, Frecce Tricolori. Again, even some minor details of the design have seemingly been copied, including the rough design and placement of the Frecce’s trademark three arrows.

 Aquile trentine nella storia delle « Frecce » - Storia delle ...
Spot the difference: The logo on the Iranian pilot’s helmet (left) is remarkably close to that of the Frecce Tricolori (right). Photos: @Iran_Newsroom and Frecce Tricolori.

While most teams strive to create an individual, recognisable brand and identity, Iran has a history of copying foreign aerobatic teams’ paint schemes. While flying the F-84G Thunderjet, the Golden Crowns’ paint scheme shared more than a passing similarity to that of the Thunderbirds. Upon graduating to the F-5A Freedom Fighter, and later the F-5E Tiger II, Golden Crown adopted a new scheme that was almost identical to that of the Thunderbirds, who were by this point flying the T-38 Talon.

6 Imperial Iranian Air Force F-5Es in an arobatic exhibit.jpg File:20141026 T-38 Talon Alliance Air Show 2014-7.jpg - Wikimedia ...
One image shows the Thunderbirds, one shows Golden Crown. It’s hard to tell which is which. Photos: Wikimedia Commons and Will Schlitzer (via Wikimedia Commons).

More recently, three HESA Saeqeh jets (modified F-5s, like the Kowsar) were painted in a near-replica of the US Navy Blue Angels’ paint scheme during test flights and flybys in 2007. The IRIAF even copied the Blue Angels’ famed cursive typeface, replacing the American team’s name with the words “Air Force”.

Unlike Golden Crown, neither the Blue Angels-livered Saeqehs nor the newly-delivered Kowsars appear to be fitted with smoke systems, on the basis of photos of the aircrafts’ tailpipes.

File:A HESA Saeqeh of IRIAF.jpg - Wikimedia Commons
A laughable likeness: Iranian jets (right) in a Blue Angels (left) colour scheme. Photos: Shahram Sharifi (via Wikimedia Commons) and David Leadingham (thisisflight.net).

It is extremely unlikely the aerobatic team will be seen outside Iran in the foreseeable future, but it’s probable that formation displays will be seen at domestic events such as military parades and the Iran Airshow in Kish. Iran’s claim that the fighters were domestically-produced will make the team a powerful propaganda tool, and senior officials have already declared today’s delivery as a sign of increasing strength in the face of international sanctions.

However, why the nation has, for over half a century, felt the need to repeatedly copy a selection of existing, seemingly-unrelated teams from around the world, rather than developing its own unique team identity, remains a mystery.

Australian International Airshow is first 2021 show to be postponed by coronavirus

AVALON | The Australian International Airshow has become the first 2021 airshow facing postponement due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Photo: William Reid

Organisers are worried the show, originally scheduled for the 23rd-28th February, will face logistical problems and uncertainty about international travel, which they said would cause “unacceptable risk” to the trade portion of their event if the show were not to be rescheduled. Instead, organisers are considering holding the show in November 2021, with precise dates to be confirmed shortly.

With the show’s public days due to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Royal Australian Air Force, it is important that the show goes ahead before the end of 2021, with the anniversary itself taking place on the 31st March. The Australian International Airshow is expected to be the largest airshow celebrating the anniversary.

The Royal Australian Air Force aways provide a strong mix of displays, featuring aircraft such as the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, F-35A Lightning, KC-30 MRTT, C-17A Globemaster, BAE Hawk 127, C-27 Spartan and others, although their participation at the 2021 show is expected to be particularly spectacular. It is also likely to feature the first Avalon performance of The Roulettes in their brand new Pilatus PC-21s.

Jupiter Aerobatic Team turn back towards home after cancelling Singapore Airshow appearance

BATAM | Indonesia’s Jupiter Aerobatic Team made it within 30km of the Singapore Airshow before abruptly cancelling their visit and turning for home today.

Photo: Adam Landau

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.

Photo: Tom Wittevrongel

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.

Blue Impulse told to “be ready” to participate in Olympic Games

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.