The AERO 2015 Exhibition

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The annual AERO Exhibition for General Aviation in Friedrichshafen took place in the middle of April 2015 and this year (as every second year now) it included the full glider segment.  Almost all major manufacturers for sailplanes, accessories and engines showed up and presented their latest offerings.  There were few new sailplane designs but a lot of refinements and developments.  Most notable was the eagerness of most manufacturers to offer some sort of electrical propulsion either as sustainer or self-launching application.  At the same time, jet engines are also offered by several manufacturers – a somewhat confusing development.

Here are some of my impressions:

Schleicher presented the ASG-32 – it’s entry in the two-seat 20m class – with an electric sustainer motor, a first for Schleicher.  And all Schleicher sailplanes exhibited were equipped with flush fitting LED strobe lights in the vertical leading edges.  No specific  news were given on the ASH-30, the long delayed successor to the ASH-25.

Schempp-Hirth showed a mock-up of the latest Ventus development (Ventus 3?), with a polyhedral wing consisting of 4 wing panels per side with increasing dihedral angle. It is supposed to make its first flight in autumn.  This is another challenge for the ASG-29, the current leader in the 18m class, which features a planar wing with steep winglets.  The Quintus was absent and seems to have some production problems which are rumored to be related to their relationship with Lange.

DG showed the DG-1001 Club WL, a trainer version of the DG-1001 with fixed nose and main gear, a 20m wing and large winglets.  A special feature was a powerful red LED strobe light in the nose that can be linked to a FLARM/ ADS-B unit.  It would increase the frequency of flashes with increasing perceived collision risk and might be a very effective anti-collision device.

Jonkers (South Africa) is now partnered with MD Flugzeugbau, who will participate in the production and who produce also the jet engine for the jet powered version of the Revelation JS-1.

HPH is working on a Twin Shark, a 20m two-seater design for this hotly contested new class.

The Polish company Peszke showed the GP-11, the first in a series of fast looking 13.5m sailplanes; the GP-14 version will be a hot contestant in the upcoming 13.5m Worlds in Llithuania with Sebastian Kawa signed up as pilot.

Of all the electrical propulsion systems the FES (Front Engine Sustainer) developed by Luka Znidarsic in Slovenia seems to be the most popular as it can be easily integrated into existing designs and is extremely simple.  On the Silent 2 it actually is also usable for self-launching.  And if one is concerned about the additional small drag from the folded back propeller blades in competition flying, the propeller plus spinner can be replaced by a nose cone.

And last not least, the Czech company Blanik Aircraft CZ is trying to revive the Blanik legacy by proposing to update the old L-13 with a wing root and body upgrade for an estimated 15,000 Euros and to start building an L-23NG (New Generation) that would feature a more modern wing section, winglets and a slimmed down fuselage with an estimated L/D of 31.  Whether they can get enough interest and money for this undertaking is the big question.

It was worth the visit!