Spectacular flying display heralds Berlin air show

Berlin, June 8 (IANS) Breathtaking flying display by fighter jets with daring manoeuvres by veteran test pilots and stunning feats by aerobatics pilots in various formations marked the inaugural of the 100th Berlin air show (ILA 2010) Tuesday at Schonefeld airport on the outskirts of the German capital.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel flagged off the six-day international trade fair, where about 1,150 exhibitors from 50 countries are showcasing their products, services and technologies.

‘Aviation is one area that pushes the development of technology as a whole and has significance beyond the sector,’ Merkel said, inaugurating the expo in the presence of Swiss President Doris Leuthard and other dignitaries from the world over.

Merkel also called upon the global aerospace industry to focus on research and development, education and innovation to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

The response of the global aerospace industries and aviation sector to the mega air show overshadowed the impact of the recent European volcanic ash clouds.

But Monday’s announcement of new tax on passenger air travel by the German government, as part of its deficit stabilisation programme, came as a bolt from the blue to the aviation sector, still reeling under the turbulence of the global financial crisis.

Organised by the German Aerospace Industries Association (GAIA) and Messe Berlin GmbH, the largest biennial international aerospace event has drawn a number of military and civil delegations, global aerospace majors and about 5,000 visitors for the 90-minute opening ceremony.

The military transport aircraft of Airbus A400 M made its debut at the event in flight, drawing special attention of the gathering on a sunny and breezy day.

The latest European combat aircraft — the Eurofighter Typhoon — was another star attraction, with its test pilot Geri Krahenbuhl breaching the sound barrier and performing spectacular feats to demonstrate its air prowess.

Typhoon of the EADS-led European consortium, Gripen of Saab, F-16 of Lockheed Martin, F/A-18 of Boeing, Rafael of D’assault and Russian MiG-35 are in race for the 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft order of the Indian Air Force (IAF), estimated to be worth $10 billion.

As partner country, Switzerland is commemorating ‘100 years of Swiss Aviation’ and is present with one of the public’s favourites, the Patrouille Suisse, the space pavilion showcasing key space flight technologies.

Exhibitors from Australia, Finland, Mexico, Monaco, Sweden, Singapore, Turkey and Tunisia are representing for the first time.

About 40 per cent of the exhibitors are from outside Germany, with the largest European delegations coming from Italy, France, Britain, Poland and Russia.

The United States is the largest participant with its global aerospace major Boeing returning to the fair after 12 years.

About 100-odd conferences during the event will witness brain-storming sessions on the various segments of the aerospace industry spanning commercial aviation, space flight, defence and security, aero engines and materials and general aviation.

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