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Airfloat Soars at British Air Show

2012 Farnborough International AirshowSoutheast England was the center of the aerospace universe last week as thousands of industry professionals and aviation enthusiasts flocked to Hampshire for the 48th Farnborough International Airshow (July 9 – 15). Held in even-numbered years at the historic Farnborough Aerodrome, the event is a seven-day trade fair for the aerospace industry. Among the 1,500 exhibitors at the show was Airfloat, which co-exhibited with a group of Illinois companies as part of the U.S. Pavilion.

The centerpiece of the Airfloat display was the company’s new APGV Aircraft Assembly Transporter, which harnesses the power of compressed air to literally float 12,000-lb. aircraft fuselages throughout the manufacturing environment. The transporter has automatic line-following capability and can be towed, while loaded, over rough surfaces or outdoors.

Airfloat Aerospace Assembly Transporter
Airfloat APGV Aerospace Assembly Transporter

“The Airfloat APGV has already been deployed with great success by the largest airplane manufacturer in Canada,” said Gary Mollohan, Airfloat’s marketing manager. “We exhibited at Farnborough to introduce this revolutionary machine to European aerospace manufacturers like Airbus, Saab AB and Finmeccanica.”

Curious attendees paused at the Airfloat display to watch computer animations and video clips of the APGV, short for “automated pneumatic guided vehicle,” in action. The transporter was also featured in Aviation Week’s ShowNews, a free magazine handed out each day at the show.

Other Farnborough News

Airfloat wasn’t the only company making headlines at the airshow; Boeing announced the sale of 75 fuel-efficient 737 Max short-haul jets to Air Lease Corporation, a deal worth $7.2 billion. At the Virgin Galactic display, flamboyant English business magnate Richard Branson posed beside a full-scale model of the company’s SpaceShipTwo, scheduled to begin taking space tourists on sub-orbital flights next year. The cost of a two-hour flight, including six minutes of weightlessness, is an out-of-this-world $200,000.

Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo
Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo

Reflecting a growing trend, a number of exhibitors, including Finmeccanica and CEi, were showing unmanned aerial drones in a wide variety of sizes, shapes, and configurations. Most widely used in military applications, drones are being utilized in a small but growing number of civilian applications, including surveillance, border patrol and pipeline inspection. Drones are also used by militaries around the world as targets in surface-to-air and air-to-air combat training.

Lastly, the Farnborough Airshow presented many attendees their first opportunity to view aircraft like the Boeing 787 and Airbus A380 in person and up close. Showgoers were treated to flight demos each day in which a range of civilian and military aircraft, including the McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet and the Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey, were put through their paces by top pilots.

The next Farnborough International Airshow will be held in July of 2014.

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