x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Boeing hopes to win favour with V-22 Osprey at Dubai Airshow

Boeing plans to unveil a dashing roster of defence and commercial aircraft at the Dubai Airshow starting today.

Boeing’s V-22 Osprey is expected to draw plenty of interest in Dubai from defence buyers. Tawatao / Getty Images
Boeing’s V-22 Osprey is expected to draw plenty of interest in Dubai from defence buyers. Tawatao / Getty Images

Boeing plans to unveil a dashing roster of defence and commercial aircraft at the Dubai Airshow starting today.

“The Middle East region continues to be one of Boeing’s key global markets for both the commercial aviation and defence sectors,” says Jeffrey Johnson, the president of Boeing Middle East.

“We have a long history in the region and we continue to strengthen our relationships with our partners and customers to further develop the aerospace industry,” Mr Johnson adds.

In an aggressive forecast, Boeing projects the Middle East will need 2,520 commercial aircraft and a regional fleet of about 2,710 aircraft by 2030. Boeing also estimates that two-thirds of all orders will be for expansion rather than replacement.

In Dubai alone, aviation supports more than 250,000 jobs and contributes some US$22 billion to the economy, accounting for about 19 per cent of total employment in the emirate and 28 per cent of its GDP.

By the year 2020, the economic contribution of the aviation sector in Dubai is expect to rise to $44.5bn or 32 per cent of GDP and will account for 22 per cent of total employment, or 372,900 jobs, according to an Oxford Economies report.

With demand taking off, Boeing is pulling out all the stops to impress attendees and industry watchers at the Dubai Airshow.

During the air show, its V-22 Osprey is anticipated to take top spot among competitors in the defence sector, sporting multi-role combat and transport aircraft functions. The tilt-rotor aircraft takes off and lands like a helicopter but, once airborne, can be converted into a turboprop aeroplane capable of high speeds and altitudes.

It rivals a helicopter by being twice as fast and having a much longer range, resulting in greater mission versatility, including amphibious assault, combat support, long-range infiltration and exfiltration operations, troop transport and search and rescue.

“Adding aerial refuelling tanker capability to the V-22 will enable operators to execute a wider variety of missions with greater flexibility and autonomy,” Vince Tobin, the Bell Boeing V-22 programme director, said after an August demonstration of the V-22 Osprey over north Texas.

The aircraft, with an estimated price tag of $70 million, is designed to transport 24 combat troops, 9,071kg of internal cargo or up to 6,803kg of external cargo, thanks to its medium lift and vertical takeoff and landing capabilities.

There are currently more than 200 Ospreys in operation with the US military, according to Michael Rolecki, the V-22 production programme manager at Boeing.

The Osprey was involved in Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2009, Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and the Haiti humanitarian relief after the 2010 earthquake.

Mr Rolecki adds he expects the first international customer to the Osprey V-22 to sign up by next year.

“Japan, Qatar, the UAE, the United Kingdom and Israel are some of the nations who have shown genuine interest in the game changer,” Mr Rolecki told the Khaleej Times during a tour of the Ridley Park plant, which manufactures the V-22, in Philadelphia, Penn.

Additional defence innovations on display at the Dubai Airshow include a P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft, an AH-6i reconnaissance and attack helicopter, an F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet multi-role fighter aircraft and a CH-47 Chinook heavy-lift helicopter.

An AH-64 FD Apache helicopter and the UAE Air Force’s C-17 Globemaster III airlifter will also be on display as platforms in service with the UAE Armed Forces.

At the Boeing booth, a F-15E Strike Eagle flight simulator will demonstrate the aircraft’s range, speed and persistence.

Meanwhile, a high-tech 787 flight simulator will offer visitors a first-hand experience of the Dreamliner’s functions.

On the commercial side, Boeing’s regional customers will have two aircraft on static display. Qatar Airways will showcase its most fuel-efficient 787 Dreamliner, while flydubai will exhibit its 737-800, equipped with Boeing Sky Interior and business-class configuration.

In addition, Boeing has scheduled a series of product briefings, one of which will pull back the curtain on the yet-to-be unveiled 777X.

Designed to compete with the Airbus A350-1000, the 777X is expected to offer 10cm wider internal cabin width while retaining the fuselage cross-section of current models.

It will offer a marginally improved per seat mile advantage, according to Boeing. In addition, the 777X will incorporate a new composite wing and new GE9X engines, which will further boost economies.

Other defence aviation offerings will come from companies such as the US-based Beechcraft, whose products include the T-6 military trainer. The propeller-driven general aircraft maker will exhibit its AT-6 light attack aircraft for the first time in Dubai.

In addition, Beechcraft will show its line of King Airs – the King Air 350i, King Air 350ER and King Air C90GTx.

In August the company announced it had secured an order for up to a total of 105 King Air 350i aircraft, valued at $788m, representing the largest general aviation propeller-driven aircraft order in history.

business@thenational.ae