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Today I managed to sneak into the Farnborough Airshow under a trade pass to sample the delights of this bi-annual event without the public crowds of the great unwashed in my continuing search for innovation. After all, the defences, aviation and IT industries are joined at their respective hips as innovations in one are keenly felt in the others. Take for example the Eurofighter Typhoon Cockpit, it is pretty uncomplicated and has far fewer switches and buttons than most jet fighters. Pretty amazing when you think there is only one person to flying, navigate and use the weapons, when it's predecessor, the Panavia Tornado had two pilots. This is because computing power has taken the job of one man away and made the remains pilots job far easier as well, he doesn't even need to fly the plane as the computers do a lot of that for him (and sadly I do say he as, as yet no women has) . Infact after a catastrophic power failure the plane will not be able to fly or even glide so the only option is to eject.

DSC_0059The Geek side of me couldn't wait to see the Airbus A380 and watch this Goliathan nimbly roll around the sky. This was such a treat. I suspect however that it wouldn't pull half the stunts it did at the airshow on a normal flight as people and luggage would get thrown about everywhere, weight allowing!

What I found hard to believe was the A380 green credentials which are 50 mpg per person. And as it uses a jet kerosene and 40 percent gas to liquids (GTL) fuel so there is far less sulphur which improves air quality over existing planes, still the same amount of CO2 so no winner there.

So does the A380 herald a time of larger but fewer planes? Well this is the promise, however I suspect that it will really end up being more larger planes which in-effect is what the 747 did back in the 1960's. Boeing however have taken a different track with the 787 which is wide-bodied and will hold upto 330 seats using mostly composite materials, it's aim will be to be more fuel efficient.

DSC_0002 To the important stuff now, the level of 'swag' at the show was much lower than other years, however a fan with a LED display was the coolest thing I was given (by a very nice Texan) on the National Utilities Co. stand.

I also found rather ironically that UK Trade & Investment Agency, which is a Government body, was giving away squigy brains, obviously freshly sucked from civil-servants heads that morning and USB keys. Sadly mine didn't have any bank-details of single-mums just a Quicktime movie that didn't work but at 512MB I'm not complaining.

What I found very sad this year was that some of the larger companies didn'tDSC_0071 have stands in the main halls but displays in stands of their own. Many of them could only be visited by Invitation only which I thought was particularly bad in the case of Northrop Grumman who are the beneficiaries of many UK tax pounds thanks to the purchase of the F-35 Lighting II and all we got to see was a nice full-sized model tucked out the way so I thought a little more effort could have been made so we can see what we are getting and an explanation why this plane is so great.

At the photoshoot where Lewis Hamilton, F1 driver, was promoting some business jetThe next point I would like to make is for the red-blooded readers. The 'Booth Babes' were out in force this years and in particular were the 'TRAC girls' from Trac Group Ltd (or I suspect some modelling agency), or should I say army! For such a small stand tucked away at the back of Hall 4 they generated attention by marching these girls around the show, luring unsuspecting males to their stand like sirens. The stand itself was pretty unassuming apart from the crowd of pilots and army soldiers desperate to get digits. I have to say all joking aside, this kind of thing is so twenty years ago. I do wonder if it did infact work and Trac got some orders out of it, however it couldn't have done their credibility any good? As Trac did seem a little tacky?

The highlight of the day was seeing the restored Vulcan bomber, a pity I didn't see it flying but this will be a treat for the weekend visitors. What will also be a treat is that they are between corporate sponsors so an advertising opportunity for a beautiful machine that is generating a lot of interest. I for one have parted with my cash and become a member of the club to keep it flying as I prefer my national heritage better off in the sky than a museum.

Anyway, I would actually recommend going this weekend if you can, there is plenty there to fill aday and well worth the £28 entry which seems rather cheap for a day-out these days. Also if you have kiddy-winks it is a dream come true as this kind of thing will turn them into future Geeks and the swag is cheaper than a trip to Toy R Us and may last as long.

All said and done, a good Geek day out.

Update: I can't believe that I've had 150 hits from 'airshow+trac+girls' Google searches! What is up with you? The girls were rediculous! If you wanted any proof here you go! NOw pass this link round all your friend because this is not one Google search I want to bet at the top of.


Posted on Thursday, July 17, 2008 9:11 PM Main | Back to top

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