Paris Air Show 2009: Air Truck AT802U One of the Few Highlights
The Paris Air Show, one of the world's largest aerospace trade shows, is underway. The show, also known as the Salon International de l'Aéronautique et de l'Espace, Paris-Le Bourget, is a marquee event where aerospace companies unveil new products.
The skies were gray and the atmosphere gloomy during the first day of the Paris Air Show. The current economic crisis has hit the aerospace industry hard. During the opening day, Boeing failed to lock up a single jet order. Rival Airbus didn't do much better.
"Insipid," was the judgment of one Paris regular, Arran Aerospace director Doug McVitie. He said that even the flying displays were pretty unexciting, with the Airbus A380 and the Lockheed Martin F-16 delivering more of the same. As for turnout, McVitie said there seemed to be at least 25% fewer guests attending the show.
One theme coming out of this year's Paris Air Show has been the popularity of cheaper, sturdier airplanes such as the Air Truck AT802U made by Air Tractor Inc.
At the Le Bourget airfield outside Paris, Air Tractor Inc., of Olney, Texas, is displaying its prototype Air Truck AT-802U, which is essentially a two-seat combat-ready crop-duster with weapons and advanced electronics.
Its chunky no-nonsense looks are brutish enough to make passing generals stop and stare. It 8,000-pound payload of missiles, rockets, cannons and bombs offers a contrasting image of air warfare to the larger, sleeker jet fighters that cost tens of millions of dollars and are the usual show-stoppers here.