Dubai Air Show Day 1: Swanky Private Jets, Machine Guns, And A Sandstorm [PHOTOS]

on November 17 2013 3:09 PM
Bombardier Challenger 605
A Bombardier Challenger 605 at the Dubai Air Show 2013. Alberto Riva

The Dubai Air Show 2013 opened on Sunday to a barrage of orders from local airlines for hundreds of Boeing and Airbus jets, setting a record for the most orders at an airshow, at $192.3 billion. And that was just at the end of the first day, according to the show's organizers.

Among the many orders announced, the Boeing Co. (NYSE:BA) reaped the biggest single order ever in its history, a monster 150-airplane deal from hometown Emirates Airline that may be worth as much as $45 billion. Airbus, a unit of European Aeronautic Defence & Space Company NV (EPA:EAD) also took home hundreds of commitments including an order for 50 A380s, also from Emirates, giving a much-needed boost to the largest passenger airplane ever made.

The A380 was also expected in the skies over the Dubai World Central Airport, but was forced to remain on the ground like all other planes on display at the show, when authorities decided to cancel the day's flight program after a single exhibition (by the Emirati Air Force aerobatic team, Al Fursan). Strong winds gusting at more than 50 mph picked up sand from the surrounding desert, creating a near-sandstorm that was deemed too unsafe to fly in.

Journalists and photographers who had assembled next to the runway to see, among others, the cream of U.S. warplanes including the Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT) F-22 Raptor stealth fighter and the Rockwell B-1 Lancer bomber were forced instead to go for a tour of the stationary aircraft. The flight program may resume tomorrow, weather permitting; the event runs until Thursday.

Here is a sample of what was on exhibition Sunday afternoon at the Dubai Air Show, beginning with one of the stars. 

Airbus A380 Dubai An Emirates Airline A380.  Alberto Riva

Alongside the big ones -- there were also Boeing 737s and 787s and Airbus A320s -- manufacturers brought a slew of business jets. Private jet sales have ticked up after the world financial crisis hurt companies like U.S.-based Gulfstream Aerospace Corp., a unit of General Dynamics (NYSE:GD), and Canada's Bombardier Aerospace, a division of Bombardier Inc. (TSE:BBD.A), the two largest competitors in the industry. Both had their most recent offerings on display.

Gulfstream G280 A Gulfstream G280, built under licence in Israel by Israel Aircraft Industries. It can seat up to 10 people over 6,700 km (4,160 mi).  Alberto Riva

Gulfstream G450 A view of the port wing lights and raised wingtip of the larger Gulfstream G450, based on the Gulfstream IV, the famous billionaire toy from the 1990s. It flies up to 19 people over a maximum range of 8,000 km or 5,000 mi.  Alberto Riva

Gulfstream G650 The biggest sibling in the Gulfstream family is the G650, with a price tag upwards of $60 million. As the sign says, it can fly 18 people up to 13,000 km, 60% farther than the G450. It's also the fastest civilian airplane on the market.  Alberto Riva

What do these sleek beauties look like on the inside? The 650 was being shown to a potential customer, so it was largely off-limits. The Gulfstream people on site would not say who the customer was, when asked, but they agreed to a few snapshots.    

Gulfstream G650 interior Only the sink gives this richly carpeted area away as a lavatory. The toilet is hidden under a leather seat.  Alberto Riva

Gulfstream G650 cockpit A Gulfstream representative shows off the state-of-the-art digital flight deck of the 650. Our current position, on the ground in Dubai, is visible on the map displayed by the second screen from the right.  Alberto Riva

Not everything on the tarmac at Dubai World Central is this posh. There is a large contingent of military aircraft on display, too, and the priority there isn't comfort but practicality. Seating like this is the most efficient way of putting troops and gear inside a Boeing CH-47F Chinook of the United Arab Emirates Air Force.  United Arab Emirates Air Force CH-47F A shot from the cockpit towards the back showing the vast hold of the Chinook, one the biggest helicopters the U.S. ever produced.  Alberto Riva

 

United Arab Emirates Air Force CH-47F United Arab Emirates Air Force members lounge by their helicopter, with one of its 7.62 caliber, six-barrel machine guns.  Alberto Riva

But there was still a chance to peek inside a private jet, a Bombardier Challenger 605. It's one of the smaller offerings among top-end bizjets, but it still looks quite luxurious.

Bombardier Challenger 605 The rear end of the cabin of a Bombardier Challenger 605 business jet.  Alberto Riva

Finally, a chat with a young pilot from Flydubai, a low-cost airline that announced an order for up to 111 Boeing 737s on Sunday, led to sitting in the captain's chair for a while, looking through the heads-up display that shows, during flight, speed, altitude and other critical data.

Flydubai Boeing 737-800 flight deck Displays off, parking brake set: this Flydubai first officer has time for a chat with a journalist before going back to work the next day.  Alberto Riva

Boeing 737 heads-up display The world seen through the HUD of a brand-new Boeing 737. In flight, it would display all the info needed for basic control of the aircraft, letting the pilot focus on looking outside, not inside at the instruments.  Alberto Riva

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