Pilots show off planes' capabilities

PARIS — Mike Rambo is a demonstration pilot for Hawker Beechcraft's T-6 trainer program. But once a week he's out at the El Dorado airport practicing aerobatics maneuvers.

Here at the Paris Air Show at Le Bourget Airport outside Paris, Rambo performs those same maneuvers for a much larger audience. He's been demonstrating them daily to the thousands who gather to watch the afternoon entertainment.

Each afternoon, some of the more than 140 aircraft in the static display carry out flying demonstrations.

Rambo taxis out the company's AT-6 turboprop and takes to the skies, performing barrel rolls, Cuban 8s, aileron rolls, inverted flight and other maneuvers.

His AT-6 shares the show with an Airbus A380; Boeing's 787 Dreamliner and 747-8; Dassault Rafale's Eurocopter X3; the Lockheed Super Constellation; an F-16 and others.

The flying demonstrations let exhibitors show off their aircraft's technological expertise.

Performing at the Paris Air Show is challenging, Rambo said.

Each pilot gets six minutes to perform. The clock starts ticking when the plane begins to roll out onto the runway and stops when the wheels turn off the runway.

That keeps the air show schedule on time.

Its proximity to busy Charles de Gaulle airport make the airspace congested. "There's no margin for error," Rambo said. "You're not allowed to go into Charles de Gaulle airspace."

The challenges add another level of excitement to performing, he said.

"Any pilot who does this (aerobatics) thrives on excitement," Rambo said.

Showing off features

Roger Hubble reaches down to a round hatch on the floor of a special mission-configured King Air and unlatches it.

Underneath, a large round hole reveals the pavement underneath. That feature can save a life, said Hubble, a Hawker Beechcraft special mission project manager. Through the hole, rescue workers can get a lifeboat down to someone in trouble in the water.

Specially equipped bubble windows allow rescue, border patrol workers or others have a view of the ground or water underneath to help in rescue or surveillance work.

The plane is also equipped with cameras that help with searches, including infrared cameras.

The camera can help find someone in the blackness of night using through the changes in temperatures of a person's body. Other devices allow pilots to preset a determined area to be searched and helps the pilots stay on course.

Chance to recruit

Airbus is using the Paris Air Show as a recruiting vehicle. It has set up a special chalet where applicants can find out about and apply for jobs.

The company plans to eventually add up to 3,000 employees to meet its development plans and prepare for the future, said spokeswoman Caroline Brown, who works in the Toulouse office.

Thirty percent of the new hires will be new graduates, 25 percent will be women, and there will be a focus on those with international profiles, she said.

A primary need is for experienced engineers in specialized fields, such as avionics, systems and composites. It also needs to recruit people experienced in lean manufacturing, management of external work packages and project management.

About half of the openings will be in France. Here, the company plans to hire about 1,500 over the next three years in production jobs to support the opening of the Airbus A350 final assembly line.

Positive report

The Paris Air Show was upbeat, Cowen and Co. analyst Cai von Rumohr wrote in an analyst report. The show indicates continuing robust demand for air transport and pricing to drive strong earnings gains through 2013, he said.

Boeing had a better air show than it appears, he said. And aftermarket sales also were vigorous.