Pilot’s highlights from 2013’s show.

For those who might have been a bit gloomy about flying lately, Aero 2013 at Friedrichshafen brought a welcome ray of sunshine – literally and figuratively.

Perhaps it was the warm sunny weather outside, but inside the show halls there was something of a feeling of optimism as at least 18 new aircraft and a myriad products were launched. Some companies were also reporting sales starting to look up, too, though whether that was just spring optimism remains to be seen. Figures released at the show revealed that the GA market continues to stagnate and the number of aircraft delivered worldwide in 2012 was 2133, just 0.6% above the previous year. As you’d expect of the show’s two-year up and down cycle, this was the bigger one where more new products made their debut.

From Jeppesen came the trial version of Mobile FliteDeck VFR, a terrific new intuitive planning and navigation iPad app with a moving map that does just about everything a pilot needs, and will be initially be available from May as a free 28-day download.

Tecnam celebrated its 65th year by unveiling the much-trailed Astore, an attractive two-seat, Rotax-powered LSA with hints of the Sierra about it. The company also showed off its SNAP, a low wing LSA aerobatic aircraft and perhaps a good, less expensive way into aerobatics.

Cirrus, meanwhile, sounded confident as it looked ahead; its 2013 SR22 models have had a handy payload increase of 200lb and the company reported good orders well into the third quarter of 2013. It also revealed that it plans to have the certification model of the long-awaited SF50 Vision Jet ready for early 2014 with deliveries in 2015. It also put out a plea for engineers, saying “we’re hiring”.

It was good to see the completed version of Funk’s scaled-down P-51 Mustang which, unlike some scaled versions of classic aircraft, looked to have just the right proportions.

Elsewhere there was an unveiling for the intriguing Konner K1, an R22-size two-seat helicopter with a 250shp turbine engine, and glider manufacturer Alexander Schleicher unveiled its ASG 32 twenty-metre glider, the first new two-seater from the company in many years.

So, a good show with much to see inside this year, even it is warm and sunny outside.

For a gallery of images click on the link at the top right of this article.

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