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AERO 2023: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

An Opinionated Perspective on the Latest Trends and Innovations in the European General Aviation Market.

AERO 2023, held in Friedrichshafen, recently concluded, and it’s time to delve deeper into the show’s highlights and the evolution of the market since last year. This year’s event witnessed a significant shift away from electric aviation, as several manufacturers displayed (ultra) light aircraft equipped with small turboprop engines. The ultralight market appears to be experiencing considerable growth, with a diverse range of manufacturers presenting their line-ups to an eager audience.

Despite some disorganisation, with exhibitors dispersed throughout the venue, the event still provided valuable insights into the current state and future direction of the European general aviation market.

The Good

Outstanding Exhibitors

Cirrus, Piper, Rotax, Continental, and Pipistrel were among the standout exhibitors at the AERO 2023, impressing attendees with their engaging exhibits and knowledgeable staff. These companies showcased their latest products and shared valuable information about their current projects and future plans.

Cirrus: Selling a Lifestyle

Cirrus, in particular, attracted attention with their massive booth and extensive aircraft display. Focusing on selling a lifestyle rather than just aircraft, Cirrus offered visitors an immersive experience, complete with attentive staff, merchandise, and the opportunity to explore various aircraft models.

Piper: Iconic and Enthusiast-Friendly

Piper‘s booth, though smaller than Cirrus‘, also featured an array of aircraft and a welcoming atmosphere. The iconic brand has a special place in the hearts of aviation enthusiasts, and their presence at AERO 2023 did not disappoint.

Rheinland Air Service: Spacious and Interactive

Rheinland Air Service showcased their spacious stand, exhibiting a TBM 960 and Kodiak 900. AERO attendees were allowed on the booth and invited to explore the aircraft in detail, providing a more engaging experience compared to the restrictive Honda booth mentioned below.

Pipistrel: Innovative Designs and Transparent Conversations

Pipistrel, another standout exhibitor at AERO 2023, showcased their latest aircraft, including the new Panthera. In a candid conversation, the company’s former chief technology officer and current Director of Engineering & Programs discussed the potential hybrid engine they might install after certifying the aircraft with the Lycoming engine, without mentioning any plans for a purely electric version. Pipistrel was open about their recent takeover by Textron and emphasized the positive relationship they share.

Rotax and Continental: Engine Suppliers

Rotax showcased their complete engine line-up, including the new 916iS, while Continental displayed a Cessna 172 equipped with their CD-155 retrofit. Both companies demonstrated their commitment to innovation and customer engagement, with Rotax pushing the boundaries in engine performance and efficiency.

ForeFlight, Garmin, and Bose: Premier Accessories and Equipment

At AERO 2023, attendees enjoyed remarkable exhibits from top aviation accessory and equipment suppliers. ForeFlight (A Boeing Company), Garmin, and Bose showcased their extensive product line-ups in their impressive General Aviation Division booths. These companies highlighted their dedication to customer satisfaction through knowledgeable and attentive staff, eager to share information on their latest aviation solutions.

The Bad

Minimal Presence from Major Players

Cessna and Diamond Aircraft, two major players in the general aviation industry, had a disappointingly minimal presence at the event. Their lacklustre displays left attendees wanting more, and Honda‘s decision to exclude general aviation enthusiasts from accessing their Honda Jet exhibit was a let-down for many.

Lycoming: Underwhelming Showcase

Lycoming, a renowned aircraft engine manufacturer, had a surprisingly modest presence at AERO 2023. Their limited exhibition and seemingly inattentive staff did not meet the expectations of attendees who were looking forward to engaging with the company. Moreover, concerns regarding their long lead times for engine deliveries left some questioning Lycoming‘s ability to meet the demands of the general aviation market.

The Ugly

Stagnation in Electric Aviation

The lack of progress in the electric aviation sector was evident in Hangar A7, dedicated to electric aviation. With very few advancements displayed since the previous year, it was disheartening for those hoping to see significant breakthroughs in this sector. VoltAero‘s absence of a tangible product and Evolito‘s uncertain certification timeline also raised concerns among attendees.

Summary and Future Trends

AERO 2023 offered a snapshot of the current state of the European general aviation market, showcasing a shift towards hybrid and turboprop propulsion while maintaining conventional piston engines as the standard. As the market continues to evolve, it will be fascinating to see what new innovations and projects emerge in the coming years, such as the potential development of hydrogen combustion engines. AERO 2023 provided an invaluable opportunity for aviation enthusiasts and professionals alike to engage with manufacturers and suppliers, learn about the latest developments, and share their passion for the world of general aviation.

Foto: fairnamic

About Quest Aeronautics

Quest Aeronautics is a state-certified engineering office for aviation, dedicated to shaping the future of general aviation by providing innovative and cost-effective solutions to enhance aircraft performance and operations. With a focus on CS/FAR-23 and experimental/amateur-built (E/A-B) aircraft, Quest Aeronautics provides a range of services including flight testing, aircraft operations and maintenance consulting, high-quality aviation products, and tailored support for E/A-B projects. Collaborating with industry-leading partners, Quest Aeronautics is committed to delivering unparalleled support and expertise to individuals and organisations in the general aviation market.

About Author

Sebastian, the founder of Quest Aeronautics, is a driven and enthusiastic individual with a passion for aviation. Before delving into aviation, he gained valuable experience as a chemical process engineer and laboratory technician. Sebastian holds a Master of Science in Engineering and a commercial pilot licence, with several fixed-wing aircraft ratings under his belt. He has also completed an introduction course for fixed-wing performance and flying qualities flight testing at the National Test Pilot School in Mojave, CA and is compliance verification engineer for flight.