Feria Internacional del Aire y del Espacio (FIDAE) Report

Tuesday 27th March - Sunday 1st April 2012

FIDAE started in 1980 at Base Aérea El Bosque to commemorate 50 Years of the Chilean Air Force. In that time was named FIDA, Feria Internacional del Aire (International Air Fair). The fair was very successful, so the Air Force decided to repeat it every two years. Due to good results and the growing of the fair, in 1990 the name was changed to FIDAE, Feria Internacional del Aire y del Espacio (International Air & Space Fair) and was moved to a bigger airport at Los Cerrillos. In 2006 was moved again to Base Aérea Pudahuel in Comodoro Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport. As usual this year, the fair exceeded all expectations, especially because it is a rare opportunity to see international aviation in South America.

Antonio Segovia Rentería reports from Chile's International Air & Space Fair. All photography by the author.

This year was the 17th edition of FIDAE and the theme was "experience makes the difference". The fair extended from 27th March to 1st April 2012, however the most active days were Sunday 25th and Monday 26th, because those were the "arrival days" so it was an opportunity to see in flight many of the planes that came just for the static show.

This year the big attractions were Boeing's new 787, the Airbus pair of A-400M and A-380, KAI T-50 Golden Eagle, C-27J Spartan, Dash 8 Q400, Bell 407AH, Bell 429 and the Eurocopter AS-350B3.

Other visitors included a Twin Otter 400 series, FAdeA IA-63 Pampa 2, Bombardier Challenger 300, Beechcraft 350ER King Air, Beech G58 Baron, Citation CJ4, Citation Excel, Embraer Phenom 100 and 300, Pilatus PC-12 and Air Tractor from Argentina.

Some Chilean civilian examples included a PZL W-3A Sokol from CONAF (Forest National Corporation), AW-109S Grand from Aerocardal and Dornier 328 from Aerocardal too, Agusta A-119 Koala, EC-120 Colibri (Hummingbird), Bell 206 Jet Ranger, MBB Bo-105 for MEDEVAC from company DAP, EC-135 and one "classic" plane, the PBY Catalina.

Furthermore as usual FIDAE received many interesting visitors like Mirage 2000C, C-130, EC-725, E-99 and VC-99 from the Brazilian Air Force; EMB-120 from Uruguayan Air Force; B-737 from the Mexican Air Force, F-16, C-130 and KC-10 from the USAF, Dauphin and Pilatus PC-7 from Chilean Navy Aviation, Cougar, Puma and MD-369 from the Chilean Army, AW-109 Power from Carabineros and AS-350B3 Ecureuil from PDI. Also FIDAE received one of the most "classic" visitors, the Esquadrilha da Fumaça, the aerobatics team from Brazil.

For the majority of the visitors the most interesting aircraft was the KAI T-50, because the Chilean Air Force is searching for the next replacement to A-36 Halcón (C-101 Aviojet), for the advanced training duties in Grupo 1 in Los Cóndores Air Force base at Iquique.

Although one of the most anticipated aircraft was the A-400M, unfortunately it just arrived for static display. On Monday many spotters were at the control tower to catch from a very good place its taxiing and welcoming water arc. Maybe this moment was the most exciting one in FIDAE 2012. A few minutes before the A-400M arrived, one of the rarest visitors to FIDAE, the EMB-120 from Uruguayan Air Force, also landed.

The aerial demo flights were very impressive, especially the Italian Air Force C-27J Spartan, performing several loops and very agile turns. Another stunning flight was realized by A-380, considering it was a huge plane making heavy turns and lifting a big dust clouds during the takeoff. Another surprise was the KAI T-50, which demonstrated it is a mighty design with very powerful capabilities for an advanced trainer.

In the helicopters area the flight of Bell 407AH showed the agility and maneuverability of this military version of the Bell 407, making very low flight turns and approach. Another interesting show was provided by the local performance of Ecureuil from Policía de Investigaciones (Investigative Police that works with the prosecutor and judge), which made an arrest with troops and lifted seized "drugs" with the lower hook of the helicopter. As usual the Chilean Air Force performed flights demo with F-16 Block 50 and F-16MLU.

The aerobatic flights were performed with two regular participants in FIDAE. The local aerobatic team Halcones (Falcons) in the Extra-300L and Brazilian Esquadrilha da Fumaça on its typical T-27 Tucano.

It was a very good airshow, with friendly people from the Chilean Air Force organization who provided access to the control tower, clearly the best place in the airshow, except if you were outside on the east fence side of the runway. Definitely it was a very good show with several opportunities to catch some uncommon aircraft from South American Air Forces.