#BIAS2015 - About Eurofighter Typhoon with Wing Commander James Heald (Interview)

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Eurofighter Typhoon is a multi-role supersonic fighter aircraft, designed and manufactured by a consortium owned by three companies: Alenia Aermacchi (21%), Airbus Group (46%) and BAE Systems Military Air & Information (33%). The multinational company is called Eurofighter Jagdflugzeug GmbH and was formed in 1986.

The development of the aircraft actually started in 1983 through the program "Future European Fighter Aircraft”, A multinational collaboration between the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy and Spain. Due to disagreements over the design authority and operational requirements, France left the consortium and started developing an independent project - Dassault Rafale. The first Eurofighter prototype aircraft made the first flight on March 27 1994. The name of the aircraft, Typhoon, was officially adopted in September 1998, and the first production contracts were signed in the same year.

The prolonged political problems between the partner nations have significantly affected the development of Typhoon. The sudden end of the Cold War reduced the European demand for fighter jets. Typhoon was introduced into operational service only in the year 2003. At present, the aircraft has entered the service of the Austrian, British, Italian, German, Spanish, Oman and Saudi Air Force, in total being commanded by 571 units (information from 2013).

Eurofighter Typhoon It is a very agile aircraft, designed to be extremely efficient in the fight with other aircraft. It is considered the second aircraft to perform after the F22 Raptor, but nonetheless, the Raptor is about twice as expensive.

Eurofighter Typhoon
Eurofighter Typhoon

New-generation Typhoon aircraft have been better equipped to perform air-to-ground attack missions and are compatible with a large number of different weapons and equipment, including Storm Shadow and Brimstone RAF. Typhoon made his debut in combat, during Libya's 2011 military intervention, with the Royal Air Force and the Italian Air Force, conducting reconnaissance missions and ground attacks.

Royal Air Force owns the largest fleet of such aircraft (160) and is present at the Bucharest International Air Show with 3 among them. One is in static display, one is backup and one will evolve to height.

Airlines Travel team with James Heald
Airlines Travel team with James Heald

Teodora Iulia Grama (AirlinesTravel editor) spoke with Commander Commander of the 29 Royal Air Force Coningsby, Lincolnshire, Wing Commander James Heald:

Teodora Iulia Grama: Tell us a little bit about the show you will be playing at BIAS 2015 tomorrow.

James Heald: Our program will take approximately 8 minutes, during which time we will use around 3 tons of fuel and it is extremely noisy. We will fly at speeds between 110 and 600 knots (approximately 200 and 1100 km / h) and will be subjected to forces between 3G, which is very uncomfortable, and + 9G.

TIG: What was the moment when you knew you wanted to become a pilot?

JH: I remember when I was a kid and my parents took me to an aviation meeting. From that moment on, I never wanted to do anything else. I'm lucky, I've been a pilot for about 20 years, but that's also why I have so many white threads (laughs).

Eurofighter Typhoon
Eurofighter Typhoon

TIG: At what age did you start flying?

JH: I got a pilot's license before I got my driver's license. I got my PPL (Private Pilot License) on a Cessna in 1987. I was 17 years old. Only 2 months later I obtained my driving license. Since then, I love that.

TIG: How many hours of flight do you have at active duty?

JH: Overall, a little over 4000 hours. Most are made on fighter jets. I started Jaguar, a simple-order aircraft that is no longer in service. I was 3 for years in the United States where I piloted the F-18 from the US Marine Corps in California. It was very fun and, most importantly, clear. This does not happen very often from where I am. When I returned to England, I started flying on Typhoon. Since December 2013, I am the Command Officer of the 29 Squadron. I still have 6 months, and then I'll have to hand over the order to another person. That day will be a sad day for me, but fortunately, I have some time left until then. It is the best job I have ever had and probably will ever have.

TIG: How do you feel about piloting a Eurofighter Typhoon compared to other fighter jets you've been flying with?

JH: The typhoon is an aircraft that can be controlled very easily. Even if it is piloted "very badly", its systems will help you and "forgive you". The traction power of the engines will get you out of the straps you could get into. It is the most capable, from all points of view, the plane I flew with. People who have flown with a Typhoon get out of it with a huge smile on their face and this is a delight to fly with. So, compared to all the other aircraft I flew with, I think it is superior.

TIG: What do you think of the comparisons being made between Dassault Rafale and Eurofigher Typhoon?

JH: I think Rafale and Typhoon are quite similar in many respects. This is probably due to the fact that the French were part of the Eurofighter program until they decided to discontinue the collaboration with the other countries and to start Rafale's design. Placed side by side, the two planes are very similar. However, the typhoon benefits from more power than Rafale. You will see in tomorrow's show how the amount of power provided by the engines allows us to loop directly from the take-off maneuver.

Eurofighter-Typhoon-4

TIG: So would you say that means one point for the English and zero for the French?

JH: (Laughs) I've never flown with Rafale, but it looks like a very high-performance aircraft and, as I said, very similar to the Typhoon. I'm sure the French will say that Rafale is better than Typhoon. It is normal, we all love the planes we fly. The typhoon is in operation in 7 different countries, has demonstrated its fighting skills, is being improved every day and has a lot of potential. It has a very large wing, extraordinary control systems and has a lot of power. The sky is the limit when it comes to the Eurofighter Typhoon and I would be confident to fight anything. But I think you expect me to say that, don't you?

TIG: One of the Typhoons you came up with has a special livery. What it is?

Eurofighter Typhoon - livery anniversary
Eurofighter Typhoon - livery anniversary

JH: That's how it is! It is a livery that marks the centenary of the 29 Royal Air Force Coningsby Squadron. The colors "ruby red" and "champagne gold" are inspired by the badge of the squadron. On the badge is an eagle in flight, preying on a mouse and the motto "Impiger et acer" (energetic and eager). On the tail of the plane are other planes that have been flown in the Squadron for the last 100 years. During this time, the Squadron fought in World War II. We are one of the oldest fighter squadron in the world and it was the second British Eurofighter Typhoon squadron to come. I think the aircraft looks fantastic and is a real tribute to all those who served at the 29 Squadron. The team responsible for designing and producing this magnificent livery should be extremely proud of themselves.

TIG: Thank you very much and it is an honor to meet you!

JH: Thank you also for the hospitality your country has shown since we arrived and we are waiting for you at the show tomorrow!

(Photo cover: thelincolnite.co.uk/)

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