Paris Air Show wowed by crop-duster

The AT-802 crop-duster

TEXT OF STORY

Bill Radke: At this week's Paris Air Show, the atmosphere has been mostly glum. But a highlight has been the debut of a new American plane: a heavily-armed crop duster. From the European Desk in London,
Stephen Beard reports.


Stephen Beard: The AT-802 crop-duster comes equipped with three-barrel machine guns, a pair of rocket launchers and a clutch of 500-pound bombs. It's tempting to think that this bizarre contraption was inspired by the movies. Hitchcock, anyone?

Observer: That's funny.

Observer 2: What?

Observer: That plane's dusting crops where there ain't no crops.

Remember the scene in North by Northwest, when Carey Grant comes under attack by a crop-duster? In reality, the AT-802 is designed to spray and destroy illegal drug plantations in Latin America. Such planes often have to dodge bullet and rocket-fire from drug traffickers.

Aviation commentator David Buik says the AT-802 has made a big impression in Paris:

David Buik: Le Bourget Air Show, which has been as dull as ditchwater this year obviously for economic reasons, was brightened up by this James Bond crop-dusting plane turned into a sort of rocket launcher.

No firm orders yet, but the makers, Air Tractor of the U.S., reckons it will sell for less than $5 million, half what its competitors charge for a comparable plane.

In London, this is Stephen Beard for Marketplace.

About the author

Stephen Beard is the European bureau chief and provides daily coverage of Europe’s business and economic developments for the entire Marketplace portfolio.

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