September 29 2022, Kimpton Fitzroy London
Friday 30 September 2022, JW Marriott Grosvenor
21 November 2022, Hilton London Metropole
It may not have been one of the greatest Farnboroughs - many said it was the dullest for some years, reflecting the UK economic outlook - but nevertheless the 2008, and 60th anniversary, air show and exhibition seems to have been a fine success. Trade numbers were on par with the 140,000 of 2006, and at 153,000 public day attendance was nearly 20 per cent up on last time.
Exhibitors totalled just over a record 1,500, 39 countries were represented and there was a clear improvement in the standard of the hall exhibitions and layout. Road access is still a problem, but maybe a long term solution can be found. Free bus access from three railway stations helped considerably and the security was pleasant and efficient. Others please note!
The military stole the show with the first European appearance of the F22 vectored fighter, a sort of high speed Harrier, that performed a most amazing display, plus AVRO”s classic Vulcan cold war bomber, making a popular return. The air show opened with the Aero Sekur ladies Sky Diving Team. What Sir Geoffrey de Havilland and Sir Frederick Handley Page would have made of it is anybody”s guess.
Farnborough 2006 introduced the Airbus A380 to the British public. This year was supposed to be Boeing”s 787 Dreamliner debut but that is now not expected to fly until the end of the year. No doubt by 2010 it will be on show, perhaps painted one side British Airways and the other Virgin Atlantic?
There appeared to be a dearth of commercial orders although at the end of the day the numbers seemed impressive; Airbus claiming 256 aircraft, valued at US$40.5bn. Gone are the days when Airbus and Boeing tried to outkid each other with really massive sales numbers, translated by the tabloids and less serious news outlets into wishful thinking.
An aircraft order could be a contract commitment, a memorandum of understanding (whatever that means), a letter of intent (which might be translated into a proper deal at a later date), or a pledge by a leasing company which would of course be announced subsequently as another airline sale.
There were orders but no major commitments from America or Europe (except for Lufthansa again chasing the holy grail for a BAe 146/AVRO replacement with a deal for 30 of Bombardier”s new C series, highly efficient and starting at 110 seats). The players in the Middle East split their obligations fairly evenly between Airbus and Boeing, whilst South Korea”s Asiana Airlines placed a firm order for 30 Airbus A350 XWBs.
Etihad of Abu Dhabi, now established in the big league, set their stall out for the future with a total of 100 firm pledges, and Emirates, never one to shy away from the limelight, unveiled FlyDubai, a low-cost carrier operating Boeing 737NGs, with a mid-2009 introduction target. Initially the national carrier will help the new airline get established, contributing ”all support, as required, up to its first flight.” FlyDubai will not be part of the Emirates Group.
Readers of a certain vintage may recall that in the not so distant past the role of the major commuter aircraft supplier was being fought between ATR, de Havilland/Bombardier, British Aerospace, Dornier, Fokker and Saab, plus various Russian aircraft that never sold in the West. Embraer was emerging, clearly a star in the making. Too many we said. And we were right. Only the Franco-Italian consortium, Canada”s major aircraft manufacturer, and the relatively new boys from Brazil have survived.
And now fully into the 21st century. The benchmark has changed. One hundred seats is what is called for as a point of reference rather than the 50-passenger target of years gone by. But the lessons of the past have not been learnt. New manufacturers are on the scene and selling their wares. Two from Russia, two from Japan. Several from China. All jets.
There was also much discussion on whether the big turboprop might make a comeback. Remember the Vickers Vanguard and Lockheed Electra of yesteryear? Lockheed still produces a military development, the C130, 50 years later. We might yet fly on 100-seat turboprops in the years to come. ATR says the 72 burns half the fuel of an equivalent regional jet per flying hour.
One of the most interesting yet unheralded areas of the show, and somewhat lost behind BAe Systems massive participation, was the International Pioneers of Flight pavilion, a collaborative effort between Farnborough”s Air Trust Museum, the National Aviation Heritage of Dayton, Ohio, and Brooklands, the home of British aviation.
The pavilion held four accurate, full-scale replicas of early 20th-century aircraft. For the first time in history the AVRO Biplane (1908) and AVRO Triplane (1910), the Cody Flyer (1908) and the Wright B Flyer (1909) were all displayed together under one roof. The show also saw the publication of a new book entitled The 100 Greatest Women in Aviation (www.aerocomm.aero) telling the story of the first female passenger in 1908 until the present day airline pilots.
Where does Farnborough go from here? The selling of 2010 (19 ” 25 July) has already begun in earnest and while the Olympics of 2012 will not clash (they start July 27, Farnborough 16 ” 22 July.) if you want to stay in London at that time you would be well advised to get your booking in now. And remind your hotel that yours is a regular commitment, albeit every two years.
According to Farnborough International Ltd (FIL), itself a subsidiary of the UK”s aerospace trade association, the Society of British Aerospace Companies (SBAC), the event is worth ”19m for the local economy alone. The doubling of the business aircraft participation over the last two shows has ensured a focus in this rapidly expanding part of the industry, and the location of the TAG facility, just across the runway, can only help.
The exhibition is one of the major shop windows for the international aviation industry and a marvellous networking opportunity. It competes with Paris, which features in the alternative year, but that rivalry is friendly. It needs to stay ahead of rising competition from new Middle and Far East trade shows, but has the added advantage of its nearness to the world”s most effective international airport, Heathrow.
The main topics of conversation at this year”s Farnborough have been the oil price and environmental issues. Where does the aviation industry go from here? Travel, air travel that is, is a key component of mankind”s move into the 21st century. Technology has always won. It will win this time around too.