The Paris Air Show takes flight

Written by admin on July 26, 2011 – 4:02 pm -

On Monday, June 20th, it’s come one and all in the aviation business to showcase their aircraft and see which company is going to come away with the greatest number of sales. The mega show opened at Le Bourget . It’s the world’s largest and oldest aviation trade show and this is when it’s make or break the bottom line to who orders what from which manufacturers.

More than 2,100 exhibitors from 45 countries are participating in the week-long event that showcases both commercial and defense aircraft. Airbus anticipates scoring big orders for its new, more fuel-efficient version of its workhorse A320 shorthaul jet. Boeing is highlighting its new mid-range 787 Dreamliner and its 747-8 intercontinental passenger jets.

The show is taking place amid skyrocketing fuel costs and bleak forecasts for the international air transport market. As a result, airlines will be on the hunt for cleaner and more cost effective ways to transport passengers. There are billions of dollars (not to mention thousands of jobs) at stake. A key emphasis is on environmentally friendly aircraft.

The International Air Transport Association warned that natural disasters in Japan, unrest in the Middle East and rising fuel prices, could cause the airline industry’s profits to collapse only a year after they’d begun to recover from the global economic crisis.

On the what’s new front: people will be carefully inspecting a solar plane, biofuel jet engines and pro-type planes of the future. For example, International aviation group EADS has revealed a concept for a Concorde replacement which could allow travel between Paris and Tokyo within three hours. Its Zero Emission Hyper Sonic Transport (ZEHST) concept, unveiled ahead of the Paris Air Show this week, uses rocket power to transport passengers above the Earth’s atmosphere, dramatically cutting flight times.

Airbus is pushing its “A320neo” a revamped version of the standard A320 that has been reengineered to be 15 percent more fuel efficient. According to Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Boeing is advising buyers to be patient.

Airbus’ first order at the Paris air show was from GE Capital Aviation Services, or GECAS, an aircraft leasing company. It signed a confirmed order for 60 A320neo aircraft, valuing the deal at $5.47 billion.

The commercial leasing and financing arm of General Electric (GE) ordered the aircraft with CFM’s LEAP-X engine for all 60 aircraft, bringing the total number of aircraft in the A320 family ordered by GECAS to 390.

Qatar Airways: The upstart, fast-growing Gulf carrier is buying extended versions of the long-range jet, the 777-300, Qatar Airways CEO Akbar al-Baker said during a news conference alongside Boeing’s commercial aircraft chief. On the plus side of the balance sheet for Boeing: It just announced the first big-ticket order in its rivalry with Airbus as the Paris Air Show is taking off. Qatar Airways ordered six 777 jets for a total of $1.7 billion.

Airlines squeezed by higher fuel prices are rushing to order the Airbus jet, which isn’t scheduled to be ready until late 2015. Boeing’s top marketing executive Randy Tinseth said last week it will decide in the coming months whether or not to upgrade its existing 737 model or design an entirely new plane, which wouldn’t be available until the end of the decade.

In the meantime, Airbus has booked more than 330 orders and commitments for the A320neo since its commercial launch last December. Airlines include: IndiGo, Virgin American, Brazil’s TAM and airplane leasing company ILFC have placed orders as of now.  A (more than) slight embarrassment:  The Airbus A380 super jumbo jet suffered damage to its wing tip Sunday after the slow-speed collision with a building at the Le Bourget and the plane has been grounded.

Boeing and Honeywell are both touting the first biofuel-powered trans-Atlantic flight, with Boeing flying in its 747-8 freighter from Seattle on a mix of biofuel and jet fuel. Honeywell is taking credit for the “green jet fuel” it developed to power a Gulfstream business jet on its way from New Jersey to Le Bourget just in time for the air show kickoff.

EADS will demonstrate the world’s first diesel-electric hybrid aircraft at the show, part of its strategy of cutting its fleet’s carbon dioxide emissions by 50 percent by 2050.

OPTICOR is displaying its advanced transparent plastic that has been developed for aerospace applications. Gulfstream has chosen the OPTICOR material for use in the new G650 jet’s passenger-cabin windows. PPG Aerospace’s advanced transparency material has passed the qualification testing of Federal Aviation Administration. Show attendees will have an opportunity to view a passenger-cabin window designed with the OPTICOR material. Don’t hold your breath. These plane won’t be ready for at least 40 years.

The Paris Air Show is the battleground for the traditional biannual showdown between Boeing and Airbus for which manufacturer can generate new and more orders. Airlines in the fast-growing Asian and Middle Eastern countries have been ordering hundreds of new aircraft to meet skyrocketing air traffic in those regions.

Airbus edged out Boeing at last year’s Farnborough International Air Show, booking deals totaling $13.2 billion; Chicago-based Boeing’s orders totaled $12.8 billion.

These results were a significant improvement over Paris Air Show in 2009, when many airlines closed their checkbooks in the wake of the global financial meltdown. Boeing Co. upped its forecast for aircraft demand over the next 20 years, saying airlines will need $4 trillion worth of new planes to meet a pickup in passenger numbers, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region.

If you happen to be in Paris and see a lot of wining and dining taking place, don’t be surprised. This happens when there are billions of dollars at stake.

Posted in Consumer Traveler |