Aviation News

July 20, 2008

Farnborough Beats Predictions of a Thin and Grim Air Show

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By: Gordon Gebert, Jr.
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A380 Tail
A380 Tail

Despite the airline industry’s current turmoil and counter to predictions by pundits that this years major international air show would be a bust, Farnborough got off to a great start with excellent attendance and all major exhibitors out in full force. Boeing and Airbus have booked nearly 500 orders each for the year and Bombadardier has launched their new C series at the show with German carrier Lufthansa as the launch customer.

The Airbus A380 as seen at the Singapore Air Show in February 2008.
Photo by Eric Dunetz

Perhaps the mood is best summed up by Boeing boss Scott Carson who points out that demand for new airliners is high because due to high fuel prices which cause airlines to seek more efficient and environmentally sound aircraft. In fact, the theme for many of the manufacturers was centered on environmental concerns including Airbus with their A380 sporting the titles “A better environment inside & out” on the massive tail.

But no fuel was spared in the demonstrations at the opening of the show. The A380’s acrobatics were spectacular and extensive. The EADS A310 based tanker was equally spectacular and lengthy. The military displays, three supersonic fighters, were similarly remarkable but environmentally questionable. A large number of industry executives as well as members of the media and other visitors were numerous.

The politically and economically problematic Eurofighter, which several countries are now trying to cancel orders for, was demonstrated with great exuberance, with impressive acrobatics ranging from supersonic speeds down to a flyby at about 60 knots. The press is simultaneously reporting here in Europe that England and Germany are threatening to pull orders and cancel their role in the partnership that is producing this aircraft. The Eurofighter was designed in the 1980’s as an advanced strike fighter but the project quickly became embroiled in disputes and controversy as the Cold War ended and the need for this type fighter was seriously questioned.

Airbus and EADS were present at the show with multi-pavilion displays and exhibited a Kingfisher A330-200, an Airbus A380 in company colors, and an A310 tanker in EADS colors. Boeing was represented at the show with aircraft, which included a Boeing 777-300ER destined for Air India. Other companies exhibiting included ATR, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, GE, Embrarer, Textron, CFM, and more.