NARRATIVE BY BEN ROURKE & IMAGES BY MARK ROURKE
FARNBOROUGH TRADE SHOW 2016
With Boeing reaching their one hundredth year in the aerospace industry and manufacturers showing off their latest aircraft, initiatives and advancements, Farnborough international airshow 2016 was set to be full of celebrations, bumper orders and a display of cutting edge technology. And it certainly didn’t fail to meet our expectations. The 7 day air show, with the first 4 being exclusively for trade, hosted 1500 exhibitors from 52 countries with a further 73,000 trade visits over the course of the 5 days making it the largest aviation event on the 2016 calendar. Despite the UK’s interesting weather putting on a biblical display of Rain, Thunder, Lightning and Hail, causing localised flooding, power cuts and even forcing an early evacuation of the Trade halls, a first in Farnborough in its 30+ years. However, it certainly didn’t dampen the flow of orders and options for aircraft, engines and supply chain orders, which mounted to a total cost of US$124 billion.
Reviewing the success of the Air show, Farnborough International Chief Executive Shaun Ormrod said, “We are delighted that the show has been such a success – the orders announced together with the large number of aircraft coming to Farnborough for the first time is a promising indicator that the industry is in great shape”
Despite numbers looking high and the organizers appearing to reflect on the show very positively, this year’s show had less order activity than the deal announcements than the record breaking 2014 show where orders and options for aircraft, engines and supply chain orders mounted to US$201 billion.
What was on offer?
- 4 air conditioned halls full of over 1000 aviation related exhibits.
- Extensive array of new aircraft on static display.
- Incredible flying programme consisting of over 20 aircraft.
Over the 4 main days of trade (Monday to Thursday) the 1500 exhibitors offer anything from aircraft to specialist sunglasses, electric tugs to pilot training, engines to turbine blades. Despite each individual company offering all very different products or services, they all share one thing in common. That being each company displays their latest, most advanced products at the summit of technological advancement. Such that, a very eye opening speech in the very immersive ‘Saab Experience” by Marcus Wendt, gave all us attendees to the speech an amazing realisation of the rapidly developing technical side of aviation. As a quick example, Marcus, an experimental test pilot for Saab, showed that the the calculations per second of avionics per $1000 between 1980 and 2016 has increased by 1000 million calculations per second, a staggering number! However, this increase is small on a scale to 2050 where the “continuously accelerating development” can be seen, showing how with each year that passes, the previous years development was small in comparison to the following years development in technology. To conclude, being a biannual trade show the development in technology between each show is staggering with the industry going from strength to strength.
Being the birthplace of British aviation, and staging Britain’s first ever sustained powered flight, Farnborough Airport couldn’t be a better venue to host the biennial showcase of worldwide aviation. Now owned by TAG Aviation, the airport itself is utilised mostly in the corporate aviation sector, with a small number of scheduled traffic operations held on behalf of BAE Systems. Traffic mainly consists of Cessna Citations, Bombardier Challengers, Dassault Falcons, Learjets and Gulfstreams, with BBJ’s and ACJ’s making the odd appearance along with Embraer E135s. Aside from the airfield, links between TAG and local colleges allow students to gain apprenticeships within the aviation industry. Keen to show off the exciting career prospects within the Aerospace and defence sectors to people aged 11-21, Futures day held on Friday gives young people an interactive and fun engagement within the world of aviation.
With Business from the show in the limelight of public and media attention, Farnborough Airshow has a much more exciting, light hearted atmosphere than you could imagine from an intensive 4 days of selling and buying at the world’s largest aviation Trade show. With over 40 aircraft on display From an array of manufacturers including the likes of Airbus and Boeing to the smaller companies such as Diamond and Pilatus, many opportunities can be had to immerse yourself in the aircraft on display. With companies such as Cargo Logic Air even giving a great tour of their Boeing 748, along with Saab with a mock up of their Gripen whilst chatting to their test pilot about the key features of the modern Swedish fighter.
Despite the CAA’s newly enforced display restrictions post Shoreham crash, forcing higher and further displays, the likes of the A380, A350, A400, 787 and 737 still didn’t fail to wow crowds, with steep climbs, sharp turns and short landing performances displayed by the aircraft being pushed to their limit showing off their capabilities to potential investors.
The 2 big Guns!
With Airbus attending Farnborough airshow 2016 in the midst of teething problems with their latest narrowbody aircraft the A32X series NEO and facing tough decisions about the future of their A380 SuperJumbo aircraft, some large, high value firm orders certainly gave the french manufacturer some much needed positive news and coverage. Airbus dominated both the narrowbody market (70%) and overall aircraft market (69%) over its American rival Boeing at the 2016 trade show with 279 orders and commitments worth over $35 billion. The largest order came from Air Asia with orders for 100 Airbus A321 NEO aircraft along with options for a further 100 more, both with a high density 240 seat layout, a new feature of the brand new A321 NEO. Another Asian carrier GOAir, also placed an order for 72 A321 Neo’s along with another large order from the German carrier, Germania, ordering 25 A320 Neo’s and options for a further 15. Despite orders being vacant in the military field for Airbus Defense and Space, an interesting deal between Airbus Defense and Turkey’s Roketsan was signed to arm Airbus’ C-295 aircraft with laser-guided missiles and bombs an addition to Airbus’ plans to give the widely sold transport plane new roles.
Contrastingly, Airbus’s American Rival Boeing, triumphed in the Military market with the Uk’s Ministry Of Defence purchasing 5 billion bounds worth of Aircraft including 9 P-8 Poseidon maritime patrollers and 50 Apache attack helicopters. The P8 Poseidon aircraft will be accompanied by a new 100 million pound training and support facility at RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland, the main operating base for the Poseidon fleet within the RAF. The order at Farnborough 2016 was important for the UK’s MOD, where a role has been left empty ever since the Nimrod left service in 2009. The new fleet of P8’s will provide protection for Britain’s ballistic missile submarines, the UK’s two new aircraft carriers as well as performing search and rescue missions. The P8 displayed at FIA 16 and certainly gave good impressions whilst flying its sporty maneuvers through the Hampshire skies. Despite the big announcements in the military sector, the same never came in the civil market with Boeing selling not even half of what airbus did in the narrowbody category of airliners. However, with orders and commitments for 182 aircraft worth $26 billion, Boeing reflects on it’s FIA 2016 as a successful show along with its Centennial Experience Pavilion – a 5,000+ sq ft highly immersive showcase of the past, present and future of Boeing, welcoming nearly 1000 visitors per day over the first four days of the show alone.
With 100 military delegations from around 54 countries present at the 2016 show, the military sector was well represented. With new aircraft taking the spotlight such as the Embraer KC-390, the Airbus A400M, Lockheed Martin’s F35 and Saab’s new Gripen, both the military static and aerial displays were nothing short of impressive. Making its airshow debut, Embraer’s KC-390,which is due to enter service in 2018 with the Brazilian air force, received a lot of interest including a letter of intent signed by Portugal for six KC-390 aircraft as a replacement for their fleet of Lockheed Martin C-130Hs. Marking what was a successful year for the military at FIA 2016, with large orders costing billions, air show debuts and jaw dropping displays wowing the crowds in the British sunshine, rain and just about anything else!