Farnborough International Airshow 2018 | The Trade Show

With the previous airshow in 2016 infamous and remembered due to monsoon rainfall, the warm temperatures and clear skies were a welcome change this year. As the crowds descended upon Tag Aviation’s Farnborough airport, the advice was to keep a bottle of water handy, as the temperatures hovered around the 30 degree mark for the entirety of the event. However, the heat didn’t slow people down, they meant business this year! Official figures showed a bumper haul of deals worth US $192bn over US $65bn up from the previous 2016 show. This impressive figure comprises of sales of more than 1400 commercial aircraft, a figure unmatched since the 2013 Paris Airshow.

Farnborough International Chief Executive, Gareth Rogers, confirms the current prosperity of the aerospace market: “Going into the show, the industry backlog is at a record high, in excess of 14,000 aircraft on the books. The major deals announced this week demonstrate how confident the aerospace industry is and the role of Farnborough as an economic barometer.”

About the show

The Farnborough International Airshow is a biennial, seven day long, event, with the first five being solely for trade and the remaining days open for the public, where aviation enthusiasts, families and the media flock to the Surrey airfield to witness the incredible aircraft displays on offer. 

Home to Britain’s first powered flight in 1908, Farnborough Airport has a long history, regarded as one of the oldest military airfield sites in the UK. Farnborough is now owned by TAG Aviation, who use the aircraft for private jet use, with regular traffic mainly consisting of Cessna Citations, Bombardier Challengers, Dassault Falcons, Learjets and Gulfstream, along with Boeing BBJ’s and Airbus ACJ’s making the odd appearance.

With less than 10 weeks until the United Kingdom officially leaves the EU, this year’s trade show, in particular, was a truly global affair, with around 100 countries in attendance. Proving the current buoyancy of the aviation industry, more than 80,000 visitors passed through the gates, a rise of over 10% from the 2016 show.

Causing much excitement amongst aviation enthusiasts and making its way into headlines, perhaps unusually the biggest news to come from this year’s show was the defence secretary’s announcement of the new fighter jet, The Tempest, a future Eurofighter Typhoon replacement. Unveiling a concept version of the sixth-generation fighter jet, the defence secretary, Gavin Wiliamson, added that he would like to see the Tempest to be flying alongside the military’s current fleet of Typhoons and F-35s by 2035. Early plans announced at the show, give some insights into what we can expect from the Tempest. Costing over £2bn to develop, the Tempest is planned to fly manned or unmanned, making use of artificial intelligence. Furthermore, in combat situations the Tempest will make use of the latest weapon technology, using directed energy weapons, a ranged weapon system that inflicts damage by the emission of highly focused energy, including laser, microwaves and particle beams. The project is a joint venture and the aircraft is planned to be developed by BAE Systems, Leonardo, MBDA and Rolls Royce.

Despite post Shoreham CAA regulations and tight London airspace resulting in a ‘less impressive’ air display to what we are used to at major air shows, one aircraft in particular surpassed everyone’s expectations with its jaw dropping display. Lockheed Martin’s LM-100J. Known for its versatility, the Hercules has always proved its capabilities for varied military operations since 1954, but this commercial variant’s display showed us a whole new level of its capabilities. In an incredible aerobatic display, seasoned Lockheed Chief Pilot, Wayne Roberts, conducted a series of flybys, steep turns/approaches and even took the aircraft completely inverted! Although taking it to the extreme in this demonstration, we won’t expect this level of manoeuvring in the commercial version of the Hercs day to day operation, which Lockheed announced, during the show, will be marketed also in a firefighting configuration known as the ‘FireHerc’.

The high flying aviation industry demonstrated a huge amount of economic growth and innovation during this year’s event. Going into the show, the commercial aircraft backlog stood at over 14,000 – the largest ever. Furthermore, organisers have confirmed that the 2018 show is the fastest-selling, most international show on record. Significant orders from the show includes Asian low cost carrier Vietjet’s commitment to 100 Boeing 737 Max aircraft and 50 Airbus A321neo’s, Republic Airlines of the US commitment to 100 Embraer E175 and 60 Airbus A220 aircraft for Neeleman investor group on behalf of an undisclosed US start-up airline. In the long standing tussle for orders between Airbus and Boeing, Boeing came on top with a total of 646 versus Airbuses 483, followed by an impressive 300 from Embraer. Overall, the narrow body market swooped 64% of business, dominated by Boeings 737 Max and Airbuses Neo. Regional aircraft had the slight edge on widebody orders, with the turboprop market receiving just 8 orders.

Although slightly different to the normal news here on Pixelsnipers, still technically aerospace, the announcement of Britain’s first spaceport prior to the show on Sunday 15th July made for interesting news. The proposed site in Sutherland, Western Scotland, is expected to begin launching satellites in the early 2020’s. Lockheed Martin, who is tasked with the project, noted that The US military are also interested in using the site for launching smaller, military satellites into orbit.


Despite the Trade Show being more focused on the civilian aviation market, upon entry to the show, Leonardo’s impressive collection of military fixed wing and rotary aircraft, immediately grabbed everybodys attention. Laid out on a 7000 square meter display area, the impressive rotary collection consisted of a Norwegian Air Force AW101, a Brazilian Navy Super Lynx mk21A and several demonstrators including the AW169, AW159 and AW189. Leonardo delivers products across the spectrum of rotary aircraft, with the AW101 being used in all-weather SAR operations role for the Norwegian Air Force, ranging to the AW169 used for roles such as VIP transport, utility and offshore tasks. Three fixed wing aircraft also made up part of the display, with an M-346A Fighter attack demonstrator, a T-100 Fighter Trainer mock up and an Italian Air Force P-72A Marine patrol aircraft making an appearance.
The US military had six aircraft on static display. Two Lockheed Martin C130J Hercules and a Boeing/McDonnell Douglas F-15E Strike Eagle from the United States Air Force (USAF), a Boeing AH64D Apache and a CH-47F Chinook represented the US Army, whilst a lone Boeing P-8A Poseidon from the United States Navy (USN). The P-8A uses the latest technology in use for maritime patrol missions, particularly operational in the South China region, where tensions continue to grow between China and the US. Just a single fighter aircraft participated in the flying display during the pixelsnipers visit, with a USAF Lockheed Martin/General Dynamics F-16C Fighting Falcon showing off its capabilities in an impressive, high speed display.

Other military aircraft at the show included a Spanish Navy McDonnell Douglas/BAe AV-8B Harrier II, and a company demonstrator Airbus A400M, coincidently which will be the last one to join the Royal Air Force. Turkish Aerospace Industries demonstrated impressively the AT-129 Atak in a spirited display by this helicopter gunship. From South America came the Embraer KC-390 tanker/transport from Brazil and last but not least, and for the last time at Farnborough, an RAF PANAVIA Tornado GR-4, which will retire at RAF Marham in Norfolk by March 2019.

As ever, Boeing and Airbus dominate the static display with their newest, bestselling types. Making its Farnborough debut, Airbuses new A220 family, once the Bombardier C series, marked the new partnership between Airbus and the Canadian manufacturer. Joining the A220 demonstrators, an eye catching Hi Fly A380 in a special ‘save the coral reefs’ livery, EasyJet A321 Neo, TAP Portugal A330 neo and an A350-1000 demonstrator. There were no Farnborough debutants in Boeing’s line up, although they had a good collection of their latest types, including an Air Italy and demonstrator 737 MAX, a Biman Bangladesh Airlines and demonstrator 787 Dreamliner and a Qatar 777. Serving its purpose, Embraer’s E190-E2 ‘Shark Face’ paint scheme also grabbed the attention of visitors.

Something that Farnborough Trade show offers, is a real sense of immersion. Giving customers a closer look at its executive jets, Embraer opened a Legacy 500 and Phenom 300E to the trade visitors and media to check out the luxury interiors and chat to the test pilots. Following this trend, aircraft in the ‘cargo village’ are fully accessible throughout the day. CargoLogicAir had a Boeing 747-8 Freighter on display with guided tours available, also Volga-Dnepr Airlines had live loading demonstrations on their colossal Antonov AN-124 freighter. In addition to the interaction with the aircraft themselves, there are various talks throughout the event, with simulators allowing you to feel the latest technologies in person. Laid out in a large hall, BAE Systems had a large exhibition allowing you to experience technologies envisioned to be in use on its latest developments. Such experiences included a virtual reality booth to get a feel of what operating a Tempest might be like, a full flight simulator to test the latest force feedback joysticks and an opportunity to sit inside the Tempest mock up.

Overall the Airshow demonstrated the current high flying aerospace industry coupled with exciting new innovations, particularly in the military market, where the next generation of aircraft are being developed. The show also marked the beginning of a new era, where the UK is set to leave the European Union. As the show proved, Great Britain is developing greater relationships with major global markets such as China. If this show is anything to go by, we can expect the 2020 show to be even more of a global affair, continuing its year on year growth. From all us here at Pixelsnipers, thanks for reading and we look forward to the 2020 show!