Opening ceremony of Paris Air Show

Aerospace giants unveil new models as Paris Air Show opens

Image credit: Reuters/Pascal Rossignol

Boeing, Airbus and other aircraft manufacturers will use the Paris Air Show to show off the newest versions of their passenger and military aircraft, amid concerns surrounding declining aircraft orders and troubles afflicting major projects.

The Paris Air Show claims to be the world’s oldest air show, having been held every other year since 1909.  A period of private display for potential buyers will be followed with a public opening at the end of the week.

The French President Emmanuel Macron opened the 52nd Paris Air Show this week, arriving at Le Bourget in an Airbus A400M military transporter. The opening ceremony continued with a flypast of the Airbus A380 and a show from the French aerial display team.

The choice to feature the Airbus A400M and the Airbus A380 signals support for the aerospace giant, which has faced difficulties in recent ventures. The A400M military plane – which was intended to supply Europe with an independent military transport capacity – has been facing years of delays, cancellations and overrun costs, while the A380 – the world’s largest passenger plane – has been struggling with sales.

Global aircraft orders have halved since reaching a peak in 2014. While manufacturers focus on meeting ambitious production targets to satisfy this past demand, there remains a certain pressure to show off their passenger and military aircraft to further potential buyers at Le Bourget.

Airbus used the Paris Air Show as an opportunity to reveal a new version of the world’s largest passenger plane, the A380Plus, which has up to 80 more seats and greater fuel efficiency. Its American rival, Boeing, unveiled the 737 MAX 10, the latest version of its 737 passenger aircraft. The company said that it has had more than 240 orders and commitments for the 737 MAX 10. The new model will compete with Airbus in the market for high-end single-aisle aircraft.

“The MAX 10 is going to add more value for customers and more energy to the marketplace,” said Dennis Muilenburg, the CEO of Boeing.

Boeing is also expected to announce this week that demand for enormous passenger planes such as the 737 and the Airbus 380 is on the decline. Chinese and Russian manufacturers have begun to test smaller models which some believe could become the future of the aerospace industry.

Meanwhile, some pundits will be looking out for signs of renewed appetite for military aircraft after years of budget cuts have held back investment. Lockheed will be at the centre of attention, having just closed a $37bn-plus deal for its stealthy F-35 Lightning II fighter jet, which will involve 11 nations and 440 models, Reuters reports.

The F-35 is the eventual result of the world’s most costly defence programme, and will put on an ambitious show flight, aimed at demonstrating its speed and manoeuvrability.

Boeing 737 infographic

Boeing 737 infographic

Image credit: Graphic News

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