- The 2018 Farnborough International Airshow is the most important aviation trade show of the year.
- Farnborough, England hosts the show every other year – alternating with the Paris Air Show in France.
- In 2016, the last time Farnborough played host, more than $US124 billion in sales and commitments were placed at the show.
- The big stories dominating the conversation include the impact of Brexit, trade wars, impending aircraft orders, and potential new planes that may reach the market.
- There will also be loads of static displays and stunning aerobatic performances.
- The 2018 Farnborough Airshow runs from July 16 to July 22.
Every other July, the town of Farnborough, England holds court and the aviation world convenes for the air show that shares its name.
The biennial Farnborough Airshow trades off with the Paris as the preeminent showcase for the aviation industry. It’s where the who’s who of the aviation come to see and be seen. This means everything from demonstration flights by state-of-the-art carbon composite airliners to aerobatic performances from military jets.
The theatrics aside, Farnborough at its heart is a trade show. It’s a place where global industrial titans like Airbus and Boeing go head to head. It’s also where parts suppliers, maintenance providers, and even consulting firms meet to pitch business.
The last time Farnborough hosted the show in 2016, more than 1500 exhibitors from 52 countries turned up. More than $US124 billion in sales and commitment were placed the show that year.
This go-around, Farnborough will take place in a world much more uncertain than before. The global aviation industry is under threat from a simmering trade war between the US and China. There’s also Britain’s impending exit from the European Union.
This will also be the first appearance for two new partnerships for Airbus and Boeing. As always, there will be tons of talk about who will be in the market to buy planes and from whom.
The 2018 Farnborough International Airshow will run from July 16 to the 22nd.
Here’s a closer look at the some of the biggest commercial aviation stories we expect from the 2018 Farnborough International Airshow.
1. Brexit and trade
At the heart of this year’s show will be conversations about the looming specter of trade wars and the UK’s from the European Union.
With the US and China embroiled in a trade war, the two of the biggest players in commercial aviation are going head-to-head. The US is one of the world’s most prolific suppliers of aircraft, jet engines, electronics etc. While Chinese customers account for roughly a quarter of the new planes delivered each year.
And then there’s Brexit. With the uncertainty of how Britain will exit the European Union, it’s unclear what effect it will have on global aviation.
“The threat to this industry is huge,” veteran aviation analyst Richard Aboulafia said of the political instability. “This an industry in terms of production and market that’s 100% dependent on world trade.”
2. Boeing versus Airbus and the annual race to sell the most aeroplanes
Usually, Farnborough and Paris serve as the annual midpoint of the sales calendar for companies like Airbus and Boeing. For American sports fans, think of it as aviation equivalent of the all-star break.
Through June, Boeing is ahead with 460 net orders while Airbus has taken just 206 net orders.
This is the first year in more than three decades that Airbus will be without its legendary sales chief John Leahy who retired at the end of 2017.
3. New plane orders
Over the years, hundreds of billions of dollars in orders and commitments have been placed at the Farnborough air show. This year is expected to be no different.
In the days preceding the show, JetBlue and Vistara both placed major orders for new aircraft. JetBlue placed an order for 60 Airbus A220s with an option for another 60 aircraft. India’s Vistara placed an order for 13 Airbus A320neo family airliner and six Boeing 787 Dreamliner with a total list value of $US3.1 billion.
Get ready for more announcements!
4. The Boeing-Embraer joint venture
Earlier this month, Boeing and Embraer announced the formation of a $US4.8 billion joint venture centered around the Brazilian plane maker’s commercial aircraft business. Even though the JV won’t be finalised for at least another year, the news sent shockwaves across the airline industry.
Farnborough will be the first major public appearance for the two companies post announcement.
5. The Airbus formerly known as the Bombardier C Series.
On July 1, Airbus completed its takeover of Bombardier’s critically acclaimed but financially challenged C Series airliner program. On Tuesday, Airbus officially rebranded the Canadian jet the A220.
Hours after the rebranding ceremony, JetBlue placed an order for 60 of the planes. Farnborough will be the first public appearance for the newly christened A220.
6. The Boeing NMA
Although highly unlikely, Farnborough could see Boeing greenlight the long awaited replacement for its under-appreciated 757. The New Mid-market Aircraft or NMA has been the talk of the aviation industry for a few years now.
The NMA is expected to be small widebody jet positioned above the largest narrowbody Boeing 737MAX and the 787-8 Dreamliner.
Unfortunately, the aircraft isn’t expected to launch until the middle of the next decade, which it’s unlikely, for any big moves to happen this year.
7. Will there be an even longer range Airbus A321neo?
One of the reasons why Boeing has been looking into a 757 replacement is the success of the Airbus A321neo and the long-range A321neo LR. The A321neo LR has allowed airlines to push the boundaries of their long-haul routes in a way unseen since the Boeing 757 went out of production more than a decade ago.
However, one source tells Business Insider that the A321neo LR has not quite delivered as much range as some of its customers would like.
Consequently, there are rumours that Airbus my introduce an even longer version of the plane. Airbus declined to comment on the matter.
8. Second-hand Airbus A380s
HiFly is scheduled to show off its first Airbus A380. The ex-Singapore Airlines jet is also the first second-hand Airbus Superjumbo to find a home. German finance firm Dr. Peters Group announced recently that two of its early-build A380s will be sent to the scrap yard to be parted out.
It will be interesting to see the industry’s reaction to the prospected of second-hand A380s and whether another carrier may join the club.
9. The Mitsubishi MRJ
The Mitsubishi MRJ is Japan’s first indigenous jetliner and the first commercial airliner to emerge from the nation in more than five decades. However, the program has been beset by years of delays.
According to Aboulafia, the MRJ’s situation may be further complicated by Boeing’s joint venture with Embraer. Mitsubishi is a long-time Boeing supplier and designed the MRJ to be a regional jet complement to Boeing’s mainline aircraft. However, Embraer’s portfolio of regional jets is now in Boeing’s lineup. So how will this affect Mitsubishi?
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