You can’t have helped but notice the exposure of the Paris Air Show in the news this week. Normally it would pass with barely a glance from a public that think it’s for transport geeks and those from the airline business and military but this year there’s definitely more interest and it’s because of several factors.
One is the latest report from Boeing on what it sees as the future of air travel and it makes good news for the airline manufacturers. Whilst Europe and the US is expected to see small growth, the Far East is forecast to experience massive growth as the domestic and short haul market expands with increases in disposable income from workers in the emerging economies. Estimates come out at over 35,000 planes needed over the next twenty years.
Other factors that have added interest to this year’s show include the drama of the Dreamliner saga which has hopefully been put to bed although there are many who say it has put a big dent in the confidence people previously placed in Boeing which will take a long time to rebuild.
Boeing are noticeably quiet at the show although two Dreamliners have been present as the company attempts to show it can produce an aeroplane that can be trusted not to burst into flames. The company has offered a tantalising taster of a longer bodied Dreamliner to compete more favourably with the Airbus A350 which is expected to be the aircraft of choice for the near future. Boeing are hoping that the European manufacturer experiences problems that will delay the delivery of the aircraft although this week’s news of a successful test flight of the A350 has dented their hopes. If the A350 suffers problems like the A380 which encountered structural problems with its wings, then it could allow the extended 787 a little leeway to pick up orders.
Overall though, Airbus’ fortunes are on the up with some large orders from Air France and easyJet this week which include orders for the new A320 which will incorporate many of the fuel saving features of the A350.
It’s not all plain sailing for the two big players. With an expanding market, smaller aircraft producers are aiming for a slice of the pie including China’s own producer; the rather dull sounding Commercial Aircraft Corporation, Canada’s Bombardier whose C series is being widely applauded and Russia’s Irkut. Industry analysts say there may be room for them all to make a profit but it’s expected to be Airbus who will go away happiest from this year’s show.