FARNBOROUGH: Show preview

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When the world's aerospace industry last gathered at Farnborough two years ago, the global economy was clearly wobbling - but with no idea of how huge the financial crisis that was to strike later in the year would be, the talk of a nervous show was oil, oil and oil. With prices soaring to record levels, airlines - who, after all, are the key civil market customers - were wondering how they would survive.

All the same, the show hosted a flurry of big orders - including Etihad's $43 billion, 200-aircraft bid for big player status - and Bombardier's launch of its all-new CSeries airliner without a firm launch customer.

At the time, many observers were shaking their heads and wondering how long the industry could fiddle while its Rome burned. Indeed, a year later at the Paris air show, the mood was gloomier, even a bit shell-shocked, as the industry reeled from the economic chaos that characterised 2009.

red arrows at farnborough, max kingsley-jones/flightglobal
 © Max Kingsley-Jones/Flightglobal

But one fact kept the gloom at bay in Paris - aerospace was surviving. There had been no aviation equivalent of a Lehman Brothers. Airlines were hanging on, orders for jetliners were not being cancelled. Problems with programmes such as the Airbus A380, Boeing 787 and Lockheed Martin F-35 were technical, not financial.

So what to expect when the biggest air show of the year opens at Farnborough? Oil prices are still high, so fuel - and fuel economy - is again surely to be firmly on the agenda. The economic pundits are talking nervously about double-dip recession, so expect plenty of caution when it comes to business plans.

 

 Multimedia coverage at the show

Flightglobal's Farnborough coverage will be our most comprehensive and innovative yet - giving those attending and those not there a host of opportunities to connect with this year's biggest industry event.

For those going to the show, our award-winning Flight Daily News will be available for free at the gate on each of the trade days. On the Friday, we will be handing out advance copies of the 27 July special show report issue of Flight International containing our analysis of the week's events.

Millions of aviation fans around the world will be able to keep up with Farnborough online via flightglobal.com. As well as breaking news, background articles, images and videos of the flight display and interviews with industry leaders, our regular tweeters (#farn10)

#farn10
and bloggers - including Flightblogger, TheDewLine and Runway Girl - will be keeping up a regular commentary.

The most exciting development this year is i-FDN, an interactive magazine version of Flight Daily News. Launched at the Singapore air show earlier this year and published at Farnborough for the first time, the i-daily allows readers to flick through magazine pages of articles, images and videos on their computer.

As at Paris last year, we will be turning our chalet into a multimedia hub, with news room, recording studio and editing suite, providing a base for our team of more than 30 writers and production staff. Visitors to the show are welcome to turn up and see the operation in action and learn more about the Flightglobal information portfolio.

But mostly, expect a civil industry to note that rising passenger and cargo air traffic figures prove demand for air travel to be rising globally, recession or no. And, expensive fuel spells healthy demand for new - and new generation - airliners and engines capable of delivering new levels of efficiency. So do not be surprised if Farnborough 2010 marks a substantial boost to the orderbooks from airlines with confidence in their futures.

On the defence side, government budgets in North America and Europe are under heavy pressure, but key priorities remain intact. Do not bet against Farnborough hosting more than a little drama in the running battle of words between Boeing and EADS over the looming award of the US Air Force's $35 billion KC-X aerial refuelling tanker contract.

Meanwhile, the key players lining up for early skirmishes in another major USAF procurement prize battle - the replacement for Northrop's T-38 military trainer - will all be at Farnborough with much to prove.

IN THE AIR

As ever, the focus of attention will be on the flying display, and here the show is promising treats. Farnborough debuts include the Airbus Military A400M, which faces delicate contractual issues following extensive programme delays but promises a spectacular aerial show.

Other Farnborough firsts are the Sukhoi Superjet 100 and the Twin Otter 400, being revived in turboprop form by Viking Air 22 years after de Havilland Canada ended production of the original classic.

An Airbus A380 will fly each day of the show and the US Air Force will fly a Boeing B-52 on Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.

More modern military hardware set to wow the crowds include another USAF entry in the form of the acrobatic crowd-pleaser Lockheed Martin F-22. Other fighters poised to strut their stuff are the Boeing F/A-18, Lockheed Martin F-16 and Eurofighter Typhoon.

Also set to fly are Alenia Aermacchi's M-346 trainer, heavy transports from Alenia Aeronautica (C-27J) and Lockheed Martin (C-130J) and the RAF's newest intelligence asset, the BAE Systems MRA4 Nimrod.

Never failing to thrill is the RAF's Red Arrows display team. For lovers of classic aircraft, Farnborough promises a feast: Spitfire, Messerschmitt ME109, the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and a return of a 2008 Farnborough star, the only remaining airworthy Avro Vulcan, fully restored to its delta wing Cold War glory.

And, in another first for Farnborough, the organisers have secured agreement to allow unmanned aircraft systems to be demonstrated as a regular part of the display programme at this year's show. Taking a real look into the future of military - and even civil - aviation, it is expected that a dedicated UAV display will take place before the start of the flying display. Depending on the level of interest, the display could run as long as 1h.

ON THE GROUND

Boeing's radical, carbonfibre 787 will undoubtedly be the star of the static display, making its world air show debut at Farnborough. But many visitors may be equally anxious to see the 737-based airborne early warning and control platform.

Arch rival Airbus, too, will be making an impact, with an Etihad A330, and A330F freighter, a British Airways A319 along with its ever-popular A380.

airbus a380 @ farnborough, c. brinkman/airbus
 © C. Brinkman/Airbus

Airbus Military will show a brace of transports. Along with the flying A400M a C-295 will be on static display.

Possibly the most exotic entry will be the JF-17 fighter - sadly static only - from China National Aero-Technology Import and Export Corporation (CATIC).

Business jet enthusiasts will not want to miss the Bombardier exhibition: Learjet 60XR, Challenger 605 and Global 500, alongside the Canadian airframer's Q400 turboprop and CRJ900 regional jet airliners.

Similarly, from Dassault comes elegance in two sizes at Farnborough: its Falcon 2000LX and Falcon 7X.

Cirrus will be showing its SR-22 and SF-50, and an ambitious, six-aircraft display from Hawker Beechcraft ranges from the T6 trainer to the King Air C390GT.

Britten Norman's Islander appears on the ground and in the flying display, Pilatus will be showing both its turboprops - PC-6 and PC-12. See also an ATR 72-600 and Antonov An-158.

From the Royal Air Force: Boeing Apache and Chinook, and BAE Systems Hawk T1.

The US Air Force ground display includes Boeing F-15, C-17 and Northrop Grumman E- 2C Hawkeye.

On the rotorcraft side, both AgustaWestland and Bell will be out in force - see the AW159, AW119A, 407 and 429 models, among others. The Royal Navy will display a Westland Sea King search and rescue helicopter.

UNDER COVER

While the flying displays and static showground naturally draw the bulk of the media and public attention, Farnborough's status, along with Paris, as the world's premier aerospace show is underpinned by its importance to the aerospace supply chain. The exhibition halls are a platform for some 1,300 exhibitors from the private, commercial, civil and military sectors, providing a showcase for the latest technologies.

ISSUES OF THE DAY

A four-day conference programme is an integral part of this year's show. Taking place over the first four days, the aim is to offer visitors and exhibitors greater focus to their visit and to give them the opportunity to network and discuss key issues affecting aerospace, defence, space and security.

Each conference will be chaired by a director from UK trade association ADS. Speakers include UK universities and science minister David Willets, European Space Agency director general Jean-Jacques Dordain, Bombardier Aerospace chief operating officer Guy Hachey, EADS chief executive Louis Gallois and Finmeccanica UK chief executive Alberto di Benedictis.

FAMILY FUN

Over the two public days, Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 July, under-16s are once again given free admission courtesy of Rolls-Royce. Attractions include the Bloodhound Super Sonic Car world land speed record attempt project; the Space Zone; funfare rides and climbing walls; and two flight simulators recreating the experience in the cockpit of a Spitfire and Red Arrows BAE Systems Hawk trainer.

Other spectacles include Team Extreme, the skateboard, BMX and in-line skate display team.

On Friday, an Airbus-sponsored Futures Day kicks off a programme aimed at encouraging young people to pursue a career in aerospace. Highlights include a UK versus USA versus France schools rocketry competition and a Royal Aeronautical Society-Boeing-Light Aircraft Association "Build a Plane" challenge.

GETTING THERE

The organisers are encouraging visitors to leave their cars behind and arrive by public transport. The air show is within easy reach of four stations - Farnborough Main, Farnborough North, North Camp and Aldershot. A free shuttle bus service will be in operation from Farnborough Main, North Camp and Aldershot stations between 07:00 and 19:00.

how to get to farnborough 2010

Travel on the London General Express coach service from central London, Victoria Coach Station, Marble Arch, Earls Court or Heathrow airport.

From Gatwick airport, take the First Great Western service to North Camp station.

By car, the air show is located on the A325 road in Farnborough, accessible from the M3 motorway and A31. For satnav directions, use the postcode GU14 6AZ, which will take you to the Queen's Roundabout then follow car park signs.

GETTING AROUND

An improved on-site traffic system, new 18-bay bus terminal servicing Heathrow and Gatwick airports and central London and further site infrastructure developments promise an improved visitor experience. The plans include a new pedestrian-only zone around Hall 1A, as well as a new one and two-way on-site traffic system that will enable better access to chalets for executive vehicles and easier and quicker entrance and egress from the site for all vehicles.