Great tracts of the aerospace landscape seem to be "on hold" at this Paris air show. The French industry, with so much to do to set its house in order, awaits this Saturday's landmark speech by new Prime Minister Lionel Jospin. Boeing, a huge chunk of the rest of the industry, has been strangely muted, despite ferocious attacks on it from arch-rival Airbus Industrie. It is rather like a herd of elephants hiding in a cabbage patch, thinking they are rendered invisible by their silence. But dull it is not. There is a good spread of new aircraft, like the Bombardier Global Express and the Gulfstream GV. And there are plenty of big deals around, from the blossoming regional market to the satellites which will turn the global village into reality. On the ground, the sense of living in a timewarp is heightened by the number of press conferences scheduled, only to be rescheduled or the venue switched at the last moment. A new feature of major order press conferences is a kind of ritual humiliation for the losing bidders. Bombardier suffered as AMR Eagle announced that it was going with Embraer on 50-seaters; Rolls-Royce officials were on hand to hear that rival Pratt & Whitney had been chosen by TAM for its Airbus Industrie A330-200 order. Well, the customer is king and both companies can take comfort from other deals, announced at the show, the value of which runs into billions of dollars.In the halls, there is a powerful glimpse of the future with a scale mock-up of a section of the Airbus Industrie A3XX. Outside, the past is represented with, among other things, a full-size model of Leonardo da Vinci's flying machine. Between the two has been a Paris air show with an oddly muted air as the future of an industry is forged in the corridors of power. The weather has at times been lousy; Paris is, as always, a splendour and the partying goes on late into the night. For many, too late into the night. You know them because they're the ones standing around the Flying Hospital in their own little time warp- dreaming of home.

Source: Flight Daily News