This year's Paris air show took place against the most turbulent background in memory. Already faced with persuading hard-pressed companies to plunge major chunks of their budgets into shipping staff, exhibits and aircraft to Le Bourget for a week, organisers were hit by a boycott by senior US government and military officials over France's policy on the war in Iraq. The show was low on headline news, due partly to Boeing's decision taken before the last Paris not to stockpile order announcements for the show; not that the US giant had many to announce anyway. It was left to Airbus to steal the glory with deals for the A380 and a longer-range version of the A340-600. Boeing did create some excitement with bold plans to take risk-sharing to a new level on its 7E7 programme. It also confirmed some 777 deals. Elsewhere, unmanned air vehicles figured large, with news that France is to develop a UCAV demonstrator. The press may have been hungry for any clues about the next steps in industry consolidation, but leading players such as BAE Systems' chief executive Mike Turner gave little away. And while all eyes were on the industry's future, the final landing of an Air France Concorde marked an emotional end to the era of supersonic airliners.

Source: Flight International