By Philippe Cauchi
A report on the world’s premier air show
By Philippe Cauchi
The 47th Paris Air Show took place at Le Bourget Airport June 18-24. Incontestably, it confirmed its place as the world’s premier air show with more than 2,000 exhibitors from 42 countries, 361 company chalets, 140 aircraft including 40 in-flight demonstrations, and 153,920 professional visitors.
Flight demonstrations and Exhibitors
The 555-seat Airbus A380 was one of the main attractions for the general public, as it was with its first appearance in 2005. At the static display, in addition to two A380s, Airbus presented an A330 and for the first time, its offer in the tanker market with a company A310 and an Australian armed forces A330 MRTT.
Boeing offered a 777-300ER, C17 Globemaster III and two F18E/F Super Hornets. Bombardier Aerospace brought five planes: a Challenger 605, a Global XRS, a CRJ900, a Learjet 60 and a Dash 8 Q400. Its competitor in the regional aircraft sector, Embraer, displayed one ERJ170 and a Legacy 600.
Dassault Aviation exhibited eight aircraft – three business jets: a Falcon 200EX, 900EX and 7X; four combat aircraft: a Mirage 2000, Rafale Air, Rafale M1, Rafale B03 02 and the experimental drone Neuron. Eurocopter brought eight machines including two Tigers; Finmeccanica, a score of AgustaWestland helicopters, the military tactical cargo aircraft C27J Spartan, the Eurofighter Typhoon fighter bomber and the M346 jet trainer. The US Department of Defense brought a C130J, an F15E, an F16 and a UH60 Black Hawk. Russia was represented by a MiG 29 and an Antonov An140-100, the UK by a single BAE Hawk and India brought its indigenous helicopter, the HAL Dhruv.
Among business aircraft manufacturers, Gulfstream exhibited four planes: G150, G200, G450 and G550; Cessna, seven planes including four Citations; and Hawker-Beechcraft, four planes including the all-composite Horizon Super Midsize business jet.
For nostalgia buffs, Breitling presented its Lockheed Constellation, the queen of the sky of the fifties, at the static display and in flight.
The Return of Airbus
With the announcement of a flock of orders, the European manufacturer affirmed its return after the technical problems of its A380 and commercial setbacks of the initial version of the A350. Airbus Industrie president Louis Gallois and John Leahy, vice-president of sales, announced 743 orders (including 425 firm) with a total value of more than US$100 billion. The A380, expected to enter into service in October after a two-year delay, received a total of 13 additional orders from Qatar Airways, Emirates and Air France/KLM. For its part, the A350XWB, designed from scratch to counter the Boeing 787, posted 190 firm orders and 116 options. The A330 family recorded 79 firm orders and 44 options, the A320, 198 and 191, and the A340, 4 and 5.
News from Boeing
Rollout of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, an all-composite twin-jet aircraft, took place on July 8 at Everett, Wash. The launching of version -10 of the 787 was announced at Paris; it will accomodate 300 passengers and have a range of 14,000 kilometres. More than 600 787 orders have been placed. Boeing reported 129 orders of various aircraft during the show: ILFC ordered 50 787s, ten 737NGs and a 777-300ER; GECAS, six 777 Freight; Lion Air, 40 737-900ERs; TAM, four 777-300ERs and Air France/ KLM, nine 777-300ERs and ten 737-700s.
The company underlined the success of its Boeing 777, launched in 1990 and in service since 1995. It is offered in five passenger versions from 301 to 368 passengers and one freight version. This two-aisle Boeing jet has accounted for 963 orders including 290 in the last 30 months. The first 777 Freighter will be handed over to Air France in the first quarter of 2008 to replace the carrier’s Boeing 747-100F and -200F aircraft.
Capitalizing on the technologies and engines developed for the 787, the 747-8 aims to reduce direct operating costs by 10% compared to the 747-400. With 87 orders, it will enter into commercial service in the third quarter of 2009.
On the military side, C-17 program manager Dave Bowman expects additional orders from the US, UK and Australia, and from new customers like Japan and Saudi Arabia to keep the assembly line open beyond August 2009 with the delivery of the 190th aircraft to the US Air Force. An order of at least four planes on behalf of NATO is awaited while a civil version, the BC-17, arouses an unquestionable interest. At a unit cost of more than US$225 million, Boeing sees a market of between 30 and 60 planes. For its part, Canada took delivery of the first of its four C-17s in August. They will be based at Trenton, Ont.
Bombardier uplifts regional aircraft line
At the beginning of the show, the Montreal-based aircraft manufacturer announced a partnership with Chinese airframe manufacturer AVIC1 for development of the five-seats-abreast, 105-seat regional Chinese plane, the ARJ21-900, scheduled to enter service in 2011.
By this agreement, Bombardier will invest $100 million in the ARJ program while AVIC1 will put $400 million into research and development and fixed assets for production of the CSeries of which it will ensure production of the fuselage and rear empennage.
Bombardier introduced the NextGen versions of the twin-jet regional transport CRJ700 and CRJ900, integrating the improvements of the CRJ1000, the 100-place aircraft launched last February and entering service at the end of 2009. With a 4-percent reduction in fuel consumption and a 9-percent reduction in direct operating costs, NextGen will offer larger windows, LED lighting and an increased capacity luggage bin.
Bombardier’s Laurent Beaudouin recounted how the CSeries program has kept 50 employees busy and said the launching decision should be made in 2008 for an entry into service five years later at an investment of $2.5 billion.
MitsUbishi Regional Aircraft Project
After Russia and China, Japan intends to penetrate the regional aircraft market dominated by Bombardier and Embraer. Japan’s Mitsubishi revealed plans for the 70-80 seat MRJ70 and the 86-96 seat MRJ90, whose go-ahead decision is expected next year. With a 2.9-metre-wide four-abreast cabin, the aircraft will cruise at Mach 0.78 and will be offered in three versions with operating ranges of 1,610, 2,590 and 3,320 km. Featuring composite fuselage and wings, the MRJ70 and MRJ90 are projected to reduced fuel consumption by 20 percent over similar aircraft. With the choice of the engine still pending, the Mitsubishi Regional Jet should make its first flight in 2011 for deliveries starting two years later.
With the hopes of a market of 3,500 aircraft, this family of planes would be assembled in Nagoya and potentially be marketed by Boeing. Its development would cost up to US$1 billion including US$330 million provided by the government of Japan.
Having very recently delivered the first Falcon 7X, the French airframe manufacturer announced the selection of the new 10,000-lb thrust Rolls-Royce RB282-3 engine for its ‘Super Mid Size’ business jet project. With a unit price ranging from US$15-25 million, this 8- to 10-place long-range business jet to be launched next year, should enter into service in 2013 and face the Challenger 300, Gulfstream G200 and Hawker 4000.
US-based fractional ownership specialist NetJets placed an order for 24 Falcon 7X at a unit price of US$45 million and the Saudi National Air Services placed four orders with 16 options for the Falcon 2000LX, the upgraded version of the 2000DX, equipped with winglets.
Business Jet Manufacturers Return to Paris
Having concentrated their attendance at EBACE in Geneva for a few years, business aircraft manufacturers started their return to the Paris Air Show two years ago with Gulfstream. This year, HawkerBeeechraft and Cessna took advantage of the event with Cessna delivering its 5,000th business jet, a Citation X. NetJets placed an order for 50 Citation+, 37 XLS+ and nine Citation X with a value of more than US$1 billion.
Pratt & Whitney Canada X10 Project
Disappointed with the news that Dassault had gone with a competitor to power its next business jet, Pratt & Whitney Canada president Alain Bellemare recalled that its X10 project engines would be proposed to Cessna to power its “Large Cabin Concept” aircraft whose launching should be announced in the coming months.
Buoyed by the renewed popularity of turboprop regional planes and the entry into production of Very Light Jets, this subsidiary of Hartford-based United Technologies saw its sales double in five years to reach US$2.8 billion in 2007.
Three months after its purchase by Esterline Corp. of Bellevue, Wash., Montreal-based CMC Electronics Inc. (formerly Canadian Marconi Company) presented its new Portable Mission Display, TacView, especially designed to facilitate military and paramilitary airborne mission effectiveness through improved real-time situational awareness.
CMC also announced the selection by Rockwell Collins of its Class 2 Electronic Flight Bag (EFB) PilotView for the Global Bombardier 5000 and Global Express XRS business jets. Lufthansa and Lufthansa Technik chose the CMC Flight Management System CMA9000 for the modernization of its fleet of 14 Airbus A300-600s. Additionally, the Class 2 EFB PilotView was retained by ATR as a standard option for the new ATR42 and ATR72 and as a retrofit for aircraft already in service.
Viking Air of Sidney, BC, which now owns the licence for construction of the de Havilland DHC-6 Twin Otter, sold ten aircraft to a firm in Abu Dhabi during the show. This brings to 40 the number of orders and options of these newly-built aircraft whose deliveries should start in April 2009.