Farnborough 2018: Uncertain expectations?

Today marks the start of the 2018 Farnborough International Airshow. This year’s event, while it promises to offer the usual awesome aircraft displays and plenty of aerocomposite parts innovations, is being staged among some political and business challenges.

 

Farnborough 2016 photo from AIN Online

A photo of an Embraer jet at the 2016 Farnborough International Airshow (photo source: Aviation International News) 

Related Stories

Today marks the start of the 2018 Farnborough International Airshow, held every two years at the town of Farnborough’s airport, in Hampshire just southwest of London. This year’s event, while it promises to offer the usual awesome aircraft displays — static and flying —and plenty of aerocomposite parts innovations, is being staged among some political and business challenges.

According to a report yesterday at businessinsider.com by Benjamin Zhang, the event takes place amid some uncertain times. Hot topics that will likely dominate aerospace headlines this week include the impact of the UK’s exit from the European Union on the aviation supply chain, and the US-China trade war and tariffs. Airplane order announcements from The Boeing Co (Chicago, IL, US) and from Airbus (Toulouse, France) will be forthcoming, even as production and delivery pressures have reportedly delayed some plane deliveries, on the Airbus side. Zhang notes that this will be Airbus’ first Farnborough without its long-time sales chief John Leahy, who retired last year. Boeing will likely be dealing with timing of the launch of its planned new mid-market airplane (NMA), an aircraft intended to replace the 757 and 767 that is larger than the 737 MAX but smaller than the 787-8, and may have a composite fuselage.

It will also be the first big event for Embraer following its establishment, with Boeing, of a strategic joint venture (80% owned by Boeing) to accelerate aerospace growth by combining Embraer’s regional commercial craft with Boeing’s larger and longer-range portfolio.  For Airbus, which took a majority stake in Bombardier’s C-Series regional jet program last October, Farnborough will test the airlines’ appetite for a smaller Airbus jet. Just a few days ago, JetBlue reportedly purchased 60 Airbus A220-300s, the new designation for the former C-Series aircraft. And, with both Embraer and Bombardier bolstered by the big two OEMs, where does that leave Mitsubishi and its MRJ regional jet?  Farnborough 2018 will be the first flying appearance of the MRJ, by the way.

Boom Technologies (Denver, CO, US) will reportedly be at the event, to showcase supersonic flight. Richard Browning, the CEO of UK startup Gravity Industries, will demonstrate his “Iron Man” human flight/jet pack technology. Embraer’s disruptive technology group Embraer X will introduce its electrical Vertical Take-Off and Landing eVTOL air taxi concept. An “Aerospace 4.0” zone, sponsored by Deloitte LLP, will feature exhibitors with advanced digital technologies including 3D printing. The U.S. Department of Defense is scheduled to display the AH-64 Apache attack helicopter, the CH-47 Chinook heavy-lift helicopter, the F-15E Strike Eagle and the C-17 Globemaster military transport aircraft. And undoubtedly there will be much, much more to see.

CW will have a representative there, and we’ll report on announcements that arise. Keep us informed if you see or hear about a new and interesting composite technology or part.