TIM ROBINSON and BILL READ provide a look at some of the most exciting news and highlights of the first trade day, 11 July, of Farnborough International Air Show 2016.

PM David Cameron visits the F-35 mock-up (BAE Systems)

The Monday of the show saw Brexit gloom quickly put away, as the (now soon to be outgoing) Prime Minister David opened the show – and re-emphasised the Government’s support for the UK aerospace industry – a much needed boost in these uncertain times, saying “Whatever uncertainties our country faces, I want the message to go out loud and clear: the UK will continue to lead the world in both civil and defence aerospace”. However, while the weather started much better than Sundays fog-bound aerodrome, as usual the British climate had the last laugh, with torrential rain in the afternoon forcing organisers to close the air show early and cancel the flying display – including the much-anticipated vertical hover demonstration from the F-35B.
Let's take a look some of the top news.

UK confirms P-8, AH-64E deals – while Boeing boosts British footprint

The UK AAC will be getting 50 AH-64Es. (Boeing)

Defence was high on the agenda on the morning of the Monday, with in perhaps the worst kept secret ever, the confirmation of two key defence deals by the UK MoD – for Boeing P-8 Poseidons and AH-64E Apaches. The P-8 confirmation, for nine aircraft, to be based at RAF Lossiemouth, with deliveries to begin in 2019/20 represents a concrete milestone in the UK regaining its vital MPA capability, which was lost with the retirement of the Nimrod MR2 and axing of the MRA4. The £3bn deal for the nine aircraft also includes training and infrastructure.

Meanwhile, the MoD also confirmed a £2.3bn deal for 50 AH-64E Apaches for the British Army – the latest digital-era evolution of the Apache attack helicopter. First deliveries will begin in 2022.

While these deals had been expected, Boeing itself produced welcome news for UK plc by revealing a long-term partnering strategy to boost its British footprint– promising 2,000 new jobs, an intent to build a £100m P-8 facility at Lossiemouth and, “UK suppliers to receive additional bidding opportunities on Boeing programmes". Indeed, Boeing has been consciously boosting its UK industrial, support and services presence over the past few years. In particular, while details are still vague, the P-8 facility at Lossiemouth may well serve as a potential European training hub for Poseidon customers –in much the same way Boeing’s C-17 simulator centre in Britain now is the centre for NATO C-17 training.

Virgin Atlantic brings some cheer

The A350 will be 50% quieter than the 747 it replaces, said Sir Richard Branson. 

Another upbeat announcement on the Monday of the show was from Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic, which in typical slick style, revealed a $4.4bn order for 12 Airbus A350-1000s. Powered by Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines, these A350s are divided between eight purchased directly and four leased. First deliveries will begin in 2019, with the aircraft replacing Virgin’s 747s. However, Virgin Atlantic CEO, Craig Kreeger refuted rumours that this new deal has seen the airline ditch its deferred order for six –A380s. Though deferred, he said, they were still available as ‘options’.

Airbus, Boeing share market forecasts

On the up again...

While every aerospace trade show is a chance for the two global airliner giants to trade catty remarks and attempt to undermine each others products, on one thing they do agree – at least in the broad outlines. The relentless rise and demand for air travel - as aviation shrinks the globe, connecting families, friends and businesses. The first day then, saw both Airbus and Boeing conduct almost back to back forecasts of what they thought the airlines will need in the next 20 years. Airbus, releasing its Global Market Forecast, predicts that 33,070 new aircraft will be needed over the next 20 years - worth $5.4trillion. Additionally, to fly and maintain these aircraft over the next two decades, the global aviation industry will require 560,000 new pilots and 540,000 new engineers. Giving an insight in the figures, John Leahy, Chief Operating Officer, Customers, countered worries of an ’airliner bubble’ – pointing to the growth of a new global class with disposable income a driving air travel growth. By 2035, he said, the population of China will be taking (on average) more than one flight a year, the same as Western Europe today. "That is an awful lot of demand" Leahy. He also stressed that while the airliner business did move in cycles, Airbus has successfully ‘disengaged’ production rates from highs and lows of order years, allowing for a steady upward rise.

Boeing meanwhile, presented its Commercial Market Outlook, which predicts that airlines will need some 39,620 aircraft, worth $5.9trillion over the next 20 years. The ‘backbone’ (70%) of these, said Boeing’s Randy Tinseth, will be single aisle airliners – the fastest growing segment. Tinseth also refuted doom-mongers that claim that Boeing and Airbus are sitting a giant airliner backlog bubble. Though Boeing’s own airliner backlog stands at 5,740 (worth $424bn) incredibly despite the duopoly’s record backlogs, this represent only 40% of the airliners needed over the next 20 years.

Embraer secures deals

Brazilian manufacturer Embraer had a busy day in Monday with a number of new order announcements. Nordic Aviation Capital (NAC) placed a firm order for four E190 regional jets while Indonesian regional operator Kalstar Aviation ordered five E190-E2s plus five options. Embraer and Israeli carrier Arkia signed a letter of intent (LOI) for six Embraer E195-E2 regional jets plus four options.

Embraer also took advantage of the show to release Embraer its 2016-2035 Market Outlook which forecast a market demand for 6,400 new jets in the 70-130+ seat category by 2035 (2,300 in the 70-90 seat segment and 4,100 in the 90-130+ seat segment).

MRJ gets interest

Eastern promise? (Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation)

Swedish regional aircraft leasing company Rockton AB signed a LOI with Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation for ten MRJ90s. The contract also included an option for an additional ten aircraft.

Qatar Executive adds to G650 fleet

Another G650 for Qatar Executive....

Qatar Airways announced a new order for three new Gulfstream G650ERs. The order adds to three G650ERs already in service with Qatar Executive and is part of a 30-aircraft sales agreement announced in May 2015 between the two companies. This order makes Qatar Executive the largest dedicated G650 operator in the world.

Supersonic cargo

Be careful with this - it's fragile...

New UK freight carrier CargoLogicAir signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to become the exclusive air cargo partner for The Bloodhound Project’s attempt to set a new World Land Speed Record in South Africa in 2017, and to break through the 1,000mph barrier in 2018. The agreement will see CargoLogicAir fly the Bloodhound supersonic car from the UK to and from South Africa, where its world record attempts will take place on the Hakskeenpan dried lake bed in the Northern Cape. The flights to Upington Airport will also carry support equipment, and the airline will provide a resupply and returns service for the transportation of car parts and equipment.

Helicopter round-up

Helicopter engine manufacturer Safran has been selected to supply engines for the Airbus Helicopter H135 and H145s selected for rotary wing training under the UK’s Military Flying Training System (UKMFTS) programme. Safran Helicopter Engines will provide Arrius 2B2Plus and Arriel 2E turbines for the fleet.

Leonardo-Finmeccanica announce that the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has certified the AW189 helicopter’s full ice protection system (FIPS) following three years of winter flight trials in Northern Europe and North America The system includes electrically heated main and tail rotor blades, heated windscreens and an ice detection system.

Sikorsky signed a ten-year agreement with Babcock Mission Critical Services to support Babcock’s S-92 helicopter fleet.

Microsoft, Rolls team up for engine big data

Big partners for big data...

Rolls-Royce has taken its engine aftercare service to a new level after announcing a new collaboration with Microsoft to use cloud computing to enhance its engine analytics capability. Using Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform and Azure IoT Suite will enable Rolls-Royce to collect both engine and airline operational data from different sources which can then be analysed using the Cortana Intelligence Suite. Using a range of smart data analysis capabilities predictive tools and engineering expertise, Rolls predicts that the new digital capability will enable airlines to reduce fuel usage, fly routes more efficiently and to ensure that MRO teams and equipment are in place to service engines more quickly to maintain the high levels of availability. The enhanced capability is to be incorporated into Rolls-Royce’s TotalCare engine aftermarket service to reduce cost and improve on-time performance. The lead customer for the new service will be Singapore Airlines, which will help with its development

‘Marriage made in heaven’ MoU Inzpire and Thales

Pooling resources makes a perfect match for Inzpire and Thales. 

British tactical mission training specialists, Inzpire, which has carved out a unique niche as a company training AAC Apache pilots and support RAF Typhoon pilots, has inked a MoU with defence giant Thales to add its experience and skills to Thales mass, international reach and experience on simulation. Said Inzpire CEO Hugh Griffiths, “It’s a marriage made in heaven”.


TAP Portugal has ordered 83 CFM LEAP-1A engines to power its new fleet of Airbus A320neo/A321neos. The aircraft were ordered in November 2015 and are scheduled to begin deliveries in the third quarter of 2018.

Meteor BVRAAM officially enters service

Beware the Gripens long stick... (Saab)

The Swedish Air Force (SwAF) announced at the show that MBDA’s Meteor BVRAAM (beyond visual range air-to-air missile) has now officially entered service on the Gripen fighter. The Swedish Air Force is now in its initial operational capability phase with the Meteor.

C-ing double

Bombardier is aming to make CSeries EIS as flawless as possible for Swiss. (Bombardier)

With Bombardier keen to show off its new CSeries 100, ahead of the types’ first revenue flights with launch customer Swiss later this week, the Monday of the show saw not one, but two CSeries appear at Farnborough in Swiss livery.

Hover by the hour

Pratt & Whitney and Rolls-Royce signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU), agreeing to work together to provide technical support for F135 engines and LiftSystems on the UK’s F-35B Lightning II JSFs based at RAF Marham. The two engine manufacturers will institute a performance-based logistics (PBL) approach focusing on propulsion system availability.

Caravan toughens up

Cessna has received certification for and is now offering hard point provisions for the Cessna Grand Caravan EX. The hard points allow operators additional mission capabilities such as extended range with additional fuel tanks, increased cargo space, agricultural operations and the ability to configure the aircraft for missions that require armament. A mock-up of the Caravan with the hard points is on display at the show.

Opening on China’s aviation sector

 East, meet west.

UK and Chinese delegates attended a business meeting on Monday focusing on UK participation in China’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative to encourage third party investment in Chinese infrastructure. In this case the emphasis was on ‘One Belt, One Sky’ investments in air transport infrastructure and aerospace manufacturing. Speakers included a number of British and Chinese trade and business leaders, including Martin Robinson CEO of AOPA UK and Paul Everitt CEO of ADS from the UK as well representatives from AVIC, COMAC, Sichuan Airlines and the Vice Mayor from the western China city of Chengdu.


Targeting in technicolour

Now in colour. (BAE Systems)

While the defence star of the show, the F-35 is well known for dispensing with the HUD, and relying exclusively on a Helmet-Mounted Display, over at BAE Systems, the company updated media with progress on its Striker II HMD, which now has HD colour integrated in the baseline product. Colour allows better and faster situational awareness when sorting friendlies from hostiles, as well as allowing multispectral overlays – for example, where tank tracks have recently been. With the second night phase testing of the all-in-one Striker II completed, the next upgrade for this digital bonedome will be 3D audio for cueing and active noise reduction. While aimed at existing Striker HMD customers, BAE say that the Striker II could also have applications for rotary wing pilots. Finally, Mark Bowman, the company’s Head of Flight Operations, who is currently working on human-machine interfaces for ‘beyond sixth generation fighters’ offered an interesting scenario – one where a pilot would carry the same customised and personal advanced HMD throughout training, from basic, to advanced, to front-line fighters. As they would progress through the training pipeline, various modes and functions on the HMD would then be enabled or switched until the student was ready for a front-line squadron.

A320 passes 100 million flights

Narrowbody milestone. (Airbus)

Marking a special milestone at the show was Airbus A320 family, which the company had announced had passed the 100 million flight mark, since it entered service in 1988. With now over 7,100 built, this is a far cry from the A320s beginnings, when Airbus thought that it could win perhaps a third (1,200) of a market that included the Boeing 737 and McDonnel Douglas DC-9.

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And finally....


Rain stops play
The first day of the air show ended prematurely in mid-afternoon after a violent rainstorm caused localised flooding which spread into the exhibition halls and obliged the show organisers to turn the lights off and evacuate the show visitors after the floods affected the electric generators. The Air Show organisers have assured everyone that normal business will be resumed on Tuesday

Stay ahead of all the news!

To follow all the news at Farnborough don’t forget to bookmark www.aerosociety.com and follow the daily airshow news on the Insight blog. For those on Twitter, follow @AeroSociety and use the hashtag #FARN16. Editor-in-Chief Tim Robinson will be tweeting live from the show on @RAeSTimR

12 July 2016