TIM ROBINSON and BILL READ report from the first full trade day of the 2015 Paris Air Show.

The first trade day on the Monday and the weather had turned cooler and greyer than the Sunday – but made for getting into the show a less sweaty experience for those braving the traditional RER train journey.

While the expectations were that this would be a quieter show than most, journalists were soon scurrying from press conference to press conference to keep up with a seemingly unstoppable flood of news, announcements, orders, updates and more – this time augmented by a barrage of social media campaigns. Information overload is now the order of the day. Lets take a look at the highlights


Garuda Indonesia opens wallet

Garuda is eyeing up more routes to Europe, says its boss. (Boeing)

First out of the gate today was Garuda Indonesia, which kicked off the show by signing an MoU for up to 30 Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners, along with an additional 30 737 MAXs. The total list price of this combined deal was worth $10.9bn. The airline then went on to boost Airbus's backlog with an letter of intent for 30 A350XWBs.


MBDA reveals latest Concept Vision


Mix and match missile..
(MBDA)

At the show, Europe's missile house MBDA revealed its latest Concept Visions study – which aims to inform and consider what type of guided weapons and missiles might be needed over the next 20years. This year saw the company unveil FlexiS – a fully modular missile family, that could use and re-use interchangeable components to allow commanders to mix and match weapon stocks. The FlexiS would come in two diameters and three lengths – allowing everything from anti-tank missiles to long-range AAMs to be quickly assembled to meet a specific need. The modular approach to the missile, would also allow new improvements in sensors/seekers, warheads and rocket motors to be integrated more quickly.



Saudi becomes A330 Regional launch customer.


The new A330 Regional has a launch customer. (Airbus)

Meanwhile, while everyone's attention has been on Airbus's neo products (particularly the hotly debated A380neo) Saudi Arabian Airlines become the launch customer for the A330-300 Regional – a high-density version of the twin-aisle optimised for domestic and regional routes – with an order for 20. The $8bn deal also included an order for 30 A320ceos.


JF17 scores first export customer

Plenty of punch for an air force on tight budget. 

With no Gripen, Eurofighter, F-35 or Russian fast jets at the show, grabbing attention was the Pakistan/Chinese JF17 light fighter, brought to Le Bourget by the Pakistan Air Force. This affordable combat aircraft, it was revealed, had racked up its first export order to an unnamed country in Asia.


Personal jetpack makes Paris debut


"In the shops in time for Christmas Q?"

Making its Paris Air Show debut (but sadly not flying) was New Zealand's Martin Aircraft, which had brought along a full-scale mock-up of the world's first commercial, practical jetpack. While previous jetpacks had used rocket motors giving very limited endurance, Martin's design uses two ducted fans, driven by a single engine to give an endurance of 30mins (+ 30mins reserves). Top speed is 75km/r with a ceiling of 3,000ft. The jetpack feature intuitive FBW controls, and has as an added precaution for a flying machine with no wings – a ballistic parachute able to save the pilot from only 6m up. The company is now well on its well to commercialising this futuristic technology and first deliveries will begin to 'first responder' type customers in 2016. The company is also looking to fly the jetpack at Farnborough Air Show next year.


Qatar, Eva sign for 777s


The Monday also saw Qatar Airways (here at the show with five airliners) sign for a further 10 Boeing 777Xs, along with four 777Fs.

Another 777 customer on the first day was Taiwan's Eva Air, which signed a Letter of Intent (LoI) for five 777F cargo aircraft.

US to F-35 partners – 'want in on multi-year block buy?'

It's often under-appreciated just how many F-35s have already been delivered.

At a briefing on the F-35 production acceleration from Lockheed Martin's programme chief Lorraine Martin, she revealed that the US was now asking each of its partners whether they wanted to participate in a proposed three-year 'block' buy of up to 460-500 fighters – which would produce significant savings.

During the briefing she also went through recent highlights from the programme – such as the US Marine Corps operational trials with the USS Wasp. There are now more than 150 F-35s delivered, with the aircraft flying an average 50 sorties a day, she said. The company was preparing for production ramp-up, particularly of international F-35s, and she said over the next five years, 50% of the F-35s rolling out, will be for international customers. Japan's first of four Fort Worth-built F-35s are set to be rolled out in August 2016.

With the USMC set to declare initial operational capability in the very near future, the first operational foreign F-35 user is set to be Israel in 2017.


GECAS signs for A320s

Another boost to the bulging single-aisle orderbook. (Airbus)

Another deal for Airbus during the day was an order for 60 A320neo family aircraft from lessor GECAS. The deal is worth around $6.4bn with GECAS selecting the CFM LEAP engine.

ATR seals 1,500th turboprop order

The 1,500th ATR goes to Japan Air Commuter. (ATR)

Regional turboprop manufacturer ATR announced an order for eight ATR 42-600s from Japan Air Commuter – a $496m deal which was not only the first with a Japanese carrier but also included the 1,500th ATR aircraft sold. ATR also publicised an agreement for the purchase of six ATR 72-600s with Canary Islands’ operator Binter to add to an existing order for six of the same aircraft first placed in February 2014.


Alabama – Gateway from the Stars

Now landing at Huntsville - the Dream Chaser. (SNC)

The Paris show was the somewhat unlikely venue for the announcement that US commercial space company Sierra Nevada is considering Huntsville Airport in Alabama as a possible landing site for its Dream Chaser rocket-launched spaceplane. Local officials at Huntsville, which has hosted a number of space industry companies, are to conduct a six-month feasibility study into the proposal which could see the spacecraft making its first landing at the commercial airport in 2018.


Airbus reveal global market forecast

Demand keeps on growing. (Airbus).

Over at Airbus, the company had brought forward its usual September-timed Global Market Forecast GMF to share with the world. Top salesman John Leahy was on form to explain why the aviation industry kept doubling every 15 years and despite regional wars, oil shocks and SARS, kept on growing. He revealed that Airbus predicts a demand for 32,585 new airliners over the next 20 years – worth almost an estimated $5trillion. The company had boosted its forecast since 2014 GMF by another 1,227 aircraft, some 1,000 of these being in the single-aisle category.

He also pushed back against Boeing's triumphant message that they were right over the increase in point-to-point predictions over the mega-hub model that suits the A380. "70% of traffic growth is going to come from established routes"

Interestingly, although he refused to be drawn over the decision to launch the proposed re-engined A380neo (saying "I don't see the CEO and CFO in the room today") he revealed that Airbus is in discussions with a half-dozen of potential other airlines apart from Emirates. He also indicated that Airbus had interest from airlines about a 'little stretch' of the A380. Could these two improvements, then, be put together for the all new A380neo?



Antonov An188 revealed

The new An-178 made its Paris debut this week.

Among the aircraft on static display at Le Bourget this week is the prototype Antonov An-178 military transport aircraft which is making its first appearance in western Europe and, in fact, only made its first flight in early May. Ukrainian-based Antonov is hoping that the new aircraft will be granted flight certification by the end of 2016 and could be adapted as a cargo aircraft or refuelling tanker

The new aircraft is part of Antonov’s plan to end its dependence on Russian-built components and to establish a position as a major international aerospace manufacturer. At a press conference on Monday, the company announced that it intended to resume production of an upgraded version of its four-engined heavy lift An-124 transporter. Called the An-214-121, the revamped aircraft would be fitted with new avionics and glass cockpit, together with improved engines or even a choice of alternative engines. In addition, the An-70 military transport aircraft is to be upgraded to the An-188, fitted with either Ukrainian or western-built avionics and systems and with a larger cargo space. A twin engine turboprop aircraft fitted with new engines and avionics, the An-132, is proposed as replacement for the An-26 and An-32. As well as it being used as a military transporter, Antonov is proposing the An-132P variant for aerial firefighting missions.



Airbus to build giant satellite constellation

Not all deals at the show involved terrestrial aviation. Airbus Defence and Space division also had the news that it had been selected by OneWeb Ltd. as its industrial partner for the design and manufacturing of its fleet of microsatellites designed to deliver high-speed affordable Internet access globally. An initial 900 satellites are scheduled to launch into low Earth orbit from 2018 onwards – with Airbus aiming to build several each day. This venture goes up against rival Elon Musks Space X' satellite constellation plan. Is there room in orbit for both these to succeed?


Boeing looks to the future

Radical future concepts from Boeing...

Boeing’s VP of Product Development Mike Sinnett gave an overview of the research Boeing is conducting into new technology which could be incorporated onto aircraft of the future. Some of the technology tested on Boeing’s o-going flight tests of specially fitted technology demonstrator aircraft is already being developed for commercial use while others were only for experimental research. Sinnett described a variety of innovations in operational efficiency, connectivity, advanced materials, cabin experience and advanced technologies. These include research into sustainable fuels, new construction materials, new holistic aircraft routing systems which could direct aircraft by the quickest routes to their destinations taking account of both weather and coordination between different aircraft regarding arrival times. Other ideas being investigated include cargo aircraft flying in formation and integrated sound and light systems inside passenger aircraft cabins that could, for example, project images and sounds of the destination city.

Embraer on track with E2, aiming for 100 operators

Leasing company Aircastle was a new E-Jet customer this week. (Embraer)

Over to Brazil's Embraer which packed into its press conference an update on its E2 aircraft under development, a market forecast and sales announcements of 50 firm orders worth some $2.6bn. The airframer has set a goal of winning 100 airline operators by the end of 2017 – a target that after the Monday, it seems well on track to achieve.

For its upcoming E2, the company stresses it is much more than a re-engined E-Jet – with new wing, full FBW controls and new interior. Embraer say the programme is on track with the first E-Jet E2 set for the Q2 of 2016. The company also highlighted the fuel efficiency of the upcoming E2 – with the largest model the E195 E2, boasting a 24% per seat fuel burn advantage. The E-Jet E2s are also set to deliver some 15-25% lower maintenance costs.

Turning to the market – Embraer predict some 6,350 aircraft will be needed in the 70-130seat order in the next 20years.

Finally the company announced a quick succession of orders – including 17 E190s (7 firm & 10 options) from southwest Chinese airline Colorful Guizhou. Skywest then firmed up options for 8 x E175s. This was followed by an order for up to 28 (10 firm/18 options) E175s from United Airlines. Finally new leasing company Air Castle signing commitments for up to 50 E2s (firm orders for 15 x E190-E2 + 10 E195 E2s and purchase rights for another 25 in the same split)


Milestone win

Airbus Helicopters has received orders and options for 28 H175 helicopters from helicopter lessor Milestone Aviation

Engine deals in the spotlight

More aircraft, more engines needed...

New aircraft mean new engines and the major engine manufacturers were also busy announcing new deals. Qatar Airways ordered 20 GE9X and eight GE90-115B engines to power its newly ordered Boeing 777X and 777Fs. Rolls-Royce is to provide additional TotalCare long term service support for Trent 900s powering Singapore Airlines’s fleet of 19 A380s. CFM also announced a major order for LEAP-1A engines to power GECAS’ 60 A320 neos as well as LEAP-1Bs for Garuda’s reconfirmed order for 50 737 MAXs. Meanwhile, Lufthansa Technik AG and GE Aviation are to create a new engine overhaul facility in Europe to service GEnx-2B and GE9X engines to be operational by 2018.


Super Tucanos for Mali

A surprise deal during the day can from Mali, which placed an order for six armed Super Tucano turboprops from Embraer.


Swiss conversion

C-ing clearly now?

Bombardier announced on Monday that its CSeries launch customer SWISS has converted ten of its 30 CS100 orders into the larger CS300. The first ten aircraft will be CS100s, the second ten will now be CS300s and the variant of the final ten has yet to be decided.

And finally....


Don't tell me you've lost ANOTHER submarine?

Spotted in the DoD static park was Boeing's P-8A Poseidon from the US Navy. However a closer look near the cockpit revealed an impressive tally of sub 'kills'. One presumes that these are friendly submarines judged 'sunk' on exercises rather than defecting Red October classes.... 


15 June 2015