TIM ROBINSON and BILL READ provide a look at some of the most important news and highlights of the fourth trade day, 23 June, of the Paris Air Show 2017 – as well as a summary and analysis.


This Paris Air Show 2017 coverage brought to you with the kind support of Gulf Aviation 

Boeing wins Le Bourget civil orders race

Boeing ended the week with an Airbus-style orders round-up.

While not a bumper year like previous Le Bourgets - a blaze of airliner orders and commitments throughout the week surprised many who had perhaps been expecting a far much quieter air show.

Much of this, of course, came from Boeing's new 737 MAX 10 launched at the show, which supercharged its numbers and led the company's normal line about "we don't get involved in order races" being ditched for an out-of-character wrap-up press conference – with even a nervous but happy Ihassne Mounir, Senior VP of Sales, BCA saying "We've never had a wrap up like this".

The final tally for Boeing orders and commitments came to 571 aircraft, worth some $74.8bn. And while Boeing on Monday had expected 220 orders from 10 customers for the MAX 10, it actually won 361 orders from 16 customers. However 214 of these were conversions from other MAX or 737 models, leaving 147 new/incremental orders or commitments.

With pointed questions over how firm many of these actually are, Boeing's Mounir noted that conversions showed a high level of demand from impatient customers, and gave both airframer and airlines flexibility in allocating delivery slots. He also stated that many of these LoIs placed at Le Bourget would be firmed up very quickly and that firm numbers would creep up.

Mounir aslo predicted that depressed widebody demand would pickup – driven primarily by "very strong demand" from China, which is an "incredibly under-served market".

Meanwhile over at Airbus, at its usual end-of-show summary conference, Airbus conceded that it had been a slower air show that usual and that Boeing had indeed won the total Le Bourget orders race. It announced (with one MoU to Iran Airtours for 45 A320neos announced barely 10 minutes earlier) that during the week it had won 326 orders worth some $40bn. These broke down into 144 firm and 186 MoUs.

Outgoing sales chief John Leahy was quick to dismiss a suggestion that Airbus had 'lost its mojo' and stressed that while the orders cycle would peak and fall, the important factor was the delivery cycle – which was on an upward curve. He observed that "even if there was a recession (and we don't expect one) we don't expect a downturn in deliveries". Indeed the airframer is now sitting on a record backlog of 6,800+ aircraft.

A return to more sober sales levels?

Peering though then the smoke and mirrors of breathless airliner firm, MoU and LoI announcements at air shows then, how worried should one be about the underlying state of the industry? Obviously firm orders are better with a deposit and a guarantee that the customer will pay the rest on delivery. However with both Airbus and Boeing both sitting on bumper backlogs, the key question for many airlines then is: 'how fast can you get me my aeroplanes'? In that sense, LoIs or MoUs may be the airline equivalent of keeping your place in the queue and hoping that a few people ahead drop out. It requires minimum commitment, and of course airlines can (and do) cancel, but it is preferable to be in the queue waiting, than to suddenly find your traffic growth plans stalled because at a critical moment there are just no delivery slots available of the aircraft you want.

Giant production backlogs and the airliner market forecasts by Airbus (35,000 aircraft needed) and Boeing (41,030) for the next two decades suggest that finding buyers for airliners in the future will not be a problem – given the right product. However a note of caution must be sounded – has the exuberance of recent years led to airlines over-ordering? In which case Paris may signal a return to a more sober sales level.

However outside the big two, orders were somewhat more subdued and it is notable that two of the new airliners to appear at Le Bourget, Bombardier's CSeries CS300 and Mitsubishi's MRJ failed to pick up a single order each.



Firm orders: Delta - 10 A321neos, Air Asia - 14 A320ceos, Wizz Air - 10 A321ceos, Hi Fly- two A330-200s, Delta – 10 A321ceos; Ethiopian Airlines – 10 A350-900s

Conversions from existing orders: CDB Aviation converted 15 A320neos to 15 A321neos,

MoUs: Iran Air Tours - 45 A320neos, Zagros Airlines - 20 A320neos and eight A330neos, CDB Aviation - 30 A320neos and 15 A321neos, Viva Air - 35 A320neos and 15 A320ceos, Tibet Financial Leasing – 20 A321neos


Firm orders: ACG - 20 737 MAX 10s, Okay Airlines - eight 737 MAX 10s and seven MAX 8s, Ryanair - 10 737 MAX 8s, United - four 777-300ERs, CALC - 50 MAXs (including 15 MAX 10s), AerCap - 15 MAX 10s, Tassili Airlines - three 737-800NGs, Malaysia Airlines - 10 MAX 10s, Mauritania Airlines - one MAX 8, Ethiopian - 10 exercised options for MAX 8s from 2014 order

MoUs: Ruiji Airlines - 20 737 MAXs, Unidentified customer - 125 MAX 8s plus 50 options, Xiamen - 10 MAX 10s, ALC - five MAX 7s and seven MAX 8s, Avolon - 75 737 MAX 8s, Okay Airways - five 787-9s, Azerbaijan Airlines - four 787-8s, Ethiopian Airlines - two 777Fs, JIA - 10 737 MAX 8s,

Conversions from existing orders: United Airlines converted 100 MAX orders into MAX 10 orders, COPA Airlines - conversion from previous MAX order to 15 MAX 10s; Donghai Airlines - conversion from order for 10 MAXs to 10 MAX 10s

Previously announced orders: El Al - finalised 2015 order for two 787-8s and one 787-9, Blue Air - six 737 MAXs, Ethiopian Airlines - 10 737 MAX 8s (previously unidentified customer and exercised options)


Orders: Belavia - one E175 and one E195, Fuji Dream Airlines - three E175s, Japan Airlines - one E190, KLM Cityhopper - two E190s, Unidentified customer - 10 E195-E2s

Commitment: Unidentified customer - 20 E190-E2s


Previously announced: SpiceJet – 25 + 25 purchase rights Q400s (unidentified customer)

LOI: Ethiopian Airlines - five Q400s


Orders: Air Senegal - two 72-600s

Parallel parking could prove profitable

As single aisles get bigger - is it time to use both jet bridges where possible?

Remember all those airliner green taxiing systems to save fuel by keeping the engine off while on the ground? Of course you do. However with fuel prices at rock bottom prices (even with conflict across the Middle East) one company working on this technology, WheelTug has realised that reducing ramp rash accidents and speeding up turnaround time for single-aisle aircraft may be compelling reasons to take a look again. Its WheelTug system uses an electric motor on the nosewheel, powered by the APU and controlled by the pilot, whio will have camera feeds to see outside and beneath the aircraft. The electric motor weighs 300lbs, but WheelTug believe that the fuel saved by not using the main engines for taxiing, quickly makes up for this. (One major airport it is rumoured requires 70mins of fuel to be held).

As well as speeding traditional times in traditional pushbacks, WheelTug believe that this system could save 13mins in boarding by using a novel (but older) way of parking side on at gates to use both jet bridges where avialable. Whilst used in the 1960s, this was discontinued when jet engines become too powerful – but an electric WheelTug would have no such issue. WheelTug say they have LoIs for 22 airlines who are interested in the system.

More lift for Lockheed hybrid airship

A more bouyant market? (Lockheed Martin)

Lockheed Martin has signed up a second customer for its LMH-1 hybrid airship. French company Hybrid Air Freighters (HAF) signed a letter of intent (LoI) for up to 12 airships, joining UK customer Straightline Aviation which has a LoI for 12 LHM-1s. However, a launch date for the programme has yet to be announced.

Electric aviation shows potential

Green and lightning fast...

The promise of greener, cheaper and quieter flying with electric powerplants is now accelerating at a phenomenal rate. Among some of the companies with designs on electric flight, was Siemens, which had brought along a record-breaking Extra aerobatic aircraft converted to lithium-ion battery power. This aircraft, which was flying in the air display during the week has a 260kW motor that weighs 50kg and delivers continuous torque of 1,000Nm. Siemens now has 100 people working on e-aviation engines. While endurance is currently limited (depending on power setting) to approx 20minutes this is expected to grow. Another electric aircraft being powered by Siemens, the Magnus eFusion is set to get new batteries that will push endurance out to 45mins, then to an hour. By 2025, battery technology should allow medium flights of around three hours said the company.

Another advantage, notes the company is in noise, with the electric Extra 14db quieter and with a much less harsh sound than a piston engine. There may be future noise reduction in the future using optimised propellers. While this will benefit local GA airfields by being better neighbours, the real game-changer for electric motors could be making possible the vision mass urban aerial taxis. Ubers Elevate conference, for example placed noise as the number one challenge, over and above battery capacity and airspace integration.

Leahy's last Paris

And now his watch is ended... (Airbus)

Finally this Paris Air Show marks the last one of Airbus super salesman John Leahy who steps down later this year after selling 10,000 aircraft worth $1trillion. By turns cutting and charming, he has presided over an era of exponential growth. His mantra, air traffic doubles every 15 years has constantly been proven right even after major shockwaves such as 9/11, SARS, the 2008 financial crisis. Even this year, with Brexit, an unpredictable US president, conflict across the Middle East, Terrorism in Europe and sabre rattling in Asia-Pacific – air travel is still growing at 8% - an insatiable demand caused by a growing global middle class that craves to fly and travel.

While his fierce rivals at Seattle may breath a sigh of relief that their bete noire is gone, he leaves at an appropriate time – an industry with bulging backlogs that is now focussed on deliveries and support.

Engine deals

More work for the engine makers...

With the spate of new aircraft announcements from Boeing and Airbus, this week has also been a good one for engine manufacturers. CFM announced orders for Leap-1A engines from both China Eastern and China Southern to power 70 and 50 Airbus A320neos, respectively.

Pratt & Whitney Canada signed an agreement to supply its PW150C engine for the Chinese AVIC MA700 regional turboprop.

Air France Industries KLM Engineering & Maintenance is to join the Rolls-Royce CareNetwork with an agreement covering Trent XWB engines. Air France KLM has 25 Airbus A350s on order plus 25 options, all powered by the Trent XWB. These engines will be supported under a TotalCare long term services arrangement, with engine maintenance carried out by AFI KLM E&M.

Milestone spacesuit on display

NASA only has 11 of these EVA suits.

UTC Aerospace Systems are displaying the spacesuit using by astronaut Peggy Wilson in the 200th spacewalk at the International Space Station (ISS) on 12 May. The UTC Aerospace Systems Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU) space suit, which includes life-support systems providing oxygen for breathing, carbon dioxide removal, thermal control and power for suit health monitoring and communications, has now been used for a total of 151 spacewalks outside the ISS.

Embracing diversity

This girl can. (Airbus)

Where will the global aerospace sector get the staggering numbers of future pilots, engineers, technicians, airport workers and UAV operators from? One solution, detailed in this blog earlier this week may well be more automation. But a simply one might be to encourage more people (especially from 50% of the population) who previously thought that aerospace wasn't a career for them. A careers zone at the show saw Airbus and other companies work hard to attract more women into aviation and aerospace. 

Top takeaways

F-35A shows off its high alpha moves (Lockheed Martin)

This week saw a deluge of news, announcements, press conferences, interviews amidst a huge exhibition site and flying displays. A quick rundown on the highlights:

F-35 thrills in demo flight

Le Bourget visitors got to witness Lockheed Martin's stealth F-35A in action, which was put through its paces by a company test pilot.

The return of supersonic passenger flight

Start-up Boom Aerospace hit the headlines with the news that it has five airlines had now reserved orders for 76 of its Mach 2.2 55-seat passenger aircraft.

Wing Loong II shows new confident China

China's AVIC stole the show for UAVs with a full scale mock-up of its Wing Loong II armed UAV – which included a wide range of weaponry, including an anti-ship missile.

Japan, Brazil and Turkey display aerospace prowess

Kawasaki P1 MPA on static.

The show saw new aircraft from Brazil (Embraer E195-E2, KC-390) Japan (Kawasaki P1, Mitsubshi MRJ) and Turkey (Hurkus, T629 mock-up).

Boeing teases more NMA details

No product launch as yet, but Boeing did firm up some details on its New Midsize Airplane or 797 – the next big 'must-win' programme for engine manufacturers

Silicon Valley start-up pushes innovation

The dedicated Paris Air Lab all week saw pitches, TED-style talks, immersive VR – bringing the start-up culture of risk and innovation into the show.

Last chance saloon for A380?

Airbus revealed the A380plus – a study for a fuel efficiency and high density seating revamp designed to spark new interest in its superjumbo

UK post-Brexit?

Could Germany lure France away from UK to join its own FCAS project?

With Brexit negotiations having began on the Tuesday, many of the discussions on sidelines of programmes such as Clean Sky 2, ESA or the Anglo-French UCAV demonstrator revolved around what its impact will be.

Defence comes to foreground

The shock of the new US President's blunt approach to increased defence spending by European NATO members did not immediatly make for orders at the show, but emerging military requirements took a higher priority than previous years.

Services and support

In the commercial world, services and support, powered by big-data and advanced analytics, is set to take-off, delivering new levels of relibility and efficiency.

Flying cars

Flick a switch and wings pop out. No really.

This Paris saw two 'flying cars' (AeroMobil and SureFly) exhibited on the static display – how long before we commute to the show by aerial taxi?


Airbus launches global A400M photo contest

Launched at the Paris Air Show 2017 was a new A400M photography competition from Airbus Defence and Space. It will run until 24th November, with winners set to be announced in December. 


For more details and terms go to www.A400m-photocompetition.com to enter.


Follow the A400M Annual Photography Contest online with #InPlaneSight #A400M


And Finally…


If your credit rating and/or human rights record is so bad that not even the Chinese will sell you an armed UAV, maybe this might be more up your street?


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See you at Farnborough 2018!



News Team
23 June 2017