TIM ROBINSON and BILL READ provide a look at some of the most exciting news and highlights of the first trade day, 19 June, of Paris Air Show 2017.

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


With temperatures soaring, a visit of the French President and increased threat levels adding to the usual traffic and organisational chaos of an air show first day, things eventually settled down, with a steady drumbeat of order announcements and press briefings. Lets take a look at some of the highlights.

Big MAX takeaway


Boeing has launched the new longer 737 MAX 10. (Boeing)

At an press conference in the morning, Boeing CEO and Chairman Dennis Muilenburg, and BCA CEO Kevin McAllister announced the launch of the 737 MAX 10 as the newest member of the 737 MAX family.

Powered by CFM International LEAP-1B engines, the 230-seat MAX 10 will be 66in longer than the MAX 9 with levered main landing gear to allow the aircraft more space to rotate its longer fuselage during take-off. Other changes include a variable exit limit rating mid-exit door, a lighter flat aft pressure bulkhead and a modified wing for low speed drag reduction. With McAllister calling the MAX 10 the "most efficient single-aisle aeroplane in the skies", Boeing revealed that it was set to announce around 240 MAX 10 orders at the show, from 10+ customers.

These then started coming thick and fast – with BOC Aviation signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for 10 737 MAX 10s. Indian carrier SpiceJet will purchase 40 737 MAXs, including 20 MAX 10s and the conversion of 20 737 MAX 8s from an existing order.GE Capital Aviation Services (GECAS) has ordered 20 737 MAX 10s and converted 20 existing MAX orders to the larger MAX 10. Twenty 737 MAX 8 and MAX 10s are to be acquired by Tibet Financial Leasing, while Monarch announced an order for 15 additional 737 MAX 8s. Another 20 MAX 8s are to go to Aviation Lease and Finance Company (ALAFCO) with a further two MAX 8s for Norwegian. The Scandinavian carrier has also selected Boeing to provide all its flight training needs. CDB Aviation Lease Finance signed an MoU for 42 737 MAX 8s, ten 737 MAX 10s and eight 787-9 Dreamliners. This agreement includes the conversion of six orders for 737 MAX 8 to 737 MAX 10s. The TUI Group has also converted 18 existing orders for 737 MAXs to the MAX 10 variant. TUI has also converted ten out of 50 options for the 737 MAX to the MAX 10.

In other Boeing news, air cargo specialists UPS announced an order to convert three 767 passenger aircraft into Boeing Converted Freighters. Meanwhile AerCap ordered 30 787-9 Dreamliners.

Airbus fights back...

GECAS has ordered 100 Airbus A320neos. (Airbus)

With Boeing attempting to claw back market share from the best-selling A321, Airbus was quick to respond with its own single-aisle airliner news announcement. What Airbus lacked in total number of customers, it made up in numbers of aircraft ordered when it announced that aircraft lessor GECAS is to buy 100 A320neos. An additional 12 A321neos were also ordered by Air Lease Corp.

F-35 flies at Paris - but Big Data may be its best party trick

Haven't seen a F-35 fly yet? In five years time you won't be able to get away from the things.

While one of the highlights for many on Day One was the first flying display of the F-35A at Le Bourget, at a press briefing in the morning Lockheed Martin gave a programme update and revealed information about how sheer numbers of the aircraft in service worldwide very soon will help drive down costs, not just in acquisition but also in operating it.

There are now 220+ fighters in service, said Jeff Babione, Lockheed Martin's F-35 executive vice-president and general manager but just three years later, with final assembly lines in now running in Fort Worth, Texas, Italy and Japan, this will grow to 600 aircraft. Two years later, there will be 1,000 aircraft in service. This, says Babione could deliver unique opportunities to exploit big data for predictive maintenance. The F-35 can generate some 1TB of data every flight, and with 1,000 aircraft flying this will mean that operational costs could be reduced. He noted that while previous jets had entered service in large numbers (eg the F-16) these were had a number of variants and sub-variants and lacked the way of sharing digital data that the F-35 does. This, said, "will deliver an unprecedented amount of learning" to operators and the manufacturer. Future highlights to watch for with the F-35 include the conclusion of SDD by the end of the year, the integration of the Enhanced Paveway II GBU-49 to address a moving target weapon gap and the first delivery of home-based F-35s to Norway.

In addition, Lockheed Martin is also reported to be close to sealing a 440 aircraft 'block-buy' order with 11 countries that could be worth between $35-40bn. This could save both the US and customers money, by driving down costs even further. Babione, however also pointed out that while the F-35 clearly enjoyed economies of scale, this cost reduction had not "come about by accident". The company and its partners had invested heavily in cost reduction initiatives, including augmented reality and automated fastening.

Bombardier wins Q400 order

Turboprop action for Bombardier.  (Bombardier)

Meanwhile, there was also news from Bombardier which announced that Philippine Airlines has agreed to buy seven more Q400 turboprops, to add to five previous ordered in December 2016.

MBDA reveals new glide weapon family

Stand off threats from further away....

Missed by many reporters on the first day was MBDA unveiling a new family concept for long-range (100kg) glide weapons. The SmartGlider weapon concept is aimed at equipping fast jets from the mid-2020s and ranges from the 120kg SmartGlider Light, to the SmartGlider Heavy with a 1,000kg warhead. Interestingly MBDA see the SmartGlider as occupying a new niche between cruise missiles and other PGMs with a tactical fighter able to carry as many as 18 of the Light variant. This would allow future pilots not only to stand-off high threat zones, but also saturate defences by sheer numbers - an important consideration given that 'Triple Digit' SAM systems are usually deployed with short-range SAMs to pick off guided weapons.  

Beware the Nightwarden


Textron’s Nightwarden UAV

Textron Systems has launched a new military UAV which it claims offers improved combat capability over its existing Shadow M2 unmanned aircraft system. The new Nightwarden Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System (TUAS) can fly up to 90kt with an endurance of up to 15 hours and a payload capacity of 130 pounds, the company said.

“Since first announcing the Shadow M2, we’ve made significant improvements and enhancements to the system – so much in fact, that there are many differences between the two platforms,” said Unmanned Systems Senior VP & GM Bill Irby, “The Nightwarden offers greater flexibility and combat capability, beyond line-of-sight satellite communications (SATCOM) features, as well as enhanced command-and-control through Synturian - Textron Systems’ new family of multi-domain control and collaboration technologies.” Fitted with a water-cooled, rotary engine which provides a reduced acoustic signature, Nightwarden uses an automated take-off and landing system but also incorporates enhanced landing gear, remote taxi and an air vehicle parachute for emergency operations. The UAV is fitted with an open architecture and a dual-payload bay, allowing for additional capabilities such as communication relay, sense-and-avoid equipment, or additional payloads such as electronic attack, signals intelligence or communications intelligence or additional intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) payloads, such as the Textron Systems Weapon & Sensor Systems ‘Fury’ precision guided glide munition.

Airbus reveals more A380plus details


At sweltering press briefing inside one of the A380 prototypes that had now been donated to the Musee du Air, Airbus revealed more technical details on its 'A380plus' unveiled at the show. The A380plus, has not yet been launched and remains a design study with a number of aerodynamic and cabin enhancements (and well as optimised maintenance) to improve efficiency, lower fuel burn and reduce operating costs. While the double winglets are the most visible change, the wing would feature other aerodynamic modifications said Head of A380 Marketing, Frank Vermeire,, including a upper camber tweak, change in twist in the outer wing, and upper belly fairing. While the A380plus is aimed at new aircraft on the production line, the possibility of retrofitting winglets, which could offer up to 4% of fuel savings was also being considered by Airbus.

The A380plus would also see an increase in 3t to the MTOW, as well as the potential to add up to 80 more passengers in a 11 abreast layout. This densification, would raise the seat count in a typical four class A380 from 490 to 570 seats.

Double-bubble future airliner from Russia

The shape of things to come?

While future hybrid airliner concepts are now in vogue in the West, spotted on the UAC stand was this intriguing M-60 ultra-widebody airliner concept, with what appears to be engines incorporating boundary layer ingestion.

Cobham unveils virtual refuelling tech

How fast can you prod the basket? (Cobham)

Over at Cobham's stand the company was demoing the results of the some extremely sosphicated modelling of flexible hose and drogue systems that has resulting from 1,000s of hours of flight testing and the firms long heritage in air to air refuelling. While for the show, the company had including a VR headset and was encouraging a leaderboard in tanking times, the primarily customer for this modelling is companies building or converting tankers. By using this modelling the effects of different hose tension, disconnect pressures and the like can be assessed and the pod or hose design tweaked. This has the potential for 'significant' savings in time and money says Cobham. A secondary market might be for this hose and drogue real-time modelling package to be available to simulator companies to 'drop-in' existing mission simulators to train pilots in the challenging art of aerial tanking. Experiencing it in VR, it is clear that is no video game – the hose responds exactly as you think it might – even to the extent of 'whipping' up vertical if you withdraw break contact too quickly.

Leonardo gets serious with MALE 2020

Europe's MALE 2020 programme, with Dassault, Airbus and Leonardo has for much of its life seemed like a me-too programme to develop either a European Reaper alternative, or a scaled down mini-Global Hawk. However a jet-powered MALE 2020 model on Leonardo's stand shows some innovative thinking that could help Europe catch up with the US (and Israeli) lead in these weapon systems. For one thing, it features a semi-stealth configuration with angled tail surfaces, faceted fuselage and LO inlet. Secondly, it is also armed, with two PGMs carried in an internal bay. This UAV then, more survivable than a Reaper or Predator, could point the way to Europe carving its own niche in this field.

Here comes M Le President!


President Macron is in here somewhere among his security entourage.

This morning’s show was visited by newly elected French President Emmanuel Macron in his first official engagement since winning a parliamentary majority in elections on Sunday. President Macron flew into the show on an Airbus Defence and Space A400M military transporter and visited a number of companies and exhibitors around the show site.


Airbus launches global A400M photo contest

The competition will launch at the Paris Air Show 2017 where the A400M will take part in the static display and 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…

This robot really should be fastening fuselage sections...

With reduced civil orders this year , aerospace company spending on the show has been more frugal than previous years. So much so, that Airbus seems to have hit upon the ideal way to save cash further – replace some of its chalet staff with robots. Next step – robot aviation journalists?

Download your copy of June AEROSPACE

Sample a taste of RAeS Membership with a free PDF download of the June 2017 issue of AEROSPACE magazine here.

Stay ahead of all the news!

To follow all the news at Paris 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 #PAS17. Editor-in-Chief Tim Robinson will be tweeting live from the show on @RAeSTimR 

News Team
20 June 2017