THERE were certainly plenty of high spots on the first day of this year’s Farnborough International Airshow.
Many multi-million pound business deals were announced at the air industry’s biennial trade show, indicating that perhaps the harsh winds of the global economic crisis are mostly behind the aeronautical industry.
Indeed, business seems to be booming again. In fact, while there on Monday’s opening day, Prime Minister David Cameron, announced orders and commitments totalling approximately £24.5billion – more than three times that announced on the first day of the 2012 airshow. This includes the Government spending £1.1bn on defence.
The first day saw plenty of orders for new commercial aircraft and engines. It is believed there were firm orders and commitments for 326 large commercial jets and regional aircraft, with a combined value of £19.49bn.
Shaun Ormrod, chief executive of Farnborough International, which organises the airshow, said: “These figures are extremely encouraging and reflect the upbeat mood and return to economic growth we have been anticipating.”
Modern, efficient jets took centre stage at Farnborough, including the next generation of the A350 XWB jetliner, which made its debut at the show.
The double-deck Airbus’ 21st century flagship, the A380, wowed the crowds as did one of the test fleet of the A350-900 jetliners, which features the combined distinctive livery of Qatar Airways and Airbus.
It certainly stood out from the crowd, even when it was parked up.
Airbus, which incidentally sponsored the airshow, also showcased its prototype electric aircraft. Called the E-Fan, the two-seater generated quite a buzz and is being billed as the first step toward producing an electric-powered 80 to 90-seat regional airliner in the next 20 years.
While the E-Fan was almost eerily quiet, the Eurofighter Typhoon was quite the opposite as it tore into the sky, putting thousands of people’s eardrums to the test.
One low at the airshow was the no show in the skies of the F-35 Lightning II combat jet that is to be used on Britain’s new aircraft carriers. Earlier this month, the entire fleet of F-35s were grounded following an engine fire in America.
For the time being, a full size model of the aircraft is on show to visitors to view. The show’s organisers had hoped the aircraft would make its debut at Farnborough by the end of the week, but The Pentagon has confirmed it won’t be making an appearance because of continuing inspections.
While those keen to join the crowds on the public open days on Saturday and Sunday will not see the world’s most advanced fighter jet roar into action, they will be able to enjoy an expanded air display.
The four-and-a-half hour show aims to celebrate 100 years of aviation history, with aircraft spanning from World War I to the modern day, and all being well, it should include the world’s only airworthy Vulcan, of the kind operated by the RAF from 1953 to 1984.