India was one of the main targets for exhibitors and visitors at the air show, the oldest in the world.
PARIS: When the whole world is overshadowed by the US-China tariff war, Brexit, and the Iran crisis, the 53rd edition of the International Air Show in Paris brought together market leaders and decision makers to rekindle hopes in the struggling sector. Airbus, Boeing, Bombardier, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, GE, Dassault Aviation, Thales, Safran, SAAB…the aviation giants were represented by decision makers to reboot the entire industry. The International Airline Group’s decision to procure 200 737 Max and Lockheed Martin’s Supersonic project has become the highlight of the show. The BA parent company’s faith in Boeing triggered emotions and could indicate the return of the grounded aircraft back in the sky within months after fixing the glitch which caused two tragic crashes.
The Paris Air Show, the oldest in the world, has its focus on the future of the industry. Besides the business side of aviation, the Paris Air Show provides avenues for the common man to get a closer look at the industry. Stalls like Paris Air Lab and the Careers Plane attracted thousands. The Careers Plane showcases the jobs and training in the industry, and encourages young people to base their futures in the aviation sector. The Paris Air Lab, an exhibition area, provided a platform for visitors to discuss present and future innovations. It also provided opportunities for start-ups and market leaders to unveil their new products and services. India’s state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited was present with their line of products.
Éric Trappier, the Chairman of GIFAS, the organiser of the event, said: “The Paris Air Show reflects the dynamic energy of an ever-growing industry. Open to the trade and the general public alike, the Show is central to the development of the global aerospace market, and has become an essential meeting point in this respect. It is a source of numerous vocations and has won over several generations of enthusiasts. In professional terms, it provides all the exhibitors with a marvellous showcase for the cutting-edge technologies they have developed.”
The Paris Air Show is the world’s foremost event for industrial companies in the aerospace sector. The giants in the industry arrived in droves to showcase their talents. About 2,400 exhibitors from 50 countries displayed their talents to 3,50,000 visitors and 300 top level delegations, besides a global media represented by 3,000 journalists. India was one of the main targets for the exhibitors and visitors.
Ola Rignell, Chairman & Managing Director of SAAB, told The Sunday Guardian: “The Indian aviation sector is growing at a fast pace and we are focussing on the opportunities available at India’s vast network of airports.”
“At present, we are providing support to 11 airports across the country,” he added. “This includes Air Traffic Control, surface transport etc. SAAB technology is very useful for big countries like India to co-ordinate its air traffic control operations. More and more people are joining the flying category which makes India develop local airports. We are envisaging 100 plus airports in the next 10 years itself. With a base in Delhi, the technicians can manage air traffic in Kerala and far away places like Leh.”
Mats Palmberg, Vice President, Industrial Partnerships, Business Area Aeronautics of SAAB, is also pinning hopes on India as a hub in the region. The Swedish industry giant has invested heavily in India. SAAB is already working in association
with Airports Authority of India (AAI).
Rignell said: “India is a promising market with the fourth biggest defence budget in the world. We got 700 products in aviation and defence to choose from. Some of the products are tailor-made for the Indian Army and Navy. They need new weapons in the armoury and SAAB is providing the best list to procure.”
“We are keen to develop new products in India,” Rignell added. “We are also supporting the government’s Make in India initiative. We already got a tie-up with Tech Mahindra to develop new products in Hyderabad. Another unit is also working in Belgaum. We are also using a local supply chain for all these operations. Together we grow. That is our principle.”
FAITH IN BOEING
The biggest benefactor of the air show is Boeing. The company, which was on the receiving end after two consecutive crashes, regained its faith when IAG announced its decision to buy 200 737 MAX aircraft. The order was a huge boost for Boeing when it was struggling to dispel the clouds hanging over its business. The bulk order will prompt Boeing to speed up its operations to float 737 Max again. It’s worth remembering it is the fastest selling product in Boeing’s history. It still has more than 4,000 of them on order, far more than the rest of its range put together.
The grounding of 737 MAX affected the balance sheet of most of the airlines. Everybody needs the 737 Max because of its high efficiency and low operating costs. Airbus simply cannot supply the whole market with its rival A320neo, a long-range small passenger jet.
Willie Walsh, chief executive of IAG, said: “We have every confidence in Boeing and expect that the aircraft will make a successful return to service in the coming months having received approval from the regulators.” The planes will be used by IAG’s airlines, including British Airways, Vueling and Level. Boeing shares rose more than 2.8% after the announcement.
The firm in a statement said that it was “truly honoured and humbled by the
leadership at International Airlines Group for placing their trust and confidence in the 737 Max”.
Besides IAG’s mega $24 billion 200 737 Max orders, Boeing’s kitty was swollen by orders from Korean Airlines (Twenty 787 Dreamliner); Qatar Airways (five 777 freighters worth $1.8 billion); China Airlines (six 777 Freighters); Turkmenistan Airlines (one 777-200LR -long range); and ASL
Aviation Holdings (Ten 737-800 Boeing Converted Freighters).
Boeing highlighted international sales and services opportunities for several defence platforms at the show, including the T-X trainer, F-15EX, F/A-18 Super Hornet, P-8 Poseidon and KC-46 tanker, which made its international air show debut.
AIRBUS BAGS NEW ORDERS
The show was literally a platform for Airbus to showcase its new products at its home turf. On the first day itself, Airbus unveiled A321XLR, a long-haul version of the A321neo. A product which can compete with Boeing’s grounded 737.
Airbus said that the plane’s additional range, which opens up routes such as India to Europe or China to Australia, would allow airlines to operate a single-aisle aircraft on intercontinental journeys that are currently possible only on larger, less fuel-efficient wide-body planes.
Middle East Airlines, the Lebanese flag carrier, was announced as the launch customer, with an order for four A321XLRs, which are expected to be operational from 2023. The California-based Air Lease Corporation also signed a letter of intent to purchase 27 of the new planes, as well as 50 A220-300s and 23 additional A321neos, worth a total of $11bn at list prices.
Airbus also struck a lease deal with Virgin Atlantic for 14 of its A330neo widebody planes in an order valued at $4.1bn. Virgin said the planes, with Rolls-Royce engines, would be 13% more fuel-efficient than the aircraft they replaced and also significantly quieter on take-off and landing.
THE RAFALE SHOW
Indian aviation’s new addition Rafale stole the show with its strong presence in the displays. It also unveiled ATR (Automatic Target Recognition) capability for its SPICE-250 air-to-surface munition. SPICE (250, 1000, 2000) is a family of stand-off, autonomous, air-to-ground weapon systems that attack targets with pinpoint accuracy and at high attack volumes, without depending on GPS navigation in GPS-denied environments. SPICE-250 has a standoff range of 100 kilometers, and can be equipped with either general purpose or penetration 75kg class warhead.
This new and unique ATR capability is part of SPICE-250’s array of technologies which includes Automatic Target Acquisition (ATA) and Moving-Target-Detection homing modes, all of which are based on autonomous electro-optic Scene-Matching Algorithms.
The newly-unveiled ATR feature is a technological breakthrough, enabling SPICE-250 to effectively learn the specific target characteristics ahead of the strike, using advanced AI and deep-learning technologies. During flight, the pilot selects the target type to be attacked and allocates a target to each weapon. The weapons are launched towards the vicinity of the targets, using their INS for initial navigation. When approaching the target area, the weapons use the ATR mode for detection and recognition of the targets. Each weapon homes in on the pre-defined target, either autonomously or with a human-in-the-loop, aided by the ATR algorithm.
RETURN OF SUPERSONICS
The air show also witnessed the return of the supersonic era. Boosted by the development of the X-59 low-boom demonstrator for NASA and sensing the market demand for supersonic aircraft, Lockheed Martin has unveiled details of a Mach 1.8 concept capable of trans-Pacific routes with up to 40 passengers. The company believes its baseline design can economically operate on routes up to trans-Pacific in length while simultaneously defeating the problems of sonic boom and airport noise.
Earlier this year, NASA selected Lockheed Martin to design, build and flight test the Low Boom Flight Demonstrator. The X-59 will conduct its first flight in 2021. It will be used to collect community response data on the acceptability of the quiet sonic boom generated by the aircraft, helping NASA establish an acceptable commercial supersonic noise standard to overturn current regulations banning supersonic travel over land.
X-59 is designed to cruise at 55,000 feet at a speed of about 940 mph and creates a sound about as loud as a car door closing, 75 Perceived Level decibel (PLdB), instead of a sonic boom.
Peter Iosifidis, manager at Lockheed Martin Skunk Works, said: “The start of manufacturing on the project marks a great leap forward for the X-59 and the future of quiet supersonic commercial travel. The long, slender design of the aircraft is the key to achieving a low sonic boom. As we enter into the manufacturing phase, the aircraft structure begins to take shape, bringing us one step closer to enabling supersonic travel for passengers around the world.”
BET ON BOMBARDIER
Bombardier continues to call its shots in private jet travel business as it unveiled the award-winning Bombardier Global 7500 at the Air Show.
With its unrivalled cabin comfort, extra-long range capabilities and signature smooth ride, the Global 7500 aircraft has revolutionised the private jet industry.
David Coleal, President, Bombardier Aviation, said: “We couldn’t be happier that our flagship Global 7500 aircraft was recognised by Robb Report’s Best of the Best as Business Jet of the Year. We’re also excited that the impressive Global 7500 aircraft will be on display at the Paris Air Show. With its range, comfort and smooth ride, the Global 7500 aircraft is ideally suited to meet the needs of business jet customers throughout Europe, and we are delighted to debut its impressive attributes at this prestigious event.”
The multiple-award winning Global 7500 aircraft is the largest and longest-range business jet in the world, and features revolutionary industry-firsts from nose to tail. Like all aircraft in Bombardier’s unparalleled product portfolio, both the Challenger 350 and Global 7500 jets offer the ultimate in design, performance and luxury, all with Bombardier’s signature smooth ride.
Peter Likoray, Senior Vice President, Worldwide Sales and Marketing, Bombardier Business Aircraft, said: “When it comes to the Global 7500 jet, there is simply no aircraft in the world like it, and it has established a category of its own. Bombardier offers the most exceptional business jets and customer experience in the world, and our continued worldwide recognition stands as proof. We are delighted that our exceptional Global 7500 business jet has been recognised for exactly what it is: the Best of the Best. This, and
other impressive recognitions, is a testament to Bombardier’s world-renowned portfolio of incomparable business aircraft.”
Despite the gloom in the market, the Paris Air Show has rekindled hopes in the sector. The air show displayed the passion of the stakeholders to provide the best service to the entire aerospace