ON TOUR: Sun shines on commercial aerospace at Farnborough.

Monday 21st July 2014

Not one drop of rain fell on the five trade days of Farnborough AirShow 2014 last week and inside the hospitality chalets and press conference rooms the manufacturers were basking in sales success too.   By the close of Friday airshow organisers, Farnborough International Ltd (FIL), confirmed the total sum of orders and commitments had reached US$201 billion.  This beats all previous records set.

Across the course of the working week, orders and commitments for civil jet engines reached 1,600 units, worth US$34.5bn and over 1,100 aircraft, totalling US$152bn.  A further US$14.5 was also logged in service contracts, reflecting the buoyancy of the aerospace industry internationally and in the UK.  Shaun Ormrod, Chief Executive for Farnborough International, who confirmed the event had attracted some 10,000 trade visitors during the week,  commented:  "We are extremely pleased by these order numbers. There is already an order backlog and these additional orders will keep manufacturers in business and people employed for some years to come."

Airbus fared better than Boeing, recording 496 orders for jets from airlines and leasing companies, valued at US$75.3 billion.  Boeing announced contracts for 201 aircraft, valued at US$40.2 billion.  Some 121 of Airbus' orders, however,  were for its new A330 Neo, which will be available from 2017.  Launched at the show, this anticipated new variant of an older airframe, featuring Rolls-Royce engines and modified wings, will appeal to customers who don't want such a large aircraft as the A350.   First to comment was Air Asia, with CEO Tony Fernandes hugging Airbus' John Leahy as he committed to 50 of the type, for 2018 delivery.

Boeing, which challenged Airbus that the new A330 could ever be as fuel efficient as the Drealiner with its light weight composite construction (the A330 NEO will be built in aluminum) confirmed a record order from Qatar Airways whose white and maroon colour scheme dominated the flight line (B787, A320 and A350 all in Qatar colours - the latter gracing the afternoon flying display.) The airline would have brought an Airbus A380 to the show too, had it been delivered on time, Flight Daily News reported. During a press briefing the airline firmed up an order it originally made at the Dubai Air Show and added options on a further 50 777-9Xs.

UK airline customers contributed to the total order book. Monarch Airlines confirmed a commitment for 30 Boeing 737 Max 8 as its single aisle fleet replacement and British Airways' parent group IAG confirmed an order for 20 Airbus A320NEOs.  Vueling CEO Alex Cruz was among many airline CEOs over for the show.

Prime Minister David Cameron visited on Monday.  He was there, supported by several members of the Cabinet including new Defence Secretary Michael Fallon,  
 to announce commitments worth £1.1 billion on UK defence spending, but the military aircraft many attendees eagerly wanted to see, the poster boy of this year's Farnborough Show - the Lockheed Martin F-35 JSF failed to appear. Its no show at RIAT the previous weekend was something of a PR disaster for the organisers and a huge disappointment for the OEM, whose management held regular press updates anyway to explain the delay in its appearance. (The aircraft was recovering from an engine fire).

With fewer Russian visitors this year (rumours abounded at the show that defence delegations were sent home, while others had their visas for entry denied by the UK Foreign Office) commercial aerospace shone ever brighter this year.  Even business aviation had a bigger presence than in 2012.  Observers wondered if there should have been a dedicated business aviation park as previous Farnborough's featured.

Textron Aviation (combining Cessna and Beechcraft took a chalet at the show, the latter highlighting new initiatives in special mission activities. At Farnborough it launched a new demonstrator dedicated to showcasing the Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities of its Baron G58 piston-engine aircraft. Gulfstream returned to FIA and brought the G650. Middle East owned Piaggio Aero fronted an outdoor exhibit as it marked the debut of its newest variant of its distinctive catfish looking EVO Avanti out on the static.  Piaggio, now under the leadership of Carlo Logli, formerly CEO of Superjet of Russia, claims its third-generation Avanti EVO boosts half the CO2 emissions of similar business jets.  Its new propellers mean that external noise is reduced by 68% while internal noise is reduced 20%. The cabin features Iacobucci HF seats and a cabin interior from Poltrona Frau.  The Piaggio Avanti and EVO series are being marketed in the UK by ConnectJets, headed by Gabriella Somerville, as distributor for the UK and Ireland.

Pilatus Aircraft took a chalet ahead of the scheduled rollout of its new light jet the PC-24 in Stans,

Switzerland on 1st August.  Bombardier flew in the new Challenger 350, just new to the NetJets Europe fleet and invited potential customer to come and view the Global 7000 cabin mockup, both these interiors designed by British firm Design Q.  It was available for viewing, by appointment only at TAG Aviation at the airport.

There was disappointment that Bombardier's CSeries didn't make its hoped for show debut.  Engine issues still plaguing the programme, but despite this Bombardier did announce orders. Leasing company Falco (a company formed on the back of the former BAE Asset Management) signed for 24 CS100s.  Falcon Aviation of Abu Dhabi, an expanding business aviation operator, committed to two CS300s also, contributing to a milestone 500 orders for the C Series and Q400.

Renaissance for the 50-seat turboprop - Nordic Aviation Capital

Denmark's Nordic Aviation Capital, the world's largest regional aircraft leasing company, has a habit of announcing very significant orders at air shows.  This year NAC was back to announce an order for 75 ATR42-600s, the smaller 46 to 50-seat family member.  .Denmark's NAC is ATR's biggest customer and becomes the first leasing company to the 42-600.  "We love this product," he said, highlighting the industry will need a replacement for the older 50-seaters like the Fokker 50 and the replacement market is very underserved.  We have ready demand for our tailored leasing solutions," Martin Moller Chairman of NAC said.

Embraer brought its new E2 cabin to the show and was rewarded with a US$2.4 billion order (50 firm, 50 options) for E175-E2s from Trans States Holdings.  Embraer totalled 135 orders during the duration.  Mitsubishi of Japan also logged 26 orders - to Air Mandalay (10) and Eastern Airlines - 20 plus 20.  Russia's Ikrut joined Superjet as an exhibitor, showing a cabin mockup of its MC-21 regional jets - the 212 passenger MC-21-300 and the 165-seat MC-21-200.

There was also news at the show from the Netherlands Aircraft Company and a possible relaunch of the Fokker 100, dubbed the 125-130 seat F120NG.  This has been aired before -under the Rekkof name.

2014 Skytrax Awards

The 2014 Skytrax Airline Awards coincided with Farnborough Air Show, taking advantage of the many CEOs and senior airline executives in the UK for the show.  This year's venue was the Wind Tunnel Q121 (the former Royal Aircraft Establishment). This now disused Wind Tunnel in which aircraft from Spitfires to Concorde were tested served as a unique venue for the event which attracted over 250 industry guests. Renowned as the 'Passengers' Choice Awards', over 18.85 million customers around the world  were surveyed to determine best in class, surveying 245 airlines and 105 different nationalities. As Edward Plaisted, CEO Skytrax pointed out at the event, the survey is held in high esteem owing to its rigorously applied rules of complete independence with no links to any airline or any industry association.

Of note in the roll call - Qatar Airways scooped three awards: Best Business Class Airline Lounge; Best Airline in the Middle East and World's Best Business Class; Air Astana, who took the accolade for the third consecutive year as Best Airline in Central Asia/India and Best Airline Staff Service in Central Asia/India.  Hainan Airlines who won Best Airline in China, Best Airline Staff Service in China and Best Airline Business Class Comfort Amenities.  Turkish Airlines was named Best Airline in Europe, Best Business Class Airline Catering, Best Business Class Lounge Dining and Best Airline in Southern Europe.  Overall, the award for best airline of the year 2014 went to Cathay Pacific.

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