From the MAX 9 to the A350-1000 — not to mention the Mitsubishi MRJ and other new contenders in the commercial airliner business — there will be plenty of new flying machines at the Paris Air Show.
Le Bourget airport, north of Paris, is where Charles Lindbergh landed at the end of his historic solo flight across the Atlantic 90 years ago in May 1927. On Monday, it’s the venue for world aviation’s premier event, both a commercial and military aerospace marketplace and a showcase of awesome flying machines.
Given France’s experience with terrorism, security will be tightened this year. And in the new era of President Donald Trump and Brexit, geopolitical anxiety will be heightened. Neither increasingly inconvenient aviation-security measures, nor political trends against globalization and toward isolationism, are good for the international air travel business.
Yet the Air Show will go on.
Makers of arms, missiles and military platforms attend the Air Show in large numbers and can look forward to robust sales.
On the commercial side, aerospace executives expect to announce few blockbuster orders but will hold fast to their projections of a recovery in airliner sales early in the next decade.
The flying display
Jet-lagged U.S. attendees at the Air Show typically allow two hours in the early morning to get to Le Bourget by train and bus from central Paris, then cope with a punishing schedule of meetings and news conferences during the day, followed by lavish cocktail parties and business dinners back in central Paris in the evening.
Along the main runway, the big aerospace companies all have their own hospitality suites in prefab buildings dubbed “chalets,” which between meetings are oases of calm where espresso is consumed like rocket fuel.
The last biennial Paris Air Show in 2015 drew 150,000 aviation-industry professionals and 4,300 journalists from around the world for the first four days of the event. Another 200,000 visitors can be expected on the long weekend at the close, when the gates open to the public.
This year at Le Bourget, the star of the afternoon flying display will be Lockheed Martin’s Air Force F-35 jet fighter.
Making its European debut at last year’s Farnborough Air Show outside London, that jet brought the show to a standstill as it hovered motionless close to the runway then did an earsplitting slow rotation in place.
For Boeing, a 737 MAX 9 flight test airplane that had its maiden flight in April will also fly each afternoon in Paris. And a new 787-10, which had its first flight in South Carolina in March, will be on display on the ground, along with a Qatar Airways 777-300ER.
The U.S. military will bring several Boeing platforms to the show: the P-8A anti-submarine jet, the V-22 tilt-rotor aircraft, the Apache attack helicopter, and the Chinook heavy-lift helicopter.
Airbus will provide the first public flying appearance of both its large new single-aisle airplane, the A321neo, and its big new widebody jet, the A350-1000.
It will also fly its majestic A380 superjumbo jet — troubled as it is, with production cut to one per month and going lower.
On the military side, Airbus will fly the A400M turboprop transport plane and the Eurofighter Typhoon.
Beyond Airbus and Boeing
Also in Paris:
Bombardier, still seeking market traction for its CSeries jet, may fly the larger CS300 model for the first time at an Air Show.
Mitsubishi will put one of its Mitsubishi Regional Jet flight-test planes on ground display, with hopes its Air Show debut will stimulate sales of the much-delayed jet. An MRJ90 departed the flight-test center at Moses Lake on Wednesday, arriving next day at Le Bourget.
Embraer will fly its KC-390 military transport and air refueling jet — as short as a 737 and as wide as a 767.
Kawasaki will fly its Japanese P-1 four-engine maritime patrol jet.
U.S. politicians also will be all over Paris, touting the incentives to making airplane parts in their specific state.
The 63-strong Washington state delegation, including executives of aerospace suppliers as well as local government and workforce training officials, will be led by U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Lake Stevens, and Brian Bonlender, director of the state Department of Commerce.