This year’s show will see 2,215 exhibitors taking part, and 130 of the latest civilian and military aircraft will be on display, with most making demonstration flights over the airfield.
The show is receiving great attention from the press, with more than 3,200 journalists from around the world in attendance. The show also hosts 30 wings for participating countries, in addition to the exhibitors’ wings under an enclosed area of 54,000 square meters and in open spaces available outside.
Le Bourget is considered to be one of the largest shows for the aircraft industry, according to the number of participants. The show, which lasts until June 21, is expected to attract 350,000 visitors, among them 50,000 foreigners, most of whom are connected to the aerospace industry.
The organizers have said that no less than 290 international companies will attend this year’s show. It will also be attended by dozens of defense ministers and many senior military officers from various countries, who come to look at the latest products of the electronic, space and aircraft industries. Companies exhibiting drones are expected to attract exceptional interest this year due to the increasingly prominent role played by drones in modern warfare.
Competition between Boeing and Airbus started on the first day, with announcements of new commercial contracts, especially in the long-range aircraft sector, represented for Boeing by the B787 Dreamliner and the B-777-300ER, and for Airbus by the A350 wide-bodied aircraft, which made its maiden flight last week from the Airbus base in Toulouse, France. The Dreamliner is expected to make daily demonstration flights over Le Bourget airport during the show.
Boeing announced the signing of a contract to sell ten B787 Dreamliners to American leasing company, GECAS, which will be delivered between 2019 and 2021, and another contract to sell nine B777-300s to Qatar Airways. This latter contract is valued at USD 2.8 billion. The company also announced the signing of a contract to sell four B737-Max aircraft, a modified version of the B737, to Japanese Skymark airlines.
The next few days are expected to see more announcements of sales by Boeing, which has succeeded in overcoming the technical difficulties faced by its Dreamliner, which was recently temporarily grounded. Its main rival, Airbus, has tried to bring its giant A380 airliner into the spotlight after bad publicity over a wing-cracking problem.
Meanwhile, Airbus has announced a deal to sell 50 mid-range fuel-efficient A320neo aircraft to American leasing company, ILFC, in a deal worth USD 5 billion. Airbus also announced a contract to sell 20 A380s to another leasing company, DORIC, to the value of USD 8 billion.
Airbus is also seeking to compete with Boeing in the long-range sector, which the American company has dominated for a some time. A study by Boeing said the sector will need 8,490 long-range aircraft in the next 20 years, with a market value of USD 2,470 billion.
The European consortium is pinning its hopes on its A380 jet, currently the only competition for the Boeing’s famed 747 “Jumbo Jet.” The company announced that the new aircraft will make a demonstration flight over the Bourget Air Show.
In another development, Airbus will try to focus the spotlight on its A400M military transport plane, which has suffered from delays in its development. Airbus hopes this aircraft will impress European militaries; to date, the European market has been dominated by American designs.
Meanwhile, other aircraft manufacturers are also exhibiting their wares alongside the two giants. Canada’s Bombardier will attempt to put the spotlight on its CSeries mid-range aircraft, in competition with the A320 and B737. The new aircraft is expected to make its maiden flight at the end of this month. The company has announced it has received orders for 145 CSeries aircraft.
As for military aircraft, no major announcements are expected. However, the Russian firm Sukhoi is using the airshow to promote its latest combat jet, the Su-35, which is on display for the first time outside Russia. It will make daily display flights during the show.
Other military aircraft on show include the French Rafale fighter from Dassault Aviation. The company hopes to win a contract for the jet from the Indian Air Force, after many failures.
Dassault, which is currently developing its “nEURon” stealth drone, is hoping to attract European sponsorship, with European forces lacking this type of aircraft and relying on American and Israeli planes for their needs.
In another development, Reuters has reported that BAE Systems were hoping to clinch a deal with the United Arab Emirates for its Eurofighter Typhoon jet this year, hoping to beat French rival Dassault in a closely contested race.