Farnborough International Airshow – one of the foremost events in aviation will be back to physical format and is being held from July 18 to July 22, 2022. This is the first time that the airshow is being held without restrictions after the pandemic started. The last edition of the airshow was moved online. Subsequently many air shows were cancelled in 2020 and 2021. The return in the physical format at global level started with the Singapore Airshow early this year but was marred by an Omicron led wave of COVID. In this context, Farnborough Airshow is of significance as the first one without any notable restrictions. This is happening even as COVID cases are seeing a spike worldwide. Farnborough is located on the outskirts of London.
Leading aircraft manufacturers have focused on “sustainability” over the last couple of years and that is evident in what they would bring to the airshow in terms of aircraft on display or future technology for discussion. All eyes though would be on orders, at least from the Indian perspective.
A look at what the four leading manufacturers are getting to FIA.
Airbus will have the A350 and A220 featured in the static display. Both are clean sheet designs with A350 in the news right now for the dispute over peeling paint on the A350s of Qatar Airways. Both the parties are in London court at the moment. The A220 on the other hand started its life as the C series by Bombardier which was bought by Airbus.
The A350-900 will be in the livery of ITA – the Italian Airline while the A220-300 will be from airBaltic. There will also be a flying display by the A350-900 and MSN002 flight-test aircraft will be the aircraft tasked for this.
In addition to this, Airbus will have A400M airlift and C295 on static display. The Indian Air Force has 56 C295 on order, of which the first 16 aircraft will be in ‘fly-away’ condition while the next 40 will be manufactured and assembled by Tata Advanced Systems (TASL) in India.
The turboprop maker will have the ATR 72-600 on static display. The company will talk about the Short Take-Off and Landing variant of the ATR, a purpose-built freighter and future EVO family during the airshow.
The company will also release its Global Market Forecast, its first since 2018. This is slated for July 19 at 1430 hours local time.
IndiGo and government owned Alliance Air are ATR operators in India and Alliance is slated to receive the first of the two ATR 42-600 that it has leased in the coming weeks.
With embargo on deliveries of the 787s, Boeing is still struggling to give a realistic timeline. In fact it has become similar to the MAX re-entry where Boeing time and again gave a new date but was never met. The 737 MAX 10 (737-10) will make its international debut at FIA2022 and will join the 777X (777-9) jet in flying display. The 777X program is also delayed with deliveries pushed to 2025. Both the aircraft will be part of a static and flying display. The 737-10 will be at the showgrounds from July 18 to July 21 while the 777-9 will leave a day earlier.
The defence division of the company will showcase the CH-47 Chinook and P-8A Poseidon. The Indian armed forces operate the Chinook (IAF) and P-8i (IN). Also on display will be FA-18E/F. Recently two F-18 jets showcased their capability to the Indian Navy at Goa. The Indian Navy, which operates the MiG-29 deck based fighters, is looking at another type to add to its arsenal as it gets the first indegenious aircraft carrier in its fleet soon.
Boeing will release its Commercial Market Outlook (CMO) on July 17.
The Brazilian conglomerate will have E195-E2, E190-E2, KC-390 and A-29 aircraft on display. There will be a Commercial Aviation sales and Market Outlook briefing on July 19.
All eyes will also be on its next generation turboprop which is evolving. Still in the concept stage, it is significant because the Q400 is now out of production effectively tilting the scales in the turboprop market towards ATR – a subsidiary of Airbus.
Sustainability the focus area
The ATR 72-600 is soon to be certified 100% SAF (Sustainable Aviation Fuel) compliant in both engines. Airbus will showcase how it is helping decarbonize. Airbus is also focusing on using Hydrogen as a source to power aircraft. The project is called ZEROe and plans to be operational by 2035.
Embraer will fly both E2, the KC-390 and the A-29 with a blend of 39.06% sustainable aviation fuel at the airshow. It will also unveil eVTOL full size cabin and have concept designs on display which include new power sources to the shape of the airframe and sustainability. In June, the Pratt & Whitney GTF-powered E195-E2 was successfully tested on 100 percent SAF, validating that the E-Jets E2 family can fly on both engines with blends of up to 100% SAF.
The 737-10 and 777-9 from Boeing are being flown to the show on a blend of sustainable aviation fuel. The company also will unveil a modelling tool that will provide actionable insights on strategies the aviation industry can use to reach net zero emissions by 2050. Boeing’s joint venture Wisk Aero will make the European debut of its all-electric vertical-takeoff-landing (eVTOL) air taxi.
All eyes on orders!
An order from India is due for sure but will it be a Franborough? Akasa Air – the latest kid on the block placed an order for 72 737 MAX aircraft at the Dubai Airshow. Jet Airways which recently got its permit revalidated has also been eyeing for planes. Media has widely reported that the airline is swinging towards Airbus but there has not been any official confirmation. The TATA group too has been scouting for deals, going by media reports.
Will IndiGo join in? The last two orders from IndiGo weren’t at an airshow. An aircraft order always makes the right noises but the one at an airshow makes louder noise! The TATA group needs to work towards fleet renewal and needs to do that urgently. Even with COVID, Airbus did not have slots available for new orders. However, the current geopolitical situation in Russia has changed that. Orders destined for Russian carriers are now available for others but not everyone can get it. While in typical times Airbus would have given out these planes at a discount, the demand is such that it may not be very heavy discounting on offer!
Will there be an order? The quantum of the order. Which manufacturer takes the case? The answers are just a week away!