Paris Air Show Report: a big effort, and worth it

By John Keller
Editor in Chief

As I write this, the staff of Military & Aerospace Electronics and Avionics Intelligence is putting the final touches on the 2011 edition of the Paris Air Show Report, a daily e-newsletter and department on our Web sites containing all the news from the show that’s relevant to the aerospace and defense electronics industry.

At last count—and we’re likely not quite finished yet—I, John McHale, and Courtney Howard posted more than 60 stories about the Paris Air Show within little more than a week’s time. I’m not sure if I’ve worked this hard since I covered the 1984 Democratic National Convention in San Francisco, but that’s another story.

What I do know is my eyes right now feel like they’re full of sand, I can’t quit yawning, and I’ve utterly lost count of how many cups of coffee I’ve had over the past week. It might be a safe bet to guess one cup per story posted. No wonder I started noticing a few more gray hairs around the edges as the week drew on.

The Paris Air Show in Le Bourget, France, and its alternate-year sibling, the Farnborough International Airshow in Farnborough, England, are perhaps the biggest aerospace events of the year, and we pull out all the stops to bring you the best of each show.

The result for the week’s Paris Air Show Report coverage, thus far and with three days left in the week: 66 news stories, nearly 69,000 page views to our Web sites, 36,000 visits, and 28,000 monthly unique visitors. No more need to wonder why we take these events so seriously.

The big story from the 2011 Paris Air Show was the huge number of aircraft sales for French airplane maker Airbus, and somewhat less so for Boeing Commercial Airplanes in Seattle. Why would we cover passenger jet sales so closely on a Web site that specializes in aerospace and defense electronics technology and applications? Because airplane orders today mean lucrative electronics contracts tomorrow.

All those hundreds of aircraft sold by Airbus and Boeing at the Paris Air Show will result in contracts for avionics, sensors, flight control, communications, navigation and guidance, and on and on down the line. Essentially, one can look at the Paris and Farnborough air shows as barometers of the health of the aerospace industry, and this year in Paris didn’t disappoint.

Airbus at last count had sold 726 passenger jetliners in deals announced at Paris. The lion’s share of these Airbus sales involved the A320neo (new engine option), a medium-range, narrow-body passenger jet that Airbus announced only last December and which promises to be one of the most fuel efficient and environmentally friendly commercial airplanes in the sky.

Boeing also sold a lot of aircraft at Paris, but not as many as Airbus. At last count, Boeing had sold 142 aircraft, 45 of them the widebody 787 Dreamliner, the latest version of the 747 jetliner and freighter, the 777 jetliner, and some 767 airliners in there, too. The rest of Boeing’s jet sales at Paris mostly involved the 737-800, Boeing’s latest version of that model, which is directly competitive with the Airbus A320neo family.

Other aircraft makers make sales at Paris, too. Brazil’s Embraer, Canada’s Bombardier, and Russia’s Sukhoi all made sales during the show, but no other company came close to the sales performance of Airbus.

As I write this, the Paris Air Show is not even over; it has the rest of this week to go, but most of the business transactions most likely have been completed.

Now, we can start planning for next year’s Farnborough International Airshow. I and the rest of the Military & Aerospace Electronics and Avionics Intelligence staff will be there doing all this again. I hope, by then, that I can forget how tired I feel right now.

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