I didn’t make it to last month’s Paris Air Show. If you read my recent “Back from the U.S.S.R.” blog, you can pretty much appreciate that. As much as I love Paris-Le Bourget Airport’s biennial hosting of the Paris Air Show, I had had enough international travel for a while.
Paris-Le Bourget Airport is a very special place. For the 103 weeks between shows, Le Bourget is best known as the landing site for Charles Lindbergh’s historic flight across the Atlantic in 1927. But for one week every two years, Paris’s business and general aviation airport becomes the world’s focal point for commercial and military aviation wheeling and dealing and thrilling flying demonstrations. Seeing a 787 in a 50-plus-degree climb is just amazing.
And this year in particular, the commercial industry’s “Big Two,” Airbus and Boeing, had their order books wide open and signing pens at the ready. When they closed them at the end of the show, the score was Boeing: 571 and Airbus: 346 – as in numbers of aircraft sold. That’s 917 new aircraft orders valued at $117 billion of today’s dollars. (I wonder if they need any autopilots?) And that doesn’t take into account Regional Jet orders taken by Embraer, Mitsubishi and Bombardier.
Me thinks that recent talks of the commercial airline industry declining may have been a bit premature.
Of course, this is a major air show and that means there were all kinds of aircraft on display in the air and on the ground. Along with the breathtaking aerial displays by all types of private and military aircraft, including the Lockheed Martin F-35A and Dassault’s Rafale multirole fighter, Boeing’s new 737 Max and the Airbus A350 did things you just wouldn’t ever do with passengers in the back. It was pretty obvious that the sales guys weren’t the only ones having fun at Le Bourget.
While Genesys Aerosystems was not “officially” at the show, a few of our customers had our equipment proudly displayed in their on-site aircraft. In particular, L3 Technologies and Air Tractor, Inc. flew the AT-802L Longsword ISR/light strike aircraft to Paris from Texas – although it wasn’t nonstop, it was still a trip that would have made Lindbergh proud. Based on the successful Air Tractor 802 single-engine turboprop, this ag plane with serious attitude is equipped with one of our new-generation, digital autopilots.
On the rotorcraft side, Leonardo had its full portfolio of helicopters on static display and signed a few significant orders: the biggest being a deal with Sino-US Intercontinental Helicopter Investment (Shanghai), Co., Ltd. for 17 helicopters, which included 10 AW109 Trekker light twins featuring the latest Genesys IDU-680 EFIS helicopter displays. Congratulations to our friends at Leonardo.
So whether is was autonomous helicopters, tiny UASs, a Mach 0.001 glider, a Mach 2.0 fighter, or the latest commercial airliner, there was something for just about everyone at this year’s Paris Air Show. I know that with all the action in the chalets and in the sky, Paris 2019 is already on my “don’t miss” list.
Until next time, fly safely,