The RAeS Publications team report from #Farn10 on the third day.
With the sunshine and heat continuing, the third day of Farnborough airshow continued in an upbeat vein – at least for the civil sector. By midweek, the official show business figures had reported some $37.5bn worth of deals signed at the show, vindicating many attendees who said that the industry had survived the recession in fairly good shape and was now gearing up for the uptick.
Among the commercial orders signed was a landmark $3bn order for 50 Irkut MC-21 airliners from Malaysian Cercom Burj Resources, claimed to be “the largest foreign order for Russian passenger aircraft” in post-Cold War times. This major order, along with the Sukhoi Superjet 100, may be another sign that Airbus and Boeing’s cosy civil airliner duopoly may be drawing to a close.
Elsewhere Qatar Airways announced an order for two additional Boeing 777-200LRs in a deal worth some $501m at list prices. Qatar’s CEO also revealed that he was accelerating deliveries of 787s, with a plan to have the first delivered in the fourth quarter of 2011 and five in service by the end of the first Q of 2012. He also threw down the passenger comfort gauntlet to rival airlines: “The luxury on our 787s will be a step higher than anyone else”. Boeing was also celebrating after American Airlines converted options for 737-800s into firm orders.
Airbus, meanwhile, scored with orders for six A330-200s from Garuda Indonesia, a firming up of options for five A319s from Germania, and Thai Airways signing an MoU for seven A330-300s. Additionally, Aviation Lease and Finance Company (ALAFCO) converted its 12-aircraft A350XWB dash-800 order to the -900.
Finally, Embraer too, notched up a win with a $960m deal from US-based carrier Republic Airlines to buy 24 E-190 airliners.
On the military sector, Saab provided a close-up look of the GripenNG demonstrator making its Farnborough debut, which features more thrust, additional weapon stations and an AESA radar, jointly developed with Selex Galileo. The fighter has now finished its evaluation for the Indian Air Force 127 aircraft contest. Saab also revealed that it was looking hard at a ‘Sea Gripen’. “Why are we doing this – when Sweden has no carriers?” they joked. More seriously Saab believe that the Gripen’s road landing capability would easily allow it to be navalised and make it attractive to both Brazil and India.
MBDA, for its part revealed an innovative ‘future weapons concept’ of what mini-missiles the future soldier might be equipped with in 2035. Billed as a ‘concept car’ the two final design concepts had been chosen from among 250 proposals submitted by ultra-keen engineers. The concepts included a 1kg guided mini-missile fired by a 40mm-style shotgun launcher (pictured above), and a mini-Javelin support missile. All were netted in to command and control system that even fused acoustic and visual hostile fire indicators. Fans of Iain M Banks popular Sci-Fi ‘Culture’ novels that feature the ultra-lethal ‘knife missiles’ should definitely take notice!
Another stand with an innovative product was Gyrojet, which is aiming to bring the autogiro back with a bang in the shape of its two-seat surveillance Scorpion S3. Shaped like something that Dan Dare might have flown for fun in The Eagle, this autogiro has been designed from the ground to be a robust, affordable multirole surveillance platform for police and military use. Gyrojet say it is aiming for a price tag of £1.5m, making the sensor package more expensive than the actual airframe. In these budget conscious times, then, can the autogiro make a comeback against fixed wing, helicopters and UAVs?
Helping UK aerospace and defence companies get connected better is the aim of a new Capabilities Database from the Farnborough Aerospace Consortium, launched t the show. This project, through a webportal, www.ukadcap.org.uk aims to be a one-stop shop for 800 aerospace and defence businesses looking to connect with suppliers and customers,
On the Tuesday night of the show, the Royal Aeronautical Society hosted its traditional Farnborough reception – a place for young and old, distinguished (and not-so-distinguished-yet) members of the global aerospace community, to relax, network and enjoy themselves after the day’s frantic activity at the airshow. This year was no exception and was a stunning success with around 500 guests passing through the party.