FARNBOROUGH AIRSHOW LOOMS LARGE ON THE HORIZON
By Howard Wheeldon, FRAeS, Wheeldon Strategic Advisory Ltd.
23 May 14. You either love it or hate it. You might see as a great networking opportunity event, a genuine place to do business or on the other hand, you might choose to see it as a complete waste of time and precious resource and a pain in the butt. But whatever your personal view or past experience of the Farnborough International Airshow is I can almost guarantee that if you are professionally engaged in the UK aerospace and defence industry you will be there in July!
In a couple of months from now (the show opens to trade and professional visitors on July 14th and to the public on July 19th) the Farnborough International will be well under way. To have to be there might well be a pain in the butt for some but the more important point is that not to be there can be both costly and potentially embarrassing. Be in no doubt that from trade, political and visiting military delegation perspective Farnborough 2014 will attract all those that need to be there.
Politicians love to come too and who can forget the quite brilliant and very uplifting speech delivered by Prime Minister, David Cameron when he opened the last show back in 2012. This year as yet I know of no actual plan for the PM to attend Farnborough International but what I can say is that for him not to attend and once again show his support for the hugely important UK defence and aerospace industry would be a great mistake.
Alternating with the Paris Airshow what is now called the Farnborough International Airshow has since 1968 been held every two years. Having attended each and every show since then I calculate that the 2014 event will be my 23rd show. There are plenty that have done even more shows than me and I know one well respected aerospace journalist who, as a very young boy attending the event with his father, witnessed the tragic incident the 1952 show when the DH110 crashed killing test pilot John Derry plus 29 show spectators.
Back then Farnborough was not only an event for what was a very competitive domestic aerospace industry with many more individual players to show off the latest in military and commercial aircraft to airlines and foreign governments in the hope that they would buy but also a place that test pilots had a habit of showing off planes with spectacular displays in the air to crowds on the ground who marvelled at the latest jets. There is still an element of the old flying spirit left in the air displays today I suppose but sadly it seems that the test pilots themselves have long since departed.
These days both Farnborough and Paris shows are in reality trade and networking events designed to attract not only aircraft manufacturers and specialist technology and avionics equipment suppliers but those right across the various supply chains as well. Military delegations from a great many overseas air forces still come as well and this year they will be able to marvel not only at the brilliant Eurofighter Typhoon but also the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter in the sky above.
In the massive commercial aerospace segment I suspect that the new Airbus A350 will be there too along with its somewhat larger cousin, the A380 and who knows, maybe the odd other surprise. Boeing will be at Farnborough big time too and I would be very surprised in a 787 and 777 jets were not in attendance. No doubt as always press and media will concentrate on new order announcements from the big plane makers. You name it, from Airbus to Boeing, from Bombardier to Embraer, from BAE Systems to Rolls-Royce, from Lockheed Martin to Raytheon, from Thales to Finmeccanica and from L-3 to Northrop Grumman all the big boys in the aerospace and defence industry will be there. Why? Because they know that there customers would know and question if they are not!
For years the suggestion that Farnborough was perhaps losing its