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By Howard Wheeldon, Senior Strategist at BGC Partners

13 Jun 11. Given doom and despondency across so many parts of the EU economy and with EU and particularly Eurozone governments tumbling over themselves to reverse years of living beyond their means next weeks Paris Air Show at Le Bourget should provide something to cheer. Sad though it is for me to say and particularly with all that wonderful sophisticated military aircraft technology on display it is best to forget Paris this year being about defence as I doubt that subject will get much of a look in.

The Paris Air Show for all its brilliance in showing off the world’s best aerospace and defence technology and providing great space for the industry to engage in global networking this show just as the last few have been will in the end be all about commercial aircraft and the orders that the big boys receive. For most what is after all, alongside the Farnborough Air Show in the UK with which it alternates annually, the biggest and most important aerospace show in world, will I am much afraid be all about order announcements from Boeing and Airbus. I doubt that those who enjoy this annual battle will be disappointed either and I would be very surprised indeed had Airbus not had several significant order announcements already hidden up its sleeve. As things stand right now I am told that Boeing has received far more orders than Airbus so far this year but don’t let that kid you that that is how it will look by the end of Paris Air Show week! I suspect that the real point is that Paris will show off just how well the commercial aircraft industry has recovered on the back of how the airline customer has also recovered too. Technology that will hopefully reduce fuel usage, reduce the reliance on traditional sourced fuels, reduce aircraft weight and that claims to improve operating efficiency is the new order of the day. And it’s coming too be it in alloys, plastics or material that actually grows. Engine makers such as Rolls-Royce, GE and United Technologies Pratt & Whitney subsidiary will all be busy showing off the latest ideas that they have on this front whilst Airbus, Boeing and others will be attempting to demonstrate why notwithstanding the various development problems each has had that their newest generation planes – the Boeing 787 and Airbus A350 – mare all that they are cracked up to be in terms of cost saving operational efficiency. I doubt that either company will disappoint!

As someone who has spent the best of a lifetime putting defence aerospace on a pedestal over and above commercial I can say that I dislike the manner in which the so-called race between Boeing and Airbus dominate big trade shows like Paris seemingly at the expense of everything else. But there we are – no use throwing straws to the wind and with no more toys left to throw out of the pram there is nothing left to do but to grin and bare it. Sure, defence will get a look in when questions over tanker refuelling aircraft are raised, when the current position of the A400M development is discussed, when aircraft like Eurofighter Typhoon and the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter are discussed. But for now with defence cuts the only thing on most peoples lips and with the air of excitement on defence probably restricted to export potential to those parts of the world that have no need to face up to similar economic problems right now best not to expect that the defence sector will provide exciting news for Paris delegates next week.

The Paris Air Show will be exciting of course – it always is no matter whether it is dominated by Boeing and Airbus or not. The importance of networking by industry and of all that brings should never be lost on those looking for reasons why shows like this still exist. Paris just like Farnborough is a place to show off rather than gloat. For small and large, for thick and thin, large and stout the

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