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By Howard Wheeldon, FRAeS, Wheeldon Strategic Advisory Ltd.

20 Jun 13. Although I had decided not to attend this time it seems that the 2013 Paris Air Show has once again lived up to expectations of those who follow the fortunes of the global defence and aerospace industries. The weather in Le Bourget this year may have been rather less than perfect at times but while the rain fell from the sky in abundance so too have piles of big new orders for Boeing and Airbus. While the Le Bourget show is far from over yet one may assume that the bulk of order announcements have been delivered.

Those of you that have known me well through my years as an analyst specialising in defence, aerospace and military matters will know that I hold no liking that Paris, Farnborough and other international air show events are most often seen by press and media as being little more than a contest of which of either Airbus or Boeing can and will announce the most new aircraft orders. I regret this because it seriously undermines the real purpose behind these events – the huge networking opportunities, communication, briefings, real business that is done together with the opportunity to establish new partnerships and talk about new development ideas that may just lead to new long term business opportunities.

The bottom line is that despite concerns in defence and despite all the joys to be found in the commercial aerospace sector Le Bourget has done just about everyone proud. Airbus, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Rolls-Royce, AgustaWestland, Airbus Military, Saab Aerospace, Selex and many, many others who invested in coming here will along with all those in the vast supply chains leave with their heads held higher than they came.

Now, to look at what has come out of the 2013 Paris Air Show…..
Commercial Aircraft Ordered So Far: Despite a massive raft of single-aisle A320 family aircraft orders confirmed at Paris this week from Lufthansa, ILFC, EasyJet and Cyphax both traditional CEO and next generation NEO form together with new orders and finalisation confirmations to Boeing from Ryanair and Oman for a mix of Next Generation 737-800 and 737-900ER aircraft together with and order from CIT for 30 of the new 737 MAX aircraft development I suspect that it is the list of new wide-body aircraft orders to both Boeing and Airbus that caught my imagination most.

Before departing the subject of single aisle aircraft let me remind that by close of play last evening the total number of Boeing 737 aircraft ordered since the programme began 1969 now exceeds 11,000 aircraft of which currently orders for 3,400 aircraft are yet to be fulfilled. Not that far behind with a total number of 9,500 aircraft ordered and with 3,900 deliveries yet to be fulfilled comes the equally successful Airbus A320 family of aircraft that was launched back in 1984.

Just as events such as the one this week at Le Bourget have a history to tell, this being the 50th Paris Airshow, to someone well studied on the aerospace industry the history of both 737 and A320 programmes is fascinating stuff. The industry has come a long way since 1969 when Boeing first became involved in the 737 development at that was at the same time as the US company was attempting to develop the 747 jumbo-jet, the stretched version of the 727 and the Atlas rocket. It was a tough time attempting to carry so many new programmes through at the same time. Just as it so often does now politics was to play out an ugly hand as arguments ensued over where and in which US state plants might be constructed to accommodate the new aircraft build programmes. For Airbus which by 1984 had the quite brilliant Jean Pierson as President going ahead with a programme such as the A320 just months after the A310 had first flown was full of risk but by the end of that year the company had already notched up over 80 orders for the planned aircraft.

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