Trade show, Farnborough, Hampshire, England 11th – 15th July 2016
Report by Peter Davison
It is becoming a tradition that Farnborough follows RIAT so the power of attraction concentrates the minds of military manufacturers and operators on even-numbered years. Hence, their is duplication of military items but Farnborough’s civil contributors and business oriented exhibition extends it’s coverage right across the aeronautical spectrum. Although the F-35 stole the headlines, it was the debut of the new airliners that opened cheque books.
Business was brisk with some long expected announcements from Government and airlines. The British summer made itself felt on the opening day; flooding halls from below and causing power to be switched off mid afternoon. Amazingly all was repaired for Tuesday though some traders lost exposure. Hopefully the customers came back as the weather improved.
Highlights, apart from the hover of the F-35 flying from Fairford, were the sprightly displays from Airbus with the A350 and A380 and Boeing with the 787-9 and long awaited 737 Max with its exotic winglets. Brazil’s Embraer also made headlines with the new updated 190 and the first public appearance of the KC390 military transport though both remained static. Fresh from the recent order revival was the Bombardier CS300 in Swiss marks and the Sukhoi Superjet both now entering service with their launch customers. By contrast a converted water spray Boeing 727 brought a touch of nostalgia to the flying demonstrations.
The business jet park was sparse as this sector concentrates its European spend at EBACE, Geneva though the Honda Jet made its first UK show. Helicopters were well represented as more military contracts move to the private sector with the Ukraine fielding a Mil-8 to complement the An-178 air-lifter in the flying display.
Of interest on the lighter side were Diamond Aircraft were the new DA62 twin and the DART-450 single. Viking continue their successful relaunch of the Twin Otter whilst the revised Dornier 328 continues to search for European customers.
Regrettably many of these prime exhibits were disappearing from Wednesday onwards, no doubt their flight test schedules preventing more than the token presence and denying the general public the chance to see the hardware behind the headlines. Given the premium price for the public weekend it has become more like a cheaper local show. The highly commended Student Friday with Tim Peake was a resounding success but, by Saturday, the show is a shadow of its former self.