The Farnborough International 2006 airshow (to be held July 17 to 23) is set to be a record-breaker, with more exhibitors and aircraft than ever before. The show is
now effectively sold out, and the amount of exhibit space booked is up more than 15 percent over the last Farnborough Show in 2004.
This year sees a new format at Farnborough, with organizers having sought to make the event slightly shorter and more focused. The show will make a staggered start, beginning an hour later than normal at 10 a.m. on Monday, July 17. After a shortened flying display, it will close at 4 p.m. to allow exhibitors and trade visitors to make the 35-mile trip into central London for the official opening ceremony. This will be staged at historic Lincoln’s Inn from 6:30 to 8 p.m. and will be supported
by senior figures from the UK’s Department of Trade and Industry and Ministry of Defence.
The new format opening ceremony replaces the traditional Tuesday official Farnborough dinner, freeing up an evening for exhibitors to run their own events. Organizers also hope that the later start on Monday will reduce some of the serious road congestion that has caused frustration at previous shows on opening day.
Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday will be full trade days at FI2006. Friday has been designated International Youth Day, leaving Saturday and Sunday as the traditional public days.
FI 2006 will see the full public UK debut of the Airbus A380 super-large airliner, following a brief stop by the double-decker for technical evaluation at London Heathrow Airport on May 18. By the time the A380 makes its grand appearance at Farnborough, the company that builds its wings, BAE Systems, might already have concluded the sale of its 20-percent stake in Airbus to majority shareholder EADS. This will bring to an end commercial aircraft manufacturing in the UK.
Despite the visual dominance of the A380, the debate in Farnborough’s air transport arena will largely hinge on the contest between Airbus’s new A350 widebody twinjet and its Boeing 787 rival. Boeing itself will unveil an eye-catching new outdoor exhibit at this year’s show.
Business Aircraft Park Expands
After experimenting with the concept in 2004, Farnborough will once again feature a separate business aircraft park (which last time generated some $100 million in announced sales). This year it will be more centrally located, with ready access to company chalets.
The business aircraft park is open only for the first three days, but exhibitors have the option of keeping their aircraft at Farnborough for the full seven days. The park will have a separate entrance and reception area, allowing visitors to get to aircraft quickly that they wish to view.
In total, some 30 business aircraft are expected at FI2006. However, contrary to earlier expectations, not all of these will actually be displayed in the business aircraft park. Several manufacturers have now opted to place their corporate aircraft alongside other parts of their product range in the main static display areas.
A prime example of this will be the presence of three Cessna aircraft–the Citation XLS, CJ3 and Grand Caravan–alongside the Bell 407 and 430 civil rotorcraft from its Textron group sibling Bell Helicopter. This is something of a change in tack for Cessna, which in recent years has refocused its airshow presence on dedicated business aviation events such as NBAA and EBACE. Bell is returning to the Farnborough show for the first time since 1998.
In fact, Cessna has just opened a new European office at Farnborough, positioning its sales and support teams there–close to the new FlightSafety International Learning Center, which provides training for Citation crews. Beginning early next year, this new office will have the latest customer aircraft specification software in place.
Another new permanent resident at Farnborough is the European sales team for Bombardier Business Aircraft. The company is expected to exhibit its latest Global Express XRS and Challenger 605 during FI2006. Its regional airliner division will also have a Farnborough presence, but this had yet to be specified at press time.
Embraer will display its Legacy 600 at Farnborough, but this will be on the main static line alongside the 190 regional airliner, from which the newly launched Lineage 1000 large-cabin bizjet is to be derived. The Brazilian manufacturer also now has a permanent sales office at Farnborough, which is fast establishing itself as a key business aviation hub in Europe, following the opening of the new TAG Aviation terminal there.
Raytheon Aircraft is expected to have a significant presence at FI2006, with its T-6B turboprop trainer starring in the daily flying display. Its corporate line-up is no less strong, featuring the new Hawker 850XP, the 400XP, the Premier IA, a Beech 1900D in executive shuttle format, a King Air and a pre-owned Hawker 1000. Raytheon has booked two chalet units in the business aircraft park and appears to be one of the few firms opting to keep its aircraft at the show for only the first three days of FI2006.
Gulfstream intends to display a G200, a G450 and a G550 at FI2006. The company might have a pre-owned GV in the show’s business aircraft park, according to organizers.
While Dassault Aviation’s military arm still stays away from the Farnborough show, apparently in the belief that it has no sales prospects there, the French group’s Falcon line of business jets will be much in evidence. Both the Falcon 900EX EASy trijet and the twin-engine 2000EX EASy will be on static display.
However, the new Falcon 7X cannot make the trip because Dassault says its flight-test program is too intense to spare even three days out of service. All three test examples of the new type are now involved in certification flying, which will shortly extend to evaluation on contaminated runways (following recent anti-icing and cold-soak trials).
Among the other highlights of the business aircraft park will be the Sino Swearingen SJ30-2 (making its debut at the Farnborough show and forming part of the flying display), the Piaggio P.180 Avanti II, the Pilatus PC-12 and a full-scale mockup of the Advanced Technology Group Javelin two-seat personal jet. There will also be some larger iron on display, including a VIP version of the BAE Systems Avro RJ85 quad-jet (operated by the Bahrain Defence Force), and pre-owned Boeing 727-100 and MD-82 airliners offered by Jetran.
Eurocopter will bolster the rotorcraft contingent with some as yet unspecified types. The new Dhruv helicopter from India’s Hindustan Aeronautics is due to participate in the flying display.
More than 96 percent of all exhibit space is booked, and 68 new exhibitors have signed up.
Show Costs Contained
To help exhibitors control their costs, Farnborough International froze its charges at 2004 rates. It has also offered a 50-percent discount on the static display, a move that is expected to result in an unprecedented number of aircraft at the show with a total that could be as much as 40-percent more than the 113 aircraft at the 2004 event.
Amanda Stainer, director of events and exhibitions with Farnborough International, told AIN that much of the show site will have a new look this year, with many companies altering their exhibits. For example, some have chosen the show’s new combined chalet and stand, while others have chosen the new option of being permitted to have just a chalet.
Stainer said that the new company, which last year was established as a separate subsidiary of the Society of British Aerospace Companies, has been making a concerted effort to make exhibitors’ bills fully transparent and predictable.
Farnborough’s Hall 1A has been converted into a two-story facility, incorporating a new media center. Farnborough organizers have now announced dates for the next five airshows on the basis of an agreement with Farnborough Airport operator TAG Aviation covering use of the site through 2020. These are as follows: July 14 to 20, 2008; July 19 to 25, 2010; July 16 to 22, 2012; July 14 to 20, 2014; and July 18 to 24, 2016.