Former Boeing president Phil Condit once famously said, in so many words, that there is no point having aircraft at airshows. What he meant was that Boeing didn't really see sufficient value in bringing its aircraft on the international show circuit to offset all the risks and costs associated with this. But the U.S. airframer's long-awaited 787 Dreamliner is about to be the star of the show at Farnborough International 2010, to be held at the historic UK airfield from July 19 to 25. Well, that's the plan, but Boeing management still faces another nervous week of waiting to see whether the new airliner will recover from its most recent teething problems and not succumb to the stage fright that could jeopardize its planned arrival in Farnborough on the morning of July 18.
There is undoubtedly a hunger in the international aerospace community to get what for the vast majority of Farnborough show-goers is a first opportunity to see this impressive aircraft. For Boeing, it is a chance to recover some of the credibility it has lost over the past couple of years through a serious of mishaps and delays to this critical program. At last year's Paris Air Show, Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker may well have spoken for other frustrated 787 customers when he alleged that to his perception Boeing's problems with the program have been because the company is run by “bean-counters and lawyers” rather than people who make things happen. Of course, subsequently it seems highly probable that Qatar Airways's own bean-counters and lawyers were able to extract yet more concessions from Boeing for the program delays–although neither party has publicly acknowledged such concessions.
In any case, actions will speak louder than words if Boeing manages to get the 787 onto the ramp at Farnborough and demonstrate to the industry that the Dreamliner is no fantasy–even if it will stay at the show only until early on the afternoon of Tuesday, July 20.