Farnborough International Preview: Fresh-look Show Set To Open to Improved Business Prospects

 - June 2, 2014, 2:15 AM
The 2014 Farnborough International Airshow will feature new facilities and another packed static display with an estimated 70 aircraft.

Next month’s 2014 Farnborough International Airshow (July 14-20) will not be short on novelty, with 26 percent of exhibitors new to the biennial event. With economic conditions generally stronger even in Western markets that have been soft in recent years, and with continued and new military tensions around the world, the business context for this year’s show is arguably on more solid ground than it was for the 2012 event.

Public and industry interest has been significantly buoyed by confirmation that this year’s show will see the full international debut of Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter and an eagerly anticipated appearance by the new Airbus A350 widebody airliner, as well as two A380s (one of which will be displayed by Qatar Airways). As of press time, more than 70 aircraft were booked to appear in the static display, with another 23 committed to the daily flying display. Boeing has yet to confirm its display roster, but it is expected to have a 787 on display and it is understood that this may well be the new, larger -9, deliveries of which are slated to begin around the middle of this year.

The business aviation contingent at Farnborough 2014 will be led by Bombardier, Dassault, Embraer, Gulfstream and Piaggio. Both Bombardier and Embraer will also display their regional airliners, with unconfirmed reports indicating that the Canadian airframer may use the show to give a full international debut to its new CSeries narrowbody.

The F-35 will be part of a strong contingent of aircraft from the U.S. Department of Defense that will include the F/A-18 as well. The F-35, 15 percent of which is UK-made, will also appear at the Royal International Air Tattoo held over the weekend before Farnborough at the Royal Air Force’s Fairford base.

The flying display on the Farnborough show’s public days (July 19-20) will feature a tribute to World War I aircraft, such as the Sopwith Camel. The show’s wider theme is a celebration of 100 years of aviation, with aircraft representing each decade of the past century.

Attracting Exhibitors

Also new at Farnborough is the new permanent A Row of chalets. These are more spacious than the standard chalets and allow returning exhibitors to achieve significant savings in terms of set-up costs.

The UK’s GKN group now has its own permanent exhibit structure at the show site. The U.S.-based United Technologies (UTC) group will have all its key subsidiaries–including Sikorsky, Pratt & Whitney and UTC Aerospace Systems–exhibiting under one roof for the first time.

Show organizer Farnborough International, which is a subsidiary of UK industry group Aerospace, Defence and Space (ADS), has increased its investment in organizing official delegation visits by senior officials and executives from both the defense and civil aviation sectors.

According to commercial director Amanda Stainer, Farnborough International has expanded the new Meet the Buyer program, which helps smaller companies to line up meetings with larger manufacturers with an interest in their equipment and services. Another new benefit for small- and medium-sized enterprises is a dedicated lounge for them to hold meetings. By the 2016 show, Farnborough International hopes to have completed the construction of a new, permanent exhibit hall one.

“The construction of the permanent chalet structures has been met with an extremely positive reception and has even prompted some exhibitors [including Boeing, Thales and Airbus] to sign multi-show agreements to secure their space for future shows,” commented Farnborough International chief executive Shaun Ormrod. “This endorsement, plus support from the aerospace industry, has spurred us to press on with our site development plans.”

This year’s show will feature 18 international pavilions, including new facilities dedicated to Norway and Malaysia. Three countries will be represented for the first time at a Farnborough show: Tunisia, Malaysia and Thailand. Around 15 percent of all exhibitors will have an expanded physical presence at Farnborough this year.

Apart from the UK (whose aerospace firms account for 44 percent of all exhibitors) the U.S. will have the largest national contingent at this year’s Farnborough show. In total, more than 230 U.S. companies will be present, occupying almost 81,000 sq ft of space across three exhibit halls.

ADS is once again staging dedicated briefing sessions on its Aerospace Growth Partnership and Defence Growth Partnership initiatives, to be held on July 15 and July 16, respectively. Show organizers are expecting top-level UK government officials to be present at the show.

Farnborough’s Innovation Zone will once again feature contributions from leading aerospace engineering universities and research and technology organization. For Futures Day on July 18, the focus will be on attracting young people to pursue careers in the aerospace and defense sectors.