With the Paris Air Show, one of the most important trade events in aviation, returning after a four-year hiatus, a lot of excitement is building up around the week when the most important stakeholders in the industry are set to gather at Paris–Le Bourget Airport (LBG). First held in 1909, this 54th edition of the trade show comes at an interesting time. Aviation is booming with record-breaking revenues, yet supply chain-related problems are seemingly holding back the industry from achieving its full potential following several years of relatively low demand for travel.
Those supply chain problems have more than likely delayed several aircraft programs, as manufacturers shifted their focus to ensure that airlines begin receiving aircraft on time and with engines.
No new commercial aircraft programs expected
Initially, expectations for this year’s event were that at least one of the major aircraft manufacturers would present a new aircraft program.
In particular, analysts at Bank of America were predicting that the European Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) would launch the stretched Airbus A220, unofficially known as the A220-500, at the event. However, the plane maker adamantly denied that this is happening, as the current priority is to ramp up the production rates of the A220-100 and A220-300.
“[…] we’re not launching a new product in the current environment. We have said the A220 stretch is a matter of when and not if, though we are not able to give a timeline,” an Airbus spokesperson said in a previous statement to AeroTime.
Intentionally or not, though, Airbus continued to toy with the idea by showcasing a silhouette of the A220 disguised with a white sheet on Twitter. The manufacturer later confirmed what the event’s webpage – a list of aircraft attending the Paris Air Show – had been saying: that an Air France A220-300 will be at LBG during the week.
Could the A220-500 be still announced at the event? “While there is life, there is hope,” as Marcus Tullius Cicero famously said.
In addition to the Air France Airbus A220-300, the European OEM will be hosting a Qatar Airways Airbus A319, an A321LR, A321XLR, A350-900, and A350-1000, and bringing some military aircraft, including the A330 MRTT, two A400 M Atlas, and C295.
Meanwhile, Boeing will be flying in two aircraft from across the Atlantic, namely a 737 MAX-10 and 777X-9, both of which are yet to be certified by aviation authorities. The 777X program was launched at the 2013 Dubai Airshow, while the 737 MAX aircraft family, barring the MAX-7 and MAX-10, has been operating commercially since 2017. Following the groundings between March 2019 and November 2020, it has been once again.
However, the manufacturer could provide an update on the 777X and 737 MAX-7 and MAX-10 programs, as it still seeks to certify those in order to begin delivering them to customers. Previous statements by the manufacturer’s executives estimated the certification dates for the 777X as 2025, while for the 737 MAX-7 and MAX-10, it was 2023 and 2024 respectively.
Joining the two aircraft will be another teaser in the form of Riyadh Air’s first and currently only Boeing 787. The Saudi Arabian carrier’s wide-body jet is assigned to Boeing in the event’s attending aircraft list. However, Riyadh Air’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) clarified that the airframe that will be at this year’s Paris Air Show will only be a demonstrational aircraft, with its first aircraft set to arrive in 2025.
Listed under the United States (US) Department of Defense (DOD), visitors will witness the P8 Poseidon, a military derivative of the 737 NextGeneration (NG), the KC-46 Pegasus, a military derivative of the 767, and two helicopters, namely the AH64 Apache and CH47 Chinook.
Aviation 46 will also be showcasing a Boeing Stearman, a 1930s military trainer.
France’s ATR will bring an ATR 72-600 and the 72-600F, while Embraer will bring a pair of C390 Millenniums and E195-E2s each.
Private jet manufacturers including Dassault, Gulfstream, and Pilatus will also fly in their jets for the show at LBG.
Aircraft orders galore?
Though we will not see many, perhaps even any, aircraft announcements, orders for jets should be plentiful at the event.
Multiple executives and industry sources throughout the industry spoke of potentially finalizing deals at the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Istanbul in early June 2023 as soon as this Paris Air Show.
The list of airlines that could potentially order aircraft at the Paris Air Show includes Emirates, which was reportedly looking to buy between 100 and 150 aircraft, plus Japan’s All Nippon Airways (ANA) and Japan Airlines. There’s also IndiGo, whose chief executive has denied that the airline is looking to add even more aircraft to its almost 500 unit-strong order book, despite simultaneous reports saying otherwise. Philippines Airlines is another airline rumored to be finalizing an order in Paris, with the airline previously signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Airbus for nine A350-1000s.
After several difficult years, airlines are finally generating positive cash flows and achieving record-breaking revenues even in the first quarter of the year, which is typically considered a downturn period for the industry. Notwithstanding rising interest rates, carriers will have to ensure their long-term futures with enough aircraft for their growth and fleet renewals, especially as rivals can fill up production slots very quickly.
The urgency to order aircraft is amplified even further because the two largest manufacturers are still struggling to rein in the chaos in their supply chains, the uncertainty of which will carry on into the next few years. The problems should be ironed out eventually, with both Airbus and Boeing saying that they’re seeing ever-brighter signs, set to shine fully in 2024 or late 2025. Nevertheless, business plans are drawn up for several years, even decades in advance, meaning that the main revenue-generating asset – an aircraft – needs to be in place for the plan to come to fruition.
Another development to monitor will be Air India’s recent shopping spree, with the Indian carrier ordering 470 aircraft from both Airbus and Boeing in February 2023. However, the Orders & Deliveries data for neither manufacturer has yet shown the airline’s orders, which could indicate that details are yet to be ironed out between the parties.
eVTOL presence at the Paris Air Show
Electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing vehicle (eVTOL) manufacturers will also showcase their products at the event, with some vehicles being unveiled for the first time ever.
Boeing, which purchased the eVTOL maker Wisk Aero, will be bringing the company’s sixth-generation autonomous eVTOL taxi. “Attendees will have the opportunity to view the cabin of the autonomous four-passenger aircraft and learn about the customer flight experience,” read Boeing’s announcement about Wisk Aero’s presence at LBG.
Meanwhile, Archer, which recently hired the ex-Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Acting Administrator Billy Nolen, will also showcase its Midnight aircraft. The manufacturer will attend the event together with the automaker conglomerate Stellantis.
Paris Air Show’s website also indicates that Ascendance Flight Technologies, a French eVTOL manufacturer, will be presenting its mockups and news, while another eVTOL maker, AutoFlight, will showcase its ProsperityI aircraft. Finally, Volocopter, which plans to launch air taxi services in Paris in 2024, will be presenting its product, called the VoloCity.
Overall, the event has 157 aircraft listed in attendance, including more than a handful of fighter jets performing demonstrational flights during one of the most-anticipated weeks for AvGeeks in 2023.
AeroTime will be present at the event, and you can reach out to our Deputy Editors Miquel Ros and Clement Charpentreau to share your story or set up a meeting by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.