A hot and humid day in Paris did little to cool the mood at the Paris Air Show on Monday. Representatives from the aviation industry gathered for the first time in four years to showcase the latest products and technologies and to chart the course for the aviation industry.
There was exhilaration back at Paris – Le Bourget Airport (LBG) for the first time since 2019 (the coronavirus pandemic canceled the 2021 edition of the biennial) and general exultation about the demand the industry is currently experiencing even as supply chains continue to buckle. However, it is the silent undercurrent that sets the tone for the day.
Despite the general bright spot that commercial aviation and its customers in the airline industry are currently enjoying, few new things were expected to be announced. Most of what was shown in previous shows has been introduced.
Instead, today seemed like a basic exercise, a reset–or even just a chance to catch a collective breath–as the industry orients itself in which direction to go.
There was maddening but tentative jubilation at the world’s fledgling reopening that backed the Dubai Airshow in late 2021, and there were high expectations and sprawling displays at the first European show to return, Farnborough, just under a year ago. The early hours in Paris seemed like a deliberate effort to check in, to look for things and see where things were going.
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Of course, there was still plenty to see, hear and explore at the world’s largest aviation event, and quieter skies didn’t stop the aircraft maker from striking a record-breaking deal. He. She He is An airshow, after all.
Airbus has signed an agreement with Indian airline Indigo for the purchase of 500 aircraft of the A320 family – the largest purchase of a single aircraft in the nearly 120-year history of commercial aviation. The deal wasn’t exactly a surprise as Reuters first reported earlier this month that it was close to closing. However, it exceeded Air India’s recent order for 470 aircraft (itself a record at the time) and capped off a successful first day for Airbus.
The European planemaker also announced that Saudi low-cost carrier Flynas has confirmed 30 options for the A320neo, while Air Mauritius has ordered three wide-body A340s.
It was a quiet day for Boeing, by comparison, with no orders announced. However, the company previously said it expected a quieter showing this year, after announcing several major orders over the past six months.
Earlier today, Canadian aircraft manufacturer de Havilland Canada made noise by introducing a new type of its “Twin Otter” superjumbo jet, the DHC-6. The new aircraft, the Twin Otter Classic 300-G, is a lighter version with a larger payload. Twin otters can be seen on commuter routes, ferrying guests from the airport to their resorts in the Maldives, carrying supplies and cargo to rugged environments around the world, carrying out medical missions and much more. DHC said it has sold up to 45 new aircraft to date.
Behind the scenes: How was covering my first airshow: A recap of the Dubai Airshow
Air shows are sprawling affairs that usually take over an entire airport, albeit a smaller one. It features ramps and runways filled with planes on display, temporarily built “chalets” in which major corporations and airlines hold meetings, galleries filled with civil and military aviation technology, glimpses of future projects that could define the industry and much more. For many attendees, deals are an afterthought; The opportunity to see cool new things is the latest.
Over the coming days, TPG will bring more supply. This year, the show features a strong presence from eVTOL makers who are racing to be the first “flying taxi” company on the market. The gathering will also showcase everything from designers of supersonic aircraft to electric and hydrogen engines and providers of sustainable jet fuels looking to help transform the industry into a greener future.
Today, though, it was about finding our footing at the show, exploring some of the planes we rarely see inside (stay tuned!) and of course, watching flight shows and checking out the new stuff on the ground.
I have a weakness for helicopter acrobatics, so seeing some extra swoops and dives earlier in the day was fun. The official flying program does not begin until the afternoon.
We also saw Airbus fly the A321XLR at an airshow for the first time. The aircraft maker first flew this long-range variant last year, but not as part of a public offering.
The Dassault Rafale fighter took the next stage. While I’m not much into military aviation, it was cool to see it flying with an Air France plane approaching Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) in the background…and some stunts kicked off in the humidity.
Back on the ground, Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker held a ceremony for the first Gulfstream G700 to join the airline’s executive fleet.
Sitting next to a modified Airbus A319 already part of that fleet, the two are an outstanding couple. We’ll have more on these two planes soon, but here’s a sneak peek:
Speaking of previews, Saudi startup Riyadh Air — a sister airline to Saudi Arabian Airlines and owned by the country’s sovereign wealth fund — showed off a chartered 787-9 in its new livery. Riyadh didn’t receive its first planes until 2025, but it was an opportunity the airline saw off to a great start.
I missed some of the afternoon flight show but still got a chance to see Boeing’s two newest planes – the 737 MAX 10 and 777-9, both of which are still undergoing certification work.
Finally, I saw some great flybys by the FedEx ATR-72-600, the aerobatic Potez CM-170 Fouga, and the American F-35.
Stay tuned for more at the Paris Air Show, and be sure to follow TPG on Instagram for more from France.
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