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Big hitters flex their muscles at Farnborough

Big hitters flex their muscles at Farnborough

Boeing and Airbus have picked up a raft of new orders at the biennial Farnborough International Airshow, in the strongest signal yet that the aviation industry to returning to good health.

By the close of the second day of the world’s largest air show, Boeing was leading the way with 130 orders, whilst Airbus had picked up 122, close to its target for the week of 130.

The largest orders belonged to leasing companies, as the financial institutions start buying for the first time since the financial crisis hit. GECAS, a division of General Electric (GE), ordered 40 Boeing 737s and 60 Airbus A320s. The total value of the two deals is worth about $8bn.

Air Lease Corp placed an order for 51 Airbus planes worth $4.4bn on Monday. This was followed by its purchase up to 60 Next-Generation 737-800s. The agreement includes 54 firm orders and six options, with deliveries scheduled through 2017.

“We have selected the Boeing Next-Generation 737-800 as a cornerstone of our growing commercial aircraft lease fleet. The 737-800 represents an opportunity for our wide range of airline clients to operate this most economical, fuel efficient and versatile 150-189 passenger airplane, on a wide variety of airline missions profitably,” said Steven F. Udvar-Hazy, chairman and CEO of Air Lease Corporation.


The biggest order by a single carrier was made by Dubai’s Emirates, which has booked 30 Boeing 777s in a $9.1bn deal. It was originally thought to be ordering only 20. Russian flag carrier Aeroflot placed an order for11 Airbus A330s.

The show is also proving lucrative for manufacturers outside the Airbus-Boeing duopoly. Flybe signed for up to $5 billion in planes from Brazilian group Embraer. The Exeter-based airline said that the Embraer 175 jets would “underpin” its expansion into Western Europe. The first of the 88-seater planes is scheduled to be delivered in September 2011 with the order set to be completed by March 2017. And it has the option to buy a further 105 aircraft, meaning the deal could be worth up to $5bn.

Both Boeing and Airbus have new aircraft on show at Farnborough this year. Boeing’s major focus is its Dreamliner. The hi-tech composite plane is scheduled for its first deliveries this year. But it is already two years late, and it will not be flying at the air show. Boeing is also showing its Phantom Eye hydrogen-powered spy plane, an unmanned craft which can fly at up to 65,000 feet for four days straight.

Airbus’s A350 XWB, which will compete directly with the Dreamliner, is also on display. But it is at a much earlier stage of development and will not fly until 2013.

Airbus also gave a glimpse of how aviation transport may look in 40 years.

Advancements in materials technology, aerodynamics and engine design make for ultra-long, slim winged, super-green aircraft, with U-shaped tails and “intelligent” systems such as morphing, self-cleaning seats and see-through walls offering a 360-degree view.