The 2018 edition of the Farnborough International Airshow got off to a scorching start both literally and metaphorically as aerospace manufacturers from around the globe went to battle under the sun-drenched Hampshire airfield.
As temperatures soared, so too did the backlogs with Airbus and Boeing securing a plethora of orders for their single- and twin-aisle offerings. And it was very much honours even as day one came to a close.
The biggest order of the day fell to Airbus, which landed a deal for 80 A320neos from an undisclosed lessor, but it was rival Boeing that drew first blood. The US manufacturer kicked off the show with a $4.7bn order from global logistics firm DHL for 14 777Fs. The deal, which includes a further seven purchase options, was one of two for the freighter variant of the twin-jet freighter; Qatar Airways firmed up its commitment for five examples signed in April.
The freighter action made up for a general lack of widebody deals for Boeing, United Airlines’ repeat order for four 787-9s being the exception. This certainly wasn’t the case for the smaller 737 MAX as the re-engined variant of the US manufacturer’s best-selling narrowbody continued to rack up orders. This included deals from lessor Jackson Square (for 30 MAX 8s, its first direct order), Romanian flag carrier TAROM (five MAX 8s) and Brazilian carrier Gol (15 MAX 8s and 30 MAX 10, the latter a conversation from its outstanding backlog).
Boeing did save its best for last, announcing an $8.8bn order for 75 737 MAX 8 from Jet Airways just as day one came to its conclusion.
European counterpart Airbus enjoyed a similarly productive day, securing deals for ten A350s from Sichuan Airlines and a further 17 from Taiwanese startup Starlux Airlines (consisting 12 -1000s and five -900s). The latter are expected to join ten A321neos due to be leased by the Taipei-based carrier – created by former Eva Air chairman Chang Kuo-Wei and due to make its long-haul debut in 2022.
India’s Vistara – already an A320 operator – signed a letter of intent covering the acquisition of 50 A320neos, consisting of 13 examples being purchased directly from Airbus, and a further 37 to be supplied via undisclosed lessors. Goshawk Aviation, a 50/50 joint venture owned by Hong Kong-based NWS Holdings and Chow Tai Fook Enterprises, also signed for 20 examples (along with 20 737 MAXs), as did Macquarie AirFinance.
Gulf carriers also reaffirmed their commitment to the A320neo; Omani budget carrier SalamAir is set to acquire six aircraft (five from undisclosed lessors) while Wataniya Airways firmed up its outstanding commitment for the type, finalising an MoU for 25 aircraft signed at least year’s Dubai Airshow.
Brazil’s Embraer also got in on the act, signing a firm agreement with United Airlines to supply 25 E175s. The 70-seat aircraft, valued at a combined $1.1bn, are due for delivery from the second quarter of 2019.
Away from the major orders, manufacturers showcased their latest and greatest, including Embraer with its stunning, shark-liveried E190-E2 ‘Profit Hunter’ while Bombardier debuted its new Atmosphere cabin onboard a Delta Air Lines CRJ900.
The Cargo Village, located at the western end of the airfield, was graced by a pair of 747-8 Freighters (of AirBridgeCargo and Qatar Airways), along with an Antonov An-124 of Volga Dnepr, all of which performed loading demonstrations.
In the flying display, there were several notable highlights, including a flying first for Mitsubishi’s MRJ90 barely a year after the Japanese jet made its public debut in Paris.
The always impressive Boeing 787 Dreamliner routine, this year demonstrated by a Biman Bangladesh Airlines example, was punctuated by an equally sporting effort by the 737 MAX 7, another type making its first appearance at farnborough.
Airbus put several of its aircraft on show, including the graceful but remarkably manoeuvrable Carbon-liveried A350-1000 demonstrator, while the new kid on the block – the A220-300 – made its first flying appearance since the type was rebranded from the Bombardier C Series.
Also worthy of mention was the impressive fly through by 2Excel Aviation, its oil spill response Boeing 727 (operated by T2 Aviation) showing off its remarkable TERSUS dispersant system with a low-level spray run down the main runway (albeit water rather than dispersant) in the company of four Extra 300s flown by sister operator The Blades.