FARNBOROUGH AIR SHOW: This is it. We are wrapping up our coverage of the 2012 show. The grey and wet skies that blanketed the show for most of the week stand as a metaphor for the defense business.
One industry observer, with more than 20 years of air shows under his belt, told me this morning that this Farnborough was the worst for news he’d ever seen. The companies didn’t put out many press releases compared to years past. Most of the press had vanished by today, with only we trade reporters clinging hard to the hope there might be a morsel of something to tease out.
But alas, there was not much there.
Few planes flew. Boeing was supposed to do a C-17 media flight Wednesday morning but they couldn’t get the necessary permissions — or at least that was the story they gave us. (It seemed to be of a piece with the often wretched transport to and from the show this year. It sometimes took more than two-and-half hours to get to or from the show.)
Although the flight display listed an unmanned aerial system on the flight manifest in the first slot each day, only one flew as far as I know. A Portugese system called the Tekever’s AR4 Light Ray took to the air before the flight program got going. I didn’t see it but the folks at AUVSI reported it. And, as you can see in our video by Scott Corben, UAVs were present in some numbers, a trend that really began at the last Farnborough show.
This show was all about civil sales and marketing. We were subject to the usual Boeing-Airbus order competition. In the end, Boeing went over the top with an order for 150 aircraft from United Airlines, giving it orders for 396 airplanes worth roughly $37 billion. Airbus pulled in $16.9 billion for 115 aircraft. All the U.S. defense primes eagerly booked meetings with foreign customers, as Lockheed and Raytheon (at least) publicly pledged to boost their foreign market share.
Let us know what you thought of our coverage. And wake me up next week.