LONDON (AP) - A lot is at stake in the Farnborough International Airshow, the aviation industry’s biggest annual event, which opens Monday.
The trade show is expected to see the first presentation of the world’s most advanced fighter jet, new commercial aircraft as well as a host of new technological advances that promise to give a glimpse of the future of flying.
Held just outside of London, the show features 1,500 exhibitors from 40 countries and some 100,000 industry representatives. Manufacturers who attend find their closest comrades __ and their most bitter competitors. Aviation giants Boeing and Airbus are expected to announce a string of new orders in their annual race for the title of the world’s biggest plane maker.
Here’s a brief look at what are expected to be the highlights of the show.
THE SOUND OF SILENCE. OR NOT
Above all, there are two planes that aviation experts want to see at Farnborough - the F-35 Lightning II fighter and the Airbus A350- two feats of engineering that offer a contrast in the world of the skies.
The F-35 is the sort of plane that puts a rumble in your chest. What’s important is that it combines stealth, maneuverability and attack capabilities in a single aircraft, so the U.S. and its allies can replace a variety of aging planes with the F-35. It’s also loud and fast, the sort of thing that gets aviation enthusiasts excited.
“You don’t get a new generation aircraft very often,” aviation expert Howard Wheeldon said. “This is something very, very new.”
But there is doubt it will appear. The fighter, made by a group of companies led by Lockheed Martin, was grounded in the U.S. after an engine fire last month, and it remains unclear whether it will be on display at Farnborough. The F-35 missed its international debut at a military air show this week so there will be a lot of pressure to get it to Farnborough. While it’s not unusual for planes in development to have problems, it’s embarrassing to miss an event where you can strut your stuff before the politicians and the cameras.
On the other end of the noise spectrum is the other headline attraction, the A350, which is supposed to be very, very quiet.
Airbus’s newest plane, the A350, has various configurations designed to seat 250 to 400 passengers and compete with a variety of Boeing aircraft. Airbus says this is the first commercial aircraft built mainly from “advanced materials,” which will make it 25 percent more fuel efficient than existing planes. It’s also supposed to be very quiet and offer more room for passengers.
Airbus is under pressure to give it a good showing and announce some new sales after Dubai-based airline Emirates canceled a huge order for 70 of them last month.
JUST DON’T CALL THEM DRONES