The future of some of the biggest names in aviation, the dramatic rise of drones, the emergence of new plane makers and barnstorming displays of military and civilian hardware.
If there is a must-go global aviation event, this is it.
While Britain is still reeling from the shockwaves caused by the recent Brexit referendum, the planet’s aeronautical industry is getting ready to descend, like every other year, upon the small town of Farnborough, some 40 miles southwest of London.
For a few days in the summer, Farnborough becomes the world’s aviation capital.
It’s an honor the English aerodrome shares, on alternate years, with its French equivalent at Le Bourget.
Aircraft manufacturers come to announce big orders while a constellation of firms, covering every single aspect of the aviation industry’s value chain, showcase their latest technologies.
The last edition of the show saw an estimated $200 billion-plus worth of business deals signed, of which some $152 billion were new aircraft orders.
State of the art fighters Jet
The show runs for a whole week, from July 11 to 17, with the first five days devoted exclusively to the corporate crowd. It’s open to the general public at the weekend.
Amanda Stainer, commercial director at organizer Farnborough International, says the show has a global scope with 22 national pavilions, four more than in the previous edition.
“Over 70% of participants come from overseas, and this year we expect 30% of them to be first-timers,” she says.
Visitors will be able to see 99 different aircraft types.
These range from the state-of-the-art F-35 fighter jet, which has the dubious honor of being the most expensive military aircraft program ever, to still-airworthy WWI-era vintage aircraft.
Witnessing the acrobatic displays and sheer power of fighter jets roaring over the English countryside is worth the hour-long ride from central London.
But this year, most of the interest is expected to be focused on the civilian side of the show.
According to Stainer, while military aviation involvement remains stable, figures are significantly up when it comes to commercial aviation participants.
The two aircraft manufacturing giants, Airbus and Boeing, will inevitably have a very notable presence at the show.
The European aircraft-maker will have at least two of its long-haul wide-body airliners at the show, an A350 XWB and an A380.
The A350 is Airbus’s most modern airliner and is steadily building up its global presence, entering service with numerous airlines this year.
Industry interest in the A380 currently pivots on Airbus’s decision about the launch of a re-engined Neo version, that could help it break a current sales impasse.
New version or not, the world’s largest airliner remains an impressive sight at any airshow. Despite its size, the A380 is capable of pulling off amazing maneuvers during air displays.
In addition to all that metal, visitors to the Airbus pavilion will be able to admire a mock-up of the new Airspace by Airbus cabin concept, that incorporates some of the latest advances in terms of passenger comfort.
Also of note is a virtual reality experience that’ll place visitors at the command of a simulated A350 airliner, an A400M military transport or will even let them experience a virtual walk on the surface of Mars.