Aviation world descends on France for Paris Air Show

Global Business

From super-jumbo jets to supersonic warplanes and drones – the world’s largest air show, now underway in Paris, has something for everyone. One and fifty thousand industry professionals from over two thousand companies are present.

Deals are being made worth tens of billions of dollars. As usual, most headlines are about which plane-making giant – Boeing or Airbus – gets the most orders.

CGTN’s Paul Barber reports.

Lockheed Martin’s new generation fighter jet, the F-35A, is breaking the sound barrier at the Paris Air Show and, very soon, the bank for nearly a dozen countries. The U.S. company is said to be close to selling more than 400,000 of these stealth warplanes to eleven nations for nearly $40 billion.

Lockheed’s civilian American counterparts at Boeing, are also enjoying a bumper show. They’ve already secured nearly 600 orders, nearly double those of Airbus. Sales powered by its newly-unveiled single-aisle 737 Max – a workhorse for short to mid-range flights.

Boeing said it will be the most efficient plane of its type. It’s trying to catch up with European rival Airbus in that market, where its A320 neo class currently dominates. But soon both will have to worry about competition from China and Russia, with both launching their own mid-size passenger jets. Airbus is also trying to drum up more sales of its larger craft, squeezing another 80 seats into the superjumbo A380-plus.

On a much smaller scale – the plane-maker is branching out into drones. This unmanned helicopter is designed to help boost naval capabilities.

Tim Williams, Airbus’s operational marketing manager for the VSR700 Drone, said, “It’s a complement to the helicopter, it will allow it to do its job better but more importantly it will also allow the ship it comes from to be safer and do its job far better without the risk to expensive helicopters and other assets or the people there.”

Elsewhere at the Paris Air Show, flying cars are no longer the realm of science fiction. They’re everywhere this year. Slovakian firm Aeromobil hopes its airborne-sports car will hit the roads – and the skies by 2020. Ohio firm Workhorse is showing off its drone you can fly aboard.

Founder and CEO Stephen Burns said, “What we’re trying to do here is reinvent the helicopter, bring the helicopter down to where more of an average person can use it. So it’s designed to be super safe.”

But the SureFly octocopter will cost you $200,000 – and isn’t due to take its first test flights for another few months.

Seth Kaplan on the global air travel industry