Farnborough International Airshow 2018
The Farnborough International Airshow rates amongst the world's biggest trade airshow. The 2018 edition was once again packed with massive airline orders and business behind the scenes. Exhibitors used the daily aerial display to show off the capabilities of their aircraft and helicopters. Once all the business were done, a airshow was organized for the entertainment of 'Joe Public' on the concluding week-end.
Where? Farnborough, UK
Unfortunately the week-end's airshow featured a rather disappointing program, and in the end it turned out that it was the final public airshow week-end at Farnborough. This report therefore features only the flying display during the trade days of the event. An impressive number of orders of 164 billion Euros backed up the role of the Farnborough International Airshow 2018 (FIA18) as an economic barometer. Of course the major part of orders was on the civil side and split up amongst Airbus and Boeing. As always the two rivals had a fierce competition going on to get out of the show with the highest number of orders. Looking for military related activities at Farnborough one had to dig deeper as current and hot topics were not obvious at first sight. This was also reflected by the flying display, which turned out to be more low-key compared to previous editions of the Farnborough Airshow.
Airbus Displays: A220 & A350-1000
The airshow during the trade days of the Farnborough Airshow 2018 was dominated by the big civil names Airbus and Boeing. Airbus presented the Airbus A350-1000 and the Airbus A220 – previously known as the Bombardier CSeries – in their well-known and spectacular-to-watch display routines that seemingly put the airframes at their limits. These flights present the aircraft nicely and silently.
The Boeings: B737-7 MAX and B787-9 Dreamliner
Boeing countered with the B737-7 MAX and the B787-8 Dreamliner, the latter one already wearing the colors of its future customer Biman Bangladesh Airlines. A previous generation Boeing airplane, the venerable B727, was presented by T2 Aviation in its role as “Oil Spill Response” demonstrating liquid spraying capabilities.
Embraer presents the E190 "Profit Hunter" and KC-390
Embraer countered with the Embraer 190 E2 “Profit Hunter” featuring a rather cool repaint of its nose with a shark nose, depicting the ‘hunting’ aspect of this aircraft. And of course the Brazilian aircraft manufacturer also brought its military transport aircraft KC-390 over to Europa and presented it during the flying display at Farnborough.
From the Far East the Japanese Mitsubishi MRJ-90STD in the colors of its launch customer All Nippon Airways (ANA) was also seen at FIA18. The display of the MRJ was more conservative compared to the flying of other aircraft manufacturers, but it was great to see this plane in the British skies!
By far the most impressive piece of flying has been the Lockheed Martin LM-100J, the civil version of the venerable military transport C-130 Hercules. The vertical maneuvers have been stunning, and likely topped the ones regularly presented by the Italian AF C-27J Spartan.
The Airbus A400M Atlas was presented by Airbus and flown by Airbus crews, even though it featured the big “RAF 100” sticker on the tail, celebrating the RAF centenary in 2018.
Military Jet Displays
The only ‘real’ military flying display on the FIA18 trade days was the Pacific Air Forces (PACAF) F-16 Demo Team, flying a Spangdahlem-based USAFE Fighting Falcon in the usual gray sky of Farnborough.
Apart from that the presence of military hardware was really low. The only sign of the RAF’s F-35C was a single fly-by on Tuesday together with a Eurofighter Typhoon, nothing more. A RAF Typhoon was also only present on Tuesday in the static display, and one sole Tornado GR.4 could be found on the ground. This was the types last presence at Farnborough as it will be put out of service next spring.
The USAF displayed a Chinook helicopter, an F-15E Strike Eagle and two versions of the C-130 Hercules. Furthermore Leonardo presented a Brazilian Lynx and a Super Lynx. Some more overview photos of the static display are added hereafter to finish this overview of the Farnborough Airshow.
I can’t really comment on the flying display during the FIA18 public airshow on the weekend, which listed the Red Bull Air Race, the RAF Red Arrows and some warbirds. But reading from some of the comments about the show spectators expected more from the flying, especially with the RAF centenary in mind.
The last and final (public) Farnborough International Airshow
Farnborough 2020 will be the first show after Brexit. This should not change anything regarding the setup of Farnborough as one of the world’s premier aviation trade shows, but hopefully the flying display will be more spirited. Obviously the air display is not the main reason of this event, but it always adds a nice flavor to a successful show.
Added after writing the original text: However, it has been announced in early 2019 that the airshow days for the public on the weekend will not be continued. A sad decision for airshow enthusiasts, but likely also a consequence - or may I say continuation - of what was presented in 2018.