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Farnborough 2010: A Preview

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Mary Kirby and I have teamed up once again to anchor Flightglobal's social media coverage of the 2010 Farnborough Air Show, and we've put together a quick video overview of next week's show. The whole Flightglobal team will be on the ground in London starting on Saturday morning covering the show wall to wall. Beyond our brief rundown, Flight International Magazine's Farnborough "Fattie" is packed with features covering the industry end to end. Here's some more on our view of the industry's goings on.

Follow us on Twitter: @flightblogger | @runwaygirl | @flightglobal | #FARN10

Flight International 13-19 July 2010.jpgA shaky recovery?
Air shows are an interesting beast. The annual international gathering provides a snapshot in time of the state of the industry. Farnborough will be no different, representing a barometer of the health of the global economy and its bright spots, uncertainties, and potential surprises around the corner. Orders are inevitable, but an order boom only tells part of the story. What goes on behind the scenes at the countless meetings that will take place away from the glare of the camera and press releases is the real story of the air show. How real is this recovery and has it gone global?

787's International Stage
Since its absence at the 2008 and 2009 summer shows, the presence of the 787 Dreamliner is a major moment for Boeing and its supply partners, which will, for the first time, will show off its carbon fiber jetliner to the world media. With all the fanfare that will accompany the Dreamliner to the UK, there are still big questions for Boeing and its new jetliner.

Even as ZA003 touches down 9am on Sunday, questions will swirl around meeting its end of the year timeline. A notable contrast exists from a year ago when feverish internal deliberations about the crippling side-of-body weakness did not find their way to Paris in the run up to first flight, while a pre-show conference call produced a "cautionary note" indicating the schedule could possibly slip a few weeks into 2011.

A350 Timetables
Boeing won't be the only one discussing timetables for its composite aircraft. Airbus has the spectre of the company's last clean sheet design, the A380, imposing itself on the A350 XWB program. Program delays have become the rule not the exception in aircraft development, and Airbus must demonstrate how it will recover its lost margin and/or a way to avoid schedule slippage for the A350. MSN001 will be in final assembly a little over a year from now, and how Airbus gets from here to here is essential to demonstrating it can meet its 2013 entry into service goal.

What's next for CSeries? 
Bombardier's 40 frame order from Republic Airways represented a major victory for the CSeries, but can its success be replicated in markets around the world with blue chip customers. Boeing is anticipating at least one new market entrant will be successful, will it be the CSeries? While an order from Qatar and a Chinese customer appear likely, is the expectations game working against Bombardier? Also, will the program begin to provide more technical detail about its new 100 to 149-seat jet? The industry is hungry for details. 

Jumbo Questions
For both Boeing and Airbus, their largest products are secondary conversations at the show, but are vitally important to the health of each airframer. Have the A380 production issues been resolved as a smooth production ramp up has eluded Airbus? Will 747-8F meet its goal of delivering to Cargolux by the close of 2010 without further unexpected flight test discoveries, and will its new passenger jumbo escape the struggles its freighter sibling has seen? 

Re-Engining or Replacement?
For the A320, re-engining appears to be a forgone conclusion, a question of "when not if". Though the powerplants for an A320 NEO are very much up in the air. CFM's Leap-X is almost assured a spot under the wing, but does Pratt & Whitney and Rolls-Royce reconcile their technological difference through IAE or does P&W go it alone with the PW1000G.

For the 737, the answer is murky. All indications point to a re-engined aircraft falling out of favor with Boeing leadership and product development, but does the narrowbody's replacement, and its several thousand unit backlog, take precedent over the 777, whose backlog numbers in the hundreds. Can Boeing get GE on board to re-engine the 777 or will the airframer find itself retiring the big twin before its really ready?

Superjet Cometh
A year after its debut in Paris, the Sukhoi Superjet appears poised to make a big splash with a big order from North America and Asia, but can the Russian/Italian collaboration demonstrate it's ready to support the new 100 seater in service while deliver enough engines to support production?

What about Embraer?
Of the big four airframers, Embraer has been the quietest about its future plans. The Brazillian company is stuck between watching it's E-Jet family mature and deliver a solid return on its investment and having the resources for a larger jetliner or re-engining its existing product line. The E-195X is officially off the table, so what's next for Embraer?

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