The largest aircraft order in aviation history and other cool things from the first day of the Paris Air Show A hot, muggy Monday in Paris did not detract from the excitement at the Paris Air Show. For the first time in four years, people from the aviation industry got together to show off the newest technologies and products and plan the way forward for the aerospace industry.
Being back at Paris—Le Bourget Airport (LBG) for the first time since 2019 (the biennial show in 2021 was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic) and overall happy about the industry’s current demand despite supply chains continuing to buckle brought joy. Still, the day started off with a subdued undercurrent.
Few new things were anticipated to be announced, despite the overall bright spot that commercial aviation and its airline industry customers are currently enjoying. The majority of the items on display had previously been shown.
Instead, the day felt like an exercise in grounding, a reset, or even just an opportunity to collectively take a breath as the industry orients itself to the next direction.
At the world’s nascent reopening that supported the Dubai Air Show in late 2021, there was exuberant yet tentative jubilation, and at the first European show to return, Farnborough, less than a year ago, there were high expectations and extensive displays. The first few hours in Paris seemed more like an intentional effort to ensure stability and to look up to see where things were going.
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Obviously, the world’s largest aviation show still had a lot to see, hear, and explore, and despite the quieter atmosphere, a planemaker signed a record-breaking deal. After all, it’s an aerial show.
The largest single aircraft acquisition in the nearly 120-year history of commercial aviation was made when Airbus entered into an agreement with Indian airline IndiGo to place a firm order for 500 A320 family aircraft. Since Reuters first reported earlier this month that the deal was nearing completion, it wasn’t entirely surprising. Despite this, it surpassed Air India’s most recent order of 470 aircraft, which at the time was a record, and capped a successful first day for Airbus.
The European aircraft manufacturer also announced that Air Mauritius had ordered three A340 wide-bodies and that Saudi budget airline Flynas had committed to 30 A320neo options.
In contrast, Boeing had a quiet day, with no orders being announced. However, the company had previously stated that it anticipated a more muted performance this year after announcing a number of significant orders over the past six months.
Promptly in the day, Canadian planemaker De Havilland Canada made commotion by presenting another variation of its celebrated workhorse “Twin Otter” airplane, the DHC-6. The new plane, the Twin Otter Classic 300-G, is a lighter model that can carry more passengers. Twin Otters can be seen on commuter routes transporting passengers from the airport to their resorts in the Maldives, transporting supplies and cargo to harsh environments worldwide, carrying out medevac missions, and carrying out other tasks. DHC claimed to have sold up to 45 new aircraft thus far.
Even if they are held in a smaller airport, air shows are typically large-scale events that occupy the entire facility. They have aircraft on display on taxiways and ramps, temporary “chalets” where major airlines and companies hold meetings, exhibition halls filled with technology for civil and military aviation, glimpses of future projects that could change the industry, and a lot more. The deals are often overlooked by attendees; The most recent is the chance to see cool new things.
TPG will bring more from the show in the coming days. The show this year has a lot of eVTOL companies competing to be the first “flying taxi” company on the market. In addition, a variety of hopeful supersonic aircraft designers, electric and hydrogen engines, and sustainable aviation fuel providers aiming to assist in the industry’s transition to a more environmentally friendly future will be on display at the gathering.
However, today was all about finding our own way around the show and going inside some planes that we rarely see (stay tuned!) and, of course, observing the ground-based new items and the flying displays.
I enjoyed seeing a few bonus swoops and dives earlier in the day because I have a weakness for helicopter acrobatics. The official schedule for flying does not begin until the afternoon.
Additionally, for the first time, we witnessed Airbus fly its A321XLR at an air show. This extra-long-range variant was first flown by the manufacturer last year, but it was not displayed in public.
The following aircraft took the stage, a Dassault Rafale. It was cool to see it take off with an Air France jet approaching Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) in the background—as well as some of the stunts it pulled off in the humidity—even though I’m not a big fan of military aviation.
Akbar Al Baker, CEO of Qatar Airways, held a ceremony to welcome the airline’s first Gulfstream G700 executive aircraft back to the ground.
They were a notable pair because they were seated next to a modified Airbus A319 that was already a part of that fleet. We will soon have more information on these two aircraft, but here is a sneak peek:
Speaking of sneak peeks, the state-owned sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia’s new startup airline Riyadh Air displayed a leased 787-9 in its brand-new livery. Riyadh Air is a sister airline to Saudia. Although Riyadh won’t receive its first aircraft until 2025, the airline saw this as an opportunity to make a big splash.
Previous slide I was able to see Boeing’s newest two jets, the 737 MAX 10 and 777-9, which are still undergoing certification work, despite missing some of the afternoon flying display.
Finally, a FedEx ATR-72-600, a French Potez CM-170 Fouga stunt plane, and a United States F-35 all flew in remarkable formations for me.
Stay tuned for additional information from the Paris Air Show, and be sure to follow TPG on Instagram for additional information from France.