There is only one Paris Air Show. Its size and number of exhibitors rank it as the largest event of its kind in the world. It is a mélange of high-stakes corporate displays, wheeling-and-dealing, aerial arms bazaar, technology reveal, and flying show.
It’s easy to list two reasons for visiting the Paris Air Show: The air show and Paris.
The show features several huge display halls in which global manufacturers and suppliers spend a lot of money showcasing their wares and their skills.
The show ran from June 17-23, 2019, with the first four days only for the aerospace industry and media. Public days were Friday through Sunday. Paris alternates with Farnborough in the UK for hosting a major air show and trade event, so the next Paris Air Show will be in June 2021.
This year, a recurring theme was electrification. This ranged from MagniX, a Redmond, Washington, company that is putting an electric motor in a deHavilland Beaver as its first project, to an ambitious model of a hybrid jetliner that would feature rows of ducted electric fan motors under the wings, using power generated by two traditional fuselage-mounted jet engines to achieve a 25% reduction in fuel burn, according to theory.
With the mergers and buyouts that have whittled the major airliner builders down to Boeing and Airbus, pundits watched the two giants at Paris. Some gave Airbus the victory in terms of sales generated. Boeing is still dealing with grounded 737 Max jetliners, but managed to garner its share of business.
During the flying show on Monday, a series of Airbus airliners made improbably steep takeoffs for the business crowd, followed by a Boeing 787 doing the same. It’s great spectacle, but one wonders whether airline MBAs and purchasing agents make decisions based on steep climbouts.
A surprise favorite, at least among Pakistani fans, was the daily flight demonstration of the joint Pakistani-Chinese jet fighter called JF-17.
General aviation aircraft were sprinkled among the displays, with Daher announcing its new TBM 940 single-engine turboprop aircraft.
This year’s Paris Air Show featured 2,453 exhibitors from around the world, with nearly half from France. The show tallied 316,470 unique visitors representing more than 500,000 entries through the gates. Officials report that 2,700 journalists covered the event. And $140 billion in contracts were signed, according to post-show statistics.
Paris is famous for its sidewalk cafe society, and my hotel in the Montmartre area was perfect for sampling a new cafe each night after a long day of air show action. The pastries are varied and delicious.
Someone advised me before going to Paris to be ready to say “bonjour” each time I entered a business or encountered someone. It’s a courtesy that goes a long way in France. I had few problems conversing in mostly English, and I believe that simple French salutation got the ball rolling.