an inside look at farnborough 2018

July 5, 2018

Mark Huber and Nick Klenske pick out some of the highlights to expect from this year’s Farnborough International Air Show

Every other summer the Farnborough International Air Show dominates the skies to the south-west of London. The event, which has operated continuously since 1948 and occurs on every even numbered year, is one of the world’s great air and trade shows. Despite traffic jams and long security lines, thousands of visitors will descend on Farnborough July 16 – 22 to take in all that Farnborough 2018 has to offer.

Of course, it all happens at TAG Farnborough Airport, one of London’s major business airports. Earlier this year the airport announced a record increase in air traffic movements. For the full year 2017, TAG Farnborough Airport saw a year-on-year increase in air traffic movements of 7.4% – and the record 17.9% increase in January 2018 is a clear indication that this positive trend is set to continue.

Although things do get busy during the airshow, the airport tends to operate as ‘business as usual’. “We are typically able to accept all our normal business aircraft clients – and the air show tends to bring additional traffic for the airport,” says TAG Farnborough Airport Chief Executive Brandon O’Reilly.

During the week prior to the show, demonstration aircraft have to fly to gain official approval for their airshow routes, which means that some business customers have to wait for departure until the flying is finished. “But actually, they quite enjoy being at the center of the action,” adds O’Reilly.

A Growing Business Presence

But what of the airshow itself? With only a few weeks since EBACE in Geneva, one might think none of the business aircraft manufacturers would attend – but that is definitely not the case. In fact, some of the industry’s key OEMs are increasing their commitment to the show, and organizers expect Business Aviation to have one of its largest showings yet.

“For the Business Aviation industry, the Farnborough International Airshow has become an equally important event to exhibit at as EBACE,” says Farnborough International Team Member Wanda Arden. “Back in early 2004, we built a dedicated Business Aviation Park that allows our exhibitors to park their aircraft right in front of their exhibit at the show.” She goes on to note that since then Business Aviation has become a firm feature at the show and, in 2016, the event saw 30 aircraft participating from the likes of Bombardier, Embraer, Gulfstream and Piaggio.

All will be back in 2018, along with Diamond, Pilatus and Textron. According to organizers, Bombardier is increasing its display area and is moving to a more prominent location – and other Business Aviation companies are following the lead. Organizers are also seeing a substantial increase in new enquiries from exhibitors in the BizAv sector. “The show is attracting many new exhibitors in the sector and we expect to see a significant increase in exhibition space dedicated to the Business Aviation industry,” says Farnborough International Commercial Director Amanda Stainer.

Speaking after the 2016 edition of Farnborough, an executive at Embraer Executive Jets noted that many of the people at this show will never attend EBACE, and that the many governmental delegates in attendance are “good potential customers for our aircraft”. Embraer showed its Legacy 500 for the first time during Farnborough 2016. This year, the Legacy 500 will be back, along with the Phenom 300E.

Farnborough Airshow has a long history of aviation debuts, due to its unique flying display that enables exhibitors to demonstrate their aircraft’s capabilities in full. “We are expecting to see more debuts in 2018, following those from Bombardier, HondaJet, Diamond Aircraft and Gulfstream at FIA16,” adds Stainer.

To make the show even more attractive, this year will see the use of a modern new 20,000 square meter permanent hall. It will also see a return of its Meet the Buyer program.

Spanning Different Sectors

Of course, because Farnborough covers everything from Business Aviation to commercial and defense, it is particularly attractive to those companies with a hand in each. For example, the Beechcraft King Air is used by both business fliers and militaries around the world. Now, Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) is teaming with Blackhawk Modifications’ Vector-Hawk Aerospace (VHA) to offer the new Blackhawk XP67A Engine+ Upgrade Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) Kit for the Beechcraft King Air 350ER. The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recently approved the upgrade for the aircraft at maximum takeoff weights up to 17,500 pounds, significantly increasing special mission applications. The XP67A will provide a 25-30% increase in power, which translates into improved climb and cruise performance for King Air 350ER aircraft, especially on hot days at high-altitudes.

Although the PT6A-67A will produce a 400 thermodynamic SHP increase over the stock PT6A-60A, the Blackhawk engine will actually reduce the overall weight of the aircraft by about 18 pounds. The new offering will include two factory-new Pratt & Whitney Canada (P&WC) PT6A-67A engines, new MT five-blade composite propeller assemblies and spinners, and a True Blue Power lithium-ion battery. Training, support, and a five-year/2,500 hour enhanced new-engine warranty are also included. SNC is the exclusive provider of the XP67A and Mission Enhancement Kit for the King Air 350ER and will complete the installations at their network of authorized install facilities. Field installations are also available.

Speaking of Pratt & Whitney, the company estimates that its new geared turbofan engines (GTFs) have saved more than 40 million gallons of fuel – worth more than $75 million – while also reducing nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions since they entered service in early 2016. The engines currently power a fleet of 165 aircraft across three aircraft platforms and 23 airline operators around the world. Total flight hours are more than 830,000 for the combined GTF-powered fleet of Airbus A320neo, Bombardier C Series and Embraer E190-E2 aircraft. Since entering service, Pratt & Whitney says the GTF engine has demonstrated its promised ability to reduce fuel burn by 16%, cut NOx emissions in half to the regulatory standard, and lower the noise footprint by a whopping 75%.

Also in June, competing engine builder Rolls-Royce announced a major restructuring designed to create smaller and more cost effective corporate and support functions and reduce management layers and complexity, including within engineering. Over the next 24 months, the company expects to shed 4,600 jobs, predominantly in the UK. The company noted that since 2010 it had invested $14.6 billion to fund research and development, build new facilities, and to launch six new civil engines, including the Trent XWB and, most recently, the Pearl 15 for the Business Aviation market. The company currently has orders for over 2,700 engines for wide-body aircraft and business jets.

“We are currently undertaking our biggest ever increase in large engine production, targeting over 600 wide-body engines a year by the end of this decade. As a result of our innovation and investment, we are poised to become the world-leader in large aircraft engines, powering over half of the world’s passenger wide-body fleet within the next few years, compared to 22% just 10 years ago,” says a company representative. They also noted that the company is continuing to support its current ramp-up in civil aerospace engine production and will remain focused on the management of current in-service issues with the Trent 1000.

The Pearl 15 will power Bombardier’s new Global 5500 aircraft and the Global 6500 aircraft. The engine combines technologies derived from Rolls-Royce’s Advance2 technology demonstrator programs with features from the Rolls-Royce BR700. The engine delivers up to 9% more thrust during take-off than the BR700, is two decibels quieter and has a 7% lower specific fuel consumption (SFC).

More Screens for Garmin

Another company operating across sectors is Garmin, who continues to unveil new derivatives and applications for its integrated touchscreen avionics systems. In May, the company announced the G3000H IFR-capable integrated flight deck specifically designed for Part 27 turbine helicopters. The forward-fit G3000H offers a number of features, including WAAS/SBAS, ILS approach capability, VFR and IFR helicopter charts and the Connext wireless integration feature. The G3000H is also equipped for ADS-B In/Out, offers visual approach guidance and an HSI map.

“The G3000H blends a superior feature set and safety-minded technology into a contemporary platform for the VFR/IFR turbine helicopter market,” says Garmin Vice President of Aviation Marketing and Sales Carl Wolf. “With the G3000H, we’re excited to bring IFR capabilities in an advanced integrated flight deck and further expand our product offering so our partners have even more options within this class of helicopters.”

The G3000H is built with a flexible and scalable architecture that can be tailored to a variety of helicopter designs.

Lite Flite

UTC Aerospace Systems has developed a new line of ‘Flite’ lightweight veneers that are lighter, more flexible, and less flammable and can save up to 500 lbs. on the weight of a finished aircraft interior (depending on cabin size). FLiteFlex is a two-ply product that provides a greater balance of thermal and mechanical properties via a proprietary combination of face veneer and synthetic substrate. AlumiFLite is a three-ply product consisting of a face veneer with an aluminum core and poplar backer. Compared to traditional three-ply veneer products, AlumiFLite offers up to 40% weight savings per shipset, while also providing increased flexibility to make it easier to work with. To better maintain the wood’s natural finish, the face veneer is chemical free, requiring no fire-retardant chemicals, and the aluminum core has two thickness options, depending on the customer’s needs.

On Site Fuel

For those coming to the show via TAG Farnborough Airport, you may notice that World Fuel Services (WFS) has a bigger presence than in 2016. Earlier this year, the company celebrated its first year as a full-service fuels and solutions provider to TAG Farnborough Airport. Although WFS has provided a range of solutions to the site for over 15 years, as of December 2016 (after Farnborough 2016) they took on the complete fuel and service provision at Farnborough. The move followed WFS’ acquisition of ExxonMobil’s aviation business.

“We have always had a relationship with TAG Aviation, however in the past we were categorized as the payments and solutions partner, bringing customers, helping manage traffic and promotion and some marketing,” says WFS Vice President Mark Amor. “The game changer for us was when we bought the ExxonMobil business, which transformed our physical capability, positioning us a leading supplier of fuel and service solutions to airports and FBOs.”

Amor says the company is committed to designing and delivering bespoke and flexible services for its customers. “We are doing things far more efficiently, not just in the price of fuel, but in the way that we provide other on-the-ground services as well,” he adds.

London Calling

Of course this is just a very brief preview of everything that’s happening at Farnborough 2018. Precisely because of its proximity to EBACE, many companies were still finalizing their Airshow plans when this issue went to press – meaning it’s wait-and-see for all of us. And if you can’t make it to London, be sure to catch all the news and developments at!