Passport? Check. Wallet? Check. Sunglasses? Check. With chin up, Mike Richardson takes a deep breath and looks ahead to the upcoming 53rd International Paris Airshow, held at the Le Bourget from 17-23 June.
Yes indeed, the International Paris Airshow is almost upon us. It’s showtime for an event so large that if you look very carefully, you can almost see the curvature of the earth appearing at the far end of the Le Bourget runway.
High above, the latest jet fighters will roar as their afterburners beat a hefty rhythm on our ribcages that électronique music duo, Daft Punk would be proud of. As with most major airshows, the display of new aircraft will signal another technological leap for the global industry.
As usual, the small Northeast Paris suburb of Le Bourget will be turned upside-down as suited and booted, the aerospace industry marches en masse towards the showground entrance to join long queues waiting to clear baggage security.
My previous visits have been blighted by wildcat strikes thrown by the Paris travel infrastructure, taxi drivers with an unerring knack of taking you back to the hotel via the ‘scenic’ route and inexplicable decisions made by Le Bourget Metro station to have only one exit gate open, via which thousands of disgorged passengers are expected to squeeze through. With faux pas aplenty, it’s advisable to wear a comfortable pair of shoes as there will be a hell of a lot of walking - and have a show map handy too.
Up, up and away!
What will be most significant about the 53rd Paris event? In 2017, the show brought together 2,381 international exhibitors, 142,000 trade visitors and 180,000 visitors from the general public. 140 aircraft were present, in both flying displays and exhibitions. However, the air display is only a sideshow compared to the real buzz taking place inside the halls. Thousands of B2B business meetings are expected, as the Airshow’s ‘meet the buyer’ event places more emphasis on suppliers networking with major primes to illustrate the fact that this event is keen to give the many SMEs some quality show time.
The industry’s order book pattern will be scrutinised too, and whilst many onlooker eyes will be trained on the skies, the hope is that once again, the cheque books will be out and the deals will get done.
As usual, timing is everything, and this year’s airshow will aim to catch both the next wave of innovation and the imagination of young engineers too. There will always be new aircraft launches - this event has seen it all. The International Paris Airshow continues to be a beacon of hope for the future of the all exhibitions we attend and the wealth of business successes they help to generate.