Boeing stopped performing airshow flight demonstrations 28 years ago, citing the safety risks involved in putting an airliner through maneuvers better suited to fighters and aerobatic airplanes. That all changed this week at the Farnborough International Airshow in England with impressive routines by the Boeing 787 Dreamliner that showed off the advanced jet’s capabilities to the delight of showgoers.
Boeing said it took every precaution to ensure the daily routines were flown safely, but the company also admitted that the show program became more aggressive once the 787’s pilots realized they would have to tighten their turns to avoid noise-sensitive areas around the Farnborough airport. The result was performances more memorable than any flown by a commercial airliner at a major airshow in recent years.
One of the highlights of the routine was an impressive touch-and-go about midway through the performance, in which the 787 in Qatar Airways livery touches down on Farnborough’s nearly 8,000-foot-long main runway before raising its nose steeply and rising into the sky again. Airshow flight demonstrations by Boeing archrival Airbus are typically much more conservative.
It is unclear whether this week’s performances by the 787 signals a return to regular airshow flying for Boeing, but given the positive public exposure the company gained at Farnborough, we wouldn’t be surprised to see the Dreamliner become a regular on the international airshow circuit.