Farnborough Set To Come in Hot—and Cheap?

With record-setting temps, a full roster of new aircraft, and a low pound-to-dollar ratio, FIA22 opens in the UK.

The a/c in the massive tents that cover the grounds at Farnborough International Airport for the week of its biennial airshow may be the best spot in town to weather the record heat wave that threatens the U.K. with temperatures predicted to soar above 100 degrees Fahrenheit/40 degrees Celsius.

But folks will have to step outside to catch the main reason why many pilots strive to attend the show—those brand-new and still-in-development transport category jets that put on a marvelous aerial display not seen anywhere else. While we may have EAA AirVenture at Oshkosh, Wisconsin, each year and amazing performers twirling across the skies, the airspace over these Hampshire hills throbs with the string of massive airliners—otherwise rarely deviating from straight and level—that swoop in for steep turns after low passes.

First Time Since 2019 in Paris

The aerospace industry has not gathered at Farnborough or its sister event, the Paris Air Show, for three years because of the COVID-19 pandemic. So, we expect exhibitors to go all out in their quest to entice new customers and entertain old friends.

The show, which runs from July 18 through 22, is open only to the trade on the first days of the event, after which it opens to the public—those who purchase a pass—on Friday. For those visiting from the U.S., you’ll have the benefit of some of the lowest pound-to-dollar and euro-to-dollar exchange rates in recent history. Is it low enough to pick up a shiny new A321neo? Probably not. But we can dream.

The schedule gives you the highlights, but here are a few of our favorite picks to catch whether you’re on site (and trying to stay cool) or watching online.

The Airplanes

Pilots love airplanes—and for some, only the big ones will do. And Airbus, Boeing [NYSE: BA], and Embraer [NYSE: ERJ] will have their flagship new models open (many by appointment only) to tour. Look for these headliners, some of which had already arrived earlier this week:

  • Airbus A220-300
  • Airbus 350-900 Innovation Demonstrator
  • Boeing 737 Max 10
  • Boeing 777X
  • Embraer E190-E2
  • Embraer E195-E2

However, the more intriguing aircraft may not be the biggest on the static display, but those that the various OEMs have brought in to showcase their bids towards a more sustainable future.

In all seriousness—when FLYING last visited in 2016, we saw the Airbus E-Fan prototype two-seat electric aircraft, dwarfed next to its big brother, the A380, flying high in the Flying Display aerial demonstrations. We expect this area—electric- and hybrid-powered aircraft—to be bustling, with aircraft like the VoltAero hybrid-powered Cessna 337-H scheduled to fly on Monday and Friday. 

There’s no doubt you’ll find exciting projects amongst the 1,500 exhibitors from roughly 96 countries around the world.

The Deals

The heart of the action takes place not necessarily over the runways, but in the deals that are traditionally made throughout the show. More than $192 billion in new business was booked at the last FIA, in 2018, according to the organization. More than 80,000 trade visitors are anticipated at this year’s show, which is projected to benefit from the rebounding economy and pent up enthusiasm to get out and meet in person—and travel.

With Boeing’s ongoing challenges getting past the Max problem, will Airbus continue its strong lead in the orders department? What will Embraer post? And what about bizav heavyweights, such as Gulfstream, Dassault, and Textron Aviation [NYSE: TXT]? We’ll be reporting on the action as it unfolds next week.

The Zones—and More

Aside from the Flying Display, probably the most intriguing parts of the show lie in a couple of the designated zones where you can get your hands on—and head around—the latest in aerospace technology. The Space Zone and the Research & Development Zone are particular favorites, as are the new-in-2018 FINN Sessions, that take a deep dive into specific issues and topics. 

Hands-on fun on Friday for young people takes place in the Pioneers of Tomorrow showcase, with activities tracing the broad range of STEAM skills.

Getting There

Whether you come in by train from London (35 minutes from London’s Waterloo station) or drive in on the M3—or fly yourself into EGLF—access to the event is fairly straightforward.

Parking is free and shuttle buses run from the lots to the event—though lines for them as well as for going through security can be long. Bring water—especially this year—and some form of sun protection, such as a hat or umbrella. And sunscreen. This won’t be the Costa del Sol–but it may feel like it.

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