Paris Preview: What to Expect Next Week at Le Bourget

Solar Impulse, Eurocopter X3, and Boeing 747-8 all to make debuts.

Paris Air Show

Paris Air Show

This year’s Paris Air Show is shaping up to be one of the biggest ever as the beleaguered aerospace and defense industries look to rebound after 2009’s running of the international air salon came up far short in terms of orders booked and deals announced.** **

Highlights at the show, which runs June 20 to 26 at Le Bourget Airport on the outskirts of Paris, will include a visit by Solar Impulse, a solar-powered airplane that is igniting imaginations for what the future of aviation might hold. Eurocopter plans to fly its X3, an experimental compound helicopter capable of flying at 220 knots thanks to power from a pair of forward-facing turboprops mounted on pods on each side of the fuselage.

The industry will also be keeping an eye out on the debut of Boeing's 747-8, the latest version of its long-running widebody jumbo jet, which has been in development for more than six years. As usual, this year’s Paris show should feature a heavy barrage of barbs between cross-Atlantic competitors Boeing and Airbus, with industry watchers eagerly trying to predict which company will come out on top in an escalating global sales race.

The big winner at Paris 2011, however, could be Bombardier, now that the Canadian company’s long-anticipated C Series regional jet is winning orders and gaining market traction.

Check back next week for all the top news from the show.