The Farnborough International Airshow 2018

Features - FIA 2018

Orders set record despite lowered expectations.

August 17, 2018

The 2018 edition of the Farnborough International Airshow defied the expectation that the current boom had to end – or at least slow. Instead, it posted $192 billion in deals, an increase of $67.5 billion from the 2016 Airshow. Hardware orders tallied more than 1,400 commercial aircraft, valued at $154 billion, and engine orders surpassed 1,432 units, worth $21.96 billion.

Coming 37 weeks before the anxiously awaited Brexit, the U.K. show attracted its largest global attendance from approximately 100 countries and record- setting Chinese presence, according to its organizers. The number of trade visitors rose nearly 10% compared to previous years, with more than 80,000 visitors passing through the gates.

Civil and military delegations grew by 20%, with a total of 156, and military delegations increased 30%, to 133. Airline customers attending rose 163%.

A conference program covered topics including a return to supersonic flight; governance in space; and the intelligent, connected aero engine. Aerospace 4.0 was the show’s take on Industry 4.0, an exhibition focused on the fourth industrial revolution.


Only weeks after taking majority control in marketing the Bombardier CSeries jetliner, Airbus debuted the rebranded plane, the A220, as part of the company’s expanded portfolio. The former 100-to-135-seat CS100 and 130-to-160-seat CS300 are now the A220-100 and A220-300.

One A220 flew in the aircraft demonstrations while another was part of Airbus’ extensive ground display.

JetBlue became the first Airbus A220-300 customer with a memorandum of understanding signed days before the show for 60 firm orders. No examples of the smaller Airbus A220-100 aircraft were ordered during Farnborough.

By comparison, the single-aisle Airbus A320/321 family chalked up 201 firm orders and letters of intent during the show’s first day while widebody A350 orders totaled 27. The modest number prompted Airbus Chief Commercial Officer Eric Schulz to say, “I continue to be quite confident for the widebody market picking up again in the next 18 months to two years. I see the market starting to accelerate again, particularly in Asia.”

Boeing made news by forecasting a $15 trillion commercial airplane and services market throughout the next 20 years. The company’s Commercial Market Outlook (CMO) projects demand for 42,730 new jets – up 4.1% from the previous forecast – valued at $6.3 trillion, with services adding $8.8 trillion.

Increasing passenger traffic and upcoming commercial airplane retirements will drive the global airplane fleet expansion and support demand for aviation services.

The Asia Pacific region will account for 40% of total airplane deliveries and 38% of total services value. North America and Europe round out the top three.

Randy Tinseth, Boeing’s commercial marketing vice president, notes that by the mid-2020s, more than 500 airplanes a year will reach 25 years of age – double the current rate – fueling the retirement wave. Tinseth says 44% of the new airplanes will cover replacements, with the rest supporting future growth.

The single-aisle segment will have the most growth, mainly driven by low-cost regional carriers in Asia, with a demand for 31,360 new airplanes. The forecast for widebody jets requires 8,070 new airplanes through the next 20 years as airlines expand global networks.

Cargo aircraft were a Farnborough focus, and Boeing projects the need for 980 new production widebody freighters during the forecast period, up 60 airplanes from last year. The outlook also includes a need for 1,670 converted freighters. The cargo market’s strength was underscored by more than 50 Boeing freighter orders and commitments at the show.

Before the show, Airbus released its updated Global Market Forecast with a similar prediction that the world’s passenger fleet will more than double to 48,000 aircraft in 20 years. Airbus officials anticipate traffic growing at 4.4% per year will drive a need for 37,400 new passenger and freighter aircraft valued at $5.8 trillion.

Embraer officials announced sales, options, and letters of intent (LoIs) for 300 aircraft, valued at $15.3 billion. Republic Airlines officials signed a letter of intent for a firm order of 100 E175 jets, with the right to convert to E175-E2 aircraft, and purchase rights for an additional 100 E175 aircraft. United Airlines ordered 25 E175 regional jets. Mauritania Airlines, NAC, Helvetic Airways, Wataniya, and Azul also placed orders.

Embraer firm orders totaled 37 aircraft, according to aviation industry analysis firm IBA. When LoIs are included, Embraer’s commitments rise to 176 aircraft with options for 124 aircraft.

Engine deals

GE Aviation and its joint venture CFM International, a 50/50 company of GE and Safran Aircraft Engines, received more than $22 billion in orders and commitments for its jet engines, services, avionics, and digital offerings at Farnborough. Engine orders and commitments included more than 850 LEAP and CFM56 engines, 250 CF34 engines, close to 100 GE90-115B engines, and almost 50 GEnx engines. CFM International’s orders and commitments by themselves have a total value of $15.7 billion at list price. CFM has won more than 2,200 engines orders for 2018.;

At the 2018 Farnborough Airshow, Pratt & Whitney officials announced its Geared Turbofan (GTF) engines will power the 60 Airbus A220 aircraft ordered, with the first aircraft scheduled for delivery in 2021. China Aircraft Leasing Group Holdings Ltd. (CALC) signed a contract for P&W GTF engines to power 18 firm-order A320neo family aircraft, and Air Transat selected GTF engines to power 17 firm-order A321neo family aircraft from AerCap. Aircraft deliveries are scheduled to begin in 2019.

Above: Airbus A220-300 debut. Left: Air cargo was a focus at this year’s show. Below: spectators watch from the newly renovated Hall 1.

Services market grows

Airbus introduced SmartForce, digital support services that use data-driven intelligence to improve the operational readiness of company-built aircraft and helicopters flown by military customers. SmartForce builds on Airbus’ Skywise aviation data platform for operators of its commercial jetliners and the H-Care Connected Services for helicopter users to perform root-cause analysis and develop faster troubleshooting methods.

Boeing officials announced services orders and agreements worth up to $2.1 billion that span commercial and government customers. Its Global Services’ capabilities cover supply chain; engineering, modifications and maintenance; digital aviation and analytics; and training and professional services.

During the next 20 years, Boeing forecast an $8.8 trillion market for commercial aviation services with annual growth of 4.2%. Aviation services range from supply chain support (parts and parts logistics), to maintenance and engineering services, to aircraft modifications, to airline operations.

Boeing VP Randy Tinseth says, “We see a market in which airlines outsource more and more, a market in which data and data analytics help aircraft and airline networks become more efficient and reliable, and a market in which new technologies provide new services solutions. All of these trends drive greater demand for integrated solutions over the life of an airplane.”

U.S. Army Chinook crew watches an Airbus A330neo aerial demonstration.

Major categories in the services forecast include a $2.3 trillion market for maintenance and engineering, which covers tasks required to maintain or restore the airworthiness of an aircraft and its systems, components, and structures. Another major category is a $1.1 trillion market for flight operations, which covers services associated with the flight deck, cabin services, crew training and management, and airplane operations.

GE Aviation and Microsoft are joining forces to accelerate digital transformation of aviation, aimed at delivering more robust solutions for the industry.

GE Aviation will become the exclusive provider of Teradata products and services for commercial aviation markets, providing a single, comprehensive framework that combines high-performance analytics in the cloud from Teradata with edge-connectivity services from GE Aviation.

Arconic’s display

Regional aircraft leasing firm Nordic Aviation Capital (NAC) and GE Aviation officials signed a memorandum of understanding for a 10-year TrueChoice Flight Hour agreement for its CF34-10E engine fleet. Under the agreement, NAC will offer GE Aviation-provided maintenance, repair, and overhaul services to its CF34-10E lessees.

About the author: Eric Brothers is senior editor of Aerospace Manufacturing and Design and can be reached at or 216.393.0228.