LONDON — The slow global economic recovery and sharp cuts to national defense budgets are expected to blow a chill wind through the Farnborough International Airshow next week.
But there are some glimmers of light amid the austerity gloom as planemakers, government ministers and military top brass gather for one of the aviation and defense industry's premier events.
There's buzz about the debut of two of the world's most long-anticipated aircraft — the Boeing 787 and the Airbus A400M — and likely commercial plane orders from buyers in the Middle East and Asia.
More than 1,000 exhibitors from 38 countries have signed up to take part in the weeklong event showcasing commercial and defense aircraft. Delegations from Egypt, Taiwan and Morocco will be attending for the first time, while organizers also cited stronger interest from major players China and Russia.
Analysts expect the event to be more upbeat than last year's sister show in Le Bourget outside Paris as the global economy staggers back to its feet.
"The show is a little too soon to see a huge rise of orders, but there'll probably be more than Paris," said Forecast International analyst Raymond Jaworowski.
Boeing, which suffered a setback on the eve of the show by revealing that delivery of the already long-delayed 787 may be set back yet again, this week predicted that the global airline industry will need $3.6 trillion in new aircraft over the next 20 years.
The Geneva-based International Air Transport Association has forecast that global industry profits will reach $2.5 billion this year, an upturn from the $9.4 billion loss in 2009.
Analysts expect Asia and North America to lead the recovery, with Europe lagging behind. Strikes at some airlines, the debt crisis and the volcanic ash cloud that caused major disruptions this spring are all hurting Europe's recovery.
Analysts are instead expecting Middle Eastern and Asian buyers to put up some money. Emirates airline, the largest in the Gulf states, has indicated it would announce new orders at Farnborough after surprising many with a repeat order last month for 32 Airbus A380 superjumbos. There is also an expectation that Qatar Airways will sign a deal to equip a new low-cost carrier in the region.
But Boeing this week downplayed the likelihood of big deals at Farnborough, stressing it didn't save up orders for international shows — a dig at major rival Airbus' tendency in recent years to announce a block of attention-grabbing announcements at Farnborough and Le Bourget.
"At the end of the day, what matters is where we are at the end of the year, or over the longer term," said Randy Tinseth, Boeing Commercial Airplanes vice president for marketing.
Potentially of more interest to industry watchers are the emerging signs that the old duopoly of Chicago-based Boeing and EADS-owned Airbus in the commercial planemaking market is on the wane, particularly in the lucrative single-aisle, narrow-body sector.
Boeing and Airbus currently account for more than two thirds of output and 40 percent of sales in the sector, but smaller rivals are stepping up — Canada's Bombardier picked up a strong 80-plane order earlier this year from Republic Airways Holding for its C-Series.
"The win at Republic is a wake up call for Airbus and Boeing," said Adam Pilarski, an aviation economist with Washington, D.C.-based consulting firm Avitas.
Damien Lasou, managing director at Accenture's Aerospace and Defense Industry Group in Paris, said analysts would be watching to see whether Bombardier develops the C-Series, which is on track for its first delivery in 2013, into a fully fledged family of planes.
"The aircraft is improving a lot of parameters like direct maintenance and fuel efficiency, but it's not with just one product you can satisfy the big airlines," he said.