The state’s aviation industry will be on display to the world next week in France at the Paris Air Show, the world’s largest aerospace show.
It’s the 50th Paris Air Show, which will be held at the Le Bourget Airport outside Paris. That’s where Charles Lindbergh landed after his historic transatlantic flight in 1927.
The show, which is every two years, will run Monday through Sunday.
The first four days are open only to trade visitors, followed by three days for the general public.
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Wichita will showcase a wide variety of products and expertise, including an attack aircraft, metal finishing services, structures and parts manufacturing, pilots’ checklist binders and research abilities.
Beechcraft Corp., Bombardier Aerospace and Spirit AeroSystems are among the 2,215 exhibitors signed up to display products and services at the sprawling show.
Cessna Aircraft will be missing this year. It will not have aircraft on display, a company spokeswoman said.
The Wichita Greater Economic Development Coalition and the Kansas Department of Commerce will market Kansas and the region at an exhibit inside the U.S. Pavilion.
They will share space with six of the area’s suppliers, including Aerobind, Apex Engineering , CE Machine, Exacta Aerospace, HM Dunn and the Metal Finishing Co.
“We continue to fly the Air Capital flag,” said Tammy Nolan, marketing director for the GWEDC. “That’s our primary role. ... We’re there to show our supply chain and show all the great reasons Wichita is still the Air Capital. We want to meet with some new international companies as well and help make some new introductions.”
Gov. Sam Brownback, Kansas Secretary of Commerce Pat George and John Tomblin, head of Wichita State University’s National Institute for Aviation Research, plan to attend the air show.
“I’m excited about going to it,” said Brownback, who will host an event at 3 p.m. Tuesday at the Kansas Pavilion Hall 31, Stand B79.
Last year’s Farnborough Air Show resulted in the successful recruitment of a company to Kansas, he said, but the details have not yet been announced.
“The industry is on the upswing,” Brownback said. “Wichita is on the upswing. It’s a good time to be going.”
In Kansas, 30,000 people are employed in the avaiation industry, and it’s home to 200 suppliers.
“I think our integrated position is more competitive than anybody in the world,” Brownback said. “The entire structure is here. There’s no place else in the world that has that. We have to go sell that.”
Brownback touted changes to the state’s tax structure, which he said has helped improve the business climate.
“With our improved business environment, skilled workforce and strong economic development tools, Kansas is an attractive place for aviation and aviation-related companies to expand,” Brownback said.
“It’s one more opportunity to demonstrate how important aviation is to our market and how much experience we bring to international companies,” Nolan of the GWEDC said.
Many of the suppliers have some great contacts, but they don’t always have the opportunity to meet with them face to face, Nolan said. The Paris Air Show gives them that chance.
Spirit reaches out
Spirit AeroSystems will host a booth and a chalet at the show.
“Our main business purpose for major air shows is always to have high-level meetings with our customers, potential customers, partners and suppliers,” said Spirit spokesman Ken Evans.
Spirit is hosting a smaller reception than in previous years and bringing a smaller contingent of employees, Evans said.
That’s consistent with the company’s business strategy to become more efficient as it responds to rising demand from customers, Evans said.
Busy at Beechcraft
Beechcraft Corp. is highlighting its military products, including the T-6, AT-6 and King Air aircraft.
“It’s a huge international venue,” said Russ Bartlett, president of Beechcraft Defense Co., Beechcraft’s military unit. “We get more done there in four days, more engagement opportunities, densely packed into a four-day opportunity than you could do independently (going) country to country or having them come here. It’s a high payoff for us.”
The company has been preparing for the show for at least four months.
“We’ve got a very busy schedule, and I’m really excited about all the folks that are coming to see airplanes,” Bartlett said.
It’s the first time Beechcraft will be displaying its AT-6 light attack aircraft loaded with a “bunch of very impressive representative weapons” in collaboration with Beechcraft’s weapons provider, he said.
The company will also have on display its special mission demonstrator, a King Air 350. A King Air owned by French customs will also be on static display at the exhibit.
Bombardier will host a chalet, static display of products and a pavilion featuring its CSeries airliner.
“We arrive at the Paris Air Show at a very exciting time in our company’s history," Guy Hachey, president and chief operating officer of Bombardier Aerospace, said in a statement. “With a number of important milestones close on the horizon, including the first CSeries aircraft flight, we’re taking this opportunity to connect with many of our stakeholders, share our enthusiasm for the future and showcase the great progress we are making on product development, our international growth and our commitment to leadership in customer satisfaction.”
Industry experts expect lots of announcements from the major aviation players.
“W look for an upbeat Paris Air Show with potential for positive news,” Cowen and Co. analyst Cai von Rumohr wrote in an analyst report.
‘Plenty of headlines’
Boeing and Airbus, for example, announced firm orders for 928 airplanes this year. The companies could announce additional orders at the show with announcements also likely from Bombardier for CSeries jets and by Embraer, von Rumohr wrote.
Boeing could also launch the 787-10X, a derivative of its 787, at the show, he wrote.
The launch would likely increase 787 production rates from 10 a month to 12 per month.
Boeing said it will host a series of media briefings, including an update on its commercial aircraft along with briefings on the V-22 Osprey, twin-aisle development and the 737 MAX, an upgraded 737 with new engines.
Peter Arment, an aerospace and defense analyst with Sterne Agee, said he expects companies to place orders exceeding $60 billion at the show, confirming that global demand remains healthy given the need to replace aging fleets, satisfy growth in emerging regions and add more fuel-efficient planes to airline fleets.
That $60 billion doesn’t include the orders for 787-10 or the 777X should Boeing launch the two programs at the air show. When they’re launched, the programs could add another $20 billion to the order book, Arment said.
“The show will also see plenty of headlines for engine developments/orders, avionics enhancements, health of aftermarket demand, production rate increases, partnering for success within the supply chain, etc.,” he wrote. “OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) will further highlight the strong backdrop for aircraft demand fueled by aging replacement needs, up-gauging aircraft size in narrow-body market, emerging market capacity requirements and low cost carriers’ global expansion.”
Globally, air traffic continues to grow faster than capacity, he said, and utilization rates are robust with high load factors.
“A bullish show for all, except the cargo guys,” Arment wrote.