International Paris Airshow 2005 Review
Monday 13th June - Sunday 19th June
The 46th International Paris Airshow saw the renewal of the intense rivalries of Dassault (Rafale), Eurofighter (Typhoon), and Saab/BAE Systems (Gripen), competing for the fourth generation multirole fighter market, with Airbus and Boeing going head to head for the attention of the world's purchasing airlines. In particular, Europe's premier aerospace trade show for 2005 was all about the Airbus A380. Gallic flair (read French organisational incompetence), failed to dampen the spirits of the visitors to this benchmark occasion.
was lured into a trip to Le Bourget, to see the flying behemoth for himself. All photography by the author.
Upon arrival at Le Bourget for the 2005 Salon, it was apparent that the organising powers of the French were not what they could be. This year saw the implementing of a superb (on paper!) entry system, in which every visitor was equipped with a bar-coded page, which had been emailed to them and printed out. These were collected by one of the couriers (for speed of processing?). He then took them away to the machine to be read, and then gave them to his "helpers"to give back to their rightful owners.
The ensuing disorder and chaos due to the fact that they couldn't pronounce most of the names on the sheets correctly, and no ID was asked for, is one of the best French comedies I have seen. Jaques Tati at his most inventive couldn't have dreamt of a more technologically challenged (in these security conscious times) scenario.
I managed to get my sheet eventually, and headed towards the static park. The layout was much like any other Trade show, with barriers etc. specially placed so you can't see too much of the planes without clutter. A feature of the Salon is that most of the aircraft participating in the flying display are towed from the static. This was to cause difficulties later.
It was the first opportunity for most of the attendees to view the A380 at first hand. Even folk, whose heads are not usually turned by today's "designed by calculus,"anonymous (except for the paint jobs) airliners, could fail to be impressed by the engineering that has gone into the great white hope of the European aerospace industry.
Choosing a different approach (moving more folk more efficiently) to their main rivals Boeing - with their 787 Dreamliner (moving a "standard"number of folk further) - is a gamble of which the outcome will only become evident as the years roll by. What struck me on looking at the thing close up was how far off the ground the doors were on the top deck.
One disappointment was that the soon to be retired Mirage IVP, with its snazzy paint job, was shoehorned into a corner and took no part in the flying that day. The main problem with photography of the display at Le Bourget usually is the distance of the runway from the crowd line. At least some decent taxiing shots can usually be taken.
The regular crowd position was denied this year by the need to manoeuvre three large aircraft (A380, A340-600 and A319,) for the Airbus segment of the flying display. This resulted in having to watch most of the display from the back of the static park. To give some idea of the difficulty caused, it was like viewing the flying display at Farnborough from behind the chalets!
Attendance wise, exhibitors and visitors, the show was the largest yet. A welcome return was made by the Russians in the form of the Sukhoi Su27SMK, after settling their difference of opinion with some Swiss bankers.
Unexpected items in the display were a few passes by the Breitling Lockheed Constellation, and a Tanker Air Carrier DC10 performing a spectacular water bombing demonstration.
Apart from the A380, new types debuting at the show were the Aermacchi M346, Embraer 195, Dassault Falcon 7x, Boeing 777-200LR and Gulfstream G550. Would I bother going again? Probably not!