Air Transport World

Farnborough '84. (air show)

Farnborough--This year's celebration of the international aerospace industry by the society of British Aerospace companies--the Farnborough Air Show--presented a mixed atmosphere for the commercial air transport industry.

Manufacturers here are bouyed by the general economic recovery being experienced in the United States and elsewhere to a lesser extent, along with it positive impact on airline results and the prospect of an upturn in transport sales. But, at the same time, they are dismayed that the positive effects appear to be a long time in drifting down to the manufacturers.

Despite this, there are portents of new programs in the offing, current programs are continuing, and there are signs that further applications of new technology to the air transport industry may come soon, especially in propulsion systems. The general mood at Farnborough could best be described as cautiously upbeat.

The most serious signs of trouble were stirrings among some of the commuter/regional manufacturers that perhaps there are too many programs chasing too few sales prospects, that maybe the industry has overreacted to the so-called commuter boom in the United States. There was considerable evidence at Farnborough that many commuter/regional airframe manufacturers are hedging their bets and are rapidly trying to find new markets for commuter transports. This is a development that started some time ago, but this year's Farnborough show seemed to have more strange looking twin-engined transports with bulbous noses, missiles hanging from their wings and other such items often painted in camouflage, at least more than have appeared in recent air shows.

A significant departure from past Farnboroughs was the appearance of aircraft and representatives from the Soviet Union, a first for Farnborough. The Soviets for the first time since the crash of the Tupolev Tu-144 at Paris in 1973 flew their aircraft in display at a Western air show, exhibiting the abilities of the Antonov AN-72 STOL transport and Mil Mi-26 heavy lift helicopter.

The event, or unveiling, that seemed to cause most comment at this year's Farnborough show was General Electric's introduction of its new Unducted Fan development symbolized by an unveiling of a full-scale mockup complete with moving 12 ft. …

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