The air show was delayed for two years during the pandemic
This week saw the welcome return of the Farnborough Air Show. Running from 18-22 July, visitors were treated to displays, press releases, panel roundtables, exhibitions from the aviation industry, including aerospace, defense. Issues such as Environmental, Governance and Sustainability (ESG) were high on the agenda, with aircraft manufacturers and airlines promising smarter technology, cleaner fuel, and greener business. This means more room for highly fuel efficient and quieter aircraft, and hopefully less expensive to operate.
As an example, Airbus and CFM International are collaborating to flight test CFM’s cutting-edge open fan engine architecture on board an Airbus A380. The Flight Test Demonstrator is aimed to mature and accelerate the development of advanced propulsion technologies, as part of CFM’s Revolutionary Innovation for Sustainable Engine (RISE) demonstration programme.
“New propulsion technologies will play an important role in achieving aviation’s net-zero objectives, along with new aircraft designs and sustainable energy sources,” said Sabine Klauke, Airbus Chief Technical Officer.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, astronaut Tim Peake, and British Transport Secretary Grant Shapps visited the show in the first two days. The Prime Minister met some of the 1,500 exhibitors at one of the world’s biggest aerospace and defense trade shows. In a speech, Mr Johnson said: "I’m glad that I finally made it to Farnborough, this famous air show, in the climactic weeks of my time as Prime Minister."
The photos in this blog were taken over the five days, in a period in which we experienced the hottest day ever in the history of records in the UK (40.2C) on Tuesday July 19, followed by the obligatory rain showers. Hence why you seen a blue sky in some photos and a dark grey in others.
Were there many orders?
With this being the first show in four years (and with a delay due to the Pandemic), it seemed and came across as a quieter affair compared to previous shows. There wasn't the much anticipated fanfare that happened in previous years. But one thing was clear: Boeing seemed to do quite well in terms of orders. Though Airbus, meanwhile, managed to conduct just two sales on the premises of the airshow, one for the A220 and one for the A321neo. However, it had secured a big win just ahead of Farnborough, with China’s top three carriers ordering almost 300 A320 family aircraft on 1 July, 2022. This chart from AeroTime shows a breakdown of the orders made in this year's show, and Boeing has certainly made more orders in 2022:
The Boeing 737 MAX 10
The largest of the 737 MAX family, the Boeing 737 MAX 10, made its international debut at the Farnborough International Airshow 2022. During the show, the aircraft ran on a blend of sustainable aviation fuel. Before the show, Boeing had already received more than 3,300 net orders for 737 MAX narrow bodies, and kicked off the Farnborough Airshow with firm order signings with Delta Air Lines, Inc. for at least 100 Boeing 737 MAX 10 jets and with All Nippon Airways parent ANA Holdings for twenty 737 MAX 8s, along with two Boeing 777-8F cargo variants.
Also, Qatar Airways made official an order for 25 Boeing 737 MAX 10 aircraft, with options for a further 25 of the type. "We are honored that Qatar Airways has decided to add Boeing’s single-aisle family to its fleet, deepening our relationship with this world-class airline," said Stan Deal, President and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes. "The 737 MAX 10 is ideally suited for Qatar Airways’ regional network and will provide the carrier with the most capable, most fuel-efficient airplane in its class," he added. The order, worth $3.4 billion at list prices, capped a largely one-sided show dominated by Boeing's efforts to shore up the MAX 10, whose future lies partly in the hands of regulators and Congress.
Qatar Airways displayed its Boeing 777-300ER (FIFA World Cup 2022 Livery), 787-9 Dreamliner and Qatar Executive Gulfstream at the airshow.
The Boeing 737 MAX 10 leaves Farnborough after the show back to Seattle via Reykjavik. The 737 MAX 10 will continue test flights and obtain its type certificate before it can begin scheduled operations. The delay, caused by the problems of the 737 MAX 8 and the extended scrutiny of the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), is a major stumbling block in its commercialization. Photo Copyright Navjot Singh
The Boeing 777X
One of the highlights of 2022’s edition of the show was the huge Boeing 777X, the world’s largest and most efficient twin-engine jet, which the manufacturer showed off in both static and flying displays. With new breakthroughs in aerodynamics and engines, the 777X will deliver 10 percent lower fuel use and emissions and 10 percent lower operating costs than the competition. The 777X is based on the original 777, but is much larger, more powerful, and is ready to serve the next generation of long-haul air travel, and generally passengers prefer large aircraft, and this will not disappoint!
Even though the 777X has been delayed by over five years, we are in this interesting period where the airlines that were affected by the delay have almost got over that part now. The COVID-19 Pandemic, if anything, has helped that cause. With any new aircraft, airlines are usually cautious. It is going to be great for the passengers and great for the airlines, too!
Warm champagne anyone?
The show also saw the introduction of some interesting features that we may see. Thanks to the team at Turningleftforless for taking this video of a "Champagne on Demand" as demonstrated by Adient collaborating with Boeing to explore improved comfort, functionality of commercial aircraft seating and interiors. My mate, James Nixon (ex- A380 captain), queried "Why does any airline exec think passengers want to drink warm champagne?".
Airbus A350-900 XWB and the Airbus A220-300
Airbus brought its A350 test aircraft for display flights throughout the show. Also, Airbus showcased an ITA Airways A350-900 and an Air Baltic A220-300 aircraft on the ground.
Air Baltic's A220. One of the biggest orders for the aircraft came from Delta Air Lines, Inc. Delta Air Lines firmed up orders for 12 A220-300 aircraft, bringing Delta’s total firm order for A220s to 107 aircraft – 45 A220-100s and 62 A220-300s. The A220s will be powered by Pratt & Whitney GTF™ engines. Photo Copyright Navjot Singh
New British Airline: Hans Airways
Start-up carrier Hans Airways moved a step closer to launching flights between the UK and India, with the lease of an A330-200 aircraft and the start of crew training. According to the CEO, Satnam S. Saini, the aircraft is weeks away from launch.
The airline plans to launch flights between Birmingham airport and Amritsar as a key destination using an ex-Air Europa A330 and with a two class configuration – economy (branded Anand Class) with 274 seats and a seat pitch of 31 inches, and premium economy (Anand Plus) with 24 seats and a seat pitch of 56 inches.
Updating the media on progress Barry Humphries, CBE, Hans Airways’ board director and former head of air services policy at the UK Civil Aviation Authority, said:
“With the loss of flights operated by India’s Jet Airways and British inclusive tour operators Thomas Cook and Monarch Airlines, there is room for a third UK airline flying between UK and India (complementing British Airways and Virgin Atlantic.) All of us are working exceptionally hard and on schedule to be that third UK designated carrier.”
Supernal's eVTOL vehicle cabin
Black Eagles and the Boeing Stearman (Aerosuperbatics Wingwalkers)
Future is Boom?
Boom Supersonic announced the updated design of Overture with 4 engines. Carrying 65–80 passengers at twice the speed of today’s airliners, Overture will fly Mach 1.7 over water with a range of 4,250 nautical miles.
Boom further said that the new design is the culmination of 26 million core hours of simulated software designs, five wind tunnel tests, and the careful evaluation of 51 full design iterations resulting in an economically and environmentally sustainable supersonic airliner. Boom also announced a market-expanding alliance with Northrop Grumman to develop special mission variants for the U.S. Government and its allies.
The question here is, will it better what Concorde achieved and will passengers pay for and enjoy the experience? United Airlines have already proudly stated that they plan to offer services on Boom. But will it be a success? We shall see. Maybe a debut at future Farnborough Airshows?
Aircraft on display
The much anticipated annual World Travel Market, the leading global event for the travel industry, generating more than £2.8 billion of business contracts between attendees, opened it's doors to the media and invited guests in London at the London ExCel with a spectacular display of song, dance and plenty of glamour on the morning of the 6th of November. It's the key event for the world's travel and tourism industry, with practically the who's who of the industry coming together to discuss important issues, close important deals and reveal new product and service offerings in a world exclusive. Below are some exclusive snippets I gathered from the action-packed three-day event.
Here is what I had to say about the importance of attending the event:
BBC News anchor Aaron Haslehurst opened the event for the media with an overview of the year for the industry. He summarised that the industry is more optimistic in 2017/8 than last year with over £3 billion in business and is set to grow. He also revealed that Italy and Greece are actually enjoying the high growth of tourism despite Brexit happening, and this trend is set to continue. Photo Copyright Navjot Singh
Alex Cruz, the CEO of British Airways, gave an inspirational talk on his thoughts and strategy to make the national flag carrier a leading five-star airline while at the same time keep costs down. Despite being a tough year for the airline, Mr. Cruz is optimistic that 2018 will be a fruitful year for British Airways, and that cutting down on certain things, such as free in-flight food & beverages on European and Domestic routes is the correct thing to do because the majority of passengers would prefer that. Aviation experts predict that the introduction of paid services, such as in-flight Wi-Fi could also bring in extra income for airlines. Photo Copyright Navjot Singh
Cricket legends attend the WTM 2017
When the world comes to London!
China's economic growth will see a trend in the independent traveller- whereas before it used to be that group travel was popular in the country. Chinese visitors to the UK will also increase in the coming year. A particular reason is the awareness about global tourism generated in China via digital and social media platforms such as WeChat: Photo Copyright Navjot Singh
Slovenia, one of those countries that deserves more attention than they get. With great food, wine and spectacular views, this is a country that offers a lot for the tourist and is not that expensive either. Foodies delight, Slovenia will be a major hit list in 2018 according to industry experts. Photo Copyright Navjot Singh
THY Turkish Airlines had one of the biggest stands I have ever seen displayed by an airline. The award-winning airline has constantly been voted the best in Europe and offers more routes worldwide than any other airline...will they be the next Singapore Airlines? We shall see. Photo Copyright Navjot Singh
SAUDIA- Saudi Arabian Airlines unveiled new Business and First Class seats and products during the WTM 2017. They have ambitious plans to operate to over 200 routes by 2020 and maybe even plan more routes to London, a traditional destination for them, and to emerging markets such as India and China. Photo Copyright Navjot Singh
It doesn't get better than this. On our flight back from our honeymoon to Shanghai, we receveied a card signed by every member of the cabin crew and cockpit crew, and an announcement made over the PA- to the applause from the passengers. Quite a celebration and a joyful moment to remember for the rest of our lives: Photo Copyright Navjot Singh
Kuala Lumpur airport is located around 50kms from the city centre- you can either cough up a heavy taxi fare (around $40 one-way) or take a quick express train from the airport to central station. The KLIA Ekspres is a premium non-stop high-speed train service that connects KL International Airport(s) and the Kuala Lumpur city center and takes around 30-minutes. It is clean, air conditioned and makes the London Underground and the New York Subway system look like wagons from a century ago!: Photo Copyright Navjot Singh
Kuala Lumpur is the 13th busiest in the world and always seems to be empty. It's built about 50kms from the city and not quick to get to by all means, and is surrounded by forest. But forests mean green and green means hot. During approach pilots (and passengers) have to contend with turbulence due to the localised hot air rising from the canopy: Photo Copyright Navjot Singh
My wife and I would like to give a special thanks to Hong Kong based Passenger Services Officer, Ms. Koyi Wong from Cathay Dragon. After our flight was delayed from Shanghai Pudong to Hong Kong, we evidently ended up missing the HKG-KUL flight as well. Ms. Koyi Wong went out of her way to help us get not only onto our next flight, but also to make sure that our luggage arrived safely onto our next flight from Kuala Lumpur to Langkawi (which was with Malaysia Airlines on a different ticket).
Koyi is a customer service professional extraordinaire, and in all my travels so far I have never come across an airline personnel who genuinely goes out of their way to help passengers. If it was not for her, we would have missed our flight to Langkawi from KL and it would have occurred us extra charges and delays etc. She deserves a special mention in your company newsletter or similar communication materials and I hope she can become more successful in her career and life. There are some truly amazing people in the aviation industry and Ms. Koyi Wong is definitely one of them. Amazing human. I did not take her photo, but here is a photo of her badge, which she quite rightly deserves to wear with sheer pride. People like Koyi ALL work for airlines (except for the ones who work in hospitals...or ambulances...or rescue helicopters etc.). My hats off.
Airline pilots are apparently trained not to spill drinks while in-flight. Interestingly, after our flight was delayed by nearly three hours (they like to avoid the insurance claims, so the delays are always just below three hours!), these chaps were in such a rush to get me to my wedding in Yangzhou that we ended up spilling the drinks in-flight!
Dubai Airport at 1am...the world's jet lagged come here to do shopping at midnight. Yep, people love buying gold at night (like you do!)!
Wedding cake and card given by Emirates airline cabin crew on flight to Dubai from London. Great flight...photos on their camera came out better (yes, hard to believe that a PHOTOGRAPHER could not take his own photo!)...never had 12 crew surrounding my seat...what a celebration!: Photo Copyright Navjot Singh
There's a #Londonminute but also a #HongKongsecond, which is what I did on today. I flew from Shanghai to Hong Kong to London, stayed in London for 10 hours, and then flew out back to Shanghai that night! Makes me realise how globally connected we all are - we're only an email or a flight away from everyone!. #london #hongkong Definitely the shortest time I've ever flown to a city!
Time to go back to Shanghai (via Hong Kong)...def will beat DHL to get my parcel to the British Embassy- as that would have taken 3 days...quickest turnaround...12 hours of running around London getting errands done (including a quickfire shopping trip to Harrods) and 8 hours of bliss sleep thanks to a great book by James (read his book...perfect for long-haul flights and short stopovers!). Ciao London...
I first met James on an Emirates A380 flight from Dubai to London Heathrow (Callsign ‘EK003 heavy’- click here to view the review of that flight) in 2011. He was our Senior First Officer and was kind enough to take a few photos for me from the flight deck using my camera (my camera was allowed in, but not I!). We had an amazing crew on that flight, and the senior purser was a good bloke. Upon hearing that I was a photographer and journalist, he replied “Oh, our senior pilot is also a photographer and author- let me speak to him and see if he can lend you his book”. The guy gave me his book for the whole flight…best in-flight reading I have ever done! After we landed at a windy Heathrow, the senior purser (who somehow also doubled as a good salesman), asked me “So, what do you think? Would you like to buy it?” I burst into laughter….I thought it was a free gift from James!
Ever since that flight, we have been good mates. I can say that he comes across as a very friendly and customer-focused person- which is a rare to find in the aviation industry these days. Reading his blog posts and his Facebook posts, you get the feeling that he is a true aviator and not just a pilot- he calls his planes girlfriends…I mean, you can’t really get much more love out of your job than that! He makes you wish you were a pilot, even if you are not into aviation and even if you have no love for planes whatsoever! James has always provided me with great advice about flying and I have cherished that advice. We met again in Dubai in 2015. This time he was preparing for his simulator test for his command course on the Airbus A380. It was at that time that he told me of his retirement plans. I was quite sad and surprised to hear it.
James’ last flight, EK407, was on the 24th of September from Melbourne (MEL) to Dubai (DXB) on aircraft registration A6-EDY, arriving early in the morning in Dubai. I cannot begin to imagine what he must be going through at this time, knowing that he will never fly ever again. His career has been nothing short of an exemplary one for those who want to enter the challenging but rewarding world of aviation.
He will be writing books in his retirement on subjects related to aviation (while downing a few well-deserved daiquiris in Boracay, no doubt!). Click here to read a review I wrote for one of his books in sleeping for pilots and other insomniacs!
In his own words, just before this last commercial flight out of Melbourne for Dubai, the great Melbournian said on Facebook: “They say pilots only love the plane they're flying ... And they remember only two flights, the last one they did and their first solo. Thanks, Peter Nelson, for sending me solo in 1985 ... Will never forget it!”.
After a remarkable career of thirty-one and a half years that many can only dream of having, I am sure he will be yearning to fly again soon! Mate, you are really an inspiration to many and it has been an absolute pleasure to know you as a mate. Here’s cheers to a very well-deserved and happy retirement!
Below is a recording of James' interview on Melbourne's Radio 3AW with Darren James
On 3 August 2016, a Boeing 777-300 aircraft, registration A6-EMW, belonging to Emirates Airline, was operating a scheduled passenger flight, numbered EK521, and departed Trivandrum International Airport (VOTV), India at 0506am local time for Dubai International Airport (OMDB), the United Arab Emirates (UAE). At approximately 0837am local time, the aircraft impacted the runway during an attempted go-around at Dubai. There were a total of 300 people on-board the aircraft, comprising of 282 passengers, two flight crew members, and 16 cabin crew members. However, the UAE's General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) was very sad to announce that one of the firefighters lost his life while saving the lives of the others.
Jassim Isa Al Balushi managed to rescue 300 lives, but in doing so, he lost his own. The brave firefighter sustained fatal injuries after helping put out the flames during rescue operations, the report said. His valiant efforts, however, were not in vain, as everyone on board escaped from the burning jet alive—including 282 fliers and 12 cabin staff. Once everyone evacuated, the aircraft exploded and burst into flames and Al Balushi was unfortunately caught in the blaze.
The initial report into the incident has shown the pilot had tried to abandon the landing after the main wheels of the Boeing 777-300 had already touched down.
When such accidents happen, it is always best to wait for the investigators to do their job and publish the report, rather than listen to so many so-called 'aviation experts' on the TV and the internet because most of them are just guessing and have little or no idea on what the truth of the matter is.
The official Preliminary Report has been published by the GCAA of the UAE. Click here to get it from their official website.
My latest article is about Beijing's hutongs, for the August issue of Qryx, the in-flight magazine for Qatar Airways (the world's 5-star airline).
Flying from London Gatwick Airport to Madrid International Airport with Iberia Express at night rewards passengers with priceless views of the city.
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