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Here's what you missed from the biggest airline gathering of the year

July 21, 2022
10 min read
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The Farnborough Airshow began to wind down on Thursday, marking a successful end — sort of — to the first major European airshow since before the pandemic.

While the show at the Farnborough Airport (FAB) about 30 miles southwest of London is primarily from Monday to Wednesday, many exhibitors and potential customers remain on site through the week, closing deals or going over details and showing off new products. On Friday, the airshow opens to the public for prime views of the flying display.

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More deals are possible — several were announced Thursday morning — and some deals that weren't finalized during the show could come in the next few weeks. But for now, Farnborough is pretty much a wrap.

Aircraft sales At Farnborough

All in all it was a fairly tame show, as far as these things go. An uncertain supply chain, instability in global markets, a looming recession, and notable sales already inked in recent years made for a relatively quiet round of orders at this show. In some ways, it served as a chance for manufacturers to meet with suppliers and work towards stabilizing supply chains.

Even so, there were some big and notable sales.

The show opened on Monday with a blockbuster deal between Delta Air Lines and Boeing for an order of 100 of the new 737 MAX 10, with options for 30 more.

Delta and Boeing executives sign an order deal for 100 737 MAX 10 aircraft plus options. (Photo by David Slotnick/The Points Guy)

It was Delta's first order placed with Boeing since 2011, and would see planes start to be delivered in 2025.

The MAX 10 and the smaller MAX 7 are still in the process of being certified by the FAA, but a new law that goes into effect at the end of this year has complicated the process

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AvGeek delight: A look inside Boeing’s 737 MAX factory

The 2020 law requires all newly certified plane types to have a new type of cockpit alerting system, which the two MAX models do not have. Adding that system to the MAX 7 and -10 models would be costly for Boeing and would negate the variants’ commonality with previous 737 MAX and NG models, a major selling point for the plane. In essence, it would be considered a different plane type rather than a variant.

If the plane is not certified by year’s end, Boeing would need Congress to waive the requirement in order to be able to sell the variants without the new system, although the Delta order could add pressure on Congress to issue the waiver or grant an extension. The MAX 7 is further along in the certification process than the -10.

(Photo by David Slotnick/The Points Guy)

The Delta deal represents a double-win for Boeing: It marks a sale of an important model while opening relations with a customer with which it otherwise had an empty order book. And, with another U.S. airline awaiting the uncertified MAX models, it adds pressure to Congress to grant the extension and provide a degree of certainty to the U.S. companies.

But the Delta deal wasn't Boeing's only big sale of the show.

Boeing also announced a deal with Qatar Airways for 25 of the MAX 10 on Thursday, after the main portion of a show came to a close.

On Monday, Boeing also finalized a previously announced deal with Japan’s All Nippon Airlines (ANA) for 20 737 MAX 8s with options for 10 more. ANA also said it was converting two outstanding 777-9 passenger orders into 777-8 Freighters.

On Tuesday, Boeing announced an order from 777 Partners, a private equity firm that owns stakes in several airlines, for 30 of the high-capacity 737 MAX 8-200 variant with options for 36 more. Coupled with earlier orders, that brings 777 Partners’ order book potentially as high as 134 MAX aircraft, if the options are exercised. The investment firm has ownership stakes in Canadian ULCC Flair and new Australian carrier Bonza.

Also on Tuesday, Boeing finalized an order for 12 additional 737 MAX 8 jets to airplane lessor Aviation Capital Group, adding to 22 previously ordered.

AvGeek delight: A look inside Boeing’s 737 MAX factory

In terms of wide-bodies, the show was quieter, but Boeing still inked a deal with aircraft lessor AerCap for five additional 787-9 Dreamliners, and signed a memorandum of understanding with Azerbaijan Airlines for four new 787-8s.

The company also sold several Boeing 737-800BCF freighter conversions, including nine to lessor BBAM Limited Partnership and three to partners Aircompany Armenia and Georgian Airlines.

It was a quieter show for Airbus, though the company managed a few notable sales.

Delta firmed up options for 12 additional A220-300s, bringing its total order of the larger A220 variant to 62 aircraft.

A Boeing 777-9 test bed prepares to fly at the Farnborough Air Show. (Photo by David Slotnick/The Points Guy)

EasyJet, meanwhile, ordered 56 A320neo family aircraft, which included the upsizing of 18 previous A320neo orders to the larger A321neo. On Thursday, LATAM ordered 17 A321neos, bringing its order book up to 100 A320neo-family aircraft, and said that it plans to include the longer-range A321XLR in its order book.

Brazilian regional jet-maker Embraer secured two orders on Tuesday: One with Canadian airline Porter for 20 additional E195-E2 jets, converting options from a 2021 order, and one with Alaska Airlines regional carrier Horizon Air for eight E175s with options for 13 more.

On Wednesday, Embraer signed an memorandum of understanding with Nordic Aviation Capital (NAC) for two E190F converted freighters, which will go to Astral Aviation in Nairobi, Kenya.

The new Boom Supersonic

The airshow did not see any new commercial aircraft announced, but there was still one notable reveal: Boom Supersonic unveiled the new design for its upcoming Overture passenger aircraft.

(Rendering courtesy of Boom Supersonic)

While Boom had previously showed off Overture's design with renderings, CEO Blake Scholl said at a press conference during the show that over the past five years as the company has worked to make the aircraft a reality, it's had time to test and refine the design, eventually landing on the new four-engined airframe.

(Rendering courtesy of Boom Supersonic)

Boom says it can make supersonic flight commercially viable and bring the service back to commercial aviation for the first time since the Concorde, and has an ambitious timeline with plans to launch production by 2024, introduce the first prototype the following year, and conduct the first test flight in 2026, targeting certification and first deliveries by 2029.

(Rendering courtesy of Boom Supersonic)

The company has drawn skepticism, however, most recently focused around the fact that the company has not finalized an engine for the proposed plane despite being in talks with Rolls Royce. Some observers also doubt that the plane, which Boom says will be able to carry 65 to 80 passengers, will be economically viable for airlines, while others doubt the company's ability to be carbon neutral, as it has pledged

(Rendering courtesy of Boom Supersonic)

Nevertheless, United Airlines last year said that it would purchase 15 of the jet — with options for 35 more — once it becomes certified, and Japan Airlines invested $10 million in Boom in 2018.

Static and flying displays

As is the custom at airshows, planemakers took the opportunity to show off their newest aircraft, both on the ground and in the air.

(Photo by David Slotnick/The Points Guy)

The flagship Airbus display on the ground was a brand new A350-900, complete with its new business class. It also had an Air Baltic A220 on display.

(Photo by David Slotnick/The Points Guy)

ITA configures its A350 with 33 business class seats and 301 seats in economy.

(Photo by David Slotnick/The Points Guy)

Boeing, meanwhile, put its new 777-9 and 737 MAX 10 testbeds on display.

(Photo by David Slotnick/The Points Guy)

While interiors on both were configured for flight testing, featuring a range of instruments, sensors, computers, and water tanks to shift weight and balance around, it was only the second time the company has allowed an up-close look at the 777X — the first was the Dubai Airshow in November — and the first time with the MAX 10.

(Photo by David Slotnick/The Points Guy)

Each afternoon at the airshow features a flying display, with commercial aircraft, military jets, helicopters, and more, changing each day.

The 777X wowed crowds, as in Dubai, with stunning hard turns and banks, while the MAX 10 put on a similar show, just at a smaller size.

(Photo by David Slotnick/The Points Guy)
(Photo by David Slotnick/The Points Guy)

Airbus put on a good show with its A350 testbed as well, while Embraer had some fun with it's E190-E2 unique shark livery.

(Photo by David Slotnick/The Points Guy)
(Photo by David Slotnick/The Points Guy)

On the military side, a TAI/AgustaWestland T129 ATAK helicopter put on a wild display, while U.S. Air Force and RAF F-35 fighters wowed the crowd with their ability to hover and perform short take-off and landing maneuvers.

(Photo by David Slotnick/The Points Guy)

A Turkish TAI Hurkus twin-seat turboprop, meanwhile, performed stunts while releasing white skywriting smoke.

Sustainability

A major theme of the show was sustainability and the airline industry's commitment to hitting so-called "net zero" carbon neutrality by 2050.

The need for environmental action was evident and underscored during the first two days of the show, with temperatures over 100°F setting new all-time records for the U.K.

Still, aside from some partnership announcements and conversations behind closed doors and on exhibition stages, there wasn't much in the way of new direct action.

One notable point was Airbus signing letters of intent with several airlines — Air Canada, Air France-KLM, EasyJet, International Airlines Group (IAG), LATAM, Lufthansa Group and Virgin Atlantic — to invest in a direct carbon-capture program with a company called 1PointFive, which plans to build a carbon capture facility in Texas.

What's ahead

While the main part of the show may be over, more deals could be finalized in the coming days, weeks and even months — for instance, Boeing's MAX sale to Qatar was only finalized Thursday morning.

Next summer's airshow takes place outside of Paris — each year, Farnborough and Paris switch off — and could see a very different commercial landscape, depending on what happens with the war in Ukraine, the expected coming recession, and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nevertheless, this year's Farnborough Airshow marked a new chapter for the airline industry as it continues to work to move past the damage inflicted by the pandemic.

Featured image by (Photo by David Slotnick/The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
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  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
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  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees