The 2005 Paris Air Show
The Paris Air Show opened last Monday June 13, instead of the usual Sunday, with bright skies and all the usual problems regarding actually getting in. With this the 46th offering you would have thought that the organizers would have got it right, but in truth neither Paris nor Farnborough have solved the access problem. The RER from the center of the city for just E2 and then a 2k, mainly uphill, walk from Le Bourget station is the best and quickest way in if you are fit and don't have a car or chauffeur. There is a bus service which normally gets stuck in the traffic. The real problem is actually getting through security which really does slow entering. Those arriving by private aircraft were in many cases not that much better off with a breakdown at times between air and surface transport organizers.
With less new aircraft, and with some wonderful oldies flying too, after the first day, the actual air display program did not actually get under way until 1pm, more like Farnborough, and starting with the helicopters. By the time Rafale, Eurofighter and Sukhoi made their noisy appearances lunch for the most part had been consumed. Airbus stole the scene with the A380 and its smaller siblings whilst Boeing put up no commercial aircraft, although the C-17 Globemaster III does carry passengers. The DC-10 tanker fire fighting aircraft was another show stopper. That's water not smoke!
The normal procedure for the media at Paris is a whole series of press conferences and briefings. This year it was obvious that the TV and newsreel people were trying to take over the whole event, vast teams of cameramen, reporters and hangers-on roaming all over the place and getting in everyone and each other's way. Just how many A380 angles are there? Some restrictions are needed for another time.
Media exposure is the name of the game. Who can shout the loudest and most often? But what is the difference between an order, announcement, memorandum of understanding and commitment? Would you buy a product whose specification is not confirmed, delivery date not agreed and price not settled? Probably not. An aircraft first sold to a leasing company and then hired to an airline is worth two press announcements. It all gets very confusing. Both Airbus and Boeing were busy...