Paris Air Show's public displays get underway, but the star of the show hasn't even been built yet
Thursday 23 June 2011
The Paris Air Show opens to the public June 24, but for great rivals Airbus and Boeing the show is already over, and there is a clear winner.
After a wobbly start, which saw an A380 damaged and a military plane display scrapped, Airbus has come out of three days of press previews having stolen the show from its rival.
While there was lukewarm interest in Boeing's new 747-8, a stretched version of the classic "jumbo jet", most of the limelight was hogged by the A320-neo, Airbus's new fuel-efficient model.
IndiGo broke a record for the largest plane order ever when it promised to buy 150 of the planes (and 30 of a different type) on Wednesday, only to see that smashed Thursday by AirAsia, which ordered 200 of the models.
In total, Airbus received a whopping 667 orders for the new aircraft at the show, taking the total ordered to 1,029 and making the A320neo by far the best selling airliner in the history of commercial aviation.
Part of the reason behind the enthusiasm is the A320neo's impressive green credentials - it promises to save 3,600 tonnes of carbon dioxide every year by burning considerably less fuel, an attractive thought for both airlines and consumers hit by high oil prices.
Airbus estimates that the 15 percent lower fuel burn levels out at around 1.4 million liters, or the annual consumption of about 1,000 mid-size cars.
It is also significantly quieter than previous models, which will please those who live near airports, and offers 900 kilometers' more range than its predecessor, with early buyer Virgin America saying that the longer range will allow it to fly longer routes during winter.
As the first delivery of the A320neo is scheduled to take place in 2016, all of these, of course, are specifications for an aircraft which hasn't even been built yet - which suggests that while the crowds at Le Bourget will be staring up at the skies over the coming days, the world's airlines believe the future of aviation is still firmly on the drawing board.
The Paris Air Show is open to the public through June 26 in Paris.
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