Solar Impulse headlines packed Paris Air Show

The world's oldest air show returns June 20, and already the guessing game has begun as to what major airplane makers such as Airbus and Boeing have got up their sleeves.

The biennial Paris Air Show, held at Le Bourget, is traditionally the place where major new aircraft and orders are announced at a packed trade event, before the show opens to the public for a spectacular display - this year, that public opening happens June 24 and 340,000 people are expected during the seven-day run.

However, it's still anyone's guess as to what's in store - it's believed that Boeing is shying away from announcing a major new jet, instead opting for offering visitors a look at a revamped Boeing 737.

Airbus is thought to be gearing up to announce a 180-plane deal with Indian budget carrier Indigo for its new fuel-efficient A320neo, a rumor which if true would set a new record for the number of planes involved in a commercial jet deal.

The A380 'superjumbo' is likely to be playing second fiddle for once, although it's rumored that Qatar is planning a large order for the enormous planes.

Also vying for the spotlight will be Bombardier, Chinese planemaker Comac and Embraer, all of which make smaller jets seen as vital in rapidly-industrializing countries, as well as some 2,000 other exhibitors.

For the public, the 49th Paris Airshow is set to be more spectacular than ever.

Three to four hours worth of flying displays are scheduled for each afternoon, with participants ranging from new passenger jets to military formations, and the action displayed on huge screens dotted around the field for those who tire of craning their neck.

The star of the show this year is set to be the Solar Impulse, a silent, solar-powered aircraft which will be displayed on the ground and - weather permitting - in the sky.

With a wingspan equivalent of the Airbus A340 and a weight of 1600 kg, organizers say that the seven-year Solar Impulse project "demonstrates the enormous potential held by new technologies in terms of energy savings and renewable energy production."

It will be up to the industry bigwigs attending the trade event to decide how much of that technology will ever make it into the aircraft we fly on a daily basis, but for members of the public, it's a unique chance to see an invention which could make flying a lot greener.

The show is open to the public June 24-26 and a single-day entry pass costs €13.

http://www.paris-air-show.com/

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