Daily Archives: July 14, 2008

John Gapper

Well, the star of the show was certainly the star of the show. In time-honoured tradition, I have just been standing on a balcony at the Farnborough air show, with plugs in my ears,  watching fighter aircraft doing manoevres.

This year’s Farnborough highlight was the F-22, the world’s best - and most expensive – fighter aircraft. It is a stealth fighter made by Lockheed Martin and Boeing, with Pratt and Whitney supplying the engines and the only air force that has them is the US one. Foreign governments are not allowed to buy them.

It does feel odd to be watching the beauty and balletic elegance of fighter jets at air shows, given that their mission in life is to destroy things. In the F-22′s case, it does not do much bombing of ground targets but could beat any other aircraft in a fight.

However, the F-22 is unquestionably stunning to watch. Its most surprising trait, for an aircraft that can travel at Mach 2 and launch missiles at supersonic speed, is that it can come to a virtual halt in the sky. Read more

John Gapper

The United Arab Emirates are becoming the go-too place for western, and particularly US companies, that need a bit of a boost amid financial turmoil.

I am at the Farnborough Air Show today and started my day listening to Scott Carson, the head of Boeing’s commercial aircraft division, making a brave case that his industry would prosper despite high oil prices, environmental pressures etc, delays to Boeing’s new 787 aircraft etc.

However, it was only at the end of the presentation when things definitively perked up. That was when Jim McNerney, Mr Carson’s boss, walked on stage at the media centre with Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum, the son of the former Emir of Dubai, to announce an order for 50 of Boeing’s next-generation 737s. Read more