The longest line at the Farnborough International Airshow this week was for a model aircraft. In the absence of the F-35 Lightning, the colossally expensive and accident-prone stealth fighter that was scheduled to be the show’s highlight before an engine failed on a test aircraft, Lockheed Martin brought a replica.
EADS closes Paris: "Someday you'll understand…" ('Casablanca', AP Photo, Files)
If corporate headquarters always have a symbolic as well as an organisational function then EADS’ arrangements symbolised the political complexity of the pan-European aerospace and defence company.
The group’s website lists three “head offices” – in Paris, Munich and Madrid – and one “headquarters”, in Amsterdam. But since an April reorganisation, the group has referred to Toulouse, where chief executive Tom Enders and the important Airbus business are based, as its “single operational headquarters”. That should have been a clue to staff elsewhere that their future might not be so stable. If you’re not operational, you are probably an overhead. So it has proved: EADS is poised to close the Paris office, next to the Bois de Boulogne.
Boeing's Scott Francher outlines the future 777X
The news that Emirates Airline is planning to buy as many as 100 of Boeing’s new fuel-efficient version of the 777 is a further sign of the demand for long-range twin-engined passenger aircraft.
With its sale of composite, fuel-efficient A350 jets to Japan Airlines this week, Airbus entered a market that Boeing has, until now, controlled. It also proved Boeing’s point. The era of the grand aviation project, symbolised by Airbus’s decision more than a decade ago to build the A380 as a superjumbo rival to the Boeing 747, is over.
I’m never sure whether to be reassured or not that the biggest reason for aircraft to crash is through pilot error, rather than mechanical failure or terrorism. In the case of the Air France Airbus 330 crash in July 2009, in which 228 people perished, pilot error is the culprit once again.
The statistics show that many of the things that typically worry passengers — turbulence, engine failure, the possibility of hijacking etc — are much less dangerous than the simple risk of someone in the cockpit making a mistake.
When a Rolls-Royce engine on a Qantas jet blew up last November, the engine-maker and the airline joined Toyota and BP in a list of companies fighting to repair damage to their global reputations.
But the Rolls-Qantas incident was of a different order and degree from the Toyota car recall and the BP Deepwater Horizon explosion. The settlement announced on Wednesday seems to reflect that.