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Fleeting stars at Farnborough

Fleeting stars at Farnborough
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The Boeing 787 and the Airbus A 400M are the stars of this year’s Farnborough International Air Show in the UK – even if they only stayed two days.

For the Boeing, this was the 787’s first trip outside the US and it drew much attention.

But it is not all glamour. Both have suffered hitches and delays and are behind in their certification programmes.

The Boeing is a new generation passenger aircraft, built mainly from composite materials.

Now 24 months behind schedule, the first 787 could be delivered at the end of the year to a Japanese airline, but Boeing has not ruled out a further set back.

The A 400M military transport plane is 4 years behind schedule and 50 per cent over budget.

In March, 7 customer nations agreed to pay an extra 3.5 billion euros to save the project. But some of these customers are now facing defence cuts. So is the plane at risk?

“Frankly I don’t know,” admitted Tom Enders, Airbus President and CEO. “Yes, we are a little bit worried even though we know that our 7 customers need this plane badly. But we have no other assumptions to make today and we are busy finalizing the principle agreement that we signed with the nations in the beginning of March”.

Customers like the UK, Germany and Spain want this 4-engine turboprop plane – it meets the needs of modern military forces.

One of its special features is that it is able to reverse on track. But South Africa has already cancelled its order and Chile has not followed up on an initial letter of interest – signs perhaps that the financial crisis could see the entire project backing up too.