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Stunning planes at the Paris Air Show

Last updated on: June 21, 2011 10:50 IST

Stunning planes at the Paris Air Show

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Manash Pratim Bhuyan in Le Bourget
Deafening roar of aircraft split the skylines as Paris Air Show -- the world's largest aviation and space industry event began in Paris on Monday under overcast conditions with major players announcing several multi-billion dollar deals.

The enthusiasm was slightly blighted after an Airbus A380 super jumbo was damaged and grounded when its wing tip struck a taxiway structure.

The Airbus' star jumbo had suffered damage to its wing tip after it collided with a building at the Le Bourget airport, where the six-day event is taking place with participation of nearly 2,100 international exhibitors including top aircraft manufacturers and aerospace firms.

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Image: Pilot and CEO of Swiss solar-powered airplane, Solar Impulse Andre Borschberg at Paris.
Photographs: Reuters.
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Stunning planes at the Paris Air Show

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With Airbus super jumbo out of show due to the accident, it was the Boeing's new 747-8 jumbo that hogged all the limelight at the prestigious show which has been a leading event in the aviation and air defence system for over 100 years.

It was a sort of double whammy for the Airbus as it had to cancel a scheduled demonstration flight of its A400M military transport aircraft due to a minor technical problem.

An Airbus official later said an A380 operated by Korean Air will participate in the air show as replacement for the damaged aircraft.

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Image: The damaged Airbus A380.
Photographs: Reuters.
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Stunning planes at the Paris Air Show

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Inspite of the first day glitches, major defence industry players were quite upbeat about opportunities in the aviation and aerospace industry and identified Middle East and India as places of great opportunity.

The new 747-8 Intercontinental carries 467 passengers in a three-class configuration. 

It features a new wing design, an upgraded flight deck, and its interior incorporates features from the 787 Dreamliner, including a new curved, up swept architecture that will give passengers a greater sense of space and comfort while adding more room for personal belongings.

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Image: New 747-8 Intercontinental.
Photographs: Pascal Rossignol/Reuters.
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Stunning planes at the Paris Air Show

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Saudi Arabian Airlines, country's national airline, has placed a firm order for four additional A330-300 aircraft in addition to the eight ordered in July 2008, taking the total order for the type to 12.

"We are reaping the benefits of operational efficiency and productivity with our new fleet of A330s, and our passengers love it too. The A330 is an important pillar upon which we are building our ambitious expansion plans by simultaneously meeting rising passenger demand and expectations," said Khalid Al Molhem, Director General of Saudi Arabian Airlines.

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Image: Beriev 202 firefighting airplane.
Photographs: Reuters.
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Stunning planes at the Paris Air Show

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Including leased aircraft, and today's four A330, in the years to come, Saudia's Airbus fleet will grow to 62 aircraft.

There is a special interest this time among the defence majors participating in the even in the wake of internal strife and turmoil in the Arab world as they are "expecting impressive orders" from the countries of the region to upgrade their security apparatus due to the increasing unrest.

"All nations (in the region) are very interested in protecting their economies and I think the defence industry will have lot of opportunities to protect and ensure their economic security," Tom Kennedy, President of Raytheon's Integrated Defence Systems said.

Leasing firm Air Lease Corporation placed its second order with Boeing, announcing it will buy up to 33 airplanes, including Next-Generation 737-800s, 777-300ERs (Extended Range), and 787-9 Dreamliners.

The new Intercontinental is the world's longest passenger aircraft and has 51 more seats than a standard 747.

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Image: Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental jetliner.
Photographs: Pascal Rossignol/Reuters.
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Stunning planes at the Paris Air Show

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The orders are estimated at $3.9 billion at list prices. "We continue to build the foundation of our growing commercial lease fleet with these Next-Generation 737s, 777-300ERs and 787 Dreamliners," said Steven F Udvar-Hazy, chairman and CEO of Air Lease Corporation.

"These modern, fuel-efficient airplanes will provide our airline clients the capabilities to perform their missions in the most economical, reliable and environmentally responsible manner."

ALC placed its first Boeing order just last year when the leasing venture, formed in 2010 and led by Udvar-Hazy and President and COO John Plueger, agreed to purchase up to 60 Next-Generation 737-800s.

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Image: Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental jetliner.
Photographs: Pascal Rossignol/Reuters.
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Stunning planes at the Paris Air Show

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"This agreement demonstrates ALC's disciplined approach to building a fleet of young, high-quality, high-demand airplanes," said President and CEO Jim Albaugh, Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

"I believe ALC is well-positioned for long-term success in this industry and I look forward to a strong partnership between our two companies."

The orders bring the 747-8 Intercontinental total backlog to 50 firm aircraft, plus five from a commitment from Air China contingent on Chinese government approval.

It also brings the total 747-8 backlog, including 76 747-8 Freighters, to 126.

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Image: Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental jetliner.
Photographs: Pascal Rossignol/Reuters.
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Stunning planes at the Paris Air Show

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Qatar Airways, one of the worlds fastest growing. Airline which is rapidly expanding its international network and increasing its long haul, announced on an order for six more Boeing 777-300ERs.

It has long maintained that the 777 has become the cornerstone of its fleet and is not only a tool for profitability but also a platform for delivering the highest customer satisfaction.

We are expanding our international network rapidly and adding new routes and destinations that will extend Qatar Airways reach across the globe, especially as we aim to open up more non-stop routes to North and South America," said CEO Akbar Al Baker.

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Image: Boeing 747-8 (L) and 777.
Photographs: Pascal Rossignol/Reuters.
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"We have 25 Boeing 777s in our fleet and its payload and range capability, reliability and economics have made this aircraft the long-haul flagship for our airline."

"We embarked with Saudi Arabian Airlines on their ambitious fleet renewal plans three years ago, and we are delighted with the result.

This follow on order from one of the Middle East's longest established airlines is a fantastic endorsement of our products," said John Leahy, Chief Operating Officer, Customers.

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Image: Biofuel-powered Gulfstream G-450 taxis on the runway.
Photographs: Reuters.
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The Airbus A330 remains the most economic means of flying some 300 passengers on medium range routes in true long haul comfort.

The A330 aircraft offers unbeatable economics, and is the world's most fuel efficient and productive aircraft on the market.

The airline's strategy is evidenced by its three pairs of 777-200LRs operating non-stop between Doha and Houston, Melbourne and Sao Paulo.

That third route continues to Buenos Aires, underlining the airplane's ability to connect almost any key city in the world, non-stop, to Doha.

A Qatar Airways 777-200LR is on display at the show, with a spotlight on its reliability, operating efficiencies and payload and range capabilities.


Image: Swiss solar-powered airplane Solar Impulse.
Photographs: Reuters.
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