From Wimbledon To Burning Man: An Inside Look At The Summer’s Largest Airshows
September 08, 2016
The Farnborough International Airshow, which takes place every other year just outside of London, is aviation’s grand slam event comparable to Wimbledon or the U.S. Open. Boeing, Airbus, GE and all other large aircraft, engine and equipment makers come here and do big business. (GE Aviation and its joint-venture partner CFM International left with $25 billion in new deals.)
Farnborough couldn’t be more different from the EAA AirVenture Oshkosh “fly-in.” Located in rural Wisconsin and far from big city lights, the event is really the Burning Man festival for pilots and plane enthusiasts. True, big aerospace companies come here too but so do thousands of pilots who flock here—many of whom arrive in planes they themselves built—to trade stories and watch afternoon airshows that include everything from acrobats and wing walkers to a re-enactment of the Pearl Harbor attack.
GE Reports visited both airshows this summer. We will spare you the crowds, travel and admission. Here’s an inside look.
Above: The July weather in Farnborough was almost stereotypically English: rainy with more precipitation in the offing. Image credit: Adam Senatori. Top: Pilots in Oshkosh staged a re-enactment of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Image credit: Rob Butler
It wasn't just the monochromatic clouds that made Boeing's brand new 737 MAX jet stand out. Large portions of the next-generation plane are made from carbon-fiber composites. It sports a pair of CFM's LEAP engines with 3D-printed fuel nozzles and space-age heat-resistant ceramics inside. They help the engines to be as much as 15 percent more fuel efficient than current CFM models. Image credit: Adam Senatori
GE’s ADVENT jet engine with the space-age ceramics inside may one day power the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, seen here hovering over Farnborough. The plane can go as fast as Mach 1.5 and also take off and land vertically. Image credit: Adam Senatori
The U.S. Navy’s submarine-hunting Boeing P-8 Poseidon plane is a modified version of the 737-800 passenger jet that serves many short-haul flights around the world. The Poseidon uses a pair of CFM56 engines. Image credit: Adam Senatori
Airbus brought to Farnborough its latest wide-body passenger jet, the A350 XWB. GE Aviation makes composite parts for its wings. Image credit: Adam Senatori
This brand-new F/A-18 Super Hornet was one of the highlights of the Farnborough airshow. Image credit: Adam Senatori
The Super Hornet was powered by a pair of unblemished GE F414 jet engines. Image credit: Adam Senatori
The Antonov An-124 Ruslan is one of the largest planes in the world. GE Aviation uses An-124 freighters operated by the Volga-Dnepr Group to ship jet engines to customers around the world. Image credit: Adam Senatori
The tradeshow portion of the Farnborough airshow is a business affair. Image credit: Adam Senatori
Big business also takes place in Oshkosh—GE unveiled its 3D-printed advanced turboprop engine for Cessna Denali here this year—but the relaxed atmosphere is that of a festival. Image credit: Rob Butler
Some 10,000 pilots arrive in their planes and hundreds of thousands other visitors arrive by road. Oshkosh's Wittman Regional Airport becomes the world's busiest airfield during the fly-in. Image credit: Rob Butler