Boeing Co. aircraft mar-keting chief Randy Tin- seth says the year's biggest aerospace expo, which officially begins today in Paris, is “just one week out of 52.”
That may be, as the Chicago-based conglomerate makes planes and announces orders year-round, striving to be the world's biggest and best jet manufacturer.
But the 50th Paris Air Show is also clearly much more than just another week in June, and not just for Boeing, but for its arch rival Airbus, for their suppliers and hometowns, and for the rest of the industry.
Airbus kicked off the proceedings early Friday by flying for the first time its new A350, the French firm's answer to Boeing's 787 Dreamliner and 777 twin-aisle jet models.
Boeing hopes to steal some of the spotlight back by officially launching the double-stretch 787-10 Dreamliner, according to a Wall Street Journal report last week. The company will also treat attendees to demonstrations of the original model 787-8 and the ScanEagle unmanned aircraft system, while offering an update on its forthcoming 737 MAX and 777X jets.
In other words, after a first half of 2013 marred by the monthslong global grounding of the 787 fleet due to a pair of smoky battery malfunctions, Boeing will use Paris to continue its big bounce-back.
Meanwhile, the S.C. delegation to Paris hopes to ride Boeing's wings in a continuing effort to make the Palmetto State, and especially North Charleston, where Boeing builds 787s, an aerospace hub.
The state's delegation is shorter on star power, glitz and numbers than previous years — Gov. Nikki Haley isn't going, the reception is at the expo pavilion instead of a fancier off-site venue, and at 16, it's almost half the size of previous missions. But the group has set 80 meetings with companies looking to expand, compared to 50 last year at the Farnborough International Airshow near London.
And to hear Commerce Secretary Bobby Hitt tell it, they're more advanced working meetings than in previous years. It can famously take years for job recruiters to land a new company or factory, but things sound promising.
So, fasten your seatbelts, put your tray tables in their upright and locked positions, and get ready for … just another week in Paris.
Reach Brendan Kearney at 937-5906.
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