The Farnborough International Airshow kicks off Monday in England, but any major announcements from Boeing Co. likely will be a surprise.
At a glance
What: 2014 Farnborough International Airshow
Where: Farnborough, a small hamlet in southeast England.
When: The airshow opens to trade exhibitors Monday. The public portion is Friday-Sunday.
Exhibitors: 1,500 from around the world representing the aviation, aerospace, defense and security industries.
S.C. presence: The Commerce Department and the Charleston Regional Development Alliance will be represented.
High profile: 1,600 international media organizations, including 61 international broadcast outlets, are accredited to attend the 2014 airshow.
Neither Gov. Nikki Haley nor Commerce Secretary Bobby Hitt is attending this year's event, and aviation analyst Saj Ahmad with United Kingdom-based StrategicAero Research called Boeing's itinerary "very spartan."
"I doubt we will see a slew of major announcements," Ahmad said.
Aviation analyst Scott Hamilton with Leeham Co. in Washington state said Boeing might make a few "usual order announcements" but he doesn't think there will be many for 787s unless talk that the Mideast carrier Emirates will place a big order holds true.
"There's no new airplane program to announce," Hamilton said. "I think Boeing will be pretty dull. The focus will be on Airbus and the prospect of the A30neo."
Boeing spokesman Doug Alder said the company will be making announcements during the show, but he declined to say to what degree they might be.
"As always, the timing is driven by our customers - not an airshow calendar," he said.
Ahmad said it depends on whether customers want their airplane orders publicized during the event, a summer ritual in Europe that moves to Paris every other year.
"I bet there are a few big deals waiting to be signed off before we know what they are," he said.
The airshow takes flight after a busy week for Boeing. The Chicago-based aerospace giant delivered its first 787-9 to Air New Zealand on Wednesday, finalized a $56 billion order from Emirates for 150 of the yet-to-be-produced 777X aircraft and signed an agreement to establish a new Asia-Pacific region aircraft maintenance services company, signaling the growing market in the Far East.
Boeing projects worldwide demand for new aircraft over the next 20 years will exceed 36,000 new airplanes, mostly for single-aisle models going to the burgeoning Far East, especially China.
Also this past week, a first-tier 787 supplier, Washington state-based Senior Aerospace AMT, said it would set up operations in Charleston County, creating 60 jobs.
Ahmad expects some big orders for Boeing in the second half of the year for the 777X, which will be assembled in Washington state.
Also, Boeing will show off its new 787-9 Dreamliner as part of the seven-day event, and company executives will provide updates on planned jetliners and market conditions.
The boss of Boeing Commercial Airplanes will be front and center Monday,when division CEO Ray Conner will report on current industry and market conditions and provide an update on commercial airplane products and services, development programs and product investments.
On Tuesday, Scott Fancher, senior vice president and general manager of airplane development for Boeing Commercial Airplanes, will provide updates on the company's newest commercial jetliners currently in development. They include the 777X, 737 MAX and 787-10 Dreamliner.
All three of the new aircraft have links to or could affect the North Charleston operation.
Engineering work for the 777X is being done in the Lowcountry as well as other sites across the U.S. and Russia. A new factory to make engine inlet components for the 737 MAX is being built in Palmetto Commerce Park. It's set to start production next year.
And the 787-10 could be the biggest prize of all.
Boeing hasn't announced the production site for the largest model in the Dreamliner fleet. It could be Everett, Wash., where the company has made most of its commercial airliners for decades. Or it could be an entirely new site, though that is unlikely. Ahmad believes the Boeing South Carolina campus, where the company is committed to investing another $1 billion over the next five years, stands a good chance of landing the work.
"The new paint facility and expansion of the plant demonstrate that Boeing is not afraid to invest in South Carolina to enable the site to draw parity with Everett from a production and quality standpoint," Ahmad said.
"It's taking longer than Boeing would like, but it is evident from the resources being deployed that Boeing will stick with the master plan to create a center of composite engineering excellence in the Lowcountry and provide greater internal competition with Puget Sound for the next generation of airplanes beyond 787, 737 MAX and 777X," he added.
He doesn't believe Boeing will make a decision on the 787-10 production site until the fall. The first 787-10 is not scheduled to be delivered until 2018.
The local plant recently started production on three 787s each month after working through production problems earlier in the year and rewarding employees with catch-up bonuses in June.
Starting this fall, the 787-9, assembled now in Everett, will be pieced together in North Charleston. It can carry about 40 more passengers (up to 280) and fly farther than the 787-8. The 787-10 will be able to hold 323 passengers, but fly a shorter range than its two smaller siblings.
Reach Warren L. Wise at 937-5524 or twitter.com/warrenlancewise.
Air New Zealand and Boeing showed off the first delivered 787-9 at Paine Field in Everett, Wash., last week. A different “Dash 9” Dreamliner painted in Boeing’s blue and white color scheme will be on display this week at the Farnborough International Airshow.×
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