The Paris Air Show is once again the setting for a fierce battle between bitter rivals Boeing and Airbus to win aircraft orders from airlines. The US and European aviation giants invariable seek to outdo each other by announcing big deals at the show.
The biennial show got underway at Le Bourget near Paris on Monday and runs until June 25. It is expected to draw around 150,000 industry professionals from 2,370 companies.
The last event in 2015 brought orders for 421 planes worth $57 billion (51 billion euros) for Airbus and orders for 331 planes worth $50 billion (44.6 billion euros) for Boeing.
But many expect the number of new civilian aircraft orders to fall short of the sales the companies managed to clock up during the previous show two years ago.
Airbus and Boeing have seen a downturn in orders in recent years after a buying spree by Mideast and Asian carriers.
This year, each company is expected to announce around 200 orders, though some may only be airlines or leasing companies firming up earlier tentative orders. Yet the industry remains optimistic about sustained long-term growth.
Neither Boeing nor Airbus is unveiling a major new plane at the show.
Nonetheless, most likely to get attention are Boeing's latest 787 model, the 787-10, and Airbus' answer to it, the A350-1000, the latest version of the long-delayed Airbus wide-body plane. Boeing will also show its 737 Max 9 and Airbus will show the single-aisle A321, popular for its fuel efficiency.
Airbus said earlier this month that it expects the market for large passenger planes to more than double in the next 20 years driven by growth from Asian markets.
The planemaker predicts the need for 35,000 new planes worth $5.3 trillion over the next two decades, an increase over last year's estimates.
The star of the show
Around 200,000 regular visitors are expected at the Paris Air Show this year, many of whom will come especially for spectacular displays of supersonic military hardware as fast combat planes break the sound barrier.
Among the 130 aircraft on display, the star will likely be the cutting-edge F-35 stealth jet fighter, which costs around $100 million each.
Designed to creep up undetected on ground targets and for air-to-air combat, the jet will wow with daily flights - hoping to impress potential foreign customers for manufacturer Lockheed Martin.
Briefings by the plane's chief test pilot and others on the jet's aerial capabilities and the F-35 program could produce news about recent problems that grounded US Air Force F-35s at a base in Arizona, after pilots reported symptoms of oxygen deprivation.
The US Air Force will use the F-35 to replace the A-10 and F-16, and has already taken delivery of more than 100 of the planes.
sri/tr (AFP, AP, dpa)