While day one of the Paris Air Show might have belonged to Airbus, day two saw Boeing mount a comeback. The company announced an $8.8 billion deal with ILFC for 63 planes including 50 new orders for the 787. The announcement makes the leasing company the biggest customer for the 'Dreamliner' and means the jet is now the fast selling plane in the history of commercial aerospace.
When I spoke to ILFC's CEO Steve Hazy earlier today he told me that the composite 787 represented a real leap forward. However, he was not so polite about Airbus' A350 XWB, which he feels could still be improved. ILFC has a meeting scheduled with Airbus boss Louis Gallois on Wednesday morning and hopes that it can use the session to convince the plane maker that changes are required. And it's likely that Airbus will listen, after all it was Hazy that was instrumental in forcing the Europeans to take the original A350 back to the drawing board after the first design did not make the grade.
While the Airbus/Boeing battle has dominated the civilian news flow at Le Bourget, it has to some extent also dominated the military news as well. That's because the two companies are currently competing for a multi-billion dollar contract from the Pentagon to supply in-flight refueling tankers for the US Air Force. EADS has teamed up with Northrop Grumman to offer the KC-30, which is based on Airbus' A330. When I spoke to Ron Sugar, Northrop's CEO and Tom Enders, EADS CEO, they made it clear to me that the recent success the program has had in the U.K, the UAE and Australia would give it good momentum in the competition with Boeing.
However, if there is one topic that has been the real talking point of this show it's been the environment. With governments in Europe now starting to ratchet up pressure on industry, many companies took the opportunity in Paris to talk about the improvements that their businesses are making in reducing emissions.. Airbus even went as far to claim that every A380 sold was helping to save the planet. But while it may well be true that the next generation of jets are cleaner, the aerospace industry is going to have to work hard if it is to avoid environmental concerns limiting its future growth potential.