Paris show shifts focus from deal-making to plane-making

Mon Jun 15, 2015 12:59pm EDT
 
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By Victoria Bryan and Sarah Young

PARIS (Reuters) - After the marketing triumphs of recent years, manufacturing moved into the spotlight on the opening day of the Paris air show on Monday as planemakers Airbus (AIR.PA: Quote) and Boeing (BA.N: Quote) battle to deliver a record $1.8 trillion backlog of orders.

There was still the traditional burst of multi-billion-dollar deals in the first few hours of the aerospace industry's annual jamboree, with fast-growing Middle Eastern and Asian airlines again leading the buying.

But the sums involved were smaller than in previous years, and both planemakers and their suppliers were at pains to tell airlines they were focused on stepping up production to meet the 12,000 or so orders already stacked up for the coming decade.

Reassurance also came from Airbus as its A400M military plane made a tour of the skies following a crash last month, while a stretched version of Boeing's 787 Dreamliner delivered the wow-factor promised by its pre-show hype.

GE Aviation (GE.N: Quote), whose CFM International venture with France's Safran SAF.PA builds engines for both Airbus and Boeing, highlighted the manufacturing challenges ahead - at a time when the planemakers are starting to look at further increases in output on top of existing plans.

Chief Executive David Joyce said the venture already faced a steep increase in production for its LEAP engine from 40 in the first year to 600 in the second and 1,200 in year three.

"We need to prove to ourselves that we can go from 40 to 600 to 1,200, and while we do that we will learn more about our capacity as well as our efficiency," he said.

"There is no conflict with the airplane companies. Our job is to make sure that when they ask for a rate, and we say 'yes', that we deliver," he added.   Continued...

 
An Airbus A350 jetliner flies over Boeing flags as it lands after a flying display during the 51st Paris Air Show at Le Bourget airport near Paris, June 15, 2015. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol