Farnborough airshow to focus on cleaner flying and possible fighter jet deal

Low-emission air travel and a potential deal with Japan to help build the UK’s next-generation Tempest fighter jet are set to take center stage at the annual Farnborough Airshow this week.

Leaders of global aerospace manufacturers and airlines will meet at Hampshire airport after a four-year hiatus. The show, which begins on Monday, normally takes place every two years but was canceled in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic as the aviation industry faced a potential meltdown.

Analysts expect hundreds of orders for new Airbus and Boeing planes during the show as airline passenger numbers rebound, but manufacturers have emphasized efforts to reduce the planes’ environmental impact, although they expect sales of commercial aircraft using fossil fuels to pick up.

Rolls-Royce, the FTSE 100 jet engine maker, said it plans to test hydrogen-powered engines “to prove the fuel can safely and efficiently deliver power to small aircraft.” and medium size from the mid-2030s”.

GKN Aerospace, owned by FTSE 100 investor Melrose, said its Fokker business in the Netherlands would be part of a €112 million investment plan to work on the high-voltage, high-power cabling needed to make operate fully electric motors.

Brazil’s Embraer, a maker of small passenger planes for regional travel, announced on Sunday an agreement with Raizen, a Brazilian energy company, to increase production of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) – kerosene made from non-fossil sources. The aviation industry is betting heavily on SAF to deliver net zero flight for larger jets, although supply is still meager.

On the military side, FTSE 100 arms maker BAE Systems will give an update on the Tempest fighter jet on Monday, which could include an announcement that Japan will join the project as a partner, Reuters first reported.

BAE jointly manages Tempest with Italian Leonardo and Swedish Saab. It was first announced at the last Farnborough Airshow in 2018 – after France and Germany snubbed the UK. Japan is currently developing its own FX fighter jet, led by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, but its defense ministry has said it could be open to collaboration.

Adding another partner country could stretch development costs which are expected to reach £25 billion, according to Justin Bronk, an analyst at Rusi, a think tank. The UK government last week announced a £2.4 billion radar upgrade for its predecessor, the Typhoon.

Kwasi Kwarteng, the business secretary, said the return of the airshow illustrated the sector’s recovery, as he highlighted “the huge opportunities for growth that exist as the world moves to cleaner forms of flight”.

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The government announced on Monday that it had earmarked £273million in public and industry funding for aerospace projects ranging from more efficient wings to drones. The funding is part of previously announced support for the Institute of Aerospace Technology, a joint government-industry funded partnership.

The government will also issue a ‘drone ambition statement’ outlining its goals for the sector and how it will change regulations, allowing drones to connect to 5G mobile networks and ‘improving public communications to highlight potential benefits’. commercial drones.

Projects jointly funded by the government will include plans to use drones to deliver medical supplies to the Isles of Scilly and remote parts of Scotland, as well as using the unmanned craft to inspect infrastructure such as highways and ports.

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