Grounded: aircraft taxi on the runway at last year's Farnborough air show
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Don’t expect a great deal of pizzazz at the Paris Air Show.

There will be no new product launches from Airbus, Boeing, Bombardier or Embraer, which have done all they are going to for the time being.

The Airbus A380neo, the much-discussed “re-engining” of the underselling A380 superjumbo, is not ready for launch — despite pressure from its largest customer, Emirates Airline.

Nor is the so-called “middle of the market” aircraft (or MOM) ready for launch. This is the replacement for the midsize, narrow-body twin-engined jet the Boeing 757, except that it’s not really. Instead, there is a product gap between the Boeing 737-9 and Airbus A321neo/LR, and the Boeing 787-8 and Airbus A330-200/800.

The MOM is really a replacement for the Boeing 767-200 and the Airbus A300: a twin-aisle, 250-passenger, 4,500-5,000 nautical mile (nm) range aircraft. Boeing is talking to the market, gauging interest. There is no consensus on what the MOM should be — this is not on the table at Paris.

Airbus does not want to produce another new aircraft right now to address the MOM sector, given that the A320neo family is about to enter service, the A350-900 is in the early stages of delivery, and development of the A350-1000 and A330neo family are under way.

Boeing might announce its long-range version of the 737-8 called the 737-8ERX, but this is probably an end-of-year or early-2016 aircraft.

The “big two” manufacturers draw the headlines for winning the orders race. Boeing says it does not “save” orders for air shows, but customers often want to make announcements at these international venues.

Saving orders or not, the Boeing sales team is mindful of potential headlines and strives to complete deals in time for the shows. But Paris is home turf for Airbus (unlike the other big event in Farnborough), and Boeing traditionally concedes Paris to Airbus.

Neither of the big two is expected to announce the 1,000-plus orders seen at previous shows. The order cycle, on the peak of a curve for the past several years, is now on the downside of that curve. Both companies have announced that orders for the full year should be about a 1:1 book-to-bill — the measurement of one order (the book) for every one delivery (the bill). This means about 750 orders for each company for the year.

The Paris Air Show should reveal only a few hundred new orders, although previously booked “unidentified” customers may be announced here to swell the numbers artificially.

Airbus has hinted that it will have a “significant number” of orders in Paris — perhaps a couple of hundred — but this is well short of other recent shows. This may include badly needed orders for the A330ceo, the option that will be replaced by the re-engined A330neo in 2017. There is a gap to fill between now and then with A330ceo orders, which have been slow in the past two years.

The other big airframe manufactures are not expected to announce a large new order book either. Embraer has its own production gap between the
E-Jet E1 (the current generation) and the E-Jet E2 (new engines, new wings, into service in 2018). However, Embraer should have a respectable number of announcements at Paris to help fill this gap.

Firm orders for the brand new Bombardier CSeries have been almost excruciatingly slow. But with a corporate restructuring that began early this year and an entirely new executive team, the company is not positioned to make any big order announcements at Paris for the CSeries or its other slow-selling products, the CRJ regional jet and Q400 turboprop.

The CSeries will make its first appearance in Paris, with the CS100 and CS300 on view. There will also be a side event for its launch customer, Swiss International, in Zurich on Thursday.

Scott Hamilton is managing director of aerospace consultancy Leeham Co.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017. All rights reserved.
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