Best of the Paris Air Show
There are few things that get plane geeks as excited as the bi-annual Paris Air Show, which is currently ongoing at Le Bourget exhibition center until June 26.
For the past 100 years, the Paris Air Show has been one of the world’s biggest airline industry events. Historically, it was the venue where the world got a glimpse of technology that eventually revolutionized flight: the Concorde, the Airbus A380, the Ariane rocket and many more.
There’s no shortage of sexy new aircraft making their debut at this year’s show, with 2,000 exhibitors displaying over 140 aircraft. Here are some of the superstars at this year’s Paris Air Show.
1. Solar Impulse
Solar Impulse made the headlines in July last year when it flew for 26 hours non stop, fueled only by the sun. The plane is hitting headlines once again at this year’s Paris Air Show.
Not only do visitors get to marvel at the plane up close, the plane will embark on demonstration flights every morning, weather permitting.
The plane flies with zero carbon emissions, has four electric motors, and an enormous wingspan of 64 meters (as wide as an Airbus A340).
For more about Solar Impulse and the Paris Air Show, check out CNN's coverage here.
2. Hypersonic jet ZEHST
Dubbed “the Concorde of the future,” the hypersonic jet ZEHST (acronym for “Zero Emission High Speed Transport”) is powered by rockets and turbojets to take passengers above the atmosphere to drastically cut flight time.
EADS, the French aerospace group that developed it, claims the jet can take passengers from Paris to Tokyo in 2.5 hours, more than eight hours less than current flight times.
The jet runs on biofuel made from seaweed. EADS predicts that the jet won’t take flight until 2050, but there is a mock-up of the plane at Le Bourget to whet our appetite while we grow old waiting.
UK-based aerospace company HyperMach claims it will revolutionize long distance air travel with its SonicStar supersonic business jet concept.
The plane will fly at 18,300 meters, high enough for passengers to see the curvature of the earth, and can reduce flight time from New York to Paris to two hours and 20 minutes, HyperMach says.
The company is hoping to get the SonicStar airborne by 2021.
Click here for more about the SonicStar and the supersonic ZEHST jet.
4. Eurocopter X3
Helicopters have many advantages, such as hovering, taking off vertically and reversing mid-air, but there’s one thing they lack: speed. But not any more.
The Eurocopter X3 (pronounced "X Cubed") is a hybrid helicopter with fixed wings and rotors that can fly at more than 300 kilometers an hour.
5. Boeing 747-8
The wide-body Boeing 747-8, unveiled in February this year as a rival to the Airbus A380, is the world’s longest plane.
The excitement has not worn off since its debut four months ago and it’s showing in sales figures: the Wall Street Journal reported that Boeing inked 747-8 deals valued at US$5.4 billion (that's 17 planes) on Monday alone.
The jet is open for viewing at the Paris Air Show. Its airy interior is likened to executive private planes.
6. Airbus A320neo
"The airplane is selling at a faster rate than any other airplane in jet aviation history," Airbus COO John Leahy tells CNN.
The reason? The A320neo works on a revamped engine that promises fuel savings of 15 percent -- music to the ears of carriers that are plagued by rocketing fuel costs.
Airbus expects to ink a total of 500 deals for the plane by the end of the Paris Air Show, but they've already exceeded that target by the second day of the show, amassing nearly 600 orders in total from major carriers.
The swell of interest in the A320neo is forcing Boeing to consider redesigning the A320’s rival plane, the 737, reports say.
7. Bombardier C series
Canadian plane maker Bombardier is trying to break the Airbus–Boeing duopoly over the lucrative ‘narrow body’ market with the fuel-efficient C-series jets, CNN reported.
An unidentified airline placed a US$616 million order for 10 C series jets on day one of the air show, and Korean Air is planning to buy 10 more.
That must have been a relief for the plane maker, since the company just went by another year without any orders.
The company plans to deliver C-series planes in 2013.