Members from all branches of the aerospace industry will be hoping to find some lift for an industry caught in a tailspin as the Paris Air Show opens its doors, 100 years on from the very first show.

Despite the downturn, however, organisers of the Paris Air Show, which runs from 15 to 21 June in Le Bourget, have recorded the highest exhibitor and crowd sales yet.

Big announcements are expected from the show, as well as a historic fly past celebrating 100 years of flight.

However, the focus this year is likely to shift away from orders and more towards innovation and other industry issues such as ways to overcome economic woes.

The loss of the Air France flight that disappeared into the Atlantic Ocean, taking with it all 228 lives on board, will also be mourned.

Only last month the International Air Transport Association (IATA) forecast that the global airline industry would loose $9bn in 2009, a figure nearly double the $4.7bn estimate made in March, only three months ago.

According to IATA figures, revenue from the airline industry will fall by 15% to $448bn in 2009 from $528bn in 2008. Passenger yields will also dip by 7%.

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The recession has also damaged cargo figures. The demand for cargo in April dropped for the fourth month in a row to more than 20% below previous levels, according to IATA figures.

These figures don’t bode well for manufacturers like Boeing, which confirmed last month that it had reduced forecasts for the commercial aircraft market over the next 20 years.

Boeing has now reduced its estimate of 29,400 new commercial and freight aircraft by 400, down to 29,000 commercial passenger and freight aircraft.

The outlook for the defence sector is just as worrying.
Boeing has announced that the A400M could make its first flight before the end of the year – that is if any buyers for the long-delayed military transport aircraft remain after this week.

The eagerly anticipated 787 will not be on show at all, however, a new UAV for commercial purposes has already been released by Elbit and other announcements are expected throughout the show.

Major defence industry supplier EADS, which has seen shares fall 8.06%, has also warned this will not be a show for orders.

With so many small businesses attending this year’s exhibition, however, the focus could turn to support services and supplier technologies.

In the wake of the Air France disaster, safety is likely to garner a lot of attention and spectators will also be eagerly anticipating moves within smaller companies to sidle in with alternatives to the big beleaguered programmes.

Although this Paris Air Show is unlikely to be a show for big orders, the focus on technology, innovation and competition will still be there. Stay tuned to aerospace-technology.com for all the big news this week.