Given the massive spate of orders announced at Le Bourget I thought it would be worth a look back to Le Bourget in 1985 to see how times have changed. My source is Flight International Editions for the week's ending June 1st and June 8th 1985. The following is an abridged summation of some key points on market strategy in the 100 - 160 seat category followed by some order announcements.
From the June 1st Issue:
Boeing, McDonell Douglas and Airbus do not quite mean the same thing when they talk about the Advanced Technology Airliner. Again, this covers the 100 - 160 seat category market only.
McDonnell Douglas: "Improved performance without the cost of technological change just for change's sake" That is the marketing message on which MDC sells it's MD-80 Series today. Airlines are buying MDC's airplanes which presumably means they buy the argument. The MDC sales philosophy suggests that a further advance in technology is available, but MDC has made a deliberate decision not to go for it because of cost. The A320 is what MDC is talking about when it refers to "technological change for change's sake"
Boeing:Boeing's 737-300 is selling faster than any other airliner on the market today, and the manufacturers sales message is similar to MDC's. "Boeing has chosen not to respond immediately because the market has been slow to develop" says Joe Sutter, BCAG's Executive Vice President. The company says that it has made a positive decision to ply the market with derivative airplanes, and only to set out on the costly path of developing brand new products when the market is unmistakeably there.
MDC and Boeing are making profits on their MD-80 Series and 737-300 respectively, both of which have now sold more than 1000 machines. Has Airbus got the better binoculars?
Airbus:Theoretically, the A320 has one considerable advantage as a new-technology product: it will be available first, and the company will gain much if the worldwide airline business continues to recover and carriers decide that re-equipment can wait no longer. But to take full advanage of being "first with 3rd generation" it must convince customers that the technology it offers in the A320 represents a significant advance over the MD-80 Series and 737-300
Quite interesting IMHO now here's how FI reported from Paris the folowing week. In 2005 we have the A380 debut, in 1985 the An-124 Debut!
"Footsore and Frustrated" sums up the FI Team during the first week of this years Paris Show, as they paced the Salon in blistering heat to capture the highlights
[Snip: They then moaned about security]
The biggest news was on the Prop-Fan front; the largest hardware was the Antonov An-124 Ruslan - known to NATO as Condor.
Hmmm, quite some change from today and the A380. Anyway, the issues devoted many pages to Prop-Fan development and market forecast's as this was seen by the U.S. manufacturers as the key to a 3rd generation narrowbody whilst Airbus were intent on the A320. Three engine manufacturers were developing engines and here's what Boeing had to say;
"If we had enough customers and knew how many passengers we wanted to fly, and in how many aisles they wanted in the aircraft, we would guarantee delivery by 1992" Boeing VP, Product Development James Johnson tells Flight.
I won't go into the rest as we all know what happened with the benefit of 20 years hindsight but there are some very interesting comments from MDC, Airbus and Boeing as to where they feel their respective technology will or would have taken them.
Enough of that and let's have a look at who was ordering what! This year it's India, the Middle East, Leasing Companies and select carriers such as Alaska and Air Cairo.
In 1985 the Headline order was Pan American announcing US$ 1.1 billion in orders for A310 & A320 series with inter-changeable options for another US$ 1.6 Billion. The order was 12 + 13 A310-300 and 16 + 34 A320s
ILFC signed an MoU for 21 Boeings: 11 737-300s, 3 767-200ER & 4 767-300ER the 3 other models were not specified and 11 interchangeable options were also placed. Interestingly ILFC was based in Miami in 1985
Ansett Australia ordered 8 + 9 A320s
Royal Brunei Airlines ordered 3 757-200ER becoming the first customer for the ER
CAAC of China ordered 5 737-200s, 2 767-200ER and 1 747-200 Combi.
CAAC of China also ordered 10 BAe 146-100s and Indonesia 1 BAe 146-100 for Presidential use.
Republic Express announced the largest order to date for the BAe J-31 with an order for 20 firm.
KLM ordered 10 + 5 Fokker 100s.
TAA (Trans Australia Airlines) will buy up to 20 737-300 with Boeing accelerating the introduction of Efis (Glass Cockpit) to secure the order
ASA secured financing to enable delivery of the first of 10 EMB Brasilia's at the Salon confirming them as a launch customer for the model.
Well, it's a different world today but I thought I'd post this to show how much has changed since the 1985 Show. Most names have gone even though most of the orders did actually get filled. As I said at the start, my source is Flight International so feel free to correct me and I ommitted plenty of the report so as to avoid any A vs B wars. Have I missed any orders or other news? If anyone can provide further details of orders or news I missed the update would be appreciated.