It was a bolt from the blue for the Airbus team when the expected orders for the Gulf carrier Emirates fizzled out in public The trail of disturbance left on water surface by a ship is known as wake. It is no different in the air; only that it is largely unseen and is complicated due to the combination of speed, wing forms and the shape of the fuselage.
The wake is an unwanted by-product that creates drag, hindering forward motion. Any aircraft, howsoever well designed, will not be able to do away with it completely. But empennages like sharklets/winglets have become common features of passenger jets, big or small, as devices that help reduce wingtip “vortices”. But this piece is not about wakes. It rather focuses on the recent Dubai Air Show (DAS). What happened in Dubai, regarding the much anticipated orders for A380, was more of a quake than a wake.
Big air shows like Farnborough (UK) and one in Paris are held annually, alternating between the two locations. DAS began as a small civil aviation trade show in 1986 and only became a full-fledged air show in 1989. Held in November of every odd numbered year, it is an important event in the region as Dubai happens to be at the core of the Middle East. The oil-rich Gulf countries generally want best of everything that money can buy and there is nothing more expensive than a brand new passenger airline or latest fighter or unmanned drone. As for big airlines, negotiation on specific needs regarding capacity and range is protracted and goes far beyond the span of an air show.
Announcement about new developments and significant orders are generally timed during air shows to get maximum publicity. Airbus shocker Air shows generally have large media presence, and the recent DAS had 1,350 journalists covering it. That aside, large number of exhibitors of various gadgets/equipments try their best to push or arouse the interest of serious visitors. Such shows are generally open to public on last couple of days with attractions like aerial acrobatics and fly-pasts. One can gauge the impact of such large media presence in an environment where “breaking news” happens in real.
As such, it was a bolt from the blue for the Airbus team when the expected orders for the Gulf carrier Emirates fizzled out in public and the signing ceremony was cancelled. It is a common understanding that no ceremony gets cancelled if it was not programmed; and it would not be programmed without having reached a deal in advance. Emirates seems to have backed out just before signing, making it extremely embarrassing for the other side. Chairman of Emirates group, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, had hinted few weeks ago about the size of the order and possible signing at Dubai, provided the negotiations were completed on time. As there had been no orders for five years, possibly the Airbus team was overoptimistic that the deal was more or […]