It’s that week. Every two-years the world of aviation flocks to a small-town West of London. Matched only by Dubai and Paris is an air show where visitors from all over the world congregate to talk about every aspect of civil and military flying. Visions of the future and the latest products from the major manufacturers all fight for the attention at Farnborough.
This year is different. In 2020, the Farnborough Air Show maybe taking place in a non-EU State. The last time that happened was in Farnborough in September 1972. Then, knowing the UK was going to enter the EEC the show was opened to European companies.
I was 12-years old at the time. It’s fascinating to see the Rolls-Royce powered Lockheed Tri-Star as a “new” aircraft. My introduction to aviation took place further West. I distinctly remember being taken to the annual Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton Air Day around that age.
So, what of aerospace in a post-Brexit Britain? One thing is for certain; the Air Show organisers will not be closing the show to foreign aircraft or only others who use British parts. Very few other things are certain.
At the same time, as the Air Show next week the negotiations between the UK and EU will resume in Brussels. This time with a new British Brexit Minister and with a live UK White Paper on the table. This is positive news. However, to make the progress that the travelling public and aviation industry need the negotiators are going to have to move at supersonic speed.
It’s notable from the newsreel video of 1972 the high level of aircraft noise and emissions. That’s an issue that has changed considerably over more than 40 years. What was then the; “white heat of technology” is, now totally unacceptable to the public.
That subject should be an area of focus for the negotiators. The European environment is a common area of interest. In civil aviation, for example, there’s no point in the UK and EU having different rules and regulations for aircraft noise and emissions. Agreement on this subject should be sewn-up quickly and simply.
Addressing the global environment will be more than a few exhibits at the Farnborough Air Show. The “electrification” of aviation is moving at great pace and represents a future market-place worth billion. To get from A to B, well-funded research projects and flying prototypes are going to be essential. This is another area of focus for the negotiators. Continued European cooperation on civil aviation research funding will be the way to guarantee a place in the future.