Sophie Lane • 06.07.23 • 4 min read

Paris Air Show: reflecting on an important week for international collaboration

A week on from the global aviation industry descending on Le Bourget airport for the Paris Air Show, it’s important to reflect on the progress and ambition displayed during the incredibly busy week. Despite the sore feet and occasional downpour, the enthusiasm for meeting face-to-face after a four-year hiatus could not be dampened.

As is often the case, the orders made the headlines. Indian carrier IndiGo placed a firm order for 500 A320s, setting the record for the biggest single purchase agreement in the history of commercial aviation. These types of deals demonstrate a sector rebounding from the Covid pandemic and one going from strength to strength.

Paris Air Show 2023 will also be remembered for the demonstrable commitment to decarbonisation and the speed of development, only a year on from Farnborough International Airshow, was evident. Among the numerous hybrid-electric and all-electric prototypes on display, notable were several high-profile announcements of H2-powered air vehicles and new demonstrator programmes. Of particular interest to the UK, ZeroAvia announced the positive outcome of a technical study into retrofitting CRJ regional jet models with the company’s hydrogen-electric powertrain while Embraer and GKN Aerospace entered into a collaboration on a potential hydrogen flight demonstrator. In addition, Airbus announced the Airbus UpNext demonstrator programme – a new architecture for the generation of non-propulsive energy using hydrogen fuel cells.

ATI was fortunate to take part in the Start Me Up Scheme, which enabled us to showcase ten UK innovators and their products and solutions. Our exhibitors threw themselves into the opportunity to forge connections with potential partners and investors and gained connections that will hopefully bear fruit in the coming year.

Paris was a great opportunity  to strengthen some of ATI’s strategic relationships, and the appetite for global collaboration to support our shared aim of Net Zero is clear. I was pleased to host Minister Nusrat Ghani MP and UK Ambassador to France Menna Rawlings on our stand and to introduce them to some of our exhibitors and the wider team as we discussed the importance of continued investment in UK aerospace technology.

Together with our new CTO, Jacqueline Castle, I held fruitful discussions with global research institutes such as ONERA, the DLR and the newly formed Dutch funding programme Luchtvaartintransitie. We also met with the Clean Aviation Joint Undertaking to continue our commitment to close working and information sharing. Closer to home, we also signed a partnership agreement with the Midlands Aerospace Alliance. This agreement underlines our commitment to working with other organisations that champion UK aerospace. I hope that ATI can extend these agreements to other regional alliances to enable much closer collaboration to the benefit of companies in the UK aerospace sector.

So what can we conclude from our busy week in Paris?

First, it reaffirmed that reducing the environmental impact of the sector is a globally-shared ambition but that the challenges remain great. The ATI’s  role in promoting UK research excellence and building a collaborative thought leadership programme with strategic partners has therefore never been so important.

Second, it really highlighted the importance and appetite for being able to meet with people face-to-face and build the relationships we need globally. The ATI continues to form strong partnerships with a focused number of countries where the benefits of collaboration will have the most impact and whilst hybrid working is here to stay, there is really no substitute for building trusted relationships and having candid discussions in person.

Third, I need to work on my exhibition fitness before Farnborough Airshow next year!

The ATI is committed to providing opportunities for small companies in UK aerospace both through our funding programme and via our ATI Hub initiative.

If you’re interested in connecting with the ATI, consider attending our ATI Hub Bootcamp on 26th September in London. It’s free to attend and you have the opportunity to shape the event with the topics most useful to your needs. Please visit our website for more details.

Feedback from exhibitors at Paris Air Show:

“The ATI’s Innovator Showcase at the Paris Air Show will likely have the singular greatest commercial impact on our business this year.”

“Without the ATI, we wouldn’t have been able to participate in the event and we saw many seeds that hopefully will bear fruit in the years to come.”