Today in AFJ History

November 16, 2013  

1982: Too many air shows?

The F-16XL Fighting Falcon prototype aircraft drops bombs in a Sept. 12 demonstration at the 1982 Farnborough Air Show. (General Dynamics photo)

From the archive: September 1982

Editor’s note: If this wasn’t the first time the sentiment had been expressed, it certainly wasn’t the last.

Too Many Air Shows, Too Often?

Missing at Farnborough this year will be McDonnell Douglas — notwithstanding its joint venture work with Great Britain on the Marine Corps AV-8B V/STOL Harrier and British Aerospace Hawk jet trainer for the US Navy; European buys of (and other foreign interest in) the Harpoon missile; and continued marketing efforts worldwide on the Navy F/A-18 and Air Force F-15 fighters, as well as the DC-10 transport and KC-10 advanced cargo/tanker aircraft. McDonnell Douglas has also decided not to participate in the 1983 Paris Air Show. As the US’ biggest defense contractor — $4.4 billion [$10.3 billion in 2012 dollars] in Defense Department sales in the fiscal year ended last September 30th, well ahead of Boeing and Lockheed (both $2.7 billion) — the McDonnell Douglas chalet, flight demonstrations and exhibit booths have always been big drawing cards at Farnborough and Le Bourget

But last February, McDonnell Douglass Chairman Sanford N. McDonnell wrote the director of the Society of British Aerospace Companies that his firm would not exhibit at either Farnborough 1982 or Paris 1983. McDonnell said, “Although useful customer contact is accomplished at the air shows, we have come to the conclusion that the cost of yearly participation in major international shows in terms of dollars and executive man-hours far outweighs the benefits of such participation. Furthermore, we feel that a yearly event does not provide a sufficient interval for significant technological advance or meaningful product improvement…”