THE PARIS Air Show is where everybody who's anybody in the defense industry goes to show off for the international marketplace.
Jet-lagged aerospace executives spent the past week recovering from the June 15-22 dose of Paris in springtime. The huge bazaar of winged muscle is staged every other year at Le Bourget airport.
While giants like Lockheed Martin Corp. and British Aerospace get most of the attention with daredevil flight demonstrations, and Boeing Co. and Airbus Industrie slug it out over contract announcements, swarms of smaller companies make the scene as well.
It sounds glamorous, but virtually everyone who attends insists the show is unrelenting work. Several local executives who went this year reflect on what makes it worth the trouble and expense:
Norman R. Augustine
Retiring Aug. 1 as chief executive officer of Lockheed Martin Corp. in Bethesda
It was fantastic. We had a good time this year. It was my last Paris Air Show; hopefully, it wasn't my last Paris.
We had a couple of major announcements in Paris. One was the fact that British Aerospace is joining our Joint Strike Fighter team, and we're trying to build partnerships with [British Aerospace], which we consider to be one of the finer companies in our industry.
Second was the purchase of 101 RD-180 [rocket] engines from Energomash in Russia [for use in a new generation of boosters]. That was a huge sale for them and a good opportunity for us. Their rocket engine technology is as far ahead of us as our information technology is ahead of the rest of the world.
Also, the F-16 had a lot of exciting demonstration flights. And we had a lot of important business meetings.
Vice president and general manager of AlliedSignal Communications Systems in Towson
I don't have any statistics, but my observation is that the show was significantly larger than it has been in the past few years. That indicates a significant recovery in the aerospace business, probably anchored by commercial air transport.
But there is also significantly increased competition for product placement in military applications, with defense budgets around the world continuing to be squeezed.
So what I saw was a clear indication that the world is your marketplace. There just isn't any such thing as a domestic-only marketplace anymore.
We at Communications Systems did not have any major announcements, but AlliedSignal released $550 million worth of new business at the show. We just made constant contact with all our internationally based customers, and we got firsthand witness of what all of our international competitors are doing.
And, likewise, they got witness of what we are doing. So it had both offensive and defensive aspects.
James G. Roche
Corporate vice president and general manager of Northrop Grumman's Electronic Sensors & Systems Division in Linthicum
The 1997 Paris Air Show provided a perfect backdrop for the Northrop Grumman Corp. to roll out the diversity of its product base under the banner, "Managing the Electronic Battlefield."
We displayed our latest technologies, including those produced locally at the Electronic Sensors & Systems Division, for the thousands who visited our exhibit at Le Bourget and for the many customers, suppliers and others who we met with.
Paris provided us with the perfect platform to dramatically illustrate that Northrop Grumman is on the right military and commercial programs and possesses the necessary technologies to increase its market share and expand its participation in the areas of greatest future and domestic growth.
Richard R. Erkeneff
President and chief executive officer of AAI Corp. in Hunt Valley
Clearly we hoped to expose a selected group of targeted products to the customer community that we knew would be attending the air show. We contact these prospective customers, international and domestic, long before the air show about when we'll be there and what products we'll have.
In the unmanned air vehicle area, we not only got our anticipated customer visits but we had some walk-in interest that will provide leads for us that we need to follow up on.
We would leave our Paris hotel around 7: 30 in the morning and arrive back from the show at about 7 o'clock at night, and we usually had customer dinner events in the evening. I'd usually go to bed around midnight and be right back out the next day.
The foot traffic through the booths would start at close to 9 o'clock and it would last to 5 o'clock, so people needed a little break time. On Friday, I took three to four hours and that was the only time I had to look at other parts of the air show.
Pub Date: 6/29/97