Visitors and aircraft fill the grounds on the opening day of the Paris Air Show. This year's show includes Lockheed Martin, which is touting the F-35 joint strike fighter and the F/A-22 Raptor.
This year's air show is a return of sorts to normality. Two years ago, in what was seen as an attempt to punish France over its lobbying against the war in Iraq, the Pentagon essentially boycotted the show and encouraged U.S. defense contractors to follow suit.
This year, the U.S. military and American aerospace companies are back in force. Lockheed Martin, for example, is touting its two major programs, the F-35 joint strike fighter and the F/A-22 Raptor. The first F-35 is being produced in Fort Worth; the F/A-22 is built in Fort Worth and Marietta, Ga.
Indeed, just about every company associated with civil or military aviation has a presence on the exhibit grounds just north of Paris, where the major players have rented buildings to market their wares and entertain guests.
Organizers said the show broke a record by drawing 1,900 exhibitors from 44 countries. More than 200 planes and helicopters are on display at the airfield where Charles Lindbergh landed in 1927 after the first solo nonstop trans-Atlantic airplane flight.
This was supposed to have been a triumphant week for European jet builder Airbus, a moment to revel on home turf here at the Paris Air Show after years of besting American rival Boeing.
But it hasn't quite turned out that way, not even with Monday's well-timed announcement that Qatar Airways plans to buy 60 new Airbus midsize passenger jets.
Qatar may have chosen the still-in-development Airbus A350, but Chicago-based Boeing's new version of a midsize workhorse, the 787 Dreamliner, has been selling so briskly that it has reinvigorated the company almost overnight.
A decade ago, Boeing controlled 80 percent of the passenger-aircraft market. But in 2003, Airbus surpassed Boeing for the first time in planes delivered -- 305, compared with 281 for Boeing -- and it beat Boeing again last year.
Before the Qatar announcement, Airbus had sold only 10 A350s; Boeing says it has orders from 21 customers for 266 Dreamliners, which will hit the market two years before the A350 does.
In fact, Airbus decided last week to hold off on formally launching the A350, which is the subject of a legal wrangle in the World Trade Organization between the United States and the European Union over government subsidies that each company accuses the other of unfairly receiving.
The Airbus-Boeing rivalry has captured imaginations at this year's air show, which French President Jacques Chirac opened Monday, because it pits not only two aviation giants but also competing visions of where air travel is headed.
Airbus has put most of its eggs -- $13 billion worth -- into the A380, a multideck colossus that seats as many as 555 passengers and is designed to fly between large cities under the current air-transport model, the hub-and-spoke system.
Boeing hasn't offered a replacement for its aging 747, which was long the dominant super-jumbo jet. Instead, it set about developing the 223-seat 787, which is designed to fly fewer passengers long distances "point to point," as discount carriers Southwest Airlines and JetBlue Airways do. Boeing thinks passengers will demand that airlines move away from the hub system.
Airbus says it has 154 firm orders for the A380, which was announced in 2000 and is scheduled to be flying by 2006, mainly on long international flights.
But Boeing officials say they doubt the company can sell the 300 planes it needs to make a profit, and Airbus is facing manufacturing problems that recently forced it to delay delivery of the plane for six months.
A top Boeing executive was confident Monday as he briefed journalists on the status of the 787, which is being assembled in Seattle.
Many companies associated with civil or military aviation have a presence on the exhibit grounds just north of Paris.
Airbus said that the deal was a sign of confidence in the company.
Airbus and Boeing battle it out for the limelight and make big announcements.
Exactly what Airbus will do is not clear, but speculation about the A370 was the buzz at the IATA meeting in Paris.