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I was recently at the Paris Air Show. Despite it sounding like the sort of event where you might go and watch the Blue Angels perform, it is actually the biggest aerospace and defense show in the world, and takes place at the relatively small airport Le Bourget in the northern suburbs of Paris. You can read a bit more about the background in my preview post Paris Air Show. The second biggest aerospace show is apparently Farnborough Air Show in the UK, which is only about 15 miles from the Cadence office (and only held in even-numbered years so there is none this year). It seems that there isn't really any event on the same scale in the US.
Cadence attended the Paris Air Show for the first time this year. We had a small booth in the US Pavilion. In fact, when I was trying to find our booth I walked right past it since I was expecting typical Cadence bright red branding, but it was more red, white, and blue. The US Pavilion had a theme of Apollo 50, honoring the 50th Anniversary of the first landing on the moon on July 20, 1969.
One result of there being no big show in the US is that despite being in Paris, many of the meetings that we had were with US-based companies and organizations. Even the US Department of Defense has its own booth (about 10 times the size of ours).
The show is big, on the scale of CES or MWC. There are some exhibition halls that are all filled, and that is where the vendors like us hang out. But there are a couple of rows of "pavilions", too, which is where the companies that build the planes have conference rooms, restaurants, and temporary offices. You need an appointment to get into the pavilions. They also get the front-row view to the demonstrations of aircraft that take place each afternoon. Those are a mixture of civilian aircraft like Airbus's latest model, and jet fighters such as the JSF. Because the pavilions are stretched out in a long line (so they all have frontage onto the runways), the show is physically grueling. Airbus's pavilion is well over a mile from the hall where our booth was. There are trains running around that you can hop on, but I never cracked the code of how to find where to get on before they were full. I think my step count that day was over 22,000.
One hall holds the Paris Aerospace Museum. This is actually open year round, it is nothing directly to do with the Paris Air Show. But they have some interesting historic aircraft. One hall contains not just one but two Concordes. Whenever I've been on Concorde (only in museums, I never flew on it), I'm amazed how small it is once you are used to modern wide-bodied jets. Just four seats across. It flew "faster than the sun" so you could have breakfast in London, get on Concorde and have breakfast during the three-hour flight, and arrive in New York in time for...breakfast.
We had a theme of "emulate before you fabricate". One problem with aerospace, especially military programs, is that the software is longer lasting than the hardware, so the same software may run on several generations of the underlying electronics. Since the software has been certified, there is a strong reluctance to make changes to the software. Instead, a rack of electronics, or a large board, are reduced to a single chip. Emulation and FPGA prototyping are the cleanest way to verify functionality of the hardware and software running together.
This was the topic of Frank Schirrmeister's presentation on Thursday in the US Pavilion Theater that was called The Launchpad. He discussed modern verification approaches in a presentation titled Systems of Systems Verification and Digital Twins for Aerospace Applications. I will cover that in a separate blog post. He actually got to share the stage with three retired NASA astronauts, Walt Cunningham (Apollo 7), Charlie Duke (Apollo 16), and Al Worden (Apollo 15). When I say "share the stage", I mean he was on the same stage...the astronauts were there the day before. See the picture below.
One thing I was surprised about at the show is the lack of electronics focus. If you go to anything to do with automotive these days, everything is about electronics: electronic traction, and advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS). Even though most cars are still ICE with limited autonomous capability, everyone knows where the future is. I don't get that feeling at all just wandering around the exhibition. It is more about machining titanium and making nacelles for engines. After the Paris Air Show, I went to the Ludwigsburg Automobil Elektronik Kongress and the comparison of the two was interesting. Of course, it is a conference specifically about electronics—the chassis conference was going on at the same time in Munich apparently, so maybe that would have been more like the air show.
Obviously not much to do directly with the airshow, but one evening I went to see Notre Dame Cathedral. Conveniently it is on the same subway line as Le Bourget. Of course, you can't get near the building. It looks so sad compared to the last time I saw it just a couple of years ago.
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