Airbus surpassed its delivery target in 2012 with a final tally of 588 aircraft for 89 customers (a rise of 10 percent over 2011). In press conference held at its Toulouse, France, headquarters on January 17, the European airframer also reported that it had exceeded its own orders target for last year by logging gross orders for 914 aircraft. These included the following: 305 A320s, 478 A320neos, 82 A330/A340s, 40 A350XWBs and 9 A380s. Net orders, taking account of order cancellations, totalled 833 aircraft—well ahead of the projected 650 units.
The Airbus orders backlog now stands at 4,682 aircraft (representing more than seven years of production) compared with Boeing’s 4,373 units, according to Airbus COO, customers John Leahy. In the competition between the rival A320neo and 737Max narrowbodies, he claimed that Neo orders now stand at 1,734, compared with 1,064 for Boeing’s 737MAX, which was launched after the Airbus product.
Airbus CEO Fabrice Bregier defended the slow-selling A380 by saying that 30 had been delivered in 2012 despite only nine being sold. On the current problems facing Boeing’s 787 he stated that Airbus “didn’t bet” on difficulties with a competitor’s product to ensure its own success. However, he added that Airbus is currently confident it has a sound design with the use of controversial lithium-ion batteries.
The airframe of the first A350XWB to fly (MSN1) is complete, reported Bregier, who added that the first flight is scheduled for mid-2013. He predicted that the focus for this year’s Paris Air Show in June will likely be the A400M military transport, although he admitted “we’d be very proud” if the A350 flew by then too.
The A400M is due to receive full EASA certification and OCCAR initial operational clearance this quarter with first delivery, to the French air force, in the second quarter.