A specially configured Boeing 737-800 meant to test some of the airframe maker’s most promising new technologies now sits at Boeing Field in Seattle, where crews prepare to install experimental systems that could appear in service as early as 2017 on the 737 MAX.
Despite its recent successes, GKN hasn’t had everything its own way. In December 2011, it lost out to Korea Aerospace Industries for some wing structures work for Airbus A320s. According to then Airbus chief executive Thomas Enders, the European airframer opted to send the work to Korea for “purely competitive reasons,” and, in January, he stated that “GKN did not make the upmost effort to come up with a competitive offer.”
The opening in late April of GKN Aerospace’s manufacturing and assembly facility for composite wing structures at Bristol in the UK represents a $270 million investment that the company believes will see it significantly boost its presence in this sector over the next 30 to 40 years. The new 333,000-sq-ft facility is primarily dedicated to making wing spars for the new Airbus A350XWB airliner, but it is also producing spares for the A400M military transport.
Last month’s breakthrough in winning a contract to supply Boeing with complex machined titanium and aluminum parts and assemblies for the horizontal stabilizer of the new 787-9 Dreamliner widebody is the prime example of GKN Aerospace’s recent success in keeping its backlog buoyant.
Operators of Boeing 787s powered by the latest-standard GEnx-1Bs are promised real fuel savings over similar aircraft with competing engines, according to engine maker General Electric. The powerplants also will be more durable and remain “on wing” longer if equipped with two performance improvement packages: PIPs I and II.
Airbus could withdraw from a commitment to increase A330 production to 11 aircraft per month in two years’ time, if there is no change to the European Union (EU) emissions trading scheme (ETS), according to programs executive vice president Tom Williams.
The intake of titanium by the global aviation industry is predicted to rise dramatically over this decade with the production of next-generation commercial jets made of advanced construction materials gearing up. Today, this industry consumes 40 percent of the world’s titanium supply. According to an independent analysis, demand for titanium in commercial aviation will increase from 42,000 metric tons in 2011 to more than 49,000 tons this year and then rise to 72,000 tons in 2016.
Airbus has completed the first phase of the A350XWB flight test bed (FTB) campaign, including testing of the Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engine and Goodrich nacelle system. The campaign comprises more than 100 hours of running time and nearly 80 flight hours.
Few expected CFM International to match its record sales campaign of 2011 this year, but after his company sold 900 engines through the first six months of 2012, one might excuse company chief executive Jean-Paul Ebanga for a moment to allow him to catch his breath.
CAE executives have rushed to Farnborough from Barcelona, Spain, where the company last week inaugurated a new center for commercial aircraft pilots and cabin crew near the main operating base of Vueling Airlines, the new facility’s anchor customer. The Canada-based group also recently expanded its training network by opening a new facility in South Korea and acquiring Oxford Aviation Academy in the UK.