Boeing has expressed in no uncertain terms to AIN the pain of having to honor offsets in India and the challenge of managing a constantly shifting policy landscape. The growing Indian defense budget ($44 billion by 2016) may be attractive but it would seem that the trials and tribulations being faced by initial winners such as Boeing could be a significant downside for the foreseeable future.
The trend over the last few years in which customers have placed extremely large orders for airliners has raised questions about the underlying reasons and its potential effect on OEMs that continue to raise production rates in response. The practice seems most prevalent among customers for narrowbodies, prompting both Boeing and Airbus to project rate increases to well beyond 40 in the coming years and raising concerns within some circles of a so-called bubble in the sector.
Boeing’s 787-8 is offered with both the 74,000-pound-thrust Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines and General Electric’s GEnx turbofans. The GEnx family has a thrust range of from 53,000 to 75-000 pounds.
Boeing made history a few weeks ago when it rolled out the first commercial airliner built outside of its manufacturing base in the Puget Sound region of Washington state: a 787 Dreamliner produced at its new final assembly plant in North Charleston, South Carolina. For the U.S. airframer, it was a breakthrough after a changed approach to manufacturing that has been far from straightforward and uncontentious.
The 787 is a veritable showcase for the latest technology from U.S. avionics and aircraft systems group Honeywell.
Airliner manufacturers aren’t mind readers, so it isn’t easy for them to work out what passengers will request beyond the current generation of cabin services. To find out with more certainty, Airbus has surveyed more than 10,000 people who could be passengers four decades from now to learn their preferences.
Airbus is producing a “final fix” to strengthen parts of the A380’s wing structure that have developed cracks on early examples of the very-large airliner. Aircraft now in production will be modified and the changes will be retrofitted to in-service aircraft. The cracks occurred on wing-rib feet that fasten skin panels to internal wing ribs.
The emergence of “new competitors in very powerful places around the world” has led Airbus to pursue new technologies as a way to differentiate itself, according to strategy and future-programs executive vice president Christian Scherer. For instance, despite the tough economic times, the European airframer is investing around $2.5 billion in environmental research-and-development work this year alone.
As Indian companies strive to ascend the aerospace engineering value chain, they have big ambitions to build partnerships and tap defense offsets at various stages of product development. These include design, analysis, optimization and validation, virtual prototyping and testing, digital manufacturing, product data management and technical publications.
Having taken just five orders for new aircraft in 2011, Airbus Military now has 25 sales already for 2012, and is cautiously optimistic about more before the year’s end. At the heart of the turnaround is the light tactical transport family.