Tests currently under way at the Airbus UK facility in Filton are exploring technologies aimed at extending the use of advanced composite materials on the main wing of future airliners such as the A350.
Last month Air France Industries opened an €84 million ($103 million) maintenance facility adjacent to Paris Orly Airport with a new work organization system to cater to the constant increase in third-party customers. While inaugurating the 441,000-sq-ft site, Air France chairman Jean-Cyril Spinetta outlined AFI’s bold aim to improve performance by halving turnaround time and cutting production costs by 15 percent.
Some 20 new aircraft, including the world’s largest–such as the Airbus A380 and the Boeing 777-200 Long Range–are among the 200 types on display here, making the Paris Air Show an exceptional showcase of flying hardware. Also making their first appearances are the Dassault Falcon 7X and Gulfstream G450 and G550 business jets, Embraer’s new 195 regional aircraft and Kazan Helicopters’ Mi-38.
Acquisitions and factory expansion, especially in low-cost production locations, led to an almost one-third jump in year-over-year revenues in 2004 at French aerospace equipment maker Latécoère. According to president and CEO François Bernard, production increased across all its aerostructures programs, and especially for the new Airbus A380 airliner, the Dassault Falcon 7X business jet and the Embraer 170/190 regional jets.
Airbus officials hope to eventally have the new A380 very large airliner certified by European and U.S. safety regulators to carry almost 900 people. Initial A380-800s will enter service with nominal loads of 555 travelers, but the European manufacturer plans to show later this year that both main cabins can be cleared of 873 crewmembers and passengers quickly enough to ensure approval of planned higher capacity variants.
Less than 50 days after the A380’s first flight, Airbus has reported an essentially satisfactory start to the very large jetliner’s test program. Preliminary results include “excellent” comfort up to the M 0.89 maximum operating Mach number, with cruise performance said to be “on target,” a spokesman said.
With almost 150 flights and well over 500 hours of test flying behind it, the Airbus A380 very large airliner’s participation at Dubai 2005 marks only its second airshow presence since the maiden flight last April. The program has been boosted this month by visits to airports in Europe and the Asia/Pacific region that will host early scheduled passenger services slated to begin with Singapore Airlines around the end of next year.
Two years after signing the deal at the 2003 Dubai airshow, Emirates Airline and General Electric are forging ahead with construction of a huge new engine test facility at Dubai airport. The 6,000-sq-ft, $45 million building, set to open in January 2007, will house an indoor test stand with a data acquisition system and engine “preparation to test” area.
While crewmen work on a United Arab Emirates air force F-16E/F after a demo flight, in the background construction workers are busy erecting a series of new hangars for Emirates’ new Airbus A380s. In addition to the hangars, Dubai International Airport is adding a new terminal and concourses to handle 70 million passengers.
As Airbus prepared to parade the A380 in Dubai, Boeing finally launched the Advanced 747 as a serious competitor. At a hastily called low-key unveiling in London last Tuesday, Alan Mulally, the president and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, announced orders for 18 B747-8 Freighters worth $5 billion from Cargolux and Nippon Cargo Airlines (NCA). Orders for the new passenger version will follow next year, he confidently predicted.