Airbus A350-1000 manufacturing is under way, with Airbus reporting last month the laying up of the first carbon fiber elements, to be followed in the coming weeks by the first cutting of metal parts, according to program executive vice president Didier Evrard. Establishment of systems-installation design maturity is said to be “on plan,” while work continues on the variant’s structural design phase, which will permit the start of engineering drawing. Structural design maturity “incorporating all requirements” also was completed by mid-June.
It might seem only a year or two since Airbus launched the A380 and just months since the mighty, double-deck behemoth entered service, but the European manufacturer has delivered more than 130 since operations began, almost six years ago, in October 2007. The aircraft, which typically accommodate about 500 passengers (depending upon customers’ cabin configurations), have an average daily use of more than 13 hours, says Airbus. Of the 324 examples that had been ordered by late June, the backlog of 192 includes 20 booked this year.
This week’s Farnborough International Airshow promises to be another busy one for dealmakers like Michael Richter, managing director and head of aerospace and defense with investment bank Lazard. Even compared with the periods around the 2012 Farnborough show and the 2013 Paris Air Show, he sees rising levels of mergers and acquisitions (M&A) activity in the commercial aerospace sector. He also anticipates some degree of recovery in defense industry M&A activity, reversing a period of relative inactivity in a sector that has been impacted by uncertainty over military budgets.
Rolls-Royce last month opened its new advanced engine disc manufacturing facility at Washington in the northeast of England. When it is fully operational in 2016, the 194,000-sq-ft (18,000 sq m) factory will have the capacity to make 2,500 fan and turbine discs each year for various Trent engines, including the new Trent XWB that powers the Airbus A350XWB.
Rolls-Royce is confident that other customers will take up the 70 Airbus A350-900XWB and -1000XWB production positions released when Emirates Airline canceled its order on June 1, and says demand remains strong for the new twin-aisle twinjet, which is powered exclusively by R-R Trent XWB engines. The loss reduced the manufacturer’s orderbook by £2.6 billion (excluding the value of “TotalCare” support contracts), or about 3.5 percent.
Boeing sees little chance that it will have to cut production of the 777 during the transition to the 777X, notwithstanding recent conjecture from analysts that a so-called sales “drought” since the launch of the program during last year’s Dubai Air Show could portend a period of market weakness–and a possibility that it won’t find enough orders to maintain its 8.3-per-month rate into 2020.
Airbus Defence and Space Military Aircraft is scheduled to deliver the first of 22 A400M airlifters to the Royal Air Force in September. The delivery of aircraft MSN15 not only will mark the start of operations by a third country, but also represents the introduction of new capabilities as an important step along the type’s development roadmap. To get those capabilities into service has necessitated an intensive flight-trial campaign in the first part of this year.
Analysts expect established trends in predicted long-term jetliner requirements to continue, with little change to the market breakdown by aircraft size, according to the latest Boeing 20-year forecast statistics, unveiled in London on July 10.
Airbus DS is at an advanced stage of selling A330 MRTTs to three more countries. Qatar has selected to buy two pod/boom-equipped aircraft, while India has selected the A330 with Rolls-Royce engines and a pod/FRU tanking configuration. Airbus has finalized negotiations, including offset packages, and has pre-signed the contract. A signature is hoped for before the end of the year.
Airbus Defence and Space Military Aircraft (Outdoor Exhibit 13) has announced that it will begin deliveries of an improved version of the A330 multi-role tanker transport in late 2017. The initial A330 MRTT Enhanced aircraft will be the first of six that were ordered by Singapore earlier this year. Subsequent production aircraft will all be of the new version.