Airbus (Booth No. 4776) announced here at the NBAA show that it has received 23 orders so far in 2008, including 14 for single-aisle models (five A318s and nine ACJs) and nine for widebodies (eight A350s and one A340). Many of these orders came from undisclosed customers, but Airbus did reveal the names of several buyers, including Jet Alliance (one ACJ and two A318 Elites) and Saudi Arabia-based MAZ Aviation (six A350s).
Cessna supplier Spirit AeroSystems will manufacture the fuselage for the Citation Columbus in a new 375,000-sq-ft factory in Wichita. The Kansas Department of Commerce’s Major Projects and Comprehensive Training program and Kansas Economic Opportunity Initiatives Fund helped with $14.5 million in funding, and the City of Wichita and Sedgwick County are adding $3.2 million in property tax rebates.
While orders notched by European aerospace OEMs and suppliers in the last year have reached record levels, the continued weakness of the U.S. dollar against the euro is eroding profits and putting increased pressure on some companies to move production outside Europe to low-cost and/or dollar-zone countries.
Call it the super-sizing of the large-cabin business jet. Orders for executive-configured airliners are far exceeding manufacturers’ projections.
“We’ve seen quite a jump in orders for these aircraft,” said David Velupillai, marketing director for Airbus’ executive and private aviation division. “We’ve sold a lot more than we expected.”
Airbus, to date, has sold more than 100 single-aisle airplanes in executive configuration, including its first double-deck A380 “Flying Palace” and, in the first deal of its kind in the Middle East (and the largest ever for Airbus corporate jetliners) six VIP-configured A350XWB Prestige aircraft based on the A350-900, the newest member of the manufacturer’s corporate jetliner family.
If there are any tears being shed by those in the completion and refurbishment industry these days, they’re most likely tears of joy. And the reason is simple: a backlog for new business jets is stretching well into the next decade. And based on the latest delivery numbers from the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), the trend isn’t expected to change dramatically anytime soon.
EADS Socata (Booth No. 4484) and Daher Aerospace (Booth No. 4381) are developing joint projects in business aviation and aero structures that promise to significantly boost each company’s presence in these areas. As part of the partnership, Daher will take over an undisclosed majority stake in Socata from EADS, with the new company likely to seek a partner to launch a twin-engine business turboprop as soon as next year.
Despite the financial shockwaves emanating from Wall Street, engine and avionics manufacturer Honeywell Aerospace sees a strong appetite for business airplanes in the next 10 years based on results of its newly released 17th annual market forecast.
British air-taxi operator start-up FlairJet last month announced plans to start operations next May with a pair of Embraer Phenom 100s. It will lease the very light jets from an undisclosed Embraer customer in Europe that has 10 Phenom 100s on order. FlairJet has placed an order for one Phenom 100, which is scheduled for delivery in 2012. The company also has an option for another.
Airbus officially opened its first final assembly line outside Europe today in front of official dignitaries and 600 guests gathered for the inauguration of the new A320 facility in Tianjin, China.