Prospects for the much-anticipated launch of the Airbus A330neo appeared to be strengthening on the eve of the 2014 Farnborough International Airshow. While the European airframer was officially remaining tight-lipped on plans for the re-engined model, this has done little to dispel Reuters and Bloomberg reports of a launch announcement this week, citing sources close to the program. In particular, Hawaiian Airlines confirmed that it is actively considering the A330neo as a possible alternative to the A350-800.
Engine manufacturer CFM International announced yesterday here at Farnborough International 2014 that American Airlines has selected its Leap-1A turbofan engine to power 100 Airbus A320neos. At list price, CFM values the engine order at $2.6 billion. The aircraft order was originally announced in July 2011 and American will begin taking delivery of the aircraft in 2017.
Debuting its new 787-9 widebody here at the Farnborough International Airshow yesterday, Boeing fired off an aggressive opening salvo against its rival Airbus. According to the U.S. airframer’s marketing vice president Randy Tinseth, if Airbus goes ahead with its anticipated launch of the re-engined A330neo this week it will prove that its A350 program is a failure.
At the recent ILA Berlin Airshow, Airbus Defence & Space reported progress with the passive radar [alternatively, passive coherent location (PCL)] system that predecessor company Cassidian had been developing since 2006. Frank Bernhardt, project manager, said that the company has “worked closely” with two armed forces on tests of the system. One of them is Germany.
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.