Here at this week’s Paris show, Airbus is introducing the A350, a larger variant of the A330 being presented at a global show for the first time. The latest model follows a disappointing period in orders for Airbus twin-aisle twinjets. During last year and up until early this May, Airbus took orders for just 28 A330-200s (19 percent of the market) against a combined 121 for the Boeing 767 and its replacement, the 787.
The 1,050th and last 757 airliner took off from Boeing’s Renton, Washington assembly plant for delivery to Shanghai Airlines on April 28, some 23 years after the company ferried the first of the single-aisle workhorses to launch customer Eastern Airlines. But out of sight doesn’t mean out of mind for Boeing. Fifty-five operators still fly some 1,000 of the twinjets, many of which will need upkeep for decades to come.
By the end of 2005, and perhaps even by the end of the show, Airbus expects to have booked commitments toward firm orders for 200 examples of the A350. This follow-on from the successful A330 twin-aisle twinjet, was launched less than seven weeks ago, and just 10 months after shareholders EADS and BAE Systems gave formal authority for the sales force to offer the aircraft.
An undisclosed Saudi Arabian company has ordered a VIP-configured Airbus A340-200. The aircraft, renowned as the world’s longest commercial airliner, is to be delivered green by the end of 2006 and sent for outfitting to an s-yet-unannounced completions center. Jeddah-based National Air Services will operate the A340 on behalf of he client. NAS already flies a fleet of VIP A320 jetliners, including one for the same customer.
The rapid growth of Abu Dhabi-based executive charter group Royal Jet paints a vivid illustration of the pace of business aviation expansion in the Middle East. The company started life just two years ago with a single Boeing Business Jet and its fleet has since grown by three more BBJs, two Gulfstream 300s and a Bombardier Challenger 300.
Airbus A318s powered by CFM International engines were approved by the EASA for 180-minute extended-range twin-engine operations (ETOPS). FAA validation of 180-minute ETOPS is targeted for the first half of next year. The first A318 with the 180-minute ETOPS capability is a corporate Elite to be delivered to Comlux Aviation of Switzerland.
Airbus and Chinese government and industry officials are considering the case for setting up an assembly line in China for A320 airliners and expect to make their decision by next month. China has long been a supplier of airframe parts and assemblies to both Airbus and Boeing. Shanghai, Tianjin, Xi’an and Zhuhai are reported to be candidate sites for the new factory.
Monarch Airlines of the UK has ordered CTT Systems’ (Stand A131) zonal-drying systems for its 27-strong fleet. Monarch will equip its Airbus A300s, A320s, A321s and Boeing 757s and 767s by the end of next year.
According to engineering manager Adrian Vaughan, rapidly increasing oil prices means airlines must focus on fuel-saving initiatives.
The Comtran jet nozzle retrofit showing here on the Jetran Air MD-82 in the static display makes the airplane compliant with Stage 4 noise regulations, reduces fuel consumption by 1.5-2 percent and extends time between overhauls by lowering the exhaust gas temperature by 10 degrees. And the soon-to-be certified winglets sported by the Bucharest-based twinjet cut fuel consumption by a further 5 to 5.5 percent.
Thirty-five years of A300/A310 manufacturing will come to an end next July, when Airbus hands over the last A300-600 on order. Although it collected orders for 821 examples over the life of the program, the A300/310 series has seen flagging deliveries over the past few years as market demand for newer designs progressively overtook Airbus’ original offerings.