As Airbus prepares to put together the first A350 XWB, the European manufacturer acknowledges the stiff task it faces to open the final assembly line (FAL) by the end of this year and to fly the aircraft within 12 months thereafter. It says significant challenges remain to start the FAL by year’s end with “an appropriate level of quality to prepare the ramp-up.”
The Airbus A320neo (for “new engine option”) is “the fastest selling aircraft in history” and the manufacturer set itself the target of accruing “over 500” commitments by this week’s Paris Air Show, according to chief operating officer (customers) John Leahy. By early April, the company had booked more than 330 orders and “commitments” and this prompted it to accelerate the program by six months.
Airbus has moved forward by six months its target to introduce the A320neo, in effect pre-empting any word from Boeing about its choice of whether to re-engine the 737 or introduce a new “clean-sheet” design. John Leahy, Airbus chief operating officer for customers, said he thinks the U.S.
Airbus has rescheduled plans to address perceived airline requirements for more-efficient single-aisle jetliners. To take advantage of emerging new “open rotor” engine technologies, it has extended beyond 2030 the time frame in which an all-new “A30X” replacement for the A320 might appear.
Early interest in the Airbus A320neo appears to have spread beyond the ranks of two potential launch operators, as aircraft leasing powerhouse ILFC today signaled its endorsement of the re-engined narrowbodies with a memorandum of understanding covering 75 A320neos and 25 A321neos. However, ILFC also cancelled its purchase agreement for 10 A380s in an effort to “rebalance” its order book, undoubtedly tempering Airbus’s satisfaction.
Airbus has secured its third potential customer for the A320neo, and the first in Latin America, the manufacturer announced this morning. Brazil’s TAM Airlines has signed a memorandum of understanding covering 22 Airbus A320neos and 10 standard A320s. The companies did not reveal the subvariants involved in the deal, nor did they talk about delivery dates. Airbus expects the A320neo to reach the market in 2016.
Japan’s Skymark Airlines converted a memorandum of understanding for four Airbus A380s to a firm order yesterday, officially marking the first sale of the superjumbo to a Japanese airline.
A late surge in new airliner orders during December took Airbus’s sales tally for 2010 to 644 aircraft (compared with 574 in 2009), just edging out rival Boeing’s total orders for 625 airliners last year.
Airbus is mulling a fourth A320 engine option as a tactic in its single-aisle product strategy, which is expected to lead to an all-new design for service entry in 2025 or soon after.
The latest member of the Airbus A330 family is the Series 200F cargo variant, which was launched in early 2007 and is scheduled for mid-2010 entry into service with Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Crystal Cargo. The manufacturer had taken orders from 11 customers for 66 A330Fs by May this year, as it also continued to develop the established passenger variant.