The single-aisle product strategy revealed this month by Airbus marks the first public move in what promises to be a fascinating duel with Boeing to provide new designs to replace many thousands of 150-seat, single-aisle airliners. But do not look for new production lines any time soon.
Airbus plans to increase the monthly production rate for its single-aisle A320 family from the current rate of 34 to 36 starting in December, the company announced today. It also said that the production rate for the long-range A330/A340 family will remain at its current level of eight per month.
Notwithstanding the continued gloomy financial projections for the air transport industry by groups such as the International Air Transport Association (IATA), Airbus predicts the size of the world’s airliner fleet will more than double over the next 20 years, from around 14,000 now to 28,100 in 2028, according to European manufacturer’s new Global Market Forecast published in London on September 17.
Satellite communications system supplier Cobham (Hall 2 Stand E83) has secured a contract to supply high-gain antennas for use on single-aisle and long-range Airbus airliners. The antennas first will be fitted to in-production A320-family airplanes pending certification of the configuration. Cobham’s HGA-7001 antenna will be used for long-range communication between pilots and ATC. The antenna supports Inmarsat SwiftBroadband services.
Is the bizliner immune to the current economic and financial crisis, or have slumping demand and order cancellations simply not yet caught up with that segment of the industry? Some among the narrow- and wide-body manufacturers say that executive segment of the industry remains relatively healthy and take a somewhat optimistic stance.
BAA Jet Management last month took delivery of its first managed Airbus, an A318 Elite, making the Hong Kong-based company the first in Asia to operate the executive version of the narrowbody airliner. The 18-passenger Elite is also the first A318 to be registered in the People’s Republic of China and is based in Shenzhen, where it is available for charter.
To mark three years of handling aircraft interior design and completion, ExecuJet Aviation Group is broadening its capabilities by moving into bizliner executive cabin completion and refurbishment work. By year-end, the Zurich, Switzerland-based company hopes to add the Airbus ACJ series and the Boeing Business Jet line to its current workload, which consists primarily of Bombardier business jets.
Airbus reports no downturn in orders for its bizliners this year. “Our market is not affected,” said François Chazelle, vice president Airbus executive and private aviation, at a press conference here yesterday. “We could sell more aircraft, if it weren’t for the limited capacity at the completion centers, especially with our widebody aircraft.
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.”
Jet Aviation inaugurated a new hangar at its Basel completion facility on May 16, just days before the opening of EBACE. Capable of simultaneously accommodating an A380 and a B747, the facility covers more than 100,000 square feet. Another 100,000 square feet of office and shop space is to be added in the near future. The event was attended by 500 customers, suppliers, members of local authorities and the press.