As the Airbus A350-900 twin-aisle twinjet makes its first full international airshow display here in Singapore this week, industry observers will be keen to understand the manufacturer’s plans for the smaller A350-800, which has seen a steady erosion of orders as customers have upgraded to the baseline model. With average aircraft seat capacity moving inexorably to the right, Airbus executives are also mulling a possible double-stretched variant beyond the longer A350-1000.
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With its diverse geography and increasingly prosperous and mobile populations, Southeast Asia has become a target of opportunity the world’s regional aircraft OEMs can no longer afford to overlook.
Ahead of an initial engine run in the second quarter of this year, Rolls-Royce (Booth N23) has started to assemble the 97,000-pound thrust Trent XWB-97 powerplant that will power the heavier, 308-metric-ton (680,000-pound) max takeoff weight Airbus A350-1000 stretch variant of the new twin-aisle twinjet that has been flying since last June. The first items for the powerplant were arriving in the Rolls-Royce (RR) finished parts stores during January, according to program director Chris Young.
Delivery of SilkAir’s first Boeing 737 a little over a week ago in Washington state marked the fulfillment of what Boeing Commercial Airplanes vice president of sales Dinesh Keskar characterized as a “major win” for the company in the Asian market. In fact, while Boeing would no doubt relish the chance to convert any Airbus operator, the contract with the Singapore Airlines subsidiary came as particularly satisfying given the impressive market share its rival from Europe has established in the region over the past decade or so.
Boeing’s Charleston, South Carolina 787 factory has experienced a higher number of behind-schedule jobs involving the airplane’s mid-body section than originally anticipated, requiring it to apply “additional resources” to help flow times progress to a satisfactory level, Boeing CFO Greg Smith acknowledged during a conference call the company held Wednesday to discuss its fourth-quarter earnings.
Airbus has decided to bring an A350 XWB flight-test airplane to the Singapore Airshow next month, marking the first “full” display of the model at an international airshow. Plans call for flight-test airplane MSN3 to appear on static display on February 11 and 12. Airbus also expects the airplane to participate in the flying displays on both days.
Norwegian Air Shuttle reported on Wednesday that it remains unsatisfied with the reliability of its three Boeing 787s following Sunday’s incident in which a problem with a fuel valve delayed a flight between Bangkok and Stockholm for 19 hours. Norwegian Dreamliners have suffered a series of maintenance glitches such as erroneous fault warnings, costing the airline revenue and standing with its customers.
High-speed wind tunnel tests for the Boeing 777X started last week at the company’s transonic wind tunnel in Seattle, Boeing announced Wednesday.
The second A350 XWB flight-test aircraft, MSN3, has arrived in Bolivia to perform a series of tests at the high-altitude airfields of Cochabamba and La Paz. Cochabamba lies around 8,300 feet above sea level, and La Paz ranks as one of the world’s highest airports at 13,300 feet.
Signaling an apparent decision to abandon any immediate plans for a new large turboprop, Bombardier has found a way to squeeze another six seats into its Q400 by offering an option to convert the airplane’s forward baggage door into a passenger exit. The new interior design would replace cargo capacity with as much as another row and a half of passenger seats, raising the Q400’s total seating capacity to 86.