Airbus’s A380 yesterday received a highly welcome boost from Doric Lease, which placed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the purchase of 20 of the superjumbos at the Paris Air Show.
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Airbus began the 2,500-hour flight-test program for the A350 XWB when the new long-range widebody took off for the first time at almost exactly 10 a.m. local time in Toulouse, France, on Friday. The eagerly awaited first flight over southwestern France lasted slightly more than four hours and the twinjet, powered by Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines, touched down safely back in Toulouse at 2:05 p.m.
Regardless of whether this week’s 50th Paris Air Show (June 17 to 23) sees a surprise fly-past by the newly airborne Airbus A350XWB widebody, the biennial event will open with expectations of yet more airliner orders further bolstering backlogs. Both Airbus and Boeing, which will display two 787 Dreamliners, are expected to announce further orders.
“The honeymoon has lasted longer than on previous aircraft: people go out of their way to fly on [the A380 very-large airliner],” according to Airbus programs executive vice-president Tom Williams. By the beginning of this month, the European manufacturer had delivered 103 aircraft from the 262 for which it holds firm orders, leaving a backlog of 159, equivalent to about six years’ production.
GE Aviation, best known for its civil and military jet engines and integrated aircraft systems, plans to establish itself as a Tier 1 aerostructures supplier by the second half of the next decade. Ultimately, the company has a long-term vision to develop integrated propulsion systems (IPS) for future single-aisle airliners and regional aircraft, bringing together GE Aviation’s aerostructures capabilities in advanced wing and flying-control surface design with its turboprop engine and propeller activities in other divisions.
Norwegian Air Shuttle officials say that the airline’s adoption of the Teledyne Controls enhanced airborne data loader (eADL) for updating the navigation databases of its 42 Boeing 737s is saving it approximately $11,700 per month.
Airbus is understandably relieved to have flown the A350 XWB widebody just before the Paris Air Show, but the European manufacturer’s twin-aisle family accounts for only a small proportion of outstanding orders as it prepares to proceed with the new aircraft’s flight-test program. Nevertheless, deliveries of 247 aircraft overall and net orders for 493 new jets by June 1 constitute a “strong start” to 2013 for the European manufacturer, according to marketing senior vice-president Christopher Emerson. Airbus delivered 588 aircraft in 2012 and expects to ship more than 600 this year.
The oft-critiqued Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental (747-8I) program appears finally to have found its stride following a series of development delays and struggles with performance shortcomings. Needing to adjust to soft demand in the very-large widebody market, however, Boeing (Chalets A324 and B321) recently cut 747-8 production rates from two to 1.75 per month and its 20-year projection for the large widebody market segment by 4 percent, leading to inevitable questions about the long-term viability of the latest iteration of the Queen of the Skies.
To automobile mass-producers, automation in the aerospace manufacturing probably looks fundamentally immature. However, Boeing’s efforts in introducing robotics into 777 production at its widebody plant in Everett, Washington, have translated into some considerable efficiency gains following the company’s transition some eight years ago to a moving, U-shaped assembly line and simultaneous implementation of lean production processes.
Orders from Singapore Airlines covering up to 50 additional Rolls-Royce (R-R) Trent XWB-engined A350-900s boosted Airbus as it made final preparations late last month [May] for the new airliner’s first flight. The Asian carrier has booked 30 examples and taken options on 20 more (convertible to larger A350-1000s), boosting the total number of A350-900s it has ordered to 70.