To the casual observer, it looked like just another chunk of concrete apron on Airbus’s sprawling production complex at Blagnac Airport outside Toulouse. Nestled between giant hangars and the Airbus outdoor museum with its graffiti-covered airplanes, Airbus is spending approximately $184 million to build the production line for its new A350XWB airliner. The new facility is expected to be fully operational during the third quarter of 2010.
Less than three months ago, on March 24, General Electric’s newest engine, the GEnx-2B, took to the air on the company’s Boeing 747 flying test bed, marking another milestone in the development of its latest and most advanced civil powerplant.
Diehl Aircabin (Hall 2, Stand 192), one of the concerns shed by Airbus as part of its Power 8 restructuring program, is investing more than $135 million in production facilities for Airbus A350 cabin components as new 51:49 joint owners Diehl and Thales look to combine their cabin system expertise and develop increasingly integrated airliner interiors.
Bombardier has already thrown its hat into the more-than-100-seats jetliner ring with its C Series design and Embraer is considering its response to perceived market requirements (see box). But industry leaders Airbus and Boeing have been markedly reticent to reveal more of their thinking on the characteristics needed in designs to replace their A320 and 737, respectively, in the 150-passenger class by the end of the next decade.
With the A380 very-large airliner firmly established in production and airline operation, Airbus is now hard at work on its next project: the three-model A350XWB twin-aisle twinjet family. It is about to begin production detailed design for
the mainly carbon-fiber aircraft, which is competing against the Boeing 787 and which Airbus claims also could replace the larger Boeing 777.
Airbus’s VIP division continues to benefit from an industry segment that if not immune to the current economic recession and credit crisis, appears at the very least to be relatively unaffected.
European jetliner manufacturer Airbus has acknowledged operators’ “teething troubles,” but it characterizes the A380’s entry into service as “very successful.” The comments follow technical incidents involving 13 aircraft flying with Emirates Airline, Qantas and Singapore Airlines, as well as reported dissatisfaction at Emirates, the A380’s largest customer.
DAE Capital, the aircraft leasing and financial business arm of Dubai Aerospace Enterprise (DAE), yesterday signed an operating lease agreement with Garuda Indonesia covering eight Boeing 737-800s. The signing ceremony, attended by Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, took place at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Jakarta during the World Islamic Economic Forum (WIEF).
Airbus plans to install satellite-based augmentation systems (SBAS) in its A350XWB to support GPS Cat 1-equivalent 200-foot LPV approaches. SBAS includes the FAA’s WAAS; Europe’s Egnos (2010); India’s Gagan (2011); and Japan’s MSAS (2010/11). The FAA has already published 1,445 WAAS LPV approaches (exceeding the number of ILS approaches) and plans to have 6,000 available by 2018.
Having badly burned its fingers with production delays on the A380 program, Airbus is determined not to fall into the fire again with its next large airliner program, the A350XWB. At a January 14 groundbreaking ceremony for the new widebody’s assembly line in Toulouse, France, Airbus COO Fabrice Brégier insisted that the company will achieve its goal of delivering the first airplane in mid-2013.