Orders for as many as 250 new General Electric (GE) GEnx engines are expected here at the Paris Air Show this week as the Boeing 787 program gathers pace after last year’s hesitant start. Announcements will come as Boeing prepares for the launch of the stretched 747 Advanced (for which it predicts a market for up to 300), and Airbus launches its A350 variant of the A330–both programs representing applications of the new engine.
Messier-Dowty, here at Le Bourget in Hall 2 Stand D14, is highlighting a wide variety of landing gear technology for a range of commercial and military aircraft, including the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, the Sukhoi Russian Regional Jet and the Airbus A340-500/600, all new displays at the Paris Air Show.
Believe it or not, there’s a pilot shortage out there, not in the U.S. or Europe, but in Asia, where a flourishing airline business needs first officers, and lots of them.
Here at this week’s Paris show, Airbus is introducing the A350, a larger variant of the A330 being presented at a global show for the first time. The latest model follows a disappointing period in orders for Airbus twin-aisle twinjets. During last year and up until early this May, Airbus took orders for just 28 A330-200s (19 percent of the market) against a combined 121 for the Boeing 767 and its replacement, the 787.
Boeing made the apparently radical decision two years ago to use composites for most of the primary structure of its new 787 jetliner, resulting in a need for around 35 tons of the material per airplane. Japan’s Toray Industries, whose Torayca pre-preg is used already by Boeing for the 777’s tail and floor beams, was selected a year ago to supply the raw material, which combines carbon fibers with toughened epoxy resin.
Recent changes to the proposed Airbus A350 have rendered the planned A330 variant much more competitive against the Boeing 787 in the battle for the “middle of the market,” according to Airbus. The European airframer has refined the design, which now offers more seats and, consequently, lower seat-mile costs.
The April 27 first flight of the Airbus A380 was undoubtedly a triumph for Europe’s aerospace industry. But it was also an occasion to celebrate for many companies on the other side of the Atlantic. According to EADS, which owns 80 percent of Airbus, more than 300 U.S. suppliers in 42 American states produce nearly 50 percent of the A380.
Say what you will about Boeing’s political and boardroom troubles over the past few years, the company’s technical proficiency doesn’t appear to have diminished. Just ask 787 program manager Mike Bair, whose engineering team continues to meet virtually every scheduling milestone set when the company launched the Dreamliner project a little more than a year ago.
By the end of 2005, and perhaps even by the end of the show, Airbus expects to have booked commitments toward firm orders for 200 examples of the A350. This follow-on from the successful A330 twin-aisle twinjet, was launched less than seven weeks ago, and just 10 months after shareholders EADS and BAE Systems gave formal authority for the sales force to offer the aircraft.
As Airbus prepared to parade the A380 in Dubai, Boeing finally launched the Advanced 747 as a serious competitor. At a hastily called low-key unveiling in London last Tuesday, Alan Mulally, the president and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, announced orders for 18 B747-8 Freighters worth $5 billion from Cargolux and Nippon Cargo Airlines (NCA). Orders for the new passenger version will follow next year, he confidently predicted.