Designing a new aircraft in the 90-seat class is no longer a priority, ATR CEO Patrick de Castelbajac explained yesterday here at the Farnborough International Airshow. “It was something my predecessor was very keen on, as were probably 95 percent of our employees and a number of our customers,” he stated. However, he pointed out that major shareholder Airbus Group believes “the timing is not now” for such an ambitious project.
Airbus’s board of directors has made an “unconditional and unanimous” decision to launch the re-engined, extended-wing A330neo widebody family that will be cheaper to buy and operate than the Boeing 787, Airbus executives declared on Monday at the Farnborough International Airshow. The manufacturer also announced a memorandum of understanding with Air Lease Corporation (ALC) for 25 A330-900neos and promised further orders will follow this week.
Unlike its sister ship the EC225, the EC175’s main gearbox has no backup lubrication system, which could present a problem should it experience a total loss of oil. To compensate for this, its components have been designed to withstand the absence of lubricant for a limited period of time. Airbus Helicopters so far has certified a 15-minute dry-run capability (which involved a 30-minute demonstration). Further tests are scheduled for 2015 in a bid to increase the certified duration to at least 30 minutes.
Certification in hand, Airbus Helicopters is endeavoring to ensure a faultless entry into service of its EC175 medium twin, a critical product for the company in the highly competitive offshore oil-and-gas market. The first delivery, to Belgium-based operator NHV, is planned for the second half of this year, almost five years after the first flight. Thanks to the unprecedented preparation at the company’s headquarters in Marignane, France, and at a customer base, program officials believe an EC175 will be able to operate immediately after delivery.
GKN Aerospace (Chalet G1) comes to Farnborough content in having achieved “a good set of results” in 2013 as it increased sales by 10 percent to £7.6 billion (around $10 billion). “It was a good year at GKN pretty much across the board–bar land systems,” said Kevin Cummings, CEO of GKN aerospace during a pre-airshow briefing.
French aerospace industry lobbying association Gifas (Hall 1 Stand A15) is foreseeing another excellent year in terms of revenue and orders. In an economy bombarded with bad news, France’s aerospace sector is often cited as an example. A thorn in its side, however, has been the euro/dollar currency exchange rate. Recruitment remains a tricky issue, too.
Airbus Defence and Space Military Aircraft is scheduled to deliver the first of 22 A400M airlifters to the Royal Air Force in September. The delivery of aircraft MSN15 not only will mark the start of operations by a third country, but also represents the introduction of new capabilities as an important step along the type’s development roadmap. To get those capabilities into service has necessitated an intensive flight-trial campaign in the first part of this year.
Airbus DS is at an advanced stage of selling A330 MRTTs to three more countries. Qatar has selected to buy two pod/boom-equipped aircraft, while India has selected the A330 with Rolls-Royce engines and a pod/FRU tanking configuration. Airbus has finalized negotiations, including offset packages, and has pre-signed the contract. A signature is hoped for before the end of the year.
As Airbus A350XWB (Xtra widebody) customers freeze aircraft interior configuration plans, the European manufacturer hopes to limit cabin furnishing options for the new twin-aisle twinjet in order to keep final-assembly lines flowing as it accelerates production rates during a steep industrial ramp-up.
The mergers and acquisitions (M&A) tide is still rising in the commercial aerospace sector, according to Michael Richter, managing director and head of aerospace and defense with investment bank Lazard.