Boeing and a trio of Arabian Gulf airlines have set the stage for what could prove one of the most memorable Dubai Air Shows ever, as the parties neared conclusion of negotiations of reported contracts for up to approximately 200 of the new 777X, valued at some $80 billion at list prices. The deals appear likely to effectively launch the project here in Dubai, where executives for Emirates Airline have spent more than two years helping define the ultimate shape of the 350- to 400-seat jet, entry into service of which Boeing has targeted for around 2020.
EADS has an ongoing partnership with Siemens and Diamond Aircraft on serial hybrid propulsion. The three companies announced the first flight, in June near Vienna, Austria, of a DA36 E-Star 2 motorglider, the propeller of which was driven by an electric motor. The batteries were recharged in-flight via a small Wankel-type engine.
Separately, the European group is already developing the E-Fan, an electric two-seater for pilot training.
EADS has set itself an ambitious target for its E-Thrust hybrid propulsion concept, a joint effort with British engine maker Rolls-Royce that went relatively unnoticed when it was revealed at the Paris Air Show in June. The E-Airbus, under its new moniker, is to enter into service in 2030 as a 100-seat regional aircraft.
The FAA is due to issue a rule requiring a new approach to stall training for airline pilots that runs counter to previous guidance. According to Dr. Jeff Schroeder, the agency’s chief scientific and technical officer, the new approach will “take a lot of work to undo previous training because some pilots are ‘spring-loaded’ to the previous technique.”
While the business aviation world cautiously waits to see if the signs of recovery in the traditional markets of Europe and North America bear fruit, the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are looking elsewhere to satisfy demand for growth. While the Far East and Latin America offer encouragement, it is Africa that offers the best opportunities for increased sales, but the continent also has its own unique set of challenges.
Africa’s airlines need to wake up to competition from outside the continent, form alliances that allow players both big and small to interact for the greater good, and realize that governments are often no longer interested in protecting domestic carriers (as they see economy-boosting tourist arrivals as a more important priority), according to Nick Fadugba, CEO of African Aviation Services.
The Middle East is sitting at the end of the air transport rainbow, if Airbus forecasts are to be believed: its share of global traffic will expand faster than that of any other geographical area, increasing by one half in the next 20 years.
Progress has proven slow–tediously slow–for Mitsubishi’s MRJ regional jet program during the two years between the 2011 Dubai Air Show and this one. In fact, program schedules reflect two separate year-and-a-half-long delays to certification since then, placing the company further from its elusive goal today than it thought it stood during the 2011 edition of the Middle East’s premier aerospace event.
Richard Aboulafia, vice president of analysis at the Teal Group of Fairfax, Virginia, wonders whether Emirates has bitten off more than it can chew with the A380. The lack of operating lessors is an indication of a weak-to-nonexistent secondary market. And Emirates’ insistence on low average fleet age–a year ago, its strategy officials were aiming for under six years–means that the airline could have to start offloading its earliest A380 components in the fleet as soon as next year.
The spectacular rise of Emirates and its Gulf rivals confounded the expectations of mature carriers in the U.S. and Europe. These fifth- and sixth-freedom carriers have limitless ambitions and enjoy the revenues won through hydrocarbon abundance to back them up. But personalities have also played a role and one thing is sure: the Ruler of Dubai has made himself a pivotal player on the world’s aviation stage.