A particularly productive month of December for both Airbus and Boeing helped the world’s dominant airframe makers surpass commercial targets for 2013, leaving each with unfilled order totals of well over 5,000 airplanes.
Competition between Airbus and Boeing
Independent cabin completion centers approved by Boeing to outfit the business aviation version of the Dreamliner are gearing up for delivery of their first aircraft, expected before year-end. Gore Design Completions of San Antonio and Jet Aviation Basel in Switzerland have been preparing to meet the unique challenge of building and installing highly customized interiors in the all-composite fuselage of the 787 for a year or more, sending teams of engineers to receive training at Boeing’s Seattle facilities.
Airbus has “done really well with [A350-900] flight test [and] in the first phase has gathered a lot [of information],” according to executive vice-president and program head Didier Evrard. By the beginning of November, the first two A350-900 twin-aisle twinjets had logged more than 100 flights and over 500 hours of testing.
Airbus faces several major steps in bringing the A350XWB, which flew in June before appearing at the Paris Air Show, into service in the second half of 2014, said executive vice-president and A350 program head Didier Evrard. The manufacturer is working hard to progress the five-aircraft flight-test campaign in order to deliver a mature design at entry into service (EIS).
The French Air Force accepted its first A400M airlifter on August 2, when an all-military crew flew the first production aircraft–MSN7–from Seville to its operational base at Orleans. The flight followed a July 31 declaration by the pan-European procurement agency OCCAR that Airbus Military had achieved the contracted specifications for the initial operating capability of the new airlifter.
Encouraged by a bounty of sales commitments during the Paris Air Show, Airbus parent company EADS now predicts that the civil airframer will receive orders for 300 more aircraft than it previously projected for this year. While releasing its half-year financial results on July 31, EADS said it expects Airbus will receive orders for at least 1,000 airplanes and deliver between 600 and 610, up from last year’s 588.
European aerospace conglomerate EADS reported increased revenues and profitability for the first half of the year on Wednesday, driven mainly by its Airbus commercial aircraft business. The company said it will rebrand itself next year as the Airbus Group to emphasize the predominance of its commercial business.
Following the first flight on June 14 of the Airbus A350 XWB, AIN had an opportunity to interview John Leahy, Airbus chief operating officer, customers, about the historic event.
What can you say about today’s flight?
“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.
The global rivalry between Airbus and Boeing is now firmly rooted on American soil. On April 9, Airbus broke ground on a new A320-series assembly plant in Mobile, Ala., its first U.S.-based production facility. Boeing announced a second-phase expansion of its 787 production facility two states away in South Carolina the next day.
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