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Richard Branson, a Bristish tycoon and founder Virgin Galactic space programme stole the spotlight at the airshow last July 11, 2012, Wednesday announcing that he and his family would be on Virgin Galactic’s first trip into space as Airbus and Boeing lengthen out more plane orders.
A full size mock-up of Branson’s SpaceShip Two (SS2) aircraft was being showcased at the biennial Farnborough airshow near London which in the event focuses on the aviation sector calendar that typically showcases planemakers Airbus and Boeing battle for orders.
“Obviously this is the most exciting adventure I have ever undertaken,” Branson told AFP. “It’s both an entrepreneurial and personal adventure in being able to build a spaceship and ask my (two adult) children to come along.”
Actor Ashton Kutcher and scientist Stephen Hawking are among the aspiring astronauts who have signed up to the programme that gets under way in late 2013 to early 2014, according to the Virgin empire head. Irish businessman and author Bill Cullen, 70, was the first to sign up for a trip, in 2004. “I wanted to be the first Irishman in space and I’m really looking forward to it,” he said. “I’ve been interested in space ever since I followed comic hero Dan Dare when I was a kid.”
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Britain's Prime Minister David Cameran stands near the Garuda Indonesia A330 Airbus at Halim Perdana Kusuma Airport in Jakarta, Indonesia.
For a boost of trade and investment, Indonesia’s Garuda Airlines purchased 11 A330 Airbus Jetstar airplanes worth $2.5 billion during British Prime Minister David Cameron’s visit in Jakarta Indonesia. The new Airbus jets will increase by two-thirds the number of long-hauled A330s ready to be delivered to Garuda.
“The deal between Airbus and Garuda Indonesia Airlines is a great news for the United Kingdom aerospace industry,” Prime Minister Cameran said from his arrival at Halim Perdana Kusuma airport in Indonesia for his 24-hour visit. Cameron also said that he wanted to promote arms deals to mark a departure from British policy. Cameron’s coalition government is trying to boost British economy to reduce reliance on financial services and to limit exposure to their crisis-hit economy by doing more business with growing markets.
Today, Indonesia is seen to have a rapid expansion on the aviation sector opt to travel by air across the archipelago of 17,000 islands. Many islands lack good roads or railways while shipping connections are slow and deadly transport accidents are common.
Garuda’s CEO Emirsyah Satar said he planned to use the new Airbus A330 planes to expand in Asia-Pacific, including China, South Korea and Australia.
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Recently, Air France-KLM has announced its intention for signing up to 60 A350 XWD aircraft, which 25 A350-900 will be firmed up shortly. The said aircraft will become an essential pillar in the group’s long-haul fleet modernization strategy.
“We are honoured that our all new, extra efficient A350 XWB will contribute to Air France-KLM’s long-term success”, said John Leahy, Airbus Chief Operating Officer – Customers. “The A350 XWB’s unbeatable economics and environmental credentials will establish the aircraft as the future backbone of the airline’s long-haul fleet. We take this decision as a testimony of confidence in our brand and products”.
The A350 XWD or what they call Xtra Wide-Body is a family of all-new long range product line comprising of three models capable of flying between 270 and 350 passengers in a typical three-class layouts on flights of up to 8,500 nautical miles.
As of today, the Air France-KLM Group currently operates a fleet of 191 Airbus aircraft, comprising of six A380s, 26 A330s, 15 A340s, 24 A321s, 58 A320s, 44 A319s and 18 A318s. With this new updates, Air France-KLM joins the expanding group of airlines to have a member if each Airbus family in their fleet.
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Airbus SAS, the world’s biggest commercial-jet builder, is starting to market a new seating concept for its narrow-body planes that could provide more hip room in aisle seats for larger passengers, an executive said.
The A320 family, Airbus’s best-seller, has six seats abreast that are each 18 inches (46 centimeters) wide between the armrests. The Toulouse, France-based company is studying an idea to shrink the window and middle seats to 17 inches, the same as on a Boeing Co. 737, and widen the aisle seats to 20 inches, said Simon Pickup, director of business operations for Airbus Americas.
Carriers could charge extra for those premium seats, Pickup said yesterday at a conference near Seattle. Boeing and Airbus are seeking ways to differentiate and gain a larger share of the narrow-body market, which Boeing values at $1.95 trillion over the next 20 years.
“It offers airlines a unique way to increase ancillary revenue, it’s unique to the A320 cabin and it certainly would be the most comfortable economy-class seat offered on any current airplane,” Pickup said in an interview. The companies now split the narrow-body market about equally.
The aisles of the A320 would remain 19 inches wide in the new plan, Pickup said. That compares to 20 inches on a 737. An A320 fuselage is wider than a 737.
Airbus offered wider A320 middle seats years ago in a plan that didn’t take off because it was presented before airlines started thinking about ancillary revenue, Pickup said. In the meantime, many carriers have begun charging for services and benefits that used to be free, including the extra leg room offered in exit- row seats.
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The European Aviation Safety Agency ordered on Wednesday that all units of Airbus A380 must be checked for cracks in the wings.
A previous order indicated that the 20 oldest A380 must be subjected for a check-up. Now, the agency is expanding the order to include all units. The order does not mean that the A380 had been grounded. According to Dominique Fouda, a spokesman for the aviation agency. “They can fly, they just have to be checked within the time frame,” he said.
According to the order, planes that had registered more than 1,384 takeoffs and landings must be inspected within three weeks of February 13. For planes that had completed 1,216 to 1,383 flight cycles, they have six weeks to submit for inspection. Planes that have less than 1,216 flight cycles must be checked before they reach the 1,300 mark.
If cracks on the wing were found, the airlines must contact Airbus for instructions.
There is a total of 68 units of Airbus A380 flying today. Its primary users are the Singapore Airlines, Emirates, Air France, Qantas and Lufthansa. It made its maiden flight on 27 April 2005 and then entered the commercial market with Singapore Airlines in 2007.
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PARIS (Reuters) – Airbus is considering beefing up its A330 passenger jet in a bid to expand a recent winning sales streak for the junior member of its wide-body jet family, the planemaker said on Monday.
While the twin-engined aircraft, in service since the 1990s, is enjoying a second honeymoon with airlines due, in part, to delays in Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner, analysts say it faces a threat from a possible stretched version of the 787.
An Airbus spokeswoman said a decision on how to enhance the A330 would be taken in the second half of the year.
The EADS unit is considering increasing the maximum amount of weight the A330 can carry by up to 5 tonnes and adding drag-reducing wingtip devices called “sharklets” — upward-slanting wingtips designed to help the aircraft fly further on the same amount of fuel.
They are already planned for the smaller narrowbody A320 and similar devices appear on some Boeing 757s.
A330 sales have flourished in the past two years as Boeing encountered delays in bringing out its carbon-composite 787, which recently entered service.
It has shorter range than either the 787 or Airbus’s planned carbon-fibre alternative, the future A350, but has sold well to airlines operating intermediate long-haul routes.
With the changes under consideration, the A330 would be able to lift up to 240 tonnes at take-off, Airbus said — an increase of 5 tonnes for the most popular variant, the A330-300, and 2 tonnes for the A330-200.
Increasing the maximum take-off weight allows airlines to add more fuel to carry the same number of people and their baggage further, or else carry a larger payload.
France’s La Tribune newspaper said the moves to increase the maximum tolerated weight at take-off would add 7 percent to the range of the A330, potentially giving it a range over 7,000 nautical miles.
With a three-class layout, the A330-300 carries 295 people up to 5,650 nautical miles or 10,500 kilometres, while the A330-200 — a later spin-off with a shorter fuselage and more range — takes 253 people up to 12,500 km.
Boeing has said it was considering a stretched version of its 787 called the 787-10 that would carry about 300 people approximately 6,800 nautical miles.
The move has been described by an industry official familiar with Boeing pre-marketing as a potential “A330 killer”.
The skirmish addresses a lucrative niche of the industry alongside high-profile battles between the A350 and Boeing’s 787 and the older but larger 777, which had record sales last year.
Airbus has said the carbon A350 will eventually outshine the 777 because it will be lighter and cheaper to run, while Boeing was expected to make similar claims about the 787-10 against the A330, which stems from roughly the same era as the 777.
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On March 28-30, in Sofia Bulgaria, the world will get the first glimpse of a solar powered airplane. A scale model airplane of Solar Impulse will be displayed at the South-East European Solar PV & Thermal Exhibition (SEE Solar).
Solar Impulse will the first aircraft that can fly day and night without fuel. It aims to fly around the world with no fuel and solely powered by solar energy. The project began in 2003 and is a product of years of planning, research, simulation and testing. It aims to demonstrate that progress is possible while using clean energy. The solar-powered aircraft will take its first flight on 2014. It is currently on test missions that last for several days.
The Solar Impluse was a wing span of 63.40 meters, similar to Airbus A340. It uses four 10HP engines and weight 1600 kg. It has 11,628 solar cells located on the aircraft wings and horizontal stabilizer. It has an average flying speed of 70km/h and can reach the maximum altitude of 8,500 meters. The scale model airplane will be presented at the exhibit by Solvay Sodi, a Bulgarian company who is the main technological partner of Soalr Impluse.
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Airbus expects to decide soon on a plan to boost widebody output to a rate of 11 aircraft a month even as it delays ramping up narrowbody production.
Airbus had been considering a single-aisle production rate increase to 44 aircraft a month, but has decided to hold off for the moment because of bottlenecks among Tier 2 suppliers. The situation is different for the A330, making a production boost there possible, says John Leahy, Airbus chief operating officer for customers. The company expects to reach a production rate of 10 widebodies per month this year.
Airbus COO Fabrice Bregier hints that a decision on the single-aisle side could wait until a rate of 42 aircraft per month is reached, which is expected next year. “It would be premature to do it now,” he notes.
One of the reasons Airbus is keen to boost production is because of its bulging backlog. The company booked 1,419 net orders last year and made 535 deliveries. And 2012 should see order intake move ahead of deliveries, with new orders forecast to reach 600-650, while deliveries of 570 aircraft are expected. The order intake should include about 30 A380s, matching the 2012 delivery target.
Output is only one of the deliberations for Airbus this year. The other is whether to launch an A330 winglet program. Leahy says studies have begun for both forward-fit and retrofit options. A decision is likely this year.
If the devices could yield a 2% fuel burn benefit, Leahy says such a program would likely move forward.
Not on the near-term agenda is the A380-900 program, a stretched version of the aircraft now on the market. Despite occasional customer interest, such a project would not likely emerge until the second half of the decade, says Airbus CEO Tom Enders. The focus now is on ramping up production. Profit-delivering aircraft will go to customers starting in 2015.
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As Air France-KLM prepares to roll out the initial elements of a turnaround plan for Air France, the airline group confirms that it has closed its deal with Boeing for 25 787s, of which KLM will be the initial operator, starting in 2016. The airline group also has 25 787s on option.
Air France-KLM confirmed the airline group is the unidentified customer for 25 787-9s listed in Boeing’s order book when the airframer disclosed annual figures last week. Air France also will operate the 787, although at a yet-to-be-set date. An engine decision is pending.
Air France-KLM announced its intention to buy both the 787 and the Airbus A350 in September. An airline official says that talks are under way to finalize the firm order for 25 Airbus A350s. Those talks involve both Airbus and Rolls-Royce, the sole engine supplier.
The 787 order confirmation comes in what could be a pivotal week for Air France, with a board meeting likely on Thursday to set into motion the first elements of a turnaround plan under new CEO Alexandre de Juniac. The executive previously said the plan would involve a two-stage process, the first of which would focus on bolstering the existing cost-savings plan.
Decisions on a wider reorganization, aimed at reducing the airline’s debt level, boosting its short- and medium-haul performance and stepping up its overall competitiveness are not expected to emerge until June because of the need to coordinate with labor groups.
Boeing now holds 305 orders for the long-range 787-9 and 555 for the standard 787-8.
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According to Airbus, the decision to develop a re-engined 737 rather than an all-new aircraft by Boeing was a predictable lower-risk move, but believes the European manufacturer’s head start with the A320NEO puts it in pole position for market dominance.
Speaking to Aviation Week on the eve of Boeing’s official launch of the re-engined 737 MAX family, Airbus Americas President and CEO Barry Eccleston says, “We reached a conclusion a year ago that re-engining was the way to go. We were not ready for the production of a single-aisle composite aircraft, and the market reaction to the NEO proved we were right. We always thought Boeing would come to that same conclusion, and they did,” he says.
The decision for both Airbus and Boeing was also driven by the risk of introducing a raft of new technology into an all-new platform, and reflections on hard lessons-learned from development problems with the A380 and 787. “I’ve always said the 787 will eventually be a terrific aircraft, but its development issues show that putting new technology into an aircraft is very hard work. We know that from the A380, and now they know about it on the 787,” Eccleston says.
The heavy dependence that both Airbus and Boeing place on the valuable franchise of the single-aisle market simply made the development of an all new aircraft too much of an unacceptable risk, adds Eccleston. “With a new single-aisle aircraft you can’t have the sort of development problems and infantile issues that could be introduced into a fleet. So I think the airlines are looking for the same levels of reliability as you get with today’s aircraft from day one, because it’s the bread and butter of the industry.”
The strength of the market reaction to the A320NEO has meanwhile surpassed expectations at Airbus, says Ecclestone. “Even we have been surprised. John Leahy [Airbus Customers Chief Operating Officer] said we would have 500 orders by Le Bourget, and now we’re up to 1,089 orders and commitments. So it’s basically double what we’d expected so far.”
Airbus senior officials meanwhile question Boeing’s performance predictions for the MAX as outlined with a CFM Leap-1B engine configured with a fan diameter of 66 or 68 inches. In particular, they say the key performance requirement point around top-of-climb thrust for the largest member of the MAX family, the 737-9, could be a crucial factor in how the final configuration is defined.
Boeing says that although the final fan diameter remains to be determined, it predicts the baseline 737 MAX will have operating costs 7% better than the NEO. It also claims the 737 variant will be 10-12% more fuel efficient than the 737NG and 4% better than the A320NEO on a fuel burn basis. The initial industry response to Boeing’s announcement, which included 496 commitments from five airlines, appears to have been positive. Equity research analysts at Credit Suisse, for example say the size of airline interest is “above expectations and a very positive indicator of demand for what has been viewed as a “me-too” offering.”