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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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Boeing is looking at expansive and more modest changes to the 777 widebody to keep the product viable, but a strategy decision is not likely soon, says Air Lease Corp. Chairman and CEO Steven Udvar-Hazy.
Boeing is already in talks with potential customers about the so-called 777X, says Boeing Commercial Airplanes President Jim Albaugh.
Some of the proposals being looked at include a brand-new engine to replace the GE90, which General Electric would first have to develop, Udvar-Hazy says.
Also on the agenda are potentially a new wing, or, at least, aerodynamic improvements.
Udvar-Hazy says the options range from major changes to a Band-Aid approach to keep the aircraft competitive versus the Airbus A350-1000.
Some options are “extremely costly, in terms of development and would involve significant redesign of the airplane,” he says.
The near-term focus for Boeing will be on getting the 787 into customer hands, he adds, so, “I don’t think Boeing is going to come to any quick decision.”
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2010 Fifa World Cup mascot
With millions of fans all over the world trying to fly to South Africa to root for their favorite teams in the famed World Cup, airliners have also joined in the hype like KLM Royal Dutch Airlines recently placing more flights bound for Africa. And the battle between Spain and Germany on Wednesday could result to a multi-million dollar bonus for airlines as thousands of fans flock to South Africa hoping to watch the game live.
KLM was quoting EUR€4,000 for an economy ticket leaving on Friday and returning Tuesday, but seats were available for about EUR€1,450 with a longer stay as seen on the company’s website.
As the game finals are drawing near, a showdown between the world’s three major airlines alliances wherein each has a flag carrier representing one of the remaining teams have sprung.
Merged in 2004, KLM and its sister airline, Air France, are part of the Skyteam alliance. Iberia, together with its planned merger partner British Airways, is part of the “oneworld” global airlines club. Germany’s Lufthansa and South African Airways are part of the Star Alliance.
KLM will add four flights to Johannesburg, three from Amsterdam and one from Paris. A spokeswoman of Air France said that the airline already operates an A380 superjumbo daily from Paris to Johannesburg and could bring in another 250-seat Boeing 777-200.
The A380 Superjumbo jet of Air France
Last month, Lufthansa flew the German team to South Africa on its recently acquired A380 and is hoping the world’s largest airliner will bring luck to the team. Spokesman Jan Baerwalde said “If they win the Cup, we have promised to bring the team back again on the A380.”
Lufthansa's newly delivered A380 superjumbo jet
News Airbus A320, b777, B787, Boeing 737, Boeing Dreamliner, Obama
In a meeting with his Russian counterpart last week, President Barack Obama lauded Russian Technologies plan to buy 50 Boeing 737s.
“I am especially pleased that Boeing and Russian Technologies are moving forward with a $4 billion deal on 50 Boeing 737s,” Obama said.
Russian Technologies (Rostechnologii) announced June 1 that it had chosen Boeing’s 737 over Airbus’ A320 for the large new narrow-body airliner order. The state-owned company operates carrier Rosavia and is working with Aeroflot on a deal for that carrier to lease some of the jets.
Thursday last week, Boeing announced it had signed a five-year contract extension with Russia’s VSMPO AVISMA Corp. and an agreement with Innovation Center of Skolkovo, Russia, during Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s U.S. visit.
VSMPO AVISM has supplied raw material and titanium parts to Boeing since 1997. The extension continues deliveries of titanium forgings and rough-machined titanium forgings for Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner, 777 and 737 aircraft through 2015.
“This contract is another milestone in Boeing’s longstanding relationship with Russian Technologies/VSMPO-AVISMA — our strategic partner and supplier in Russia,” Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO Jim Albaugh said in a news release.
Boeing expects to spend as much as $27 billion on Russian titanium, aerospace design-engineering services and other services and materials over the next 30 years.
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FedEx Express, a subsidiary of FedEx Corp. (NYSE: FDX) and the company that invented overnight shipping 38 years ago, has made international express shipping even faster with the unveiling today of its first Boeing 777 Freighter (777F) during ceremonies with The Boeing Company in Everett, Wash. FedEx Express is the first U.S.-based global all-cargo freight airline to take delivery of the 777F, and has placed the largest order for the aircraft model to date.
“The Boeing 777 is an extraordinary testament to our dedication to fleet enhancement, allowing FedEx Express to provide unmatched services to our customers around the world” said David J. Bronczek, president and chief executive officer, FedEx Express. “Its payload capacity, range and environmental efficiencies create well-rounded, long-term strategic value for our company in meeting the global shipping demands of customers.”
Introduction of the 777F to the FedEx fleet of more than 650 aircraft expands what is already the world’s largest cargo airline. Its international routes will provide service benefits to customers and enhance the efficiency of the FedEx Express global network.
The 777F is the world’s largest twin-engine cargo aircraft. Its flight range, the equivalent of about 6,675 land miles, or nearly three times the approximate distance between the east and west coasts of the U.S., is the longest of any two-engine freighter, with a payload capacity of 215,000 pounds (98 metric tons).
This represents an increase in range of more than 2,400 miles and an additional 14,000pounds of payload over the MD-11 freighter, which until now has been the primary long-haul aircraft in the company’s fleet.
The global freighter’s range enables FedEx Express to fly between major markets and hubs in Asia, Europe and the U.S. with more freight and in less time than it takes today, allowing latercut-off times for customers in the markets to drop off their shipments. For example, 777F transit times from points in Asia to the U.S. will be from one to three hours faster than those of the MD-11.
By April 2010, FedEx Express plans to have four 777Fs serving routes between Asia and the U.S. In all, there will be 15 777Fs in the company’s fleet by the end of fiscal 2014; FedEx Express also has a second order of 15 777Fs, which will be delivered between fiscal 2014 and fiscal 2019, and holds options on 15 more 777Fs.