Airbus : “competitiveness innovation and diversity”
Airbus marked 2016 with key milestones including service introduction of the A320neo, many of them to Indian operators as also development of the A321neo ( see cover). In a major breakthrough, Airbus made first deliveries of a large number of A320, A330, A350 and A380s to Iran Air even as the Company expect to deliver more than 700 commercial aircraft throughout the world in 2017.
Airbus marked key milestones in 2016, including service introductions of the A320neo (new engine option) jetliner; first deliveries of the latest A330 Family member tailored for regional routes; expansion of the A350 XWB operator base; start of final assembly for the A330neo; its 10,000th overall delivery and broadening of the company’s customer services support. Accompanying these achievements were significant new commercial orders from around the world for Airbus’ product line of single-aisle and widebody aircraft.
Highlighting Airbus’ continued growth, the aircraft manufacturer marked its 10,000th jetliner delivery to global customers with the 14 October 2016 handover of an A350- 900 jetliner to Singapore Airlines. This major achievement spans more than four decades with every member of the Airbus airliner “family” contributing – from the cornerstone medium-haul A300 and A310 to the single-aisle A320 product line, long-range A330/340 Family, newgeneration A350 XWB and double-deck A380. As of the 10,000th handover, the global Airbus fleet had flown some 215 billion kilometres and carried more than 12 billion passengers – a number representing approximately twice the Earth’s population.
History was made in 2016 with the first-ever delivery of a jetliner from the Airbus US manufacturing facility in Mobile, Alabama – a single-aisle A321 for operation by US-based carrier JetBlue. Airbus’ second handover from the final assembly line occurred less than one month later with the delivery of American Airlines’ very first US built Airbus aircraft – an A321. Taking the Alabama site into account, Airbus now has operational final assembly lines for the A320 jetliner product line on three continents: North America, Europe ( at Toulouse, France and Hamburg, Germany), and Asia (at Tianjin, China).
Airbus meanwhile reached important production milestones for its A350 XWB Family’s longest- fuselage member, the A350-1000 for which Airbus is targeting a mid-2017 commercial service entry. The company has rolled out its the initial two aircraft, the first of which made its maiden flight in November last year. These jetliners were built at Airbus’ A350 XWB final assembly line in Toulouse, France concurrently with the baseline A350-900 version. Underscoring the high degree of commonality between the A350-900 and A350-1000, all final assembly line stations can accommodate both aircraft types.
Last year also marked the start of commercial service for Airbus’ A320neo (new engine option) Family, which offers airline operators ‘unbeatable fuel efficiency’
by incorporating the very latest technologies, including two new- generation engine choices: Pratt & Whitney’s PurePower PW1100G-JM and the LEAP-1A from CFM International.
Airbus has notched several important milestones that will continue the success story for the popular and versatile A330 Family. In late 2016, the company announced the start of final assembly for the very first A330neo (new engine option) jetliner. Airbus’ first widebody NEO is a longer- fuselage A330- 900 version, which alongside the A330-800 comprises this ‘highly-efficient’ product line’s two versions. The A330neo Family builds on the A330’s proven economics offering a further 14 percent reduction in fuel burn per seat. Another significant development last year was handover for the first A330300 Regional jetliner, which was received by Saudi Arabian Airlines. Tailored for regional and domestic operations, this A330 version is optimised for routes up to
2,700 nm covering short- to medium-haul routes with up to five hours’ flight time. As the A330-300 Regional’s launch operator, Saudi Arabian Airlines is to operate a fleet of 20 jetliners, deploying the aircraft to boost capacity on some of its most in-demand regional/domestic routes.
Airbus also formally launched its innovative new jetliner cabin concept – Airspace by Airbus – which connects the company’s commitment to passenger well- being and airline operational performance. Based on four key pillars, comfort, ambience, service and design, Airspace by Airbus cabins offer a more relaxing, inspiring, attractive and functional environment for travellers. This sophisticated, flexible concept also will optimise cabin space for operators, while allowing them to project their brands and create next-generation flying experiences for passengers. The Airspace by Airbus cabin will be introduced with the widebody A330neo (new engine option) and incorporated onto the A350 XWB Family.
Highlighting the continued growth in commercial aviation aftermarket, Airbus is committed to delivering even more value- adding services on par with the quality of its market-leading jetliners. Underscoring this growing focus was the announcement of the company’s first-ever global services forecast – which projects $ 3 trillion in aftermarket services spending over the next 20 years. The company also unveiled its new NAVBLUE flight operations and air traffic management company that combines the portfolios of Navtech (acquired by Airbus), Airbus ProSky and Airbus Flight Operations Services. NAVBLUE is reaching for the skies fueled by the agility of Navtech and the ‘pioneering spirit of Airbus’.
Iranian officials took a significant step in modernising their country’s commercial aviation sector by signing two agreements with Airbus. These accords covered the acquisition of 118 new aircraft, along with a comprehensive co- operation for developing Iranian air transportation infrastructure. With one agreement, Iran Air would acquire a full range of new Airbus jetliners (21 A320ceo Family aircraft, 24 A320neo family jetliners, 27 A330ceo family airlines, 18 A330-900neo versions, 16 A350- 1000s and 12 A380s), while benefiting from Airbus’ extensive resources in pilot and maintenance training, as well as customer support and services. The other accord was a comprehensive cooperation agreement for development of air navigation services, airport and aircraft operations, harmonised air regulations, technical and academic training, maintenance and repair operations, as well as industrial cooperation.
On 11 January 2017, Iran Air took delivery of its first new aircraft, an A321, in a handover ceremony in Toulouse attended by Farhad Parvaresh, Iran Air Chairman and CEO, and Fabrice Bregier, President, Airbus Commercial Aircraft and Chief Operating Officer Airbus, in the presence of Gael Meheust, SVP Sales and Marketing CFM, Tom Enders, Airbus Chief Executive Officer, and international media.
In a demonstration of Airbus’ growing presence in the Asia- Pacific region, the company began construction of its A330 Completion and Delivery Centre (C&DC) at Tianjin, China where activities will include cabin installation, fuselage painting, engine run, production flights, as well as delivery to customers. The Tianjin-based C& DC will benefit from its colocation with the existing A320 Family final assembly line in this northern Chinese city. Aircraft processed at the Chinese
Completion and Delivery Centre will be built at Airbus’ A330 final assembly line in Toulouse, France, and then flown to Tianjin. Customer deliveries of finished A330s from Tianjin are scheduled to begin in September 2017.
Commenting on the company’s progress, Tom Enders, Airbus Chief Executive Officer stated: “We have delivered on the commitments that we gave a year ago and achieved our guidance and objectives, with one exception, the A400M, where we had to take another significant charge totalling 2.2 billion euros in 2016. De- risking the programme and strengthening programme execution are our top priorities for this aircraft in 2017. We recorded a net book-to-bill above one in a year we delivered more commercial aircraft than ever before. The record order backlog is supporting the ramp-up plans and our performance in 2016 shows we can deliver on that. We successfully managed the ramp- up of the single-aisle and A350 programmes while at the same time transitioning to the more efficient version of the A320. Our commercial performance in helicopters was good despite a difficult market environment and we continued to strengthen and reshape the defence and space portfolio. We are taking additional steps to increase efficiency through the integration project, while investments in digital transformation will further improve our competitiveness. Overall, the progress we made last year gives us confidence that we have the building blocks in place to achieve our earnings and cash flow growth potential.”
As the basis for its 2017 targets, Airbus expects to deliver more than 700 commercial aircraft.