As the eyes of the aviation world turn their attention towards the Farnborough Airshow, reporter John Walton reports on some of the major announcements as the event officially gets underway.
Embraer shows off E190-E2, forecasts robust market
Embraer showed off its latest E190-E2 regional jet to media including an hour-long demonstration flight over southern England. The jet, delivered to launch customer Widerøe in April, features radically improved economics gained from a variety of sources: landing gear doors, windows flush with the fuselage, and a redesigned gull wing that carries quieter and more efficient Pratt and Whitney Geared Turbofan engines.
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The E190-E2 also features an updated cabin with room for today’s carry-on bags, extra space for passengers, and updated slimline seating supplied by Zodiac Aerospace that provides additional space at the knees thanks to resculpted seatbacks and support structures. Embraer also promises longer maintenance intervals than its closest competition towards the upper end of the segment, the newly renamed Airbus A220.
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Embraer also updated its 20-year global market forecast, which projects global demand for some 10,550 aircraft in the sub-150 seat market space. Embraer is abandoning its smallest E170 model for the E2 generation, and will offer three variants of the E-Jet: The 80-90 seater E175-E2 with a range of 2,000nm, the 97-114 seater E190-E2 with a range of 2,850nm, and the 120-146 seater E195-E2 with a 2,600nm range.
About 55 per cent of the segment’s demand, Embraer estimates, will come in the 100-150 seater space, while about 45 per cent will be for the sub-100 seat airframe market. Embraer estimates that revenue passenger kilometres (RPK) in the segment will grow by six per cent in emerging economies and four per cent in advanced economies.
The company expects some 3,000 aircraft (28 per cent of the projected deliveries market-wide) will be in the Asia Pacific region, with Europe/CIS and North America each taking 27 per cent. Latin America will require 11 per cent of the total, while Africa and the Middle East will need seven per cent.
“Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Even though every facet of the industry has excelled over the past years, we are now warming up for the next period of higher costs, with pressures on yields likely to continue unabated. Profits are eroding and gains wiped out with rising costs”, Embraer Commercial Aviation president and chief executive John Slattery said at the airshow.
Boeing: no 797 yet, but crucial part of NMA will be the services business
Boeing continued the trickle of information around its New Mid-Market Aircraft (NMA), which almost everyone is referring to as the 797. The airframer has stated that it has not made a launch decision for the jet, which is largely expected to be a replacement for the 757 and 767 end of the market, both in terms of short-haul high-capacity and long-and-thin routes.
Boeing, like most original equipment manufacturers (OEM), is expecting its services business to play a significant — indeed, crucial — role in the economics of the aircraft’s production.
Engine makers have been suggesting at the show that they have been told by Boeing not to expect a launch decision before 2019.
Boeing done with ITC actions over the A220
Still on Boeing, After a fractious year at the United States International Trade Commission (ITC), Boeing stated that it was “done” with challenges to the Airbus A220, formerly the Bombardier C Series, The Air Current reported.
The A220 is riding a wave of orders and buzz into Farnborough, with a closely fought win for 60 A220-300 (formerly the Bombardier CS300) over the Embraer E-Jet E2 family at JetBlue, a large current E-Jet E1 family operator, together with extensive rumours that a new airline founded by startup guru David Neeleman, codenamed Moxy, will take another 60 A220s at this year’s show.
VIDEO: A closer look at the Airbus A220 from the Airbus YouTube channel.
Airbus’ A330neo deal with AirAsia a hot topic
An AirAsia decision whether to firm up its order for 66 Airbus A330neo widebodies for the airline group’s AirAsia X longhaul lowcost division was the talking point during much of the runup to the show. AirAsia group chief executive Tony Fernandes is pressing the European airframer hard on cost and performance, with a further 34 widebodies reportedly at stake to bring the carrier’s orders to a round 100. Part of the deal is likely to be an additional 100 Airbus A320neo family aircraft, likely the larger A321neo.
Airbus delivers first A321neo Airbus Cabin Flex
As the airshow began, the airframer delivered the first of its A321neo Cabin Flex aircraft to Turkish Airlines. With two overwing exits replacing Doors 2 ahead of the wing, the Cabin Flex variant offers extra seating for some airlines and a more efficient premium cabin seating arrangement for others.
Sales of big twins, new partnership jets to prove bellwether for Farnborough
More broadly on the commercial aviation side of airshow, , sales of widebody twinjets are being carefully watched, as analysts see softening demand for the re-engined A330neo and Boeing 777X. Airbus and Boeing will both be wanting to shore up their order books for these aircraft in particular, in addition to filling in further orders for their bread-and-butter narrowbody A320neo and 737 MAX aircraft.
UK fighter concept the talk of the town
On defence matters, despite the dark stormclouds of Brexit looming over the aerospace and aviation industry, the UK is planning to unveil plans for a fighter aircraft, tentatively codenamed “Tempest”. The aircraft is reportedly a partnership between BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce, MBDA and Leonardo, and the deal is valued at approximately GBP 2 billion (AU$3.5 billion).
F-35 to fall in price after US order for 141
The US Department of Defence is reportedly in a handshake deal with Lockheed Martin to purchase 141 F-35 aircraft, lowering the price of the F-35A to a cool US$89 million, Reuters said. The price for the 11th tranche of the aircraft would be a reduction of approximately six per cent from a deal 17 months ago.