The slowing of commercial aircraft orders on Day Three of the airshow was somewhat understandable after the flurry of announcements from the major airframers over the first two days of the event. However, Airbus and Boeing, among others, were kept busy thanks to the ever-present unidentified customer, as well as deals for after market services, as John Walton reports from Farnborough.
Wednesday at the Farnborough Airshow felt, numerous observers expressed, like a Thursday at previous shows.
Footfall through Chalet Row was eerily absent, and with a lack of military jet aircraft apart from one solitary F-16, the quietness of the showground was audible and visible.
Machinations continued, however, in the orders race between Airbus and Boeing, as well as elsewhere at the show and in the all-important services side of commercial aviation, where numerous announcements of pilot programs and expansions followed forecasting groundwork laid by exhibitors earlier in the week.
Trump trade war concerns spur more undisclosed customers, says airframer
Airbus said on Wednesday that an undisclosed customer had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for six A330neo family aircraft, leading to more groans of derision at the decision to issue a press release devoid of any detail.
I’m just gonna go ahead and say it: Unidentified customers announcing orders that aren’t firmed up don’t count. #FIA18
— Jon Ostrower (@jonostrower) July 18, 2018
The Wall Street Journal, however, reported that Airbus says its customers are hesitant to identify themselves for fear of provoking reprisals from the increasingly unstable United States leadership.
“The world today is governed by the tweets we receive every morning from one side of the Atlantic,” Airbus chief commercial officer Eric Schulz is reported to have said.
Boeing later announced that four unidentified customers “from the airline and airplane leasing industries” had placed orders for a total of 93 Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft, including one airline selecting 40 examples of the high capacity version that has previously been referred to as the 737 MAX 8 200, developed in response to requests from Ryanair.
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Airbus delivered the first A321neo to easyJet
Flying its newest Airbus narrowbody — and its first Airbus A321neo — across London from Gatwick to Farnborough, easyJet made a PR splash with the United Kingdom transport minister Chris Grayling and a variety of media and industry guests.
easyJet, a leader in efforts to increase the number of women on the flight deck, operated the flight with Captain Suki Adams in command and Captain Zoe Ebrey as first officer.
“This larger aircraft will enable us deliver our strategy of securing and growing our number one positions at Europe’s leading and slot-constrained airports,” chief executive Johan Lundgren said.
“It will also provide easyJet with the lowest operating costs in the single aisle aircraft category with unit cost savings which are estimated to be up to nine per cent better than an A320neo and around 21 per cent better than an A319.
Reduced noise ✅, Reduced CO2 emissions ✅, Reduced fuel ✅, More passengers ✅
— easyJet (@easyJet) July 17, 2018
— Threshold.aero (@thresholdaero) July 18, 2018
Volga-Dnepr offers urgent parts delivery service
In a bid to take a bite out of the multi-trillion dollar services market, cargo group Volga-Dnepr is launching a global aircraft-on-ground (AOG) service, which the company says will “manage the delivery of urgent spare parts to aircraft stranded around the world.”
Volga-Dnepr will confirm space on the first available flight for AOG spares on the group’s scheduled services in Asia-Pacific, Europe and North America, with a round-the-clock team organising dispatch either via scheduled or charter services. With a fleet of An-124-100, Boeing 747, Il-76TD-90VD and Boeing 737 aircraft, the group can lay claim to being able to carry a wide variety of aircraft parts.
“As aircraft operators ourselves and as a provider of transportation and logistics services to the Aerospace industry for the last 28 years, we know only too well how important it is to have a fast, trackable and managed solution to deal with AOG situations,” said Robert van de Weg, vice president of sales and marketing.
“For every airline, safety and security is their main priority but it is also important to get aircraft operational again quickly for both customer service and economic reasons when they suffer a technical fault.
“Airlines are continually focused on improving the reliability of their services through expansion of their fleets, route networks, and optimisation of their aircraft and engines, so it is now more important than ever to have the peace of mind of knowing that pre-emptive solutions are in place to handle their grounded aircraft and to ensure minimal impact to their routine operations.”
Airbus and Singapore to advance 3D printing
Industrial 3D printing — or additive manufacturing, as it is often known in larger applications — is the first step in a digital technology collaboration between Airbus and Singapore’s Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA).
Initially, the initiative will print spare parts for the nation-state’s fleet of Airbus A330 MRTT (multi-role tanker transport) aircraft. Airbus Defence and Space will provide support to the Singaporean DSTA to design and certify the parts.
“It is absolutely clear that digitalisation represents the future of military aircraft services,” Airbus Defence and Space head of military aircraft services Stephan Miegel said.
“We are now at a point where we can begin to explore the most promising techniques on operational fleets. We greatly appreciate the innovative approach of DSTA in going on this journey with us.
“Following this first agreement on 3D-printing, we have further agreed to collaborate on data analytics for predictive maintenance. The collaboration will add on to the development of Airbus’s new SmartForce suite of maintenance data analytics launched at Farnborough.”
SmartForce is a package that helps aircraft operators use their data efficiently, with Airbus offering opportunities to “improve troubleshooting, optimize maintenance effort, predict maintenance actions and plan smartly for material demand,” the European defence company said.
Airbus and Intl SOS
Airbus is working with medical and security risk services company International SOS to look at how aircraft and unmanned systems can delivery medical supplies and cargo for its MedSupply service, including both urban-to-rural and ship-to-shore delivries.
International SOS says MedSupply “deploys medical supplies, specialist medical care and equipment to meet the requirements of preventive health programme or in support of a medical emergency in urban as well as unfamiliar and remote locations.”
“Airbus and International SOS will thus collaborate on safe, secure and enterprise drone delivery for hub to hub distribution of medical cargo, compliant with local regulatory bodies, as International SOS have global operations worldwide in emergency evacuation or medical resupplying,” the companies said in a statement.
Continued Arnaud Vaissié, International SOS chief executive, chairman and co-founder: “Bringing together the Airbus expertise in securing aerial deliveries, and our global infrastructure assisting clients worldwide, is a clear move towards a greater efficiency. We are always striving to provide our clients with excellent customer service and this innovative venture will enable us to look into furthering our capabilities and enhancing our service.”
Airbus Defence and Space chief executive Dirk Hoke emphasised that the company sees a business opportunity here.
“We hope to develop a viable business partnership where we can assist International SOS with unmanned medical cargo delivery. This means using our cutting edge technology to potentially save lives, and transform the medical and travel security industry,” Hoke said.
Initial pilot locations include Singapore and Indonesia for medical cargo delivery, while mobile hospitals, space and satellite services are also cited as options under the memorandum of understanding signed between the two companies.
Airbus expands data analytics with new partnership
Airbus announced today an expansion of its Skywise data analytics programme in partnership with data analytics firm Palantir, Premium Aerotec, Thales and Liebherr.
Today’s expansion covers three areas: the supply chain, quality assurance, and aircraft operability.
“Skywise Dispatch,” the supply chain area, “will increase efficiency and responsiveness to supply chain disruptions,” Airbus explains. “The application is designed to improve demand management, aircraft assembly configuration, and on-time delivery, notably to prevent line-stops. The application aligns supplier production planning and Airbus’ demand to create a single ‘source of truth’. This enables fast and easy root-cause analysis of recurring missing parts and anticipation, notably through a better visibility into production status.”
Airbus is working with Premium Aerotec in this pilot phase for Skywise Dispatch.
The quality assurance work, under the umbrella of “Skywise Object Explorer”, according to Airbus, “improves the quality of suppliers’ services and commodities by reducing the cost of non-quality incurred by both Airbus and suppliers, reducing the occurrence of quality shortfalls by identifying such trends early and by accelerating resolution.”
Thales’ avionics arm is involved here, with executive vice president Gil Michielin noting that: “Skywise echoes the mutual goals for disruptive technologies pioneered across Thales and Airbus. Thales has accompanied Airbus’ ambitions for decades and its scope of industry leadership spans all areas of the connected aircraft, from nose to tail and beyond. The cultural change of this new initiative perfectly complements Thales’s multi-billion dollar investment in digital technologies. We are pleased to be strengthening our robust and trusted relationship with Airbus through this thrilling endeavour which aims at accelerating digital transformation throughout the aerospace sector.”
“Skywise Spotlight” is the aircraft operability programme, and the airframer says it “brings together Airbus and suppliers in a platform where they can collaborate securely and in real-time to resolve in-service issues faster and more accurately by leveraging in-service aircraft data to identify the root-causes of operational issues and exploring how to improve predictive maintenance services for airlines.”
An easyJet, Liebherr and Airbus partnership team is the pilot group for this work, with Nicolas Bonleux, Managing Director and Chief Sales Officer at Liebherr Aerospace & Transportation explaining that “the projects demonstrated that bringing together a wide range of data and conducting holistic analyses enable us to realise a much deeper and better understanding of the in-service behaviour of on-board systems and components, developed, manufactured, certified and serviced by Liebherr.”
ATR picks up two MoU orders
Commercial aircraft orders on Wednesday included turboprop manufacturer ATR signing a MoU with Colombian carrier EasyFly, for three ATR 72-600 and two ATR 42-600 aircraft.
EasyFly President, Alfonso Avila, explained the company’s strategy: “EasyFly has experienced double-digit traffic and revenue growth every year since the incorporation of ATR aircraft into our fleet and we intend to continue our development by acquiring both the ATR 42-600 and 72-600. We understand that the modern -600 series is the best aircraft to support our continuing growth as its economics allow us to offer our passengers attractive pricing whilst also delivering them the standards of comfort that they would enjoy on single-aisle aircraft.”
Separately, ATR signed a MoU for two ATR 42-600s, with an option for a third, with Hokkaido Air System (HAC), part of the JAL Group and a Japan Airlines subsidiary. The airline currently operates three Saab 340 aircraft, which the new ATRs are intended to replace.
Yoichiro Kuwano, President of HAC, praised the passenger experience benefits of the larger ATR, saying: “the ATR 42-600 benefits from a wide cabin, comparable to that of a medium-sized aircraft, and will significantly improve the cabin comfort for our passengers. Also, the aircraft has extensive experience with operations in cold winter, which will increase the reliability of the operations in Hokkaido. With this new aircraft and the safe operation system we’ve established, we will continue to provide reliable and comfortable travel to local businesses and communities.”
ATR has forecast the need for more than 3,000 new turboprops over the next 20 years that will operate the more than 2,700 new routes that will be created during the same period.
New Nigerian Air(line)
After an extensive naming competition reaching more than 400,000 people to select a name for a new national airline in the African state of Nigeria, Minister of State for Aviation and Senator Hadi Sirika unveiled plans for “Nigeria Air” at Farnborough.
The country has been without a flag carrier since Air Nigeria, formerly Nigerian Eagle Airlines, formerly Virgin Nigeria, finally ceased operations in 2012. The airline is in negotiations to acquire aircraft, government officials stated.
Uganda Air kicks off Airbus A330neo orders at Farnborough
If you had “Uganda Airlines” in your office pool for the first named customer for the Airbus A330neo at Farnborough, award yourself a prize.
The African country’s government intends to relaunch its national airline with the re-engined twinjet, and has signed a memorandum of understanding for two of the shorter A330-800neo variants with Airbus — making the carrier the new launch customer for the type after the withdrawal of Hawaiian Airlines.
“Uganda Airlines plans to use the A330-800neos to build its international long-haul network with the aircraft offering cutting-edge technology along with more efficient operations,” a statement said. “The aircraft will feature a three-class cabin layout comprising 20 Business, 28 Premium Economy and 213 Economy seats.”
“This agreement demonstrates our ambition for economic growth supported by a robust aviation industry,” Uganda Airlines chief executive officer Ephraim Bagenda said. “The A330-800neo combines low operating costs, long range flying capability and high levels of comfort and we are looking forward to launch operations and offer our customers best-in-class service.”
The airline also signed a firm order for four Bombardier CRJ-900 aircraft.
“We congratulate the Government of Uganda for the revival of its national flag carrier, and are thrilled that the new airline has selected Bombardier and the CRJ900 regional jets for its upcoming debut,” Jean-Paul Boutibou, Vice President, Sales, Middle-East and Africa at Bombardier Commercial Aircraft, said.
Mexico’s Viva Aerobus to grow A320 fleet
The largest order in a quiet day showed Mexican ultra-low-cost carrier Viva Aerobus’ interest in the Airbus A321neo, with 25 additional orders and 16 upgauges of A320neos to the stretched version.
“Our decision to introduce the A321neo to our fleet reflects our long-term commitment to cost reduction, to innovation, operational and environmental efficiency, and enhancing our passenger experience,” said chief executive Gian Carlo Nucci.
“These additional aircraft will allow us to capture opportunities in Mexico, and we can think of no aircraft better suited than the A321neo with 240 seats with which to endeavour our growth objectives.”
In the context of ongoing talk about the middle of the market, Airbus chief commercial officer Eric Schulz said,: “We are proud about this repeat order by Viva Aerobus; it serves as a testament to the A321neo being the aircraft of choice in the mid-market segment. Viva Aerobus will benefit from the A321neo’s additional capacity, superior performance, and the very lowest operating cost as they strive to meet the growing demand for cost-efficient air travel in Mexico.”
The airline has 80 A320 family aircraft on order, including including 15 A320ceo, 24 A320neo, and 41 A321neo, with a new total of 61 aircraft to be delivered.
VietJet the highlight of the day for Boeing
Boeing’s sole order on Wednesday was a big one: Vietnamese low-cost carrier VietJet signed a memorandum of understanding for 100 more Boeing 737 MAX aircraft to add to its 100-strong order for the MAX 8 in 2016.
The new aircraft will comprise a further 20 MAX 8 jets and 80 of the double-stretched 737 MAX 10.
“VietJet plans to leverage the added capacity of the MAX 10 to satisfy surging demand on high-dense domestic routes, as well as on popular destinations throughout Asia,” according to a statement.
“We are excited to introduce Boeing’s newest 737 MAX 10 into our rapidly growing fleet. These new airplanes will fit perfectly into our growth strategy, providing the efficiency and range for VietJet to expand its route network and offer more international destinations for our customers and expand alliances across Asia Pacific, the fastest growing aviation market in the world,” said VietJet president and chief executive Nguyễn Thị Phương Thảo.
Services come too: “Boeing would partner with VietJet to enhance technical and engineering expertise and the training of pilots and technicians in Vietnam, helping to further develop the commercial aviation ecosystem in the growing country. Boeing will also support VietJet in improving management capabilities at the airline and in the country,” said the US company.
— The Boeing Company (@Boeing) July 17, 2018
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