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Le Bourget Day 3 Wrap – Airbus storms ahead

written by John Walton | June 20, 2019

In addition to the launch of the short takeoff and landing (STOL) capable ATR 42-600S, Airbus scored close to 200 A320neo family orders at the Paris Air Show on Wednesday (European time), while Boeing added 737-800 freighter conversions and six “bridging” orders for its current-generation 777F and 777-200LR widebody aircraft. Elsewhere, Embraer won an E195-E2 order from KLM and Mitsubishi scored its first customer for the redesigned SpaceJet, né MRJ. John Walton recaps the day’s events from Le Bourget.

The Airbus chalet at the 2019 Paris Air Show. (Airbus)

Airbus scores 181 A320neo family aircraft

After Qantas’s announcement for 36 A321XLR aircraft, a further 145 orders for the A320neo family rolled in throughout Wednesday in Paris, most of which were for the extra long-range A321XLR launched on the first day of the air show.

American Airlines ordered 50 A321XLRs, a deal that comprised converting 30 of the existing A321neo slots to the extra-long-range version and adding new orders for an additional 20 A321XLRs.

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The move echoes the surprise 2011 deal where American Airlines ordered 260 A320ceo and A320neo family aircraft from Airbus, a deal that arguably did the most to spur the development of Boeing’s re-engined 737 MAX strategy. In the context of the MAX’s ongoing grounding, it remains to be seen what this order from American will spur.

Another 50 A321XLRs are heading to airlines part of Indigo Partners group, comprising United States-based Frontier, Chilean JetSMART, Mexican Volaris and Hungarian Wizz Air, all existing A320 family operators. Wizz Air will receive 20 of the A321XLR aircraft, 18 will go to Frontier, and 12 to JetSMART.

Airbus said the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Indigo Partners included new orders for 32 A321XLRs and the conversion of 18 existing A320neo family orders.

China Airlines ordered its first Airbus narrowbody aircraft, signing a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) for 25 A321neos. The Taipei-based airline has previously been a firm Boeing single-aisle customer. It also has 23 A330s and 14 A350-900s

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A further 20 A320neo family aircraft are heading to airlines that are customers of lessor Accipiter Holdings, which is wholly owned by Hong Kong’s CK Asset Holdings Ltd. The deal had been completed in March 2019 and was previously listed in Airbus’ order books as an undisclosed customer.

Boeing orders trickle out, one by one

Pickings were slim at Boeing after Tuesday’s surprise order of 200 Boeing 737-8 and 737-10 aircraft from IAG — pointing to a renaming of the troubled Boeing jet — with orders for five 777F, one 777-200LR and 20 737-800BCF freighters.

It was notable that in the order for the 737-800BCF, and in the context of substantial criticism of the way that Boeing and its primary US regulator the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certify its aircraft, that Boeing included text that read:

“Already operating on four continents (Africa, Asia, Europe, and North America) after entering service last year, the 737-800BCF is certified by various global regulators: the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, the European Aviation Safety Agency, the Civil Aviation Administration of China, and Russia’s Federal Air Transport Agency.”

Boeing will convert 737-800 passenger aircraft to its Boeing Commercial Freighter variant for ASL Aviation Holdings, the Dublin-based aviation services provider comprising airlines, lessors, maintenance facilities and other services. The group placed a firm order for 10 737-800BCFs and secured a further 10 purchase rights.

The company already operated two 737-800BCFs across its European network, ASL chief executive Hugh Flynn said.

“We are very pleased with how the flexibility and reliability of these freighters fulfill our operational needs in meeting our customer requirements,” Flynn said.

“The aircraft is highly efficient and right-sized for our developing operations on behalf of our express cargo customers who are experiencing growing demand. The 737-800BCF will also give us access to new markets.”

Boeing said it converted eight 737-800BCF aircraft in 2018, and expected to convert a further 17 in 2019, as part of its goal to meet the need it projects for more than 2,500 freighters in the next 20 years, over 60 per cent of which it sees as being passenger-to-freighter conversions.

Boeing’s current-generation widebody freighter, the 777-200LR-based 777F, received five more orders from Qatar Airways.

Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar Al Baker said the five 777Fs would increase the airline’s freighter fleet by 20 per cent and would “propel our growth and, I firmly believe, confirm us as the leading cargo operator in the world”.

The airline has 23 freighters, of which 16 were Boeing 777 freighters. The 777F has a range of 4,970nm with a payload of 102 tonnes.

Boeing also received a single order for a current-generation Boeing 777-200LR from Turkmenistan Airlines, adding to the three ultra-long-range aircraft already in the aircraft’s fleet.

The 777-200LR’s has a published range of 8,555nm.

In Seattle, the wings of the 777X unfurled 

Meanwhile, in Seattle, Boeing tweeted video showing the 777-9X flapping its winglets, two days after its engine supplier GE announced a months-long delay to the GE9x powerplant.

Embraer secures order for up to 35 E-195 E2 from KLM for Cityhopper

There was welcome news for Embraer as KLM’s Cityhopper subsidiary announced it would purchase 35 E195-E2 regional jets. Fifteen of the order are firm, while the remaining 20 consist of purchase rights.

Embraer Commercial Aviation chief executive John Slattery noted KLM was the largest operator of E-jets in Europe with 49 in the fleet.

He described the E2 order from the Holland-based carrier as a “huge vote of confidence in Embraer, our after sales care, and the E2 programme”

The airline was looking to either replace or supplement its existing fleet of 32 E190s and 17 E175s, depending on the slot situation at its hub at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport.

“The E2 would be a welcome addition to the KLM fleet, giving us greater capacity flexibility and help to manage down costs. In addition, the environmentally friendly E195-E2 also supports our sustainability goals with lower levels of noise and emissions,” KLM chief executive Pieter Elbers said in a statement.

Mitsubishi finds first (as-yet undisclosed) customer for resized M100 SpaceJet

It was all smiles in the Mitsubishi booth Wednesday afternoon as the Japanese airframer discussed its first order for the resized M100 SpaceJet, which is the redesigned model aimed to fit into the weight and passenger capacity “scope clauses” within major carriers pilot contracts for flights in and around North America.

The airframer stated that it has “entered into a Memorandum of Understanding to commence formal negotiations for 15 Mitsubishi SpaceJet M100 aircraft, with deliveries beginning in 2024”.

The agreement, Mitsubishi said in a statement re-affirmed the “market demand for a game-changing regional aircraft, particularly in the North American market”.

“We are pleased to welcome a new airline to the SpaceJet program,” said Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation President Hisakazu Mizutani.

“We have received strong interest in this product from many airlines. They recognize that this family of aircraft will provide them with the ability to give their passengers an excellent experience while also delivering unmatched performance, creating new profit potential.”

Also, Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation said the M90, previously called the MRJ90, was on track for first delivery of in mid-2020, having completed a substantial portion of type certification testing with its four flight test aircraft.

And finally . . .

John Walton is at Le Bourget all week — follow him live on Twitter at @thatjohn.

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