Home' Asian Aviation : AAV June 2010 Contents 24 AsianAviation | JUNE 2010
European manufacturer Airbus red
the rst round in the competition
to develop the next generation of
150-passenger jetliners in May, as
senior executives unveiled its single-
aisle product strategy for the next 20
Plans begin with continued improvement of
the established A320 series, including the possible
introduction of a fourth engine option, and are
expected to culminate in an all-new design that will
embrace many innovative aerospace technologies. By
the end of the next decade, a product-development
study dubbed A30X could yield new designs that
Airbus describes as "game-changing solutions".
O cials say that the original business case for the
A320 saw a market for about 800 aircra , although
conser vative European governments asked to support
the programme assumed only half that number might
be sold. Today, almost 30 years on, some 4,250 have
been delivered to more than 220 customers and are
being own by 243 operators. e 50-millionth take-
o by an A320-series aircra is expected before the
end of June.
Airbus Chief Operating O cer Customers John
Leahy points out that a new airliner will have a 40-
year life and thus must represent the state of the art
at entry into service. Accordingly, future single-aisle
designs must sport the latest aerospace technologies,
but the bad news for airlines seeking a great leap
for ward is that Airbus does not see an appropriate
package of materials, systems, and equipment being
available for at least 15 years.
"A new aircra today would probably be metal,
but we don't know enough about all-composites
structures," says Leahy. "Why would you 'go' now,
if you could launch an all-new composite design in
e engine situation is similar. Manufacturers say
the best future propulsion probably will "be an open-
rotor (OR) fan, but they haven't fully gured it out.
[ at will take until] the middle (or even the end)
of the next decade -- not before," according to Leahy.
Meanwhile, Airbus has launched a product-
development study that could see a new, fourth
engine option for the A320 series being provided
later this year. Such a variant would inevitably be
o ered as a compromise : while engine manufacturers
argue that better, second-generation technolog y is
just around the corner (and worth waiting for), some
prospective customers might become impatient if
fuel prices keep rising. Leahy hopes to reveal more
at the Farnborough Air Show in July, with a decision
following within months.
As Airbus considers this A320 New Engine Option
(NEO) project, it wants to be sure that engines such
as the Pratt & Whitney (P&W) geared turbofan
(GTF) will provide an acceptable performance gain
compared with existing powerplants.
Programmes and customer-support executive
vice-president Tom Williams says the manufacturer
is weighing up such issues as the impact of GTF
technology on engine maintenance costs, especially
for operators requiring quick turnarounds. Airbus
also wants to clarify such technical questions as
what the e ect on the gearbox of, for instance,
contaminated oil would be.
Until these queries are resolved, introduction of
the GTF as an option is "not yet a done deal", says
Leahy says that over 800nm average sectors (with
fuel prices increasing by 1.9 percent per year, and
with a 15-year discount rate of 10 percent), the NEO
o ers a potential saving of US$5-9 million per year
in operating costs, when fuel prices are US$84-150
Before going ahead with the A320NEO, the
manufacturer must con rm there is real demand:
"We shouldn't do it, if [it] depends on [winning]
launch orders," says Leahy. He would like "Rolls-
Royce and P&W [to] resolve their di erences" and to
proceed with a powerplant from their International
Aero Engines (IAE) joint venture. Marketing
vice-president Andrew Shankland believes "some
improvement [is] in the o ng" for the IAE V2500,
while Williams confirms Airbus has been in
discussions with P&W and CFM international.
Should Airbus decide to o er the A320NEO later
in 2010, Boeing will probably announce an "all-new"
narrowbody for service entry in 2020, Leahy suggests.
"Do you think if we don't do anything, then Boeing
will?" the Airbus executive asks, rhetorically.
Such a move by the US competitor would be
preceded by its o ering a new engine option for
the 737 in 2011, predicts Leahy. Were Boeing to
launch a new 150-seater to replace the 737 in,
say, 2018-20, Leahy claims it would need to sell
an additional 1,000-2,000 units a er ful lling its
current 2,000-strong backlog of orders (assuming a
24-month linear run-down in production ahead of
But he also remembers Boeing's history of
Airbus unveils single-aisle strategy
As Airbus investigates potential future technologies that could be introduced in the second half of the next
decade, Ian Goold reports that the company is considering a fourth engine option for the A320 series and
continuing to improve and develop the successful single-aisle family.
After 30 years, Airbus has delivered 4,250 A320-family aircraft to 243 operators.
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