Home' Asian Aviation : AAV Dec Jan 2010 Contents Andrzej Jeziorski
Shortly before this issue of Asian Aviation went to press,
European aircra manufacturer Airbus made a long-awaited
but potentially momentous decision.
e company formally announced a plan to o er re-engined
versions of its single-aisle A320 family of aircra , gambling that
the fuel-savings o ered by emerging engine technology with an
in-service date of 2016 will be more appealing to airlines than
waiting another ve or more years for an all-new aircra that
could be substantially more economical.
Both Airbus and its main competitor, Boeing, have recently
o ered vivid examples of the di culty of bringing an all-new
aircra with substantial new technology onto the market in
this day and age. As detailed in this issue, the Airbus A380 --
which su ered its share of delays before deliveries began -- is
now facing an unexpected setback with the Rolls-Royce Trent
900 powerplant, while Boeing's 787 may now be delayed for a
seventh time in the wake of a re during ight testing.
In the face of such struggles with new technology, a 15 percent
fuel-burn saving in an aircra that has -- according to Airbus --
95 percent airframe commonality with currently operational
A320-family jetliners may seem far more appealing than an
all-new product that is far less likely to meet its promised
Up to now, Boeing has sco ed at the idea of o ering a re-
engined version of its 737 line, insisting that its customers
are not seeking such a solution. Earlier this year Airbus's top
salesman John Leahy predicted that if an A320neo(new engine
option) were launched late in 2010, Boeing would immediately
respond with an all-new design for 2020 launch.
As reported in this issue, Boeing Commercial Airplanes
CEO James Albaugh said in mid-November that the US
manufacturer was likely to do exactly that. As yet, no such
concrete announcement has come from the Boeing camp -- but
analysts and industry observers are on tenterhooks to see how
the US company may respond to the latest announcement from
Leahy has already argued that the A320neo kills the business
case for Bombardier's planned CSeries airliner -- an argument
rejected by the Canadian manufacturer, which declared the
Airbus executive's comment was "no surprise". Bombardier
argues that its planned 2013 entry-into -ser vice date for
the CSeries gives the company a substantial " rst-mover
advantage" over the re-engined A320, which will not be
delivered until 2016.
Teal Group analyst Richard Aboula a lists several reasons
why the A320neo makes sense. Firstly, Airbus needs a way to
prevent its single-aisle product -- which competes e ectively
with the 737 on factors such as comfort and performance,
but is beaten by its US rival on fuel-burn -- from starting
to look like a "high-cost laggard" in the market as the more
economical CSeries comes on line.
Secondly, Boeing's current 787 programme will probably
wind down in 2011-2012, freeing up resources to develop
an all-new single-aisle aircra . Airbus, on the other hand will
most likely be focused on A350 XWB development until
about 2016, giving Boeing a four- to ve-year head-start on
a 737 successor.
"Re-engining now would be a cost-e ective way for Airbus to
hedge against that," Aboula a says.
irdly, an A321neo would o er performance close to that of
a Boeing 757, with far-improved economics. ere are now
about 1,000 757s in ser vice and the replacement cycle will
Most compellingly, however, Aboula a points out that Airbus
is the most exposed of the major manufacturers to the threat
of emerging competitors. Up to now, all CSeries customers
have been Airbus operators, while China's Comac C919 is
also aiming directly for Airbus's Chinese single-aisle market.
us, it appears, Airbus's launch announcement may have
come as much from necessity as from pure ambition. Either
way, it is a decision that makes sense on many levels and will
certainly liven up the marketplace.●
Airbus revitalises A320
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is publication is preparing to co-host the rst Aviation
Awards Asia, in partnership with Reed Exhibitions, during
the next Asian Aerospace International Expo and Congress,
which will be held on 8-10 March 2011 in Hong Kong.
e purpose of the event is to raise the pro le of the
key aviation-industry players in the Asia-Paci c market,
rewarding innovation, excellence, professionalism and best
Entrants may nominate themselves, and must be able to
show a measurable achievement in the calendar year 2010,
having a positive e ect on the Asian aviation industry.
ey should be able to demonstrate a superior standard of
products and ser vices and have a proven track record in
shaping and leading the industry in their particular eld.
Entry is free of charge with the completion of an entry
pack, available on-line or by e-mail.
Entries are now being accepted, with the event's
distinguished panel of judges taking into account a range
of factors, including : impact on business performance,
originality, e ect on operational safety, customer ser vice
and contribution to aviation in the Asia-Paci c region.
e judges are : Airser vices Australia Chairman David
Forsyth; CAPA Executive Chairman Peter Harbison;
AAPA Director General Andrew Herdman; Edward M.
Bolen, president and chief executive o cer of the US
National Business Aviation Association (NBAA); V K
Mathews, founder, chairman and chief executive o cer of
the India-based IT specialist IBS Group; and Aerospace
Forum Asia (AFA) President Martin Craigs, who is also
advisor to the Engine Lease Finance Corporation (ELFC).
Entries invited for Aviation Awards Asia
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