31 July 2014

A350-800 future not clear.

For the A350-800, Airbus still has no clear answer. It is contractually obliged to deliver the first aircraft in 2016, one year ahead of the -1000, although it has been trying to delay entry into service to around 2020 while redefining the version. Some observers have suggested that the -800 might be killed once the reengined A330 has been formally launched.

Airbus is putting no work into the -800 now, but Evrard says shrinking the -900 would not be a very difficult task. “The -800 will not require a lot of development work. And with the backlog reduced, we have some more headroom to maneuver,” he says. The number of firm orders for the smallest A350 is down to 28.

It is unclear whether the current official position is only a polite way of saying Airbus essentially does not want to build the aircraft. There are very real concerns that the A330neo makes the A350-800 redundant.

Based on the article “Shifting Gears” published in Aviation Week   

30 July 2014

"History has shown the manufacturer with the biggest twin-engine jetliner wins"

This is the conclusion by Richard Aboulafia -vice president at aerospace consultancy Teal Group- when talking about the bigger and bigger aircraft that are currently under development by both Boeing and Airbus.

Photo by @LH526 at airliners.net

In the historically boom-and-bust global airline industry, it is mostly boom times again. After a withering global economic crisis, tourists and businesspeople are again traveling. Rising airline profits are fueling demand not just for more jets, but for larger models that only Airbus and Boeing can build—and which are more profitable for the plane makers.

Photo by @LH526 at airliners.net

"The average size of aircraft has been moving up. Every year it gets slightly larger," said John Leahy, chief salesman for Airbus's commercial-plane unit. In profitable times like these, carriers are drawn to larger jets to carry more passengers without having to add flights.
Though bigger planes cost more to buy, airlines can spread costs across more passengers by adding seats, often without requiring much extra staff.

Photo by Sascha K @knig_s

Both manufacturers have begun to adapt their production plans and even their jets to reflect the shifting market.
Over the next 20 years, Boeing estimates the average twin-aisle, or widebody, jetliner will grow by about 20 seats.
In Airbus A350 XWB family, interest has fizzled in the smaller A350-800.

The bigger jets bring design challenges. Airbus is adding extra landing-gear wheels and upgraded the engine design for the bigger A350 model, which is expected to be delivered in 2017. Boeing, meanwhile, will fit folding wingtips to its planned bigger 777X to allow the jet to use the same gates as smaller planes.

Is the extra effort worth it?  Up to a point. While bigger is generally better, airlines tend to favor twin-engine jets over more costly and even bigger four-engine models.
Airlines worry they can't profitability fill planes that seat more than 450 passengers. If travel demand weakens, airlines tend to hedge with smaller jets to maintain frequencies at lower capacity.

Photo by Olli B. @oller_o

While carriers in much of the world are enjoying the good times again, there are early warning signs too many big jets have come into the market. Deutsche Lufthansa and Air France-KLM in recent weeks issued profit warnings as capacity on intercontinental routes has outpaced demand.

"It goes in swings and roundabouts," AerCap's Mr. Kelly said.

Based on the article “Plane Makers' Sweet Spot: Bigger, but Not Too Big” published in The Wall Street Journal.

29 July 2014

A350 World Tour continues; MSN5 will be flying between Hong Kong and Singapore until 31/July.

The Airbus A350 XWB landed for the very first time at Hong International Airport (HKAI) last 28/July.

Photo by @Ed_Chai

The aircraft, MSN005 has to fly a representative airline schedule, demonstrating its maturity for airline operations. This route proving exercise is the last of the trials required for Type Certification, which is expected in September this year. The aircraft will be operated by Airbus flight crews with Cathay and Singapore crews witnessing some flights.

Photo by @nl273

For its visit to Asia, the MSN5 arrived directly in Hong-Kong from Toulouse and will carry out crucial hot and humid tests similar to normal airline operations in the region. The aircraft will perform a series of high frequency flights between Hong-Kong and Singapore over 3 days before departing back to Toulouse on 31/July.

Photo by @Ed_Chai

Airbus A350 will then depart to Johannesburg, South Africa, on 2/August. The A350’s World Tour will end on 13/August after visiting 14 airports around the world. 


Based on the press release “AIRBUS A350 XWB arrives in Hong Kong for the first time ever”

28 July 2014

A350 overweight concerns were part of the reason for Emirates´ Order cancellation.

In this article by FT, it is stated that Emirates Airline dropped the contract for 70 A350s last month partly because of concerns about the aircraft’s weight, and therefore its fuel consumption.

“Although the prototype A350s doing test flights are 3 tonnes heavier than the specification of the midsized version of the aircraft, Mr Brégier said this would not be an issue with the jets delivered to customers, adding: «We will deliver . . . the performance we guaranteed to our customers.»”

In the article there is available an interview with Airbus CEO Mr. Brégier who answers to many questions concerning the A380 and the A330neo too.

All photos © Airbus

Based on the article “Airbus to step up wide-body challenge to Boeing” published in The Financial Times

27 July 2014

Hawaiian Airlines cancels their A350-800 order the week after Farnborough Airshow.

If the Farnborough Airshow balance for the A350 was poor with only 4 A350-900 included in the MoU of Air Mauritius, it could be in red-numbers if Hawaiian Airlines announcement of switching from their 6 A350-800 to A330-800neo would published one week before.

Hawaiian Airlines has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Airbus for 6 A330-800neo aircraft, replacing a previous order placed by Hawaiian for 6 A350-800s.

Airbus now has only 28 firm orders left for the A350-800, the smallest version of the A350 XWB family. The A350-800 trails its larger cousins by a wide margin, with 543 orders for the -900 and 169 for the -1,000 on its books. The total orderbook for the A350 XWB family is 740.

It’s widely thought that the program will be canceled once Airbus is contractually able to do so. The 28 remaining firm orders are from Aeroflot (8), Asiana (8), AWAS (2) and Yemenia (10).

Airbus has been trying to convince its customers to convert orders to the larger A350-900 or the A330neo. CEO Fabrice Bregier said last week at the Farnborough International Airshow that the company felt the A330neo — which was launched at the airshow — was a “more efficient solution.”

Hawaiian was considered to be one of the customers most difficult to convince of the move because of the airline’s long-range requirements. Its decision is a major breakthrough for Airbus.

Based on the article “Airbus A350-800 loses more orders” published in Wichita Business Journal and based on the article “Airbus A350-800 Order Book Down To 28 Aircraft“ published in Aviation Week.

26 July 2014

Last critical test done prior to A350 certification. Braking at high speed and high weight.

Airbus has carried out last 19/July the maximum-energy rejected take-off with its MSN1 prototype at the Istres base, final major test prior to certification of the A350-900.

While the A350 had already conducted rejected take-off tests (‘High Energy Rejected Take-Off’ HERTO) some months ago with MSN3, the maximum-energy event is intended to examine the extreme case of a rejection at high speed and high weight with braking capability at its limits.

Airbus says the brakes reach a temperature of around 1.400 ºC as a result of the energy absorbed in stopping the aircraft.

Under the certification criteria the aircraft must remain standing for 5 min before firefighters can cool the brakes.


Airbus says the test was "successfully performed" and the test team received full support from the “DGA (Délégation Générale pour l’Armement) – Essais en vols”, which played a key role in facilitating the test. The maximum-energy test (MERTO) is left until last because of the risk of damage to the aircraft.

The video of this test will be populated in coming weeks buy Airbus.

Based on the article “A350 rejects take-off at maximum energy” published in FlightGlobal

25 July 2014

A350 route proving all around the world for 3 weeks.

MSN5 flight test prototype, equipped with cabin interiors, has already began a 3-week route-proving campaign, marking the start of the final certification stage for the A350-900.

This aircraft that is equipped with a furnished cabin comprising 265 seats, will operate a “world tour” taking in 14 airports across the world and a route via the North Pole.

Tests will include performance from high-altitude airfields, automatic landings, as well as airport turnaround and handling, to prove the Rolls-Royce XWB-powered aircraft is ready for airline operations.

Route-proving flights will be operated by Airbus crews with participation from airworthiness-authority pilots from the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). Some flights will be flown with passengers on board, said Airbus.

The program will comprise 4 trips, each of which begins in Toulouse:
Trip 1: Toulouse-Iqaluit-Frankfurt-Toulouse
Trip 2: Toulouse-Hong-Kong-Singapore-Hong-Kong-Toulouse (Hong Kong to Singapore several times)
Trip 3: Toulouse-Johannesburg-Sydney-Auckland-Santiago de Chile-Sao Paulo-Toulouse
Trip 4: Toulouse-Doha-Perth-Doha-Moscow-Helsinki-Toulouse

Based on the article “Airbus kicks off A350 route-proving trials” published in FlightGlobal