13 July 2014

What could we see in Farnborough next week concerning the A350 XWB? A330neo, A350-800 and A350-1100.

At Farnborough, “the eyes of the aviation world are on Airbus,” said Richard Aboulafia, longtime aerospace analyst with the Teal Group. “There isn’t the same level of existential dilemma for Boeing at this Air Show.”

Orders for Airbus’s newest A350, due for first delivery this year, may still flow though it will not be available to air-show buyers before 2020. To be sure, no manufacturer wants to go through an air show without at least a few announcements.

“This might be a show about conservatism, execution on existing programs and not a lot else,” said Richard Aboulafia. “This is not a bad environment, but it’s hardly the kind where you want to push further out into record territory.”

With most major airlines replete with orders for the newest planes that promise reduced fuel consumption and a path to more sustainable profitability, aircraft lessors may instead take center stage at the Farnborough event southwest of London.
“Compared to the last few air shows, we expect this year’s to be a bit flat,” RBC Capital Market’s Rob Stallard said in an investor note on July 8.
Airbus is pondering how to fill gaps at the larger and smaller ends of its lineup.

These are the questions the aviation world is now asking:
-Will Airbus launch a new version of the A330 mid-size twinjet with new fuel-efficient engines to compete against Boeing’s 787?
-At the larger end of the twinjet market, what can Airbus do to compete against Boeing’s 777X?
Airbus will fly the MSN4 prototype of the A350 with Qatar Airways –launch customer- livery.

A330neo launch?
Airbus could be poised to launch 2 versions of a re-engined A330, as tantalising evidence mounts that Airbus will substantially modernize its twin-jet workhorse to take on the Boeing 787. A330-800neo and A330-900neo

AirAsia is among carriers that have pressed for Airbus to develop a re-engined A330 while lessor Air Lease has expressed interest in becoming a launch customer. 

Rolls-Royce is already the primary engine supplier to the A330 with the 72,000lb Trent 700 and, given the trend towards sole-source powerplants, would be in a prime position to offer exclusively a version of its 74,000lb Trent 1000 engine.

Barry Eccleston, chief executive of Airbus Americas said Airbus is still in discussions with airlines. Launching the jet this week at Farnborough would be “very aggressive,” he said.

A350-800 cancellation?
Emergence of an A330neo would essentially render the 276-seat A350-800 unnecessary, although Airbus has yet to clarify its plans for the type. Just five customers – Aeroflot, Asiana, Hawaiian Airlines,Yemenia and lessor AWAS – remain for the A350-800, covering orders for 34 aircraft.

All 5 are customers of the current A330 but it is unclear whether Airbus has proposed the A330neo as an alternative to their A350-800 orders.

A350-1100 launch?

The other big widebody decisions facing Airbus are more difficult to address. The one most vital to Boeing is what Airbus will do to match the new 777X. Airbus has in development the A350-1000, which at just over 350 seats is about the same size as the planned 777-8X. But against the bigger 777-9X, seating more than 400 passengers, Airbus has nothing.
Can it stretch the A350 even more to match the -9X?

Adam Pilarski, longtime industry analyst with consulting firm Avitas, said this is a complex decision, requiring close collaboration with A350-1000 engine-supplier Rolls-Royce. Still, an even bigger A350 would be costly and Airbus might struggle to do that and an A330neo at the same time. “In the end, they have to do both,” said Aboulafia. “It’ll be a while before they have the resources.”
Airbus’ Eccleston insists there isn’t any urgency to match 777X. “We’ll get around to it eventually,” he said. “It’s certainly not near the top of our priorities.”

Based on the article “FARNBOROUGH: Signs point to Bastille Day A330neo launch” published in Flightglobal and based on the article “Airbus in the hot seat at air show” published in The Seattle Times, and based on the article “Farnborough Airshow Focuses on Established Planes on Backlog” published in Bloomberg.


  1. As expected, the A330-neo announcement is out:


  2. That's an interesting crowd in this aircraft size segment: A330-800, A330-900, A350-800, A350-900, 787-9 and 787-10.

    Does Airbus now think that mid-sized jets is the right solution for future air travel? (as opposed to very big jets)