The Air Transport World-Leeham Co. Eco-Aviation Conference last week produced a great deal of news, most notably the test results from Air New Zealand on its biofuel test flight made in cooperation with Boeing and Rolls-Royce.
ANZ announced at the conference that the test flight had a 1.2% better fuel efficiency than Jet-A fuel but a whopping 60%+ reduction in CO2 emissions.
Another in the continuing reports from the Airbus Innovation Days….
Airbus provided an A330/A340 market update during its Innovation Days presentations in Hamburg earlier in May.
The A340 has become irrelevant to the new airplane market, with only a handful of new orders remaining and virtually none forthcoming in the last several years. Airbus is tweaking the A340 with some aerodymic improvements designed to reduce fuel burn by 1%. Along with maintenance procedure changes to the A330, the A340 increases the interval on the A Check to 800 flight hours from the current 600; C Check intervals go from 18 months to 21-24 months; Intermediate Checks increased from five years at EIS to the current six years and remains unchanged; and Structural Checks increase from 10 years to 12 years.
We resisted asking whether the A340’s Product Improvement Package includes a large Parking Brake sign in the cockpit.
To some, the Blended Wing Body airplane seems like a great idea. We like it, too. It’s highly fuel efficient–estimated to be up to 30% more so than the Airbus A380. The body acts as lift, providing a lot of the efficiency.
It’s voluminous. It can carry more than 1,000 people and it has great cargo-carrying capability. It’s also been discussed as an aerial refueling tanker for the US Air Force.
Testing continues on the 787 as it prepares for first flight in June.
Speculation is rampant over whether the airplane will be ready to fly before, during or after the Paris Air Show (but for clarity, “during” does not mean “at” the air show).
We believe Boeing would dearly love to be able to talk about first flight at the air show. Tests appear to be moving more quickly than anticipated, as reported by Flightblogger in its running countdown to first flight.
We are hearing widely divergent opinions about whether first flight will happen in time for Boeing to discuss it at the air show or not.
Update, May 26: India reportedly has decided to buy the KC-330 MRTT. It’s widely expected France will select the MRTT as well (no surprise there). Boeing apparently didn’t offer the KC-767 to India and probably won’t waste its time with France.
While Boeing in the previous USAF competition touted the fact that it has delivered a tanker (to Japan) and Airbus hasn’t, and that this would be the ‘year of the tanker’ to get Japan’s four tankers delivered and at least the first of the Italian tankers, the company didn’t offer the International tanker to India.
Anyone know why?
According to this article in Reuters, the US Air Force has regained control over the competition for the KC-X tanker that will be re-run after the Government Accountability Office last year found flaws with its process.
Because of that, Defense Secretary Robert Gates was going to re-run the competition from his office. It looks like the USAF has convinced him that it can run the competition.
The Request for Proposals appears headed toward an issuance in the next 30 days or so.
A sole-source, winner-take-all competition looks like what the USAF will plan for. This supports Gates’ position (probably little surprise there) but is at various with some key Members of Congress, who have been advocating a split buy. Some other key members, including Sen. John McCain, favor a sole-source acquisition.
The price of oil has doubled off its low of only a few months ago, closing Friday (May 23) at around $61bbl. This is actually good news for Airbus and Boeing (and Bombardier and Embraer) as these companies struggle to protect their skyline (order backlog) over the balance of 2009 and in 2010.
Based on the forecasts that the airline industry will recover in 2010 and 2011, and on the hope that the financial markets will improve next year, Airbus and Boeing have been engaged in high-profile efforts to maintain production rates of the A320 and 737 lines in particular and the A330 and 777 lines as well.
Flight International has a May 14 story we’ve just seen (we were out of town) about Boeing’s possible response to the Airbus A350-1000. This may be found here.
The most interesting thing to us is the timeline: within three-four years after Boeing gains clarity on the A350-1000, or perhaps by around 2018-19. Or, Boeing suggested, three or four years after the A350 EIS, currently forecast by Airbus as 2013 for the -900 model (the -1000 EIS is slated for 2015 and the -800 in 2014).
Aviation Week reports the FAA has certified Boeing’s Wedgetail, the 737-based electronics airplane ordered by the Australian services. The program, which includes electronics from Northrop Grumman, is years behind schedule.