Barry Eccleston, president of Airbus Americas, presented the Airbus outlook at the British American Business Council Pacific Northwest conference today.
- The A330 went on longer than we thought it would, and are going to nine a month from 10.
- He still sees a market for the A330ceo with airlines other than the long-sought China order.
- We’ve had unexpected success for the A321 as a replacement for the Boeing 757 and 767-200; 934 A321s orders and conversions from A320 in just the last two years. First airplanes from Mobile (AL) plant will be A321s, which had been planned for the A320.
- The A321neoLR brought to the market place just under two weeks ago and already have interest. There is a bit of wing strengthening, a bit of structural restrengthing.
- The A330 has become the bread-and-butter of the long range business. It has the largest operator based, 106, than any other wide-body.
- Our strategy is to take today’s product and improve it. We followed the A320neo strategy with the A330neo. A330neo has 95% spares commonality with A330ceo.
- Fundamental difference vs Boeing supply chain (in response to a question) that Boeing is out there with Partnering for Success program to drive down costs, it’s a very aggressive program. Our approach is we can’t deal with all our suppliers so we deal with Tier 1s, who we expect to deal with Tier 2 and they with Tier 3s. We are very open to looking at new suppliers. Our cost base is in Euros so we are looking for more dollar-based suppliers.
- Short-term answer about a Washington State engineering base (in response to a question) is no. We like the idea of coming to the US (Wichita, Mobile) and long-term could expand. However, A350 engineering demands are now behind us. So we are not looking for lots of engineers right now.
IIRC, jetBlue was supposed to be taking the first aircraft, an A320, off the Mobile line. Has this changed too?
JBLU now 321
It seems Airbus portfolio is very strong now with the A320 family offering engine choice high BPR and capacity, the A350 facing little direct competition and the A330 having become the standard medium haul twin with paid for development and good future potential.
No doubt Boeing will come up with a new NB, they have too. Question is how Airbus will react. IMO the NB segment is so large/important to both you can’t specify a NB serving all and w’ll end up seeing two optimized NB classes, with the split at ~ 170 seats/ 2000NM’s.
The bigger NB platform eventually replacing the A300/A310/A332 in the Airbus portfolio while the A333 gets replaced by a A350.
A small part of me wonders if Airbus may not do an “all new” replacement but give the A320 the 777X treatment. The fuselage looks good, comfortable and accepts LD3-45 containers. Resize the fuselage to 200max and 250max pax, add a new CFRP wing. The next generation of GTF engines are supposed to be 10-15% better.
But, I think it is more likely that they do a complete replacement.
I think there still will be a gap in the market under the 787/A330. The A321 LR will narrow that gab. A real game changer would be a lighter NB like aircraft covering 4500. That would be capable of covering all of Europe, HNL, S.America from US East coast, cover all of India from all over Europe vv, Northwest USA from central Europe. etc. Significant cargo loads on 3000NM flights. The low cost/ leisure operators would jump on it.
Years ago we predicted this A321 upgrade and now its there in a low risk/investment form. IMO the killer would be the A320 variant optimized for 200 passengers/4 cabin crew at 30 inch pitch, the perfect replacement for the many aging A320 and 737-800 fleets.
Airlines asked for it. I think Airbus is holding back because it would probably trigger an instant responds from Boeing (new NB), shortening the bright A320 NEO prospects/ product life cycle. Maybe when the first MAX rolls of the line, Boeing is deeply into the 777X , around 2017.