By Bjorn Fehrm
June 15, 2021, ©. Leeham News: Airbus hosted an update on the Pandemic effects on its airliner business today.
It presented its view of the pandemic’s effects overall, how it affected the different aircraft programs, and how Airbus predicts the recovery ramp to look.
The COVID 19 pandemic has put the airliner business in its most profound decline ever, Figure 1. 25 years of growth in the industry was washed away in two months.
The pandemic’s effects on air travel have hit international travel the hardest, with present traffic levels (ASKs) at 27% of 2019 levels and domestic ASKs at 80%, Figure 2. Overall the decline is 51%.
Airbus predicts the recovery to happen in 2023 for Domestic traffic and 2024 to 2025 for International traffic, Figure 3.
Through fast decisions to cut single-aisle production by 40% (from 60 to 40 A320 series per month), A330 to two, and A350 to five, whitetails today stand less than five. It’s despite 80% of the sales contracts being renegotiated from March 2020 to today.
Airbus last month gave its supply chain a firm forecast for the coming years so that suppliers can adapt in time for production increases.
In the presentation, the product portfolio was gone through type by type, and the production ramp and latest technical developments were discussed.
The present production rate is a total of five from the Mirabel and Mobile final production lines, Figure 4, with a gradual increase to six in early 2022. The plan is to ramp the A220 series to rate 14 by mid-decade.
The A220-300 has a Maximum TakeOff Weight (MTOW) increase to 70.9t later this year, increasing the nominal range to 3,550nm.
The present production rate is 40 aircraft per month, Figure 5. This increases to 45 by end 2021, rate 64 during 2023, and finally rate 70 by 1Q2024. The supply chain has been asked to give feedback on rate 75 by 2025
The attention is on the A321XLR that has started production and will enter the FAL in Hamburg end of 2021. Flight tests will be happening during 2022 and first deliveries in 2023.
The production rate for the A330 remains at rate two until further, Figure 6. The A350 gradually ramps from rate five to six end next year.
The first A330-900 with the 251t Maximum TakeOff Weight (MTOW) was delivered to CORSAIR in March.
Airbus is making further improvements on the A350. The MTOW of the A350-900 has increased to 280t and for the -1000 to 319t. A weight-saving program called P7 is ongoing, and this will increase the range further. These developments will benefit the Ultra Long Haul Sunrise project that QANTAS and Airbus hope to rekindle as international travel restarts.
Philippe Mhun, the EVP Programs and Services gave the status for Airbus Sustainable Air Transport programs. He pointed out that reduced fuel consumption equals reduced CO2 emissions (the relationship is one kg burned Jet fuel generates 3.2 kg CO2) and since 1990, emission per passenger-km is reduced by 50%, Figure 7.
To get down to the 2050 targets, we must do more. Airbus will have its entire fleet ready for a 50% SAF blend (Sustainable Aviation Fuel, CO2 neutral fuel made from non-fossil sources) soon, and a hydrogen-fueled airliner should be ready by 2035. To this end, Airbus yesterday announced the creation of a German Hydrogen tank center in Bremen and a French one in Nantes.
Airbus expects SAF to solve 50% of the problem with emissions, with new technologies like hydrogen caring for 42% and the remaining 8% to come from ATC route improvements and other operational enhancements.