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16 JULY 2012


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Article from BTNews 16 JULY 2012

ON TOUR: Farnborough 2012

When the flying stars of the opening days of Farnborough are three bombers, one from the 1940s, and the other two early 1950s you might say it is going to be a ‘vintage’ Farnborough.  It rather depends on how you define the word ‘vintage’.  We saw an Avro Lancaster, Avro Vulcan, and a Boeing B52, which is still in active service.  It was also very wet, which did not help, but at least the Hampshire site now has semi-permanent facilities, rather than the canvas structures of the past which were susceptible to weather problems.  In fact the sometimes atrocious conditions were good news for those showing in the four huge exhibition halls, which were really busy, and with some clever redesigning and smart carpet, most welcoming.

The British Prime Minister David Cameron was the star visitor on the Tuesday, but except for the usual platitudes really had nothing to say.  In fact it is rare for a PM to visit the show and nobody could remember exactly the last time.  He went on board the impressive Malaysian Airbus A380 with its Rolls-Royce engines and Welsh wings, plus other UK-sourced components, and visited BAe Systems.

The 2012 show was sold out with an increased number of exhibiting companies (1,506) compared to the 2010 show (1,450).  As expected trade visitors overall were down by 9%.

For this year’s review BTN has listed the top aircraft manufacturers and detailed their performance in alphabetical order. 

If you are a regular traveller three display aircraft were of interest.

Qatar Airways’ Boeing 787 was factory fresh and is a quantum leap in terms of Business Class layout.  It looks like the on-board service is going to be exceptional also, the cutlery showing the airline’s distinctive onyx design on the handles.  Martin Brougham, British Airways’ Chairman was seen to be admiring the plane.  What has BA got up its sleeve? 

Malaysian was keen to show the travel trade its new A380 with 70 Economy seats on the upper deck, where children are banned.  These are currently selling at a premium.  Korean Air offered a Boeing 737-900, with its all new ‘Sky’ interior and LED digitally controlled lighting, offering maximum cabin flexibility.  This will be the standard on the 737 MAX.

Airbus announced firm purchase orders for 54 aircraft and Memorandum of Understanding for a further 61.  With the A350 XWB unlikely to make Paris 2013 (it might just but the timetable is getting tight) other than a refining of its commitments by Cathay Pacific no sales were reported.  The A330 won 10 firm orders from CIT leasing group.  This order is additionally significant since it marks the launch of the new upgraded 240-tonne take-off weight A330.  It will open up more routes and offers up to 400nm more range and nearly five tonnes extra payload than the A330s being delivered today.  Synergy Aerospace ordered six A330-200s plus three A330 Freighters, bringing the total commitments for the A330 series at Farnborough this year to 19 aircraft.
The A320 Family also scored at Farnborough by winning 86 commitments, of which 57 were for the ‘current engine option’ (‘CEO’ the latest anachronism and somewhat confusing).  There was a MoU from China Aircraft Leasing Company (CALC) for 36 ‘CEO’ single-aisle aircraft which can be equipped with the new fuel-saving Sharklet large wingtip devices.  Another ‘CEO’ highlight was Utair’s firm order for 20 A321s worth over US$2bn.  Meanwhile, the forthcoming A320neo – which has just commenced production – took 29 orders from Avolon (aircraft leasing), Middle East Airlines, and Arkia Israel Airlines. www.airbus.com

ATR has had a fine year in terms of orders and says that line positions are now all booked until 2015.  Farnborough orders announced included Dash 600 models for TransAsia Airways (8), and two more of the type with both Air Lease Corporation and Lao Airlines.  Nordic Aviation Capital, a leasing company, added its first recently certificated ATR 42 to its portfolio. www.atraircraft.com

Boeing had a successful Farnborough, not only in the air display for the first time in many years, but announcing significant orders and commitments for 373 aircraft, the most important with United Airlines for 50 of the current NG 737 and 100 of the MAX model.  After a slow start Boeing is still well behind Airbus as far as orders go, 737 MAX against 1,524 neo, but is presently acquiring them at a greater pace.  The United order was vital as the airline presently operates around 150 Airbus A320 series aircraft. www.boeing.com/commercial


Bombardier continues to state that the C series will fly by the end of the year and is essentially on time.  Offering accommodation around 110 or 130 seats and London City runway capability the aircraft comes in somewhere beneath the smaller Airbus and Boeing single aisle models, but is larger than the Embraer E planes.  A cabin mock-up was on show that offered very comfortable five abreast seating in Economy, and large overhead bins.

Orders for the new aircraft are slow, but coming in, with firm commitments to date standing at 135.  Air Baltic said during the show that it would take 20 with delivery from 2015.

Halifax, Nova Scotia-based Chorus Aviation Inc., the parent company of Jazz Aviation, made a commitment for six Q400 turboprops. www.bombardier.com

Embraer was really quiet at Farnborough this year on the commercial aircraft front concentrating more on the military market.  No firm news was forthcoming regarding a stretch of the maximum 118 seats offered by Flybe on their 195 models, or of an all new aircraft.  An order for five 190s  from Hebei Airlines, Shijiazhuang (China), was the total news.  As things stand Embraer have delivered 823 aircraft with a back order book standing at 240. www.embraer.com

Mitsubishi Regional Jets
(MRJ) announced a deal in principle with the major feeder carrier SkyWest Inc for 100 MRJ.  Headquartered in St George, Utah, the airline operates around 400 aircraft flying mainly for Delta and United airlines.  Deliveries of the 70/90 seater are planned to begin in 2017 and conclude by the end of 2020.  First flight of the MRJ is planned for 2013 with ANA the lead customer with 15 firm orders. www.mrj-japan.com

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