Airbus A220-300 at Farnborough International Air Show 2018. (Photo: Eric Brothers)
Only weeks after taking majority control in marketing the Bombardier CSeries jetliner, Airbus debuted the rebranded plane, the A220, as part of the company’s expanded portfolio. The former 100-to-135-seat CS100 and 130-to-160-seat CS300 are now the A220-100 and A220-300.
An A220-300 in house colors flew in the aircraft demonstrations Monday afternoon. Another A220 in Air Baltic livery was part of Airbus’ extensive ground display.
JetBlue became the first customer for the newly-rebranded Airbus A220 aircraft with a memorandum of understanding signed July 10, 2018, for 60 firm orders for the larger A220-300 model.
Also during Day 1 of the Farnborough International Air Show 2018, Airbus officials announced nine orders for commercial jetliners and unveiled its series production facility for the Zephyr High Altitude Pseudo-Satellite (HAPS) and introduced SmartForce digital support services for military customers operating Airbus aircraft.
The commercial jetliner announcements covered acquisitions and commitments for A320neo family single-aisle jetliners and widebody A350 XWBs.
Leading the Farnborough Airshow announcements were a memorandum of understanding with an undisclosed global lessor for 80 A320neo family aircraft; a firm order from Macquarie AirFinance Group Ltd. for 20 A320neo jetliners; Golden Falcon Aviation’s order confirmation of 25 aircraft in the A320neo/A321neo versions for Kuwait’s Wataniya Airways; and Goshawk Aviation Limited’s firm order for 20 A320neo family jetliners.
New Delhi-based VISTARA issued a letter of intent for an order of 13 A320neo aircraft, accompanied the airline’s intention to phase-in an additional 37 A320neo family jetliners from lessors; and an agreement for Oman’s SalamAir to add six new A320neo aircraft to its fleet, five of them on lease from an undisclosed lessor.
Airbus’ widebody A350 XWB also logged new business, with Farnborough announcements including a memorandum of understanding with Taiwan-based STARLUX Airlines for the purchase of 17 A350 XWBs (12 in the A350-1000 version and five of the shorter-fuselage A350-900s); plus a confirmation that Sichuan Airlines of China is ordering 10 A350-900s.
Airbus Chief Commercial Officer Eric Schulz told journalists attending the Farnborough Airshow that this new A350 XWB business is another sign that sales opportunities remain solid for the widebody sector, which he described as an extremely long-term market.
“I continue to be quite confident for the widebody market picking up again in the next 18 months to two years,” Schulz said. “There was a massive wave of widebody orders four to five years ago, and the market had to pause a bit while ramping up in rate, and this is now behind us. I see the market starting to accelerate again, particularly in Asia.”
Airbus officials also unveiled a series-production assembly line for unmanned High Altitude Pseudo-Satellites (HAPS), which will build the company’s Zephyr HAPS. Located adjacent to Farnborough Airport, this HAPS facility already is in production.
The Zephyr HAPS offers persistent see, sense, and connect capabilities with its ability to fly at stratospheric altitudes while carrying sensors and payloads for missions including remote monitoring, mapping and planning, border security, electronic intelligence, wide-area relay, and fixed broadband or LTE direct connectivity.
In parallel with the HAPS production facility unveiling, Zephyr S is five days into its maiden flight, having taken off from Arizona. Ultimately, the goal is to enable Zephyr flights of 100 days, as Airbus builds its expertise with the HAPS’ combination of solar power and secondary batteries that are charged during the daytime for overnight operation. The Zephyr S currently airborne reportedly has achieved a new altitude record of 74,000ft.
In defense news, Airbus introduced SmartForce, digital support services that use data-driven intelligence to improve the operational readiness of company-built aircraft and helicopters flown by military customers. By breaking through information silos, SmartForce can help military operators rapidly perform root-cause analysis and develop faster troubleshooting methods.
SmartForce builds on Airbus’ Skywise aviation data platform for operators of its commercial jetliners and the H-Care Connected Services for helicopter users.