Here is a roundup of commercial and business aviation news from the 2019 Paris Air Show, which took place from 17 to 23 June at Le Bourget.
Following a similar focus at EBACE a month earlier, the Paris Air Show displayed its ambitions in terms of renewable solutions for aviation as political pressure intensifies on the matter. 23 industry leaders, research organizations and university associations signed on 19 June a ‘Joint Declaration of European Aviation Research Stakeholders Related to Clean Aviation in Horizon Europe’, thus laying the foundations of a European partnership to help with decarbonisation and build on progress made under the Clean Sky programs. Among the signatories were Airbus’ CEO Guillaume Faury, Safran’s CEO Philippe Petitcolin, Rolls-Royce’s CEO Warren East, and Leonardo’s CEO Alessandro Profumo. They called on the European Commission, Parliament, and Council to determine a framework for the partnership and provide funding to develop relevant technologies. The global aviation leaders, meanwhile, pointed to efforts already undertaken under the 2019 implementation of the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA). This focus on alternative solutions had also been justified by Guillaume Faury just before the show’s opening as he laid out the stakes behind clean aviation in the coming years: “It represents 2.5% of CO2 emissions today. But if we had not constantly improved our aircraft by reducing these emissions by 80%, today we would be between 8% and 10% due to the increase in traffic”.
Steve Nordlund, VP and General Manager for Boeing’s NeXt program (focused on VTOL) stated that his division was also looking at a suite of possibilities from biofuels to hybrid-electric engines and all-electric vehicles. Boeing brought for that very reason its autonomous Passenger Air Vehicle electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft to the show and made it available for display. Gulfstream promoted its commitment to biofuels as well by flying its G650, G550, and G280 to the Paris show on a sustainable biofuel blend. Meanwhile GE Aviation’s president and CEO David Joyce reiterated on 17 June the engine-maker’s commitment to research, although he believes much work still remains ahead on the battery side of the equation to reach the proper weight ratios.
Although the week started poorly for Boeing after an issue on the GE9X engine prevented the debut flight of the B-777X, the situation evolved on a much more positive note. In a much commented battle between Airbus and Boeing over commercial aircraft orders, the Chicago based-firm has managed to secure a number of substantial orders despite the MAX’s trouble. It first won a 30-plane 787 order from Korean Airlines which agreed to buy 10 new 787-10s and 10 additional 787-9s valued at $6.3bn (list prices). The operator added that it will also lease 10 787-10s from Air Lease Corp according to Bloomberg. Air Lease Corp. reached itself a deal to purchase five 787-9 Dreamliners, valued at $1.5bn at list prices. Most importantly, European Airline Group IAG inked a Letter of Intent for 200 737 MAX including a mix of -8s and -10s variants. Although the order would reach $24bn at list prices, the lessor likely negotiated a steep discount according to Teal’s Group analyst Richard Aboulafia. IAG’s CEO (Willie Walsh), a former 737 pilot, stated that recent crashes were obviously on his mind but stressed that “looking to the future, [the MAX] is a great aircraft”. Boeing Commercial Airplanes’ head (Kevin McAllister) declared to that occasion that it was: “a very special day, and we can’t thank [IAG] enough for the confidence you placed in the 737 Max family”.
Meanwhile Dennis Muilenburg stepped in to address the infamous MAX case, declaring that his firm “clearly had [made] a mistake in the implementation of the [MCAS related] alert” in an attempt to win back customer trust. Overall, Boeing secured 232 order commitments at PAS including the massive order from IAG for 200 MAX and Korean Airlines’ Letter of Intent for 30 B787s.
Embraer secured a letter of intent from KLM’s Cityhopper branch on 19 June, covering up to 35 E195-E2 jets along with a future firm order of 15 narrow-bodies and purchase rights for another 20. Embraer places the value of the preliminary contract at $2.48bn if list prices are to be trusted. Appearing with Embraer Commercial Aviation CEO John Slattery, KLM president and CEO Pieter Elbers confirmed that deliveries would occur between 2021 and 2023. Featuring 30-percent more range than the E195, the E195-E2 would allow KLM Cityhopper still farther into southern Europe. Overall, Embraer secured 78 orders during the Paris Air Show (PAS), all of which coming from its E-Jet family.
As reported by Aviation Week, Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp. revealed that it had signed a memorandum of understanding for 15 SpaceJet M100s from an identified North American entity making it the launch customer for the aircraft. The MOU, announced on 19 June, clears the way for “formal negotiations” to begin, and if a firm order goes through deliveries would begin in 2024.
As reported by Aviator, ST Engineering’s A321 passenger-to-freighter (P2F) joint conversion program with Airbus and EFW secured a Letter of Intent (LOI) for an A321 converted freighter from BBAM, a global leader in aircraft lease management. The document was signed at the Paris Air Show. The A321 passenger aircraft will be inducted for conversion into a 14-pallet cargo configuration by mid-2020, and is scheduled for redelivery later that same year. The order by BBAM follows a launch contract that was announced in 2018. Thanks to a substantial payload-range capability of 27.9 metric tons for a range of 2,300 nautical miles, the A321-P2F appears indeed as a viable narrowbody freighter for domestic and regional operations. Prototype conversion of the A321P2F will be completed by end of this year, while the STC is expected to be obtained in early 2020.
Oman Air, a regional customer of Boeing’s grounded 737 Max jets, warned it will begin talks with Airbus for alternative aircraft if Boeing does not deliver according to its promised recovery plan by Monday. Further information hasn’t been made public since.
Collins Aerospace Power & Controls signed a long-term contract with Ethiopian Airlines for the support of their Q400 fleet, in a deal estimated at $500mn. Ethiopian’s CEO Tewolde Gebremariam, added that “this was only the beginning” since his firm intends to grow Addis Ababa’s MRO center, already the largest in Africa according to him.
As anticipated, Airbus secured a number of significant orders in the commercial segment during the Paris Air Show. Saudi Arabian Airlines increased its commitment for A320neo jets from Airbus to as many as 100 aircraft, from up to 35 previously. The deal, including 15 of the newly launched long-distance A321XLR, would total about $7.5bn at list prices. Norwegian Air Shuttle has also been negotiating to buy the latest A321XLR jetliner as it seeks the extra range to serve smaller cities in the U.S. Midwest. However the airliner originally ordered 30 A321LRs, and the total may be reduced with the switch, Bjorn Kjos, its chief executive officer, told Bloomberg. Meanwhile Philippines’ largest carrier, Cebu Air, confirmed on 17 June its order for 31 aircraft including 10 long-range jets. The deal for 16 A330neo wide-bodies and 15 A320neo-family aircraft includes 10 A321XLR. Planes are scheduled for delivery from 2021 to 2026 and would be worth $6.8 billion based on the list price. American Airlines Group is also considering an order for as many as 50 of Airbus SE’s new long-range A321XLR jets, a person familiar with the discussions said. Qantas has meanwhile committed to taking 36 Airbus A321XLRs, thus updating its order log. The change sees 26 of its 99 existing A320neo orders converted to the longest-ranging variant, while it will also order 10 additional A321XLRs. Overall, Airbus secured 383 aircraft order commitments over the entire week, including 238 for the A320neo family, 80 A220s and 35 A320ceo.
Airbus also promoted another one of its ‘clean’ projects as it announced its E-Fan X hybrid aircraft, jointly developed with Siemens and Rolls-Royce, should fly before late 2021. The plane is a revamp of a former all-electric project (E-Fan) that was forsaken in 2017, as a hybrid system is deemed more feasible at the moment. The E-Fan X will carry a 2 megawatt electric motor mounted on a BAe 146, making it the most powerful aircraft of its class. Following similar objectives, Safran and Airbus Helicopters signed a Letter of Intent intending to further CO2 emissions and sound levels for future aircraft and VTOLs, notably by exploring alternatives fuels and more efficient gas turbines. “We are on the verge of a green revolution in our industry, and as the world’s largest civil helicopter manufacturer I believe it is our responsibility to advance technologies and solutions that will continue to make vertical flight the best choice to connect cities and carry passengers safely in urban environments,” said Bruno Even, Airbus Helicopters CEO. “This future cooperation with Safran Helicopter Engines will ensure that we are in the best position to leverage and mature new propulsion methods that will support the development of cleaner and quieter helicopter platforms”. On a similar note Airbus’ Survey Copter branch signed on 17 June with a French administrative region (Hauts-de-France) an agreement on the exploration of potential drone deliveries in the area. Both actors will first undertake a six months study in order to evaluate the project’s feasibility.
AirAsia and CFM International inked on 18 June an agreement for the purchase of 200 Leap-1A engines to power the airline’s 100 A321neos, following an intent to purchase the engines formulated back in 2016. At the same time, AirAsia has expanded its 20-year Rate-Per-Flight-Hour (RPFH) agreement to cover its entire fleet of 808 Leap-1A engines for a combined value of $23.1bn (list price). Under the terms of the agreement, CFM Services guarantees maintenance costs for the AirAsia’s engines on a dollar-per-flight-hour basis. Overall CFM secured several substantial orders from Indigo (ordering 560 LEAP-1A), Avolon (140 LEAP-1A) and CDB Leasing (90 LEAP-1A) just to name a few. Overall CFM announced a total order record of $55bn from the Parish Air Show which include engine procurement and maintenance services.
Regional aircraft manufacturer ATR signed with aircraft lessor NAC a letter of intent on 18 June regarding a firm order for 35 ATR 72-600s, with an option for 35 others and purchase rights for 35 additional aircraft. Delivery of the first 35 aircraft will begin in 2020 and continue until 2025. ATR also says it has secured deals for 22 ATR 72-600s from undisclosed customers and an order for one ATR 42-600 from Colombian carrier Easyfly. In the regional sector, ATR is closing in on launching a new short take-off and landing version of its ATR 42-600 after detailing commitments for 17 of the type on Wednesday. Launch customer would be turboprop leasing specialist Elix Aviation Capital which has signed for 10 of the type while Air Tahiti has signed for two and ATR has another commitment for five of the type from an undisclosed customer. Overall, a total of 145 order commitments (72-600s and 42-600s) have been secured by ATR over the week, making it the third most successful manufacturer behind Airbus and Boeing in terms of unit sold.
Thales announced on 17 June the launch of IVEN, the first digital platform that connects aerospace and defence manufacturers with spare parts suppliers. The platform will propose various parts such as aircraft fasteners, electrical, electronic or mechanical components, manufactured materials for both sale and purchase, all of it covered by “optimal traceability and security”. IVEN thus intends to improve the operational availability of equipment, while also reducing inventory and purchasing costs. Initial launch is planned for January 2020 according to Thales.
Dublin-based lessor Avolon announced on 18 June that it would order 140 CFM LEAP 1-A engines to power 70 A320neos. The order amounts to a total of $2bn (list prices) and represents Avolon’s largest ever engine order to date, and one of CFM’s biggest ever engine transactions with a lessor for the LEAP engine.
Rolls-Royce agreed to purchase a business specializing in electric aircraft production from Siemens, the company announced on 18 June. Siemens eAircraft, which Rolls-Royce has previously collaborated with on its experimental E-Fan X technology demonstrator, employs about 180 people in Germany and Hungary. Although the company’s work has focused on commercial applications, Rolls-Royce’s electric and hybrid propulsion development activity has involved its M250 engine, which is in service in a variety of rotary-wing military platforms. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed although it is expected to close later this year.
Bombardier announced on 16 June that its G7500 aircraft was named the ‘Best of the Best’ award by Robb Report, a leading authority on luxury. The aircraft also made its debut at the Paris Air Show, giving attendees at the event a chance to see the industry’s largest business aircraft so far. The G7500 business aircraft benefits from a strong range capability of 7,700 nm (14,260 km) at M 0.85 with eight passengers, and will be able under certain conditions to fly non-stop from New York to Hong Kong, or Singapore to San Francisco, with a maximum operating speed of M 0.925.
Gulfstream’s G-600 long range business jet made its debut at the Show after it completed flight testing on 22 May following a 28 months campaign. According to Flight Global, the five-strong fleet logged over 3,200h across 870 sorties. “Everything is ready to go from our end. We can’t wait to get the aircraft into our customer’s hands,” says Neal.
Qatar Airways will announce a stake in a sixth overseas carrier in the coming months, Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker said, as the Persian Gulf operator turns to outside investments to boost revenue and cash amid a Saudi-led embargo restricting its flights. “We are buying stakes in successful airlines and we will continue to do so,” he said, without naming a target company. “Soon you will hear about another investment.”
Eviation announced on 18 June that it had found its first client for its 9-seat hybrid aircraft dubbed Alice. The battery can provide up to 60% of the required thrust for take-off. The customer is Cape Air, a US-based operator which is reportedly going to acquire a ‘double-digit’ fleet.
Airbus, Daher and Safran presented a mock-up of their upcoming ‘Ecopulse’ aircraft for a maiden flight due in 2022. Based on Daher’s TMB plane, the Ecopulse is the results of 18 months of research and shall be powered by one central thermal engine and six smaller electrical ones placed on the wings. With this demonstrator, manufacturers expect energy savings of 30 to 40% for short distance flights and a minimum of 15% for longer ones. On this project, Safran will supply a hybrid propulsion system distributed over the wings, Airbus will install a high energy density battery in the aircraft and Daher will install the components and systems while also carrying out the tests from its facility in south-western France.
Written by ADIT – The Bulletin and republished with permission.