New Airbus: Extra range allows for higher market share – Economy

Wednesday was a special day for Airbus employees at the Hamburg-Finkenwerder plant. Just before eleven, many of them left everything and took a short walk to the track. At the end of the line was a white-painted Airbus that accelerated to departure at eleven o’clock, then disappeared shortly afterwards towards the North Sea for the first test laps. It was the first flight of the new Airbus A321XLR and for the aircraft manufacturer, a fairly significant event for several reasons.

Outwardly, the differs XLR from previous successful machines A321neo– series no. But the thing has it all. Airbus installed an auxiliary tank behind the main tank in the fuselage between the wings to increase range. the XLR (the abbreviation stands for extra long range) it should now be able to fly up to 4700 nautical miles, or 7870 kilometers, making it a serious long-range option. Airlines can use the car on routes from Europe to the American east coast and much further west. The aircraft is thus entering a market segment that was previously reserved for large-capacity jets, because only these had the necessary range.

To die XLR it therefore has the clear potential to further shift the duopoly of Airbus and Boeing in the large passenger aircraft market significantly in favor of the European manufacturer and thus make an already large problem even more serious. Boeing currently simply does not have a model in its range that can be compared to the XLR or the baseA321neo could register. the 737-Max 10, which comes closest to its competitor Airbus in terms of passenger capacity, has a range of only 3,300 nautical miles. At best, this is sufficient for US domestic flights from the east coast to the west coast, but never for what Airbus can now offer its customers: transatlantic connections, routes from Europe to the far south of Africa, from the North America to Brazil or virtually all routes within Asia.

Even before the first flight of the long-haul version, this was already reflected in the sales figures. good 500 XLR have been ordered so far by leasing companies and airlines and more than 4211 A321neos Overall, Boeing arrives at the Maximum 10 only about 630 orders, a market share of about 15 percent. Whether Boeing dies Maximum 10 being able to deliver as planned has now become a political decision: a transition period expires at the end of December, during which Boeing can still install and approve an obsolete warning system for pilots. But the group has long admitted that it won’t be able to get certified by then. It therefore depends on the goodwill of the United States Congress, which could extend the deadline again.

But after the two crashes of two cars of the sister model 737-Max 8, in which 346 people lost their lives, the patience of politicians and supervisors has long since run out. Furthermore, the lack of a cockpit warning system that better identifies the causes of failures could be a factor in the two Lion Air and Ethiopian Airways incidents of 2018 and 2019. Alternatively, Boeing should now develop a more modern system. , but that would mean billions in additional costs and a delay of two or three years. CEO David Calhoun recently admitted what that would mean: “It would be a problem.”

Airbus also has problems with delivery bottlenecks

Many customers have long been asking that Boeing will design a successor for the Maximumseries is expected to announce to stop the decline. Some major buyers such as Air Lease Corporation (ALC) or Avolon – two of the largest aircraft leasing companies – now openly say they believe a change in Boeing’s management and board of directors is needed. Calhoun himself, of course, has very different ideas. In two years at the earliest, it is likely that we will be able to assess whether and when the technologies needed for a new program will be available.

Nothing better can happen to Airbus than Boeing still hesitating. The market share for short and medium range aircraft is already around 60 percent and is continuously growing. A larger market share can also translate into more power: Airbus can charge higher prices on customers and lower prices on suppliers, so in the long run a higher market share should also lead to higher profits, and vice versa to higher ones. basses for Boeing.

It looks like Airbus can only stop at the moment. The production of A320neo-The family is expected to increase to 75 cars per month by mid-2025 and there are currently expected to be at least 45 during the ramp-up. In May, however, there were only 37, and on average since the beginning of the year only 36. A clear sign that problems in the supply chain are currently severely affecting Airbus’ growth. Customers complain that planes are currently being delivered with an average delay of between six and eight weeks. The engines of CFM International (General Electric and Safran), in particular, would have been delivered to the Airbus plants only late.

To die A321XLR in the meantime it will now complete a year of flight tests. Three prototypes are expected to fly for approximately 1000 flight hours. The biggest obstacle to approval is the additional tank. The European Aviation Safety Authority, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), may want to request even more rigorous testing of fire protection. A process is underway to identify possible technical solutions. It is conceivable that the hull needs to be slightly reinforced in some places. It might cost a little autonomy, but Airbus has appeased. Big losses are not to be expected. The gap with the competition will still be huge.

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