Airbus chief wishes the 787 up where it belongs, in the sky
Airbus chief says it is the role of all new jets to fly well, and says he wants the 787 to succeed in being a good competitor because he is confident its answer, the yet to fly A350 will be even better
Airbus president and CEO Airbus, Fabrice Brégier, says he wishes Boeing the best in returning the 787 Dreamliner to the skies.
“I firmly believe that it is the role of new aircraft to fly. I don’t ever want to bet on building Airbus’s success on the difficulties of a competitor.
“Even if the 787 becomes a very good plane, we will be pleased to see that because we believe we have an even better plane.”
Brégier said he saw no reason at this stage to change the electrical architecture of the A350, which like the 787, makes extensive use of the lithium ion batteries similar to the one that caught fire in the rear belly of a Japan Airlines Dreamliner shortly after it had landed at Boston on a flight from Narita Tokyo on 7 January.
A malfunction in a similar battery located in the forward belly of an ANA 787 under the cockpit yesterday caused an emergency landing and slide evacuation in Japan during a domestic flight, and triggered voluntary groundings of the type by both Japanese carriers, leading quickly to an FAA edict in the US grounding all US Dreamliners and in effect those of all other airlines.
However Brégier said he had no reason to believe that the actual electrical architecture of the 787 was the same as that of the A350, the slightly larger twin engined jet which Airbus hopes to fly for the first time this June before the Paris Air Show, and put into commercial service by the end of 2014 if not some months sooner.
Brégier emphasised that Airbus would carefully study whatever findings the FAA and NTSB will make in their review of the 787 program and specifically the battery incidents to ‘see what might apply to the A350’ and then react appropriately to them as or if necessary.
He said that as an airliner still under development it was possible to make design changes in the A350 at this stage, although discussions between Airbus and the FAA and its European counterpart EASA had been very positive about its intended application of lithium ion batteries.
“We don’t see any reason to change the electrical design of the A350 at this stage until [or if] we get different information”.
At the same presentation and discussion Brégier said that the fix for the cracks that had been appearing inside the wing structure of its A380s had been designed and proven in tests and would be incorporated in new builds of the giant airliner early in 2014, as well as retrofitted to the 97 A380s now in service and those that would enter service this year.
He said the A380 program had now ‘returned to normal’. The static testing of the Pratt and Whitney GTF or geared turbo fan engine, which will be the first new engine option to be fitted to the A320 NEO line had demonstrated to Airbus that it will get what it expected from the new technology engine [which is a 15% reduction in fuel burn] while progress on the A350’s Rolls-Royce engines and the current assembly of the static test aircraft and the first flying example of the medium to high capacity twin engined jet had it on track to deliver a 25% reduction in fuel burn compared to the Boeing 777 family, with the largest variant the A350-1000 to enter service in 2017.
Airbus chief operating officer-customers John Leahy, said that while Airbus sales had dropped back in 2012 from the record levels set in 2011, as he had forecast a year ago, the averaging of sales results over the last two years left Airbus in the lead over Boeing. He said the Airbus A320 NEO program continued to enjoy a large lead over orders for the 737 MAX which is the later Boeing entry for a new engine technology version of its competing single aisle jet lineup.
Ben Sandilands has reported and analysed the mechanical mobility of humanity since late 1960 - the end of the age of great scheduled ocean liners and coastal steamers and the start of the jet age. He’s worked in newspapers, radio and TV in a wide range of roles as a journalist at home and abroad for 56 years, the last 18 freelance.