Following my article last week about the first landing of the Air France A380 here in Johannesburg, I thought I’d give you the heads-up about the ongoing challenge for ‘supremacy’ which the world foremost aircraft manufacturer Airbus is facing.
Airbus has 54 per cent of the worldwide market share of 100 seater, or more, aircraft, this due to the fact that they have had 500 deliveries in the past and 310 standing orders still to be completed.
Airbus was formed in 1969 and by 2005 had reached more than 50 per cent of worldwide deliveries. 30 years is a long time to gauge success after its inception but it has bypassed its main competitor in terms of sales.
In 2009 Airbus delivered 498 aircraft which was 15 more than in the previous year. This means that these latest figures are a new company record. In fact the recent orders for the A350 XWB have pushed it over the 500th order milestone
The recent set back of Airbus’s Military prototype the A400M Airlifter, which suffered from serious budget over-runs as well as production problems with respect to its engine manufacture, the maiden flight took place in December 2009, has done nothing to dampen the aforementioned statistics, especially not in the light of the delivery of its 6000th aircraft – produced over the 40 years of the airframe manufacturers history - which was a Emirates A380, Emirates 8th A380. There are another 58 aircraft of this type on order making Emirates the single largest customer for the A380.
The Executive Vice President, Emirates’ Engineering and Operations, Adel Al Redha stated: “The A380 represents the future of air travel and our strength and determination to drive forward, alongside Airbus, to meet our ambitious expansion plans and traffic demand…” An indication, if not confirmation, I believe, of the faith placed in Airbus and their production capabilities.
The A330 Multi Role Tanker Transporter (MRTT) a project for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) was a conversion to tanker role and successfully refuelled a Boeing E-3F AWACS airborne early warning aircraft and passed this trial with flying colours. Delivery is due to take place towards the middle of the year. The A330 MRTT can also be used as a pure transporter which can easily be converted for Medical Evacuation (MEDEVAC) purposes.
The figures alluding to Airbus’s success include the delivery and/ or order of, 402 A320’s, 86 A330/340’s, further new orders amount to 228 A320’s, 78 A330/340/350’s.
The A350 XWB is the next generation Airbus, which is the rival for the Boeing 787 project.
The 787 project has just now completed its initial airworthiness tests. Which aircraft will go into production first is anyones guess?
At the end of 2009 the total order backlog for Airbus was 3, 488 aircraft whose value amounts to some $(US) 437 Billion, this is the equivalent of 6 production years.
What has really boosted Airbus and perhaps turned the focus on the Company’s performance is the A380, which granted, was not free of headaches and heartache and was at some stage threatening the very existence of Airbus but the proverb goes ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’ and it is this writers opinion that Airbus is, as I write, the world’s leader in terms of sales amounting to about half the available market share.
Have a safe flying day
This article was submitted by resident aviation news editor Costa Vranas.