Airbus innovation at work: 25 years of aircraft family commonality

Courtesy: Airbus.

Courtesy: Airbus.

The commonality feature of Airbus’ fly-by-wire jetliner families is marking 25 years of operations, providing benefits that range from enhanced fleet deployment, improved efficiency and better scheduling for airlines to greater productivity, proficiency and job satisfaction for pilots.

Airbus’ A320 was the first fly-by-wire airliner to enter commercial service, providing a cornerstone in the company’s forward-looking approach that brought cockpits and flight controls into the modern era. The commonality results from Airbus’ continuous application of similarities in cockpit layout and functionality – along with shared aircraft handling characteristics and similarity in systems – across its product line of fly-by-wire aircraft.

Today, Airbus commonality covers everything from the single-aisle A320 Family (composed of the A318, A319, A320 and A321) to the widebody A330, A340, A350 XWB and the double-deck A380.

Single Fleet Flying: a foundation of Airbus commonality 

Within the twin-engine A320 Family, flight crew members can perform Single Fleet Flying – easily shifting among the various aircraft models, thereby flying multiple versions with the same type rating.

Advantages of Single Fleet Flying include the optimum use of pilot resources by airlines, reduced training requirements for flight crews as well as related lower costs for airlines, and increased flight opportunities for pilots.

These benefits extend to the latest A320neo (new engine option) variants as well. The world’s airworthiness authorities have concluded that even with the installation of NEO’s new powerplants, the aircraft can be considered variants of the A320ceo (current engine option) family members – allowing all versions to be operated by pilots with the same A320 type rating.

Single Fleet Flying also applies within other Airbus product line segments, such as the A330, covering its A330-200 and A330-300 passenger models, the A330-200F freighter…and in the future, the A330neo (new engine option) version.

And while the long-range A330 and next-generation A350 XWB have different type certificates, their handling characteristics are so similar that they have been granted a Common Type Rating from the airworthiness authorities. To transition from an A330 to the A350 XWB, pilots use laptop-based systems and ground-based trainers, eliminating the mandatory need for expensive full-flight simulators and a full type rating check ride. The pilots can then be assigned to both the A330 and A350 under terms of a single licence endorsement – another example of Single Fleet Flying that results directly from Airbus commonality.

Cross Crew Qualification, and the advantages of Mixed Fleet Flying 

Commonality also streamlines the requirements in transitioning from one Airbus jetliner product type to another. For instance, an A320-rated pilot who is going to qualify on the very large, four-engine A380 is given shortened ground training courses and only five simulator sessions; whereas pilots without previous Airbus fly-by-wire experience would require more extensive training – both in ground school and with flight simulators.

This commonality-related aspect within the Airbus product line is called Cross Crew Qualification, and it enhances the opportunities for a pool of multi-qualified pilots to operate, for example, both single-aisle and widebody Airbus airliners in what is referred to as Mixed Fleet Flying.

Significant cost savings and more flexibility for airlines 

Commonality enables airlines to create a truly integrated fleet management structure, offering flexibility in the scheduling rosters for their crews and improving the utilisation of their aircraft – such as seamlessly bringing in a longer-fuselage A321 on a route where passenger volume has grown beyond the capacity of an A320.

Gerrit Van Dijk, who works in Technical Marketing – Aircraft Operations for Airbus Customer Affairs, noted that it is not uncommon for a pilot to experience six to eight changes in the aircraft types flown during a career, involving typical retraining costs of $30,000 for each changeover. “Add some 1.5 months of pilot downtime for each change, and it becomes obvious that the combined costs to airlines is several billion dollars every year,” he said. “However, those with Airbus fleets can reduce pilot retraining costs by two-thirds on average.”

According to Van Dijk, the advantages of commonality not only apply to large main-line carriers with significant aircraft fleets; smaller airlines in particular can benefit from powerful economies of scale that previously were the privilege of big operators. Depending on the mix of fleet and the nature of an airline’s flight operations, annual revenue flying time per pilot may increase by 5-15 percent with Single Fleet Flying and Mixed Fleet Flying, he added.

A better work environment and more proficiency for pilots 

Pilots appreciate Airbus commonality for the opportunities of a more varied work environment, including the ability to fly on a larger part of an airline’s route network, while enjoying better mobility within their airline and across the job market, Van Dijk explained.

He cited the example of pilots who alternate long-haul and short-range trips by applying Single Fleet Flying and Mixed Fleet Flying. These flight crew personnel have the possibility to perform more takeoffs and landings for proficiency, while enabling a better work and life balance compared with being assigned only long-haul flying.

Source: Airbus.

Hong Kong Airlines confirms order for 9 more A330s

Courtesy: Airbus.

Courtesy: Airbus.

Hong Kong Airlines has signed a contract with Airbus for the firm order of nine additional A330-300 aircraft.

The aircraft will be operated across a network which links Hong Kong with a wide range of destinations in Asia, and beyond.

“Today’s announcement underscores our plan to operate an extensive regional network in Asia,” said Zhang Kui, President, Hong Kong Airlines. “The A330’s flexibility also allows us to further deploy these aircraft to some long haul routes in the future, and we are going to operate the all-new A350 XWB in 2017 which will open a new chapter of our international operations.”

“We are extremely pleased that Hong Kong Airlines again places its confidence in our products to expand its widebody fleet,” said John Leahy, Airbus Chief Operating Officer Customers. “With the A330, the carrier will be operating the most cost-efficient and versatile widebody aircraft, both now and in the future.”

Hong Kong Airlines currently operates an all-Airbus fleet comprising of 11 A320s and 22 A330s including 5 A330-200 Freighters. By the end of 2018, its fleet size will reach over 50 with the delivery of its first A350-900 aircraft.

The A330 Family, which includes Passenger, Freighter, VIP, and Military Transport/Tanker variants, has now attracted more than 1,600 orders. Over 1,250 A330 Family aircraft are flying with some 120 operators worldwide. The A330 is one of the world’s most efficient aircraft with best in class operating economics. With numerous on-going product enhancements entering service in the coming years, the A330 Family remains the most cost-efficient and capable widebody aircraft. Today’s A330 have an operational reliability of 99.4 percent.

Source: Airbus.

KLM extends network to Namibia

Courtesy: KLM.

Courtesy: KLM.

The flights to Luanda and Windhoek will be operated using Airbus A330-200 equipment, offering 243 seats. Flight KL0575 will depart on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays at 22:45 hours from Amsterdam and arrive the next day in Luanda at 07:30 hours (local time). At 08:45 hours (local time) it will continue on to Windhoek arriving at 12:15 hours (local time). The return flight, KL0576, will depart on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Mondays from Windhoek at 17:40 hours (local time) and land in Luanda at 19:15 hours (local time). From there the flight will depart from Luanda at 20:40 hours (local time) and arrive in Amsterdam the next day at 05:20 hours.

“Based on our strong position in Europe, you can see that we regularly find opportunities to strengthen our international position,” says KLM CEO Pieter Elbers. “Having extended our destinations on the North American continent this year to Salt Lake City and Miami, and to Colombo (Sri Lanka) and Astana (Kazakhstan), we have now added another KLM destination in Africa. We operate 55 flights a week to destinations in Africa.”

Namibia is both economically and politically stable. Its stunning nature attracts a great deal of high-end ecotourism. Some highlights include the sand dunes of the Namib Desert (the oldest in the world), wildlife parks, and its beautiful beaches. Winter here is summer there. Windhoek is Namibia’s capital. It is known to be a surprisingly modern and green city in the middle of the desert. It offers a wide variety of cultural and culinary adventures. And for shoppers, there is much to discover in this lively African city.

Windhoek is KLM’s twelfth destination in Africa. We already fly to Luanda (Angola), Johannesburg and Cape Town (South Africa), Nairobi (Kenya), Kilimanjaro and Dar es Salaam (Tanzania), Entebbe (Uganda), Kigali (Rwanda), Lagos (Nigeria), Accra (Ghana) and Cairo (Egypt).Together with our partners, we serve 56 different destinations in Africa.

Source: KLM.

Airbus delivers world’s first A330-300 Regional to Saudi Arabian Airlines

Courtesy: Airbus.

Courtesy: Airbus.

Saudi Arabian Airlines, the national carrier of Saudi Arabia, has taken delivery of its first A330-300 Regional, making it the launch customer for this new member of the versatile and successful A330 family.The aircraft is the first of the 20 A330-300 Regional aircraft ordered at the 2015 Paris Airshow, and joins Saudi Arabian Airlines’ existing Airbus fleet of 12 A330-300s and 50 A320 Family aircraft. Specially optimized for regional and domestic operations, the A330-300 Regional will boost capacity on several of Saudi Arabian Airlines’ most in-demand routes, enabling the airline to generate additional efficiencies while offering its passengers an unprecedented comfort level. The A330-300 Regional also represents the lowest-cost alternative and easiest fleet addition due to its high commonality with the A330s already operated by Saudi Arabian Airlines.

Saleh bin Nasser Al-Jasser Director General Saudi Arabian Airlines, said: “We are excited to welcome the first A330-300 Regional to our fast expanding Airbus fleet. It is a step forward in recognising our commitment to a family of aircraft which has contributed immensely to our market growth. The advantage of operating the new regional version of such a popular aircraft with proven operational flexibility and lowest cost per seat means unbeatable economics for our business and our customers.”

Saudi Arabian Airlines will lease the A330-300 Regional fleet from the International Air Finance Corporation (IAFC), a leading lessor in the Middle East.

Moulay Omar Alaoui, President and Chief Executive Officer of IAFC, said: “IAFC has always been a pioneer in introducing innovative Islamic financing solutions to the aviation industry, positioning itself as a strategic partner with unique products and services. We are proud to partner with Saudi Arabian Airlines and Airbus and are confident that this deal will further reinforce the leading position of Saudi’s national airline.”

“We congratulate Saudi Arabian Airlines for becoming the launch customer and operator of the A330-300 Regional.  We are convinced our most popular wide-body aircraft will play an instrumental role in supporting the regional network expansion of the airline.” said Fouad Attar, Managing Director of Airbus Middle East.

The A330-300 Regional is optimized for missions up to 2,700 nm (5-hour flight) covering short to medium haul routes and offers significant cost savings through a reduced operational weight of around 200 tons. The reduction in fuel burn per seat and maintenance costs will result in an overall cost reduction of around 20% compared with today’s long-range A330-300.

Source: Airbus.

KLM modernises World Business Class in all its Airbus A330 aircraft

Courtesy: KLM.

Courtesy: KLM.

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines is modernising the World Business Class cabin interiors of all its Airbus A330s. The new World Business Class in this aircraft will be available for passengers to enjoy from early in 2018. It marks another step in KLM’s ongoing investment in customer comfort.

The Airbus A330 is the last aircraft type in the KLM ICA fleet to be fitted with new World Business Class cabin interiors. By the end of 2018, World Business Class throughout KLM’s entire ICA fleet will be fitted with new cabin interiors. The World Business Class cabins of KLM’s Boeing 777-200 and Boeing 747-400 fleets have already been refitted. Work on the Boeing 777-300 fleet has just begun and is expected to be completed in June 2017. KLM’s latest aircraft, the Boeing 787, already has the new World Business Class cabins.

The new World Business Class has full-flat seats for maximum passenger comfort, a twelve-language Inflight Entertainment System and a 3D flight-tracking system. KLM’s new World Business Class cabin interior has been designed by the Dutch designer Hella Jongerius.

What is more, for years now, KLM World Business Class has offered meals developed by trendsetting Dutch chefs. This year, we have engaged chef Jacob Jan Boerma to work in KLM’s kitchens. The tableware that KLM uses with its meals was created by Dutch designer Marcel Wanders.

Source: KLM.

Cebu Pacific places order for two A330-300s

Courtesy: Airbus.

Courtesy: Airbus.

Manila-based Cebu Pacific has placed a firm order with Airbus for two A330-300s. The aircraft will join an existing fleet of six A330s flying with the airline on long range flights to destinations in the Middle East and Australia, as well on selected domestic and regional routes.

“The A330 has proven to be the right choice for our long haul low fare product,” said Lance Gokongwei, Cebu Pacific President and Chief Executive Officer. “The newly ordered aircraft will enable us to add more long haul routes, including the launch of our first flights to the US. We are excited to be expanding our widebody fleet, offering more low fare options for our customers to fly further than ever before.”

“This order from Cebu Pacific is another endorsement of the unrivalled efficiency of the A330 for profitable long haul low cost services,” said John Leahy, Airbus Chief Operating Officer Customers. “Combining low operating costs, proven reliability and a great passenger experience, the A330 is the clear preferred choice of airlines in this competitive market segment. We are looking forward to working with Cebu Pacific as it grows its long haul services and flies to more destinations across the world.”

Cebu Pacific currently operates 49 Airbus aircraft, including six A330s and a fleet of 43 A320 Family single aisle aircraft flying on its extensive domestic and regional network. In addition to the contract announced today, the airline has 32 latest generation A321neo aircraft on order for future delivery.

The A330 is one of the most popular widebody aircraft ever, having now won over 1,600 orders. Today, over 1,300 aircraft are flying with some 120 airlines worldwide on a wide range of routes, from domestic and regional flights to long range intercontinental services of up to 13 hours. Offering the lowest operating costs in its category, and thanks to continuous investment and innovations, the A330 is the most profitable and best performing aircraft in its class.

Source: Airbus.

Airbus wins $35 billion of aircraft orders at Farnborough Air Show 2016

Courtesy: Airbus.

Courtesy: Airbus.

During the 2016 Farnborough Air Show, Airbus won $35 billion worth of business for a total of 279 aircraft, covering by single-aisle and widebody aircraft families. The deals comprise firm orders for 197 aircraft worth $26.3 billion and commitments for 82 aircraft worth $8.7 billion.

Sales and commitments at Farnborough of the A320 Family were strong, with business accounting for a total of 269 aircraft worth $31.3 billion. This total comprises 187 firm orders worth $22.6 billion, and commitments (eg. MoUs) for 82 aircraft worth 8.7 billion. Notably the larger A321neo model took a lion’s share of the single-aisle announcements – with firm selections from three airlines for 140 aircraft, reflecting the trend for airlines to upsize to larger single-aisle aircraft.

In the widebody segment Airbus won firm orders for 10 aircraft worth $3.4 billion comprising two A330-300s and eight A350-1000s. In addition to these new widebody orders, the show also saw the launch order from DHL Express for the A330-300 Passenger-To-Freighter conversion programme, in partnership with EFW and ST Aerospace.

John Leahy, Airbus’ Chief Operating Officer, Customers said: “Our orders this week at Farnborough confirm a buoyant industry in which we have once again surpassed our competitor. In addition, airlines upsizing to the A321neo shows that this aircraft is the undisputed ‘middle-of-the-market’ champion.”

Airbus is the world’s leading aircraft manufacturer of passenger airliners, ranging in capacity from 100 to more than 600 seats. Airbus has design and manufacturing facilities in France, Germany, the UK, and Spain, and subsidiaries in the US, China, India, Japan and in the Middle East. In addition, it provides the highest standard of customer support and training through an expanding international network.

Source: Airbus.