The Paris Airshow 2019 day two was no small feat. It was a commitment to the environment as much as it was a comeback for Boeing from a dead day one. Airbus continued to sprinkle the day with orders for the A321XLR and the Neos.
Top seven aerospace firms commit to sustainable aviation
Airbus, Boeing, Dassault, GE, Rolls Royce, Safran and UTC came together yesterday to make a joint statement to the world about how they were going to cooperate to find the sustainable edge to aviation. From airframes to engines and other aircraft parts, the room was also well represented by fuel suppliers such as Shell.
The seven companies committed to meeting stricter carbon dioxide reduction targets in the future, while predicting that the number of aircraft in the skies would go up. On the table are all options, including electric and hybrid flights, sustainable aviation fuel, new approaches to aircraft, streamlining air traffic management and anything else that may come to them. An interesting tit-bit that came from the stage was the fact that while the aviation majors were all putting their heads together and could get even more edge out of the use of sustainable fuels, many a times, these fuels were much more expensive to manufacture and people were getting used to cheaper tickets. So the writing on the wall then is to figure out how to make the sustainable fuel a cheaper and hence a viable resource for aviation.
Boeing is back in business
A Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner of Air Tahiti Nui company performs during the 53rd International Paris Air Show at Le Bourget Airport near Paris, France. Reuters/Pascal Rossignol.
Boeing, which did not report any passenger aircraft wins on day one of the airshow, got ahead, much ahead of Airbus on day two of the airshow. The day started with a good order of 30 Boeing 787 aircraft from Korean Air, extended their partnership over the years. It was followed up by an order for five of the 787-9s by Air Lease Corporation. Towards the end of the day, however, Boeing got the much-needed validation when they signed a letter of intent for 200 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft with British Airways owner IAG, which will allocate these aircraft across their five airlines.
Given the MAX is still grounded, this is huge, because IAG's Willie Walsh, who started his career as a pilot and rising up to the top, claimed he experienced the 737 MAX simulator before making up their mind for the order, and it is one good aircraft. British Airways, which has largely moved to an all-Airbus fleet over the years for the narrowbody operations, will now have Boeing back in their fleet, starting 2023 onwards, most probably for their London Gatwick operations.
Airbus seeds A321XLR at many more operators
But IAG did not just buy 200 737 MAX aircraft, they also bought 14 Airbus A321XLR for across-the-pond operations with two of their airlines, eight are for Iberia and six for Aer Lingus. This morning, Qantas placed an order too. Apart from the A321XLR, however, there was a large upgauging of the order of Air Asia, which moved an order of 253 A320neo to the larger A321neo version.
Saudi Arabian Airlines, the national flag carrier of Saudi Arabia, expanded its existing A320neo family order from 35 to as many as 100 neo aircraft including 35 options. The additional firm order takes Saudia's order of A320neo family aircraft to 65 of which 15 are A321XLRs.
Cebu Pacific, a low-cost carrier based in the Philippines, signed up for 31 Airbus aircraft, comprising 16 A330neo, 10 A321XLR and 5 A320neo. The airline became one of the launch airlines for the A321XLR, which will be able to fly nonstop from the Philippines to destinations as far afield as India and Australia.
Boom plans supersonic flight by 2020
At a press conference, Boom Aerospace CEO Blake Scholl walked people through everything that is being done to make supersonic flight work again. He said ground testing for the Mach 2.2 demonstrator XB-1 is wrapped up, and they intend to unveil it in December 2019 with first flight in 2020.
The XB-1 will test the technology behind Boom's 55-seat Overture supersonic airframe, which aims to bring back Mach 2.2 supersonic passenger flight back, at the price of a business-class ticket. Scholl says that Overture will have 75 percent lower operating costs than Concorde, opening up 500 viable overwater routes. Not just that, for the XB-1, the fuel will be provided by low-carbon fuel specialist Prometheus, which means they are trying to factor in environment right from the start.
However, Boom still has not told us who will be the engine manufacturer for their final engine. This was also the statement in 2017 when I last met them.
ATR buys 35 aircraft from Nordic Air Capital
Regional aircraft lessor Nordic Air Capital (NAC) signed a letter of intent for 35 ATR 72-600 turboprop aircraft, and tagged along options for another 35 and purchase rights for 35 more, making it a total of 105 aircraft if the full order materialises.
Of course, a lot more happened, but these were the key headlines from day two of the Paris Airshow. Stay tuned for day three.
Read Ajay Awtaney's columns
Ajay Awtaney is a business travel and aviation journalist based in Mumbai, and the founder of the Indian frequent-traveller website Live From A Lounge ( www.livefromalounge.com .) Follow his updates from the Paris Airshow at @LiveFromALounge .