April 2012 » AirInsight
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Monthly Archives: April 2012

Airbus produced its first new-build A320 with Sharklets. Seen here at its roll-out in Toulouse, MSN 5098 will is one of several A320 aircraft in the certification flight-test campaign starting in May and lasting around 600 flight hours. The Sharklet tests follow the successful ‘early flight-test’ campaign with Airbus’ A320 MSN 001 test aircraft.

Seven new-build A320 Family aircraft fitted with both CFM56 and V2500 engine types will test production-standard Sharklets. The results of the tests will lead to certification of these fuel-saving devices on each combination of aircraft model and engine selection. The first member of the family to enter service with Sharklets will be a CFM56-powered A320, in the fourth quarter of 2012.

Sharklets are expected to reduce fuel burn by up to 3.5%, leading to annual CO2 reduction of around 700 tonnes per aircraft. This is equivalent to the CO2 produced by around 200 cars annually.

Airbus delivered the aft fuselage for the A350 XWB static test (MSN 0) airframe to the final assembly line in Toulouse. This final section of the fuselage will be assembled with the front and center fuselage sections which were joined up in early April.

Assembled at Airbus’ site in Hamburg, the 20m long carbon fiber aft fuselage is made up of the rear fuselage barrel, produced at Airbus’ Getafe plant, two lateral aft fuselage panels made by Premium AEROTEC plus the upper and lower aft fuselage panels manufactured by Airbus in Stade. Note how many of the key parts are coming from within the Airbus family – which speaks to the supply chain concerns.

MSN 0 will be used for the static structural tests that all new aircraft undergo as part of their certification process. The assembly of the first flying A350 XWB, MSN 1, will start during this summer.

The news that Mitsubishi is delaying EIS of the MRJ 70/90 by more than a year is a small boost to competitors Bombardier and Embraer.

BBD offers the CRJ900 90-seater and EMB offers the E-170/175 70-seater and the 90 seat E-190.

Mitsubishi has sold only 70 MRJs since launch and we have long believed the company missed the market when offering the MRJ 70. EMB’s sales have long trended toward the larger E-190/195.

We don’t expect BBD and EMB to gain a lot of sales from the MRJ delay but there could be some. BBD’s CRJ900 is lighter and more fuel efficient than the E-190, though disadvantaged in cabin size. Mitsubishi’s inability to meet schedule (thus joining Airbus and Boeing) reinforces the perceptions that new airplane programs these days and its difficult to keep promises (hence the skepticism for BBD’s CSeries–where plans remain to have first flight this year).

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Following an in-depth review of the MRJ program, Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation  (MITAC) announced the following program schedule update:

  • MRJ first flight is scheduled for JFY* 3Q 2013, in order to:
    (i) Confirm respective fabrication processes.
    (ii) Provide sufficient time for technical studies.
    First flight details to be announced at a later date or during events such as MRJ roll-out.
  • First delivery of MRJ is slated for the summer or later half of Japanese Fiscal Year 2015.
    MITAC continues to strive towards accelerating development and delivery the first MRJ to the customer. And also we are considering to ramp up in following mass production line.

So the silence seems to prove what many had thought – not good news. On the other hand, given many other larger aerospace program delays, this news might slip by. The news does indicate the project may be much more complex than first envisaged by MITAC.

On the 16thof April 2012 Direccion General de Aeronautica Civil (Aviation Authority of Mexico) provided Sukhoi Civil Aircraft Company (SCAC) with the Validating Letter (Type Certificate) for the Sukhoi Superjet 100. This document confirms the compliance of the SSJ100 aircraft to the certification requirements of the Mexican Aviation Authority and allows the delivery and operations of aircraft of such a type in Mexico without limitations.

In January 2011 Mexico’s Interjet ordered 15 SSJ100 plus five options. The delivery of the first aircraft is scheduled for the end of 2012.

Richard Dussault VP Marketing at Pratt & Whitney Canada spent some time discussing the company’s substantial history in the making of turboprop engines. But as interesting as that is, its the vision of the future is special. PWC is well into the development of an engine of up to 8,000 SHP.  Such an engine could power a turboprop airliner over 90 seats.