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Published reports indicate that Zodiac Aerospace is making headway in its production shortfalls for both lavatories and seats that have negatively impacted Airbus A350 deliveries and caused a build-up of unfinished aircraft at the Toulouse facility.  The company plans to be back at operational performance by the end of 2017.  Does this translate to continued delays for the A350 program over the coming year, and to what extent will Airbus miss its planned production rates?

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Lavatories

Zodiac lavatories are built at its Cypress, California factory.  This facility had “enormous difficulties in ramping up” according to a company spokesman.  As an interim solution, Zodiac has created an additional production line at its Montreal, Quebec facility that typically manufactures lavatories for the business aircraft market, which is currently suffering a downturn making additional capacity available.  While they are delivering products to Airbus, the company is reportedly still suffering from quality issues “that… Continue reading

We have posted a few stories about the single aisle bubble.  Now it seems there are cracks in delivery slots coming.

Michael O’Leary has an insatiable appetite for 737s.  If delivery slots open up, exploiting them will be a card Ryanair has played before.  “If additional slots became available in 2017 or 2018 we’d happily take them,” Mr O’Leary said in London. “If Boeing have more cancellations and all of a sudden instead of having oversold their order book they now have unplaced aircraft, I’m sure they’ll come back to us.”

That last comment is especially apropos.  Yesterday Qatar’s CEO Akbar Al Baker made a strong statement, again.  The threat to walk away from its A320neo order are strong words.  Qatar obviously needs single aisle aircraft to create feed for its growing longhaul network.  Earlier this year Mr Al Baker remarked about switching to Boeing’s… Continue reading

Finnair has signed an agreement with ViaSat Inc to install a high-speed wireless internet network on its entire Airbus A320 series short-haul fleet flying in Europe. The installation of the Wi-Fi equipment will begin in May 2017, and will be completed by June 2018.

With a connection speed of 12 Mbps or higher per passenger, the new system will offer the fastest in-flight internet connection currently available on the market, which enables the use of video streaming services. ViaSat will ensure end-to-end in-flight connectivity service across the Finnair fleet, and partnered with Eutelsat to deliver the high-speed satellite-based internet service, which will cover the European continent.

Last July, Finnair announced that its long-haul fleet of A330 aircraft would be retrofitted with Wi-Fi connectivity by May 2017. Finnair currently operates six A350XWBs which offer passengers wireless connectivity. The airline is expected to receive an additional five A350s by the end of… Continue reading

Is Long-Haul first class alive or dead?  Several airlines have eliminated first class and are upping the ante on their business class offerings to nearly first class standards.  Other airlines maintain a distinction between the two, utilizing suites for First Class and lie-flat seats for business class.  One thing is certain, airline business class offerings are moving up, with United and Delta announcing new products in 2016.

Recently, United Airlines introduced its Polaris business class for international flights that includes enhanced business class suites, as well as exclusive lounges on the ground at key airports, upgraded dining, luxury bedding, and drinks.  The Polaris brand is focused on improving the sleeping experience in flight.

Not to be outdone, Delta is now introducing new suite seating for its DeltaOne business class, which already features upgraded dining, luxury bedding and drinks.  The new DeltaOne suites are shown below, and will debut on… Continue reading

As part of our visit to 2016 Airbus Innovation Days, the firm provided access to various parts of its local operations in the Hamburg region of Germany.  One of the visits was to their plant in a small town called Stade.

The plant produces every vertical stabilizer (fin) for every Airbus aircraft.  You can view pictures of the plant visit here.  The various fins are assembled by what appears to be small teams.  Airbus has started to make great strides in deploying robots for the assembly.  Even for the giant seven story high A380 fin.  You will see this among the pictures.

Then another plant close by was also part of the visit.  With a floor space 90 meters wide and 400 meters long, this plant is where the A350 wings are made.  Stade does the top part while the bottom parts comes from an identical plant in… Continue reading

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