Airbus’s Filton plant today landed a significant boost with a 39-strong order for its two latest passenger aircraft projects.
US-owned Air Lease Corporation (ALC), which buys planes to lease out to international airlines, signed a deal to buy 25 long-haul A350 XWBs (extra-wide body) and firmed up existing options of 14 A321neos (new engine option).
Both aircraft have yet to enter service but are clocking up large orders based on their fuel efficiency.
The Filton plant, European-owned Airbus’s main wing engineering and test site, has played a crucial role in developing the pioneering design of both aircraft.
The A350, scheduled to enter service in 2014 and with 617 firm orders from 35 customers worldwide already, has wings made predominantly from innovative lightweight composite material which reduces fuel use and noise.
These wings were developed and tested by an Airbus Filton-based team and parts are now being made by GKN Aerospace at its state-of-the-art composite plant at Severnside.
Meanwhile the A321neo – a re-engineering of Airbus’s existing A320 short-haul family of aircraft rather than a whole new programme – has wings fitted with pioneering sharklets which have been designed at Filton to reduce fuel usage.
Los Angeles-based ALC’s includes 20 A350-900s and five A350-1000s, the largest member of the A350 XWB family. ALC also has options for five additional A350-1000s.
ALC has also signed a purchase order for 14 A321neo aircraft following an earlier agreement announced at last year’s Farnborough International Air Show for 36 A320neo family aircraft plus 14 options.
With this latest confirmation from ALC, the lessor’s cumulative orders for the A320neo family have reached 50, of which up to 34 will be A321neo models.
The order comes less than a week after Airbus confirmed it is to receive a £1.4m investment for Filton from the Government’s Regional Growth Fund (RGF), helping create 200 engineering jobs. The funding will form part of a larger Airbus investment package, totalling more than £6.5m at the plant.
ALC’s chairman and chief executive officer Steven F Udvar-Házy said: “The A350 XWB family is becoming the industry benchmark for efficiency in the long-haul segment, and the A320neo family is ideal for airlines operating short to medium haul missions.
“These aircraft will help airlines grow their businesses while simultaneously reducing their operating costs and emissions.
“ALC offers its customers the most modern, efficient aircraft on the market, and both the A350 XWB and the neo fit right in that category.”
Airbus chief operating officer, customers, John Leahy, added: “ALC’s continued confidence in Airbus products and especially our fuel efficient A350 XWB and A320neo families is a great indicator of the long-term success of these aircraft.
“When you offer products which cut fuel consumption by a double digit number, and combine that with low maintenance costs and the latest in cabin innovations, it’s a pretty compelling proposal whether you are in the low cost, full service or charter segment.”
Airbus says the A350 XWB family, which has three versions and seating between 270 and 350 passengers in typical three-class layouts, will use 25% less fuel and provide an equivalent reduction in CO2 emissions.
The A320neo family incorporates latest-generation engines and large sharklet wing-tip devices, which together save 15% in fuel – equivalent to 1.4m litres of fuel – the consumption of 1,000 mid-size cars, saving 3,600 tons of CO2 per aircraft per year. The A320neo will enter into service in late 2015, followed by the A321neo in 2016.
Pictured below: An Airbus A350 XWB in ALC livery