Airbus orders take wing – thanks to Filton innovation

August 1, 2011

Orders for Airbus aircraft are expected to reach a record-breaking 1,000 this year as airlines snap up its new, fuel efficient jet.

But soaring demand is causing its own problem as suppliers struggle to keep up with workloads, parent company EADS has warned.

Airbus booked orders for 644 last year as the global aviation market emerged from a severe downturn. This year EADS predicts orders will climb above 1,000 with strong sales of its recently-introduced 150-seat A320neo (new engine option).

While the plane uses more fuel-efficient engines, a radical new wing design, invented at Airbus’s Filton, Bristol, plant, is also helping with the aircraft’s success.

As reported last month by Bristol Business News, these pioneering wingtips – or ‘sharklets’ – can cut fuel use by up to 3%, triggering massive savings for airlines. Pressure is growing to retrofit them on some Airbus aircraft.

Their use on the A320neo has helped it become Airbus’s fastest-selling aircraft. It has gained more than 1,000 commitments since its launch last Decembe with 667 coming at during the recent Paris Air Show.

Airbus secured 640 net new orders and delivered 258 aircraft in the first half and is looking to deliver between 520 and 530 aircraft for the year.

EADS is continuing to invest in Filton, where it has an innovation centre and recently announced a multi-million pound project with GKN to industrialise new manufacturing techniques for the aerospace industry.

The increase in Airbus orders is also benefitting GKN, which makes Airbus wing parts at Filton.

Group sales at EADS rose 8% in the first half to €21.9bn (£19.2bn). Orders surged 89% to €58.1bn (£50.9bn), mainly due to Airbus’s strong showing.

"Our results for the first half of 2011 mirror the strong demand in the commercial aviation sector," said chief executive Louis Gallois, adding that the bottlenecks in the aerospace industry supply chain could impact on Airbus's ability to lift production.

EADS, which has strong defence and space interests, is to buy global satellite-based mobility communication services provider Vizada from French private equity fund Apax France for €666m (£583m), it said today. It will become part of EADS’s Astrium business.

Vizada is a leading independent provider of global satellite-based mobility communication services, serving customers across sectors including maritime, aerospace, land, media, non-governmental organizations and government/defense.



Comments are closed.


Reach tens of thousands of senior business people across Bristol for just £120 a month. Email for more information.