(Bloomberg) — Airbus SE is growing more confident it can secure a landmark purchase of about 50 A350 wide-body jets from Air India Ltd. this week, while Boeing Co. works on a deal for as many as 150 737 Max jetliners for the carrier, people familiar with the matter said.
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Boom Technology Inc., the US startup attempting to bring back a more environmentally friendly Concorde-style jet, is adding defense capabilities to the aircraft, one futuristic development Tuesday on day two of the Farnborough International Airshow.
Boeing was first out of the gate Tuesday with a firm order from 777 Partners LLC, which signed up for as many as 60 aircraft. The US planemaker also announced an order for 12 737-8 jets with lessor Aviation Capital Group LLC.
More purchase announcements may come, including a possible deal between Airbus and Air Lease Corp. that could see the biggest aircraft financier in the US take dozens of A320neo craft.
2022’s show, held as summer temperatures in the UK soar to records, is the first significant commercial air show since Covid-19 decimated international air travel.
Key Stories and Developments:
Air Lease said to be in advanced talks for large Airbus order
A scorched air field south of London puts focus on green flying
Britain pledges to fly Tempest fighter design within five years
Leonardo to Design Mars Robotic Arm (3:34 p.m.)
Leonardo SpA has signed a contract with the European Space Agency to design, manufacture and test a robotic arm that will help collect samples from Mars, according to an announcement at the air show Tuesday.
Able to ‘see’ and make decisions autonomously, the arm will retrieve sample tubes filled with Martian soil, supporting their journey back to Earth. The arm, scheduled for delivery in 2025, will be installed on the NASA Sample Retrieval Lander and will recover tubes full of soil previously collected by the Mars 2020 rover.
Embraer Sees E-Commerce Driving Smaller Plane Sales (2:32 p.m.)
Embraer SA published its 20-year market outlook for the sub-150 seat commercial aircraft segment, saying the explosive growth in e-commerce is opening new markets for smaller-capacity, all-cargo jet aircraft and driving demand for passenger-to-freighter conversions.
The Brazil-headquartered planemaker forecasts global demand for smaller aircraft up to 150 seats through 2041 will be around 10,950 units while the demand for new turboprops will be about 2,280 planes.
Embraer also Tuesday secured an order from Canada’s Porter Airlines Inc. for 20 E195-E2 passenger jets, adding to the carrier’s existing 30 firm orders, and inked a deal with Alaska Air Group Inc. for E175 aircraft, eight firm and 13 options.
Lilium Plots Scandinavia Launch in New Partnership (1:30 p.m.)
German flying taxi firm Lilium has partnered with professional services firm AAP Aviation to develop a network of landing sites in Scandinavia. As the nascent industry for electric vertical takeoff and landing, or eVTOL, aircraft continues to grow, firms are locked in a race to secure country partnerships and big orders. Lilium’s British rival Vertical Aerospace is exploring the potential for the technology in Brazil. AAP will also purchase 40 Lilium jets, the German startup announced Tuesday.
Boeing Secures Dreamliner Order from Aercap (1:17 p.m.)
Boeing kept up its steady drumbeat of orders at the show, announcing a commitment from Aercap Holdings NV for 5 787-9 Dreamliner models. Boeing said before the start of the show that it’s preparing to start speeding 787 Dreamliner production once the Federal Aviation Administration approves it to resume deliveries of the widebody aircraft.
Airbus, Boeing Court Air India (12:38 p.m.)
The Indian carrier is considering Boeing’s narrow-body planes alongside the Airbus A350 jets, as part of a fleet renewal under new owner Tata Group, according to people familiar with the negotiations. Airbus’s long wait time for A320neo delivery slots may constrain its effort to come up with a rival offer for narrow-bodies, said the people, asking not to be identified discussing private deliberations.
Airbus is trying to get the widebody deal firmed up at the show, but the carrier may wait with an official announcement until India’s Independence Day on Aug. 15, one person said.
UK Wants 2019 to Be Aviation Emissions Peak (12:25 p.m.)
Improvements to the existing aviation system, including a targeted 2% annual gain in fuel efficiency and steps to modernize airspace to shorten routes, should mean 2019 is remembered as the peak year for emissions, according to the Jet Zero blueprint unveiled Tuesday.
UK discount airline EasyJet Plc and engine maker Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc separately announced a partnership for the development of hydrogen-combustion technology capable of powering narrow-body planes.
Boom Unites With Stealth Bomber Maker on Military Jet (12:02 p.m.)
Boom is adding defense capabilities to its dreams of restoring supersonic passenger travel, announcing plans for a faster-than-sound jet fit for non-combat military missions. The jet could deliver medical supplies to surveillance personnel and handle medical evaluations.
The US startup unveiled an agreement with defense giant Northrop Grumman Corp., the founder of the B-21 stealth bomber, at the Farnborough International Airshow on Tuesday to add military use for supersonic jets. Blake Scholl, Boom’s founder and chief executive officer, insisted its supersonic creation won’t be weaponized.
Vertical Aero Enlists Ex-McLaren CEO Flewitt (11:00 a.m.)
Flying-taxi pioneer Vertical Aerospace has recruited former McLaren supercars head Mike Flewitt to its board as the UK firm moves closer to starting production of the futuristic craft.
Flewitt, who made a surprise exit as chief executive officer of McLaren Automotive Ltd. in October after eight years in the post, will bring “deep industrial and manufacturing expertise” to Vertical at a key point in its development, the Bristol, England-based company said.
Boeing Inks 777 Partners Order (10:06 a.m.)
Boeing is first out of the gate again on day two with another commercial announcement, this time from private-equity firm 777 Partners, which placed orders and commitments for as many as 60 737-8 narrowbodies and the higher-capacity 737-8-200 model, which can seat as many as 200 passengers.
777 Partners Managing Partner Josh Wander said the order, of which 30 aircraft are firm and the remainder commitments, will be divided among the company’s low-cost assets, which include Flair, Australia’s Bonza, as well as a third carrier that will be revealed soon.
Read more: New Australian Airline Bonza Sees Launch Delayed by Pandemic
GE Completes Battery-Powered Test Flight (10:02 a.m.)
GE has completed the world’s first test of a battery-powered hybrid electric propulsion system at an altitude that simulates a commercial flight, it said in a statement Tuesday.
The test of the high power, high voltage system is significant considering getting battery-powered engines to work at cruising altitude has proven challenging. This is an “important, necessary step in GE’s technology programs with NASA to develop a hybrid electric propulsion system for flight tests later this decade and for entry into service in the mid-2030s,” GE said.
Delta Expands With Airbus A220 Fleet (9:46 a.m.)
Delta Air Lines Inc.’s purchase of 12 new A220-300 aircraft is the latest step in upgrading and streamlining its fleet and introducing more sustainable aircraft.
“The A220-300 is economical, efficient and delivers superior performance,” Mahendra Nair, the airline’s senior vice president of Fleet & Tech Ops Supply Chain, said. “These additional aircraft in the A220 family are an excellent investment for our customers and employees and will be fundamental as we work toward a more sustainable future for air travel.”
Featuring 12 first class, 30 comfort+ and 88 main cabin seats, the A220-300 aircraft will serve customers traveling domestically and to Delta’s coastal hubs. Powered by Pratt & Whitney Engine Services Inc.’s latest-generation geared turbofan GTF engines, the A220 offers 25% better fuel efficiency than the aircraft it replaces, Delta said.
GE Sees Bottlenecks in Engine Manufacturing (2:55 p.m.)
GE CEO Larry Culp discussed the strategy for GE Aerospace, the engine business he will lead, having spun off its energy and health-care divisions. In his first appearance in the role at the air show, Culp said the company chose GE Aerospace as the name for the aviation unit to reflect its “wider strategic aperture” beyond the traditional engine business. While it’s premature to discuss details the expansion, the unit will have the financial strength to grow organically and through acquisitions, he said.
Culp declined to discuss specifics of engine delays that have roiled Airbus and Boeing, but acknowledged that it’s “as challenging an operating environment” as he’s yet seen. GE is grappling with many bottlenecks and capacity issues within the company and its supply chain, he said. Part shortages, high inflation and a surge in airlines sending in their power plants for service is also putting pressure on the maintenance operation, traditionally a mainstay of profitability for GE.
Qatar Says Heathrow Should Have Seen it Coming (1:40 p.m.)
Al Baker, who represents Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund on the Heathrow board, told Bloomberg Television he understood staffing issues facing the hub but was “disappointed” by its lack of foresight. They should have seen this coming and they should have taken mitigating actions,” the aviation executive said.
Heathrow took the decision last week to impose a two-month cap on daily passenger traffic to contain travel chaos caused by staffing shortages in key areas like ground handling. The move angered airlines forced to scrap flights at short notice in the peak summer season.
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