(London) Airbus Canada and Pratt & Whitney, two of Quebec’s aviation sector heavyweights, are benefiting from a favorable growth wind, a breeze that greatly appreciated during the extreme heat wave raging at the Farnborough Motor Show.
Posted at 6:30am
The popularity of the A220 program is undeniable. Airbus on Tuesday confirmed a new order for 12 A220-300 aircraft from Delta Air Lines, which will become its largest customer to date with 107 firm orders, surpassing JetBlue’s 100 total.
Benoît Schultz, CEO of Airbus Canada, did not hide his satisfaction when he saw that his biggest customer wanted more.
“It once again demonstrates the reliability and versatility of the aircraft, which enables fuel savings of around 25%. Delta already has 56 A220s in service and this new order confirms their full satisfaction,” Benoît Schultz told me at the Airbus Chalet in Farnborough.
The A220 program has now received more than 774 orders since its launch and 220 aircraft have been delivered to date.
More announcements could soon be unveiled as persistent rumors on Saturday have credited Polish airline LOT Airlines – one of the world’s oldest airlines, founded in 1928 – with plans to acquire 60 A220 planes. On Monday, the Reuters news agency said Indian company Jet Airways was about to order 50 A220s.
“These are living room rumors and we do not comment on these rumors,” Benoît Schultz quickly decided.
Historically, the major air shows at Le Bourget and Farnborough, which alternate each year, have been the place to showcase the commercial advances of major manufacturers, be it Boeing versus Airbus or, in the 2000s, Bombardier versus Embraer.
The major pandemic-related upheavals that have dramatically weakened the airline industry and the climate emergency have slowed these manifestations of a somewhat childish hegemonic zeal that no longer have a raison d’être. Sobriety is now in order, and decarbonization has much better press.
However, orders are piling up and Airbus Canada is increasing the pace to be able to deliver 14 aircraft per month by 2025 – 10 to Mirabel and 4 to Mobile, Alabama – to meet its contractual commitments to the current production of 6 devices per month (4 in Mirabel and 2 in Mobile).
Airbus now has its operational sub-assembly facility at Mirabel and the increased production rate is deployed as planned. Could an excess of popularity for the A220 upset plans and goals?
Airbus is continuing its strategic planning based on demand forecasts which put the number of A220-class aircraft to be produced over the next 20 years at 7,000, assuming the company will capture 50% of this market.
“Our aircraft flew 85% during the pandemic, compared to 30-40% for the other aircraft categories, which shows their great efficiency,” emphasizes Benoît Schultz.
Pratt & Whitney in transformation mode
Maria Della Posta, CEO of Pratt & Whitney Canada, makes no bones about it, she has been asked many questions about the long-awaited advances in green propulsion modes since the start of the Farnborough Motor Show on Monday, which has been the topic of discussion for an hour at the air show.
“Yes, I hear about it and can talk about it because all of Pratt & Whitney’s programs are aimed at reducing fuel consumption. We are fully committed to this process of decarbonizing the aviation industry,” says the CEO of the world-renowned engine manufacturer.
“Two weeks ago we conducted a first test flight with an aircraft running on 100% SAF fuel. [Sustainable Aviation Fuel sans aucune source fossile], and the response was excellent. Our PW127 engines responded very well, as if it were regular fuel. »
“Since last July, with the help of the Ottawa and Quebec governments, we have invested heavily in the development of a hybrid electric motor. All our engineers are working on it and we want to come to a solution with the help of a battery supplier by 2024,” explains the CEO.
The past two years haven’t been easy for Pratt & Whitney, but the company has resumed the pace of growth seen in 2019.
“There have been problems in the supply chain and with some customers, particularly those using our turboprop engines, because demand has collapsed. But the recovery is good, while our production of business jet engines has remained strong,” stresses Maria Della Posta.
For example, ATR, which operates a fleet of regional turboprop aircraft, has just tested new Pratt & Whitney engines that reduce aircraft operating costs by 30%.
“Our new engines save 3% fuel. That is enormous for an already very economical turboprop aircraft,” says the CEO.
Business at Pratt & Whitney got off to a smooth start again last year and hired many employees again, although the company already has 13,000 employees worldwide, 6,000 of them in Canada.
“Our existing programs and the development of our new projects are forcing us to recruit, particularly at our Quebec facilities. We continued from where we were in 2019,” remarks the CEO with a certain joy in her voice.
Historic day Tuesday in London when mercury hit 40 degrees Celsius for the first time in history, a record but not without clashes.
All rail services were halted in the London area on Tuesday; Victorian era infrastructures could not withstand the thermal amplitude caused by this intense heat on the rails.
Railway tracks were deformed in flight under the influence of weather, which forced the suspension of operations. While the City of London Fire Brigade takes about 300 calls a day, by Tuesday evening’s dinner it had taken more than 1,600.
Fires were set in villages around Greater London, Tube lines were disrupted, airports had to close runways as asphalt literally melted under the amplifying effects of sun and heat. We increasingly believe in the absolute urgency of decarbonization so all this chaos doesn’t become the norm.