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Company Watch - Airbus.

Nov 30, 2008

US- and European-based helicopter makers are taking new interest in a revived armed reconnaissance helicopter contract after a US Army decision to reassess its performance requirements. AgustaWestland, Boeing, EADS North America and Sikorsky say they will respond to an army "sources sought" notice, which aims to inform the service's requirements-setting process with available technologies. Among the likely bidders, only Bell Helicopter declined to commit to a response. The army on 16 October terminated the company's $6 billion contract to build 512 ARH-70s (below), due to a tripling of aircraft acquisition costs. Nov 25, 2008

French aviation officials were investigating whether the repainting of the plane in Air New Zealand livery affected external instruments providing data to the A320 aircraft's systems, Stuff.co.nz reported today. Two bodies have recovered from the crash scene in the Mediterranean Sea off France but five are believed to be still trapped in the fuselage of the four-year-old Airbus A320. The plane had been chartered to a German carrier and was undergoing tests before being handed back to Air NZ. It made the fatal flight last wek after a firm in Perpignan, France, had repainted the exterior, Stuff said. A cockpit voice recorder had been recovered by French divers and the cause of the crash was expected to be known within two days of experts deciphering its contents, deputy Perpignan prosecutor Diminique Alzeari said. Nov 30, 2008

The head of France's business lobby said Thursday that she is worried about the trade implications of China's decision to pull out of a summit with the European Union. The summit was planned for Monday in Lyon, France. On the sidelines, around 150 to 200 Chinese business executives had been expected to meet with European counterparts at an event organized by the French employers lobby. Nov 27, 2008

An Airbus A320 crashed off France's southern coast during a maintenance flight Thursday, killing two people and leaving the five others on board missing, authorities said. The passenger plane had undergone checks at the EAS Industries aircraft maintenance center in Perpignan, France, near the border with Spain. It was being leased by German charter airline XL Airways and was due to return to service for Air New Zealand next month, officials from those companies said. Nov 27, 2008

Weeks after announcing it would abandon a planned ramp-up for next year, Airbus now says it is considering a cutback in production levels amid a global financial crunch. "Obviously, the freeze that we have enacted right now is not enough," said CEO Thomas Enders, adding that the company "simply cannot exclude at this point" that further adjustments may be necessary. Nov 26, 2008

Things seem to be looking up at Airbus, Boeing[sup.1]s only rival in the market for large commercial aircraft. After a horrible run of bad news, the European consortium has regained some of its confidence. The cause of much of the recent trauma, the A380 super-jumbo, is winning rave reviews from both airlines and passengers, albeit two years late. And Airbus has at last moved to "wave 2" production in which the wiring harnesses that triggered the crisis are fitted automatically, instead of laboriously by hand. Nov 27, 2008

A few weeks ago EADS, the parent company of Airbus, pleasantly surprised investors with third-quarter pre-tax earnings of euro860m ($1.3 billion), having made a loss of euro711m a year earlier. Part of the explanation is that the "Power8" restructuring plan is finally yielding results. But of even greater significance is the dollar's new-found strength against the euro, which sent euro960m to the bottom line. This quarter should yield another improvement, assisted by the strike at Boeing. Airbus has not pinched any orders from Boeing, but according to Tom Williams, Airbus's manufacturing supremo, overstretched suppliers who work for both firms could switch deliveries to Airbus. As a result, the production lines are flowing more smoothly, customers are more likely to get their new aircraft on time and Airbus will get a boost to its cashflow. Reported by the Economist. Nov 27, 2008

Airbus' and Boeing's bulging order books, each has a backlog of more than 3,700 planes are showing surprising resilience given the plight of most of their customers. Many airlines, especially in America, have begun deferring orders since the collapse of the oil price reduced the urgency of acquiring more fuel-efficient aircraft. But there have been few cancellations. Mr Tinseth says Boeing has only had two this year, and Airbus says it has had 119, more than half of which came last month when Skybus, an American budget carrier, folded. Nov 27, 2008

EADS expects its Airbus unit to secure orders for more than 850 new aircraft this year, after the aerospace giant posted much-improved nine-month results. Strong operational performance at Airbus, coupled with savings from its Power8 programme, contributed "positively" to the improvement, it adds. Revenues for the airframer were up by 3% to [euro]19.4 billion. Earnings reached [euro]1.5 billion ($1.9 billion) against last year's loss of [euro]677 million. Overall EADS made a [euro]1 billion net profit for the period on a 7% rise in revenue to [euro]29.4 billion. Last year it lost [euro]2 billion for the period. Nov 25, 2008

Twelve European Union nations have voiced their willingness to collaborate on or pool their military air transport assets within the next decade, with the Airbus Military A400M and Lockheed Martin C-130 to provide the backbone of the proposed system. Outlined earlier this month by the European Defence Agency, the touted European Air Transport Fleet (EATF) would bring together assets operated by the air forces of Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia and Spain. Five of the nations will receive 145 of the 180 A400Ms currently on order for seven European countries, and the EDA expects several of these to form a multinational unit for operations with the type. Nov 25, 2008

Airliner net orders came in at 85 in September as 99 new orders were offset by 14 cancellations, with another 38 swaps. Among the swaps, Swiss investment company Alpstream took over orders for 16 A320s and four A321s originally ordered by Blue Wingsin in which it holds a 48% stake. Lufthansa also swapped 12 Embraer 190 orders for 195 models and also cancelled two A330s. US lessor, The CIT Group placed new orders for eight A320 and two A319. Boeing led the way with 41 net new orders for the month followed by Airbus with 29. Bombardier and Embraer took nine and six respectively. Widebody orders totalled 29 in September, led by 18 767s of which half were from All Nippon Airways. India[sup.1]s Kingfisher cancelled seven A340s on fears of a weakening of the Indian economy, but ordered five A330s. Net narrowbody orders stood at 43, while, eight Dash8 orders were placed in the month including four by Austrian Airlines. The overall backlog ended the month up nine at 8,618 airliner orders. Nov 25, 2008

British Airways is to fit its Airbus A380 and Boeing 787 aircraft with Thales in-flight entertainment systems, which will also be installed on its new Boeing 777-300ERs. The French manufacturer will supply its TopSeries system to the flag-carrier's expanded fleet. Terms of the agreement have not been disclosed. Thales says the British Airways installation will include 15.4in, 12.1in, 10.6in and 8.9in screens in the airline's first-class, business-class, premium-economy and economy cabins respectively. The system's library will give passengers access to over 100 films, 300 programmes and 400 CDs as well as radio entertainment and podcasts. Each seat throughout the cabin will have jack ports for personal electronic device connection and charging, and power sockets for laptop computers. "It is an 'everything on demand' system that lets passengers do what they want, when they want," says BA general manager for product management Jamie Cassidy. BA is acquiring 12 A380s and 24 787s, as well as six interim 777-300ERs for long-haul fleet modernisation. Nov 25, 2008

Northrop Grumman is testing the flight computer system that on 7 October caused a Qantas Airbus A330 to suddenly descend several hundred feet. The Australian Transport Safety Bureau says tests of the system's three air data inertial reference units aim "to understand what led to the pitch-down events in order to provide basis to eliminate the problem at its source". It adds that "possible external sources of electromagnetic interference are also being explored and assessed, including the Harold Holt very low frequency transmitter near Exmouth in Western Australia." Nov 25, 2008

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Date:Dec 1, 2008
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