Can Airbus confront its 250-seat conundrum?

Airbus faces a quandary when it comes to the 250-seat market, as we explain in a two-page analysis in the 21 January issue of Flight International, and it is partly as a result of the continuing success of a type it thought would be flying its way into the sunset by now, the A330.

Despite rumours and some pressure and robust orders for its in-service widebody twinjet, Airbus appears to be distancing itself from investing in a re-engined version of the A330, an “A330neo”, instead relying on the -800 version of the still-to-be-certificated A350 to compete in the medium-term with the Boeing 787 in the 250- to 300-seat segment.

But while the baseline A350-900, pitched at the 300-plus-seat market, is selling strongly, Airbus is struggling to win orders for the -800 shrink. David Kaminski-Morrow, who spoke to Airbus leaders at the airframer’s annual results conference in Toulouse, explains what it all means for the European manufacturer.

Elsewhere in the issue, the latest on problems being faced by two other OEMs – a new delay to Bombardier’s CSeries schedule and the re-emergence of malfunctioning batteries on the Boeing 787. We also have our forecast of what the big airline orders are likely to be in 2014. Will we see another order rush on a par with last year?

In our defence pages, why the UK military is making the case for increased use of remotely-piloted systems. Dan Thisdell also reports from Amsterdam on Fokker’s changing MRO strategy.

Plus: what do the latest annual airline accident figures tell us? Last year saw fatalities fall to a new low even as the number of crashes increased. Does that suggest that thanks to modern hulls, air accidents are becoming more survivable? David Learmount assesses the industry’s thinking, and we provide a full listing of all significant incidents and accidents from 2013.

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