Airbus said yesterday it has no plans to follow Boeing into the multi-mission business jetliner market and questioned the size of the market for such a product.
“I’m not saying there won’t be one or two customers who might want this, but for us, no,” said Richard Gaona, Airbus vice-president, executive and private aviation.
“However, it’s good for aviation that the two market leaders have differing views.”
On the other hand, Gaona said he felt Embraer’s launch yesterday of the ultra-large Lineage 1000, an executive version of its E-190, would benefit the A318 Elite by helping drive the market towards larger cabin sizes.
Airbus’s executive aviation arm has racked up six new firm orders for Airbus Corporate Jets (ACJ) in 2006 so far, with deals for another two ACJs and two A318 Elites in the pipeline.
Gaona also said that Airbus has begun testing winglets on the A320 family, which includes the ACJ and A318.
Flight trials with the winglets began on 4 April and 14 flights and 35 flight hours have been successfully completed so far.
He said: “We have started to look at what winglets can bring to the A320 family. We’re trying to increase the range on the whole family. We will test two or three variants and then make a decision. They will be retrofittable on the existing A320 fleet.”
Airbus continues to offer VIP versions of its widebody aircraft, including the A330, A340 and A380 and Ganoa says sales and interest for these models highlight a trend towards larger cabins in the market. The first VIP A340-600 order, to a Saudi Arabian buyer, was announced in July 2005.
“We believe there is a market for this, but not a big one,” said Gaona. “If we could sell two to four A330s and A340s a year, we would be very happy.”
• Vienna-based VIP charter operator Jet Alliance is the latest company to place a firm order for an ACJ, which it will add to its fleet of more than 35 aircraft.

Source: Flight Daily News