Flight International, August 2021

Our annual review of the commercial airliner sector looks at the challenges facing Airbus, Boeing and Embraer as the industry looks to emerge from the pandemic-driven downturn. From readying the 777X to meet a post-Covid-19 recovery in long-haul travel to the potential for an A350 Freighter and market prospects for the E175-E2, our report has it covered.

We report from the MAKS air show, where Moscow revealed its Sukhoi Su-75 “Checkmate” fighter and announced fresh commitments for more than 50 Superjet 100 regional jets. With the PD-14-engined Irkut MC-21-310 also on display, Russia’s drive for domestic capability in airliner production is ready to deliver results.

Also this issue, we assess United Airlines’ ambitious transformation plans, NASA’s research into next-generation narrowbodies, and zero-emission developments at Rolls-Royce and Britten-Norman. Plus, don’t miss our half-year assessment of airliner safety, with major accidents and incidents in the spotlight.

Use the links below to access our latest issue’s content in web-optimised format, or scroll down further to view our “page-turner” digital replica of the magazine, download a pdf version, and access archived issues.

Cover Aug 20211024_1

777X test ac #2 first flight 043020-2

Why the ill-timed 777X can still be a winner for Boeing

2021-07-22T14:22:00+01:00By

Pandemic, decimated international travel demand and certification delays. Why Boeing’s chief executive has no regrets about developing the 777X.

Etihad 787-9-c-Etihad Airways

787 programme’s future remains bright, though scope of fuselage issues unclear

2021-07-22T14:21:00+01:00By

But despite stopping deliveries, despite fuselage issues, despite withered demand for international travel and despite markedly reduced 787 production rates, analysts still foresee bright tomorrows for the jet.

737 Max 10 first flight

Boeing’s response to A321neo still unclear, but Max 10 narrows competitive gap

2021-07-22T14:21:00+01:00By

As the pandemic eases, Boeing finds itself in the familiar position of still having to address the competitive threat posed by Airbus’s A321neo – particularly the longer-range A321XLR variant.

737 Max 10

Boeing’s Max gains momentum as pandemic recovery accelerates

2021-07-22T14:20:00+01:00By

Despite ongoing technical issues, Boeing has recently landed significant new orders for the once-grounded narrowbody, progressed with clearing a hundreds-deep inventory of stored jets and achieved first flight of the Max 10. 

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Special report

Swiss A220

Commercial airliner programmes: up in the air?

As the industry emerges from the pandemic, its lead airframers face some familiar – and newer – challenges. In our special report on commercial airliners, we focus on seven key programmes or market segments, where decisions in the next few months could be crucial.

777X test ac #2 first flight 043020-2

Why the ill-timed 777X can still be a winner for Boeing

Pandemic, decimated international travel demand and certification delays. Why Boeing’s chief executive has no regrets about developing the 777X.

Etihad 787-9-c-Etihad Airways

787 programme’s future remains bright, though scope of fuselage issues unclear

But despite stopping deliveries, despite fuselage issues, despite withered demand for international travel and despite markedly reduced 787 production rates, analysts still foresee bright tomorrows for the jet.

737 Max 10 first flight

Boeing’s response to A321neo still unclear, but Max 10 narrows competitive gap

As the pandemic eases, Boeing finds itself in the familiar position of still having to address the competitive threat posed by Airbus’s A321neo – particularly the longer-range A321XLR variant.

737 Max 10

Boeing’s Max gains momentum as pandemic recovery accelerates

Despite ongoing technical issues, Boeing has recently landed significant new orders for the once-grounded narrowbody, progressed with clearing a hundreds-deep inventory of stored jets and achieved first flight of the Max 10. 

E175-E2 first flight

Embraer waits on market return to boost E175-E2 sales

The smallest member of Embraer’s E2 family, the E175-E2, has a long road ahead if it is to embark on the same path to success as its larger siblings, the E195-E2 and the E190-E2.

A350 cargo

Airbus keeps weighing its A350 freighter options

Airbus has given its strongest signal that it is looking to revisit the dedicated freighter sector, in a bid to break a run of strategic missteps that have left rival Boeing virtually unchallenged.

A220 JetBlue

How A220 programme proved sound investment for Airbus amid pandemic

One curious effect of the air transport crisis is that it has effectively pushed the sector back in time, leaving a fleet technologically shaped to address the 2020s facing levels of demand from the turn of the millennium.

20210720_194307

Russia targets low cost, high performance with Su-75 Checkmate fighter

United Aircraft is pitching the single-engined Su-75 to export markets as an affordable, fifth-generation type that shares characteristics with Sukhoi’s Su-57.

Interview

ACCEL-c-Rolls-Royce

How Rolls-Royce Electrical is leading the charge to low-carbon flight

While better known for its large turbofan engines for widebody jets, the UK manufacturer sees huge opportunities for electrical powertrains in new segments.

Piston Islander by Needle[1]

Gas frontier: why Britten-Norman is betting on hydrogen

The UK’s last surviving airframer has become an unlikely green pioneer, with twin projects to develop an alternative-powered Islander.

Analysis

United 737 Max 8

United’s fleet renewal plan cements CEO Kirby’s legacy

In addition to disclosing an order for 270 more Airbus and Boeing narrowbodies on 29 June, Kirby says United’s focus has shifted toward strengthening its presence in large markets – and less on small markets. United has also recently committed to acquiring electric air taxis and supersonic jets, and pledged to invest in sustainable aviation fuels (SAF).

Truss brace NASA

How NASA intends to make the next narrowbody airliners 25% more efficient

NASA’s new Sustainable Flight National Partnership aims to boost the efficiency of the next generation of single-aisle jets by up to a quarter and simultaneously enhance competitiveness of the US aerospace industry.

Features

Sriwijaya Air 737

How pandemic pause shifted focus to safety in first half of 2021

A reduced volume of global flight activity should equate to fewer accidents being recorded, but the current slower rate of working also is providing the industry with extra thinking time aound safety.

A320 Hangar FAL credit Airbus

Aerospace suppliers assess the impact of almost 18 months of crisis

The hit to the airline market has been well documented. But what long term damage will the pandemic have inflicted on the production chain, from tier one parts and systems manufacturers to SMEs? And will managing the recovery be as much of a challenge as coping with the sudden collapse in demand?

Women in aviation

Captain Christina Brun 2-c-Bristow Group

How flying helicopters hooked Bristow pilot Christina Brun

Chief pilot for Bristow Helicopters at its Aberdeen and Sumburgh bases explains how rotary-winged flight had her hooked from an early age, and why she left a career in IT for one in the cockpit.