Andrzej Jeziorski/MUNICH

GENERAL Electric Capital Aviation Services (GECAS) has placed its first business with Airbus Industrie, with an order for 45 aircraft and another 45 options.

GECAS has signed 40 firm orders for the A319/A320/A321 family, with another five for the long-range A340-300, which, at current catalogue prices, would be worth more than $2.5 billion. The same number of options has also been taken out.

Shipments of the five A319s, eight A321s and 27 A320s, will begin from mid-1997, with a delivery rate of ten to 15 aircraft a year, while the A340s start to arrive in 1999. The order runs through until 2001. All aircraft are to be powered by the CFM International CFM56 family of turbofans. CFMI is a General Electric/- Snecma joint venture.

The latest order takes the number of Airbus narrowbody orders up to the 1,060 mark, now with 49 customers, and puts the European manufacturer on level pegging with Boeing so far this year in narrowbody-aircraft sales.

Overall, the two manufacturers ended the first half of the year virtually tied on the number of net new orders (Flight International, 17-23 July).

The GECAS business also marks a growing tally of orders from the major US leasing houses so far this year. In February, the Airbus order book was boosted by a substantial contract from International Lease Finance.

Airbus has already outlined plans to raise production this year, and the Daimler-Benz Aerospace (DASA) Airbus assembly plant at Hamburg, confirms that it plans to step up the production rate of A319s and A321s to six or seven aircraft a month during the next 12 months.

Up to the beginning of July, the German Airbus production line had delivered 35 A321s and six A319s. During this year, DASA Airbus aims to roll out 18 of each aircraft type, planning to reach a monthly production rate of five aircraft by December.

Source: Flight International