We have become so used to charting catastrophic programme delays – from the A380 to the 787 and CSeries – that when a new type makes certification as advertised, it can come as a surprise.
Although re-engining a proven narrowbody is not like developing a clean-sheet superjumbo, all-composite widebody, or your company’s first full-size airliner, Airbus deserves credit for doing what it said it would five years ago with the A320neo. To the achievement of a painless path to certification should be added Toulouse’s remarkable marketing success. It has sold 4,438 of the A320neo family since 2010 – a three-to-two advantage over the later-to-launch Boeing 737 Max.
Airbus’s decision to act when it did – in the wake of Bombardier’s bet-the-farm CSeries launch and while Boeing dithered over whether to re-engine or design an all-new single-aisle – proved the right one. It has left one rival struggling and the other playing catch-up.
After mis-steps in the noughties – the debacle over the original A350 and arguably its faith in the A380 – sense has replaced vainglory in the Airbus boardroom. The A350-800 aside, Toulouse has made sound recent business moves, not least the corporate restructuring of the group under Tom Enders.
Assuming a smooth entry into service for both engine variants of the A320neo family, the airframer looks to have got it right again.
Source: Flight International