Aside from the fact that the Airbus A220 is the only airbus aircraft to not have a 3 in its name, the A220 is special from the fact that it isn’t fully made by Airbus, but instead a joint venture between them and Bombardier. This is all because of what some might call a mistake made by Boeing, causing Airbus to acquire a 50.01% stake in the company. In this article I explore its controversial creation, and why it’s needed.
The Airbus A220 was first named the “CSeries” by Bombardier, and was meant to cater to the demand of small aircraft in between their current-sized fleet and those larger already made by Airbus and Boeing. The particular area where it was expected to boom were the US markets, given there is always demand to be flying from small airports as there is no lack of them in the large country. At first, things were running smoothly and it was expected to enter commercial service in 2014, just one year after its first flight. However, things turned out not to go as planned, and the CSeries encountered issues on one of its test flights, causing it to miss the Farnborough air show, the largest in the industry, and delay its release. This was not good for the aircraft, nearly causing the project and the company to go bust, until financial aid was provided by the Canadian government.
Boeing’s crucial mistake
Eventually, these problems were fixed, and the first CSeries was delivered to SWISS on June 26, 2016. Eventually, more orders began to come for the new aircraft, including the critical ones in the US. In fact, Bombardier was offering Delta 75 of the aircraft at $20 million a piece, a price which was even lower than the cost to build them, and a cost which was just too good to refuse. However, this was contested and was seen to be Dumping, when a manufacturer essentially gives away its aircraft as sort-of “Samples”, and is illegal in the US and other countries. Boeing was quick to take action, claiming that it was stealing the market from its 737s, despite the fact that Delta had explicitly said that they weren’t looking to purchase the variants that Boeing were claiming to be losing out. It was then decided that, given Bombardier was a foreign company, the US government would impose a 300% import tariff, something near-destructible for the company.
Airbus saves the day
However, Airbus decided to step in and acquire a 50% stake in the company, something beneficial for both parties concerned. This was good for Bombardier, as Airbus has its final assembly station situated in Alabama in the US, meaning that seen as the aircraft technically wasn’t foreign, the import tariff wouldn’t be imposed on it. This would also help Airbus, as it would mean that the company would now profit off of an aircraft which had no competitors at the time. This allowed the aircraft to be reintroduced to the US market, allowing it to thrive.
Where it is now
Now, the CSeries has been re-branded to be the Airbus A220, a move which has knocked it out of the park for the world’s largest aircraft manufacturer. This has allowed airbus to spend absolutely no money on development, and come away with an excellent aircraft, which is dominating its playing field. As of April 2023, 251 aircraft have been delivered, with another 785 firm orders. The airlines operating the aircraft include Delta, JetBlue, SWISS and airBaltic, who operate a fleet solely made up of the A220. When Aviation for Aviators asked their CEO, Martin Gauss, about the aircraft, he said that “The aircraft has performed beyond the company’s expectations, delivering better overall performance, fuel efficiency, and convenience for both passengers and the staff.”
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Airbus Unveils New Automated A321XLR Equipping Hangar in Hamburg
Airbus marked a significant step in its journey towards modernization and ramped-up production with the official opening of its new automated A321XLR equipping hangar in Hamburg. The inauguration was graced by Hamburg’s First Mayor Peter Tschentscher, and the German Aerospace Coordinator, Anna Christmann.
Stepping Up Production
Airbus aims to ramp up the production rate for the A320 program to 75 by 2026. This new hangar plays an integral part in achieving that goal, as it would house the production of A321 fuselages. André Walter, Head of Airbus Commercial Aircraft Production in Germany, said, “The design of the building reflects the latest standards in production and sustainability.”
Dr. Peter Tschentscher emphasized Hamburg’s prominence in Airbus’s scheme of things, calling it a central location for Airbus’ single-aisle development and production. The new A321XLR, described as the flagship of the A320 Family, will be assembled at the Finkenwerder site in Hamburg.
Anna Christmann, Federal Government Coordinator of German Aerospace Policy, pointed out that investing in the new hangar is a pivotal move towards achieving climate neutrality in aviation. With Airbus positioning itself as a pioneer in sustainable aviation, it sends a clear message about the future direction of the industry.
Hangar H259: A Peek Inside
The new hangar, labeled H259, spans 9,600 m^2 of production space. It is equipped with advanced technologies, including automated logistics, digital systems, and real-time test stations. Every fuselage section undergoes rigorous testing after system installation and then heads to the final assembly line in Hamburg.
Employee comfort and efficiency were prioritized while planning the hangar. Moreover, sustainability was also at the forefront, with a 3,000 m^2 photovoltaic system powering the hangar and the surplus electricity being used for the site. An automatic control system for heating, ventilation, and lighting, along with the office block’s superior insulation, underlines Airbus’s commitment to sustainability.
Spotlight on the A321XLR
The A321XLR is poised to be a game-changer. This evolution of the A320neo offers an impressive range of up to 4,700 nm, 15% more than its predecessor, the A321LR. The aircraft promises 30% lower fuel consumption per seat than older competitor models. Furthermore, the A321XLR offers enhanced passenger comfort, all while maintaining the low operational costs of a single-aisle aircraft. The A321XLR, with nearly 570 orders globally, is set to make its entry into service in 2024’s second quarter.
Final and Sixth Beluga XL Rolls Out at Airbus
Airbus has rolled out the sixth and last of its Beluga XL freighters at the production facility in Toulouse, France. Based on the A330-200 platform and boasting a special livery, this plane joins a quintet of similar aircraft assisting Airbus in meeting production schedules at its various plants across the globe.
The Final Super Transporter
The concluding Airbus Beluga XL, also known as the ‘super transporter,’ marks the end of a production run consisting of six airplanes. Unlike its five predecessors, each displaying a consistent livery barring their fleet numbers (1-5), the final aircraft showcases a modified external color scheme.
This latest addition features Airbus’ standard house tail colors, logo, and the ‘Airbus Beluga XL’ fuselage titles present on the other five planes. However, it also carries the additional text ‘Also flying outsize cargo to your destination’ and a unique ‘winking eye’ motif on the left side of the forward fuselage.
Currently, the sixth Beluga XL is preparing for its maiden flight, scheduled to occur within a few days. Its entry into service is expected in the latter half of 2023.
The Beluga XL: An Oversized Freight Carrier
Launched officially in November 2014, the Beluga XL program was initiated in response to Airbus’s evolving logistical transport needs. This new generation aircraft, derived from the Airbus A330-200 airliner platform, replaced the previous Beluga ST transporter, whose job was to ferry aircraft components between Airbus factories and assembly plants across Europe.
The Beluga XL had its first flight in July 2018 and entered service in February 2021 with Airbus Transport International (ATI), the logistics division of the European aerospace group.
Before the Beluga STs, Airbus relied on a fleet of four Super Guppies, a turboprop freighter developed by Boeing in the 1960s. However, their limited cargo capability led to their replacement by the Beluga ST, which now gives way to the Beluga XL fleet.
Unmatched Capabilities of the Beluga XL
Being seven meters longer and one meter wider than the Beluga ST, the Beluga XL can boast of a 30% increase in load capacity. Thanks to improved loading systems, the Beluga XL’s turnaround time is approximately one hour, nearly halving that of the Beluga ST.
One of the unique features of the Beluga XL is its large cargo door located above the flight deck, which allows easy loading of whole wings and large sections of fuselage into the enormous cargo compartment. According to Airbus, the Beluga XL can carry two completed wings of the A350 XWB, while the Beluga ST could only manage one.
Read more about the Beluga XL: Airbus Beluga: A Marvel of Engineering and Design
Joining a Busy Worldwide Fleet
Soon, the final Beluga XL will join the ATI fleet, operating between 11 European destinations, gradually replacing the five-member-strong Beluga ST fleet. However, the Beluga ST fleet isn’t retiring yet. They are being phased into another operational division of ATI – Airbus Beluga Transport (AiBT), launched in July 2022.
While AiBT initially focused on missions for other Airbus divisions, it plans to accommodate an increasing number of external commercial customers as the Beluga XLs take over the primary role of transporting commercial airplane components for Airbus. By February 2023, AiBT had already filled nearly 50% of its slots for the rest of the year, catering to many requests for outsized cargo transportation missions worldwide.
Bulgaria Air’s Airbus A220: Latest-Generation Addition to Fleet
Bulgaria Air now proudly hosts the Airbus A220 in its fleet, marking an important step towards greener aviation. The A220’s attributes of operational flexibility, unrivaled comfort, and reduced emissions make it a sought-after choice for airlines working towards more efficient and sustainable aircraft operations. With the addition of Bulgaria Air’s Airbus A220, passengers can now look forward to a state-of-the-art flight experience that has already been enjoyed by over 90 million travelers worldwide.
Bulgaria Air, the national airline of Bulgaria, has received its first A220 aircraft from Airbus’ Mirabel facility in Canada. The A220, which will be leased from Air Lease Corporation, will operate on regional and international routes throughout Europe. Bulgaria Air will lease a total of seven A220s from ALC.
The A220, Airbus’ latest-generation aircraft, will complement Bulgaria Air’s existing fleet of seven A320s. With a range of up to 3,450 nm (6,390 km), the A220 offers increased operational flexibility to airlines like Bulgaria Air.
The initial configuration of Bulgaria Air’s A220 will have a total of 143 seats in dual-class, including eight business-class seats. The A220 is designed for the 100-150 seat market and incorporates advanced aerodynamics, materials, and Pratt & Whitney engines. It provides unbeatable comfort in a small single aisle with the widest windows, largest seats, and overhead stowage, as well as the widest and quietest cabin in its category.
The A220 also supports Bulgaria Air’s commitment to decarbonizing aviation, as it produces up to 25% lower fuel burn and CO2 emissions per seat than previous-generation aircraft and 50% lower NOx emissions than industry standards. Additionally, the aircraft’s noise footprint is reduced by 50% compared to previous-generation aircraft.
Airbus has received nearly 800 orders from 30 customers for the A220, with 265 already delivered. The A220 is currently in service with 16 airlines worldwide, operating on over 1,100 routes and over 375 destinations. Over 90 million passengers have flown on the A220 to date.
Hence, What do you think are the benefits of Bulgaria Air’s addition of the Airbus A220 to its fleet?
Also, you may be interested in reading: The Story of the A220, how it Came About and How it’s Becoming Popular
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