Airbus Could Build A New Narrowbody In The 2030s

Airbus is keen to build an ultra-modern narrowbody jet to be launched in the 2030s. At the Dubai Airshow yesterday (19/11/19), Airbus boss Guillaume Faury said he believes the coming together of production technology and design mechanisms will slingshot the launch of a brand new type.

Airbus at Dubai Airshow
Airbus likely to start production of a new narrowbody in the middle of the next decade. Photo: Airbus press release

Airbus hints at its being on the cusp of a project to develop a new and technologically advanced narrowbody jet. Writes Flight Global, boss Faury believes the new jet will embrace not only the radical changes to worldwide aviation but also new advancements in production.

Speaking at the Dubai Airshow, Faury told Flight Global, “We are at a point of time where we see a number of major changes impacting aviation, and they will probably impact the single-aisle business first.

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I would consider the launch of a [single-aisle] programme in the second half of the next decade and entry into service in the early 2030s,” he added.

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We have contacted Airbus for comment.

Digital production

Guillaume Faury also made clear, however, that the production of a new type could only start when the technologies and innovations necessary were available in combination.

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Above all, Faury sees digital production of the aircraft as crucial to its realization. Utilizing as many new technologies in the design, manufacture and assembly as possible could pave the way.

Airbus Executive and others
Airbus boss says new propulsion technology is coming soon. Photo: Airbus press release

Automation of the production system is a key enabler,” said Faury. “We are all working on this.

“We see [production] ‘robot-isation’ at the scale of those products close to being mature. With many partners to anticipate and prepare the technologies and propulsion systems of the future.

It will be worth launching the development of a new single-aisle only when we have a combination of those technologies that make sense.

New type

If it comes to fruition, a new narrowbody would be pivotal. It may raise the bar amid Airbus’s competition with Boeing, especially for narrow-body, clean-flown seats.

Boeing currently leads in narrow-body capacity, according to CAPA, with 71.5% seat share thanks to the longstanding success of the 737 and 757.

Airbus neo winglet
A new type from Airbus is likely to cause Boeing more concern. Photo: Airbus press release

Airbus’s intentions are clear but details sketchy. Production lines are expected to turn only when new engine technologies become available in tandem with AI-led production mechanisms.

Currently, Airbus’s new engine options such as those seen of the A320 Family are selling well. The neo delivers a fuel saving of up to 15% compared to similar types on the market, as well as a raft of other benefits to money- and environment-conscious airlines.

New engine

Of its new types, Airbus is already considering the feasibility of redesigned wings and tweaks to current power plant mechanics to enable a further boost of fuel efficiency. What type of aircraft Faury now talks of is unclear. But the airline seems ready for a step-change in fuel efficiency and propulsion.

In June of this year, Bloomberg wrote about Airbus’s intention to bring to market the world’s first hybrid-electric airliner. Airbus spoke of its confidence in the new system. It was, “Ready for roll-out on an all-new single-aisle jet around 2035”.

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Karl

@Nick John Whittle In that link from CAPA it’s specifically stated that: Quote: “Boeing has the bigger share of LONG HAUL narrowbody seats flown in the week of 12-Nov-2018, with 71.5% (much greater than in the more balanced widebody long haul market, where Boeing’s seat share is 58.8%). This is built on both the 757 and the 737 and helped by Boeing’s MAX range beating the A320neo family into service.” So, they’re talking about LONG HAUL narrowbody seats and not the “narrow-body capacity” in general, as you seemed to indicate. – BTW, are you related to Frank Whittle, the man… Read more »

TonytTDK

Boeing undoubtedly Does have that market sector lead…….
BUT,
the 757’s are getting to take he very end of their used full lives in the Western world
& the 737’s are being outflanked by the A320/1 variants, which are now matching the 757 for range & not actually that far off on capacity either.

When the 757 operators finally retire their airframes,
unless their operational model changes,
there’s no contemporary or planned Boeing offering that offers a suitable replacement for that sector.?

Paul Proctor

Not single-handedly for Whittle. I believe the Germans simultaneously developed the jet engine. They certainly got them on aircraft first.

William

von Ohain got his engine running about 1 month before Whittle, von Ohain used hydrogen. When the men met and compared notes von Ohain gave Whittle credited Whittle because he solved the problem of combustion with kerosene first. The Germans got a jet into the air 2 years earlier (on liquid fuel).

Kaden

Can’t wait to see what Airbus will come up with next!

Frank

I think they’re going to stretch the A220 to the -500 model, once they have cleared out some of the A320 Neo backlog. Perhaps some of the tail-enders in the order chain will get switched over, but it’ll probably be once Airbus buys out it’s partners and owns the A220 outright.

David C

The A220- 500 has already flown on paper. The wing box, avionics, wings and landing gear are common. the A220-100 is actually a scaled down version of the A220-300. From announce to FTV on the 500 would be less than two years. There is already interest from both Air France and Delta. It may even be interesting enough for Southwest, though they would need to see long term planning for the airframe to match their business model. I agree, its coming and Airbus is trying to map out its long term development plan before announcing it…

Paul Proctor

Let’s see if Airbus can make money with the A220 first, before talking about stretching it and cannibalizing an existing product.

Peter

They’re already making money with the A220…it’s selling like hot cakes 🙂

David C

The airframe is profitable if you exclude the start up/development amortization. It’s not going anywhere, that is why Airbus took it. And they would not be cannibalizing it since the CS 500 was part of the original design process. Its already flown on paper, but Bombardier did not want to go into direct competition with the MAX 7 and the A319. And it is selling like hot cakes, Airbus took a massive option on land at Mirabel and is in the process of streamlining production at Mirabel with a Pr-assembly building being built along with a massive option for a… Read more »

High Mile Club

I don’t have much confidence in aircraft that rely only on electric power to operate. If we’re still having problems with Tesla’s, what’s to say those same problems won’t find their way onto aircraft, with more disastrous effects?

Mark Thompson

It’s preposterous to think that lithium ion batteries in aircraft could ever cause a problem.

Peter

Lithium ion batteries regularly cause fires on aircraft…e.g. as cargo in the hold, or in laptops in the cabin. Why do you think that hoverboards are banned from aircraft?

Karl

Marks intention may have been to be “ironic”, but it sounds rather sarcastic. 🙂

Peter

I don’t think you need worry about electrically powered aircraft: apart from use in a few (ultra-light, short-range) niche products for private use, batteries don’t have anything near enough energy density to power a large commercial airliner across realistic distances.
I’d love to know what — if anything — Airbus is doing in the field of cryogenic hydrogen propulsion. Perhaps they consider that to be an issue for the engine makers? Or for universities?

Niklas Andersson

A110X in study with SAS, Delta, AirFrance, KLM, EasyJet, and CFM/Siemens.
In Toulouse some Eng have already start to meet in a round table.

TonytTDK

It strikes me as both significant AND sensible that Mr Faire says “Only When”…..
It’s not about bravado & doing-down Boeing.
It’s about saying we have a development plan, but that plan is based upon things that are not currently in place…..
& we know that & accept it.!

By the 2030’s good sense would suggest that the airframe would be coming towards 50 years old & consequently due for a significant upgrade or replacement……
Of course, Boeing might have a different opinion of when is a good time to replace an old, but well-selling airframe.?

Adrian peters

Ha ha Boeing replace old aircraft, yes look at the 737 ,it not old its ancient and vintage, oh max it out then. Yeah ,u.s.a tech. Is allways behind Europe u less it is for killing people

Michael Sheargold

Love the forward planning vision… the 2030’s are going to be exciting with the tech that’s going to be around!

Peter

I think the quoted 2030s timeframe would apply if Airbus didn’t have any competitors. However, Airbus may be forced into an earlier development of a new slingle-aisle aircraft if Boeing introduces one: I would imagine that, with the continuing fiascos surrounding the 737 (MAX and NG), there may be a certain sentiment at Boeing toward replacing the 737 with a new plane a.s.a.p. Although I think the A220 is a fantastic plane, I don’t know if 3-2 seating is what most airlines want for their main narrowbody traffic (think of standardized cargo containers, which fit in the A320 but not… Read more »

Paul Proctor

Good point on 3-2 seating, cargo containers.

Paul Proctor

Was there any original reporting in this article, or is a rewrite of a Flight International piece?

Adrian peters

Airbus is the best…..