PARIS, France — Governor Robert Bentley as well as representatives from Mobile and Baldwin Counties and the Mobile Airport Authority all held meetings with various executives at Airbus this week at the Paris Air Show. Those meetings were largely focused on ongoing plans for the Airbus final assembly line at Mobile Brookley Aeroplex, which will produce planes from Airbus’ A320 family.
Today, Airbus announced orders and commitments for 123 plans from the A320neo family. Airbus announced orders for A320neo and A321neo from the Lufthansa Group, 50 additional aircraft from ILFC and orders for the A320neo from Africa.
On day three of the air show, officials from South Alabama also met with EADS Innovation, the part of Airbus’s parent company that is charged with designing the future of aviation, and got a glimpse of what that future holds.
Lawrence Stein of EADS Innovation, who provided Mobile officials with a tour of the EADS Innovation display, said while Airbus is currently focused on A320 the final assembly line in Mobile, it is always important to educate partners about what’s next for the global company.
“The air show is one of the few times in the year when you can talk to a lot of potential partners and find ways to potentially work together,” Stein said. “Given that EADS will have such a long future in Alabama, it is important to continue to evolve the conversation about how we work together today and how we can work together tomorrow.”
Troy Wayman, Vice President of Economic Development for the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce, who joined Stein for the tour, said he welcomed any opportunity to strengthen the relationship with EADS and learn more about the company. “We want to make sure if there is opportunity in the future that we are positioned to take it,” he said.
Much of the innovation was centered around fuel efficiency and alternative sources of power. Stein showed of the eFan, the first full-electric general aviation training aircraft, which can fly for one hour entirely fuel free. He also explained work being done around creating a distributed propulsion system with fans powered by superconducting electric motors.
The EADS Innovation display was one of the most popular spots at the Paris Air Show.
This week at the show, Airbus scheduled delivery of new A320s to customers with another fuel-saving advance – wing-tip devices called Sharklets. (New Zealand Air got one of the planes.) The devices are made from light-weight composites and rise nearly eight feet from the end of the aircraft’s wings. Airbus says Sharklets improve the plane’s aerodynamics by helping reduce the spiral-shaped vortices that form at the wingtips of all aircraft during flight.
The devices can reduce fuel consumption and emissions by 4 per cent on longer flights. That gives the operator an additional 100 nautical miles of range or nearly 1,000 pounds of additional payload, according to the company.
Some of the Airbus aircraft produced in Mobile beginning in 2015 also will feature next-generation engines designed to burn significantly less fuel. Improvement with the A320neo (“new engine option”) include a 15 per cent reduction in fuel consumption, up to 500 nautical miles of additional range, lower operating costs, as well as reduced engine noise and emissions.
Operators will have two new jet engine choices – CFM International’s LEAP-X and the PW1100G PurePower from Pratt & Whitney. (CFM is a joint venture between GE Aviation and Snecma [Safran Group]; GE Aviation will produce high-pressure turbine airfoils for the LEAP engine and others at its plant in Auburn.)
Here’s a story that wraps up the $100 billion in orders announced so far at the Paris Air Show.