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Posts from the ‘Airbus A350’ Category

Airbus A350 gets additional premium economy seat option

April 18th, 2013

Kinny Cheng

Business Traveller:

Airbus has confirmed that seat manufacturer EADS-Sogerma will offer an A350-optimised premium economy seat, offering an “innovative cradle seat”, with “a high level of comfort at an efficient pitch”.

The Celeste seat will be offered to carriers as part of the A350 XWB Catalogue, which also includes a premium economy seat manufactured by Zodiac Seats.

According to Airbus, EADS-Sogerma has optimised its Celeste seats for the forthcoming long-haul aircraft, offering “an innovative cradle seat which provides premium economy passengers with a high level of comfort at an efficient pitch”.

Not sure about the “high level of comfort” on this cradle seat design, or how the “at an efficient pitch” comes into play.

Doesn’t look as comfy as what we’d normally see from seat manufacturers.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves — choice is always good!

Boeing’s knee-jerk (official) response to Airbus’s “Plan B” execution

February 17th, 2013

Kinny Cheng

Boeing yesterday released an official statement regarding its position on the 787’s lithium-ion batteries, after Airbus officially reverted to nickel-cadium batteries for its upcoming A350 aircraft. This was posted by on their Facebook page:

“Boeing is confident in the safety and reliability of lithium-ion batteries. Our years of experience and deep expertise confirm that, like other technologies, when the appropriate battery, system and airplane protections are in place, lithium-ion batteries deliver significant benefits. We are deeply involved with the appropriate investigation authorities in developing a full understanding of two recent battery events on 787s and are working tirelessly to create the solutions that will allow the 787 fleet to return to full flight status. There’s nothing we’ve learned in the investigations that would lead us to a different decision regarding lithium-ion batteries.”

Well, it looks like Boeing is still very confident of the newer battery technology, and that a solution to the conundrum will somehow be found in good time.

(But, of course, Boeing management would’ve had to say something on these lines, no matter what. From their current perspective, there’s simply too much to lose if they were to start re-considering their position on the battery technology now. Heck, who am I to say so, *right?*)

There were also some interesting comments made about the Boeing statement (with the exception of the very first one, being a classic “fanboy” response) — but this one, by Andy Martin, stood out:

“Airbus is taking a very sensible precaution against the rules regarding Li-Ion being made much more stringent in future, and by doing so is de-risking the timeline and certification of the A350 program. If Airbus carries on with the technology and then finds the Feds and EASA et al totally pulls the rug from under Li-Ion in a few week/months time, or makes certification of the technology much more difficult, or adds extra criteria for certification that the current design doesn’t allow for (in part due to Boeing’s f*** up introducing the technology before it was fully proven), then the A350 program would by that time be in a far worse shape that it will be with them going back to NiCad technology now. And Airbus can always offer a Li-Ion retrofit / upgrade at a later date should the Li-Ion technology eventually be proven safe. IMHO Airbus are doing the right thing to protect the A350 program and get the airplane to their customers with the least risk of delays caused [by] concerns over electrical systems.”

Andy pretty much makes the case. Key phrases here were “Airbus is taking a very sensible precaution” and “de-risking the timeline and certification of the A350 program” — which is exactly what Airbus is attempting to do with the “Plan B” enactment.

Airbus firms decision on moving (back) to Ni-Cad battery tech for the A350

February 15th, 2013

Kinny Cheng

The Seattle Times:

“Airbus said Thursday it is dropping lithium-ion batteries from its new A350 airplane because of uncertainty surrounding the technology that has led to the grounding of Boeing’s 787.

The European planemaker said it has decided to revert to conventional nickel-cadmium batteries for the A350. The plane is a wide-body long-range jet rival to the 787 and is expected to make its first flight around the middle of the year.

Airbus says it does not expect the battery switch to lead to a setback in the A350’s schedule.

“Airbus considers this to be the most appropriate way forward in the interest of program execution and A350 XWB reliability,” spokeswoman Mary Anne Greczyn said.”

Needless to say, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner Lithium-ion battery saga has reached a new highpoint. While LOT Polish Airlines’ announcement yesterday of a indefinite grounding of their current fleet-of-two until October, Airbus had previously stated on-record the possibility of their latest move, which most certainly is due to the meeting of time-based deadlines.

Any more delays on the A350 programme won’t bode well for Airbus.

On learning of the news, I asked FlightGlobal reporter David Kaminski-Morrow about how the aircraft will gain certification whilst still utilising Lithium-ion batteries for test flights. It seems that Airbus will retain the current configuration/set-up for initial flight-envelope testing, which doesn’t depend on battery type.

Shortly after, David’s article on the A350 battery type switch was published on FlightGlobal:

“Airbus is opting to switch back to nickel-cadmium batteries for its A350 as a risk-reduction strategy, but insists the change will not affect entry into service dates.

It will continue to equip its flight-test aircraft with lithium-ion batteries in order to preserve the schedule for maiden flight and initial envelope testing.

Flight-envelope tests are independent of the source of electrical power and Airbus is still aiming to have the first flight-test aircraft, MSN1, airborne in mid-year.

But Airbus will pursue a certification programme with nickel-cadmium batteries for production aircraft, the first of which are due to be delivered in the second half of 2014.”

Note the key phrases “risk-reduction strategy” and “not affect [EIS] dates” — this is pretty much bottom-line for Airbus at this point in time.

(And to those select individuals who firmly believes they’ve been in the industry long enough to hand down judgement on Airbus’s reluctance of not sharing their expertise, to resolve a situation in a time of crisis, your prematurity has earned you my disrespect.)

Singapore Airlines to revamp cabin products

August 15th, 2012

Kinny Cheng

Singapore Airlines logo

Flightglobal’s Firdaus Hashim:

“The products will first be introduced on the new -300ERs that are due to enter service in the later half of 2013. Subsequently, it will be introduced on its Airbus A350s and Boeing 787s to be delivered.”

All cabins, from first class right down to economy, will see improvements of some degree (compared to the current offerings, found on all B777-300ER and A380 aircraft excluding Suites), as well as a cabin interior makeover and an improved IFE+C (inflight entertainment and connectivity) offering.

It makes perfect sense for Singapore Airlines to announce these forthcoming changes now, and progressively introduce them when deliveries of the new aircraft models are just beyond the horizon.

And why no A380 retrofit? Most probably because the fleet is still quite new (their 18th aircraft was recently delivered, with one outstanding to come very shortly) — but, eventually, a progressive retrofit is very much a possibility (with the only question remaining being “when?”)

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