Friday, July 21, 2006

Farnborough: Reversal of Fortune?

News from Farnborough.

It's been widely reported that Festung Airbus has announced that Singapore Airlines will be the launch customer for the new! improved! better than ever! A350 now called the A350WXB, and has also signed a letter of intent to purchase nine additional A380 Albatrosses.

The A350WXB is going to be something of a clean sheet of paper design which offers an opportunity to design a credible alternative to the 787 and 777. The only fly in the ointment seems to be that you can't have one until 2012 or thereabouts, which is giving the Prussian Airplane Company one heckuva head start.

As far as the Albatross goes, time will tell whether the modest Singapore Airlines order for nine additional will be enough to signal a reversal of fortune for the entire program and validate the business case for the product. Judging by the fact that the customers are staying away in droves from the competitor's 747-8 as well, one could reasonably conclude that carriers are just not very interested in such things, particularly when there are plenty of good serviceable 747s around that have plenty of service life left in them.

If this is the best they can come up with, they've opened the garbage can lid and sprayed in enough Right Guard to hold down the smell of decomposition for a while.

A lot can happen between now and 2012, both good and bad, although the general trend of human affairs suggests that more bad stuff happens more often than anything else.

Update: It could well be that I may have a small plate of crow to eat here. Time will tell. However, expect a full summary of the Farnborough show, and if Heckle and Jeckle are on my menu I shall be pleased to sit down to dine in public. As my old crew chief once said "Crow doesn't taste too bad with salt and pepper."


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