The brightly-coloured A321neo exhibited at this week’s Farnborough Airshow serves as a highly visible reminder that Airbus’ A320 Family of single-aisle aircraft meets the operational needs of airlines worldwide, and provides a ready-made solution for the middle-of-the-market jetliner category.

On display at Farnborough is the first A321neo for easyJet, adding this longer-fuselage version to the low-cost European airline’s existing fleet of more than 300 A320 Family aircraft. In easyJet’s configuration, the A321neo seats 235 passengers.

easyJet has a total of 30 A321neo aircraft on order, with the initial six to be delivered by year-end, according to CEO Johan Lundgren.

“The A321neo’s larger size will help us grow, especially at slot-constrained airports, where we can meet the traffic demands,” Lundgren told journalists during a delivery event press conference.

The Airbus middle-of-the-market solution

On the subject of how the air transport sector’s middle-of-the-market requirements can be met by aircraft manufacturers – which once again was a point of discussion and debate during the Farnborough Airshow – Airbus CEO Tom Enders said the answer already exists.

“We have no problem with the middle-of-the-market segment, because we already are there, and we’re strongly positioned,” Enders explained at the press conference. “This is based on our strong portfolio: the A321/A321neo, with its single-aisle capacity of up to 240 seats; as well as the widebody A330/A330neo. While our competitor pushes out a middle-of-the-market aircraft decision, there’s no need for us to respond with a brand-new aircraft development.”

Digital transformation reaches new heights with Skywise

In addition to being one of the largest operators of A320 Family aircraft, easyJet was among the first airlines to join Airbus’ Skywise open data platform, which is a key element in Airbus’ digital transformation strategy. Skywise provides a single access point for the sharing of information, the conducting of data analysis, and the enabling of informed decision-making.

Lundgren said the carrier’s participation as an airline ‘early adopter’ of Skywise underscores easyJet’s firm commitment to harnessing the power of cloud-based big data analytics, with the promise of evolving the air transport sector in the years to come.

“With Skywise, easyJet already has prevented some 100 technical delays during the year-to-date that otherwise would have cost money and caused problems for our customers,” Lundgren said. “This is just one example of what connectivity can do if we work together to drive improvements in this area. I am very pleased with the results so far.”

Suppliers join the Skywise collaboration

In parallel with easyJet’s first A321neo delivery here at Farnborough, Airbus used the biennial air show to announce that Skywise has now been extended to the supply chain – with 10 companies already collaborating as ‘early adopter’ suppliers.

Skywise was formally launched in June 2017 at the Paris Air Show, and the platform’s development since then has been extremely impressive, with an exponential ramp-up in its use, according to Marc Fontaine, Airbus’ Digital Transformation Officer.

“With 22 airlines signed up during the first year, Skywise is managing more than 2,500 aircraft, dealing with 3.5 petabytes of aviation data at this stage,” Fontaine told journalists at Farnborough. “The platform has logged data from some 12 million flights and over 25 million maintenance actions have been recorded from the maintenance systems of participating airlines.”

Three of the ‘early adopter’ suppliers are collaborating with Airbus on strategic use cases in three domains: a supply chain application called ‘Dispatch,’ with Premium Aerotech as lead partner; the ‘Object Explorer’ quality application, for which Thales serves as the key partner; and ‘Spotlight,’ an aircraft operability application involving a partnership between easyJet, Liebherr and Airbus.

Another day at Farnborough…more Airbus jetliner orders

In the latest single-aisle new business announced at the Farnborough Airshow, Mexico’s Viva Aerobus has firmed up an amendment to this ultra-low-cost carrier’s existing purchase agreement for 25 incremental A321neo jetliners and the up-sizing conversions of 16 A320neo aircraft to the A321neo configuration. With this latest order, the all-Airbus operator’s total order book grows to 80 A320 Family aircraft, and airline’s total backlog from 36 to 61 aircraft.

Wrapping up Airbus’ activity today at Farnborough was the signature of an undisclosed customer’s commitment for six A330neo Family aircraft, and Uganda Airlines’ signing of a memorandum of understanding for two A330neo aircraft in the A330-800 configuration.        

Day 3 of the Farnborough Airshow was another busy period for Airbus. See the press releases: