Unchallenged A321neo Receives Type Certification
The PW1100G-powered A321neo has now been certified by European and US airworthiness authorities, with Boeing still to reveal a competing product.
The A321neo has now racked up 1,376 orders, about five times as many as its nearest rival, the 737 MAX 9, and certification for the CFM LEAP-powered variant of Airbus’ largest narrowbody is expected in the coming months.
“This aircraft contributes already some 40 per cent to our single aisle deliveries, and further growing,” said Fabrice Brégier, Airbus president and CEO.
With the MAX 9 conceding about 400nm of range and five seats to the A321neo, Boeing is widely expected to launch an upgraded or replacement version of the 757 to claw back some market share.
Despite acknowledging airline demand for a “middle-of-the-market” aircraft, it now seems probable that Boeing will wait until next year to detail its plans, so service-entry of a new aircraft could drift into the mid-2020s, especially if Boeing chooses a clean sheet design.
Meanwhile, the A321neo backlog will grow. The aircraft has accumulated 350 flight hours across 130 flights during its certification programme for EASA and the FAA, and Airbus says it is meeting its targets for fuel burn and range.
First delivery of the MAX, to an unnamed customer, has been put forward from 3Q 2017 to the first half of next year. By 2018 Boeing plans to roll off 52 737NGs and 737 MAXs per month from its Renton, Washington plants, though the exact mix hasn’t been specified.
As several other products move from development to production, Boeing will free up resources to pump into a potential stretch of the 737 MAX, the MAX 10, which could serve as a stopgap until a new middle-of-the-market aircraft appears.
In the meantime, the venerable 757 will retain an important role in the global fleet, which should be good news for some maintenance providers.