October 31, 2012
The official Airbus Corporate Jets (ACJ) orderbook for this year lists three new sales, but those figures only run through the end of September. Airbus has declared two new ACJ318 and one A330ACJ orders, compared to one Boeing BBJ so far this year, and Airbus says their number is certain to increase. They state that further unnannounced sales have already been agreed upon, but will give no more details.
The A330 in particular continues to attract strong interest. At this year’s Farnborough Air Show, Airbus announced an increased maximum take-off weight (MTOW) variant, capable of operating at 240 tons (compared to 235 tons previously). This version is already attracting solid airline orders and Airbus Corporate Jets has further improved the aircraft for its customers.
ShowNews understands that Airbus is now offering a 242-ton MTOW ACJ330 variant that can carry additional fuel. A new centerbody fuel tank has been made available in a previously ‘dry’ belly compartment. This allows the increased MTOW ACJ330 to operate not simply with more payload but with more fuel – a key consideration for customers who demand more range. The additional fuel gives the ACJ330 an equivalent range to that of an early-model Boeing 787 in an aircraft that the company says is much easier to outfit than the (composite fuselage) of the 787. Airbus notes that it has sold more A330s since the 787 was launched than beforehand and is always quick to point out that the A340/A330 family is the world’s best selling wide-body airliner.
Airbus Corporate Jets will soon have some additional A340-500s to put into the VIP market. Singapore Airlines has ordered a tranche of new A350s and A380s from Airbus, but part of that deal sees the return of Singapore’s five A340-500s to the manufacturer. François Chazelle, Airbus Corporate Jets vice president for worldwide sales, says, “those are pretty interesting aircraft for us and we are looking at them quite closely. If and when they come back to Airbus – and it’s more a matter of when – there is plenty of life left in those airframes and the four-engined configuration is still highly-prized in the VIP market.”
Production of the A340 ceased at Airbus in 2011. At the time, there was a handful of unsold aircraft, some of which later went to VIP operators. Airbus notes that all of those aircraft have been placed and it currently has none available.