Airbus announces short range A330neo and “A321XLR imminent”


When Airbus fail to rise to a challenge – as they are with the incoming Boeing 797X, it disappointments me greatly.

The A330neo is a rather mediocre response to the 787, a shorter ranged version of the A330neo with the option of the A321XLR – a sort of super 757-200 type answer. It’s not a new and exciting development, certainly not enough to dim the prospects of what airlines seem to really want – a cross between the 757 and the A300 in a single aircraft, but with all the technological and engineering benefits that will give it super-economy and a lifespan of up to 40 years.

What’s wrong with Airbus that they would let this blatant opportunity pass by? They don’t have a single new aircraft type – that is a ground up design – on the public drawing board at all, at present.

The answer with the A330neo is cut the maximum take-off weight, which stands at 242 metric tons, to 200 tons, while its Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc engines could be re-rated to 68,000 pounds of thrust from 72,000 pounds. This it seems is enough to represent a genuine challnege in Airbus’ view?

One can only hope that this soon changes, as there is one area they desperately need to find a solution to before Boeing does – a fully fledged single aisle replacement for the A320 series to get airborne by 2028-30 at the latest, ideally much earlier!

The A380 is dead, we all know it. The possibility for the often taklked about but so far ignored A350-1200 of whatever it might be called, to challenge the 777-9 seems like a stillborn option.

The A330neo will plod along, but really needs replacing. The nearly 40 year old A320 series, which has changed very little overall, is surely at the end of its life with the concepts of XLR being as far as it ever goes. The A350 is set to develop on an ongoing basis, but even that must be limited in scope beyond various heavy, light or long/short range vaerisons.

It’s time for Airbus to step up to the challenges of the future and not just talk about them.