In the first nine months of 2019, Airbus saw incoming orders drop in half, while delivery results have increased. As a consequence, the planemaker has lowered its 2019 commercial aircraft delivery target. The Airbus A321neo ACF configuration remains a struggle. 

On October 30, 2019, Airbus has reported positive company results for the first nine months of 2019. Thanks to higher deliveries and foreign exchange rate development the consolidated revenues increased by 14.36% to stand at €46.2 billion (compared to €40.4 billion at the same time in 2018). The adjusted EBIT and the net income both increased by more than 50% to reach respectively €4.31 billion and €2 billion, the company reported on October 30, 2019.

Airbus indicates it recorded 127 net orders during the period, against 256 last year in corresponding months. The order book stood at 7,133 commercial aircraft as of 30 September 2019. On October 29, 2019, Airbus received a record-breaking order for 300 A320 family aircraft, including the newest member of the family, the A321XLR, from the Indian low-cost carrier, IndiGo.

The biggest airline in India, IndiGo, is set to announce a record-breaking deal for 300 Airbus A320 aircraft. The order would come at an interesting and turbulent time for the carrier.

In 2019 so far, Airbus has delivered 571 commercial aircraft. While it is a sizable increase from the previous year (503 in 1-3Q 2018), Airbus no longer expects to reach its previously outlined yearly delivery target of 880-890 commercial aircraft. Instead, the manufacturer now aims for 860, as it “reflects the updated delivery schedule”.

What is Airbus A321neo ACF and why is Airbus struggling with it?

While in the first nine months of the year the production of the Airbus A321neo ACF (Airbus Cabin Flex) configuration ramped up, the program remains “challenging”. 

One of the reasons why Airbus is struggling with the ACF configuration, as the company’s CEO Guillaume Faury has told investors, is the various differences that the version has in comparison to previous A321 models. Among them, the ACF has a new rear section and a modified passenger door configuration, where the door located forward of the wing is removed and new overwing emergency exits in the center section are introduced. 

“The ACF turns out to be harder to what we probably anticipated,” the company’s CEO Guillaume Faury has told investors. One of the reasons for that is the complexity of ACF, as it has new cabin and new rare section in comparison to previous A321 models. The changes vary from modifications to airframe, to fuel systems, to wires rerouted. 

In addition, Airbus has “a lot of industrialization to be done” on the ACF, Faury also said, explaining that simultaneously to improving the underlying aircraft structure, the company is also improving performance of its production system as it is gearing up to ramp up the production to a rate of 63 planes per month. 

Airbus presented the A321neo ACF in early 2018 as an option, with hopes to make it standard for all A321neos around 2020. Now, however, the deadline appears to be moved by a year, as Faury told investors that all A321s would be ACFs by the end of 2021.