Airbus has said it is planning to build an all-new narrow-body jet that it says could be launched in the early 2030s. But what type of an aircraft will it be and will the technology the manufacturer is banking on be ready in time?
On November 19, 2019, at the Dubai Airshow, Airbus chief executive Guillaume Faury said he believes that the coming together of cutting-edge production, design and propulsion technologies will give rise to the production of a brand-new single-aisle jet. Faury expressed optimism that change will come in time for the manufacturer to build the next-generation airliner in the middle of the next decade.
“I would consider the launch of a [single-aisle] program in the second half of the next decade and entry into service in the early 2030s,” Faury was quoted as saying by Flight Global. “We are at a point of time where we see a number of major changes impacting aviation, and they will probably impact the single-aisle business first.”
According to the Airbus boss, new advancements in production systems will enable the launch of the new program. Above all, the key for the launch will be the expansion of digital capabilities in aircraft design, manufacturing and services.
Faury stressed, however, that the production of a next-generation narrow-body could only begin with the convergence of the necessary technologies and innovations already on the way. “We are working with many partners to anticipate and prepare the technologies and propulsion systems of the future,” the Airbus boss said, adding that, “It will be worth launching the development of a new single-aisle only when we have a combination of those technologies that make sense.”
Will the next Airbus single-aisle be a hybrid-electric A320?
While Airbus’ intentions seems clear-cut, the details of the potential all-new narrow-body program are vague, especially regarding the type of the aircraft Faury talks about. Earlier this year, in June 2019, the European plane maker revealed it was considering bringing to the market the world’s first hybrid-electric airliner as a possible successor to the A320neo narrow-body, according to a report by Bloomberg. Airbus expressed its confidence that the new propulsion system would be ready for rollout on a brand-new single-aisle jet in mid 2030s.
Latest reporting on Airbus’s all-new single-aisle jet plans echoes the target date, indicating that the manufacturer is looking to develop a 100-seat emissions-free regional aircraft. According to Sandra Bour Shaeffer, the CEO of Airbus’ new-product development arm known as ExO Alpha, the company is working with partners including engine manufacturers and startups to build more fuel-efficient engines, explore hybrids and alternative fuels, and to improve aerodynamics.