A3XX – a double decker deal

Airbus Industrie has received approval from its shareholders to begin making firm commercial offers to potential launch customers for the all new very large 555-seat double-deck jetliner, the A3XX.

This “Authorisation to Offer” (ATO) follows an extensive review of the market which, in the past few months, has clearly indicated its demand, while continued analysis by the Airbus Industrie partners has reconfirmed the business case and financial viability of the programme, which will generate additional value for its shareholders.

To date, eight companies have expressed their interest to Airbus Industrie in acquiring the A3XX. They include Air France, Emirates, ILFC, Singapore Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, and three other companies which are undisclosed.

Commenting on the decision, Airbus Industrie Chief Executive Officer, Noel Forgeard said his team would now be able to firm up commitments for the new very large aircraft. “The market has signalled loud and clear that it wants the A3XX, and this has been recognised by our shareholders who all fully endorse the programme. We shall now proceed to firm up the announced expressions of interest, and we have every confidence that the industrial launch will be achieved at the turn of the year,” he said.

The A3XX will be the very first real double-decker ever developed, bringing a totally new way to fly to the travelling public. As such, it will offer all the advantages of a completely new design, responding to every foreseeable requirement of the 21st century, be it in terms of passenger comfort, operational efficiency and airworthiness requirements, while retaining commonality with the existing Airbus aircraft family. It will also provide 15 to 20 per cent lower operating costs than the existing large aircraft conceived over 30 years ago, while offering 10 to 15 per cent more range. The current timetable plans for a first flight in 2004 with an entry into service in the last quarter of 2005.

Physical assembly of the A3XX will take place at Aerospatiale-Matra’s facility in Toulouse, while interior furnishing and customisation will be the responsibility of DASA-Airbus in Hamburg. In addition to the final assembly work and customisation, both companies will produce A3XX fuselage sections, as for the other Airbus airliner programmes.

BAE Systems will continue to produce the wings, while CASA of Spain will provide the horizontal stabiliser and other parts. In the framework of the restructuring, these facilities will become part of the Airbus Integrated Company. Moreover, to date some ten additional manufacturers have already signed up to participate in the development and production of the A3XX.

For the next 20 years, Airbus Industrie foresees a demand for more than 1,200 passenger aircraft in the more than 400-seat category. These 1,200 are valued at some US $ 263 billion which represents some 22 percent of the overall business volume resulting from forecast deliveries. In addition Airbus Industrie predicts a demand for some 300 freighters in the categories above 80 tonnes.