Airbus Confirms A350 Freighter Challenging Boeing Cargo Dominance

Airbus Announces A350 Freighter, Plans Debut in 2025

Airbus has revealed its plans to design and develop an A350 freighter and mount a challenge to Boeing’s dominance in the cargo market. The news came on Jul 29, 2021 when Airbus presented its half-year results. Likewise, the Toulouse-based manufacturer has already got the green light from the board of directors on the design and development plans. The entry into service is planned for 2025. Furthermore, the a350 freighter, based on the current passenger version of Airbus A350-1000, will have a payload capacity of more than 90 tonnes.

Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury reiterated the need for Airbus to extend its presence in the cargo market. “ I do not like the idea of remaining weak in that segment in the future. I think we have the right product to be able to be more aggressive in that market”, he spoke during Airbus’s first-half result presentation. Likewise, he said that the experience gained during the design and development of the recent Beluga XL, based on an A330-200, will be a great advantage.

Strong First Half Performance

Despite the airlines industry taking a severe hit due to the coronavirus pandemic, Airbus showed strong performance in the first half of 2021. From January to June, it delivered  297 commercial aircraft to customers worldwide and generated about USD 2.6 billion of profit. On the other hand, its arch-rivals Boeing only managed to deliver 156 aircraft.  Similarly, revenues went up by 30% year on year to 29.2 billion US Dollars. The aerospace giant aims to rake up profits of up to 4.75 billion US dollars, with 600 aircraft deliveries, by the end of the year.

Airbus in the Cargo Market

The A350 freighter is a major undertaking by Airbus, which follows upon its successful portfolio of freighters. As of now, Airbus features five freighters, whose basic description is given below.

Airbus A321P2F

Airbus A321P2F is the world’s first single-aisle freighter with Fly-By-Wire technology. With a length of 44.51 m and a wingspan of 35.8m, this aircraft can carry a max payload of 28 tonnes and fly a maximum range of 3800 kilometres. Similarly, its low fuel burn and emissions make it an attractive choice in the cargo market. Over the next 20 years, Airbus hopes to receive a demand of 950 aircraft in the small freighter segment.

Airbus A330-200F

Airbus A330-200F is Airbus’s new-generation freighter that comes from its mid-size A330 family. With less noise and emissions, it is one of the most attractive options for a mid-size cargo. Featuring a length of 58.8m and a wingspan of 60.30m, this aircraft can carry a max payload of about 70 tonnes. Similarly, it can fly a maximum range of up to 7400 kilometres. According to the company website, there are more than 1000 orders for this technologically advanced aircraft, whereas more than 650 are currently in service.

Airbus A330P2F

The Airbus A330P2F (Passenger to Freighter) program offers a conversion opportunity for A330 aircraft that have successfully completed their useful operational service. Both A330-200 and A330-300 models are suitable for this conversion and have distinct features. The A330-300P2F has a longer fuselage and is typically suitable for express carriers and integrators, whereas the A330-200 P2F is suitable for high-density freight and longer ranges. The A330 has been one of Airbus’s most successful models, with over 1300 deliveries and 1600 standing orders.

Airbus BelugaST

Airbus BelugaST is Airbus’s unique way of transporting oversized cargo. It offers one of the most voluminous cargo holds in both civilian or military space. For Airbus, this aircraft is highly important for keeping up with the production and assembly network.  With an overall length of 56.16m and a wingspan of 44.84 m, this aircraft can carry a max payload of about 47 tonnes to a range of about 1650 km.

Airbus BelugaXL

Airbus BelugaXL is the new line of super transporters from Airbus that are set to replace the BelugaSTs. Launched in 2014, this series of aircraft was set to ramp up the production of the A350. The maiden flight came in 2018, which led to its certification in November 2019, and entry into service came in January of 2020.

This gigantic aircraft features an overall length of 63.1 m and a wingspan of 60.3m. With a maximum payload capacity of 51 tonnes, this aircraft can fly to a maximum range of about 4000 kilometres. Compared to the BelugaST, this aircraft can provide 30% extra transport capacity.

Challenging Boeing’s Dominance

Boeing in the Driver’s Seat

As of now, Boeing maintains strong control in the cargo market. More than 760 freighter aircraft have already been ordered, and 732 have been delivered. Boeing 747, the queen of the skies, is also the queen of the cargo market. Since its debut in 1966, there have been 390 deliveries, and 138 orders have come for the new 747-8 variant. However, Boeing looks to push the 777 as the star of its freighter line after the 747-8 program comes to a close next year. Boeing 777-200 LRF has already generated more than 250 orders since its launch in 2005 whereas there have been 233 orders for the Boeing 767F since 1993. However, things could change for these two aircraft as new regulations are set to come into play in this decade.

Airbus Failed to Take Off

The A350 freighter comes as a relief for Airbus’s freighter program which has not really taken off for the last few years. Barring its passenger to freighter (P2F) conversion program, it has not sold a newly built cargo aircraft for the last six years. The A330-200F cannot compete with the 777 in terms of size. Similarly, the A380, which was planned for cargo purposes, never really took off and the family is finally retiring.

ICAO Standards Means Advantage Airbus

ICAO is set to enforce CO2 standards for aircraft emissions which will take effect starting from 2027. Boeing’s top players 767-300 ERF and 777-200 LRF do not meet the ICAO standards. The 737 MAX disaster means Boeing will be careful with tweaking its existing designs. On the other hand, the A350 freighter seems to tick all the boxes putting Airbus at a major advantage. With its new lightweight design, the aerospace giant boasts a 25% decrease in operating costs, fuel burn, and CO2 emissions.

Know What’s Happening in the  Business World with Top World Business

In this blog, we came across the news of Airbus announcing its new A350 freighter which is set to enter into service in 2025. Similarly, we also took a look at Airbus’s 1st half performance for 2021. Likewise, we learned about some of the distinct features of aircraft inside Airbus’s freighter portfolio. Furthermore, we understood the state of Boeing’s dominance in the market and why Airbus could not make a strong presence. Finally, we saw how things could change as new emissions regulations come into play after the mid of this decade.

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