• Friday, June 14, 2024
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How Airbus gives modern aircraft lift off in Nigeria, Africa

How Airbus is driving aircraft modernisation in Nigeria, Africa

Globally expanding Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) budget for airlines, geo-political tensions, and enhancement of old and aging aircraft are the key factors that drive the aircraft modernisation market.

However, high initial cost and complicated supply chain of modern technology restrains the market growth opportunity of the aviation industry.

Moreover, aircraft modernisation market benefits from the rising adaptation of communication, Navigation and Surveillance (CNS) systems and Synthetic Vision Avionics Backbone (SVAB) systems in the aircraft.

In a bid to mitigate the effect of high cost challenge on acquisition of aircraft, Airbus has introduced various financing models to drive aircraft modernisation.

Financing model

Prajyoth Krishna Mirajkar, Airbus Africa and Middle East Marketing Manager who spoke during the Airbus Media Event on the sideline of the seventh Africa Aviation Summit that held in Abuja recently explained that aviation attracts diversified sources of financing which include stable and long-term cashflow, mobile assets, with global demand base, regulatory protection for value retention and high market resilience & recoveries.

Mirajkar explained that for Pre-Delivery Payments (PDP), Airbus provides a loan of a portion of the PDPs, repayment at delivery of the aircraft while delivery financing involves finance lease/asset-back loan and sale and lease-back.

He said Airbus has a dedicated team that supports customers to secure the most suitable financing for the acquisition of brand new aircraft.

“We successfully supported the financing of numerous deliveries to the African continent.,”

Airbus modern aircrafts


The A220 Family, comprising the A220-100 and the A220-300, is the most efficient small single-aisle aircraft. The A220 is a clean sheet design and the only aircraft purpose-built for the 100 to 150 seat market segment -offering up to 1,100nm more range.

Bringing together state-of-the-art aerodynamics, advanced materials and latest-generation technologies and engines, the A220 is perfectly sized for this market and with a range of up to 3,450nm (6,390km).

The A220 offers superior single-aisle comfort: widest seats, largest windows and 20 percent more overhead stowage space per passenger – providing flexibility for operators to right-size their operations.

The A220 Family is the ideal complement to the A320 Family and the latest addition to Airbus leading Single-Aisle Family.

For the A220, airlines have made orders and Airbus has delivered several of them to various countries. There has been 806 historical orders from around 30 customers, 283 aircraft delivered to 18 operators (SWISS, airBaltic, Korean Air, Delta Air Lines, Air Tanzania, EgyptAir, Air Canada, JetBlue, Air Manas, Ibom Air, Air Austral, Air France, Iraqi Airways, Breeze Airways, Air Senegal, ITA Airways, Bulgaria Air and Cyprus Airways).

Airbus has 523 in backlog at the end of August 2023, 53 deliveries in 2022; and 37 deliveries so far in 2023.

The A220 is purpose-built for efficiency. Based on a clean-sheet design, the A220 incorporates advanced materials for a lighter and more cost-efficient aircraft.

The A220 features a low drag nose and tailcone design, the smallest fuselage wetted area and optimised wing aerodynamics. The A220 is powered by two Pratt & Whitney PW1500 GTFTM latest generation engines (geared turbofans), belonging to the same engine family as the Pratt &Whitney PurePower, altogether, this translates into unbeatable fuel efficiency: 25 percent less fuel burn per seat vs. previous generation a/c, and 25 percent cost advantage per seat vs. previous generation a/c

As a result of its optimised maintenance programme, advanced systems integration and high-technology engine design, the A220 has longer maintenance intervals: 850 hours for “A” checks and 8,500 hours for “C” checks.

The A330 family

The A330neo, which leverages the new generation technology of the A350, offers profitability and an enhanced passenger experience in the quietest cabin in its category. With 1,809 orders (including 323 A330neo variants) and 1,577 deliveries (including 107 A330neo). The A330 Family has the largest widebody operator base and a backlog of 232 A330 (17 A330 and 215 A330neo) aircraft.

The aircraft has a highly reliable and versatile reputation, serving all mission types in all markets for civil, freight, military, and corporate use.

The A330 has several variants, including the A330-200, which has a range of up to 7,250 nautical miles and seating for 210 to 250 passengers, and the A330-300, with a range of up to 6,350 nautical miles and seating for 250 to 290 passengers. Both aircraft are efficient and offer significant operating costs reduction for airlines. The A330-200F and A330-300 P2F are mid-size freighters capable of carrying up to 70 tons of payload.

The aircraft has several variants, including the A330-200, which has a range of up to 7,250 nautical miles and seating for 210 to 250 passengers, and the A330-300, with a range of up to 6,350 nautical miles and seating for 250 to 290 passengers.

Both aircraft are highly efficient and offer significant operating costs reduction for airlines. The A330-200F and A330-300 P2F are mid-size freighters capable of carrying up to 70 tons of payload.

The A330neo is built on A330 proven values and is the newest aircraft offering unbeatable profitability.

With two sizes (A330-800 and A330-900), the A330neo leverages A350 technologies and has new generation engine RR Trent 7000, which reduces fuel burn by 25 percent per seat than previous generation competitors. Offering the Airspace cabin, the A330neo provides passengers with maximum well-being and is 3db quieter than competitors.

It is a true new generation aircraft with new features such as the Rolls-Royce Trent 7000 engine, extended wingspan to 64m, full composite winglet. Its latest technology A350 cockpit functionalities on board include, WI-FI Tablet EFB, Dual head-up display, Runway Overrun Prevention, and the Airspace cabin.

The A330neo benefits from Airbus commonality concept, providing significant operating costs reductions for airlines and seamless integration into existing Airbus fleets.

The A330-800 is the newest, most efficient longest range entry-level widebody and is based on the A330-200, having the largest operator base of any widebody aircraft. Meanwhile, the A330-900 is the newest, lowest seat mile cost mid-size widebody and is part of the most operated widebody family ever, consolidating A330 family position in the 300-seater category. The A330neo provides a number of advantages over the B787, including more seats and flexibility in Y/C seating arrangements, lower fuel burn per seat, and quieter cabins.

Finally, the A330neo is a private jet version of the new A330neo, capable of flying 25 passengers 10,400 nautical miles or 21 hours, enough to fly nonstop from Europe to Australia. With a capacity of 200 to 460 seats, the A330 family is a versatile and efficient widebody aircraft with a proven track record of success.

The A350 family

The A350 Family is the world’s most modern and efficient wide-body family, offering operational flexibility and efficiency for all market segments from ultra-long haul to short-haul distance up to 9,700 m.

As the only all-new design aircraft in the 300-410 seater category, the A350 offers unmatched standards of efficiency and comfort through its state-of-the-art technologies and aerodynamics. The “Airspace” cabin of the A350 is the quietest of any twin-aisle, providing passengers and crews with the most modern in-flight products for the most comfortable flying experience.

The A350 Family has received 1,036 orders (997 pax and 39 freighter) from 56 customers, with 552 A350s delivered to 40 operators (including 78 A350-1000) and a backlog of 484 (445 pax and 39 freighter). The A350 has been in service for 4.2 years, with 1,175,000+ revenue flights serving over 305 million passengers. It has an operational reliability of 99.4%, making it the most efficient and reliable aircraft family in the market.

The A350 is the world’s most modern and efficient aircraft family, providing a 25% advantage in fuel burn, operating costs, and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions compared to previous-generation competitor aircraft. It features state-of-the-art aerodynamics, including wing morphing technology that continuously optimizes the wing profile, reducing drag and lowering fuel burn. Powered by new Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines, the A350 delivers the world’s most efficient large aero engine with over 70% of the airframe made from advanced materials, including composites, titanium, and modern aluminium alloys.

The A350 Family offers eco-efficient and sustainable design, reducing the environmental impact from gate to gate through its quietest in class with 50% noise footprint reduction, 25% less CO2 emissions per seat, and 31% NOx (Nitrogen (di)Oxide) emissions. The A350-900 offers 300-350 seats in a typical 3-class configuration, while the A350-1000 offers 350-410 seats with the same comfort and 40% more premium area. The A350 features a 221-inch wide cabin, 6″ wider than 787, offering passengers absolute comfort and flexibility for airlines in accommodating all types of configurations.

A320 family

The A320 Family is the world’s most popular single-aisle aircraft family with one aircraft in three sizes (A319, A320 & A321) that offers the widest single-aisle cabin from 120 to 244 seats. It allows operators to match the right aircraft size to demand, covering the entire market from low-to-high density routes to longer-range thin routes. The A320 Family provides a unique flexibility to operators who can choose among bulk or container capability, as it only does offer containerized cargo as an option, increasing the airlines’ operational efficiency.

Since the creation of Airbus, there have been 17,824 A320 Family orders from 300+ customers, with 11,039 deliveries, and 6,785 in backlog. The A320 Family has 307+ million flight hours/167+ million flight cycles since Entry Into Service, with a 99.7% operational reliability in the last 12 months. The production is progressing well towards the announced rate of 75 aircraft per month in 2026, with the entire global industrial value-chain benefitting from the production increase.

The A320neo Family is one that also offers unbeatable efficiency, with 20 million tons of CO2 savings since the A320neo Family entry into service in 2016, incorporating Sharklets, new fuel-efficient engines, and latest cabin innovations. It offers a 20% lower fuel burn and CO2 emissions, a 50% noise footprint reduction, 5% lower airframe maintenance cost, and a 14% lower cash operating costs per seat. The highly sort after aircraft share the same fly-by-wire digital flight controls and cabin management systems, offering reduced pilot training and scheduling costs and lower operations and maintenance costs.

It also has two new engine options from Pratt & Whitney and CFM International, with Skywise being a key pillar for continuous improvements relating to the capability to extract data from the aircraft and making it valuable for operators, with the compatibility of Skywise with the A320 Family aircraft, particularly for the operations and maintenance of their fleets.

The A320 Family has four final assembly lines located in Toulouse, France, Hamburg, Germany, Tianjin, China, and Mobile, USA, with the production increase benefiting the entire global industrial value-chain by increasing capacity at existing industrial sites and investing to ensure that all A320 Family commercial aircraft assembly sites are A321-capable.

Opportunities and expansion

Prior to the 7th Aviation Africa Summit and Exhibition opening at the Abuja International Convention Centre, Airbus unveiled its market forecast for Nigeria.

According to the 2023 Airbus Global Market Forecast (GMF), airlines serving Nigeria will need nearly 160 passenger and freight aircraft by 2042,” including 131 single-aisle aircraft such as the A220, A320 families, and 28 widebody aircraft such as the A330 and A350 families. This reflects the significant potential for aviation to drive economic development in Africa’s most populous country, with the industry serving as the connective tissue that links together its diverse regions and fuels economic progress.

Airbus also predicts that the aviation sector growth on the continent will drive average yearly services demand up by 4.1 percent, reaching US$7 billion by 2042.

“This will drive the expansion of MRO services at the local and regional level, creating further opportunities for job creation and skills development in Nigeria and the continent more broadly,” Airbus said.

The aircraft manufacturing company further states that Aviation plays a pivotal role in driving economic development across the African continent; creating jobs, facilitating domestic, intra-African and global trade and regional integration. Its significance is particularly profound in the case of Nigeria.

“The aerospace industry in Africa already supports an estimated 7.7 million direct and indirect jobs, with Airbus predicting that 17,000 technicians, 14,000 pilots, and 23,000 cabin crew roles will need to be filled on the continent in the coming two decades,” Airbus said in a statement.

Regional cooperation and cross-country licensing will be important in retaining talent, while government and private sector partnerships and training academies will be essential in creating a pipeline of talent for a robust and sustainable aerospace industry in Africa.

In the wider African continent, Airbus predicts that 1180 new aircraft will be necessary by 2042, made up of 295 widebody and 885 single-aisle aircraft.

Furthermore, significant efficiency improvements and a corresponding reduction in carbon emissions per passenger will be seen with the transition to new-generation types such as the A220, A320neo family, A330neo, and A350.

Over the past decade, significant improvements to the industry have been made across the continent, including the creation of the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) and modernisation of fleets by national airlines. Currently, there are 265 Airbus commercial jetliners flying with 36 operators in Africa. Ethiopian Airlines, Ibom Air, Air Senegal, South African Airways, Air Côte d’Ivoire, EgyptAir, Uganda Airlines, and Air Tanzania have already chosen to operate some of the most technologically advanced aircraft such as the A350, A330neo, A320neo and A220.

“As the aerospace industry in Nigeria and Africa grows, it will create thousands of new opportunities for young people on the continent, driving economic development, creating jobs, and facilitating trade and regional integration,” Airbus concluded.

Read also: FAAN opens part of old Lagos airport terminal to ease passenger facilitation

Support for Ibom Air

Also at the summit, Ibom Air, a state government-owned airline in Akwa Ibom State, announced its vision to be a world-class, African regional airline.

The airline, which is part of the state government’s economic strategy to diversify the economy and move it from government dependence to private sector-led, aims to open up the state to business and leisure visitors, create economic opportunities, and promote industrialization and tourism.

George Uriesi, COO of Ibom Air, described Ibom Air as “a major plank of the Akwa Ibom State Government.”

The airline has achieved major milestones, including reaching the 2.5 million passenger milestone on July 12, 2023.

Uriesi explained that the initial choice of next-gen Bombardier CRJ 900s was based on its low usage, high reliability, and reduced maintenance costs for the first few years. After seven thousand flights in both 2019 and 2020, the airline began experiencing severe capacity constraints, leading it to approach aircraft manufacturers and eventually settling for the Airbus A220.

Uriesi stated that the difficulties in securing financing for the aircraft acquisition were mitigated by excellent results, which were validated by four straight external audits conducted by PWC. The Airbus A220 wet lease, which began operating in 2021, was well-received and achieved great success for the airline in the Nigerian market, leading to an order of 10 new A220-300s from Airbus, with deliveries starting in November 2023.

Additionally, the airline’s MRO facility, which is one of only four on the continent, is being supported by Airbus Consulting to develop a business plan to build a regional center of maintenance excellence.

Ibom Air aims to offer commercial maintenance and become fully self-sufficient in its in-house maintenance in six to eight years.