Airbus tests new pilot assistance technologies – 01/12/2023 at 16:54

(AOF) – Airbus UpNext, a 100% subsidiary of Airbus, has begun testing new pilot assistance technologies, on the ground and in flight, on an A350-1000 test aircraft. Known as DragonFly, the technologies on display include automated emergency diversion in cruise, automatic landing and taxi assistance. They aim to assess the feasibility and relevance of further exploration of autonomous flight systems for safer and more efficient operations.

Airbus UpNext also explores taxi assistance features, which were tested in real conditions at Toulouse-Blagnac airport. The technology provides the crew with audio alerts in reaction to obstacles, assisted speed control and runway guidance using a focused map of the airport.

In addition to these features, Airbus UpNext is launching a project to prepare the next generation of computer vision-based algorithms to advance landing and taxi assistance.

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Main points

– The aircraft manufacturer is co-world leader with Boeing, born in 1949 under the name Aérospatiale, diversified into satellites;

– Turnover of €52.1 billion, obtained from civil aircraft at 67%, defense and space activities at 21% and helicopters at 12%;

– Order book of €373 billion, 29% from Asia-Pacific, 30% from Europe, 21% from North America, 9% from the Middle East and 5% from Latin America;

– Business model of offering safe and environmentally friendly aeronautical and space solutions, with a strong commitment to society and public services;

– Open capital with a strong position of French, German (11% each) and Spanish (4%) States, the 9-member Board of Directors is headed by René Obermann, Guillaume Faury is Managing Director;

– Financial situation supported by public finances with, at the end of September, €8 billion in net cash and free cash flow of €3.5 billion.

Challenges

– “Next chapter” initiative based on 3 pillars -simplification, strengthening and growth- and aims to create a more profitable, more stable and leading company in the decarbonization of the industry;

– Innovation strategy integrated into the business model and supported by €2.9 billion in R&D:

– “Fast-Track” roadmap prioritizing electrification, industrial systems, connectivity, autonomy, hardware and artificial intelligence,

– “CRT” organization dedicated to disruptive technologies, related to external partnerships,

– structuring: E-Fan Family, ATTOL Fello’Fly, ACIC, TELEO, .ACUBED, BIZ Lab…;

– Environmental strategy with the ambition to be No. 1 in carbon-free aviation:

– design of a “ZEROe” aircraft with hybrid-hydrogen fuel,

– inclusion in the reporting of emissions emitted by customers,

– launch of 2 hydrogen engine development centers in France and Germany,

– proliferation of initiatives -High5+ reduction of emissions and waste during the production process, Sentinel 5P of air data, Air Race E…

– inclusion of ESG criteria in certain credit facilities;

– Continuation of acquisition and acceleration of production rate;

– Visibility of activity with a strong recovery in order intake at the end of September: 647 civil aircraft, 246 helicopters;

– Positive impact of the rise of the dollar, the currency of sales for 80% of revenues;

Challenges

– Russia-Ukraine war: medium-term search for new sources of titanium supply and freezing of orders for large Aeroflot air carriers;

– Supply disruptions: reduction in the number of monthly deliveries of A 320s;

– Still uncertainty about the future of the SCAF program – future air combat;

– Postponement of entry into service of the A321XLR initially scheduled for early 2024;

– Evolution of legal cases, in German OHB and in Qatar Airways;

– After a 3.3% increase in operating profit at the end of September, 2022 the goals were raised: delivery of 700 civil aircraft, increase in operating profit to €5.5 billion and free cash flow to €4.5 billion.

The end of a duopoly?

For several decades, the American Boeing and the European Airbus shared 99% of the world market for airliners with more than 110 seats. This market weighs more than 100 billion dollars per year. However, this duopoly seems to have weakened in 2022 due to several reasons. First, for the first time, two medium-haul single-aisle aircraft, the Chinese Comac’s C919 and the Russian Irkut’s MC-21, will enter service. Added to this is the Boeing 737 MAX crisis. With the cessation of deliveries of these aircraft between 2019 and 2021, the balance of production is broken. In 2021, Boeing posted 340 deliveries, with Airbus remaining in the lead at 611.

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