Another strong showing for Airbus at this biennial Asia-Pacific event
From the digitalisation of maintenance operations to aerial data collection by drones, Airbus’ growing portfolio of services took centre stage at this week’s Singapore Airshow – with a particular focus on the Asia-Pacific marketplace.
Announcements during the six-day biennial aerospace industry event – Asia’s largest – included the sign-up of additional airline customers for Airbus’ predictive maintenance and flight hour services, the launch of Asia-Pacific operations for the company’s commercial drone services, and a new partnership to support military and police helicopters in Thailand.
Skywise: unlocking the power of data
Airbus’ Skywise open-aviation data platform increased its user base with the Singapore Airshow announcement that AirAsia, Asiana Airlines and Etihad Airways will become the first airlines to use full aircraft data and advanced predictive analytics – with each signing a premium subscription contract covering Skywise Predictive Maintenance.
A Skywise-equipped aircraft captures vast amounts of performance data, and this quantity of information can be used by airlines to anticipate their maintenance needs with high levels of accuracy, and well in advance, thus maximising the operational reliability and utilization of their jetliners.
In addition to the premium predictive services, AirAsia, Asiana Airlines and Etihad Airways will gain access to the Skywise Core cloud-based platform. For airlines who have not yet selected premium predictive services, Airbus offers Skywise Core under a “shared value” arrangement, enabling airlines that agree to share operating data from their Airbus fleet to access the platform at no cost. Recently-signed Airbus agreements for airlines to join Skywise Core include Bangkok Airways, LATAM and WOW air.
Unmanned aerial vehicles take flight
Airbus’ expanded focus on unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) was underscored at the Singapore Airshow, where the company officially launched its Asia-Pacific operations for Airbus Aerial commercial drone services. Singapore will serve as the region’s base of Airbus Aerial services, joining existing hubs in Munich, Germany, and at Atlanta in the United States.
Airbus Aerial is expanding from its initial focus on developing new imagery services, thereby leveraging the latest software and aerospace technologies to offer data and analysis from information provided by drones, satellites, high altitude aircraft and other sources.
Airbus’ UAV focus also is on the emerging business of package delivery, with the company’s Skyways UAV successfully completing its first flight demonstration at the National University of Singapore during the same week as the Singapore Airshow. During the demonstration, the drone lifted off from its dedicated maintenance centre and flew to the roof of a specially designed parcel station, where a parcel was automatically loaded via a robotic arm. The drone took off again and landed, showing its automatic unloading capability.
The Skyways drone concept, which also was displayed on Airbus’ exhibit stand at the Singapore Airshow, is designed for flight along aerial corridors to avoid collisions, while the central ground operations centre continuously monitors flight operations and unmanned air traffic. Airbus has arranged a trial project with Singapore’s postal service – SingPost – as its logistics partner to deliver parcels along designated stations at National University of Singapore.
Airbus flight hour services’ popularity grows in Asia-Pacific
The Singapore Airshow also highlighted the increased popularity of Airbus’ flight hour services in the Asia-Pacific region. It was announced that Hong Kong Airlines has selected Airbus’ FHS-TSP (Flight Hour Services – Tailored Support Package) for the carrier’s fleet of 21 Airbus-built A350 XWB widebody aircraft. The FHS-TSP contract provides integrated and guaranteed services ranging from the supply and repair of components to the manufacturer’s unique Fleet Technical Management service. An onsite Airbus team will manage daily maintenance activities, including spares, warehousing, and engineering.
With FHS, airlines benefit from coordinated Airbus solutions, allowing them to focus on their core business: airline operations and passenger satisfaction. With this latest deal, the number of aircraft covered by an Airbus FHS-TSP solution in the Asia-Pacific region rises to more than 300 from 13 customers.
Helicopter services and jetliner conversions
For the rotorcraft business sector, Airbus and Thai Aviation Industries (TAI) announced an agreement at the Singapore Airshow to support all Airbus-built military and law enforcement helicopters in Thailand for two years. Under this arrangement, the Thai-owned maintenance and logistics support company will become the main service provider in the country for Airbus helicopters operated by the Royal Thai Armed Forces and Royal Thai Police. Additionally, Airbus’ signature HCare suite of after-sales services, spare parts, tools and training will now be easily available to the local military and law enforcement operators through TAI.
The Royal Thai Armed Forces and Royal Thai Police currently operate a fleet of some 40 helicopters, which includes the Airbus-built light single engine H125M, the twin-engine H145, H145M and UH-72; the medium twin-engine AS365, H155 and H175; and heavy tactical H225M. These helicopters are utilised for various missions within the Royal Thai Air Force, Army, Navy, Police and the Survey Department.
In the domain of jetliner conversion services, the Elbe Flugzeugwerke (EFW) joint venture of Airbus and ST Aerospace made a Singapore Airshow announcement that it secured a launch contract for its A321 passenger-to-freighter (P2F) conversion solution. Based on this agreement with Vallair Solutions Sàrl (Vallair), the German-based EFW will convert 10 A321-200 passenger jetliners to a cargo configuration with 14 pallets. The first aircraft will begin its conversion process during the final quarter of 2018 and is scheduled for delivery by the end of 2019.
Singapore Airshow appearances for the A350-1000 and A400M
On the Singapore Airshow’s static display line, Airbus’ all-new A350-1000 jetliner made an extended stopover amid a 12-city tour throughout the Middle East and Asia-Pacific region. Certified in November 2017 by both the European and American airworthiness authorities (EASA and FAA), the A350-1000 will enter service in the coming weeks with launch operator Qatar Airways.
Also on display at the Singapore Airshow was an Airbus A400M Atlas military airlifter operated by the Royal Malaysian Air Force. This particular aircraft is one of the hardest working A400Ms in service, and among the three with the most logged flights to date – all of which are flown by the Malaysian military.