Rolls-Royce sees growing demand for large aircraft

According to FinancialTimesa potential sign of an industry resurgence in the wake of the pandemic.

During a recent media tour of Rolls-Royce’s engine manufacturing plant in Derby, England, Chris Cholerton, president of Rolls-Royce’s civil aerospace division, told the FT that the signals show “much more interest around the potential jumbo jet [sales] the campaigns are now starting again.

As passenger airlines grapple with limited seat capacity amid the strong rebound in air travel this summer, Cholerton said Rolls-Royce now expects a full recovery in the widebody market from by 2024, the FT reported. Some carriers are “looking for deliveries from 2025”.

Rolls-Royce organized the factory tour ahead of the biennial Farnborough International Airshow in the UK, where billions of dollars in new aircraft orders are traditionally announced. Scheduled to start on July 18, the event will be a key indicator of the strength of the airline construction sector two years after the pandemic caused air travel to plummet to record lows.

Demand for new wide-bodied jetliners is showing a strong sign of recovery, with FT reports, as they are widely used on long-haul routes, which have lagged behind sales of smaller narrow-body aircraft.

An increase in widebody sales also bodes well for Rolls-Royce, which makes the turbofan Trent XWB, the sole engine of Airbus’ newest widebody twin, the A350. Airbus expects A350 production to increase from five per month to six per month by next year.

Earlier this year, Boeing revealed another delay to the planned entry into service of its next available widebody jetliner, the 777X, which is now scheduled for delivery in 2025. Cholerton said the delay could help push additional customers to the comparable variant of the Airbus A350-1000.

“What we’re both seeing is this increase in the market for broadband campaigns…some of them are potentially quite large,” Cholerton told the FT.

Airbus introduced a new freighter variant of the A350 last year to meet the needs of the air cargo segment. The A350F is also powered by two Trent XWB engines.

Cholerton’s remarks come after a major restructuring at Rolls-Royce resulted in 9,000 fewer employees out of a total workforce of 52,000, according to the report. The company has invested in more automation at the Derby plant, than the FT the reports will reduce the production time of some turbine blades. Efforts are also directed towards reducing downtime for engine maintenance and reducing the time spent on engine overhauls.

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