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Sunday, 23 July, 2000, 14:51 GMT 15:51 UK
Airbus set for Farnborough triumph
Airbus, Europe's commercial aviation company, looks set to announce its first firm orders for its A3xx jumbo jet project and for a military transport aircraft at the Farnborough Air Show which begins on Monday.

The deals will secure thousands of jobs across Europe, including those at BAE Systems, the UK company that owns 20% of Airbus.

Press reports suggest that Airbus will announce the launch of its first military transport aircraft, the A400M, with 220 orders across Europe worth some 17bn ($25bn).



It is also expected that the first orders for the giant Super Jumbo jet, which can carry 550 passengers, will be announced by Emirates Airlines and Singapore Airlines.

Emirates, based in Dubai, is believed to want 5 of the new planes, with 5 on option, while Singapore might order 16, including 6 options, worth around 2.4bn.

Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines will power the planes, in an order worth another 1bn.

Controversial plane

The Airbus Super Jumbo project has been controversial, with its launch postponed several times.

Super Jumbo Facts
Wingspan: 80m
Length: 67.4-78.9m
Passengers: 480-656
Minimum range (A3XX-100): 7,650 nautical miles (14,150 km)
Top range (A3XX-100R): 8,750 nm (16,200 km)
Engines: four Rolls-Royce or Pratt-Whitney-General Electric jet engines
On-board services: shops, sleeping areas, creche and exercise room over two decks
Rival Boeing claims that there is not a big enough market for the A3xx project, and estimates future demand at 400-500 aircraft, compared to Airbus's estimate of a market of 1,500.

But Airbus says it already has expressions of interest from Air France, Cathy Pacific, Virgin Atlantic, and the International Leasing Corporation, giving it more than the 50 firm orders it wants before launching the project.

Boeing, and the US government, are also concerned about the extent of government subsidy that will required to develop the Super Jumbo. One third of the development costs of 8bn ($12bn) are expected to provided by commercial loans from European countries, with Britain pledged to contribute 500m.

The Super Jumbo, the world's largest commercial airliner, will challenge the highly profitable Boeing 747. The A3xx will have a range of 8,750 miles and on-board exercise and sleeping areas.

Boeing has recently announced it will develop a stretched version of the 747 to compete with the A3xx.

It will also be showing its new 767-400 Extended Range airliner at Farnborough.

Military contracts

For Airbus, and for the newly launched European Aerospace, Defence, and Space Company (Eads), which owns 80% of Airbus, the new military transport contract will be just as significant.

US companies have dominated the market for military aircraft, with the Royal Airforce is currently using Hercules transport aircraft built by Lockheed. Airbus is believed to have defeated a rival bid by Boeing for its C17 transport aircraft.

The A400M. which will cost $80m each, is intended to carry troops as well as vehicles and helicopters.

The UK is believed to want 25 of the new aircraft, with Germany taking 75, France 50, and smaller number for Spain, Turkey, and Belgium.

The project will cost 5bn euros (3bn) to develop, with the first deliveries in 2007. European governments are expected to finance 75% of that cost. Turkey and Italy get a share in the production.

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