This year, saw the introduction of a remarkably broad set of new airplanes, from all-new planes made by China and Russia to a triumvirate of jets from Airbus and Boeing. Read on to familiarize yourself with the plane models that set the world alight in 2017.
Airbus – Europe
A330neo by Airbus
Airbus launched the A330neo this year. Neo is the short form of “new engine option”. A two-decade-old model, the A330neo got a comprehensive makeover with new wingtips and engines to bolster its fuel efficiency and range as well. Airbus positioned the “neo” as a low-cost option to Boeing’s state-of-the-art 787 Dreamliner. It’s expected that two of the very first models will start to fly in 2018 and enter service early the same year.
The second affiliate of Airbus’s remodelled single-aisle family is the A321neo. The model entered service this year and is the largest entrant to the A320neo family. With a seating capacity of up to 240 passengers, Airbus hopes the A321neo will take over from the defunct US-based Boeing 757, a declining transcontinental workhorse. Airbus experienced a significant sales surge with the A321neo forcing Boeing to start considering new designs in a bid to retain its customers.
The smallest in the A320neo family, the A319neo was expected to start operations in 2017. The demand for the plane wasn’t exactly high. The smallest models from both Airbus and Boeing experienced few orders as a result of airlines opting for the larger and more fuel-efficient versions.
Making its maiden flight in Toulouse, France in November 2016, Airbus has accelerated the plane tests since then. With a 366-seating capacity, this long-range airliner is currently the biggest twin-engine plane made by Airbus and is the second affiliate in the A350 fraternity. Airbus hopes to usurp the 777-300ER; Boeing’s top-selling dual-aisle airliner with the A350-1000. Qatar Airways confirmed they are to receive the A350-1000 before the end of 2017.
Boeing – US
737 Max 8
After spending five years in development, Boeing delivered the first 737 Max 8 to Southwest Air Carrier earlier this year. Boeing’s 4th generation single-aisle jet has new winglets, tail section and two new engines aimed at reducing fuel consumption by about 14%. Boeing revealed the Max 8 is the first of what will become four 737 Max models they are designing. Boeing has confirmed receiving numerous orders for this model, especially from China’s fast-growing airlines.
Comac – China
China’s first big airbus was flown in 2017; the Comac C919. This plane was made to compete with the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737. Comac cleared a snag when its engines, manufactured in France and the US, were given the all clear by the European and US authorities in December 2016. Originally supposed to fly in 2014, the project stalled due to China’s comparable inexperience in manufacturing commercial airplanes. Comac isn’t anticipated to go head-on with Boeing and Airbus yet, but by partnering with suppliers in the west, China is readying itself to be a global contender for the coming generations.
United Aircraft Corporation – Russia
The Russian based United Aircraft Corporation flew the brand-new Irkut MS-21 for the first time on 28th May 2017. The project is endorsed by President Putin, who is keen on elevating the nation’s commercial aerospace field to compete with the Boeing and Airbus single-aisle planes that dominate routes all over the world.