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Roundup: Emirates’ Future Plans Revealed At Dubai Airshow

Emirates made a series of important announcements during this week’s Dubai Airshow. They reflect the airline’s bold plans to establish Dubai as a pivotal international hub. Deals include airline fleet enhancements, aircraft maintenance and repairs, training, and advanced technology.

  • US$ 58 billion of new orders with Boeing and Airbus take Emirates’ future deliveries to 310 wide-body aircraft.
  • A new engineering facility at DWC and US$ 2.7 billion of supplier agreements will boost operational infrastructure.

Emirates has wrapped up a successful 2023 Dubai Air Show. The airline had a week of significant investment announcements. They included the growth of its future fleet and new maintenance capabilities. Emirates inked several new partnerships that signal confidence in what’s ahead.

More Widebody Aircraft Orders Announced

Already the world’s biggest operator of wide-body passenger aircraft, Emirates announced significant orders to grow its fleet. It will power the airline’s future growth plans per the Dubai Economic Agenda (D33). The airline confirmed an order for an additional 90 Boeing 777-9s, 777-8s, and five 787s, worth US$ 52 billion. However, the airline caused some controversy at the show. Emirates President Sir Tim Clark expressed concerns over the Rolls-Royce engines of the A350-1000. He cited this as the reason for delaying an order. That said, Emirates ordered 15 additional Airbus A350-900s worth US$ 6 billion. Emirates now has a total order book of 310 wide-body aircraft. The airline will receive delivery of new aircraft through 2035.

Seating and Maintenance Agreement With Safran

Underscoring the importance of the aviation value chain, Emirates inked significant agreements with long-standing and new partners. The airline awarded a series of contracts to Safran worth US$ 1.2 billion. It will furnish Emirates’ new fleet of Airbus A350, Boeing 777X-9, and its existing Boeing 777-300ER aircraft with the latest Safran Seats. In addition, the contracts with Safran include exclusive services. They cover cabin equipment, wheels and carbon brakes, landing gear component repairs, retrofit, and MRO support.

Investing $1.5 billion to Keep the A380 Flying

Emirates has signed agreements worth over $1.5 billion to optimize the lifespan of its A380 fleet. These agreements include maintenance, repair, overhaul services, parts provisioning, component repairs, and technical support. The project will ensure that the A380 fleet can continue operating for the next decade. In addition, Emirates is investing $2 billion in an extensive retrofit program to enhance the onboard amenities.

Emirates A380 Service-Extending Agreements

  • Emirates has signed a long-term agreement with Collins Aerospace to support the A380 Main Landing gear overhaul program.
  • Safran Landing Systems will provide exclusive services for Emirates’ A380 Nose Landing gear.
  • Honeywell will provide wheels and carbon brakes for 116 A380 aircraft.
  • Emirates has extended its agreement with OEMServices for ongoing component support for the A380.
  • Pratt and Whitney and Emirates have signed a maintenance and support agreement for the airline’s PW980 Auxiliary Power Units.
  • Emirates has established a network of MRO partners for nose-to-tail line base maintenance services.
  • Lufthansa Technik will provide Base Maintenance Services and additional C Checks for Emirates’ A380s.
  • Emirates has signed agreements with Gameco and Haeco in China for A380 C Checks in 2024.

Emirates operates nearly 90 A380s, with more to enter active service in the coming months. Last year, the airline kick-started its retrofit program. 67 A380s will get a refresh across every cabin class with new Premium Economy Class cabins added. So far, 16 aircraft have been upgraded and are now in full commercial service. The project, unprecedented in scale and size in the industry, is managed entirely by the Emirates Engineering team. 

Sir Tim Clark, President of Emirates Airline, said: “The A380 has been and will continue to be very much part of the Emirates story. Its size and capacity have allowed Emirates to unlock growth at some of the world’s busiest airports, opened new opportunities for travelers, and substantially raised standards for passenger comfort. Our continued commitment to and confidence in the A380 is why we’re investing heavily to keep the fleet in optimal shape and pristine condition. The A380 will remain core to our network and customer proposition for the next decade, and we want to ensure our fleet is in tip-top shape.”

Building Stronger Maintenance Capabilities In Dubai

Emirates also announced a US$ 950 million investment to build a new ultra-modern engineering facility at Dubai World Central (DWC). It is purpose-built to support Emirates’ aircraft fleet and operating requirements into the 2040s. Spread over 1 million square meters. The engineering complex will be the largest and most advanced to be operated by any airline. It will boost Dubai’s world-class aviation infrastructure.

Emirates And Boeing MOU For Advanced Maintenance Technology

Emirates and Boeing signed an MoU to leverage advanced digital technologies. They include drone-assisted aircraft inspections and virtual and augmented reality to hone precision and effectiveness. These technologies usher in the next generation of prognostic and predictive maintenance.

  • Drone technology is used for efficient inspection of aircraft exteriors. High-resolution cameras on drones capture detailed images to identify imperfections. The data collected is used to create thorough reports and assist with future inspections.
  • Mixed Reality, including augmented and virtual reality tools, allows engineers to examine aircraft parts.
  • These technologies improve inspection accuracy, reduce errors, and minimize aircraft downtime.
  • Boeing’s advanced analytics and predictive maintenance technology enable Emirates to make informed decisions about fleet maintenance.
  • Emirates Engineering manages all aspects of aircraft maintenance, engineering, quality control, planning, and logistics.
  • Emirates has the largest maintenance facility in the Middle East. It spans 400,000 square meters and includes 12 hangars.

Ahmed Safa, Divisional Senior Vice President Emirates Engineering, said: “Our partnership with Boeing will enable us to maximize the benefits of advanced technologies and digital excellence to improve operational reliability, minimize disruptions and ensure our fleet operates at the highest standards, ultimately providing our customers a better travel experience. Whether its drones conducting inspections with meticulous agility or AR visualizations that help engineers see behind panels or inside ducts to locate potentially defective components not visible to the naked eye without having to dismantle them, we’re taking significant steps to optimize aircraft maintenance to its full potential on our fleet of Boeing 777s.”

“Supporting our customers on their digital transformation journey is about more than just enhancing maintenance operations,” Brad Surak, Vice President of Digital Aviation Solutions at Boeing Global Services, said. “It’s about applying innovation to ensure their needs for optimum operations are met today and long term.”

Partnerships to Train Maintenance Professionals

Emirates and the UAE General Civil Aviation Authority’s commercial and training arm, the International Aviation Consulting and Training (IACT), signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to develop tailored training solutions for Emirates’ engineering staff. The Director General of UAE GCAA and Emirates’ Chief Operating Officer signed the MoU. It will involve training programs conducted at IACT and Emirates’ engineering facility.

The collaboration aims to enhance Emirates’ engineering training standards and provide career development opportunities. Emirates Engineering is approved for EASA and GCAA training and uses advanced tools and digital platforms for distance learning. The in-house workforce manages maintenance, engineering, quality, and logistics. IACT provides training and consultancy services to enhance safety, security, sustainability, and excellence in aviation.

H.E Saif Mohammad Al Suwaidi said: “This MoU underscores our joint commitment to ensuring excellence and safety in aviation. This cooperation aligns with the UAE government’s directives to collaborate with stakeholders to combine our strengths and achieve our common objectives more effectively and efficiently. We will continue exploring all possible areas of collaboration within the industry.”

Adel Al Redha commented: “This new MoU will further enhance the longstanding partnership between Emirates and GCAA, as both parties join resources to build a talent pool of competent and highly-skilled aviation professionals, equipped with world-class qualifications and competitive skills to contribute to the organization and the UAE aviation industry.”

Interline Agreement With Condor Extends European Network

Boosting customer connectivity options, Emirates and Condor activated a reciprocal interline agreement. It offers customers access to 70 routes operated by the two airlines across Europe, Africa, Asia, Australasia, and the Middle East. The agreement allows travelers to fly with a single ticket fare and hassle-free baggage policy.

Dubai Airshow Displays and Flypast

At the Dubai Airshow, Emirates was visible in the lead of the spectacular opening flypast.

Flying the flag for UAE aviation, the stunning opening flypast at Dubai Airshow 2023 showcased the nation’s capabilities. Emirates headlined the commercial aerial formation.

The iconic Emirates A380, the world’s largest commercial passenger aircraft, was first in the aerial formation. The UAE’s air display team, Al Fursan, followed. They flew in V formation, trailed by their signature red, green, and black smoke trails. An Emirates Boeing 777 was next in formation. An Etihad Airbus 350, an Air Arabia Airbus 320, and a flydubai Boeing 737 followed. The aircraft soared through the skies, delighting spectators and passionate aviation enthusiasts.

The Emirates A380 flew 100 meters over the Dubai World Central (DWC) runway. The distance is almost equal to the wingspan of the legendary double-decker jet. The Emirates Boeing 777 followed at an altitude of 160 meters. Both aircraft carried Emirates’ new signature livery, providing an in-motion view of the modern and dynamic branding.

A fleet of military aircraft and helicopters also joined the formation.

Teams across the aviation ecosystem collaborated to execute an impressive aerial display. Captain Michael Schreiber and Captain Khalid Akram led the Emirates’ Flight Operations team. They coordinated their efforts with other teams, including pilots, Flight Operation Managers, and Air Traffic Controllers. The display involved A380 and Boeing 777 aircraft, with specific captains leading each formation. Months of meticulous planning involving various stakeholders. They included the UAE carriers, the Ministry of Defence, and the Dubai Air Show Flying Control Committee. Organizers considered factors including air traffic, flight paths, and weather conditions during the planning phase.

Showcasing Technology and Passenger Experience Excellence

The airline’s static aircraft displays and an exhibition stand showcased the latest in extended reality and AI immigration innovation. Over the airshow week, Emirates welcomed thousands of visitors to its stand, aircraft, and the Emirates Chalet.

Emirates debuted MIRA, which uses extended reality (iXR) to train new staff. Emirates showcased this technology to HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President and Ruler of Dubai.

On its static display, Emirates displayed its full family of aircraft, which proved popular with visitors. His Highness Sheikh Khaled bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, also toured the four-class A380.

In addition to the A380, Emirates displayed the Boeing 777-ER and the recently launched private charter, the Embraer Phenom 100. Emirates Flight Training Academy exhibited the latest training aircraft, including the Diamond DA42-VI and the single-engine Cirrus SR 22. Over 43,500 people visited Emirates aircraft throughout the week.

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