In December, the French government formalized a new industrial strategy to help advance the next generation of Airbus aircraft. The announced funding, 300 million euros annually between 2024 and 2027, fortifies the foundation for Europe’s next all-new airplane.
These are the homework years for Airbus and Boeing, as both cultivate the new technologies for all-new aircraft across a variety of domains. Each has dedicated programs for areas of study under additional buckets of funding, including small and full-scale demonstrations, but the 900 million euros ($968 million) in French funding for its ecosystem over three years easily eclipses the $425 million over seven years for the X-66 Sustainable Flight Demonstrator currently being developed by Boeing and NASA in Palmdale, California — an effort the White House sees as the centerpiece of replacing the 737 Max.
Boeing today is a company in strategic turmoil, consumed with the nuts and bolts of building the aircraft it has in its factories. The crisis that revealed its instability came on Jan. 5 with Alaska 1282, ensuring that its top leadership is not thinking about an all-new airplane development — despite growing calls for one.
Meanwhile, Airbus is accelerating its own effort, increasingly concerned less with its transatlantic competitor’s long-term product development strategy than with the governmental and societal forces that will shape the policies that act on the European plane maker over the decade to come and beyond.
What that new airplane may actually look like, and which part of the marketplace it may target, has been a mystery for some time, concealed in the tea leaves of French industrial policy and Airbus’s opaque eAction program, an initiative first revealed by The Air Current in December 2022. However, eAction, an effort to build the technological building blocks for the future, is now aimed at a very specific end goal, the company tells TAC: the Next Generation Single Aisle (NGSA), a name now being formally used by Airbus.
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