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In Singapore, Alenia and Airbus Trade Barbs Over Transport Capability

Feb. 12, 2014 - 03:45AM   |  
By ANDREW CHUTER   |   Comments
An Alenia Aermacchi C-27J on a mission in the Philippines. Makers of the C-27J and C295 are making competing claims over the planes' capabilities.
An Alenia Aermacchi C-27J on a mission in the Philippines. Makers of the C-27J and C295 are making competing claims over the planes' capabilities. (Alenia Aermacchi)
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SINGAPORE — Alenia Aermacchi took a swing at Airbus Defence and Space’s C295 tactical transport at the Singapore Airshow Feb. 12, claiming the performance of its C-27J Spartan pretty much outmatched anything its European rival could achieve.

With the C-27J flying farther, faster, higher and carrying more payload to smaller runways than the C295, its productivity as a tactical transport is far higher, said Giovanni Timossi, Alenia Aermacchi’s vice president of sales in the region.

The claims comes as Alenia and Airbus Defence crank up their marketing efforts ahead of bidding for a potentially large requirement for small tactical transports in India. Bidding is due to get underway soon.

Christian Scherer, Airbus Defence marketing and sales boss, later labeled the attack on the C295 as the “emotive response from a frustrated company.”

Timossi said Alenia Aermacchi was responding to recent presentations given to reporters by Airbus claiming better performance for the C295.

The Italian executive acknowledged making comparisons was a tricky task with plenty of variables.

Nevertheless, he told reporters being briefed on the performance differences that a theoretical mission to fly 100-tons of cargo 500 nautical miles from Bangkok would require 60 percent more flight hours for the smaller, slower C295 to deploy its payload.

After the briefing, an Alenia Aermacchi official released documents the company said was a comparison of the two planes by the Peruvians.

The figures were part of a Peruvian Air Force evaluation that led to two C-27Js being ordered late last year, the official said.

The document said that on a mission between Lima to the town of Juliaca, a distance of 457 nautical miles, the C-27J would take a total of 14 hours and 40 minutes to move 22.4 tons of cargo at a cost of 137,489 nuevo soles (US $70,000).

The C295 would take 33 hours to move 19.8 tons at a cost of 203,115 nuevo soles, the documents said.

It’s unclear exactly what the Peruvians included in the missions’ costs. One thing it probably didn’t take account of procurement. The C295 is significantly cheaper than its rival.

Even the Alenia Aermacchi executive estimated the unit cost of the C295 is probably around 20 cheaper than than the C-27J.

Alenia Aermacchi has yet to sell a C-27J in the Asia region, although it does have Australia among its customers.

First deliveries to the Royal Australian Air Force are set to commence in 2015.

Some 56 aircraft have been delivered out of a total order book of 91 (including Slovakia’s selection for two aircraft, which are not yet signed for).

At an Airbus press conference later in the day, Scherer declined to get embroiled in claims over performance but pointed to delivery numbers to justify the case for the C295.

“How many C-27Js have been sold and are operating around Asia , have you seen any,” he asked reporters during the briefing.

By contrast, Airbus has sold 164 light tactical aircraft of various types. Indonesia is its only Asian customer for the C295, with an order for nine aircraft. Four have been delivered.

“I’ll hide behind the market vote rather than manufacturers’ claims. The market is voting massively in favor of the C295 line, which may be prompting some of these emotional outbursts,” Scherer said. “The score stands at 164 to zero.” A total of 123 aircraft have been ordered in 2013.

The Airbus executive said the Portuguese Air Force C295 on display at Singapore is heading to New Zealand for demonstrations.

Email: achuter@defensenews.com.

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