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In the aviation business, no one has the ear of both Boeing and Airbus as much as Emirates President Tim Clark. Now he is preparing Emirates for a life beyond the 777s and the A380s, and he’s going with Boeing for now.

Emirates President Tim Clark said Tuesday he is sticking with Boeing despite long-running delays and that he needed to see much better performance from Rolls Royce engines before going with Airbus’ A350. He didn’t mince words, referring to the Rolls Royce engine as “defective.” 

Clark was speaking to journalists at the Dubai Airshow, and also noted the decline in innovation in aviation and other trends. 

Boeing Orders and Delays

Clark talked about the circumstances of the current order and said it came up as a part of the airline’s planning for the next 15 to 20 years. 

Boeing’s 777-300ERs need to be replaced, and so do the A380s, which are no longer produced by Airbus. 

Clark said that despite Boeing’s delays with the 777X, Emirates needs to place orders now because the delivery lead time had grown so long. 

“I’m kind of more confident now on the 777-9, that certainly Boeing will get that after all, it’s fine. It will be five and a half years later, and there can be no excuses for that. I’m reassured by the head of GE that the GenX engine will be good to go and meet all the contract specs. So based on that, there’s a large amount of trust, we’ve placed their orders.”

The Airbus A350-1000

Emirates already has the -900 variant on order. But Clark said unless Rolls Royce, the sole engine supplier for the A350 aircraft, could provide performance so the engine could serve out between 2,000-2,500 flight hours before being sent for a shop visit, Emirates won’t be ordering the specific variant. 

Accordng to Emirates, the high-thrust variant of the Trent XWB engine currently can only deliver a quarter of the performance compared to what Emirates requires of the engine. 

He said that if all the engine-related issues could be solved, Emirates would be in the market for 35-50 of the -1000 version. If the engine issues could be solved, even other operators in the region who operate in hot weather would order more of the aircraft, he said (40% of the A350 sales are in the Middle East). 

Rolls Royce defended its engine performance following Clark’s remarks, though acknowledged issues in high temperatures. 

Interest in the 787

With the 787-10 now getting a higher takeoff weight, it became far more versatile and useful on the Emirates network. Clark said it could be used on about 85% of the city pairs that the airline operates at present. He said, “For anything up to eight hours, it is good to go.”

The Industry’s Supply Chain issues

Clark said that the suppliers have been flogging a dead horse for too long, claiming the supply chain issues were affecting them. He asked, “Why is everybody late on everything? What’s going on?” 

For Boeing specifically, or as he referred to them as friends in Seattle and Chicago, there was enough time to do a lot of “inward reflection” after what has happened over the past few years. 

Innovation in Aviation

Clark felt that innovation in the aviation business had stopped. He queried about the R&D in the future post-2040. He said that if you look back at the A380 program or the Dreamliners, they were all seeded in the early 90s. 

What about now?  He summed it up for reporters in one line: “There was a time when it was a golden era of new tools coming onto the table. We could do wonderful things,” referring to the 777s and the A380s.


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Tags: emirates

Photo credit: Emirates President Tim Clark at the Dubai Airshow 2023. Ajay Awtaney

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