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October 11, 2013 7:36 pm
The government shutdown has unexpectedly handed one side an advantage in the world’s most intense commercial aviation rivalry – Airbus has been unable to deliver four aircraft to the US while Boeing has largely been able to carry on as normal.
Aircraft made by both manufacturers are grounded until they receive certificates or registration from the US Federal Aviation Administration, a process that is on hold because of the shutdown.
But in the meantime, Boeing has been able to keep on delivering planes to its customers because it has been granted authority by the FAA to inspect and approve some well-established aircraft types as ready for delivery on the government’s behalf.
This power, known as Organisation Designation Authorisation (ODA) has enabled the company – which with Airbus has a nearly complete duopoly over the international commercial aircraft market – to maintain deliveries of aircraft from its main Everett, Washington facility as normal.
“Boeing continues to complete and certify commercial aeroplanes, and make them available for delivery during the government shutdown,” the company said.
Deliveries from the company’s newer assembly facility at North Charleston, South Carolina still require separate FAA approval. Boeing said the required FAA staff had been “reactivated” despite the continuing shutdown.
“We have delivered several aeroplanes during the shutdown, including deliveries from Boeing South Carolina,” Boeing said.
The only Boeing delivery held up appears to have been a 737 destined for American Airlines. The aircraft features a new seat design, which has not received FAA certification.
Boeing declined to comment on the specifics of delivery to individual customers but said that new seats were an area that “could potentially cause a delay” since they would require certification.
Airbus, meanwhile, has been unable to deliver four aircraft to US customers because they have been unable to receive FAA registration during the shutdown.
American Airlines and US Airways each said they had been unable to receive new Airbus planes because of the shutdown.
US Airways said the FAA certification office shutdown had delayed A330 and A321 aircraft from Airbus. “We eagerly await that office’s reopening so that we can bring our new aircraft home,” it said.
JetBlue also confirmed the shutdown had prevented its taking delivery of its first Airbus A320.
Airbus said it was unable to deliver new aircraft to US customers from its European manufacturing sites because they would be required to fly internationally.
“We are certainly concerned that our commercial aircraft activities will be impeded by the absence of certificates from the FAA Registry Office,” Airbus said. “If the shutdown continues long-term, we could see our operations impacted.”
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