GE Commercial Aviation Services (GECAS), a unit of GE Commercial Finance, has signed a letter of intent for a firm order of ten A350s, subject to industrial launch, which is expected in September.

“After many conversations with our airline customers, it is clear a new aircraft like the proposed Airbus A350 will meet the fleet needs of a number of airlines around the world,” said Henry Hubschman, President of GECAS. “Once the programme is launched, GECAS will be well positioned to lease the aircraft to its customers. Order announcements and strong indications of interest from five customers for more than 100 Airbus A350s so far show solid customer demand for this programme.”

“Leasing companies such as GECAS are a good indicator of demand for new aircraft in the marketplace, since they need to anticipate airlines’ needs so as to have aircraft available for delivery when the customer wants them,” says Airbus President and CEO Noël Forgeard. “GECAS is one of the world’s leading leasing companies, so its early commitment to the Airbus A350, along with ALAFCO, is a good pointer to success in the future.”

GE Commercial Aviation Services (GECAS), a unit of GE Commercial Finance, is the commercial aircraft financing and leasing business of General Electric Co. GECAS has a fleet of more than 1,300 owned aircraft and offers a full range of aircraft fleet, financing and productivity solutions, including operating leases, secured debt financing, engine leasing, spare parts financing and management, and pilot training. GECAS has offices in 22 cities worldwide serving more than 200 airlines in some 60 countries.

To enter service in 2010, the A350 Family initially includes two members, the A350-800 able to carry up to 253 passengers in a three-class configuration up to 8,800nm/16,300km, and its larger sister, the A350-900 accommodating as many as 300 passengers in a three-class layout up to 7,500nm/13,900km. These new aircraft share the technologically-advanced innovations of the A380 and are endowed with the latest technologies. It is initially to be powered by the new generation GEnx engine.

With a new composite wing, a fuselage made of aluminium lithium that gives it up to 60 per cent advanced materials, a new landing gear, a new cabin, and up to 90 per cent new manufacturing part numbers, the A350 will have an unassailable advantage when it comes to fuel consumption and seat-mile costs, as well as cash operating costs. In addition, it will retain full operational commonality with the current Airbus widebody long range fleet by keeping most of the systems, allowing this new aircraft to benefit from the “Family effect”, complementing the current leading A330 and A340 Family with which it shares the same Type rating.

With the GECAS order, total commitments for the new Airbus A350 stand at 112 from five customers.

Airbus is an EADS joint company with BAE Systems.