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Boeing eyes 787 improvements along with production ramp-up (Update1)

It is hardly a surprise when Chicago-based airframer Boeing missed its 2011 delivery targets on the beleaguered 787 Dreamliner and 747-8 programmes, after delivering a combined 12, consisting of 9 Boeing 747-8F freighters and 3 787 Dreamliners, against the original target of 15 to 20 aircraft envisioned, including 5-7 787 deliveries, in October when the company announced its strong third-quarter profit of US$1.1 billion (“Boeing posts stellar 2011 third-quarter profit amid 787 & 747-8 concerns“, 1st Nov, 11).

Indeed, the persistent downward revision in the number of 787 and 747-8 deliveries by the world’s second-largest aircraft manufacturer throughout the year highlighted the challenges posed by a significant amount of rework required to bring the early-built 787 production examples to US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) FAR Part 25 certification standard.

Boeing revised the number of 787 and 747-8 deliveries earmarked for 2011 from 25-40 examples to 25-30 in late July 2011 and then further reduced that number to 15-20 in late October, with two-third of the deliveries weighted towards the revamped jumbo jet freighter. It turned out that Boeing managed to deliver only 9 of the newest freighter, an upgraded version from the iconic 747 jumbo jet with a new wing design, new engines and improved aerodynamics, against the planned deliveries of 12 examples.

“We just could not get all the work done on those airplanes to get them out the door by the end of the year,” Boeing Commercial Airplanes (BCA) vice president (VP) of marketing Randy Tinseth told Bloomberg.

The third 787 delivered to Japan’s largest airline by passenger traffic, line number (LN) 31 which carries the registration number JA805A and is the first 787-8 equipped with the improved Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 Package B engines that feature a revised six-stage low pressure turbine (LPT) and outlet guide vanes (OGVs) with better aerodynamics aimed at bringing its engine specific fuel consumption (SFC) to within 1% of its original target, along with its siblings JA807A and JA804A, LN41 and LN9, respectively, were meant to be delivered in November 2011. As of this writing, the two aircraft are going to be delivered in the first half of January, flightglobal reported.

As a result of the delay, which was caused by the need to re-wire the wiring installation on the aircraft to meet the FAA certification standards as well as the non-recurring failure of the power-up of the auxiliary power units (APUs) prompting replacements from the component supplier Hamilton Sundstrand, ANA postponed the commencement of 787 flights from Tokyo Haneda to Beijing by a month from December to 14th January.

Meanwhile, the pre-requisite for Boeing to start delivering 787s equipped with Block 4 General Electric GEnx-1B engines, the completion of functions and reliability (F&R) tests on board production standard examples required under the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) FAR Part 25 certification have yet to begun, with LN35 earmarked for the task only beginning F&R and extended twin-engine operations (ETOPS) test flights in mid-January. This was delayed from late-2011 with Aspire Aviation‘s sources at the world’s second-largest aircraft manufacturer indicating the first Air India 787 to be delivered, LN35, had been included in the original 787 delivery target. Japan Airlines (JAL) now eyes its first 787 delivery in mid-February, whereas Air India says it expects its first 787 to be delivered in late January, a prospect widely considered unlikely to be met.

Image Courtesy of Boeing

Production improvements, 787-9 parts in focus
While Boeing’s road to ramping up the 787 production rate to its target of 10 airplanes per month by the end of 2013 will unquestionably be the most scrutinised development on the perennially delayed aircraft in 2012, as it ramps up the 787 production from a current rate of 2.5 airplanes per month to 3.5 per month by April before ramping up to 5 units per month by the end of this year, Boeing looks to improve the 787 production system by incrementally reducing the amount of rework on each new 787 entering into production as well as reducing the 787′s weight in an effort to recover some of the performance shortfall resulted from an overweight issue and higher than originally targeted engine specific fuel consumption (SFC).

For instance, Boeing is eyeing line number (LN) 63 as the first 787 production example with no rework required, a flightglobal report said. The LN51 Boeing 787 is now completing its final assembly and Boeing has received parts for up to airplane LN56, according to flightglobal and Aviation Week reports.

Moreover, according to Aspire Aviation‘s multiple sources at the Chicago-based airframer, Boeing plans to feature more composite contents on the 787′s wings and airframe structures in an effort to trim weight starting on airplane LN90, the block point for weight reductions which will enable LN90 to become the first airplane meeting the 787-8′s original target of manufacturer’s empty weight (MEW) and airline-specific operating empty weight (OEW).

The first 787 prototype, ZA001, decommissioned by the company last year which a flightglobal report characterised as the world’s most expensive test aircraft with an estimated cost exceeding US$4 billion, is 9.8 tonnes (21,500 lbs) overweight, whereas LN7 to LN19 are 6.1 tonnes (13,500 lbs) overweight and LN20, featuring an increased maximum take-off weight (MTOW) of 227,930 kg (502,500 lbs) from 219,539 kg (484,000 lbs), are around 4 tonnes (8,800 lbs) overweight (“Challenges remain as Boeing 787 becomes reality“, 3rd Oct, 11).

Other block points for further weight reductions include LN34 for China Southern Airlines and LN50 for Ethiopian Airlines.

“We will continue incorporating improvements into the production system – referred to as blockpoints. Each blockpoint will further reduce production costs and weight on the airplane,” Boeing spokesman Scott Lefeber said.

A key determining factor in achieving the goal of meeting the original manufacturer’s empty weight (MEW) and airlines’ operating empty weight (OEW) targets of the 787-8, these sources say, is the availability of redesigned 787-9 parts which are much lighter than those designed for the 787-8, a variant considered by one of the sources as “over-engineered”.

Suppliers have begun the early production of ZB001, or LN139, the first 787-9 production example to be produced last November and include many significantly lighter parts such as Spirit AeroSystems’ one-piece cockpit window frame that will eliminate around 200 fasteners and reduce the cockpit structure’s weight by 100 lbs, a flightglobal report said.

These sources caution, however, Boeing must have to balance between the planned production ramp-up and the availability of 787-9 parts, which is gradually becoming more abundant towards the end of 2012 well, or otherwise LN90 may not be able to meet its original weight targets by then.

With the 787 production system producing 3.5 airplanes per month through a large part of 2012, coupled with the fact that LN51 is now completing its final assembly, Boeing’s goal of meeting the manufacturer’s empty weight (MEW) and operating empty weight (OEW) targets seems achievable at this point.

Meanwhile, Boeing plans an even more significant improvement on the 787-9 over the baseline -8 variant, with Aspire Aviation‘s multiple sources confirming Boeing has completely redesigned the side-of-body structure, thereby eliminating the side-of-body modification prompted by the discovery of a delamination issue during an ultimate load test in 2009 that bent the wing to 150% of its normal engineering loads experienced by a typical flight.

The side-of-body modification which involves installing two titanium fittings, one on the upper and the other on the lower side of each 787 wing and held together by numerous fasteners, these sources say, not only weighs some 363 kg (800 lbs), but is also expensive to install with a significant amount of labour time required.

“The design on the side-of-body modification is proprietary,” Boeing spokesman Scott Lefeber said.

The elimination of the side-of-body modification on the 787-9, coupled with other redesigned parts, are meant to remove a considerable amount of additional fasteners caused by design changes that contributed to the aforementioned overweight issues, which enables Boeing to recover some of the ground lost on payload/range capabilities, including the higher than targeted engine specific fuel consumption (SFC).

The Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 Package A engine, rated at 64,000 lbs of thrust, has missed its original specific fuel consumption (SFC) target by 2%-4%, whereas the Package B engine, rated at 70,000 lbs, will bring the SFC to within 1% of its original specification. Rolls-Royce plans a Package C engine rated at more than 74,000 lbs of thrust powering the 787-9.

Likewise, the General Electric GEnx-1B engine missed its original specific fuel consumption (SFC) by 2.4%, though the performance improvement package PIP 1 and  PIP 2 will deliver a combined SFC reduction of 2.9% with PIP 1 contributing a 1.4% improvement while PIP 2 contributing the remainder, thus making the General Electric engine slightly better than its original specification.

In addition, Aspire Aviation‘s sources say the flight tests on the hybrid laminar flow control (HLFC) system aimed at reducing the drag by 2%, carried out by the third flight test airplane ZA003, have shown a “generally better-than-anticipated drag reduction”.

“We aren’t going to go into specific details on the HLFC testing or the results, but we are happy with the results we are seeing. We don’t comment on our design changes as they are considered proprietary [and] we continue to work our weight reduction plans aggressively, with our current estimates indicating we still have some work to do to get where we need to be,” Boeing spokesman Scott Lefeber commented.

In the meantime, Boeing contended that the estimation of the 787′s patented one-piece contoured barrel (OPCB) on the elimination of 1,500 aluminium sheets and 40,000-50,000 fasteners remains accurate despite the heavy rework and significant amount of design changes on early-built 787 examples.

“These figures were calculated when the 787 programme was first launched and remain accurate estimates today. Also just to clarify, the fastener reduction applies to one barrel section, not an entire airplane. So in general terms, a one-piece barrel uses approximately 40,000-50,000 fewer fasteners compared to an aluminium airplane,” Boeing spokesman Scott Lefeber explained.

Boeing has adopted a one-piece composite barrel approach for the 787 whereas Airbus opted for the panel approach for the A350 XWB, with 4 composite panels attached to a composite frame. European plane-maker Airbus claims the composite frame with a metal floor grid creates a natural electrical structural network (ESN), the thickness of different composite panels located at different areas of the fuselage could be customised to local engineering loads as well as allowing an easier maintenance process by removing and replacing the damaged composite panel. Boeing countered that its composite barrel approach on the 787 Dreamliner saves the weight of the metal frame and the fasteners used to attach the four composite panels onto the frame while meshing a long and thin copper wire to create a conductive path in the event of lightning strikes into the composite barrel. Boeing also said the different thickness of the composite barrel could be achieved in the lay-up process and cited the US FAA-approved “patch pair”, installing titanium patch panels on the damaged surface while refilling composite material could be procured in the longer-term, coupled with a fewer amount of fasteners, will lower the 787′s maintenance cost against its mid-sized arch-rival.

Image Courtesy of Getty Images

Boeing’s widebody product strategy
2012 is destined to be a crucial year for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner in demonstrating whether the revolutionary aircraft has made a turnaround and whether the pendulum has started to swing in a different direction after a bumpy ride on the aircraft programme that led to a US$18 billion of gross inventory and US$9.7 billion of deferred production cost, figures that will be updated when the US aerospace giant releases its 2011 full-year financial results on 25th January.

Indeed, the aircraft programme, which Boeing Commercial Airplanes (BCA) vice president (VP) and general manager (GM) of airplane programmes Pat Shanahan characterised as “a hell of a ride” in a CNBC documentary on the 787 Dreamliner, faces its next biggest challenge in the ambitious production ramp-up to 10 airplanes per month laid out by the latest Z24 schedule, which specify 45, 66 and 119 787 deliveries in 2012, 2013 and 2014, respectively.

Notwithstanding this, the year of 2012 may see Boeing shedding more lights and providing more clarity on its widebody product strategy, especially over the developments of the double-stretched 787-10X and 777X.

In a first sign of development, Aspire Aviation can exclusively reveal that Boeing has issued a request for proposal (RFP) to General Electric (GE), Rolls-Royce (RR), and Pratt & Whitney (P&W), for a 100,000 lbs engine powering the 777-8X and -9X, the conceptual replacement aircraft for the ultra long-range 777-200LR and the highly popular 777-300ER, respectively.

The new GE9X engine, which will have the same fan diameter of 325 cm (128 inches) as today’s GE90-115B engine but a lower thrust of 99,500 lbs, is expected to deliver a 10% lower engine specific fuel consumption (SFC), when combined with a 787-styled carbon fibre wing, will deliver a 15% lower block fuel burn per seat, according to a flightglobal report.

Aspire Aviation‘s multiple sources previously indicated that the GE9X, which will incorporate the twin-annular pre-mixing swirler II (TAPS II) technology found on the GEnx engine and deliver a 10% lower engine SFC, coupled with the “internal stretching” that removes internal frames in some sections of the 777-9X’s fuselage which will increase the capacity of the 365-seat 777-300ER to 380 and 390 seats without major costly modifications, will contribute a 5% reduction in the aircraft’s block fuel consumption alone. Coupled with the 787-styled composite wing and possibly the application of Alcoa’s 3rd-generation aluminium-lithium (Al-Li) technology on the 777-9X’s fuselage, which the world’s largest aluminium producer says offers a 12% better fuel efficiency with a 10% weight saving and a 6% reduction in skin friction drag, the 777X is likely to strengthen Boeing’s leadership position in the 350-400 seat market segment (“New Boeing 777X likely to be a highly efficient derivative“, 14th Sep, 11).

As a 320-seat 787-10X aircraft with a range of 6,800 nautical miles (nm) complements the Boeing product line in the widebody arena, Aspire Aviation believes Boeing will eventually launch both aircraft derivative programmes, with Aspire Aviation‘s sources indicating a 2012 launch of the 787-10X for a 2018 entry into service (EIS) whereas the 777X is likely to be launched in 2013 with a 2019 EIS. Nevertheless the sources caution that the launch and EIS dates of these aircraft are fluid, pointing out that Boeing could launch the 787-10X as late as 2014 yet target an entry into service (EIS) of 2016, owing to the minimal amount of work involved in developing the -10X variant.

In particular, the Boeing 787-10X will burn 20% less fuel than an Airbus A330-300 with a 10% and 5% lower operating cost than the A350-900 and -1000, respectively, while requiring minimal investment and engineering resources since the foundation of further stretching the 787 fuselage has already been laid by the -9 stretch variant. In launching the 787-10X, Boeing will offer a competitive A330-300 replacement with more range in the medium to long-haul marketplace.

On the sales front, the 787 is likely to see more new 787 orders in 2012 as the aircraft programme continues to retire risks steadily and a 787-10X launch could give the 787 programme further sales momentum, should the double-stretched variant be launched this year.

“Boeing also booked a positive net 13 orders for the 787. Considering the delays on the programme, we view this as a positive. We continue to believe there is substantial pent-up demand for the 787 that will start to translate into orders once the company is able to demonstrate some consistency to its delivery schedule,” analysts at Wedbush Securities said in a January 6th research note to clients.

“We continue to believe the 787 deliveries will be uneven through most of 2012, but the focus for investors is the 787 production ramp. We continue to believe that the step up to 3.5 per month in April should not be an issue, but the step up to 5 expected in Q4 12 is the primary challenge for Boeing and its supply chain. For 787 deliveries, the company attributes the delays to both customer issues and one-time items, and does not believe there are any systemic issues. If this is true, we would expect to see a gradual increase in 787 delivers in 2012, where we currently model approximately 55 787 deliveries,” the Los Angeles-based investment bank said.

Last but not least, while the Boeing 787 Dreamliner continues to face significant challenges in its ambitious production ramp-up plan, there should be exiting times ahead as the 787 will eventually prove itself as a good aircraft with the ongoing weight reduction programme and other continuous improvements; from an investor’s perspective, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner will hopefully become a profit-maker that Boeing officials and the Wall Street (once) hoped for, which then comes down to Boeing’s ability of executing its plan on the 787 programme smoothly with a not-so-perfect track record that earned every stakeholder’s serious black eye in the past as well as in the foreseeable future.

Image Courtesy of Boeing

Updated on 14th January with corrected fan size of GE9X engine with the addition of confirmation on Pratt & Whitney (P&W)’s receipt of the Boeing request for proposal (RFP) from sources.

32 Comments

  1. keesje January 11, 2012 Reply

    I think composite barrels are always build of varying thicknesses by more or less layers. The variation on e.g. the composite A380 Glare barrel is large. Around doors it’s more then an inch. I think apart from thickness the direction of the carbon fibers is important to move the different loads. It seems harder to realize on continuos composites barrels. Barrels as well as pannels are both fixed to the inner structure. I wonder how many fasteners Boeing really saved. Maybe slightly thinner ones maybe? (not very thin ones to avoid stress concentrations on the composites)

    “In particular, the Boeing 787-10X will burn 20% less fuel than an Airbus A330-300 with a 10% and 5% lower operating cost than the A350-900 and -1000, respectively, while requiring minimal investment and engineering resources since the foundation of further stretching the 787 fuselage has already been laid by the -9 stretch variant. ”

    Bold statements on a non existing aircraft with a difficult older brother. Boeing decided to use the -8 wing on the -9 instead of a dedicated optimized wing. http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/boeing-ups-787-weights-shrinks-9-wing-336055/ Probably reducing complexity had something to do with it too, apart from the -8 wing being perfect.. How that is also ideal for the -even larger 10 remains a question IMO.

    I’m also a bit conservative on this internal; stretching. The specification of passenger comfort is up to the airlines. Maybe it just an OEM trick to enhance costs per seat for marketing purposes. Its useless to create specs the airlines/passenger won’t use (e.g. the 469 typical 747-8i seating.

    • FF January 13, 2012 Reply

      Although I am unimpressed by Boeing’s management of the 787 (see below), I think the eventual 787-10 will knock the socks off all other aircraft in this sector: a good sized plane with a decent range and superb economics.

      • Author
        Daniel Tsang January 14, 2012 Reply

        FF & keesje,

        I do apologise for my late reply. I do agree with FF on the 787-10.

        However, I also agree with keesje that the “internal stretching” of the 777X may be a marketing hype, as I also doubt removing internal frames could actually free up a space as wide as 1 seat. Boeing will have to give more clarity on this issue should “internal stretching” be featured on the final 777X products.

        On the 787-9′s wings issue, Boeing opted for the -9 wings with a same wingspan of -8 wings since it found very positive results on the potential of -8′s wings. The -8 wings, when fully optimised in its own sense by eliminating overweight issues on the overdone -8 variant, could actually achieve the -9′s designed payload/range specification.

        While Boeing’s 787-8 was overdone & seriously overweight, there are indeed significant weight-saving opportunities should Boeing get it right this time around. Initial results seem to be encouraging. Though it remains to seen until the first -9 is rolled out.

  2. booch221 January 11, 2012 Reply

    “As a result of the delay, which was caused by the need to re-wire the wiring installation on the aircraft to meet the FAA certification standards…”

    Wow! That writing really sparkles.

  3. TC January 12, 2012 Reply

    Boeing will beat the current version of the A350-1000 with the launch of the 777-8.5. First they can cut ten feet off the length of the 777-300 and shave off about 20,000 lbs right there. Second, they will build an optimal wing which will better the A350. Third they will have an engine with a larger fan area which will give them a few more points advantage. Airbus ought to cancel the -800, go back to a -1000 simple stretch, and launch the A380-900.

  4. Paulo M January 12, 2012 Reply

    Well this interesting. These 777-8X / -9X are what Vero Venia been pushing “since a long time”. Anyway, the bigger is closer to the 747-400′s seating capacity, and if the 777-300ER wasn’t close enough, the -9X will be. There is one more major spike period of 747-400 replacement expected around 2014/5, according to Boeing.

  5. Christopher Dye aka CubJ3 January 13, 2012 Reply

    at the lower end (788-9) and the upper end (-300ER) of the 200-400 seat widse body mkt because A does not have much competition in those segments. The real battle will be in the 300-320 seat mkt, where there are hundreds of 772s/ERs, A343s and A333s to be replaced.

    My guess is this: B thinks they now know enough about the A350-1000 to conclude that it will not be a material threat to the -300ER for the balance of this decade and beyond, so doing the 777-9X is not urgent. B also knows the specs for the A359 and that it is very likely to be a terrific aircraft delivered more or less on time. What they don’t know is it’s likely maximum production rate and when that rate will be reached. Re the 7810, B knows that the 7810, as good as it should be, will not match the payload/range performance of the A359; and MOST IMPORTANTLY, they really have no way of honestly forecasting when or if they could deliver the 7810, and at what rate, because the 787 production program remains an unpredictable mess.

    Result: My crystal ball says that B will focus on the 777-8X because it will give them not only a good competitor with the A359 (and perhaps to some extent with the A350-1000), but also a hedge against the failure/delay of the 7810. Also, much of thw work on the wing will be transferable to the 777-9X when the time comes. That is, assuming that B can somehow do the improvements to the 772LR contemplated by the 777-8X concept on time/budget/delivery.

    Your thoughts?

  6. Christopher Dye aka CubJ3 January 13, 2012 Reply

    My appologies. The opening of my post was supposed to be: I think that B feels they will do very well etc.

    • Author
      Daniel Tsang January 13, 2012 Reply

      Chris,

      I mostly agree with you, particularly on the A350-1000 and 777-300ER competition. However, I think it would be difficult for utilising the 777-8X as a 777-200ER replacement while having the payload/range capability of a 777-200LR. The 777-200LR has a range of 9,395 nautical miles (nm) whereas the A350-900 has a 8,100 nm range. Even the longest range member of the A350, the -800, has a range of 8,500 nm.

      Former Virgin Blue CEO Brett Godfrey once said the 777-200LR’s seat costs are 15% higher than a 777-300ER on transpacific routes.

      “What about Delta entering the route in July with 777-200LRs and how does its merger with Northwest Airlines affect your codeshare plans with that carrier?

      Godfrey: We had budgeted on another airline entering the transpacific market in 2010. The 777-200LR is probably the wrong aircraft for the route. It’s a wonderful airplane but it’s designed for 18- to 20-hour missions and the seat costs are 15% higher [than the 777-300ER]. With regard to the codeshare, we do this with a host of airlines, even United, and carry its passengers throughout Australia. We don’t see any problems at this stage and Delta may even want us to carry its passengers onwards from Sydney.”

      http://atwonline.com/eco-aviation/article/dynamic-duo-0309

      I would agree with FF that the 787-10 would be a great airplane with a decent range & superb economics, notwithstanding any potential delays at Boeing, which are unknowns.

      The 777-8X & -9X will be very efficient & superb derivatives replacing the -200LR & -300ER. Achieving the mission profiles of the 777-200ER & -200LR, which are dramatically different on 1 airplane platform, it is going to be a stretch of trade-offs.

  7. FF January 13, 2012 Reply

    I don’t believe the 10 per month by 2013. That’s because Boeing are actually producing one 787 per month at present (5 deliveries in 5 months), not the 2.5 that is claimed. If Boeing mis-state the verifiable current figures, why should we believe their forecasts? Especially when their every forecast to date on the project has proved to be worthless.

    I “model” approximately 24 deliveries in 2012, in contrast to the 55 modelled by Wedbush Securities. Of course, I am not an expert and highly paid research analyst. We’ll see who gets closer to the actual figure.

  8. keesje January 14, 2012 Reply

    I think the 777-8x and 9x were a long time coming. I did some specs, drawing & henry lam made some artist impressions 2.5 yrs ago.

    http://www.airliners.net/aviation-forums/tech_ops/read.main/257954/1/#120

    To differentiate from the A350s and lower seat mile costs, because the 777 is/was heavy & the wings/ engines needed an update.

    It probably will be succesfull, unless it so big that it is hard to fill all year round, has cargo limitations (less powerfull engines) in a world where cargo is crusial and frequency more important then capasity..
    ;) ;)

  9. Author
    Daniel Tsang January 14, 2012 Reply

    Matthew,

    Thank you for supplying a valid & verifiable e-mail address at last, which would have avoided the chaos in the first place.

    Regarding the GE9X engine, my article cited a flightglobal report on the 777X which was not written by me and was not a point included in my 777X article. I have contacted my Boeing sources to verify this since you said this.

    There are now indications that the GE9X nacelle and fan size might have been mixed up in the flightglobal report & that the GE9X has the same fan size as the GE90-115B.

    Pending more confirmation from other Boeing sources, since one source is not sufficient, there will be an update correcting this, as well as adding it is now confirmed that P&W has received a request for proposal (RFP) for a 100,000 lbs engine, since the latter was confirmed by multiple sources.

    Thank you for your comment.

  10. Author
    Daniel Tsang January 14, 2012 Reply

    Matthew,

    Your other comments were deleted since you did not supply a valid & verifiable e-mail address and could not be possibly reinstated.

    It needs time for my other Boeing sources to confirm the fan size detail and updating articles without 100% certainty is not Aspire’s approach to do this.

    As the saying goes, either put up or shut up – which will it be Daniel?

    It seems that you are intent on silencing us and favour General Electric. Since Aspire Aviation is an independent and balanced news firm favouring no particular aircraft/engine manufacturer, it is impossible for us to meet your demand.

  11. Christopher Dye aka CubJ3 January 16, 2012 Reply

    The GE90-115B’s fan is 135” in diameter.

    http://www.snecma.com/IMG/files/ge90_ang_modulvoir_file_fr.pdf
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Electric_GE90#Specifications_.28GE90-115B.29

    The fan diameter being considered for the speculative GE9X is 128”.
    http://www.flightglobal.com/blogs/flightblogger/2011/09/boeings-777-upgrades-come-into.html

    Daniel, I said the -8X would be a variation of the -200LR because Jon O mentioned that in his piece above referenced, and because without some variation of the 772, a PIP, PLUS, whatever, B will have no competition for the A359 because it’s range is 8000 mi with 314 px in three classes with full baggage/freight load while the 787-10’s range will be 6900 mi
    The question is, how much of that segment above the 7810’s range of 6900 mi do B want, and how much will it cost to get it? I think this is what B is mulling right now.

    On the one hand, more than half the total 300 seaters delivered since 1993, when A delivered the first A343, have been 5-6000 mile rangers (772s/333s/and a few MD-11s) with more ordered every day it seems, so B may feel they can dominate this mkt 789/10 and be satisfied with that alone without spending a lot of money to improve/replace the -200ER/LR. On the other hand, if B feels they can get a minimum of say 35-40% of the A359-1000 mkt for the right price, they may do it, particularly if they can sell the -8X as part of a family with the -300ER/777-9X..

    To me, Emirates is the wild card in all this. They love the -300ER, and would love to be the launch customer for the -9X. http://www.youtube.com/emiratesboeing777?intcid=emirates_777_tcm272-559625 At the same time, they are not satisfied with the -1000 in it’s latest configuration, and drove that point home with their latest order for 50 -300ERs plus 20 options. So, maybe B has an opening to get EK to cancel their -1000s if B can deliver an -8X which is the size etc they want or close to it, and has substantial commonality with the -300ER/-9X.. We’ll see.

  12. keesje January 16, 2012 Reply

    Compared to the -90, the -1000 is more capasity and payload. Acceptable 9 abreast for long haul (less width then 777 more the 787) and the same premium cabin / cargo configs as 777. Much lighter leaner and fuel efficient.

    It will take lessons learned for the -900, just like Boeing does with the 787-8/-9. http://www.compositesworld.com/articles/airbus-a350-update-braf-fpp

    It will be a superior platform for 3/4 class cabin too / from Asia. That’s why Boeing is so bloody nervous about it, dismissing it and reacting on it at the same time.. Luckely for Boeing it will not be available for yrs to come.

    On 787-10 range, the range given is a range with passengers only. E.g. the 777-300ER has a range with passengers only of about 8000NM. At MTOW. However above 58000NM you are off loading payload for fuel to make it without a fuel stop. http://www.boeing.com/commercial/startup/pdf/777_payload.pdf

    Translate that to the 787-10 range, include headwinds, reserves & it becomes clear this isn’t a trans pacific winner. Boeing says it will the a perfect replacement for the A330-300. Lean mean for medium/trans Atlantic flights.

  13. Christopher Dye aka CubJ3 January 16, 2012 Reply

    Keesje – Thx for the thoughts:

    “Translate that to the 787-10 range, include headwinds, reserves & it becomes clear this isn’t a trans pacific winner. Boeing says it will the a perfect replacement for the A330-300. Lean mean for medium/trans Atlantic flights.”
    My point exacty. The 300 seat mkt is huge (more than 1500 orders since 1993), and is split between medium and LR segments. A has dominated the former with the A333 v 772 and B has won the latter 772ER v A343. B is attacking the medium mkt with the 7810, which as slowed A333 sales, and A has killed the 772ER with the A359. B sold about 500 772ERs, so are reluctant to not compete in this mkt. Problem is, the 772’s fuselage is larger than the 359’s so it will be heavier, whether it is composite or metal. B cannot change that because the -8X is to be shrink of the -9X, which will use the 777 type fuselage, according the Daniels’s Flightblogger reference.. This why I think that B is thinking mainly about the -8X now. They are trying to figure out how to compete against the A359. B may even build a new family to replace the 777 instead of doing a metal fuselage / composite wing PIP. I think they are organizationally and emotionally able to do this now because no one ever wants to repeat the botch of the 787, and they are curing their labor problems. .

    My guess, as I have said elsewhere, is that B will try to compete against the A359 by bracketing it with two plane families, totaling five plane variants (788/9/10 and 777-8X/9X), and relying on the savings from commonality to off-set any advantage the A359 may have. I think A is vulnerable to this family approach because because they are at risk of not having an A350 family, only the A359. You say Keesje:
    I
    “It (the -1000) will be a superior platform for 3/4 class cabin too / from Asia. That’s why Boeing is so bloody nervous about it, dismissing it and reacting on it at the same time.. Luckely for Boeing it will not be available for yrs to come.”

    Maybe so, but I see no evidence. Tim Clark and Al-Baker have made clear that the -1000 is not a -300ER replacement and A should not mkt it as such. Even Mr. Leahy is now referring to it as being in a class by itself. Most important, the -1000 has not sold and is not denting -300ER sales they way the A359 destroyed the 772ER. All this gives B tremendous power to mkt the 777-8X to the many customers who want the -9X , or to offer the 789 to the many customers who want the 788, cutting out the A359. I am not saying this will happen but I think it is a vulnerabililty that can’t be ignored in any assessment of A’s wide body prospects going forward.

  14. Christopher Dye aka CubJ3 January 16, 2012 Reply

    It looks like you are correct.

  15. keesje January 16, 2012 Reply

    Christopher, IMO the main reason the 777-300ER sold much better then the A350-1000 sofar is… time. All the 777-300ERs ordered sofar will enter service before the first A350-1000 enters service. If you need a good number of big twins in 2012-2018 period, there aren’t much alternatives.

    Al Baker attacking everyone, even his friends, has become a tradidition. Recently he spend billions at Airbus, hours after publicly insulting them. ( creating panic about the public message with the more reproducing, docile part of the press :D )

    I think eventually Boeing will replace the 777-200s with beefed up 787s (bigger wings) and replace the 777-300ER and 747 with a new aircraft, nicely fitting in under the A380, but that’s another story.

    • Christopher Dye aka CubJ3 January 17, 2012 Reply

      Agreed about ” time,” but not necessarily the conclusion you draw. Perhaps the airlines are not ordering the -1000 because they are waiting to see what B does with the 777 and when it can be delivered, because the -1000′s delay shortens the difference between it’s delivery time and B’s new/revised 777 from 4-5 years to 2-3 years, which B can handle with PIPed 777s. The sooner B defines the specs for the 777-8X/9X, the sooner it will be clear whether or not the -1000 will sell well. So, one viewpoint is that unlike A with the -1000, B has every reason to announce the new 777′s specs ASAP.

      Re replacing the -300ER and the 744, your thought makes sense, but I’m not sure it is “..another story” if B uses the -9X for that. If you are right that B will use an improved 7810 to replace the 772s, that may make sense, but that depends on when B can deliver. The -10 is not due until 2015-16, and any re-design to get it to the A359′s performance level will take yearsie . By then A’s A359 production should be in high gear, so B may be giving a lot of the LR 300 pax mkt. But there may be nothing B can do about that because the -8X would not be delivered in 2019-2020. It looks like I’ve just talked myself into the position that A is going to get most of the 300 pax LR mkt. Thanks.

  16. keesje January 17, 2012 Reply

    I think the specs of the A350-1000 are clear enough for strategy planning.
    http://www.airbus.com/aircraftfamilies/passengeraircraft/a350xwbfamily/a350-1000/specifications/

    Regarding the 777-200 replacement, the787-9 was already to have bigger wing and doesnt carry much less seats, both are 9 abreast in the back.

    “another another story” was more about a concept I dreamed up for the 375-500 seat segment yrs ago, it was called Ecoliner.

    • Christopher Dye aka CubJ3 January 17, 2012 Reply

      The -1000′s specs are clear enough, but those for the 777-8X/9X are not. It is highly unlikely that airlines using both the 772ER and 773ER or the -773ER alone (there are lots of them) will place firm orders for the -1000 without knowing the -8/9X specs. Upon reflection, I have been wondering if B will use its 737 MAX model with those planes; that is, will be B sketch out the specs in a very general way and try to get large numbers of commitments based on them, and then flesh out the details and get firm orders later?

      Also, a point I should have made earlier: The mkt for these LR 300 pax replacements and new orders will be large going forward. How well each OEM does will depend, among other important things, on production capacity. One powerful reason for B to do some kind of -8X (as opposed to doing only the -9X and relying on an improved 7810 to replace the 772ER as you suggest) is that they already have a reliable 777 line going at 8.5/mo, and can likely go to 10 fairly easily, while their 787 line is a mess so its max rate and when it will be reached can’t be reasonably forecast or relied on by customers. I think B will badly need this because A’s A350 program is going very well now and will continue to do so. At some point, A will be faced with deciding how many of each variant they will build/mo to meet demand and compete, variant to variant , with B. I suspect A will be able to reach their highest rate unconstrained by serious production problems like the ones B has with the 787 because they have planned so well and responsibly. (They will however face their own supplier limitations.) If B can’t offer a 772ER replacement with a reliable initial delivery date of 2018-19, they will lose a huge chunk of the 300 pax LR mkt. Maybe they don’t care. Maybe getting the 300 pax medium range mkt with the 7810 and some of the LR mkt with the 789 will be enough for them. We’ll see.

  17. booch221 March 6, 2012 Reply

    “The -1000′s specs are clear enough…”

    Are they?

    With the A350, everything seems clear until Airbus changes course, which they have done time and time again.

    “A’s A350 program is going very well now and will continue to do so.”

    Do you live in some parallel universe? Isn’t the A350-900 delayed one year already and the A350-1000 delayed two years? The A350-800 will likely be cancelled. So how can you predict they will continue to do “very well”? I think Murphy’s Law applies here.

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