Airbus faces a crucial year on A350 development

European plane-maker Airbus, a unit of the European Aeronautics, Defence & Space Co. N.V., has enjoyed a record year of 2011 buoyed by an order bonanza at its re-engined A320neo (new engine option) aircraft programme, which accounted for 1,226 of the 1,419 net orders recorded in the year, after taking into account customer cancellations from the tally of 1,608 gross orders, including the exclusion of bankrupt carrier American Airlines’ (AA) order for 130 A321neos and the first A350-1000 order cancellation from Middle Eastern carrier Etihad Airways that saw its order for the biggest A350 variant being reduced from 25 to 19.

Notwithstanding this, 2011 could not have been a better year for Airbus. On a gross basis, Airbus’ 1,608 gross orders gave it a 64% market share in terms of units against Boeing’s 921 gross orders whereas Airbus had a 56% of market share in 2011 with its gross orders worth US$168.8 billion against Boeing’s gross orders whose values stand at US$133.1 billion. On a net basis, Airbus still maintained the same market share with 1,419 orders against Boeing’s 805 orders, though Airbus’ lead over Boeing narrowed when it comes to market share figures measured in terms of revenues, with Airbus claiming a 54% market share against Boeing’s 46% share, reflecting the different aircraft mix in orders recorded by Airbus and Boeing, with the Chicago-based arch-rival receiving a record number of 200 orders for its lucrative 777 widebody jetliners.

Needless to say, the star of the year was the re-engined A320neo (new engine option) aircraft, which Airbus chief operating officer (COO) customers John Leahy declared “no programme in the history of aviation has ever sold that many, that fast”.

“Airbus’ record order intake is the result of our strategic decision for A320neo. With this innovation we established a new industry standard, appreciated by our customers and followed by the competition,” Airbus president and chief executive Tom Enders said.

However, with the availability of the highly popular A320neo aircraft fast becoming scarce, of which delivery slots for the re-engined aircraft could not be secured for an earlier date than 2018 or 2019, the amount of orders for the A320neo is widely expected to slow this year.

Instead, the focus of this year at the European plane-maker will fall on the developments at its mid-sized widebody A350 XWB (Extra Wide Body) programme, notwithstanding the management change at the top of its parent company EADS, of which the current Airbus chief executive Tom Enders is expected to take over the role of chief executive at the European aerospace and defence giant from current EADS chief executive Louis Gallois.

2012 a challenging year for the A350 programme
Having announced a delay of up to 6 months on the aircraft’s entry into service (EIS) from late-2013 to the first half of 2014, this year will be a crucial one for the Airbus mid-sized widebody designed to compete with the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and the larger 777 (“A350 faces further challenges but business case remains sound“, 1st Dec, 11), of which the final assembly of the first A350-900 flight test example will start in March 2012 whereas first flight will take place in the second quarter of 2013.

Supply chain, a significant factor behind the more than three years of delays at the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, holds the key for whether Airbus will be able to meet the new programme schedule.

In announcing the €200 million (US$270 million) 2011 third-quarter charge, EADS chief financial officer (CFO) Hans Peter Ring attributed the 3 to 6 months delay in the A350-900’s EIS to a “shortage of parts” caused by a supplier funding issue which is a result of the European sovereign debt crisis.

“All suppliers are in big difficulties. It is difficult for medium-sized companies to get access to funding. We’ve helped some of them with buying non-recurring investments – this is possible we can help in an emergency,” Peter Ring was quoted by flightglobal Pro back then.

However, Airbus seems to have learned its lesson from the A380 as well as the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Instead of allowing unfinished or incomplete parts to continue to flow into the final assembly line (FAL), which the aerospace industry dubbed as “travelled work”, Airbus is placing the programme maturity ahead of meeting deadlines.

“We learned our lessons from the A380, and from Boeing Co.,” Airbus chief operating officer Fabrice Bregier said in a Dow Jones Newswires interview a day after the Airbus annual press conference.

“We’re not experiencing too many problems with larger composite parts from big suppliers, but we, and they, are relying on smaller suppliers who are finding themselves producing more complex parts than they have in the past,” Bregier said.

Notwithstanding Airbus’ improvement in its programme management, Airbus chief executive Tom Enders admitted the A350 XWB programme “ran into some serious problems” which prompted the world’s largest aircraft manufacturer to announce the 3 to 6 months delay, adding without ensuring the programme maturity on the A350, “you’re setting yourself up for disaster”.

Worse still, Aspire Aviation‘s sources at Airbus described the shortage of small parts manufactured by tier 2 suppliers as an “ongoing problem” and the additional margin of several more months built in the 6-month delay, is “being chipped away”.

Further compounding matters is the overweight issue on all three variants of the A350 XWB family. The A350-800, Aspire Aviation‘s sources say, has the most serious overweight issue amongst all three members whereas the A350-1000 is around 5 tonnes (11,023 lbs) overweight. With the 5 tonnes overweight issue, the improvements announced at last June’s Paris Air Show, which saw the thrust of the Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engine powering the A350-1000 being increased from 93,000 lbs to 97,000 lbs and the range of the aircraft being increased by 400 nautical miles (nm) to 8,400 nm or its payload being increased by 4.5 tonnes over the same range, will only enable the A350-1000 to meet the aircraft’s original payload/range specification, including a range of around 8,000 nm.

Interestingly, the A350-900 is the aircraft variant least affected by the overweight issue since the -900 is the optimised platform and engineering resources are being further diverted to the -900 development from other variants, these sources say.

As a result, Airbus faces a choice of announcing further delays in the A350-900’s entry into service (EIS) in order to maintain the A350’s programme maturity or accepting an increased level of travelled work and design changes flowing into Toulouse’s final assembly line (FAL). Given the indications by Airbus officials on the airframer’s intention to keep the amount of travelled work at a manageable level and ensure the programme is at a sufficiently mature level before ramping up production, Aspire Aviation believes another A350 delay in 2012 is more than likely.

“This programme will likely be a challenge for several years. Feedback we have received from customers is that the A350 is considerably overweight at this stage. The programme has also become more complex with the need to develop a second engine core to provide sufficient thrust for the A350-1000. Some customers, particularly in the Middle East, have complained that the current design of the A350-1000 is not large enough for their requirements, which is making a potential stretched 777 variant increasingly attractive,” New York-based Bernstein Research said in a January 19th note to clients.

Bernstein Research does not expect the first A350-900 to be delivered until mid-2015, with 29 deliveries in that year, whereas Credit Suisse expects 10 and 25 -900 deliveries in 2014 and 2015, respectively, according to a January 17th note to clients.

Meanwhile, the A350 XWB sales in 2012 are likely to continue to be subdued, mainly owing to concerns on the development and execution of the A350 programme and airlines waiting for Boeing’s competitive response towards the 350-seat A350-1000. The A350 programme received 10 orders in 2011, which was negated by 41 cancellations, including the cancellation for 6 A350-1000s from Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways, leaving a backlog of 555 aircraft. This would be a positive factor for Boeing and its lucrative 777 programme, which is expected to have yet another strong year with healthy sales in 2012. Although the 777 delivery slots are not available until early 2015, the short-term demand for the 777 will continue to be strong between now and the 2017 entry into service (EIS) of the A350-1000 whereas an upgraded 777, provisionally dubbed the 777-8X and 777-9X, will secure the “big twin” programme’s longer-term future.

In contrast to Airbus chief operating officers (COO) customers John Leahy’s contention that Airbus is in discussions with three major airlines and that the primary issue is “getting them early delivery positions”, Aspire Aviation understands Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific Airways, which ordered 6 additional A350-900s last Friday with a total order of 38 A350-900s, including 2 leased examples, is among those three major carriers being mentioned and that the A350-1000’s relatively small size compared to the 365-seat Boeing 777-300ER or its as-yet-unlaunched successor 777-9X which is going to accommodate 380 to 390 passengers, is the main issue that potential A350-1000 buyers are dissatisfied with.

With a request for proposal (RFP) for a 100,000 lbs engine sent to General Electric, Rolls-Royce and Pratt & Whitney (P&W) (“Boeing eyes 787 production improvements along with production ramp-up“, 11th Jan, 12) and a 2013 launch in addition to a 2019 entry into service (EIS), according to Aspire Aviation‘s sources, the proposed 777-9X will be a threat to the A350-1000, particularly the difference between the service entries of these two competitors is small and that the 777-9X will be able to carry considerably more revenue cargo and passengers than the A350-1000 over a similar, if not longer, distance.

The 777-9X is expected to feature a composite 787-styled wing, a new engine offered by one or two engine manufacturers, most likely the GE-9X with a 128-inch (325 cm) fan size with an extension of General Electric’s (GE) existing exclusivity on the biggest 777 variant, will deliver a 10% to 15% lower fuel burn per seat over the 365-seat 777-300ER whereas Airbus advertises its A350-1000 as being 25% more fuel efficient per seat than the 777-300ER (“Boeing 777X likely to be highly efficient derivative“, 14th Sep, 11).


Production ramp-up, programme improvement drives EADS earnings higher
Besides development at the A350 programme, production ramp-up will be another focus of the year. Airbus expects to deliver 570 aircraft this year, surpassing this year’s figure of 534, including around 30 A380 superjumbos.

Investment bank Credit Suisse forecasts Airbus to deliver 574 aircraft this year, including 442 A320 family aircraft, 103 A330s and 30 A380s which will climb and settle at 37 A380 deliveries beginning 2013, whereas its transatlantic arch-rival Boeing will deliver 600 aircraft this year.

“In 2012 we expect Airbus to deliver 574 aircraft – 4 above today’s introduced 570 aircraft target. For Boeing we forecast 600 deliveries in 2012, driven by delivery ramps on the 747 and 787, which would give Boeing a 51% share of the 2012 delivery market,” Credit Suisse said in a research note issued on 17th January.

Interestingly, New York-based Bernstein Research forecasts Airbus will still marginally maintain its leadership position in terms of number of deliveries, with Airbus delivering 582 aircraft this year versus an estimated 580 deliveries at Boeing, including a lower number of 787 deliveries from 52 to 47. Bernstein Research forecasts 31 A380s will be delivered this year, before settling on 34 annual A380 deliveries from 2013 onwards.

“We are reducing our delivery outlook for Boeing’s 787 for 2012 to 47 (down from 52), which leads to lower revenues and a reduction in our 2012 earnings number by US$0.01. From a stock perspective, we continue to prefer EADS over Boeing because of the timing of new development programmes. We see the risks as immediate and near term for Boeing’s 787. With Airbus, the greatest risk is the A350. But, we do not see that as material until the programme approaches first flight, which is not scheduled until Q2 2013,” Bernstein said in a 23rd January note to clients.

“A380 is in serious production. For us after all the troubles, 2011 was the first real serious production year for the A380,” Airbus chief executive Tom Enders commented.

A noteworthy point is the A380’s production system has made a significant improvement over the past year, with the production drawing backlog and design changes dwindling to a level typically seen in other aircraft programmes, and that the unit cost in producing an A380 has come down considerably, according to Aspire Aviation‘s sources at the European plane-maker. Should this improvement be sustained going forward, as it is likely to be the case due to the disappearance of the disruption caused by a scramble to find “Mod C” Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines as a result of Qantas’ QF32 uncontained engine failure in November 2010, Airbus’ goal in achieving a break-even on a unit basis in 2015 seems realistic and achievable.

“We estimate that the A380 is losing about €1 billion per year, which we expect to come down steadily during the next 3 years. The production system is maturing, pricing should be better, and in 2012 we estimate that Emirates should account for roughly 40% of deliveries, improving commonality in the production process,” Bernstein said in the 19th January note, adding the A380 is “the greatest source of potential margin improvement”.

In preserving and growing the A380 backlog, Airbus chief operating officer (COO) customers John Leahy vows to sell 30 or more A380s this year and achieves a book-to-bill ratio of 1 or more.

“I’ve told Tom [Enders, Airbus’ chief executive] that I’m going to sell 30 A380s this year. Thirty is a good number because we’re going to try to keep the book-to-bill ratio at at least one or better,” Leahy said.

Meanwhile, Airbus is evaluating a production ramp-up at the A330 programme beyond the target of 10 per month to 11 per month, along with the evaluation of an addition of sharklets to the A330 aircraft and increasing both the A330-200 HGW (high gross weight) and A330-300’s maximum take-off weight (MTOW) to 240 tonnes from the A330-200 HGW’s current MTOW of 238 tonnes.

“Right now we’re still several months away from a decision,” Airbus chief operating officer (COO) customers John Leahy told flightglobal, adding the study was prompted by the sharklets on the A320 flight test aircraft “getting better results than we thought” and exceeding the original fuel burn reduction target of 3.4%.

While the A330 improvement with sharklets may serve well in reducing fuel burn by around 2% with a manageable amount of reinforcement in the centre and outer wing boxes, as well as providing a shield for Airbus in light of the A350 delays and further delays in the pipeline, which helps Airbus capture part of the demand created by the need of interim capacity and minimise the loss of potential sales to the Boeing 777, a mission creep by an upgraded A330, and possibly an A330 re-engining whose concept is favoured by AirAsia chief executive Tony Fernandes will further decimate the business case of the A350-800, whose business case is already undermined by the most serious overweight issue and a “few per cent” higher block fuel burn.

While an improved or re-engined A330-200 HGW would not perfectly match the specifications offered by the shrunk model of the baseline A350-900, as the A350-800 has 270 seats whereas the improved A330-200 carries 253 passengers and the sharklets are unlikely to enable the A330-200 HGW to match the A350-800’s range of 8,500 nautical miles (nm), a re-engining move with a 15% more fuel efficient engine such as the GEnx engine being 15% more fuel efficient than a CF6-80C2 engine, could entirely change the picture and effectively kill the A350-800.

In conclusion, with the fundamentally strong demand for the A320neo, coupled with the continuous improvements in the A380’s production cost, as well as production ramp-ups across the entire product line and a weak euro will drive the earnings of European Aeronautics, Defence & Space Co (EADS), Airbus’ parent, higher, 2012 will be a critical and challenging year for the A350 programme whose development is undoubtedly going to be scrutinised closely by Wall Street analysts and the like.

Image Courtesy of Airbus

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  1. ".. caused by a supplier funding issue which is a result of the European sovereign debt crisis."

    It is not the "debt crisis" ( which actually is a "currency war on the euro" ) but these suppliers have all their
    available liquidity bound up in delayed dreamliner parts manufacture.
    Airbus gets hamstrung by repercussions of Boeings massive project missmanagement.

    1. Uwe,

      True. But the situation was exacerbated by the European debt crisis, which, coupled with the Basel 3 capital requirement which banks were scrambling to increase capital levels, reduced lending considerably.


      1. Good Morning Daniel,
        The Basel accords are an ongoing problem Additionally lenders tended to put money into those
        fantastically profitable constructs making reasonable credit unawailable for small to medium businesses.
        This started to have an effect here from the early years of the last decade : 2001/2 onwards.
        Moving an agravating side issue up front as causal is pretty much "Obama" like chiding the Euros for not propping up a failing US .

  2. Aspire Aviation‘s sources say, has the most serious overweight issue amongst all three members whereas the A350-1000 is around 5 tonnes (11,023 lbs) overweight. With the 5 tonnes overweight issue, the improvements announced at last June’s Paris Air Show, which saw the thrust of the Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engine powering the A350-1000 being increased from 93,000 lbs to 97,000 lbs and the range of the aircraft being increased by 400 nautical miles (nm) to 8,400 nm or its payload being increased by 4.5 tonnes over the same range, will only enable the A350-1000 to meet the aircraft’s original payload/range specification, including a range of around 8,000 nm.

    The rule of thumb is that for every percent saved in OEW, TSFC is reduced by roughly 0.5 percent. If the A350-1000 is overweight by 5 tonnes, or roughly 3.5 percent of the OEW, then the TSFC for the A350-1000 would be increased by 1.5 -2 percent. Hence the max pax range would be reduced by around 125 - 170 nm to 8230 - 8275 nm. Where did you get the 8000 nm figure from?

    1. OV-099,

      My Airbus sources provided the figure. Airbus said the larger core of the Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engine will have a engine specific fuel consumption (SFC) impact of "less than 1%".

      Now the overweight will also reduce the payload/range capability and reduce the available fuel that would otherwise have been used in flying extra payload for a longer range.

      One of our readers calculated the following, which confirms our sources' 8,000 nm figure:

      OEW = 328,500 lbs
      MSP = 142200 lbs

      Before Paris, maximum zero fuel weight (MZFW) = 470700 lbs = 328500 (OEW) + 11000 (overweight) + 131200 (MSP).

      After Paris where Rolls-Royce Trent XWB's thrust is increased and MTOW is increased from 298 to 308 tonnes:
      OEW = OEW (Pre-) + MEW (4,400 lbs)
      MSP = MSP (Pre-) + 4.5t Payload (9,900 lbs)
      New MZFW = 485,000 = 332,900 (OEW) + 11,000 (overweight) + 141,100 (MSP)

      Fuel available = 41,211 US Gallons @ 6.7#/G = 276,114 lbs
      Passengers @ design range = 350 (3-Class) @ 210#/P = 73,500 lbs

      Fuel available at 8400nm before 5 tonnes overweight = MTOW – (OEW + Passenger) = 679,000 – (332,900 + 73,500) = 272,600 lbs

      Fuel available at 8,400 nm after 5 tonnes overweight = MTOW – (OEW + Passenger) – overweight = 679,000 – (332,900 + 73,500) – 11,000 (overweight) = 261,600 lbs

      Range = (261,600 / 272,600) x 8,400 nm = 8,061 nm

      Airbus will have to increase the MTOW of all the A350 variants to recover part of the payload/range capability lost later, but this also depends on the outcome of Airbus' weight reduction efforts.

      The longer time before A350-1000 enters service, the greater the opportunity of its weight being reduced.

  3. Now that the uprgrade price of the NEO and MAX are being compared, what is the cost of doing the A350-1000 derivative? Stretch, new engine core, revised wing, revised landing gear. 2 billion, 4 billion, how much money are we talking here?

  4. Daniel, the RR projected TSFC of the TrentXWB-97's was used for the 8400 nm range projection hence the slightly larger TSFC has already been accounted for. Why do you seemingly try to muddy the water?

    The kind of analysis presented by one of your readers is totally inadequate. In order to maximise the range of an aircraft, not only the lift to drag ratio must be maximised, the airspeed and specfic fuel consumption, which btw are dependent on the Mach number, must also be taken into account. This can be written as: Total Propulsive Effciency X (Lift/Drag) => Maximum Range (Derived from the Breguet range equation). Talking about "fuel available" without knowing the TSFC figure is a meaningless undertaking. Also, growth in OEW during development might be more than offset by a better than projected aerodynamic performance. It happened on the A380 programme, could well happen on the A350 programme as well.

  5. OV-099,

    Airbus has only said the SFC impact is "less than 1%" but your assumption would make sense. SFC only applies to engine whereas block fuel burn refers to the actual fuel burned by an aircraft.

    The better than expected aerodynamic performance, such as better lift-to-drag ratio, will indeed offset some of block fuel burn impact by the overweight, the issue is whether it is sufficiently large to offset the overweight. For the A380, it was 5-6 tonnes overweight when it entered service, but Airbus has been successful in gradually trimming this to 2-3 tonnes by the end of 2012.

    Still the A380's block fuel burn, measured in litres of fuel per passenger per 100 km, is still higher than specification at 3.0-3.1L, instead of the 2.9L specified. The same applies to the 787, with the ZA001 9.8 tonnes overweight, LN7-19 6 tonnes overweight, LN20+ 4 tonnes overweight, thus resulting the early-built 787s being 6% less fuel efficient than the LN90, the 1st example meeting airline-specific OEW & MEW targets.

    At the end of the day, design changes will save weight and for the A350, the later it enters service, the better it will be able to the meet the original specifications in block fuel burn, payload/range capability, etc.

  6. I think next year the discussion about the A350-1000 will have disappeared. Some undisputed A brands will have placed orders. Folks that question the aircraft now won't like to be remembered about that.

    Like the ones who said the A320 was about to be leapfrogged a yr ago, the A400 would be 12 t overweight 3 yrs ago, said the A380 would be an underperforming niche aircraft 5 years ago and the A330 would be out of production by now 7 yrs ago.

  7. AFAIR this thread collected all the relevant links last fall :

    Imho it doesn't bring anything to a discussion to question established facts ad nauseam or by equalising spec misses via leaving out the quantitativ property.

    Apropos: My ( medium educated ) guess is that Boeing will plan to spend $4b talk about spending $2b by limiting scope of covered spending and finaly summed up at the end will have spent north of $7b ;-)

  8. Matthew,

    Can't you tone your strong tone down to a more moderate one?

    You also should check your own claims before giving baloneys on Daniel's points.

    GE has a bigger gap to plug than RR?

    Genx only missed SFC by 2.4% & RR T1000 Package A missed by 3%-4%!

    But Daniel, you got to answer where does the 6% difference btwn LN90 & "early-built examples" you cited.

  9. Re Andy,

    The 6% fuel burn difference is what is contained by an internal Boeing brochure seen by one of our sources. It is on the block fuel burn per seat mile. The document also shows A330-200 HGW is just 2% better in fuel burn per seat mile than the 767-300ER while late-built 787-8s would be 18% better than the A330-200.

    For a complete review of the 767-300ER, 787-8 and A330-200 HGW, please purchase our online report "Hot Air - The Mid-sized Widebody Race In Early This Decade" at

    It includes complete comparison, mission assumptions, exclusive data. Unlike some people, you really have to buy it in order for a broad, balanced and complete view.

  10. Daniel, may I respectfully suggest that you work on eliminating your very long run-on sentences. Otherwise a good report. Does anyone know if A has established even provisional production rates for the A359 after first delivery?

    1. Hi Chris,

      I will certainly take your advice & work on it. My sentences are always excessively long.


    2. Is this directed towards the 787 paid report? Then in that case, the advice should be directed towards me.

      If not, then is it directed towards Aspire's 787 article?

  11. Matthew,

    Then GE's PIP1 & PIP2 will improve 2.9%, according to GE. Then 2.4% miss minus 2.9% should be .5% better when RR is "still within 1%" even with Pack C.

    Shouldn't you be very familiar with GE?

    1. What you find in the press is "GE: PIP2 will bring sfc withing 1% of spec" ( and timed for turn of 2012/13)
      Interpreting the double speak "within 1%" should translate to (spec-0.5%) &lt (PIP2 sfc) &lt (spec-1%)

  12. Matthew, the payload-range component is basically taken as a mix of Airbus, Boeing, and other sources.

    Fuel burn is measured in various ways, and weight is taken from our sources at Boeing.

    The report isn't intended to measure ANA's 787, but rather new build 787-8s for new orders in the 2018-2020 timeframe.

    The estimates for the 332 and 767-300ER are a synthesis of A and B published materials, internal resources, PIANO-X, and other aviation company figures.

    The 787-8 figure, for fuel burn and weights, are given from Boeing (weights), and synthesized in the same way above (fuel burn).

  13. ACAPS: you mean the document published in december ? 7878.pdf
    via this page:
    Seems to have been taken down.

    There was an involved discussion on though:

  14. Matthew,

    These are figures for aircraft around LN 90, and have been confirmed by our Boeing sources. The one assumption we make different, is increased weight reduction for seats, IFE, and other components over time (the additional usage of slim-line seats, and thinner and lighter IFE), and accounts for the roughly ~1 tonne difference in our typical OEW (~10 lbs. lighter per passenger).

    The ACAPS document (which was recently taken down), had a figure of 111.5 tonnes as the 787-8's OEW, and thus given what we mentioned above our figures are in line with Boeing's.

    Fuel burn data is not public, though we did consider both Boeing and Airbus public documents in coming up with these estimates (adjusting for their contrasting assumption)

  15. If fuel burn and OEW target were even close to target, Boeing would have told everyone. Promising weight reductions in interiors/ IFE is a very bad sign. BFE, not made by Boeing and specified by the airlines.. Like a car manufacterer promising the car will be lighter / more efficient because the luggage can decrease.

    1. Right.
      Lighter stuffing is available to anyone ( for initial delivery _and_ for ugrading existing frames.

  16. Uwe & kjeese,

    Let me clarify Vinay's point. LN90 meeting the the airline-specific OEW and manufacturer's empty weight (MEW) does not depend on lighter seating and IFE. Rather, it depends on the availability of much lighter 787-9 parts.

    But one assumption made in Vinay's 787 report is it is possible to further shed 1 tonne in the OEW figure by adopting lighter seating. Though this assumption does not affect the 787's assessment meaningfully.

    On Aspire Aviation's comment policy, on the other hand, all authors will try their best to respond to comments, except some vicious attacks filled with exaggerations, distortions and contents that are taken out-of-context that are not productive to the discussion.

    Hope this clarification will help readers understand our comment policy further.

    1. Thanks for the explanation Daniel.

      I still have this little voice in my head that says Boeing will do the final step to onspec weight by changing spec or introducing another kind of double speak wrapper ;-? i.e. I am rather sceptic that Boeing will hit their LN90 target squarely.

      slightly OT: The finally produced iteration of the -8 may well emerge as a -9 shrink than the other way round. ( Old brit saying: never buy a Mk.1 ;-)

  17. ersonally I'm confident that the A350s will meet performance specifications, like the A400, A330F and A380 before it. The supply chain has been a point of concern from the day the XWB was launched. Many suppliers have been making the transision to CFRP structures. Airbus took extra time to allow this, but as the A380 showed, even indirect processes (CAD software) resulting in minor technical issues (wiring bundle bending radius) can result in serious delays.

  18. Well, Matthew. The 6% are 787 "early" build-standard versus 787 "later" build standard. If you want to know the specifics, ask Boeing Sales. It's their figures.

  19. [...] entering final assembly in March ahead of its first flight in the second quarter of 2013 (“Airbus faces a crucial year on A350 development“, 25th Jan, 12), the same holds true for the competitive response from its transatlantic [...] Reply
  20. Just read this:

    Does this scream "further A350 delays imminent" to anyone else? Certainly if they decide to go forward with these A330 enhancements, I would think so. Currently, Airbus projects the A359's EIS as mid-2014, and I would think that even a small program of A330 upgrades would take almost that long to go from final approval to delivery. Since we can pretty much consider it a given that the EIS of the A350 (combined with that of the 787-9 around the same time) will spell the end for the A330, the only way I can see an A330 upgrade program yielding any significant return is if the A350 gets delayed another year or two. Certainly any major upgrades, such as re-engining, would take at least 5 years (based on the lengths of the corresponding A320neo and 737-MAX programs), and if the A350 gets delayed that long, Airbus will have serious problems, comparable to Boeing and the 787.

    1. Acutally it whispers "the 787-8 -9 ... will not be available in acceptable numbers in the foreseeable future".
      And the harmonics are sung to the tune of "With a little help from its sister the A330 is just good enough, ..."
      The Airbus designed new wingtip devices appear to give excellent results. (~3.5% above the current fences@ ~1.5%)
      Independently customers have asked Airbus to NEO the A330. Will be watch this.

      1. Uwe,

        What Airbus has done with the 332 is nothing short of extraordinary. A 332neo all in would approach 787-8 operating costs on sub 3500nm missions, miss by 3-5% on 3500-5500nm, and at least be able to perform the 5500nm+ missions.

        Meanwhile an A330-300neo would be a force to be reckoned with on the sub-4000nm routes.

        We are still running the numbers and working internally to clarify our position, but you will definitely hear from us on the prospects on an A330neo :)

    2. Even if Uwe and Vinay are correct about 787-9 delays and the performance of an A330 neo, I still don’t think it matters. I just don’t see how the timeline works out here, based on some key points.

      - The A330 only has a business case before the A350 enters service; the A350 is the stated direct replacement, and even with upgrades, the A330 is not going to match up to the A350.
      - A re-engining of the A330, based on the projected lengths of the MAX and A320neo projects, would likely take about 5 years, while a smaller upgrade package (sharklets and other small changes) would likely take about 2. Both of these timelines would put the new A330’s EIS either even with, or well after, the current target EIS of the A359.
      - Any further issues with the 789 are irrelevant; the A330 will only get those orders if the A350 isn’t in service yet. If the A350 is in service or close to it, then it will get any orders from airlines bailing out of the 787.

      Even if Vinay is completely correct about the performance of an A330neo, how is that going to help in 2017? The A359 will certainly be in service then, if not the A358 as well. For that reason, I really don’t think they’re going to re-engine the A330; they’ll add sharklets and make a couple of other minor changes (basically equivalent to the 777’s performance improvement package). But still, I don’t see them being able to complete any meaningful upgrade program within the currently stated timeline for the A359’s EIS. So if they follow through on the A330 upgrades, it will only be because the A350 is delayed again, and the fact that Airbus is keeping this option open means they see at least a decent chance of such a delay happening.

      1. The A350-900 (8000nm) covers the range slot above the A330 ( 6000nm ) and will be a slightly
        heavier plane ( MEW/OEW wise ). Thus they don't compete all that much.
        An upgraded A330-* would be to the 787 what the 748i was to be to the A380. ( siphoning off orders
        by way of being slightly less overall and being available, cheap to do and buy : a disruptive product ).

        Boeing needs Dreamliner orders at todays full price.
        If airlines can be impressed with the advantages of an overall slightly less but exceptionally mature plane that is available "now" and at high production rates too ...
        Easy money for Airbus and a problem for Boeing. And probably a bit of Airbus payback for the "Plastic Fantastic" meme campaign.

  21. [...] Singapore Airlines’ targeted delivery date seems unrealistic and unachievable at best (“Airbus faces a crucial year in A350 development“, 25th Jan, 12). SIA spokesperson added: “We remain in talks with Boeing on the delivery [...] Reply

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