where aspirations take flight.

Boeing 777X & 787-10 show the lure of the X factor

  • 787-10 to have better fuel burn per seat than A350-900
  • 320-seat 787-10’s economics unrivalled & unparalleled against a de-rated A350-900
  • 787 production ramp-up beyond 10/month “a foregone conclusion”
  • 777X EIS postponed to 2nd quarter 2020
  • 777X internal widening craves out frames between floor and overhead bins
  • 777X internal widening to feature reduced frame web height & thickness of insulation
  • 777X to have a small door immediately after Door 3 for servicing galleys
  • 777X small door necessitated by Door 3’s close proximity to trailing edge of the wing even with retracted flaps
  • GE9X engine to be the largest engine ever built by GE

It is the lure of the X factor. When Boeing launched the highly anticipated 320-seat 787-10 Dreamliner at this year’s Paris Air Show, it not only symbolised the emergence of the Chicago-based plane-maker from the embarrassing 3-month long grounding of the revolutionary carbon composite aircraft earlier this year, but also offered a rare glimpse into the effectiveness of its future bracketing widebody strategy that vows to “box in” its transatlantic arch-rival Airbus.

These moves are designed to contain the rise of the Airbus A350 XWB (extra widebody) aircraft family, whose successful 4 hours and 5 minutes first flight on 14 June and a second test flight 5 days later paved the way for its fly-by on 21 June, the last day of the Paris Air Show. Ironically, it is exactly the increasing momentum of the A350 programme, including the largest 350-seat A350-1000 variant which saw United Airlines converting its previous order for 25 -900s into the larger version plus another 10 new orders, that has put a renewed impetus for Boeing to launch the revamped 777 later this year.

However, once the 777X is launched, most likely at November’s Dubai Air Show, the competitive landscape in the widebody segment is poised to be altered as the final piece of the puzzle falls into place, with the 787-10 being the uncontested leader in the medium to long-haul A330-200, -300, A340 and 777-200ER (extended range) replacement market whereas the 407-seat 777-9X and 353-seat -8X will eclipse the A350 aircraft family by offering the perfect mix of growth opportunities, frequencies and cargo capacities at the former aircraft, as well as the latter providing an ultra long-haul range with a decent amount of payload that makes once economically unfeasible routes possible.

“Our development focus to complement and extend today’s twin-aisle family means we offer a full array of airplanes that match seat count and range to the needs of the market,” Boeing Commercial Airplanes (BCA) vice president (VP) and general manager (GM) of airplane development Scott Fancher said.

Image Courtesy of Boeing

Image Courtesy of Boeing

787-10: another game-changer revolutionising yet another market segment
It is no coincidence that Boeing launched the 320-seat double-stretched 787-10 Dreamliner on the back of 102 orders and commitments, consisting of 30 firm orders from Singapore Airlines (SIA), 20 from United Airlines ten of which is converted from an existing order, the first-ever commitment of General Electric Capital Aviation Services (GECAS) for 10 787-10s, British Airways (BA) for 12 examples and Air Lease Corporation (ALC) signing up to 30 787-10s and 3 -9s.

Crucially, the slew of orders underscores the 787-10’s unique market position as the only competitive future offering in the medium to long-haul segment that caters to transatlantic crossings and intra-Asia regional flights where annual passenger traffic growth in the region will total 6.3% per year, outpacing a 5% worldwide average annual growth for the next 20 years, according to Boeing’s latest current market outlook (CMO).

“The 787-10 Dreamliner will be the most-efficient jetliner in history. The airplane’s operating economics are unmatched and it has all the incredible passenger-pleasing features that set the 787 family apart as truly special. The 787-10 is 25% more efficient than airplanes of its size today and more than 10% better than anything being offered by the competition for the future,” Boeing Commercial Airplanes (BCA) chief executive Ray Conner said.

“Our ongoing investment in the 787 family is well-founded. With the 787-10, we’ve designed an exceptional airplane supported by an efficient and integrated production system that can meet increasing demands and create new opportunities for us. Our team and our customers are excited about growing the product line and expanding our presence with this family of airplanes,” Conner added.

Indeed, the 320-seat 787-10 will have a 25% lower block fuel burn than a 295-seat A330-300 while carrying 25 more passengers and flying 600nm (nautical miles) further. Its ability to hold 2 more LD-3 containers in each of the forward and aft fuselage versus the smaller -9 will lead to a significant advantage in terms of cargo-hauling capability over the A330-300, whose 5,751ft³ total cargo volume is 18.2% smaller than the -10’s total cargo volume of 6,798ft³ and a main cargo volume of 6,400ft³.

The 787-10’s 250,830kg maximum take-off weight (MTOW), 36.5% higher than the A330-300’s 242 tonnes, ensures it will be a superb growth platform for Asian carriers which are firmly in Boeing’s sight for the newest member of the 787 Dreamliner family. This importance could not be understated since there is a large installed A330-300 customer base in Asia/Pacific whose fleet will have to be replaced sooner or later as the popular aircraft age.

Examples include part of Cathay Pacific’s 38 A330-300s and its wholly-owned subsidiary Dragonair’s 18 examples; China Airlines 22; Thai Airways 27; Malaysia Airlines (MAS) and Korean Air 16; Air China, China Eastern Airlines (CEA) and China Southern Airlines 11, 15 and 8, respectively. Chinese carriers also signed a deal for 18 A330s as part of an earlier order of 45 examples that was at the centre of China’s row with the European Union (EU) emissions trading scheme (ETS). Cathay Pacific is in the meantime taking 4 A330-300 deliveries this year, directly replacing 4 ageing examples that are being returned to lessors.

Moreover, while it is rare an airplane is a “one-size-fits-all” solution for airlines, the 787-10 is a black swan that is versatile in replacing 6 predecessors in one fell swoop: the 777-200s and -300s, A330-200s and -300s, A340-300s and 777-200ERs. These models have a combined order book of 2,016 examples and grabbing a slice of it would be a lucrative business.

“[The 787-10] will be one of the most powerful widebody aircraft for decades ahead. We believe it will be very profitable for us. What I see is a lot of the original 777-200s and A340s will be candidates for replacement by the 787-10,” Air Lease Corporation (ALC) founder and chief executive Steven Udvar-Hazy commented.

In particular, the 5.49m (18ft) stretch over the -9 with a maximum landing weight (MLW) of 201,800kg and a maximum zero fuel weight (MZFW) of 192,800kg, is suitable for medium-haul where the extra range of the A330-200 and 777-200ER is not needed.

Such routes include British Airways’ South American routes from London Heathrow to Buenos Aires (EZE), Sao Paulo (GRU) and Rio de Janeiro (GIG) that are respectively 5,965nm, 5,065nm, 4,954nm long and flights to Vancouver, Los Angeles and San Francisco that are 4,080nm, 4,713nm and 4,637nm long, respectively, as well as replacing the fuel-guzzling Boeing 747-400 on United Airlines’ transatlantic routes over which the 787-10 burns 35% less fuel per seat.

Its 7,000nm range with 320 passengers in a 3-class configuration assuming 85% of annual wind covers over 90% of the world’s twin-aisle flights, Boeing says. An Aspire Aviation study showed it covers 93% of the A330-200’s 7,500nm range, 90.6% of the 777-200ER’s 7,725nm range and 86.4% of the A350-900’s 8,100nm mission (“Boeing 787 is a dream com true, again.“, 26th Apr, 13), despite carrying 67 more passengers and 41.6% more revenue cargo than the A330-200.

Most strikingly, the 787-10 stacks up against its future competitors very well, with a 13% block fuel burn advantage, 10% lower cash operating cost (COC), 4% lower relative trip cost and a 8% lower relative seat-mile cost on a 6,000nm mission against the 314-seat A350-900. It will also have a 5% lower COC than the 350-seat A350-1000 on such 6,000nm sectors.

In response, Airbus is offering a de-rated regional version of the A350-900 which an Airbus spokeswoman was quoted as saying would “match the payload/range capability of the 787-10″. Make no mistake, a de-rated A350-900 would nevertheless offer a better payload/range capability than the 787-10, which Aspire Aviation believes will be de-rated to the Rolls-Royce Trent XWB-75’s 75,000lbs of thrust on the existing -800 variant in order to preserve commonality with no change to the major weight figures.

Yet it is an ill-conceived argument for Airbus and its supporters alike arguing on such grounds, as such a de-rating would yield a 7,618nm range for the A350-900 – extra range that is not needed with significant deadweight embedded to the aircraft. For instance, the 787-10 will have a considerably lighter airframe owing to the 24% smaller empennage and 20% smaller wing, in addition to its narrower but optimal cabin width of 5.49m versus the 5.61m for the A350-900 and 5.28m for the A330s.

“If it’s identically configured, the -10 has a little bit of an edge on the -900. The -900 has a little more range, but this has lower fuel burn,” Air Lease Corporation (ALC) chief executive Steven Udvar Hazy, the self-professed godfather of the aircraft-leasing industry, concurred.

“The real focus on the -10 is efficiency. It’s just a super-efficient airplane. We didn’t add more gross weight to get more range or to keep the range, we kept the same basic gross weight so you take a little bit of a reduction in the range but a huge efficiency improvement,” Boeing Commercial Airplanes (BCA) vice president (VP) of 787-9 development Mark Jenks told The Australian.

Image Courtesy of Boeing

Image Courtesy of Boeing

The 787-10 will build on the soaring momentum on the 787 programme, with clean final assembly lines and 45% and 39% reduced cost per job at Charleston and Everett, respectively. Following the 787’s 3-month long grounding ended in April, the 787 has only suffered from a few not uncommon and insignificant technical glitches, such as a diversion of a United Airlines 787 Denver-Tokyo Narita flight to Seattle caused by an oil filter problem, the failure to start an engine and an air-conditioning power supply problem onboard 2 All Nippon Airways (ANA) 787s, in addition to a sensor problem on a Japan Airlines (JAL) 787.

Boeing also delivered the first 787s to China Southern Airlines, Thomson Airways, British Airways (BA) and Norwegian Air Shuttle and is on course to deliver over 60 examples in 2013, if not more.

Quite frankly, what Boeing has to repeat on the 787-10 is not the perennial delays, cost overruns with a US$28.8 billion gross inventory and a US$17.1 billion deferred production balance. Rather, the world’s largest plane-maker has to repeat the remarkable progress shown on the 280-seat, 8,050nm 787-9, which has begun final assembly on May 30 and is on schedule to have a first flight in August or September before its entry into service (EIS) in April 2014, Aspire Aviation‘s sources at Boeing say.

This is evident in a Boeing official’s confirmation for the first time that the first 787-9 ever-built, line number LN126, is underweight by “a few hundred pounds”, verifying an earlier Aspire Aviation report. This is a culmination of lessons learnt from the -8 which saw only LN103 meeting airline-specific operating empty weight (OEW) and manufacturer’s empty weight (MEW) targets and the elimination of the side-of-body fix that reduces 363kg (800lbs) in weight and the risk of fatigue.

“The 787-9 leverages the visionary design of the 787-8. With a 20-foot (6m) stretch to the fuselage, the 787-9 will be able to carry 40 more passengers an additional 300 nautical miles (555km). The 787-9 also features additional aerodynamics improvements and technological enhancements that increase range and value for our customers, including some internal enhancements to the composite structure that reduce airplane weight and some airplane system and configuration changes that improve fuel efficiency. We’ll evaluate these technologies and features for possible incorporation into the 787-8 using our disciplined process, which will lead us to the appropriate business decisions. We are unable to comment on specific technologies or enhancements because they are proprietary,” Boeing spokesman Scott Lefeber said in an e-mail reply to questions posed by Aspire Aviation.

Boeing has used its test aircraft designated as ZA004 to undertake flight test of the 74,000lbs Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 Package C, which lowered its specific fuel consumption (SFC) by 1% compared to the Package B engine, an Aviation Week report says. The Package B engine in turn reduced engine SFC by 2.2% from the Package A engine which missed the original SFC target by 4.3% (“Boeing 777X & 787-10X unfazed by 787 battery woes“, 14th Feb, 13).

The 787-10 will be equipped with the 76,000lbs Rolls-Royce Trent 1000-TEN (thrust efficiency new technology) engine which is going to reduce specific fuel consumption (SFC) by 3% over the Package B engine or the General Electric (GE) GEnx-1B PIP 2 (performance improvement package) of which the initial GEnx-1B missed the original SFC target by close to 3% before the PIP 1 claws back 1.7% and the PIP 2 another 1%. Contrary to the Aviation Week report, however, Aspire Aviation understands that the Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 Package B still missed the SFC target by close to 3%, which will be brought onto target with the Trent 1000-TEN featuring a rising-line intermediate-pressure compressor (IPC) and high-pressure compressor (HPC) blisks.

Intriguingly, the biggest challenge facing the 787-10 and the 787 programme overall is the possibility of it falling victim to its own success. Granted, the 787-10 is in strong demand and offers a precious opportunity for Boeing to improve the margin on the 787 programme with minimal investment and command a premium when carriers decide to up-gauge their existing 787 order books. If anything, the 787 delivery slots are all but fully filled until 2018 or 2019 and that this lack of availability could become a deterrence for potential customers placing more 787 orders, including those for the -10.

Therefore ramping up the 787 production beyond the current target of 10 units per month is a pre-requisite to fully realising the 787-10’s market potential and Aspire Aviation thinks this has become a necessity now that strong customer demand for the -10 was demonstrated. Investment bank Credit Suisse noted that Boeing already has tooling in place at Charleston to achieve 12 units per month, albeit an eventual ramp-up to 14 per month would require major investment such as a second autoclave at the Charleston final assembly line (FAL) (“Boeing to make up lost grounds on all fronts“, 27th May, 13).

“That will put pressure on us to think seriously about increasing production rates above the 10 a month, which is already a huge production rate for a widebody airplane. That is a great problem to have,” Boeing chief executive Jim McNerney said in a Bloomberg interview.

Having said that, the marginal benefits are going to outweigh the marginal costs involved in making those investments, as the largest widebody segment of the market is at stake with 4,530 small twin-aisles with 200 to 300 seats being required in the next 20 years at US$1.1 trillion. It is also a sizeable market in which Boeing is most likely to have a de facto monopoly, as the business case of Airbus A330s will become increasingly difficult to justify in light of stubbornly high fuel prices and mounting environmental awareness, with heavy discounts being unable to offset the 25% block fuel burn advantage since fuel accounts for as many as 35-40% of an aircraft’s cash operating cost (COC) these days. This is unlike the US$1.09 trillion medium twin-aisle 300-400 seat market where Airbus fiercely competes in with its 314-seat A350-900 and 350-seat A350-1000 and let alone the 270-seat A350-800 shrunk variant is struggling with the worst overweight issue and is not an optimised platform at all.

All in all, a further 787 production ramp-up beyond 10 units per month is a “foregone conclusion” and the sooner this decision is taken following the successful achievement of ramping up to 10 per month by the end of 2013, the better.

Image Courtesy of Boeing

Image Courtesy of Boeing

777X: ‘Game On’ with the A350-1000
The other part of the equation is the 777X, a major upgrade to the highly popular 365-seat Boeing 777-300ER with a 4th-generation supercritical carbon fibre reinforced polymer (CFRP) wing and a new General Electric GE9X engine that reduces specific fuel consumption (SFC) by 10%.

Though no matter how promising the 777X will be, Boeing will have to move fast to launch the aircraft in order to fend off the threat posed by the 350-seat Airbus A350-1000. The A350-1000 has already secured blue-chip airlines as customers such as British Airways (BA), Cathay Pacific, Air Lease Corporation (ALC) and United Airlines and Airbus vows to unlock Boeing’s tight grip on its most loyal customers – Japan Airlines (JAL) and All Nippon Airways (ANA).

“It is just a matter of time before Japan Airlines or All Nippon Airways fly Airbus widebody aircraft,” Airbus chief operating officer (COO) customers John Leahy declared.

Japan Airlines (JAL) chairman Masaru Onishi said the airline will start replacing around 40 of Boeing 777s in its fleet from 2019 onwards and is evaluating the 787-10, 777-9X and A350-1000 whereas All Nippon Airways (ANA) chief executive Osamu Shinobe seems open to potentially ordering the A350-1000 as a 777 replacement.

“The A350-1000 can be a good candidate for us. It is realistic to consider this as a replacement for the 777. In the near future, when we look at the replacement candidates, this can be a very good and strong candidate,” All Nippon Airways (ANA) chief executive Osamu Shinobe asserted.

Yet Boeing is making good progress towards launching the airplane later this year, with strong customer demand from carriers such as Dubai-based Emirates Airline, Qatar Airways and British Airways (BA). After all, it is paramount to design an airplane well and ensure its design is competitive and solid before progressing to the next stage of development.

This is in stark contrast to its arch-rival Airbus A350 which evolved from an A330-derived platform dubbed the A350 Mark 1 in 2005 to the clean-sheet A350 XWB in July 2006 and the largest member in the family, the -1000, was redesigned in July 2010 with a 400nm longer range to 8,400nm (nautical miles), a bigger wing featuring an extension of trailing edge and high-lift devices, a higher thrust Rolls-Royce Trent XWB-97 engines to 97,000lbs from 93,000lbs as well as an increase in its maximum take-off weight (MTOW) to 308 tonnes from 298 tonnes.

This makes Airbus chief operating officer (COO) customers John Leahy’s claim that the A350 has outsold the 787 in the past 5 years by a factor of better than 2:1 rings hollow, not least because the calamitous breakdown in the 787’s global supply chain and the resulting perennial delays were primarily to blame for the dearth of Dreamliner orders, but also because the A350 is designed to take on the 777 as well.

The A350 XWB garnered 232 net orders between 2008 and 2012 whereas the 787 grabbed just 31 net orders. However, when factoring in the time lapse following the aircraft’s formal launch, the A350 XWB has received 535 orders 5 years since its launch in July 2007 or 505 orders should one consider its launch to be in 2005 with the A350 Mk 1. In comparison, the 787 has received 910 orders for the first 5 years since its launch in 2004. Furthermore, during 2008-2012 the 777 garnered 387 net orders, including the landmark year of 2010 when Boeing recorded 200 net orders for the aircraft. On a combined basis, the 777/787 sold 418 examples in the past 5 years, outselling the A350 XWB by a factor of 1.8, although Airbus is likely to contest such comparisons by claiming the A330 outsold the 787 by close to 2:1 from 2008 to 2012.

Nonetheless the game is now really on with two competing future product lines – 777X and 787 in Seattle and the A350 XWB in Toulouse, with the Boeing 777X and 787 families comprising 5 members ranging from the 240-seat 787-8 to the 407-seat 777-9X whereas there are sizeable voids in Airbus’ future product line between the A321neo and 270-seat A350-800 as well as the 350-seat A350-1000 and the 525-seat A380.

Boeing 777X slide presentation

“The breadth of that product line will give customers around the world more choice than our competitor will be able to offer,” Boeing chief executive Jim McNerney said in a Bloomberg interview.

Boeing confirmed the 777X will feature a folding wingtip to the outermost 11ft (3.35m) with a hydraulics actuator and a piano-type topside hinge, thus enabling the 777X to remain as an International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Code E aircraft at airport gates and on taxiway while being a Code F aircraft on the runway. This means the 777X will have a wingspan of 64.8m (212.7ft) with the folding wingtip in the “folded up” position which extends into a 71.1m (233.4ft) wingspan once it is on a runway and in flight.

This will add 30m² (322.9ft²) wing area to the 777-300ER’s 436.8m² and contribute to a 12% better lift-to-drag (L/D) ratio. A noteworthy point is, the folding wingtip on the 777X will only have a weight penalty of 800lbs with no moveable parts against the 3,200lbs associated with the original concept studied for the 777-200 in 1995.

Such a folding wingtip would be similar to a “scaled-up” version of the CFRP replacement wings for the Northrop Grumman A-6E Intruder fighter jet while the 777X will be certified in the “folded up” position, with the deflection of ailerons and spoilers compensating the imbalance of lift should a rare failure of the folding wingtip occur during mid-flight.

“It is as complex as a landing gear door,” Boeing Commercial Airplanes (BCA) vice president (VP) and general manager (GM) of airplane development Scott Fancher insisted.

Boeing also confirmed at the Paris Air Show that the 777X will feature a 787-styled cockpit and larger, dimmable 787-styled windows, thereby verifying an earlier Aspire Aviation report (“Boeing 777X to spark mini-jumbo war“, 28th Mar, 13). Additionally, Boeing says the 777X will have the widest cabin in its class with 11% more floor area than an A350 and is wider both at seated eye height and armrest height. Aspire Aviation‘s multiple sources at Boeing explain that the 777X’s “internal widening” to make a 10-abreast configuration more comfortable involves craving out the frames between the cabin floor and the overhead bins while reducing the frame web height and the thickness of insulation.

“By taking advantage of the widest cabin in its class, we can create a unique flying experience that passengers will seek out,” Fancher said.

Meanwhile, Boeing upped the thrust of the General Electric (GE) GE9X engine to 102,000lbs lately from under 100,000lbs while boosting the 777-9X’s maximum take-off weight (MTOW) to 351,534kg (775,000lbs) from 340,000kg and the -8X’s to the same figure which will increase the -9X’s range to 8,100nm (nautical miles) and the -8X’s to 9,480nm.

This is crucial as the GE9X will be the major driver underpinning the improvements that the 777X will offer, with the engine having a 131.5in fan diameter being the largest engine the world’s largest engine-maker has ever built. It will have 16 blades compared to GEnx’s 18 while adopting a twin-annular pre-mixing swirler III (TAPS III) with an improved fibre and resin system, which includes the use of heat-resistant ceramic matrix composite (CMC). In terms of propulsive efficiency, the GE9X will see its pressure compressor ratio being boosted from 23:1 to 27:1 and the overall pressure ratio to 61:1 from 42:1 and feature a 10.3:1 bypass ratio.

“Yes, the GE9X engine will be larger than the GE90-115B, making it the largest fan diameter for GE. GE and Boeing have worked together on the engine design for several years and the GE9X engine was designed specifically for the 777X,” GE Aviation spokeswoman Deborah Case told Aspire Aviation.

On the other hand, Aspire Aviation‘s sources at the Chicago-based airframer say Boeing will add a small door immediately after door 3 on the 777-9X and immediately after the wing on the -8X for servicing galleys. On the 777-9X, this is primarily driven by the close proximity between the trailing edge of the wing and door 3, which may increase the risk of “ramp rash” and result in costly airplane on ground (AOG) time and expense. Eliminating the overwing exit on the 777-9X also saves 1,000lbs in weight.

A350-900

A350-1000

777-300ER

777-8X

777-9X

787-10

3-class pax no.

314

350

365

353

407

320

Range (nm)

8,100

8,400

7,825

9,480

8,100

7,000

MTOW (kg)

268,000

308,000

351,530

351,534

351,534

250,830

775,000lbs

775,000lbs

553,000lbs

MLW (kg)

205,000

233,000

251,290

n/a

n/a

201,800

445,000lbs

MZFW (kg)

192,000

220,000

237,683

n/a

n/a

192,800

425,000lbs

MEW/MWE (kg)

115,700

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

OEW (kg)

n/a

n/a

167,829

n/a

n/a

n/a

Overall length (m)

66.89

73.88

73.9

69.55

76.48

68.28

Wingspan (m)

64.75

64.75

64.8

71.1

71.1

60.1

Diameter (m)

5.96

5.96

6.19

6.19

6.19

5.77

Cabin Width (m)

5.61

5.61

5.86

n/a

n/a

5.49

Engines

Rolls-Royce Trent XWB-84

Rolls-Royce Trent XWB-97

General Electric GE90-115B

General Electric GE9X

General Electric GE9X

General Electric GEnx-1B PIP 2

Rolls-Royce Trent 1000-TEN

Thrust (lbs)

84,000

97,000

115,300

102,000

102,000

76,000

Sources: Airbus, Boeing, Aspire Aviation estimates

Newfound conservatism in extending market dominance
While the 777X and 787-10 promise to deliver game-changing economics in a US$2.19 trillion market for 7,830 twin-aisle airplanes over the next 20 years, according to Boeing’s newly-released current market outlook (CMO) 2013-2032, down 1.5% from the 7,950 airplanes at US$2.08 trillion forecast last year, there is a newfound conservatism in bringing these revolutionary airplanes to the market.

This painful lesson stemming from the 787 experience is highlighted by Boeing advancing the re-engined 737 MAX’s entry into service (EIS) by up to 6 months from late fourth-quarter 2017 to the third-quarter of 2017, and reinforced by the 787-10’s final assembly and flight test in 2017 and EIS in 2018 despite the groundwork of a further stretching the 787-9 has already been laid implying a minimal amount of engineering resources being required.

The 777X is no exception. Aspire Aviation can exclusively reveal that the entry into service (EIS) of the 777-9X has been postponed to the second quarter of 2020 from the original timeline of mid-2019 following a fourth-quarter 2017 roll-out and a 9-month flight test programme which ends in late third-quarter 2018. This means the built-in margin of the programme has considerably expanded, especially so as the GE9X’s engine certification will take place in May 2018 following a final design freeze known as “Toll Gate 6″ in 2015 and its first engine to test (FETT) in 2016.

Although the 777-9X will enter into service close to 3 years later than the mid-2017 service entry of the A350-1000, the 407-seat aircraft symbolises Boeing’s bet that the long-term growth of 5% per annum in world passenger traffic will shift the “sweet spot” of the “big twin” market towards a notch above today’s 365-seat 777-300ER.

In doing so, Asia/Pacific and Middle Eastern airlines could utilise the 777-9X as a growth machine and a direct Boeing 747-400 replacement while balancing capacity, frequency and cargo capacity nicely. Its 20% lower fuel burn per seat and a 15% lower cash operating cost (COC) will also translate into eye-watering seat-mile costs lower than that of the 747-8I Intercontinental and competitive with the A380’s without assuming a significant financial risk and the potential spillover demand from price-inelastic business travellers.

This fits into premium carriers’ business model perfectly as economic theories state that closer the actual departure time to the preferred departure time, the more likely it is for a premium carrier to capture the last-minute walk-up business travellers. Such examples include the Sydney-Hong Kong route where Qantas is going to reduce its daily flight frequency to 1 per day with an A380 against 4 daily flights offered by Cathay Pacific.

The 76.48m long 777-9X will also feature an unprecedentedly large revenue cargo volume from today’s 777-300ER, let alone the A380’s 2,995ft³ revenue cargo volume out of a 5,875ft³ total cargo volume, as well as the 747-8I Intercontinental’s 3,895ft³ revenue cargo volume out of a total cargo volume of 6,345ft³. This will provide an opportunity for Asian and Middle Eastern carriers to make a stellar profit from sellable underbelly cargo space as these cargoes could carry a profit margin as high as 60%-70%. Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific, for example, carries 70% of all its cargoes in passenger aircraft’s belly space.

“All the 777 operators are interested in the 777X,” Emirates president Tim Clark said in an Aviation Week interview, adding that the 777X will garner “a few hundred firm orders” once it is launched. The A350-1000 “does not have the legs of the 777X” and the world’s largest international carrier only envisions the aircraft to perform best on 10-12 hours missions.

“I am more interested in the -9 for one very simply reason and that is that it will perform better than what they say,” Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar Al-baker told Bloomberg.

Unsurprisingly, Boeing’s transatlantic arch-rival Airbus disagrees and the duo trades jabs between themselves déjà vu all over again.

“[Boeing] will discover that a derivative will not compete with a clean-sheet design. We don’t respond to paper aircraft. Nobody asked them to add more seats,” Airbus chief operating officer (COO) customers John Leahy lamented, claiming the 777X is a “heavy paper aircraft”.

“It won’t be that bad. I think we’re going to be in decent shape. We still believe we have operating economics that will be better,” Boeing Commercial Airplanes (BCA) chief executive Ray Conner refuted, referring to the 777X’s aluminium or aluminium-lithium (Al-Li) fuselage, which Aspire Aviation‘s sources at Boeing say is still an ongoing trade study with “the merits are not so clear at assembly level as the material characteristics suggest” and the material is also “expensive in production”.

Even the business case of the 353-seat 777-8X is becoming clearer with Aspire Aviation‘s sources saying Boeing believes the extra 52 seats on the -8X enabled by a stretch in fuselage to 69.55m from the 301-seat 777-200LR’s 63.7m, along with more revenue cargo volume, will make previously economically unfeasible ultra long-haul routes possible. Key 777-8X customers being eyed include Emirates, Qatar Airways and South Pacific carriers such as Qantas and Air New Zealand (ANZ) for transpacific flights.

“The 777-8X can fly Sydney-Rome. That’s a 20-hour flight,” Emirates president Tim Clark amazed at the aircraft’s payload/range capability.

Aspire Aviation believes bypassing a 8,400nm version of the 777-8X – a direct A350-1000 competitor, makes sense as the latter is an optimised 350-seater with which it may be more difficult to compete owing to a heavier airframe, a view Boeing disputes as it claims the 777-8X will have a seat-mile cost that is “on par” or better than the A350-1000. Differentiating the 777-8X and making it the only airplane capable for carriers to open new routes are seemingly a better strategy in changing the game once more.

But history is not on Boeing’s side over a 9,480nm version of the 777-8X. The current 777-200LR only has 59 orders since it is on sale as of press time whereas the 777-300ER received 696 orders and keeps rising. For the 777-8X to succeed, Boeing must expand its customer base beyond a few Middle Eastern, Indian and South Pacific carriers to include Southeast Asian carriers such as Singapore Airlines (SIA), Thai Airways and Garuda Indoesia of which SIA is shelving the world’s longest commercial flight between Singapore and Newark this fall. North American carriers seeking expansion into Southeast Asia with non-stop flights may also be targeted customers. The Chicago-based plane-maker also has to show the fuel burn penalty on such ultra long-haul flights is minimised, a job that is easier said than done.

“There could be airlines like Emirates that have a need for the 777-8X because they have ultra, ultra-long flights. But with my network requirement I don’t think I need the -8X,” Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar Al-baker countered.

In conclusion, Boeing is in an enviable position with its strong and dominant incumbent position in the lucrative twin-aisle market. The 787-10X will be the uncontested leader that is versatile in replacing the A330-200s, -300s, A340-300s and some 777-200ERs in one fell swoop while offering unrivalled economics in 25% lower block fuel burn than the A330-300 and stacking up against the A350-900 well over medium to long-haul sectors. Boeing must also show that while the 777X is late, it is worth the wait: the -9X will be the perfect growth machine at the sweet spot of tomorrow’s market balancing capacity, frequency and cargo capacity whereas the -8X will be a route-opener connecting distant city-pairs economically that are previously beyond reach.

In the game of winning dominance in the sky, the stakes are sky-high and the margin of error is as thin as the air at 30,000 feet. Just how great the lure of the X factor will be remains to be seen.

Image Courtesy of Boeing

Image Courtesy of Boeing

Boeing’s presentation slides on the 777X & 787-10 >>

67 Comments

  1. G durken July 3, 2013 Reply

    If the 777-8x doesn’t make much sense, why not put resources into a 777-10x? Worked with the 787-10 and the a350-1000. More revenue passengers over shorter distances which fits most long haul routes.

    • Scratch July 3, 2013 Reply

      … because the -8X will eventually become the world’s most efficient freighter in terms of tonne / mile economics.

      It will also be compelling for markets like SIN – North America (NAM) for SQ, and NAM carriers whom might be adverse to the increased risk of the larger -9 version. Note the many -400s that were parked during recessions by UA and NW.

  2. Scratch July 3, 2013 Reply

    Couple more points…

    I’m not sure how the -8X competes with a much lighter weight A350-1000 in terms of seat economics. Throw payload / range (cargo) in to the bellies and the numbers might change significantly.

    Similarly…

    I don’t see anyway the A359 competes with the 787-10 on most routes, also because of the significant weight difference. Again, throw a bunch of cargo in the belly of the A359 and the economics change.

    The wildcard for both is the commonality across types (777/787 & A330/350). Obviously, the A330 is a massive weak link in this lineup as an old build aircraft.

    I also find it troubling that Airbus won’t publish MEW/OEW numbers for the A350-1000 program. I think that indicates potential problems for the aircraft, especially if it is massively overweight. Are we even at a design freeze for the -1000 yet? Airbus has had 7+ years since 2005 to get this done…

    • belgianwaffle July 3, 2013 Reply

      What significant weight difference?

      • Scratch July 3, 2013 Reply

        Belgian,

        I don’t think it takes much reading between the lines to figure out that the 787-10 will be much lighter weight (MEW/OEW) than the A359. Similarly, the -8X looks to be quite a bit heavier than the A350-1000.

        Do you disagree? If so, why?

  3. belgianwaffle July 3, 2013 Reply

    Hi Daniel,

    ive been reading your articles for some time, thank you for putting in so much effort, ive really enjoyed them.

    I have one questions which I have not found a proper answer to. Why isnt Boeing capitalizing on the development of the composite airframe of the 787 and use composite airframe for the 777X? Boeing has for years now touted the composite advantage of lower cabin altitude, lighter, and bigger windows, plus the obvious weight advantage. I see no downside to this.

    What Ray Conner states which I have copied below, does not sound very convincing. The plane is still 7 years away, and they would have plenty of time to develop a composite airframe by then. Not to mention by 2020 they have gotten the supply chain in decent shape, and Boeing could even manufacture the composite fuselage in-house…

    “It won’t be that bad. I think we’re going to be in decent shape. We still believe we have operating economics that will be better,” Boeing Commercial Airplanes (BCA) chief executive Ray Conner refuted, referring to the 777X’s aluminium or aluminium-lithium (Al-Li) fuselage, which Aspire Aviation‘s sources at Boeing say is still an ongoing trade study with “the merits are not so clear at assembly level as the material characteristics suggest” and the material is also “expensive in production”.

    • Author
      Daniel Tsang July 3, 2013 Reply

      Yes, a composite airframe will be considerably lighter, but there are significant financial and technical risks involved.

      For example, for a 777-sized cross section Boeing will have to make major investment in new autoclave which will be the world’s largest.

      With the 737 MAX, KC-46A & 787-10 in development, a composite-based 777X would be nothing short of a new airplane & a 2020 Q2 EIS would be impossible.

      • Scratch July 3, 2013 Reply

        Daniel,

        Along those lines, do you think the Al-Li is in or out? It seems the 777X will be at a significant weight disadvantage vs the A350-1000 without the switch.

        That said, the A350-1000 may yet turn out to be another train wreck (a la A340). It is disconcerting that Airbus is yet to design freeze the -1000. I think Airbus might be considering making it larger to better compete with the larger 779. It already sports a larger wing. Why not go all the way?

        • Author
          Daniel Tsang July 3, 2013 Reply

          Scratch,

          Really the Al-Li trade is 50:50. While Al-Li is close to 12% lighter by itself, Al-Li is indeed expensive & Boeing remains sceptical on whether the production process has to be modified.

          Re “A350-1100″, Airbus keeps insisting the 777-9X can’t compete with the -1000, as the -9X is a supposedly “heavy paper aircraft”, then why does it make a competitive response?

          • belgianwaffle July 9, 2013 Reply

            I really hope Boeing changes its mind on the 777x fuselage. I am sure there are many variables involved in the decision of going with Alu, however they are losing out on a huge opportunity to leap frog Airbus. It might push back EIS a few years, but the 777x is not designed to replace the older 777-200’s anyway, the 787-10 will take care of that. As for replacing the 747’s, the airlines have already been doing that for years (with 380’s and 773’s) so I dont think there is much to lose on that front.

            Boeing has a chance here to get a significant technological advantage over Airbus for the next 20 years. I hope they will take it.

            Buy back some of the outsourcing to in-house, focus on the long run. A year or 3 EIS is not going to outweigh the huge advantage composite weight savings over the 25+ year lifespan of the 777x.

    • CubJ3 July 6, 2013 Reply

      Wouldn’t an Ali-Lth fuselage be the first of it’s kind? I know of no large craft that has previously been built with it. So, what are the risks if B goes with A-L now for the 777X? Would they be any higher or lower than the risk B took with the composite 787 baked in an auto-clave? Those risks turned out to be significant, including how long it took to optimize fuselage’s minimum weight, and that it took more time to build the that fuselage than alumininum one.

      RE the 778X, it was not clear to me from B’s Paris presentation whether this platne’s standard range would be about 9400 miles, or whether that is as LR version. Does anyone else know? Such a plane might turn out to be a nich aircraft, but when added to B’s 789/10 sales, give B a healthy share of the 290-350 pax mkt. After all, this segment is the only one in which both OEMs compete with all composite offerings. This is where the fight is. The points of the two spears meet at the -1000 and the 778X.

      • belgianwaffle July 22, 2013 Reply

        Composite fuselage will be 40% lighter than Aluminium and 4 times stronger. I think very strongly that Boeing is making a big mistake by not building upon the learnings from the 787 composite fuselage and make the 777x in composite instead of alu.

  4. keesje July 3, 2013 Reply

    In the real world, Airbus won the first round in the 777 / A340 replacement battle.

    http://i191.photobucket.com/albums/z160/keesje_pics/Clipboard02-2_zps72ea550f.jpg

    • Scratch July 3, 2013 Reply

      Keesje,

      What is it with you and declaring premature victory of one paper airplane over another?

      Do you believe for one minute that if Boeing launches the 777X in Dubai later this year that they will not eclipse the 7 years of A350-1000 orders in one week?

      Look at the 787-10, over 100 orders right out of the chute. The 777X has so much pent up demand that it won’t be pretty for Airbus once Boeing announces. Do you think for one second that the 777X will, in the long run, lose to the A350? The history makes that hard to imagine, especially considering the runaway success of its successor, the 777-300ER.

      The biggest barrier to bringing the 777X to market is the massive backlog for 777-300ER. Perhaps the 767 line becomes 777X once the USAF tanker contract is filled.

  5. keesje July 3, 2013 Reply

    What is it with you and declaring premature victory of one paper airplane over another?

    Do you believe for one minute that if Boeing launches the 777X in Dubai later this year that they will not eclipse the 7 years of A350-1000 orders in one week?

    The Irony. Scratch the article above and your second sentence is entirely crying victory of the un-launched, undefined 2020 777x and just launched 2018 787-10X already beating / cornering Airbus and restoring market dominance. And nobody has a problem with it. Agree?

    The recent A350-1000 commitments from big loyal 777 operators CX, BA and UA were a triple whammy for Boeing on top of SQ, QR and EK. And everybody knows/ feels it.

    Now they are fighting back. Good.

    The “bracketing widebody strategy” would be great if Boeing had a direct competitor with the A350-900 and -1000. However the (very efficient) 787-10 lacks the Asia payload range / 9 abreast comfort and the 777-8X will be heavy if there’s no technical miracle. And sales show it.

    Airbus made the right gamble with the A350 XWB and we have to congratulate them with that (cold day in hell on this website ;) ) .
    http://r3.cygnuspub.com/files/cygnus/image/CAVC/2013/JUN/600×400/1371728041000–ua350-130620073_10964537.jpg

  6. Patrick Kilby July 3, 2013 Reply

    Not sure where “The 787-10X will be the uncontested leader …stacking up against the A350-900 well over medium to long-haul sectors”. Not sure Daniel where you get the phrase ‘uncontested leader from’. You seem to say your self that the direct competitor is the A359 which has greater range (hence flexibility for an airline) but a little heavier, with the same number of seats, but maybe more cargo, and coming on the market four years earlier. That to me is enough argument that would seem to ‘contest’ the point you just made. Rather than an ‘uncontested leader’ the phrase ‘co-leader in a race of two’ may be more accurate.

    • keesje July 4, 2013 Reply

      Agree. The 787-10 looks pretty good, when you ignore

      – A359 will carry 10t+ of additional payload in the belly on the same flights
      – A359 has the flexility of flying 1000-1200NM further with the same payload
      – A359 reached M.89 on its second flight and will be available years earlier
      – 787s 9 abreast is not acceptable for every airline on 10hr+ flights (ask CX, SQ)
      – Indications are the OEWs of the 787-10 and A350-900 aren’t that far apart (!)
      – Airlines can seamlessly up-gauge/ switch with to A350-1000 if demand grows

      http://i298.photobucket.com/albums/mm262/ferpe_bucket/PRchart787-10333359.jpg

      Projecting on 787-10 on 6000NM missions is unrealistic. That’s why 787-10 launch customers BA, UA and SQ ordered A350s.

  7. scintilla July 4, 2013 Reply

    On boeing’s newairplane.com, the new 787-10’s typical city pair included Hong Kong-New York. Is it for real? :) cannot trust A/B’s marketing materials. Just simply look at order #s and its intended usage. SQ is going to use A359 on long haul while 787-10 on medium to long haul. That says it all for a so-called direct competition.

  8. Scratch July 4, 2013 Reply

    I’m not declaring victory for any airplane. I am saying that it’s clear from the PAS that the demand for the 787-10 is significant. Additionally, one would have to be pretty ignorant to assume that same kind of demand isn’t there for the 777X given the comments from airlines.

    The A359 has a nice order book and looks to be a fabulous airplane. The -1000 order book looks a bit anemic to me given the amount of time it has been on offer. I suspect the 777X orders will surpass those of the -1000 by the end of this year, if it is announced.

    Wrt the A359 vs 787-10, Keesje is correct to point out the greater capability of the A359 in terms of payload range. However, does anyone believe that that capability does not come at a price? In this case, that price is weight (wings, engines, empennage). Many are saying about 7T more weight.

    That’s a lot, especially if it’s not being used (a la A330 vs 772, or the A350-1000 vs 778X in the future). There’s a market for both planes, but I think the -10 market is larger than the A359 and the A350-1000 market is larger than the 778X’s (minus the freighter version perhaps).

  9. Patrick Kilby July 4, 2013 Reply

    Cramped seating is an issue; nine a across on a 787 versus A359 comes into.play. What is the economics for 8 across on the 787. Note the new 777s are trying to make it more comfortable for 10 across by reshaping the walls. The punters move to more comfortable planes for trips of more that around 7 hours.

    • Scratch July 5, 2013 Reply

      Regarding internal cabin widths, here are the numbers for 787, 350, and 777(X) respectively in feet and inches:

      787: 18 feet
      350: 18 feet 5 inches
      777: 19 feet 3 inches
      777X: 19 feet 7 inches

      So there’s a 5 inch advantage for the A350 over the 787. Is that one seat width? Is 9 abreast on an A359 for ULH fine while 9 abreast on a 787-10 for medium range / regional sectors is too tight? That does not make much sense to me based on 5 inches.

      The 777 has a 10 inch width advantage over the A350, and the 777X will have a 14 inch advantage. A majority of carriers are now putting 10 abreast in 777s. It’s not my favorite, but that’s the market. Premium carriers still put 9 abreast in 777 for ULH. So the questions are:

      Is the A350 truly a 9 abreast airplane for ULH? Probably for carriers putting 10 abreast in the 777, but perhaps not for premium carriers using 9 abreast in a 777.

      Will 777X be a truly 10 abreast airplane? I don’t know, but with more 777 deliveries fitted with 10 abreast than not, that proportion can only go up due to the 4 inch internal stretch.

      No one can say the 4 inch internal stretch on the 777X is irrelevant, and then turn around and point to the 5 inch advantage of the A350 over the 787 and pretend it matters. They are either both relevant or both irrelevant. Either way, the 10 and 14 inch advantages the 777 and 777X have over the A350 are most assuredly relevant.

      • keesje July 5, 2013 Reply

        Scratch, it seems all operators specify 9 abreast for the A350. Seems just right.

        Give me that seat any day over a 10 abreast 777X or 9 abreast 787 seat.

        • Scratch July 6, 2013 Reply

          The following are inches per economy seat for the following aircraft (inclusive of shared aisle space since these can be adjusted as well):

          747 (10 abreast): 24.1
          A380 (10 abreast): 25.8
          A380 (11 abreast): 23.5
          777 (10 abreast): 23.1
          777 (9 abreast): 25.7
          777X (10 abreast): 23.5
          A350 (9 abreast): 24.5
          787 (9 abreast): 24.0
          787 (8 abreast): 27.0

          So which numbers are outliers?

          On the high side, 787 at 8 abreast (very high), 777 at 9 abreast, and A380 at 10 abreast. Right?

          On the low side, 777 and 777X at 10 abreast and A380 at 11 abreast. Correct?

          Conclusions:

          787 is a 9 abreast airplane for most carriers. 8 abreast 787 is very generous. Medium range / regional 787-10 will most assuredly be 9 abreast.

          A380 at 10 abreast and 777 at 9 abreast are similarly generous. Both can be configured with an additional seat per row if needed.

          747 at 10, 787 at 9, and A350 at 9 are all right in the sweet spot (24-24.5″) between comfort and economics. I think this is the standard from which deviations should be measured.

          • keesje July 6, 2013 Reply

            Scratch, that is a little deceptive, you decrease the seat width differences by spreading them out over the aisles too. More realistic is to fix a certain aisle width for all aircraft involved, minimum 20 inch.

            http://www.risingup.com/fars/info/part25-815-FAR.shtml

            • Scratch July 6, 2013 Reply

              Not deceptive at all. I stated how I was measuring in the first paragraph.

              To me, the aisle space is relevant because it has a distinct impact on the comfort of the cabin, especially the aisle seats.

              The widths of the aisles are routinely adjusted to accommodate different seating configurations. So why not include them? They are an integral part of the aircraft’s comfort and service level, just as the seats are. Disagree?

              That said, I prefer cubic meters or feet in the cabin as a metric to playing seat count games b/w OEMs.

              • keesje July 6, 2013 Reply

                Scratch, I think airlines fix
                aisle width at 20 inch and optimizers seating around that, at least we did.

  10. Patrick Kilby July 6, 2013 Reply

    Either way, the 10 and 14 inch advantages the 777 and 777X have over the A350 are most assuredly relevant.

  11. keesje July 6, 2013 Reply

    For years I’m told an A330 NEO is a dumb idea because it would overlap with the A350 XWB.

    Now the 787-10 and 777-8 NEO are launched both and it’s most brlliant strategy since Jobs went into the computer business.

    Fishy.

    • Scratch July 6, 2013 Reply

      I don’t think the A330NEO would be dumb at all. Airbus simply does not have the resources (finance and engineering) to pull it off given all the other projects it is working on (A350, A320NEO, A380 wing cracks).

      The A330NEO is, IMHO, the only way Airbus will be able to prevent the 787-10 from taking major market share away from the medium-range / regional wide body market.

    • Brian July 9, 2013 Reply

      Not fishy at all. It makes perfect sense for Boeing to launch products that overlap with the A350…they’re competing against them. It makes far less sense for Airbus to launch multiple products that would compete with each other.

      Also, I don’t think anyone’s arguing that the 777-8 is a brilliant strategy. Most people acknowledge that model is likely to have a tough time against the A359/10. Boeing’s real hope on the 777X project is the 9, and their real hope for competing with the A359 is the 787-10, which will at least have a shot at doing so.

  12. Patrick Kilby July 6, 2013 Reply

    “Either way, the 10 and 14 inch advantages the 777 and 777X have over the A350 are most assuredly relevant.” Not sure Scratch how you get to that when they have an extra row of seats to squeeze the 10-14 inches in, so where is the advantage. (N.B My earlier post did not have my commentary here.

    • Scratch July 6, 2013 Reply

      Patrick,

      Let’s take the 14″ greater floor width of the 777X over the A350. Assuming a “nice” ULH economy seat fits 9 abreast in the A350, the 777X can get an extra seat in each row (10 abreast), an airline only needs to steal about half an inch off the other 9 seats or a couple inches from the aisles. I’m betting most carriers are willing to do this. If you disagree, why?

  13. Patrick Kilby July 7, 2013 Reply

    Scratch not sure I get you. We know the A350 is 9 abreast and the 777 is ten abreast (slight advantage to the A350), are you suggesting the a350 will go to 10 or the 777 to 11. Spare us on a 10 hr flight. I will be on an EK 777 on Monday at 10 abreast for 7 hours and then an A380 also at 10 abreast for 15 hours. I am very glald it is not the other way around, and the punters like me notice this stuff. The A380 seat is nice and wide and we like it, not so the EK 777.

    • Scratch July 7, 2013 Reply

      Patrick,

      No, I’m not saying that at all. I am saying that the 777X will have a very similar (an almost indistinguishable) comfort level at 10 abreast in economy as the A350 does at 9 abreast. There is very little difference in width and the ceiling height advantage goes to the 777. Boeing haters like to pretend that the 777X will still be a 9 abreast airplane as the -300ER is (which is as comfortable at 9 abreast as an A380 at 10). While some carriers may chose to stay at 9 abreat on the 777X, it won’t be the standard for most. So, the 777X is a truly 40+ seat stretch of the 777-300ER.

      Similarly, the 787 has nearly indistinguishable seat width at 9 across as the A350 at 9 across. This presentation is a bit dated because Airbus chose a different fuselage in the end.

      http://www.boeing.com/randy/archives/2006/04/max_headroom.html

      … But I think it is an interesting read nonetheless. Nearly all carriers are choosing 9 abreast on the 787. I’m quite sure most will choose 10 abreast on the 777X.

      FYI, I think what EK does on their current 777s hurts their brand, but they get away with it. Like it or not, many carriers are not that concerned about economy class comfort. It permits them to sell much higher yielding seats in PEY, J, and F. EY seats just fill out the airplane for many carriers and are the least important part of the revenue equation in some markets. Both cargo and higher service class seating are more important because they keep coming back. Many EY pax are “one shot ponies” on promo seats with low yield.

  14. keesje July 7, 2013 Reply

    Scratch, that is incorrect. Many cheap ticket in economy class, but also expensive full flex s fare passengers that paid thousands, but fly economy because of company policy.

    • Scratch July 7, 2013 Reply

      Keesje,

      I said “Many” not all. “Many” of those frequent businees travellers on full fare EY tickets look hard to upgrade with miles or even out of their own pockets on long haul flights to PEY or J class. This again supports the notion that premium seats, or the allure of those seats, drives the higher yielding ticket revenues.

      In general for long haul carriers, I have witnessed a decrease in economy seats (and F class for that matter) and an increase in PEY and J capacity. Perhaps this trend contributes to the reason why the A380 and 747-8I have had such sluggish sales. The allure of carrying 400-500 pax when the last 100-200 passengers generate low yields is unappealing, especially when considering the risks of not filling that large airplane during recession.

      Capiche?

  15. keesje July 7, 2013 Reply

    Those economy passengers generating low yield pay most of the fixed and variable operating costs.

    Leave them out & then look at the profitability of you network. Many tried & hit the wall.

    The unique selling point of the A380 is you can put a premium and a leisure flight in a single slot with 1 crew. With bars, seperate gates and even the cheap seats beating the competition.

  16. Patrick Kilby July 8, 2013 Reply

    Scratch your quote “I am saying that the 777X will have a very similar (an almost indistinguishable) comfort level at 10 abreast in economy as the A350 does at 9 abreast.” From your figures the difference is one inch not quite as good as the A380 2 inches, but certainly not ‘indistinguishable’. The half inch on the 787 is a little closer though, and maybe not a deal breaker for airlines.

  17. Greg Schmitz July 9, 2013 Reply

    Right now the A350 is a paper airplane in all respects as the 900 has massive structural changes going on, and the 1000 is still not defined (which is why Boeing wanted to wait before the 777X launch.)

    What we do have is a good baseline look at the 787 in the -8 (now meeting target weight) and the -9 (coming in under target weight. The -10 is not going to change that, it will meet or exceed its targets.

    As nothing changes in systems or size its a given and you can count on it.

    We have not seen another flight of the A350 since the airshow. Makes you wonder. Pushed it to the max for the air show show off. That will be interesting to see how long it is before it flies again. Another hollow aircraft?

    The real battle is the 777-300 territory. Its obvious that some blue chips airlines think the A350-1000 has a slot there. They have nothing to loose as a failure there would mean they just order more 777s.
    Same with the -900, if it falters they can fall back on the 787s and the 777s.

    Airbus just may tick off its customers with another 1000 re-design which puts Boeing into an even better position.

    In the meantime Boeing can trade study away on the 777X fuselage material while they see how the battle shapes up. Long enough lead time they don’t have to commit. Ultimately Airbus will fix any A350 problems so I believe it will be Li-Al both for the claim on new superior materials and the weight reduction for the long haul fight.

    So, until we see what the A350-900 actually produces, we have no solid idea at all, and the 1000 with its major changes and possibly more to come is not the certainty that the 787-10 is.

    I believe the 777-8X has to have the Li-Al fuselage to compete in fleets that want commonality as well as the range and or fuel burn on the route opening and the super long haul segment.

    Boeing does need to get the 787 line up to 20 a month as fast a possible. All 787-10s and -9s maybe in Charleston on two lines and the -8 and -9 in Seattle on the two lines there.

    Airbus would be better off to offer an NEO on the A330 to keep that going as long as not enough 787s to fill the demand as well as retrofit to the older A330s which would undercut fleet change appeal for those operators of the older ones.

  18. keesje July 9, 2013 Reply

    “Right now the A350 is a paper airplane in all respects as the 900 has massive structural changes going on”
    – Really?

    “-9 (coming in under target weight” “The -10 is not going to change that, it will meet or exceed its targets.”
    I’m amazed how people keep believing Boeing promises after hitting the wall, say 20 times.

    “We have not seen another flight of the A350 since the airshow. Makes you wonder. Pushed it to the max for the air show show off. That will be interesting to see how long it is before it flies again. Another hollow aircraft?”

    Maybe you should wonder indeed & broaden your sources a bit. This is A350 today, after its 10th flight.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/curufinwe-xiane/9238992807/

    “In the meantime Boeing can trade study away on the 777X fuselage material while they see how the battle shapes up. Long enough lead time they don’t have to commit. ”

    The battle shaped up already. The six biggest 777 customers ordered XWB’s (EK, AF/KL, CX, BA, SQ, UA). Boeing is fighting a gloves off battle using everything in its power to prevent JAL, ANA and KAL doing the same. They lost the first round by being over relaxed.

    http://www.trbimg.com/img-51c32ec0/turbine/chi-united-airlines-airbus-order-20130620/600/600×450

    Boeing is in the process of accepting Airbus might not be screwing up the A350 like they did the 787. The airlines noticed and voted with their order books. How the 777 replacement will look? Everybody seems to be waiting for 5 years now. Likely it will look entirely different then todays 777X powerpoints. Boeing doesn’t want another 747-8i rewing/re-engine.

    • Greg Schmitz July 12, 2013 Reply

      keesje,

      I did indeed miss the A350 further flights, none I could find either on the internet and AvWeek has not reported any further. I was wrong. Based on rushed glory hounding I saw for the Paris Airshow. I continue to think that was totally irresponsible. The US saw that behavior with the space shuttles, keep pushing it and one day you loose not just one but two.

      On the other hand you continue to ignore the fact that the A350 was so horribly designed that they have massive changes in the fuselage (70% is incredibly huge). That is not a well designed aircraft, they are winging it all the way and when you do that bad things happen. Boeing’s only structural issue was the wing join and that was self inflicted from the aspect it was good to start with and they tried to save weight (on the fly engineering) and shot themselves in the foot.

      I see issues cropping up on the A350 far into the future just like the wing issue on the A380. They did not have a technological basis for the aircraft available in house and they grabbed and cobbled together what they could. It will show in the long run.

      Of course airlines are ordering the A350. What do they have to loose. Counterfoil to the 787 pricing and insurance. If its does not produce as advertised (either delays on redesign) or does not cut the grade on efficiency, they can cancel or delay until it does (ala Qutart I think it was on the A380, who refused to be taking aircraft with bad wings just to red-do the wings, they forced Aribus to stop delivery until you can give them fully good ones (assuming the fix works and time will only tell on that one).

      And you continue to harp on Boeing past record. There is zero disagreement that they were wrong on a host of factors and cause huge cost overruns along with the massive delay into service.

      Boeing is publicly saying that they are meeting target on the 787-9 and you say they are lying? That is pure delusional on your part.

      They say they are meeting the weight goal on the -8, again you think they are lying and it would not come out immediately?

      Airbus did not screw up on the A350? How many re-design iterations have they gone through now? I think we are into version 4.0 (and what about the subsequent additional re-design of the -1000?) as well as word that it may be re-deigned again as well as the A350-900 light and wasn’t that supposed to the the -800, except its a heavy for mission aircraft that can’t compete)

      And yes Boeing has time to decide the Li-al material. Daniel flat stated they are doing trade off studies on it. The overall is pretty fixed, but there is nothing that stops them from running the numbers on what Li-al does for costs as well as what it gives you in structural weight reductions. Any fuselage weight reduction also means engine power can drop a bit and the wing does not have to be as heavy. They just have to be confidant of working with the material.

      I think they have to use it to keep the -8 competitive enough with the still questionable A350-1000. Also insurance that the 1000 gets delayed and stretched once again.

      Its interesting that the 787-10 matched the entire order numbers for the A350-1000 in one day. The 777X will double that in one day at Dubai.

  19. keesje July 13, 2013 Reply

    “And you continue to harp on Boeing past record. There is zero disagreement that they were wrong on a host of factors and cause huge cost overruns along with the massive delay into service.
    Boeing is publicly saying that they are meeting target on the 787-9 and you say they are lying? That is pure delusional on your part.”

    Greg, track records says something about the present and future chances of problems. Ignoring past records and just looking ahead assuming a bright future often leads to “unexpected” drawbacks.

    The 787-9 looks great, I think it will be the most successful 787 version. But assuming both the 777X and 787-10 will smoothly EIS meeting beating all its targets at once is based on nothing but hope.

    Do you look at track record when you buy a car or hire an employee?

  20. Patrick Kilby July 14, 2013 Reply

    Greg your quote “On the other hand you continue to ignore the fact that the A350 was so horribly designed that they have massive changes in the fuselage (70% is incredibly huge). That is not a well designed aircraft, they are winging it all the way and when you do that bad things happen.” Not sure where you go this from. The original was a re-do of the A330 and the punters did not want that, so it became the A350XWB; I presume that is the 70% change you refer to, completely unremarkable, and now one year not four years late a la 787. The A350 has been designed conservatively and learned from the A380 (2 years late and the 787 four years late, and sitll prone to fires). While the 787 might have been designed well the engineering was not up to matching the design hence the four year delay, and a certain amount fo ‘winging it’ by Boeing. I suspect the A350 will not have the same problems. Most commentators regard the A350 as a great design; of course others such as yourself can think otherwise.

  21. keesje July 15, 2013 Reply

    “Boeing is publicly saying that they are meeting target on the 787-9 and you say they are lying? That is pure delusional on your part.”

    I’m not saying Boeing is lying. I’m witnessing every target / goal Boeing announced on the 787 proved incorrect.

    Believing everything Boeing publicly says on the 787, shows a very flat learning curve, to state it mildly.

    • Brian July 16, 2013 Reply

      Slight difference, though, Keesje. Targets and goals are future projections. They are claims of what will take place sometimes years in the future, and it is undeniable that Boeing’s projections on the 787 have historically proved inaccurate. Their comment about the 787-9 weights, however, is not a projection, it is a factual statement about something that has already happened. They’re not saying the plane will be underweight in x number of months, or at a specific line number, they’re saying the plane they just finished assembling IS underweight right now. So as Greg says, unless you contend that they’re simply lying, or their scales don’t work, it’s pretty hard to discredit this statement.

      Their future projections for progress on both the -9 and the -10 are of course entirely up in the air (hmm, maybe the wrong metaphor there). Although, certainly the successful assembly of the first -9 at or below target weights is a positive indication that they’ve ironed out at least some of the problems in the program.

    • Michael Bohnet July 16, 2013 Reply

      “I’m witnessing every target / goal Boeing announced on the 787 proved incorrect.”

      Then you are only seeing what you wish to see, keesje, which not surprisingly, always leans away from Boeing.

      In 2011 Boeing made several forecasts with regard to the 787 that have proven true.
      1) They delivered more frames in 2012 than they said they would, even while performing extensive rework.
      2) 787-8’s came out of the FAL with minimal travelled work starting at LN-66, just like Boeing predicted
      3) The unit cost of a 787-8 is decreasing very close to how Boeing said it would even though at the time of the prediction, in 2011, most analysts doubted very much Boeing could achieve their learning curve goals.
      4) All of the production rate breaks in the latter half of 2011, 2012, and up till now in 2013 have occurred as planned with no problems. Over that period the rate increased from 1.5/month to 7/month.
      5) Boeing said the 787-8 weight would be down to contractual specs by LN-92. Well, I guess they really screwed up because Qatar’s LN-103 is down to spec.
      6) According to ANA, the 787-8 met the fuel burn specs even though the engines were thirsty and the airframe heavy.
      7) When Boeing presented its battery fix in the Japan news conference they were highly criticized for sayin how fast the fix could be certified and implemented, yet it happened very close to Boeing’s prediction, albeit a few weeks late.
      8) The 787-9 engineering milestones were met on time or ahead of schedule
      9) Major assembly of the first 787-9, and subsequent units, occurred on or ahead of schedule and problem free.
      10) Final assembly of first 787-9 is on schedule and problem free so far, and the second 787-9 entered final assembly on schedule.
      11) The 787-9 is lighter than Boeing originally planned.

      The 787-9 is currently on track for first flight in Boeing’s announced August/September time frame. If Boeing’s most recent 787 track record holds true, and the first flight indeed happens before October 1st, you will have to eat your words, keesje.

  22. keesje July 16, 2013 Reply

    Back to the facts.

    2 Years ago Boeing raised the 787-9 MTOW to 553000lb / 250837kg from 545000lb / 247208kg, that is 3630kg.

    MTOW 247t. Where does it stand these days.

    http://www.boeing.com/commercial/airports/acaps/787brochure.pdf

    What is the MTOW at this stage. What is the OEW today compared to the target (245t) at launch in 2005?

    Is Boeing stating again it is better then expected? “Expected” being undefined?

    A target is easy to meet, if you move it around in a cloud of changing numbers.

    Staunch supporters just need a hurray from HQ PR department to start cheering.

    • Michael Bohnet July 17, 2013 Reply

      So, you’re saying that during aircraft development the MTOW is never allowed to ever change? I wonder how many times the A350-900 MTOW changed since full industrial launch back in Oct 2005?

      The target may seemingly move for the public but the airlines assuredly know what their target is. Boeing acknowledged that the first 787-8’s were much heavier than expected. As of LN-103 Boeing has stated that the 787-8 is down to the contractual weight agreed to with the airlines.

      Now, Boeing has also stated that the first 787-9 is coming in below the contractually agreed upon weight. It does not matter if you don’t want it to be true. If you think Boeing is outright lying, than you should come out and say it, otherwise it’s a closed issue until we here otherwise from Boeing or one of the airlines.

      “Staunch supporters just need a hurray from HQ PR department to start cheering.”

      Staunch Airbus supporters seem to have a USB cable plugged into the back of their heads that is connected to John Leahy’s smartphone.

  23. keesje July 17, 2013 Reply

    “Boeing acknowledged that the first 787-8′s were much heavier than expected. As of LN-103 Boeing has stated that the 787-8 is down to the contractual weight agreed to with the airlines.”

    When did they agree? In 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011? Was there a renegotiation? Which weight? EOW, MTOW, MZFW?

    “Now, Boeing has also stated that the first 787-9 is coming in below the contractually agreed upon weight. It does not matter if you don’t want it to be true.”

    To be frank Michael, I’ve become a bit conservative on what Boeing states. You apparently not so. That’s your good right.

    “If you think Boeing is outright lying, than you should come out and say it”

    Sometimes a picture says a thousands words.
    http://www.aerospaceweb.org/aircraft/jetliner/b787/b787_16.jpg

    • Michael Bohnet July 17, 2013 Reply

      “For instance, the Boeing 787-8 baseline variant has met the original manufacturer’s empty weight (MEW) and airline-specific operating empty weight (OEW) targets much earlier than initially envisioned, with an AirInsight newsletter firstly reporting that line number LN103 has met those targets, which is subsequently confirmed by Aspire Aviation‘s sources at the world’s biggest aircraft-maker.”

      http://www.aspireaviation.com/2013/04/26/boeing-787-is-a-dream-come-true-again

      keesje,
      It doesn’t matter when they agreed, as long as the airlines agree and are reasonably happy. I’m sorry that this does not fit your preconceived notion that the 787-8 is a lousy airplane. After all, how could it be any good since the program was so badly mismanaged? How could anything Boeing ever say be right since they deceived the public (most likely not the airlines) back in July 2007? That was 6 years ago.

      “To be frank Michael, I’ve become a bit conservative on what Boeing states. You apparently not so. That’s your good right.”

      You come across as more than just conservative with regards to what Boeing says. Perhaps it is just me, but the views that you sometimes express about Boeing seem to almost rise to the level of conspiracy theories. Conveniently, these types of views are impossible to argue against, but they are also impossible to prove and just not reasonable. But like me, you also have the right to have any view you want.

      Finally, that picture may be worth a thousand words, but I can tell you this, I’ve heard those same thousand words repeated ad nauseum for the last 6 years. It’s old news, and reasonable people have moved beyond it.

    • Michael Bohnet July 19, 2013 Reply

      It has not escaped me that you have said nothing about the other 10 points I made in my earlier response.

      Also, in case you haven’t heard already:
      http://www.seattlepi.com/business/boeing/boeing-photos/slideshow/Boeing-787-9-roll-out-66549.php

      And: “The movement of the first 787-9 out of the final assembly bay comes exactly on the schedule that Boeing first proposed for the new variant three years ago.”

      http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/boeing-stages-quiet-787-9-roll-out-overnight-388447

      First 787-9 flight by the end of September looks to be very doable.

  24. Scratch July 18, 2013 Reply

    Reading the latest round of comments brings me to a few thoughts:

    1) There seems to be some sour grapes from A supporters as a result of the apparent abortion of the A358 fetus in the womb due to the 789’s superiority. Attempts to discredit the 789’s weight appear silly.

    2) The assertion that the A359 has significant changes coming is a concern when considering that A is flying the first prototypes now. How does testing and certification work when the airplane is going to change significantly? Or is it?

    3) The A350-1000 seems caught in limbo with no design freeze in sight. No wonder B feels little pressure to firm the 777X design. The A350-1000 is not just another version of the A350 “family”. It is a standalone airplane with no siblings, no A358 and a different wing than the A359.

    4) To witness a true family of airplanes, the 787 takes the cake. Simple stretches with engine thrust increases are the only changes, as it should be!

    5) Boeing is in an enviable position with the current lineup (excluding the 747-8). The 737 and 777 are cash cows while the 787 is poised to exert market dominance for decades to come. The 737MAX has a healthy order book while the 777X has airlines begging like dogs.

    6) The fly in the ointment for Boeing is the perception that their quality has taken a backseat to economics. Neither the 787 or the 747-8 programs have started off smoothly.

  25. keesje July 18, 2013 Reply

    Oh oh it seems we have entered the sweaty world of “You’re either with us, or against us” Boeing patriots ;) ;)

    About the credibility of Boeing market communications. I guess it’s not about what I think, but about what happened and continues to happen. Too much overpromising and half truths.

    Many times over, here and elsewhere I have stated the 787-9 looks very good. IMO better then the smallish 787-8 and the low CASM & payload-range restricted 787-10, ULH A358 & 772LR, heavy 778X and far out 300ER 2.6m stretched 9X. The 787-9 will likely be an excellent balanced platform on long flights to/from Asia. I see airlines converting many 787-8s to -9s when they have a chance.

    “Simple stretches with engine thrust increases are the only changes, as it should be!”
    Scratch, isn’t the 787-9 vastly improved over the overweight, problematic 2007 787-8? Lessons learned, airline / FAA feedback? I think / hope so. Enhanced or simple stretch, you can’t have both..

    The A350-1000 is not just another version of the A350 “family”
    Who told you that?! Of course it is! Fuselage, systems identical, new MLDG wings & engines slightly adjusted but 90% commonality. “a standalone airplane with no siblings” .. sorry but that is utter non-sense.

    While many where wining about the A340, Airbus sold another 800 A330s and the 6 biggest 777 operators ordered XWB fleets.
    http://i191.photobucket.com/albums/z160/keesje_pics/Clipboard02-2_zps72ea550f.jpg

    “No wonder B feels little pressure to firm the 777X design.” “the 777X has airlines begging like dogs”
    I think Chicago is nearing Blind Panic. JAL and ANA are moving the wrong way too, after CX, BA, and United Airlines. And airline refuse to sign off on the 777X Mk IV Powerpoints.

    While everyone looks (legally) brave, PR millions can’t prevent support for the 787 is dropping.

    “The 737MAX has a healthy order book ”
    Take a deeper look at the NEO and MAX orderbooks & Google “737 MAX Discount”. The MAX custromer list is, baring a few exceptions (SW, UA) , rather un-impressive.
    http://www.pdxlight.com/neomax.htm

    I can see Boeing launching a NSA with partners, before 2017. NEO slot unavailability, 737 fleet commonality and financing have become too important for 737MAX sales. The 60/40% NEO/MAX marketshares tells only part of the story. Boeing knows best and might be further then we think.

    • Michael Bohnet July 18, 2013 Reply

      “Scratch, isn’t the 787-9 vastly improved over the overweight, problematic 2007 787-8? Lessons learned, airline / FAA feedback? I think / hope so. Enhanced or simple stretch, you can’t have both..”

      It’s been well publicized that the 787-8 has benefited from many lighter weight parts designed for the 787-9. These parts have already been incorporated into 787-8’s coming off the line. So, it really is a simple stretch but with enhancements that work for the whole family.

      The 787-8 is no longer overweight, but oh, I forgot that you don’t believe anything Boeing says.

    • Michael Bohnet July 19, 2013 Reply

      “The MAX custromer list is, baring a few exceptions (SW, UA) , rather un-impressive.”

      From: http://www.pdxlight.com/neomax.htm

      American 100 firm
      Lion-Air 201 firm
      Norwegian 100 firm
      Southwest 180 firm
      United 100 firm

      So, would all these qualify as the few exceptions or not? You may be conservative when it comes to Boeing’s statements, but it seems I will need to fact check all of your statements from now on.

      • Scratch July 19, 2013 Reply

        Yes Michael, it would be a fool’s errand to make the case that Boeing won’t be selling 737Max at the rate 40+ per month for a very long time. Don’t forget the big orders from AeroMexico, Alaska, GOL, TUI, Turkish, and several leasing companies. The A320/737 ratio will stay mostly unchanged. The pressure will be applied from the bottom with the C Series, E jets, and others that are optimized for the lower end of the NB segment.

        http://www.pdxlight.com/neomax.htm

        Note also: The P&W GTF market share is not all that impressive at 25% of NB (NEO and MAX)orders. It seems that many airlines are not willing to bet the farm on the yet unproven technology. My personal feeling is that maintenance is the big question mark with those engines. Will they obtain ETOPs certification easily? HA seems to think so. Why is nobody talking about GTF for WBs?

  26. Scratch July 19, 2013 Reply

    Keesje,

    “new MLDG wings & engines slightly adjusted but 90% commonality”

    When A has to rewing a new design straight out of the kitty, that does not bode well for the “family concept.” The A358 is being aborted, and the A351 requires a different wing. The family is breaking up!!!

    Let’s fast forward 10 years and speculate about the respective offerings…

    From Boeing: 787-8/9/10, 777-8/8F/9, and 747-8F (probably no Intercontinental by then)
    From Airbus: A359/1, A380 (very unattractive economics unless upgraded / stretched)

    I have intentionally left out the A330 and 767 for simplicity.

    One line-up looks relatively paltry, but I know what you are going to reply… Something about how the A359/1 are the perfect sizes with excellent payload range. Right? Does that not leave the A380 as somewhat of an outlier? Does the market really centralize at those 2 sizes? Or is there perhaps significant market share elsewhere? Why all the 787 orders? Why are there still so many 747-400s still flying and awaiting replacements?

    The truth is that the market gravitates towards the aircraft with the best economics. That’s why the 77W murdered the A340. That’s why big twins are killing off quads. The size of the airplane is only an issue if it is too big. Too small can be fixed with frequency on most high value routes.

    Boeing has a direct or near direct competitor to each Airbus offering (except A380). 787-9 has a knife to the A358’s throat. The 787-10 covers approximately 90% of the A359’s missions more efficiently. The A350-1000 and the 778X look poised to do battle head on while big brother (779X) steals all the cream above the fracas.

    What percentage of the 678 A350 orders are for the -1000? Less than 20%. The market has not endorsed the airplane yet. Why? Everyone suspects what most of us on here already know.

    The A350-1000 will limp off runways at MTOW (like the A343) and the payload range will very likely go the way of the A346… OPUD – Over Promise, Under Deliver. All the conversions from the A359 to the -1000 are just a mechanism for airlines to push A350 deliveries to the right in the face of an uncertain economy. For UA, it makes room for the 787-10 at the A359’s size. At United, which aircraft looks like a family now? The 787-8/9/10 or the A350-1000. Hmm….

    Watch when the 777X is offered later this year. Many of the so-called defections from the 777 to the A350 will be snapping right back into line for the 777X. Most of them will be orders for the superior economics of the 779X, but make no mistake, if the A350-1000 does not do what it is supposed to… many 779X customers will buy the 778X as well. Either way, the 778X sells just fine as the world’s most efficient freighter aircraft.

  27. Patrick Kilby July 19, 2013 Reply

    Not sure how the A380 will be an outlier in slot constrained airports with 50% more seats than the nearest competition and by then new engines and maybe a stretch with better economics, and of course a much quiter and more comfortable ride unles you think Emirates have it completely wrong. The whole 787 weight thing depends on when you count from i.e. which revision.

    • Michael Bohnet July 19, 2013 Reply

      With regards to the 787 weight, the only thing that matters is the contractual agreement. It’s not like Boeing or Airbus gets a gold star if every spec they ever state in any of their brochures during a program turns out to be right.

      Yes, the 787 has undergone various revisions which included changes in the target weight (the -8 more so than the -9) just like any aircraft under development including (drum-roll please) the A350. So, arguing that Boeing’s claim of getting the 787-8 weight down to contractual and keeping the 787-9 weight below contractual is somehow false or insignificant, just because the targets have changed during the course of the program, is inconsistent, disingenuous, and unreasonable.

      If one wants to argue that Boeing’s claim is untrustworthy because of past history, then fine, do it. But one should not conveniently ignore the most recent history when making that argument.

      This post is not really directed at you, Patrick, but summarizes and explains my views of Boeing’s 787 weight claims in response to your brief comment.

  28. keesje July 19, 2013 Reply

    The 787 offers great efficiency, the 777X great payload-range. The A350 offers great efficiency + great payload range in the key 300-350 seats Asia – elsewhere segment.

    While the 777X concept keeps ruling the powerpoints for 5-6 years now, the major 777 operators placed A350 XWB orders. Some are close. And that’s no opinion.

    For those hoping for a Dubai Emirates miracle: EK has 70 A350XWBs on order and 50 options.

    “but make no mistake, if the A350-1000 does not do what it is supposed to…”
    I guess some might try to get used to the “risk” of the A350 might Not be a Dreamliner.. and start predicting from there.

    Recent developments A380, A330F & A400M did pretty well what they were supposed to..

    • Scratch July 20, 2013 Reply

      “Recent developments A380, A330F & A400M did pretty well what they were supposed to..”

      Really? The A380 was supposed to be 300T+ OEW (EK) and have a wing cracks from fatigue in its first few years? It was supposed to sell only 262 copies in 13 years on the market? The program was supposed lose money perpetually?

      A400M was supposed to fly in 2008, it has now been certified in 2013? OMG! It’s not like the transport is an F-22 with stealth and fifth generation fighter technology.

      I want a pair of the glasses you are wearing because it all seems pretty rosey over there in Toulouse.

  29. Patrick Kilby July 20, 2013 Reply

    Scratch the A380 has sorted out its problems a couple of years back (has the 787 yet c.f. electrics and cabin humidity!!) and I am sure numbers will pick up from the success of Emirates with it, as well as slot constrained airports will see 500+ seat planes make a lot of sense (more sense than a 400 seat plane) , plus from first hand experience the A380 is a far more comfortable and quite (noise wise) a plane than the 777; even if the 777X squeezes an extra four inches of cabin width. If the A380 went to the same squeeze as the 777 and went 11 across then the cost comparison numbers might get very interesting but they are selecting it for the comfort or long flights something that Boeing has never really mastered with its twin aisles (e.g 9 across on a 787 and 10 across on a 777!!!).

  30. Muhammad Kaloo July 23, 2013 Reply

    Yes, as a programme, the Boeing 787 has been a complete disaster. Yes, also as a programme, the Airbus A350 is doing and being handled remarkably well.

    Would the latter have happened if Airbus did not have a chance to learn from Boeing’s mistakes? I do not believe it would. The 787 has become a lesson in how NOT to manage, develop, design and EIS an aircraft. One that I hope Boeing themselves have learned and will, in future, avoid. The 787 has been a very rushed aircraft in most respects. Boeing was too optimistic and too ambitious – they just needed to dial it back a bit. However, it is also wrong to write them off because of these mistakes. They revolutionised air travel and have been at the forefront since then. The difference now is that they can no longer be lazy and expect greatness to be standard, the default setting, they now need to actively pursue it because the guys across the pond know exactly how to get it too.

    So in essence, IMHO, 787 was a disaster but A350 is a better plane because of it…

    • Michael Bohnet July 25, 2013 Reply

      Muhammad,
      I agree with your characterization of the 787 program management and execution. I do not think, however, that the A350 program has been particularly well executed. At this point it looks great compared to the 787 program up to first flight, but that is not saying much because the 787 program was run so badly.

      Take a look at the following article from Aviation Week.
      http://www.aviationweek.com/Article.aspx?id=/article-xml/AW_08_27_2012_p22-488795.xml

      Airbus is, to a certain extent, putting schedule before maturity and starting serial production prematurely, something they repeatedly said they would not do. MSN-1 through MSN-4 are the flight test aircraft, with MSN-5 through MSN-16 having “relatively minor” design changes. However, starting with MSN-17, 40% of the cabin parts will be changed including bracketing and the air-conditioning system. Other structural and wing changes will also be made. This is starting to look disturbingly similar to the 787 program, in my humble opinion.

      These late changes are really going to stress the production system especially when that system is in the early stages of maturation. This is also going to cost a lot of money. Will it be as bad as the 787? No, probably not, at least I hope not. It is good that these changes are in a plan, I’ll give Airbus credit for that, but, it remains to be seen how the execution will go. We will also have to wait and see what the real cost turns out to be.

      I think you are right in saying the A350 program has benefited from lessons learned, both from the A380 and the 787. However, I do not think that the A350 program is the shining example that some would like to believe.

  31. Scratch July 24, 2013 Reply

    WRT A380, it comes down to two words for most carriers… Capacity Risk. The global economy does not exactly inspire confidence over the last decade. The western economies wallow in debt while the Middle East tears itself apart. Asia booms, but destroys its environment in the process. Political instability abounds. Lots of reasons to be scared.

    WRT to the A320NEO, it seems the program has just found its first hiccup. Good thing Airbus decided to hang the LEAP as well.

    http://finance.yahoo.com/news/exclusive-test-mishap-forces-pratt-010334487.html

  32. Muhammad Kaloo August 2, 2013 Reply

    Thanks for the article Michael. All I can say is WOW! I did not know any of that! Everyone is critical about the 787 programme and I do not blame them for feeling that way, I feel the same. Its strange how everything is exposed about the 787 but I have not read anything about the A350 – and what this article claims seems quite major. That’s just unfair and quite biased. So I may have been giving Airbus and the A350 programme too much credit… Still a fantastic aircraft though.

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