Boeing at APEX, Pratt & Whitney’s dilemma

Over at our affiliate, AirInsight, there is a 27 minute video of Randy Tinseth, VP of Marketing at Boeing, making a presentation and our think piece about Pratt & Whitney’s dilemma following the launch of the Boeing 737 MAX.

See both pieces here.

Additional: Aspire Aviation today published a long piece about the 777X. See the story here. Update, Sept. 14: Aeroturbopower comments on the fuel burn analysis for the 777X. Update, 230pm PDT: Jon Ostrower has this article on 777X.

14 comments on “Boeing at APEX, Pratt & Whitney’s dilemma

  1. Very interesting. But it seems GE had the forsite to get exclusive contract with Boeing on the B-777 and B-737NG/MAX. RR seems to have done the same, at least with the A-350-1000. That means until the PW-1000G proves itself in airline service, P&W will be left on the sidelines to just watch. I doubt P&W will be able to develope a GTF engine in the 110,000 lb to 125,000 lb class in time for the B-777X. That means that GE has this contract to loose if they cannot push the GE-90/GEnx engine with a 10%-15% better SFC.

  2. Agree the 777X is GE to loose.

    I cannot see a 10-15% better scf though for a GE90 mod.

    It already is an efficient engines with a big advanced fan an new materials in the core..

    I expect no miracles, 5-7% hopefully (which is a usefull saving none the less) ..

  3. Hmm, 3 billion, new reprofiled wing. I don’t see any new large CFRP planes before 2040, so it should be O.K. there. Still, it will face the obvious challenge from below of the lighter A350. A good strategic move by Boeing to maintain position with the largest twin. Airbus’s response, keep adding seats to the market by delivering A380s and maybe its time for an A389.

  4. So Boeing may be going for a 77 derivative-with improved engines from GE, a possible extended fuselage and some weight reduction thrown in ,with materials. The goal seems like 15% improvement in sfc over today’s 300 ER.This is supposed to fend off the serious challenge from 350-1000.
    A is looking to get up to 25% higher efficiency over 300 ER;assuming that A gets it(no reason, why they will not) , the 77-9 or whatever with a 15% improvement may not be good enough; it is fine to protect its existing customer base, but it imho cannot maintain the commanding lead it currently enjoys in the market.
    It will be another 15 years before B comes up with a new plane -probably NSA ; and in its product line up , only the 87 will be the new tech ; all others derivatives;Historically Boeing had not defended its market well with derivatives- 37 classic vs 320, 67 derivatives vs 330.It is time ,they went bold and came up with a new 77 replacement -by 2020; that is the best way to answer 350-1000, not another derivative, some marginal improvement here and there to an already optimized frame.
    At any point of time, Boeing should be working on a totally new plane in any one of its product range ; they cannot keep playing the derivatives game -not withstanding the success of 737-if it wants to lead in the lucrative high margin wide body segment for >320 passengers.
    Now that NSA is not on, they have to go for a new plane to replace 777.otherwise they are milking their product line ,instead of building them for the future.

    • 777: possible further extended fuselage

      Is there leeway for a further stretch?

      The 777-300 already needs “chicken leg spurs” aka “locked bogies” to avoid tailstrike.

  5. $3 Billion for a new wing / engine is optimistic estimation, looking at the NEO and MAX.

    Still a reasonable deal. 15% would be possible if the 777-300ER would be old and futuring yesterdays technology. It is not, the GENX is a GE90-11x evolution, according to GE and I see no revolutionairy technology on top of the GE90-11x enabling a sfc boost better then ~5-7%.

    Still if Boeing/GE are able to further enhance payload-range (GE90 at 120-125klbs), enhance the wing, keep OEW stable but add a 4-5 rows/LD3s that might be good enough to sustain the 777-300ER s dominant position in its segment and capture a good share in the 747 replacement market and Asian growth markets.

    A few yrs ago I did a thread on this likely development and Henry Lam made some nice artist impressions.

    • Any idea around what the 747-8 “minimum change upgrade” has cost
      ( just the basic changes, no delays, no penalties ) ?
      and for a comparison:
      what did the A330-200F changes cost ?

  6. I’m sorry, but that analysis from Mr Tsang is IMO full of holes and several inaccuracies.

    With a 777-8X/-9X being 10% to 15% more fuel efficient than the existing 777-300ER, Boeing will be able to maintain its market leadership in the 300-400 seat segment with a modest investment. Coupled with a strong established customer base of the 777-300ER, Boeing’s new 777-8X/-9X is likely to be popular with the -300ER operators. For the time being, though, eyes on the Wall Street will be closely watching every development as “programme execution” will remain the word of the day.

    First, a 777-8X/-9X will be anything but a “modest” investment. The rule of thumb in developing new large civilian aircraft (LCA) is that the wing accounts for about 1/3 of total R&D costs, the engines account also for about 1/3 of total R&D costs while everything else on the airframe accounts for the remaining 1/3 of total R&D costs.

    Now, if Boeing was to develop a whole new composite wing for a conceptual 777-8X/-9X, it would represent a 4 billion dollar development (at the minimum). Achieving a 10 percent reduction in SFC on a GE90-115B derivative will entail anything but a “modest” investment. “Just” adding contra rotating high pressure spools means that the basic architecture is changed significantly. One’s got to realise that the GE90-115B engine is not state-of-the-art. In fact, it’s old technology

    Development of GE90-115B Turbofan Engine

    The bypass ratio of the GE90-115B is just over 7 (reduced from around 8.5 on the GE90-94B), thus if the core would retain the same architecture, a larger diameter fan would be required (NB: Fan diameter of the -115B is 128 inches, and not 135 inches as claimed by Mr. Tsang). What this means that the “GE90-115B-derivative” in reality would in all likelihood turn out to be an all new engine. However, most engines are derived from previous generation ones, so let’s assume that a GE90-115B/GEnX-1A “derivative” engine would “only” cost $1,5 billion to develop. Adding a billion or two to airframe upgrades, we’re looking at R&D costs approaching half that of what an all new 777 replacement would cost to develop. Would that be a wise investment from Boeing’s point of view?

    Mr. Tsang seems to believe that a stretched 380 to 390 seat 777-9X (-8X presumably being a 10/11 frame stretched 777-200LR) will ensure that Boeing will maintain its market leadership in the 300-400 seat segment. That’s all the more puzzling considering the fact that even Boeing believes that the market for 300-seat aircraft is bigger than the market for 350-seat aircraft, which again is bigger than the market for 400-seat aircraft.

    Aspire Aviation‘s sources say this “internal stretching” would provide more cabin space and seat width to the existing 10-abreast configuration adopted by Emirates Airline on its 777-300ER aircraft without impacting the aircraft’s cross-section nor facilitating the need to stretch the 777X’s fuselage, thereby avoiding costly modifications on the revamped version of Boeing’s largest twin-jet.

    Sure, the ribs in the area of maximum internal diameter can be flattened, but getting more than 4 inches of added (useful) diameter is doubtful. Going to 380-390 seats from the presently quoted 365 seat configuration means that the aircraft will have to be stretched. It’s also important to note that runway strength remains a limiting factor for the 777-300ER (ACN/PCN). IF MTOW is increased on the conceptual 777-8X/-9X, the current semi-levered main landing gear would have less tailstrike protection, at the current take-off field length of the 777-300ER. Increasing MTOW significantly would in all likelihood mean that Boeing would have to put a Boeing patented eight wheel truck on the -8X/9X. However, the current MLG bay would have to be enlarged.

    Very large aircraft landing gear having eight wheel truck

    A new 744-sized composite wing, and a semi levered 8 wheel MLG bogie, should ensure adequate runway performance of even an 80 meter long 777-9X.

    Furthermore, the new 777-8X/9X is very likely to feature an increased maximum take-off weight (MTOW) and improved payload/range capabilities, Aspire Aviation has learned. Not only will the higher MTOW and improved payload/range capabilities satisfy airline demands such as Emirates Airline for its requirement of flying 50 tonnes of payload year-round from Dubai to Los Angeles and help open new markets, this would also potentially undermine the A350-1000′s business case.

    Again, increasing MTOW from the current 350 plus (metric) tonnes of the 777-300ER, is not a simple/cheap undertaking. Also, according to Mr. Tsang, “only” 100,000 lbs of thrust would be required for the 777-8X/-9X. That would mean that the wing would have to be huge when the MTOW >> 350 tonnes.

    If Boeing would be as stupid as to spend some $6 billion on a niche aircraft for Emirates that would be replaced by later increased range versions of the A380 (as traffic grows), surely the folks in Toulouse would be more than pleased if that would happen. Certainly, the “business case” for the A350-1000 will not be undermined by an outrageously expensive, over-engineered 777-9X with little additional market potential.

    • Hmm, Mr Tsang seems to have changed his piece “slightly” from the quoted paragraph above. Now, it’s stated that:

      Furthermore, the new 777-9X is very likely to feature a slightly lower maximum take-off weight (MTOW) at 753,000 lbs and modestly improved payload/range capabilities than the 777-300ER, Aspire Aviation has learned. Given the significant weight saving brought by a new composite wing, this level of MTOW would maintain its existing lead over the A350-1000 and potentially undermine the -1000′s business case.

      And Flightblogger’s story on the 777-8X/-9X confirms that the quoted paragraph above was somewhat confusing. So, what Boeing/GE is looking at is to:

      - Retain the 128 inch diameter fan size so as to keep keep using the current 135 inch diameter nacelle. However, the fan itself would be all new.

      - Shrink the core and increase the bypass ratio.

      - Aim for a 10 percent reduction in SFC.

      This is very similar to the conceptual Trent-1500 engine that was to have powered an enhanced version of the A340-600. However, except for the nacelle/pylon, everything else would be new. Hence a “modest” investment it is not.

      Interestingly, the payload/range capabilities of the 777-300ER would be retained on the -9X which means that Emirates would have to settle for the -8X on flights to LAX if they want to carry any meaningful payload (in addition to passengers). However, we are still talking about a 6 billion dollar plus investment for only a gain of 15 percent (presumably per seat). So, even after having increased the seating capacity for the -9X, spent half of what would be required for an all new large widebody aircraft, Boeing still wouldn’t be able match the per seat economics of the A350-1000.

      Also, if I were Boeing, I would be weary of Airbus developing an all new widebody during the 2020s that would bridge the gap between the A350-1000 and the A380-800. In typical Airbus fashion, such an aircraft could have 3-4-3 seating in economy at A380 levels of comfort (18.5 inch wide seats). Furthermore, an all new composite wing larger than the one on the 747-8 (wing area around 600 m2) that would be developed for a large twin powered aircraft, could conceivably be used to power a medium ranged derivative of the A380.

      • Addendum:

        - Retain the 128 inch diameter fan size so as to keep keep using the current 135 inch diameter nacelle. However, the fan itself would be all new.

        The 135 inch diameter is for the fan casing. Maximum diameter of the nacelle is apparently 165 inches.

  7. The fact that the 773 weighs 50Klb more than the 772 is a red flag. I believe it is already to long for its diameter, and suffers structural inefficiency in bending by being a slender heavily cargo loaded widebody. I would think the sweet spot for the given wing and fuselage is a 225′ model for 38 containers, a MTOW of 700K and new 105K engines.

  8. I think Boeing can be competitive with a 777 against the A350-1000. Airbus has their work cut out for them since they are making a modified wing and a triple bogey landing gear different from the -900. Second, they have to produce enough of them quick enough to dominate the market. Some of the current 777-300ERs sales success has been due to the failure of the A380 to ramp up production. The 787 was predicted to have put an end to the A330 by now. What are the sales of the 330 vs. the 787 this year? When will the 787 production pass the 330? Time and production capability are defining factors on the side of the 777 vs. the A350-1000, just as they have advantaged the 330 more than predicted.

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