Part 2: Boeing 757: Airbus A321neoLR as a replacement on long and thin routes

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By Bjorn Fehrm

Part 2 of 3

Introduction

In Part 2 of our three-part 757 Replacement analysis, we take a close look at Airbus’ new 97 tonnes take off weight A321neo, revealed by Leeham News and Comment October 21. We call the 97t airplane the A321neoLR (Long Range); Airbus has yet to name the aircraft, which it began showing to airlines last week.

We analyze the A321neoLR’s capabilities and limitations when compared to the aircraft it intends to replace, the Boeing 757-200W. We have chosen to do so using a real airline configuration as opposed to an OEM’s typical seating layout. By comparing the 757-200W and the A321neoLR over the route structure that United Airlines is using the 757 today, we can better see the characteristics of the A321neoLR and what operational consequences the differences between the types would mean for the airlines. Before we start, a short recap of Part 1 about the 757 and its replacement candidates. Here is what we found:

  • the seating capacity of the A321 is within 10 seats of the 757-200 in a standard configuration; the 737 MAX9 is trailing with about 20 fewer seats.
  • the myth about the strong engines of the 757 is just that, a myth.
  • the good field performance of the 757 is coming from its wing more than any advantage on the engine side
  • the A321neo and 737 MAX9 were hindered in their capability to replace the 757 for long and thin international routes by characteristics that can be changed. For the A321neo, this may be accomplished with rather modest changes to Max Take Off Weight (MTOW) and tankage. For the 737 MAX9, more elaborate changes to the wing and engines are required, both hard to do.

BA 757-200

Figure 1. Boeing 757-200 of British Airways which launched the 757 together with Eastern Airlines 1983. Source: Wikimedia.

Summary, Part 2

  • We will now look in detail on the changes Airbus is doing on the A321neoLR, what each change brings and any restrictions that remain.
  • We will also detail why we think it will be harder for Boeing to match the A321neoLR with a 737 MAX9 development.
  • We detail prime, present 757W long-thin routes.
  • We present 757W international, A321neoLR and 737 MAX9 “long range” configurations.
  • We provide economic comparisons such as Payload-Range charts and Fuel consumption per trip and per seat diagrams.

In the final Part 3, will look at Boeing’s alternative to an A321neoLR, a clean sheet New Single Aisle (NSA) and a prospective Small Twin Aisle (STA) design and how much such an approach would surpass the A321neoLR on medium and long haul networks and when it could be available.

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Part 1–Boeing 757: An analysis of facts and myths

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By Bjorn Fehrm

Part 1 of 3

Introduction

The Boeing 757 was developed in the late 1970s as a replacement for Boeing’s popular 727 mid-range single aisle aircraft. Starting from the smaller 727, it ultimately grew to 180 to 230 seat capacity and US transcontinental range. With initial orders from Eastern Airlines and British Airways, the aircraft nonetheless had poor sales through most of the 1980s, picking up with a surge of orders in 1988-1990 when major deals were announced from American, Delta and United airlines.

Figure 1. Boeing 757-200 of launch customer Eastern Airlines.

Figure 1. Boeing 757-200 of launch customer Eastern Airlines.

 

Following the 1991 Persian Gulf War and recession, orders plunged until the mid-decade with a respectable resurgence. After 9/11, sales dried up and Boeing terminated the program.

Summary

  • The 757 program had slow sales in its first decade, robust sales for a few years then declining sales through most of the 1990s.
  • Sales were respectable in the late 1990s but dried up after 9/11.
  • Boeing efforts to boost sales with the 757-300 were a failure–only 55 were sold. 757F sales were a moderate success.
  • The 757-200 had strong engines for its time (especially the Rolls Royce equipped models), we dissect if this is still true.
  • With the 757 being the only narrow-body with trans-Atlantic range, what is missing from today’s Airbus A321 and Boeing 737 MAX9 to make the cut? What can be done with small changes will be answered in part 2.
  • How will a future clean sheet NSA perform compared to these three? How much of a game-changer will a clean sheet design be if it enters service 2025? We look at the answers in part 3.

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Leeham News launches Premium plan, companion to free content; engineer joins staff

Free content.

Leeham News and Comment (LNC) today launched a Premium subscription plan as a companion to free content.

LNC has provided news and commentary since February 2008, providing industry-leading information and insightful analysis, principally focuses on Airbus, Boeing, Bombardier and Embraer but also including emerging challengers to the Big Four OEMs, the leading engine manufacturers, suppliers and airline news.

LNC has been a leading resource of news and comment throughout the commercial aviation industry and its professional followers in the aerospace supply chain, investment analysts and the media.

Since the first of this year, LNC increasingly provided more and more technically-based content. This content is valuable and supplements the industry-leading news and reporting that has been provided since 2008. We are pleased to announce the addition to our staff, Bjorn Fehrm, who focuses on technical evaluation and complements the strategic expertise of Scott Hamilton, the founder of LNC and Leeham Co. consultancy.

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Odds and Ends: AA swapping A319s for A321s; Cancelled orders; CSeries; CFM LEAP enters flight testing

American swaps A319s for A321s: This is what Flight Global reports.  AA placed a large order to the Airbus A319ceo in 2011 but, having since merged with US Airways which has a large number of the small Airbus that can be redeployed on AA routes, the combined carrier will instead upgauge to the A321, Flight reports.

AA will take 28 A319ceos instead of the anticipated 65.

Cancelled orders: Aviation Week has a blog item listing a bunch of orders placed by airlines that were cancelled before delivery. AvWeek acknowledges the list is hardly all-inclusive. So, Readers, how about adding to the list? Let’s go all the way back to 1945, and this can be globally. We’ll start with American Airlines and Pan Am canceling the Republic Rainbow.

CSeries: Bombardier posted a video update of the CSeries FTV 4 tour to customer Republic Airways Holdings here.

CFM LEAP: The CFM LEAP-1C, the engine launched for the COMAC C919, entered flight testing. Reuters has this story and Aviation Week has a similar piece.

 

 

Odds and Ends: Comparing Airbus, Boeing 20-year forecasts; A320neo first flight; 787 battery probe fizzles; Mythbusting

Airbus v Boeing forecasts: The Blog by Javier takes its annual look at and comparison of the Airbus and Boeing 20-year forecasts. Airbus issued its new forecast this week; Boeing’s annual update was issued last summer.

Separately, the A320neo with Pratt & Whitney engines made its first flight today. The CFM LEAP neo is supposed to follow by six months. Showing class, Boeing Tweeted a congratulations for a milestone for the industry.

787 battery probe: The US National Transportation Safety Board hasn’t been able to find the root cause of the lithium ion battery failure in the Japan Air Lines and ANA Boeing 787 incidents. Now, the Japanese investigation has also failed to find the root cause of the ANA battery meltdown.

It’s rare but not unknown for investigators to not find root causes of problems, sometimes for years. A Northwest Airlines Boeing 747-400 split rudder hard over during a flight from Anchorage to Tokyo is one example; it took four years to determine the cause. The root cause of Boeing 737 rudder hard-overs, two of which caused fatal accidents, went unsolved for years.

Boarding airplanes: The reality show Mythbusters, an often entertaining look at myths, conventional wisdom, fact and fiction, takes a deep dive into airplane boarding. The article, with an insert to the episode, is here.

The Southwest Airlines style of boarding, with no seat assignments and derisively called cattle-call boarding, is the fastest and the most annoying, according to Mythbusters. Back-to-front is the longest. The Window-Middle-Aisle works best (but for those of us who like the aisle seat, the overhead bins are usually stuffed by then).

ISTAT Europe Conference in Istanbul: Boeing and Airbus slugging it out with some new twists

Airbus and Boeing squared off once again Monday, this time at the ISTAT Europe conference in Istanbul, once again pretty much over the entire product lines.
Boeing’s VP Marketing Randy Tinseth began with two focal points, the 737 with its latest developments and Boeing’s “superior” Twin Aisle line-up. Tinseth claimed Boeing has caught up to the A320neo with the 737 MAX.

After an A320neo head start of a year, Tinseth says Boeing has kept the same sales rate per year for the 737 MAX. The backlog of 737 MAX now stands at 2,300 aircraft and he described why Boeing thinks it is well positioned in this market segment.

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Odds and Ends: UBS on wide-bodies; CFM on GTF; Analysts on CSeries; Expedia on LCCs

UBS on wide-bodies: Investment bank UBS sees the Airbus A330ceo deliveries  dropping from the current production 10/mo to 5/mo by 2017, in advance of the introduction of the A330neo late that year. As Airbus transitions from the ceo to the neo, beginning in earnest in 2018, UBS sees deliveries dipping to just 40. The forecast doesn’t yet go beyond 2018.

Likewise, analysis David Strauss sees the Boeing 777 Classic deliveries declining from the current production rate of 8.3/mo to 5/mo by 2017, well in advance of the 2020 entry-into-service of the 777X replacement. He sees Classic deliveries holding at 60/yr in 2018.

Strauss sees 12 Boeing 747 deliveries per year beginning in 2016 through the forecast period in 2018, implying a rate reduction from 1.5/mo to 1/mo.

CFM on GTF: The head of CFM International’s technology told a conference that CFM looked at Geared Turbo Fan technology when evaluating proceeding with what became the LEAP engine and decided to take a pass.

Speaking at the Morgan Stanley conference, Reuters reports that chief technology officer Mark Little said CFM shied away from the GTF over weight and reliability concerns. But he didn’t rule out using a GTF for some future engine, according to Reuters.

Analysts on CSeries: Bloomberg reports that an increasing number of aerospace analysts and consultants believe the entry-into-service of the Bombardier CSeries will slip from 2H2015 into 2016.

We’ve previously reported that we now have the CSeries EIS slipping into 1Q2016.

Bombardier continues to press ahead for a 2H2015 EIS (which, at best, we believe is 4Q2015)

Expedia on LCCs: Airline booking company Expedia conducted a survey on Low Cost Carriers and among the results: legroom is important.

Considering the recent news items about legroom and recline wars, and Ryanair’s order for the Boeing 737 MAX 200, the survey results are worth a look.

Odds and Ends: Safran benefits from engine after-market; ExIm could back Airbus; Paine Field future

Engine After-market: Safran, which owns 50% of CFM International with GE Aviation owning the other half, is positioned in the “sweet spot” of the engine after-market, according to a recent  report by Bernstein Research.

The report further supports our own analysis posted August 25 and the growing importance of MRO support in winning engine orders.

According to Bernstein, Safran “has the best positioning in the aircraft engine after-market” in the investment bank’s coverage. This position is “driven by two engine families with strong growth ahead and low exposure to older engines that are at risk of early retirement.”

Bernstein notes that more than 95% of Safran’s after-market sales are derived from the CFM56, which powers 75% of the narrow-bodied aircraft, and the GE90, which powers the Boeing 777-200LR/LRF and 777-300ER.

Future programs include the CFM LEAP, GEnx and GP7200. Past programs, in decline, are the first generation CFM56 and the CF6 on earlier wide-bodies.

ExIm and Airbus: In a statement surely to inflame those opposed to renew ExIm Bank authority, the president of the bank said it’s possible it could back funding of the Airbus A320 family built in Mobile (AL).

Paine Field future: It’s a little parochial but The Everett Herald has an article looking at the future of Paine Field, where Boeing’s wide-body airplanes are assembled. The article necessarily looks at the future of the Boeing 747, 767 and 777 Classic production.

Congress is now talking about a nine month extension of ExIm.

 

 

 

Odds and Ends: Boeing leads net orders YTD; A320neo; ExIm Bank; Frontier Air

Airbus vs Boeing orders: Airbus reported its order tally through August and while it surpassed 1,000 gross orders, it’s net orders trail Boeing significantly. This article sums things up nicely, though it doesn’t include Boeing’s last four days of August. Boeing reports weekly and the latest report is due out today. Through August 26, Boeing trails Airbus slightly in gross orders but leads in net orders.

Update: Boeing just posted its weekly order tally: 1,004 gross orders (to Airbus’ 1,001) and 941 net orders, still well ahead of Airbus’ net orders.

A320neo first flight: Airbus will launch the first flight of the A320neo this month for the airborne test program. This is powered by the Pratt & Whitney GTF; the CFM LEAP A320neo is supposed to follow by about six months. Entry-into-service for the GTF neo is planned for October 2015.

ExIm Bank: Members of Congress are looking at a short-term extension of the ExIm Bank‘s authority (read: until after the November election).

Frontier Airlines: This carrier is rapidly converting to an Ultra Low Cost Carrier business model, a process begun several years ago and accelerated last year. Aviation Week has an article that takes a look.

Go Seahawks: The NFL season opens tonight with the 2014 Superbowl champs Seattle Seahawks hosting the Green Bay Packers. Go Hawks!

After-market support becoming key to winning engine orders

Maintenance and power-by-the-hour parts and support contracts are increasingly becoming the deciding factor in deciding which engines and which airplanes will be ordered—it’s no longer a matter of engine price or even operating costs, customers of Airbus and Boeing tell us.

Ten years ago, 30% of engine selection had power-by-the-hour (PBH) contracts attached to them. Today, 70% are connected, says one lessor that has Airbus and Boeing aircraft in its portfolio, and which has ordered new aircraft from each company.

“We’ve seen a huge move in maintenance contracts,” this lessor says.

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