Part 3: Boeing 757 replacement: 757 and Airbus A321neoLR versus clean sheet designs.

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By Bjorn Fehrm

Part 3 of 3

Introduction

In Part 2 of our three-part 757 Replacement analysis, we took a close look at Airbus’ new 97 tonne take-off weight A321neo, revealed in a world exclusive by Leeham News and Comment October 21. We analyzed the A321neoLR’s capabilities and limitations when compared to Boeing 757-200W and we saw that it could do the international flights that the 757-200 does with about 25% better efficiency. In this final Part 3, we will now compare the 757 and A321neoLR against what can be Boeing’s reaction, a clean sheet New Single Aisle, NSA, or New Light Twin Aisle, (NLT). First the conclusions from Part 2:

  • When using the United Airlines-configured 757-200W international as benchmark, we came within seven seats of the 757 capacity for an A321neoLR. It covered the same range and had trip fuel costs that were 25% lower.
  • The per seat fuel costs gave a 22% higher efficiency, which was within 2% of Airbus own figures.
  • 737 MAX9 is not suitable for stretch to an international version, not because the wing is not good enough but because the MAX9 cannot bring the wing to an angle at take-off where it can work efficiently; the landing gear is too short.

Summary
For Part 3 we can summarize:

  • A New Single Aisle (NSA) or New Light Twin (NLT) which would enter the market in 2025 would be sized at around 200 passengers with subsequent variants covering the 175-225 seat market, all numbers with OEM standard two-class seating. Figure 1 shows the fuselage cross sections we have used in our modelling of NSA and NLT to cover this market segment.

NSA and NLT cross sections

Figure 1. Fuselage cross sections of our models of NSA and NLT. Source: Leeham Co.

  • In order to cover the market segment of the 737, A320 and 757 it would have a range in excess of 4,100nm. We will use 4100nm for our modeling to maximize the comparative efficiency information.
  • Its efficiency would be higher than an A321neoLR, primarily due to better engines and a more modern wing.
  • The New Light Twin (NLT) wins on comfort and ground turn-around time but pays with a larger fuselage cross section due to the extra aisle. This causes more drag and structural weight, net effect is a reduction in efficiency of around 2.5%.

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A380neo becoming a reality

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Introduction
We last looked at the Airbus A380 economics in February, when the airframer was promoting the giant airplane as a 525 seater. Since then, Airbus recast the airplane as a 555 seater. This changes the economics somewhat. Further, Airbus is floating an 11-abreast coach configuration vs the out-of-the-box 10 abreast.

Tim Clark, president of Emirates Airlines, continues to press for a re-engined A380. In our companion Assessment of the Very Large Aircraft market, consultant Michel Merluzeau believes Airbus will re-engine the airplane.

So do we.

It has been pretty clear to us that Airbus will do an A380neo. The question is when. Emirates’ Clark last month predicted the decision would be taken within six month. Our latest Market Intelligence says he will be right; we understand that Airbus is right now preparing for an A380neo project.

Summary

We thereby see the time ripe for looking into the A380neo again. When we last covered the subject (Updating the A380: the prospect of a neo version and what’s involved, Feb. 3, 2014) we concluded:

• The present configurations for the A380 of 525 seats fills the A380 to a much lower density than is the norm today.
• A cabin configuration of 555 seats would be a realistic three-class configuration with the economy section on the lower deck still in a spacious 10 abreast with seat width at 19 in.
• The efficiency of the A380 filled to that low density was on par with the best per seat benchmarks in the industry, the Boeing 777-300ER with the economy section in a tight 10- abreast, 17- inch configuration.
• The best in market benchmark would move considerably when the Boeing 777-9X enters service 2020. The per fuel seat cost would then we almost 20% lower than today’s A380.

Today our article shows:

• A re-engined A380neo, with other improvements typical in such an endeavor, reclaims the per-seat advantage for the A380.

When re-running the data in our proprietary model, we have more and better data around the likely engine variant, the Rolls Royce Advance, which was announced by Rolls Royce in March. It will be available for an A380neo rolling off the production line 2020. We have also put in more work into our standardized cabins, adjusting the relationship between premium and economy seating to a ratio closer to the one airlines use today. Airbus has also been active on the A380 cabin side. It has had several studies how to better utilize the cabin space in the A380. The results are now presented to the market.

In a recent A380 update, Airbus showed an 11-abreast main economy cabin with 18 in seats, now without raising the cabin floor to fit the seats. By adjusting how the seats interfaces the cabin’s sloping walls, Airbus avoids changing the floor height in part of the cabin.

We will now use this latest data to check where an A380neo would stand in terms of efficiency against the Boeing 777-9X, its most difficult competitor when it comes to the cost of transporting passenger from A to B. In later articles we will look at a more complete cost picture and also look at the A380’s strong side, the revenue and yield when one can fill the aircraft. Read more

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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Air Berlin 787 cancellation potentially gives Boeing big advantage in Delta order competition

The announcement last week that AirBerlin canceled orders for 15 Boeing 787s gives Boeing an unexpected, big advantage in the contest for a big wide-body order from Delta Air Lines–depending on when Delta wants the airplanes.

The competition apparently has been narrowed to the Airbus A350-900 and the Boeing 787-9, according to Flight Global. Based on this article, the Airbus A330-900 neo has been eliminated, which if true is a blow to the fledgling program in which Airbus had counted on Delta to be a launch customer.

Outside of the OEMs and Delta, it’s not known when Delta wants 50 widebodies. But the A350 and 787 are essentially sold out through the end of the decade, though both OEMs can typically find delivery slots for important campaigns such as this one by over-booking or persuading other customers to move their delivery positions.

Airbus has plenty of slots for the A330neo from 4Q2017, when entry-into-service is planned. But with the apparent elimination of the A330neo from the competition, delivery schedule becomes important–and the AirBerlin cancellation works to Boeing’s advantage.

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Airbus could decide on A380neo within six month: Emirates’ Tim Clark

Airbus could decide within the next six months whether to re-engine the A380 with Rolls-Royce powerplants, says Tim Clark, the president of Emirate Airlines, which has ordered more of the giant airplanes than any other customer.

Tim Clark, president of Emirates Airlines. Emirates Airlines photo.

Clark, speaking to a press gaggle on the sidelines of the World Routes conference Sunday in Chicago, said a RR engine would likely be based on elements of the Trent 1000 and Trent 7000 engines on the Boeing 787 and Airbus A330neo.

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Final A330neo analysis; cabin improvements gives the A330neo gains over today’s A330

When we did our analysis of the A330neo after the Farnborough launch we limited our checks to trip fuel efficiency as we did not have enough clarity of the cabin improvements that Airbus announced. After a meeting in Toulouse last week with Airbus cabin experts we know have the missing information.

Airbus gives the A330 cabin an interesting update for the A330neo. It comprises A330 ideas (improved crew rests), A350 ideas (improved lighting and IFE) and finally ideas tried out on the A320 (SpaceFlex and SmartLav lavatories). Combined they give the A330neo cabin a better passenger experience and improved utilization of cabin space. Read more

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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GE analysis post Farnborough

Our wrap up of Farnborough would be incomplete without looking closer at the world’s leading engine supplier, GE Aviation, which together with partners (like SAFRAN in CFM joint venture) garnered more than $36 Billion in orders and commitments during the show. This figure was only significantly bettered by Airbus ($75 Billion) and it came close to Boeing’s $40 Billion. With such level of business the claim by GE Aviation CEO, David Joyce, that the Airbus A330neo engine business was not the right thing for GE as they have more business than then they know what to do with, was certainly no case of “sour grapes”. Read more

Odds and Ends: Hawaiian orders A330-800, drops A350-800; A330neo market potential; Engines and Airbus

Hawaiian Air’s A350-800s: Hawaiian Airlines July 22 ordered six Airbus A330-800s and simultaneously dropped its order for six A350-800s. HA also took six purchase rights for the A338. Deliveries begin in 2019.

The A338 is slightly smaller, nominally at 252 seats, and has somewhat less range at  7,600nm than the 276-seat, 8,250nm A358, but only Hawaiian knows how much it needed the extra range. Losing the extra seats does give HA a hit to revenue potential, however. For wide-body airplanes, Airbus says each seat has the revenue potential of $2m/yr.

Offsetting the revenue loss is a far lower capital cost for the A338 vs the A358. Our economic analysis, based on technical specifications estimated before the Farnborough Air Show and before Airbus revealed data for the A338, showed the A338 pretty close to the A358 on a pure operating cost basis, not including adjustments for capital cost.

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