Odds and Ends: No butts about it; 737 Norway to Houston; MH370

No butts about it: Flight Global has this story  (free registration required) about the Airbus campaign for an international seat width standard. But while Airbus is touting comfort, it’s now promoting five abreast in the center section of its A380 economy section, reducing the 18.5 inch seating to 18 inches. The London Telegraph has this story on seat width and other stuff related to the increasingly crowded cabins.

737 Norway to Houston: No, this isn’t a type. The USA Today explains.

Tossing a lawsuit: An Illinois judge tossed the first lawsuit filed in connection with Malaysian Airlines Fight MH370 and threatened sanctions on the law firm that filed it.

And this has become indicative of CNN’s breathless, sometimes ridiculous coverage of MH370:

While Greg Feith thinks a probable cause of MH370′s disappearance may not be solved, another former NTSB member has a different opinion. John Goglia, however, was a board member, not an investigator, although he was a US Airways accident investigator.

Boeing may have battery fix: King 5

KING 5 TV (NBC Seattle) reports Boeing may have a fix for the battery issues on the 787.

Flight Global’s Steve Trimble has this historical perspective on battery technology over the decades. Free registration is required to Flight’s silly “Flight Pro” and then you have to navigate an incredibly annoying home page to find the bloody story. Good luck.

A350-800 future: Airbus says it stays firm; here’s what customers tell us

Flight Global has this story in which Airbus says it remains committed to the A350-800, a sub-type that is the smallest of the A350 family and which has been the subject of much speculation that Airbus will choose not to proceed with it.

Airbus hasn’t helped matters because it’s been encouraging customers to switch to the larger A350-900. John Leahy, COO-Customers, some time ago told us the larger -900 is more profitable for Airbus and customers could get deliveries sooner.

But, according to customers we talk to, there are other reasons, too. First, according to one customer, is that Airbus is de-risking the program by getting customers to switch to the -900. The program has been delayed nearly two years and customers expect at least one more delay of three to six months to entry into service. Airbus is concentrating resources on the -900, and by switching customers from the -800, Airbus relieves the pressure on these resources.

This customer, which has switched its orders from the -800 to the -900, believes Airbus will build the -800.

Flight Global has this story which echoes what we’ve been told, citing Akbar Al-Baker of Qatar Airways: he switched from the -800 to the -900 because of the delays. But he now believes Airbus should discontinue offering the -800.

Airbus declined comment on the tie between delays and the switches.

Another customer switched its order did so simply because it likes the operating economics and revenue potential of the larger -900 better than the -800.

A key supplier, however, takes a dimmer view. The person we talked with believes Airbus will let the A350-800 go away, but this is his personal opinion and says that his company hasn’t heard anything to suggest this will be the case.

Eliminating the -800 would leave Airbus without a new technology competitor to the Boeing 787-9. Although some, including Tony Fernandes, CEO of AirAsia, believe Airbus should proceed with an A330neo. Airbus so far dismisses such suggestions and it has not asked engine makers to consider such a possibility. But one airline fleet planner told us that he believes Airbus will one day proceed with the A330neo with an EIS of around 2020. This means Airbus would not have to ask engine makers to explore the possibility until next year or even 2014. So what is true today may or may not be true “tomorrow.”

Odds and Ends: A380 cost, American’s engine order, ‘war on Boeing’

A380 cost: Flight Global reports that Air France–a launch customer of the Airbus A380–just concluded a lease deal for one of the giant airplanes for a rental of $1.8m per month.

For an airline of Air France’s credit, lease rates are typically on the 0.80% range and sometimes as low as 0.72%. This, then, infers a purchase price of $216m-$230.4m.

American Airlines: It was announced Monday AA split its engine order between CFM (for the Airbus A319) and IAE (for the A321). Given American’s large CFM-powered Boeing 737 fleet, some might think CFM should have won the entire engine deal. But the IAE V2500 is viewed as the better engine for the larger A321–more thrust and lower fuel burn–and American follows Lufthansa Airlines in splitting the engines for the smaller and larger Airbus family.

Aviation Week has an article that provides some other interesting information about the leases for the Airbuses.

Pratt & Whitney: Does the American deal mean PW has a good change of placing the GTF on the A320neo order by American? PW’s buyout of the Rolls-Royce share of IAE certainly gives PW the ability to do a “global” deal involving V2500 and GTF engines, something CFM has been able to do for CFM56 and LEAP engines from inception. While Rolls-Royce was involved in IAE, there was no incentive for RR to be flexible on V2500 sales that might lead to GTF transactions. Now PW can wheel and deal all it wants.

War on Boeing? Aviation Week has a speculative piece that US airlines have declared “war on Boeing.” This think-piece relates to the Air Transport Association suing the US Export-Import Bank over plans to finance 787s ordered by Air India, a financial and management basket-case.

While AvWeek raises some interesting points, we’re told this has more to do with a dispute between Delta Air Lines–instigator of the ATA action–and India. We think Boeing is merely getting mugged in the process and that this is not a “war on Boeing.”

Turboprops: Jets always draw the most attention but Aspire Aviation has a long piece about turboprops, specifically the Q400 vs the ATR series, that merits reading. Turboprops are slowly regaining favor in some quarters.

The Beauty of it: From Randy Tinseth’s blog, here is a photo that is just a beauty, from the Dubai Air Show:

747-8 engineer nominated for top honors

Dominic Gates of The Seattle Times has this piece that describes the honor Boeing engineer Pio Fitzgerald has been nominated for at the Dubai Air Show for his design fixing the flutter problem on the Boeing 747-8 that threatened the entire program.

Fitzgerald is just 34 years old. Gates’ story provides an interesting if short bio of this talented man.

Congratulations to Fitz for the nomination. The winner will be honored by Flight Global.