The A350, Part 2: Analyzing the A350-800

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By Bjorn Fehrm


January 21, 2020, © Leeham News: Before the holidays, we started a series to look into Airbus’ A350 family. We analyzed the development program and how the variants have sold.

Initially, the A350-800 won about 180 orders. But as the market received more information about the smaller variant, the more it realized it wasn’t an optimal airplane. It was never officially canceled. But orders was up-gauged to the A350-900. Airbus decided the variant wasn’t competitive and developed the A330neo instead. We now look into why.

  • The A350-800 was positioned as Airbus’ main defense against Boeing’s new 787-9, the most efficient variant of the Dreamliner.
  • As the A350 program was delayed, the A350-800 moved from an optimized variant to a “cut and shut” version. This compromised its efficiency.
  • Gradually Airbus changed its strategy how to compete with the 787.

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HOTR: Boeing could further cut 787 production rate—JP Morgan

By the Leeham News Staff

Jan. 20, 2021, © Leeham News: There is risk of another production rate cut for the 787, JP Morgan wrote in a Jan. 12 note.

Boeing already is reducing the rate to 5/mo this year. There are an estimated 60 787s in inventory due to production and quality control issues discovered last year that halted deliveries in November-December.

Boeing 787 family. Source: Boeing.

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Podcast: 10 Minutes About China’s Commercial Aviation Industry

Jan. 19, 2021, © Leeham News: Today’s edition is 10 Minutes About China’s commercial aviation industry.

China has one airliner in service, a second in flight testing and a third on the drawing board. Production is still a challenge.

We discuss how viable the airliners are and a bit about production–all in 10 minutes.

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The ascent of the Big Three Chinese carriers

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By Vincent Valery


Jan. 18, 2021, © Leeham News: As the COVID-19 outbreak spread throughout China in January last year, their airlines were the first hit by the sudden collapse in passenger traffic. Most of the world’s carriers would follow the same faith by March.

However, as China managed to bring the COVID-19 outbreak under control, domestic traffic progressively picked up. According to IATA statistics, October 2020 Revenue Passenger Kilometers (RPMs) in domestic China were down 1.4% year-over-year, compared with a 60.7% decline in the domestic USA market. However, one should note that travel between China and the rest of the world remains very limited, notably due to the draconian quarantine requirements on arrivals from abroad.

Due to the faster recovery in domestic passenger traffic, China Southern Airlines had more RPKs year-to-date than Delta and United, only trailing American Airlines. Air China and China Eastern Airlines have had comparable year-to-date RPKs with Air France – KLM, and more than Lufthansa and IAG. Below is a summary chart:

The three carriers received significant financial support from the Chinese government to sustain their operations.

The COVID-19 pandemic will likely accelerate the big three Chinese carriers’ global importance compared with their equivalents in the USA and Europe. With that in mind, LNA analyzes their structure and financials in recent years.

  • Three state-owned enterprises;
  • The specific structure of each carrier;
  • Varying financial performance;
  • Ambitious growth plans.

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Pontifications: Electric aircraft builder poised to start production near Everett

By Bryan Corliss
Jan. 18, 2021 © Leeham News
— Western Washington aviation enthusiasts may need to send out an extra Valentine this year, addressed to Alice – the nine-passenger electric aircraft being developed by Eviation.

Sometime around Valentine’s Day, mechanics should begin assembling the first production Alice at the company’s new final assembly site in Arlington (WA), about 20 miles north of Boeing’s Everett facility.

“We are literally setting it up,” said Eviation Chairman Roei Ganzarski, last week from one of the two hangars that the company has taken over at Arlington Municipal Airport, as equipment boomed in the background. “We’re putting in fixtures and furniture and paint.”

Ganzarski said his plan is to have the first production aircraft ready to start flight tests for FAA certification this summer – assuming that both Eviation and magniX, the company providing the electric motors to power the craft – are able to stand up new facilities, complete their initial hiring and get the first shipsets assembled on time.

“What an exciting year 2021 is going to be,” Ganzarski said.
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Bjorn’s Corner: The challenges of hydrogen. Part 20. Hydrogen airliner weight shift

By Bjorn Fehrm

January 15, 2021, ©. Leeham News: In last week’s Corner, we looked at how hydrogen consumed in the rear fuselage tanks of Airbus’ ZEROe concept affect the airliner’s efficiency.

Now we look at other aspects of the rear placement of the tanks.

Figure 1. Airbus ZEROe turbofan airliner. Source: Airbus.

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HOTR: Some predictions for Airbus and Boeing

Jan. 14, 2021, © Leeham News: Making predictions is always a hazardous business.

Some predictions take years to resolve. The outcome of others come sooner than later. If you’re right, you look sage. If you’re wrong, you look like an idiot.

But HOTR is going to take a stab at it anyway.

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Outlook 2021: Russia and China

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By Bjorn Fehrm


Jan. 14, 2021, © Leeham News: China and Russia are both developing a single-aisle domestic airliner in the A320/737 MAX class, a regional turboprop in the ATR 72 class, and is jointly working on an A330neo/787 widebody competing airliner.

While these are similar development programs, the countries are in very different positions in their markets and industries. China is a five times larger market for airliners than Russia, and its airlines are on the way back from COVID riddled passenger numbers. It has the fastest recovery from COVID-19 of any country and its civil airliner industry is on the rise.

Russia on the other hand has a stagnant market, still hit by COVID-19, and its market and industry have become introverted after a decade of flirting with Western markets and technology.

  • China and Russia drive almost identical civil airliner projects to replace Soviet-era and Western airliners.
  • While similar in their projects, they are different in their markets and state of industries.
  • China is on the way up (albeit from a low state) to eventually compete on the world market, whereas Russia is falling back to a Soviet-style all Russian state-controlled model.

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Boeing’s Calhoun completes first year as CEO

By the Leeham News Team

Jan. 13, 2021, © Leeham News: Today marks the first anniversary of David Calhoun becoming CEO of The Boeing Co.

Calhoun’s first year faced challenges unprecedented in Boeing’s history. There was the 737 MAX crisis. Sales of the 777X were stagnant. The balance sheet was stressed.

And then COVID exploded, all but destroying commercial passenger demand and with it, ability by airlines to take delivery of new airplanes.

David Calhoun. Source: CNBC.

Boeing’s balance sheet went further upside down. Production and quality control problems with the 787 emerged.

Finally, Calhoun was afflicted with a case of foot-in-mouth disease. This contrasted with his calm, well-received initial public face during the waning days of then-CEO Dennis Muilenburg’s stilted public persona.

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De Havilland to pause production this year after backlog built

By Scott Hamilton

Jan. 12, 2021, © Leeham News: De Havilland Canada will pause production later this year when the current Dash 8-400 backlog is assembled.

According to data reviewed by LNA, there are 17 Dash 8s scheduled for delivery to customers this year. There are two more that don’t have identified customers. It is unclear if these will be built.

DHC notified suppliers to stop sending parts and components to avoid building whitetails.

De Havilland assembled the Dash 8s at the Toronto plant previously owned by Bombardier. The lease on the facility expires in 2023. There is no decision whether to move the final assembly line to Western Canada, where DHC is headquartered.

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