Hydrogen, electric and hybrid alternatives not here yet

By Scott Hamilton

Sept. 25, 2020, © Leeham News: Commercial aviation has had 70 years to use jet fuel safely. It’s unclear how long it will take to reach the same level of safety with hydrogen, say Boeing.

In a briefing Tuesday, the day after Airbus revealed its hydrogen powered concepts for three potential airliners, the vice president and general manager of product development expressed caution about hydrogen as a fuel source.

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Bjorn’s Corner: The challenges of Hydrogen. Part 10. Airbus’ Hydrogen ZEROe concepts

September 25, 2020, ©. Leeham News: In our series on Hydrogen as an energy store for airliners, we look at the three hydrogen-based concept aircraft Airbus presented this week.

They are called ZEROe and are concepts and not products, but their design tells us a lot about where Airbus is with its studies and how the hydrogen demonstrator aircraft might look like come 2026-2028.

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Sunset of the Quads, Part 8. The A380, 747-8i and 777-9 compared.

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By Bjorn Fehrm

Introduction  

September 24, 2020, © Leeham News: Airbus was disturbed for decades by Boeing’s rein of the Very Large Aircraft (VLA) airliner segment with the 747. It was determined Boeing used this dominance to outmaneuver Airbus in different situations.

Airbus needed an aircraft in this market segment, bigger and better than Boeing’s. The result was the A380, the world’s largest passenger aircraft. We know how this developed today, where the COVID pandemic finally killed the segment for Very Large Aircraft. But how good was it, and where were the weaknesses?

We compare the A380, 747-8i, and Boeing’s up and coming 777-9 to find out.

Summary
  • The A380 outclassed the Boeing 747-400 efficiency-wise, as it was a 30 years younger design.
  • The updated 747, the 747-8i narrowed the gap to the A380, but if both could be filled the A380 stayed ahead.
  • The 777-9 is 15 years younger in design than the A380, and it shows. It is significantly more economical in operation than the A380.
  • Throughout its career, the A380 had a graver problem than its efficiency. It was simply too big for a market that went for frequency instead of large departures.

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HOTR: Somewhat stabilizing twin-aisle lease rates

By the Leeham News Staff

Sept. 22, 2020, © Leeham News: Ishka, the UK-based appraisal and consultancy firm, Thursday published its update of values and rents for 5-year old, twin-aisle aircraft. After a significant reduction since the beginning of the year, lease rates seem to be stabilizing.

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Airbus announces zero-emission airliner concepts.

By Bjorn Fehrm

September 21, 2020, © Leeham News: Airbus held a webcast today, announcing three zero-emission airliner concepts called the ZEROe line (Figure 1). The two conventional designs, the turbofan airliner and the turboprop use hydrogen as the fuel for their gas turbine engines. The blended wing-body is a more futuristic concept where propulsion technology was not specified.

The idea is to use these concepts as work paths to explore the technologies around them and their aerodynamic characteristics. The concepts “are not products” underlined Airbus EVP development Jean-Brice Dumont. “It’s rather examples of designs around which the technologies can be explored and results compared. After concepts follow demonstrators and then products.”

Figure 1. Airbus ZEROe (e for emission) concepts. Source: Airbus.

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A lost decade for aircraft manufacturers, suppliers

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By Judson Rollins, Bjorn Fehrm & Scott Hamilton

Sept. 21, 2020, © Leeham News: Commercial aviation is facing a lost decade due to COVID.

Yes, most forecasts target 2024-2025 as returning to 2019 passenger traffic and aircraft production levels.

However, LNA in July published its own analysis indicating full recovery may not occur until 2028. Breathless headlines notwithstanding, it will take years for vaccines to be widely available and considered safe by enough of the world’s population. Growing concern about vaccine production and distribution capacity through 2024 underscores this view. Even Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly said earlier this month that business travel might not fully return for a decade.

Indeed, the 2020s may well be a lost decade for aircraft manufacturers and their supply chains.

Summary

  • Debt-laden airlines will have little money to order new airplanes
  • Interest in re-engined 787, A350 likely nil this decade
  • Airbus, Boeing, Embraer have little interest in launching new programs
  • Engine makers too financially stretched to develop new designs
  • Engineering talent, knowledge will be decimated by inevitable job reductions
  • OEMs must “play the long game” at short-term cost to safeguard their futures

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Pontifications: Last production DC-6 destined to USA

By Scott Hamilton

Sept. 21, 2020, © Leeham News: A Texas man with an affinity for the Douglas DC-6 purchased the last production model, DC-6B that is still in its original passenger configuration.

The last Douglas DC-6 produced has been stored since 2010. It’s now owned by a Texas man. Source: DC-6 Association of Africa.

The DC-6B, delivered in the waning months of 1958, is the sister ship to the famous Red Bull DC-6B that continues to be flown occasionally at air shows.

This DC-6B, registration V5-NCG, has been stored in Namibia since 2010. It once was the presidential airplane for Yugoslav’s leader, Marshal Josip Tito. The plane was then donated to the Zambian government as the presidential aircraft for Kenneth Kuanda. This aircraft and the sister ship were purchased by Namibian Commercial Airlines (NCA). The sister ship, the second-to-the-last built, was sold to Red Bull. The proceeds were used to restore V5-NCG.

More recently, it served in tourist charter work. The aircraft has the original interior. This is a rarity in restored piston airliners.

James Mac Ivor owns Nighthawk Air Systems Inc. near San Antonio. COVID-19 delayed plans to return the airplane to the air. He also still must raise funds.

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Bjorn’s Corner: The challenges of Hydrogen. Part 9. Hydrogen Gas Turbines

September 18, 2020, ©. Leeham News: In our series on hydrogen as an energy store for airliners we analyze the conversion of the present Turbofan and Turboprop airliner engines to hydrogen as fuel instead of carbon-based fuels.

We know it’s possible as the world’s first jet engine from 1937 ran on hydrogen, Figure 1. But what are the problems and how good are the hydrogen-fueled engines in efficiency and emissions?

Figure 1. The world’s first jet engine, Hans von Ohain’s He S-1. The engine’s aerodynamics is pictured below the cut-through. Note the skewed hydrogen injector at c. Source: Wikipedia.

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Sunset of the Quads, Part 7, The A380

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By Vincent Valery

Introduction  

All Nippon Airways’ Flying Honu A380 livery

Sep. 17th, 2020, © Leeham News: Last week, we compared the economics of the A340-600 and the 777-300ER on the Los Angeles to Shanghai route. We now turn our attention to the last major bet on a quad-engine aircraft, Airbus’ Superjumbo A380.

Summary
  • An extended market study to go after the Queen of the Skies;
  • Supersized launch and development;
  • A program on life support for several years;
  • What went wrong;
  • Analyzing two-stage Boeing response on a trunk route.

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HOTR: Adjusting Airbus and Boeing orderbooks

By the Leeham News Staff

Sept. 15, 2020, © Leeham News: Boeing has removed hundreds of 737 MAX orders from its order book. While some were direct cancellations from customers, most came through ASC 606 adjustments.

Airbus does not publish such order adjustments by aircraft program in its monthly order and deliveries report. The European OEM publishes a total outstanding amount of contracts for commercial aircraft in its annual reports. However, the figure does not have a breakdown by program.

As a result, Airbus and Boeing order books aren’t an apple to apple comparison. The COVID-induced traffic slump has had a significant impact on airlines’ financial situation. Therefore, adjusting order books is necessary to assess an aircraft program’s backlog situation.

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