Bjorn’s Corner: Aircraft engines in operation

By Bjorn Fehrm

January 20, 2017, ©. Leeham Co: We have now covered the technology around airliner turbofans. Now it’s time for the real stuff: their operational life. Most decisions that an engine designer does is about how the engine shall function in practice.

To understand a typical cycle of an airliner engine and the stresses it endures, we will follow an engine during a typical mission.

Figure 1. A principal picutre of a direct drive turbofan. Source: GasTurb.

We chose a single aisle mission because most flights are with single aisle aircraft and the cycle these fly is the most stressful for an engine. Read more

Filling the Middle Of the Market gap

By Bjorn Fehrm

January 17, 2017, ©. Leeham Co: Airbus and Boeing had completely different views about the product strategy for the “Middle of the Market” sector (MOM), both for today and the future.

Officials presented their views on how to fill the “Middle of the Market gap” at the Air Finance Journal conference in Dublin.

The Airbus view is: “We got it all covered”.

Boeing’s view is: “Not so fast, there is more to it than meets the eye.” Read more

The regional market and scope clauses

By Bjorn Fehrm

January 17, 2017, ©. Leeham Co: Union contract Scope Clauses–the provision limiting the weight, capacity or number of aircraft operated by airlines for major carriers–are unlikely to be modified any time soon, panelists at the Air Finance Journal conference in Dublin said.

The restrictive Scope Clauses are predominate in the US. These limit the ability of small airplane manufacturers to sell aircraft in the US. Most affected are Embraer, Bombardier and newcomer Mitsubishi.

Contract negotiations in December, concluded before Christmas, resulted in no changes, surprising some. This will impact planned purchases of aircraft.We sat with Bombardier’s Ross Mitchell, vice president of commercial operations, to understand why the scope clauses are so important and why they did not change. Read more

The aircraft market will double in 20 years

By Bjorn Fehrm

January 17, 2017, ©. Leeham Co: The market for passenger aircraft will double over the next 20 years, says Angus Kelly, the CEO of the world’s largest aircraft lessor, AERCAP. He forecast this growth, which is in sync with those from Airbus and Boeing, in his keynote speech at the Airline Economics Growth Frontiers 2017 conference in Dublin.

Kelly linked the growth with the increase in Global air travel. He started by showing what happened in the air travel industry during 2016, Figure 1.

Figure 1. Air transport market 2016 key facts. Source: AERCAP. Click to enlarge.

Passenger travel grew with 5.6% and airlines were more profitable. Negative news was a slowing GDP in China and a widebody market that had a continued slowdown.

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Fuel prices going forward

By Bjorn Fehrm

Source: Google images.

January 16, 2017, ©. Leeham Co: Oil has now doubled in price since the lowest point a year ago, with a present level of $50-$60/barrel. What is the trend going forward?

We are at the Growth Frontiers 2017 conference in Dublin, where Paul Horsnell, Head of Commodities research at Standard Chartered and Mike Corley, Mercatus Energy Adviser, gave their view on the future of oil prices.

The air transport market has seen a worldwide passenger and profitability growth over the last 12 months. The driving factors are increased appetite for air travel, especially in Asia, and cheap fuel.

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Pontifications: Planes nobody wants

By Scott Hamilton

Jan. 16, 2017, © Leeham Co.: Airbus and Boeing continue to offer planes that nobody wants.

Well, almost nobody.

The aircraft remain on the published price lists of both companies, for reasons that passeth understanding. Nobody ordered the aircraft for years.

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Boeing 737 MAX 10

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By Bjorn Fehrm


January 17, 2017, © Leeham Co.: Boeing has given its sales team the “authority to offer” the 737 MAX 10. The aircraft is a stretched version of the 737 MAX 9, designed to compete more successfully with Airbus A321neo.

Boeing worked on the variant for the last year. It started off as a more ambitious change over the 737 MAX 9, but it turned out too expensive and would have taken too long to get to market. The variant that Boeing now offers to airlines is a simple stretch of the 737 MAX 9.

The backing down to a stretched MAX 9 solves the cost and timing problem, but will it solve the competitiveness problem? We make a first analysis.

  • The offered 737 MAX 10 is a longer fuselage MAX 9.
  • The longer fuselage closes the cabin dimensions gap to the A321neo.
  • The 737 MAX 10 is longer and heavier than the MAX 9, affecting performance.
  • To save field performance, a change to the main landing gear was necessary.

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Bjorn’s Corner: Geared turbofans

By Bjorn Fehrm

January 13, 2017, ©. Leeham Co: The time has come to go through the reasons why some turbofan engines are designed with a gearbox between the fan and the low pressure shaft.

The principle design is shown in Figure 1. It’s a graphical representation of a geared turbofan from the engine analysis software GasTurb.

Figure 1. GasTurb principal representation of a geared turbofan. Source: GasTurb.

The base idea is to have the low pressure spool of the engine to run at a considerably higher RPM than the fan. Read more

Is Emirates in trouble?


Jan. 12, 2017, © Leeham Co.: There are a growing number of articles around the Emirates airline that points to recent weaknesses in the airline’s operating model. Here are just two:

We decided it was time for a deeper look at this locomotive from the Arab Emirates. Is Emirates in trouble? How solid is it?

We studied the economics for the last decade and took a deep look at the fleet needs, including, has  Emirates committed to too many aircraft being delivered over the next several years?

They have just deferred Airbus A380’s for the first time. Used to be they could not get them fast enough?

  • Emirates has been profitable since start 1985.
  • Its unprecedented growth in revenue and passengers has slowed down.
  • The low fuel price has kept profits up for now, but yield and load factors are down.
  • With a flexible fleet structure and a strong balance sheet Emirates has a strong position to weather any storm going forward.

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Airbus sets new delivery record for 2016

By Bjorn Fehrm

January 11, 2017, ©. Leeham Co: Airbus Commercial Aircraft presented a new record in yearly deliveries at its Press Briefing in Toulouse today.  The division of an integrated Airbus (therefore Airbus Commercial Aircraft, ACA) delivered 688 aircraft during 2016, thereby beating its target of 650 aircraft for the year.

Airbus A321neo with Pratt&Whitney engines was certified end 2016. Source: Airbus.

Orders were also higher than expectations at 731 net orders, giving a Book to Bill of 1.06. The market, including LNC, widely expected Airbus to fall somewhat short of a 1:1 book:bill.

There were no formal forecasts given for 2017. ACA President Fabrice Bregier stated that he expects it to be over 700 deliveries but full details will given at the Airbus Group’s financial press briefing in February.

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