Day 2 summary after the jump.
We’re at the Airbus Innovation Days and here are some highlights:
- Tom Williams, EVP Programmes, believes that a re-engined A320 family will eliminate the business case for the CSeries. The concern is that the CS100/300, which competes with the A319, will establish a “beachhead” from which competitors to the +150-seat airplane will be launched. (No kidding–we’ve been saying this for a couple of years now.)
- Williams believes Boeing will make a mistake to proceed with a replacement for the 737 in this decade because engine technology won’t be ready until the next decade to get the gains desired by the airlines.
- He does not believe Airbus should respond immediately with a replacement for the A320 if Boeing goes with a new plane because anything before 2024 won’t have enough fuel/operating cost reduction to justify the investment.
- Williams says the PW P1000G GTF is more technologically advanced than the CFM LEAP-X.
- Williams said it isn’t “feasible” to do nothing with the A320, which is why a re-engining is getting so much attention–but he adds that this isn’t a “done deal,” a decision whether to re-engine will come when the business case for Airbus and the airlines is made.
- The A340 is only a build-to-order airplane now.
- As previously announced, Airbus will take A320 production back to 36/mo from December. In connection with this, Williams remarked that the financial markets are coming back, which will make financing less reliant on export credit and Airbs customer financing.
- Although Airbus previously planned to take A380 production to four per month (prior to the industrial meltdown in this program), Williams now says three a month is “sensible.”
- Williams needs a lot of “convincing” to support an A380 freighter. Focus now has to be on the A380P, the A350 and the A320RE programs.
- Predicts 20 A380 orders this year vs 10 previously predicted.
- Reminds us that Airbus’ forecast for A380 is based on the point-to-point/hub-to-hub traffic of mega-cities which will grow from some 30 today to more than 80 over 20 years, requiring 1,000 A380s.
- Says conclusions by aerospace analysts that there are 852 surplus airplanes–which are the basis for forecasts that production reductions are necessary–is wrong. The number is closer to 450-500 and more at the lower end of this range.
- Believes Boeing is bluffing about a replacement 737 at this time, noting Boeing said the 7J7, Sonic Cruiser were false starts. (He omitted the seveal false starts on the 747 derivatives and his own missed forecast that the 7E7 would be another false start.)
- He’s adament that new engine technology is worth waiting for and that a re-engine program is a reasonable interim step but underscored that Airbus has not made a decision to procede with what he is now calling the A320 “Neo.” He also believes Boeing will follow with a 737 “Neo.” But if Airbus does nothing, neither will Boeing. Says Airbus could launch the program without customers rather than requiring a customer launch.
- Says a Blended Wing Body doesn’t work with fewer than 400 passengers.
Day 2 Summary:
Day 2 wasn’t as newsy as Day 1, largely because John Leahy and Tom Williams covered some of the ground that was to be covered by Day 2 presenters. This is a result of their presentations duplicating info and questions posed to them. Also, Day 2 was a bit more technical than normally covered by this column. With this in mind, here are a few highlights.
Andrew Shankland, VP Marketing:
- Airbus expects the A330 passenger to sell at least to 2018 if not beyond, filling the range niche of up to 5,000 miles in a manner that the Boeing 787 and Airbus A350 proves to be too long-legged.
- Shankland presented a direct comparison between the A330-300 and the Boeing 777-200ER (since these are virtually identical in capacity). While the 777 has more range, Shankland made an interesting comparison about the weight and operating costs advantages held by the A333 over the 772ER. We immediately thought that he made Boeing’s argument in the tanker competition when comparing the KC-767-200ERF with the KC-45 (A330-200). We will discuss this in a future column in detail.
- Airbus made the point, as it has in the past, that its new A330-200HGW (High Gross Weight, an unofficial designation since Airbus isn’t using it), will have almost the same range as the early models of the 787-8, in its assessment. Airbus believes that the early 787s will have a range of just under 7,000nm due to weight and fuel burn issues. The A332HGW has a range slightly below the assumed 787 shortfall range, while carrying more passengers and more cargo.
Sadly, Shankland announced that Stuart Mann, the long-time A320 program chief, died a month ago following a long, long illness. The visibily moved Shankland paid tribute to Mann, a gregarious, funny individual whom we got to know during our various trips to see Airbus. Anyone who knew Stuart knows exactly what we mean. Shankland noted that no matter how dire things seemed about whatever was going on, Mann always saw the light in the dark. Andy said he will miss Stuart, and so will we–as well as anyone who knew Stuart.
On to other things:
- The A400M program is proceeding in its flight testing, after a very difficult birthing. Airbus Military is optimistic about progress.
- Airbus Military has a trade press briefing next week on the KC-30 MRTT and A400M. It won’t be webcast and we won’t be there, but watch trade reports for stories coming out of this.