Odds and Ends: Boeing basks in 777 orders as A350 falters

Odds and Ends this week:

  1. Boeing had a good week with 777 orders from a variety of customers, though some were previously unidentified ones that had already been booked. Back in January we predicted that Boeing will see a stream of orders that will justify increased production. Boeing has announced a rate of 8.3 per month and we can reveal it is considering going to 10 per month.
  2. Meanwhile, Airbus confirmed that it faces mounting challenges with the production timeline for the A350. For the moment it is still sticking with the EIS of 2H2013. We fully expect this to slip into 2014. At the moment, our conclusion is that the A350 will be a year late. This may change.
  3. Dominic Gates has this interesting story about Boeing proceeding with a 787-10.
  4. The Air Force Times has an interesting article analyzing the tanker competition.
  5. Airbus and Boeing are engaged in their usual public bickering over the strategies in the A320/737 class. Airbus launched the NEO and claims this provides enough fuel burn reductions to make the program worthwhile. (We think the boost in range to the A320 and A321 have as much to do with the program as anything else.) Airbus is right. Boeing claims re-engining doesn’t provide enough fuel burn benefit to make re-engining worthwhile on a net, all-in cash-on-cash basis to be worthwhile. Boeing makes a good argument on this narrow basis, but this ignores the environmental benefits to re-engining and other factors. Airbus says there isn’t going to be a real convergence of technology until 2025-27 to justify a new airplane. Boeing believes there is enough new technology available to justify a new airplane by 2019. We think they are both right–and both are wrong.
  6. EADS CEO Louis Gallois said the KC-X tanker effort boosted EADS’ standing with the Department of Defense despite losing.
  7. The new PW GTF and CFM LEAP-X engines aren’t in service yet and PW is already working on its next generation GTF and CFM is working on the open rotor. Flight Global has a lengthy story about it.
  8. Aspire Aviation takes a look at Cathay Pacific’s financial results.

14 Comments on “Odds and Ends: Boeing basks in 777 orders as A350 falters

  1. I read the Air Force Times story written by Mr. Robert Dorr. He clearly shows his bias by his writing about Boeing’s failure to provide the JSDAF and ITAF with their KC-767s on time. Yet, he goes on to say the RAAF has “vetted” the KC-30, and that clearly is not true. The RAAF has yet to accept the first delivery of the KC-30 from EADS and that program is rapidly approaching 3 years late.

    Mr. Dorr says things like “Even though the Airbus is superior” and “Running three successive tanker competitions over 10 years, and ultimately choosing the wrong winner from two adequate aircraft, shows how badly broken Washington is and how little airmen can expect from their leaders”. The KC-X compitition was all about meeting the 372 mandatory requirements ant the lowest price. There was nothing about one design being “superior” over the other. That was the war call of the EADS cheerladers, and is nothing more than a marketing slogan from EADS and its supporters, of which Mr. Dorr shows he was one.

    Mr. Dorr forgot to point out the KC-46As advantage in LCC, fuel economy, and MilCon costs, as detwermined by the USAF itself.

    Mr. Dorr may be an expert on the P-40 of WWII, but that does not make him and expert on modern day tankers and how they are employed. He is entitled to his opinion, but that is all he has. He should leave complicated subjects like modern day air tactics and military operations to the experts.

    In the tanker world, bigger is not always better.

    • Didn’t our host correct you very recently on “lateness of the RAAF tanker” and you hadn’t even bolstered your numbers with another year 😉

    • In tanker world, I don’t know if bigger or smaller is not always better.
      But for sure, sooner is better and longer (range) is better.

    • AFAIK, The Australia tanker is only held back by paperwork – it’s operational testing and evaluation is completed. It is know (or assumed by many) that the EADS in production design is closer to meeting the USAF requirements than the Boeing in operation design.
      These two assumed facts can be combined to state that EADS’ design was “vetted” by the RAAF.

      Only the LAST of THREE KC-X competitions was all about meeting a set of minimum requirements at minimum cost. Thus, the latest win by Boeing only shows it’s proposal is cheapest while meeting a minimum set of requirements.
      The only part of the competition that has anything to do with the actual operational side of aerial refuelling, IFARA, was (we all assume) solidly won by EADS, indicating in my mind the EADS design is the better tanker. Its adjusted price is however also more than 1% more expensive than the Boeing proposal. Thus you can claim the 767 was a better fit (I’d agree) or even that is was better value (I’d disagree) – but the 330 makes the better tanker.

      is in the tanker world the a/c that most resembles what you’ve been using the last 40 years always best?

  2. “Airbus confirmed that it faces mounting challenges with the production timeline for the A350”
    Airbus have been saying it for a long time, the schedule remains challenging. The latest Q4 2013 guidance may well be pushed a little but I am yet to see any evidence behind the ‘1 year’ or ‘2 years’ late claims. -1000 is another story, however. I have no doubt it will be pushed back a few years.

    “Airbus launched the NEO and claims this provides enough fuel burn reductions to make the program worthwhile…”
    … particularly for the investment they will put into the project. What Boeing is talking about is 10x the investment (new development) for a questionable delta in performance. I am afraid Boeing showed very little other than just PR talk.

    • I understand the uncertainty with the 1000 model is mainly doubt about the engine. The higher thrust variant relies on as yet untested new technologies. But it is a step from doubt (which Boeing and GE are only too happy to reinforce) to an assumption of failure. To say, “I have no doubt [the A350-1000] will be pushed back a few years” implies that Rolls Royce don’t know what they are doing, that failure is built in from the get go, and that they will have to get to the required thrust rating by a different route. I don’t think that’s the case. As with any technological breakthrough there’s a risk. But the probability is that it will be OK.

      A couple of interesting articles from Flight Global about the Trent XWB here and here.

      • “implies that Rolls Royce don’t know what they are doing…”
        FF, I never implied any such thing, as I never said anything about RR. I read the link you provided and have no doubt that RR will deliver an engine for -1000. In my opinion, the aircraft definition and the technology required for the 2015 EIS are not mature enough.

      • My impression is that a lot of allegations towards RR and the Trent XWB
        for the -1000 is FUD injected initially by Boeing and probably fed by friendly templates sent to interested parties.

        It is very interesting to see that Boeing Dreamliner performance is in general taken as a template for judging Airbus performance around the A350XWB.
        Denial, in no case can Airbus do better than Boeing.

      • Sorry, UKAir, I intended to make a general comment, but it looks like I put words into your mouth. I apologise for that.

        For what it’s worth, I agree with Leeham that the A350-900 will probably be late and that a one year delay is a reasonable estimate at this time.

        It’s generally the engine that commentators point to as the probable reason why the A350-1000 will fail in its current form. They suspect RR won’t be able to increase thrust by the necessary 10% for the larger model.

        I point to GE, who successfully increased thrust on its GE90 engine by nearly 25% for the 115 variant. They had to do more work than Rolls Royce are proposing with the XWB engine. But it shows what’s possible.

        Any upfront delay to the A350 moves the 1000 model the same degree to the right. So while I think there is a risk of significant delay to the 1000 model, I don’t rate it as critical at this stage.

        Finally, some commentators – not yourself – mix up two criticisms of the A350-1000. Firstly that the A350-1000 will fall short of the spec or won’t be delivered in a timely way; Secondly, the A350 as specified is simply not powerful enough for most airlines. They may be right on the second point – time will tell – but it’s a different issue.

      • “a one year delay is a reasonable estimate…”
        Any ‘estimate’ is a pure guess, in my opinion. Key milestones for this year are Q3 FAL building completion and the arrival of components at the end of 2011. A better ‘guess’ can be made then.

        “It’s generally the engine that commentators point to as the probable reason why the A350-1000 will fail…”
        Agree. The first time I read about ‘problems’ was when Dick Aboulafia has been raising concerns and carried on so to this day. It is interesting that Airbus have denied that, first in Nov 2010 when Fabrice Bregier has stated that -1000 thrust level was demonstrated.
        http://www.eads.com/dms/eads/int/en/investor-relations/documents/2010/Events-Reports/GIF2010/GIF_Praesi/F_Bregier.pdf page 3, and more recently at the ISTAT Conference
        http://www.flightglobal.com/articles/2011/03/14/354333/trent-xwb-engine-certainly-sufficient-to-power-a350-1000.html

        “Firstly that the A350-1000 will fall short of the spec”
        In my opinion the risk lies in the technology going in to the airframe. To keep to the spec, Airbus needs to put a lot of effort into developing it. In my opinion, they won’t be able to do it in time for the EIS in 2015. We will see.

        • Tilt A350-1000 potential buyers away towards a “reliably available” 777 from Mr. Boeing ? ( a bit the inverse of the dreamliner sales pitch )

          Boeing dearly needs revenue.

          They seem to lack in ideas and/or resources to improve on the 777 in a _riskless_ way. ( They don’t even have a competently founded idea on what to do about the 737/A320 market )

          Would they survive a 777 upgrade done in 747-8* style?

  3. Now that Boeing own Vought, perhaps they could get some ideas for 737 NEO from the F4U Corsair files on how to achieve ground clearance by putting a crank in the wing.
    Would sure make it a distinctive airliner.

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