Odds and Ends: Airbus wants to advance NEO EIS by six months; name that tanker

1. Airbus wants to advance NEO EIS six months

Airbus wants to advance the entry-into-service of the A320neo by six months, to October 2015, we have learned. Airbus plans to introduce the neo in six month increments (A320neo followed by A321neo followed by A319neo). Airbus has more than 300 orders and commitments for the 320/321 and none for the 319. With Boeing increasingly talking about a new airplane in 2019, any advance Airbus can get for EIS on the neo will be beneficial.

Pratt & Whitney can probably meet this requirement. It will have versions of the GTF in service with Bombardier in 2013 and with Mitsubishi in 2014. Testing on the Irkut MS-21, a competitor to the A320/321, is to begin in 2014 with an EIS planned for 2016 (though we believe the MS-21 will likely be later than 2016).

Whether CFM can have the LEAP-X ready for a NEO 2015 EIS is unknown. CFM has yet to be selected for a NEO order (this is only a matter of time, though). The LEAP-X is in development for the COMAC C919, also a competitor to the 320/321. Flight testing is planned for 2014 and EIS for 2016 but we think the C919 will run years late, just as did the ARJ-21. Can CFM shave six months off its flight testing to meet an advanced NEO EIS when it is disadvantaged to PW’s CSeries and MRJ operating experience? We don’t know.

Over at Boeing, Aspire Aviation has this think-piece about the “737X.”

2. Airbus ponders slight larger A350-1000

The A350-1000 is aimed directly at the Boeing 777-300ER, but it is slightly smaller at 350 passengers vs 365 in typical three-class. Boeing, and others, question whether Rolls-Royce’s Trent XWB engine is big enough for the -1000 (Airbus, not surprisingly, said that it is). But we learned that Airbus is considering a 380 passenger -1000 and 50 miles more range to make it sure to do Dubai-Los Angeles non-stop. For this, the Trent XWB needs 5,000 lbs more thrust, and Rolls has been asked to figure this out.

In our view, this is the airplane Airbus needs to take on the -300ER.

3. Bombardier exec says 300 CSeries orders by EIS

Gary Scott, CEO on Bombardier Aerospace, told the ISTAT crowd last week the company will have 300 orders for the CSeries by the time it enters service in 2013, the same number that Airbus had for the A320 at EIS.

We were truly surprised to hear Scott be this definitive–not because we don’t think BBD can do it, but rather because BBD is ordinarily very, very reserved about making forward-looking predictions.

4. You can’t fool physics

Airbus likes to say that its A319neo equals the economics of the Bombardier CSeries, but the airplane is 12,000 lbs heavier than the competing CS300 and this means more fuel is burned relative to a lighter airplane. How much is 12,000 lbs? It is the equivalent of 69 passengers at 175 lbs per passenger.

In the Airbus presentation at ISTAT, Airbus also said the A320neo family (it wasn’t more specific than this) is Stage 4 minus 15db, which is very quiet indeed. But Bombardier says the CSeries is Stage 4 minus 20 db. This makes the CSeries significantly quieter.

Lest one dismiss the physics argument, Airbus itself made this case when comparing the A330-300 to the Boeing 777-200.

Boeing’s Randy Tinseth accused Airbus of manipulating numbers for economics between the two airplanes; the Seattle PI picked up Randy’s assertions here. Airbus provided a rebuttal to the PI, and it is reported here.

If the laws of physics work for the A330, one presumes they also work for the CSeries.

5. Japan’s tragedy affects more than 787 supply chain

People naturally are focusing on the impact of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan on Boeing’s 787, as typified in this Wall Street Journal article, but Boeing gets stuff for its other 7-Series programs from Japan as well. Buckingham Research outlined this in a recent research note. Aviation Week has this article.

6. The story behind the Korean 747 order

Korean Air Lines’ order last week for two Boeing 747-8Fs merely pick up the two orders canceled by Guggenheim Aviation. Guggenheim was going to lease the airplanes to KAL but canceled when it could not reach agreement with Boeing on penalties for being late. At the same time, KAL was negotiating with Boeing over penalties for the late deliveries of the 787s and 747-8F ordered directly from Boeing. In a “global” settlement, KAL swapped the 787-8 orders for 787-9s and ordered the Guggenheim 747-8Fs at a bargain-basement price.

Watch for Guggenheim to do a sale-leaseback with KAL on the freighters.

7. World’s scariest airports

With videos.

8. DOD to provide “microscopic” oversight on KC-46A

The Defense Department, perhaps just a tad sensitive over the tanker award and statements by loser EADS that Boeing is unlikely to deliver as promised, says it will provide microscopic oversight on the KC-46A, according to this article. Further, Heidi Wood at Morgan Stanley says Boeing management admitted that the profit margins on its bid are below company average. Military.com’s Line of Departure has this interesting analysis of the procurement process.

Flight Global has this long piece about the EADS ambitions in the US following its loss of the tanker contract.

9. Name that tanker

The Air Force is getting nominations for the name of the KC-46A, according to this article in the Air Force Times.

What do our readers think the name of the tanker should be? Submit your nominations in the Comments; after a while we will compile them and hold a vote of the best choices.

10. Frankenfish

With apologies to Boeing, we just can’t resist including this one.

35 Comments on “Odds and Ends: Airbus wants to advance NEO EIS by six months; name that tanker

    • _Lesser Evil_ ??

      ok, another one:


      grey, trunkbearing and the slightly smaller
      variety ( in contrast to the Loxodonta, african elephant ;-).

  1. Tradition tells me Stratotanker 2 is good because it discribes the continuation of the KC-135 name. But, it is also a little lame. I don’t remember anyone ever using the official name of the KC-135 in regular conversation. It was always just called “tanker”.

    The USAF does not name many airplanes for Air Force heros from the past. So I would like to suggest the name “LeMay” referring to the WWII commander of the XXI Bomber Command, the “Father of SAC” and former AFCS during the Cuban Missile Crises.

  2. The KC-97 was “Stratotanker.” The KC-135 is “Stratotanker.” Therefore, if used, the KC-46A should be “Stratotanker III.”

    To emphasize it Multirole Tanker/Transport, my suggestion would be “Multitanker.”

    Or maybe “AboutDamnTimeTanker.”

  3. You are right John S.

    Can Airbus build the slightly bigger A-3510 (which apparently EK is telling them to build for the DXB-LAX mission) and control the weight gain? Will RR be able to build the newer engine required in time? I am sure they can build the increase in thrust required, but what about the SFC?

    Is it time to throw in the towel on the A-319NEO idea?

    • Putting the various items in this together, I suggest the prospect new A350-1000 will be delayed from 2015. This in turns allows the NEO to come out earlier – the 2016 date was ostensibly chosen to avoid clashes with the A350 program. An earlier NEO is advantageous to that program, while a delayed A350-1000 doesn’t impact the A350 in general very much. Airbus have a raft of 900 and 800 models to get out of the way. If a delay to the 1000 means a more desirable plane, then it’s worth waiting for.

      It does look like Emirates is calling in the favors with Airbus. Also I wonder how well the LeapX competes with teh GTF

      • Well then the B-787 must be so desirable an airplane for the airlines that they will not survive without it.

        IIRC, the Leap-X engine has not gotten any NEO orders. All have been for the GTF.

  4. Does Boeing have any option besides building a new plane? As I don’t get how re-engining can suddenly go from “only offering single digit % in improvements, therefore making it not worthwhile”(according to Boeing) to being enough to keep up with and probably surpass the A320NEO in the space of about 6 months. Unless if they were blowing hot air with the numbers to begin with, can do something else + the re-engining which would bring more efficiency(don’t see it) or the 737 in it’s current form is already so far ahead of the A320 that they don’t need that much to keep it ahead, doubt it.

    • My guess is Boeing can achieve with some certainty gains just short of what Airbus can do with the A320 line. But it will cost them an arm and a leg. i.e. more than half of what a completely new NB will incur in developement cost. Thus there is a tin “Open Me” of unsavory critters Boeing is dancing around.

      Additionally their processes for major detail improvements ( ala 747-8 ) and creating new designs (Dreamliner) have showcased a lack of competence.

      The last time they tried to significantly increase production on a line is said to have been a disaster. After that they changed the line setup to “lean production”.
      Lessons learned in the previous setup probably are not a sure thing to apply to the current situation.

      I find it completely unsurprising that Boeing is gunshy in most directions they could go. And they are still begging for guidance from their customers.
      But their customers are airlines they (maybe) know what they would like to have
      but they don’t have any ken on what materials to use.

  5. Lets face it, every airline would want to buy a brand new state of the art 737 type replacement at A320neo prices, but as it wont happen the neo is the only game in town at the moment.
    The original 2016 delivery was always an engine driven date, so perhaps the ILFC decision for GTF has allowed PW to bring forward the EIS with a very healthy initial order, while other neo customers have made no commitment either way.That represents a few months advantage to the programme perhaps?

    As for a tanker name, I always liked the Frankentanker, and as the KC46A still will embrace some of a bits of this and that in its derivation, I suggest the StratoTonka.

    • Ha,. Tonka Toys were said to be indestructible.
      Roller scates for your Elephant.
      Nice name 😉

  6. Looking at Aircraft like the beefed up A350-1000, A380-800 and the CS300ER, its wings and fuselage, OEW, you just know a stretch is under the table.

    I sketched a seriously longer A350-1100 a year ago, It doesn’t look strange at all..


    And of course the CS300 will be more efficient then the A319NEO in passenger flights <100 minutes, which is the bulk of the market. It's lighter and leaner. IT will have less range and will not be able to do cargo containers though.

    I think the A321NEO will be a mean machine. Maybe they should put a 4-5 rows extra and some additional wing /fuel tank on it..


    • Hmmm, Airbus and RR are having trouble developing enough engine thrust and SFC for the A-3510, and you want them to build the bigger and heavier A-3511? Airbus has only sold some 70 A-3510s, what makes you think they can sell the A-3511?

      Also, the B-753 didn’t sell as well as Boeing would have liked. The airlines didn’t want an airplane with those capabilities. Yet, you propose a nearly identical A-322?

      • That trouble you mention currently has the quality of an urban legend pushed by Boeing and consorts.

        I think it certain that Airbus will not ponder a new wing for the A321 thought the current implementation ( in relation to the baseline model) has increased complexity and probably a slight loss in efficiency from the reduced aspect ratio.

      • KC135TopBoom :Hmmm, Airbus and RR are having trouble developing enough engine thrust and SFC for the A-3510, and you want them to build the bigger

        Is there any proof of this assertion, or is this one of these claims that become true if repeated often enough? I think Astuteman on Airliners Net put it quite nicely:

        “I’d question why anyone believes that a 298 tonne plane with a 460m2 wing (443m2 plus 4%) needs the same power to take-off as a 352 tonne plane with a 443m2 wing.”

        Why would Rolls Royce not be able to scale up to the required thrust levels? They have already built a number of Trents which operate at that thrust level, and they seem to do just fine.

        That Boeing is raising doubts is hardly surprising, but given how far they are reaching recently I think that can be discounted. Are the ‘others’ doing so too actually basing their claims on anything other than what Boeing is saying?

    • One important metric for a stretched A350-1000 would be the wheelbase which is the defined as the distance between the nose and rear wheel axles in the vertical plane of symmetry.

      The wheelbase of the A340-600 is 32.89 m

      The wheelbase of the 777-300ER is 31.22 m

      I would excpect that the wheelbase for the A350-1000 would be slightly longer than that of the 777-300ER (just short of 1 m,) due to the fact that the the forward-mounted nose gear on the A350 is positioned “A380-style” as far forward as it can possibly get.

      A stretch of the A350-1000 by 9 frames (5 frames forward of the wing; 4 frames aft) would mean that the conceptual A350-1100 would be 79.6 m long (frame spacing of 25″; or 0.635 mm).

      If the wheelbase of the A350-1000 is around 32 m, then the wheelbase of a conceptual A350-1100 (stretched by 9 frames) would be > 35.1 m.

      In comparison, the wheelbase of the A380-800 is 31.88 m (nose gear to BLG), while a conceptual A380-900 stretched by 10 frames (6 frames forward; 4 aft; frame spacing of 25″) over that of the A388 would have a wheelbase of 35.7 m.

      This should indicate that an A350-1100 should fit into A380/77W/A346 compatible airports that have widened their taxiway fillets (bends and corners)and extra pavement to widen taxiways at the turns.

      As for the engine requirements, I would tend to favour making a third A350 sub family. The first A350 sub-family would, of course, be the A358 and A359; the second would be the A359R/A359F and the A350-1000. The current Trent XWB should be kept as it is on these two sub-families. The third sub-family would then be the A350-1000R and the A350-1100, and possibly an A350-1000F as well. This third sub-family should have MTOWs of around 325-330 metric tonnes. The thrust requirement for this conceptual third A350 sub-family shouldn’t exceed 105000 lbs of thrust per engine. The question for Airbus and RR should be whether or not to first proceed with a bigger 105000 lbs engine (fan diameter roughly the same as the GE90-115) mounted on an A350-1000R, and wait with the 930000 lbs thrust Trent XWB engine and the A350-1000. The R version should be able to fly DXB-LAX with an economically meaningful payload. Further down the line, an A350-1100 could conceivably be modified into a HGW version. However, since higher gross weight versions of the A380-800 should be able to fly between DXB and LAX with an economically viable payload, I can’t really see the demand for such an aircraft in the near term.

      Finally, it’s worth mentioning that the current 777-300ER can’t fly DXB-LAX with any meaningful payload. Only the 77L can currently do that.

  7. We are not talking about the 298 tonne A-3510. We are talking about keesje’s proposed A-3511, and it much heavier MTOW, probibly around 330+ tonnes.

    The Trent-XWB is a 75,000 lb to 95,000 lb thrust engine family. To lift a 330 tonne MTOW airplane you would need about 105,000 lbs of thrust. RR had that in the proposed Trent-8104/-8115 engine (104,000 lbs to 110,000 lbs of thrust), but it has a 2.8 m (110″) fan and will not fit under the wing of the A-3510, or A-3511. It also will not fit Airbus’s marketing for the A-350 family with a common core engine.

    BTW, RR did not meet the SFC the Trent-8104 engine needed to meet. That is another problem.

    • Actually, the Trent 8115 engine would have had 115000 lbs of thrust (hence the 8115 designation). Fan diameter would apparently have been 120″ (110″ on the proposed 104000 lbs thrust 8104 engine). That’s only 2 more inches than that of the current Trent XWB (118″ fan). A 110″ fan could easily fit under the wing of the A350-1000. 🙂

      In my response above, I’ve ventured to suggest that a 105000 lbs thrust XWB engine could have a fan diameter of 128″ (same as GE90-115B). The A350-1000 should have similar MLG length as that of the 777-300ER.

      The beauty of the three-shaft design of the Trent family is that physical scalability for optimized performance and for both increased thrust and decreased thrust levels, is inherently easier than for a two-shaft design. For an 105000 lbs thrust XWB engine they can “just” scale the core and fan-size up in the same way the XWB is essentially a scaled up Trent-1000 engine (112″ fan) with an added IP second stage turbine for improved efficiency and greater capability in addition to incorporating the latest state-of-the-art engine technologies.

  8. KC135TopBoom :We are not talking about the 298 tonne A-3510. We are talking about keesje’s proposed A-3511, and it much heavier MTOW, probibly around 330+ tonnes.

    Err, no. You wrote “Airbus and RR are having trouble developing enough engine thrust and SFC for the A-3510”.

    Again, where is the proof that Airbus and RR have any trouble developing enough engine thrust and SFC for the A-3510?

    • The “proof” apparently is Emirates wanting a 350 seat (three classes) aircraft flying DXB-LAX with an economically viable payload. Interestingly, both the 77W and A350-1000 can fly DXB-SFO with a “meaningful” payload. Not sure why Airbus should change the current spec for the A350-1000 where the Trent XWB is going to provide more than enough thrust for mission accounting for more than 95 percent of all currently flown 77W routes. Even an “R” version of the A350-1000 would not satisfy Emirates since they have configured their 77W business class with that dreaded middle seat as well as an ultra narrow 3-4-3 seating configuration in Y class; meaning that an A350-1000R would have about 325-330 seats in a typical Emirates three class configuration. Of course, if RR would develop the above mentioned Trent XWB engine with a 128″ fan, or possibly an even larger fan diameter; thrust levels could be upped to more than 110000 lbs of thrust, which would accommodate a HGW version of an A350-1100 capable of flying LAX-DXB with an economically viable payload (370 seats + cargo). Perhaps that’s the version Airbus should build first if Emirates orders, let’s say, 50 copies as a starter. 🙂

  9. My two cents is that Boeing has been very successful in defining the 777-300ER as the long range twin jet standard. Customers – not just Emirates – are unwilling to trade down to a less capable A350-1000, even if the latter is a lot more efficient. They would rather have a smaller efficiency improvement and the same capability. As currently envisaged, I believe the A350-1000 would eventually be the definitive version of the A350, taking over from the 900 model. However to offer a plane that works alongside the 777-300ER and eventually replace it, Airbus may need to grow both the capacity and effective range.

    I think the largest A350 will either be the current model or an expanded one. Airbus won’t offer both.

    Incidentally, most Emirates missions are inter Asia and Middle East to Europe and are therefore have relatively modest ranges.

    • But many of those modestly-ranged routes will eventually be flown by A380s, I guess? My guess is that if you average out the superb CASM of the A380 with the higher CASM of an abused long-range model on thinner routes, you still come out laughing.

    • I think the largest A350 will either be the current model or an expanded one. Airbus won’t offer both.

      IMO, the current model is perfect for European based airlines. Should easily sell more than 500 copies over 20 years

      There are 4 different fuselage lengths on the A32X series (with a large “ga”p between A320 and A321). Not sure why there couldn’t be 4 different fuselage lengths on the A350.

      Incidentally, most Emirates missions are inter Asia and Middle East to Europe and are therefore have relatively modest ranges.

      An A350-1000R and an A350-1100R (HGW) would be perfect from DXB to the western parts of North America (including Mexico City) as well as from South East Asia to
      the Eastern parts of North America. Seems to me that Airbus could sell at least a couple of hundred frames over 20 years, and possibly many more.

      Also, strategically speaking, an A350-1100(HGW) would bury the 77W once and for all. 😉

  10. Andreas :

    KC135TopBoom :We are not talking about the 298 tonne A-3510. We are talking about keesje’s proposed A-3511, and it much heavier MTOW, probibly around 330+ tonnes.

    Err, no. You wrote “Airbus and RR are having trouble developing enough engine thrust and SFC for the A-3510″.
    Again, where is the proof that Airbus and RR have any trouble developing enough engine thrust and SFC for the A-3510?

    Two letters-EK

  11. So there is no proof then? It is really sad that these statements get repeated again and again without any tangible evidence being attached to them.

    • Just because you don’t accept the proof, does not mean there isn’t any. Even some Airbus trols are wondering why the A-3510 design isn’t frozen, but obviously you are not one of them.

      Just keep sucking up everything Airbus says as true, even after EK snaps their fingers and says ‘jump’.

      • Sorry but your aggressiveness has nothing to do here. The A350-1000 design is not frozen, that’s a fact. From an objective point of view, that means that Airbus and RR engineers are at work. If you were an engineer or someone objective, you would know that an engineer who has no trouble at work is either on vacation or retired. Even in your favorite company (Boeing), engineers have a lot of trouble.

      • Sorry, but saying ‘EK’ is not proof. If we were to apply that, Boeing would not be able to produce a 748i with sufficient thrust (remember EK demanded the same from them). I rest my case.

        I am perfectly willing to consider any actual proof, or even sound reasoning that is being provided. But apart from ‘Boeing says’, there appears to be none.

      • Hi KC, there has been plenty written and talked about why the -1000 has not yet been frozen.

        You can start here (key words “end of 2011”):


        Airbus is using some of the margin in its schedule for the A350-1000 to throw all its resources behind the -900 as the baseline variant enters a critical point in its development process. However, Airbus remains on track to achieve the stretch variant’s definition freeze at the end of next year

        For the -1000, the design freeze process involves “intermediate reviews” during 2010, says Evrard, who adds that 2011 “is when it becomes important for the -1000, because that’s when we start to engage in industrial decisions”.

        Also, using EK as “proof” in this context is nonsensical. This is all about EK wanting a plane which is currently not available. As I’ve explained, they want a 350 seat plane using their three class seating configuration capable of flying DXB-LAX with an economically meaningful payload, something which the 77W can’t do today. Singapore Airlines, for example, has 278 seats in their 77Ws (three classes). An A350-1000 should have few problems carrying such a passenger load (+ cargo) from SIN to LHR.

        Finally, you would be more effective argumentative-wise, if you concentrated on presenting valid arguments instead of resorting to verbal attacks. 😉

  12. If Airbus are going ahead with this bigger A3510XWB idea, whether it’d be offered alongside the current A3510 or not, I’d hope they aren’t doing it just for EK. If other airlines like BA, QF, SQ, CX aren’t clamoring for it, then Airbus will probably just be better off letting EK replace that particular section of their fleet with the 777NG. I’ve never been a fan of tailoring planes to fit the need of an airline that’ll probably order 120 of the planes max, doesn’t really make sense to me.

  13. AB’s doing the 380 seat -1000 may be a sucker play because the only people who will make big money will be EK/Clark, U-H and other customers in the form of greatly reduced pricing arising from the competition between B and A in the segment that does not now exist. Now, Boeing now has pricing dominance and nice margins, but that will disappear for both mfrs if -1000 becomes a viable competitor with the 773ER. Remember, this mkt segment is relatively small. B has only 464 orders to date. If the A346 had been compeitive, they would have split these, say about 230 apiece, perhaps not enough even to recoup development costs.

    A knows this I am sure, and has another goal that is linked to their desire to deliver the neo 6 mos early. They know B is relying heavily on being able to defer refreshing the 773ER until 2020+ so they will have resources to build the new 737 replacement. If A can promise the 380 seater by 2017, that put B in a bind, at the very least because even if they keep selling lots of 773ER, it will be with lower margins. So the dance goes on.

  14. If I was Airbus I would focus on the A350-1000 meet / beat key performance indicators. Keep it lean and mean as possible. There is no twin that can do 8000NM with a lot of cargo. The 777-200LR is heavy and expensive, a slow seller, the -300ER can´t do it either.


    Airlines operating 3-4 class business oriented flights like BA, UA, QF will appreciated the extra rows the -1000 offers. They´ll operate 270-300 seat long haul flights.

    I have the feeling many people underestimate the potential number of -1000s hidden in the large A350 backlog. It´s not just the xx firmed today. How many 787-8s have been converted to -9´s lately.. It´s a selling point for an aircraft when there is an upgrade option, weighed in before ordering.

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