Reports from the Airbus neo event

Our partner at AirInsight, Addison Schonland, has posted additional reports from his attendance to the Airbus neo event April 5.

Tom Williams, EVP briefing.

John Leahy’s briefing. This is different than the one-on-one interview Addison had.

Keeping the A320 in production to 2030 decade.


18 Comments on “Reports from the Airbus neo event

  1. John Leahy’s video is worth a watch. An unusually fascinating PowerPoint presentation. He makes a compelling case for Boeing to re-engine the 737. No doubt his counterparts in Seattle are thinking, “Thanks, John…”

    • Hehe,
      financially re-engining will be quite a drag for Boeing.

      Walking away from a dead horse towards a spanking new one
      would have been preferable. Only the new one hasn’t even
      been sired yet 😉

      Boeing was so happy and relaxed when they thought they had
      contained the A320 with the NG for all times to come.

    • He’s clearly got an agenda: to get Boeing to change its mind about bringing out a replacement plane for the 737. Airbus directly telling Boeing what to do would be a bit strange so he’s trying to get the media, and presumably airline customers, to his way of thinking.

      Now, Boeing, aware that Leahy isn’t a friend, would be advised to do the exact opposite – ie go for the replacement plane? Not necessarily, because Leahy actually has some good points …

    • … Boeing claims that the 737 will continue to hold its own against the A320 NEO without having to be re-engined. Furthermore, you need to have a brand new airplane to get a worthwhile step change from what you have already got. Re-engining doesn’t cut it.

      This, I think implies three things:

      The 737 is significantly more efficient than the A320 now
      The NEO improvements will be modest
      A new aircraft with the same engines will deliver a bigger change than the same aircraft with new engines.

      Unfortunately for Boeing I think the second point is incorrect. The PurePower looks to be a true game changer and the A320 will also benefit from winglets. I expect the improvement in performance to be big and it looks like important people agree with this view.

      While I think the best selling 737-800 is slightly more efficient than the A320, I doubt in the real world it is anything like the 8% Boeing quotes. A difference as big as this would make the A320 difficult to sell and there is no evidence that Airbus have any difficulty in selling A320s. It looks like NEO will move the A320 from slightly behind to well in front, unless Boeing does something about their model pretty quick. PiPs won’t be enough as Airbus are doing those too.

      So the choice comes down to re-engining the 737 or an accelerated development of new model that directly replaces the 737. To get it out by 2020, the 737 replacement will have engines which are essentially the same as the NEO. The new plane will have improvements in aerodynamics and systems over existing A320s and 737s. The improvements will be real and significant, but not getting additional engine improvements over existing models would be disappointing for a new program.

      It comes to a 80/20 decision. A re-engined 737 will deliver something like 80% of the improvement at maybe 20% of the cost of a completely new plane. Boeing can also sell it sooner. As I say, a compelling argument from Boeing’s competitor …

  2. The 320 NEO move from Airbus is a classic chess move to protect its grip on the narrow body market (roughly half).In so doing, Airbus leveraged on its strength and Boeing’s weakness in terms of the structure to hang the bigger and newer engines.
    JL is doing his job- making his case for a continuation of the status quo -with a reengined 737- with its challenges , which will clearly give an edge to 320NEO , based on what we know. That is the logical way to go for Airbus.
    Ideally Boeing will respond in a different way -from what the competition expects you to; what if they find a solution to hang the new leap ( continuing the exclusive arrangement) and also work on the new 97 . Expect that kind of a strategy from B. That will make things interesting.
    The game will then shift to A attacking 773 improvement , which seems to be in the backburner.320 NEO is only one of the moves.
    Let us see what B comes up with- to protect the existing narrow body market and also aim the replacement market for 757.

  3. It appears that many are unaware, or underestimating the impact, of incorporating 4 plus decades worth of FAA/EASA rules in a new narrow body that Boeing has been able to bypass through grandfathering of each 737 variant.
    Granted there have been quite a few mandatory changes over the years but there are many, small changes which will make it that much more difficult to integrate on a all new aircraft, i.e. weight and space.

    Obviously Boeing would not make this a major talking point but it is definitely something that would be on their minds.

  4. Le Bourget, Paris Airshow 2011 will be held from Monday June 20 to Sunday June 26.
    I recommend to keep an eye on what will be revealed there.
    Actually there are many more A320 orders in the pipeline than those 300 aircraft Airbus is talking about right now.

  5. Airbus is now talking about no replacement for the A320 until 2030 or 2035, so there’s a clear desire to keep the narrowbody market as it is. It’s an interesting choice for Boeing, since they could go along with the current situation and try to keep the 737 close enough to A320 that they can fall into a very profitable second place. From a business standpoint, the idea should be profit maximization rather than worrying about who sells more aircraft in any given year, and continuing to squeeze the 737 for a few more percent in fuel savings remains a low-risk option. But it’s hard to see them not doing something to keep the numbers up.

    • “that they can fall into a very profitable second place”

      Not being first is a foreign concept to americans.

      I don’t seeing neither Boeing nor Airbus easily accepting the second place mantel.

      • I don’t either. Even if management had that perspective, there’s something about a rivalry that gets journalists and stock analysts excited. Every day someone in the press or Wall Street banks would be prodding one company to make a move on the other.

        It’s very hard to resist that kind of pressure when you’re working in companies that are, for no really good reason, seen as national proxies for American and European societies. A smart business decision can be transformed by the press into some kind of national embarrassment.

  6. Finally, straight from the horse’s mouth we now have confirmation that the composite technologies used on the 787 is not revolutionary at all:

    Integrated assemblies are the Holy Grail for design engineers because they lighten structures, reduce assembly costs, and increase strength.

    In the new approach being used by Boeing with help from NASA, dry carbon fiber structures are stitched together and then placed in a heated tool. A vacuum is pulled and epoxy resin is infused into the structure.

    “The composites technology used in the (787) Dreamliner is 25 to 30 years old,” says Andy Harber, senior project manager, design engineering for Boeing. “In the new approach, there is no lay-up and no autoclaves.”

    Well, I for one, never bought into the hype anyway; or what Richard Aboulafia later called “the drug-like rush”, due to the fact that the design lacked wholly integrated assemblies, and that doing that on a complete barrel is a stupid idea; that is if you want to remove the mandrel without outright destroying it.

    This means, of course, that truly next generation composite aircraft will be assembled with large integrated panels and not complete barrels.

  7. Sorry for another off-topic post/link from Design News:

    One big advantage of carbon composite structures is a requirement for less frequent Inspection interval cycles. Alcoa has developed new aluminum alloys that have improved corrosion resistant and are 5 to 10 percent lighter than the alloys that were available when design decisions were made from the Dreamliner. And more gains are coming with aluminum-lithium alloys under development, advanced structural concepts and other new technologies being developed by Alcoa researchers, according to Christopher.

    One new structural concept is called selective reinforcement. Aluminum-lithium sheet reinforced with glass fibers is placed in specific areas that need to be strengthened.

    Christopher says that Alcoa’s next-generation structural technology will be less risky and 30 percent less-expensive to manufacture, operate and repair than current generation carbon composite structures. In his opinion, aluminum will also catch up to carbon composites on passenger comfort areas such as large windows, higher humidity, and higher cabin pressure.

    The big question, of course, is if these new aluminium aloys (+ CentrAl etc.) can be economically back engineered into the aircraft such as the 777, A320, A330 and A380.

    • economically back engineered ?

      I have my doubts. larger windows certainly not.
      Too much structure to relocate.

      There are other things available for backport too.
      Like Airbus welded to the skin structure ( first on A318 )

      IMHO Airbus has the richer toolbag and techstash and
      better understanding for bringing those to use.

      looks like Boeing has sold a “Jugo-Tanker”
      to the Airforce. cheap, cheap, cheap with a boom 😉

      • As a side note; back engineering larger windows economicallty depends primarily on the fuselage-frame spacing. On the A320 and the A330 the frame spacing is 21″ (533.4 mm), and on the A350 and the A380 the frame spacing is 25″ (635 mm); thus I see no real show-stoppers in increasing window size further on the A380, and equal in size to those on the A350 on future A380 models.

  8. OV-099 :
    .. thus I see no real show-stoppers in increasing window size further on the A380, and equal in size to those on the A350 on future A380 models.

    I’ve been wondering if large windows aren’t another “Boeing Overhyped Feature”.
    See the new interior: the most prominent airline redeeming feature is _less weight_ and not the emo lighting.
    Hmm: What Dreamliner outstanding design features will after all is done and the
    things fly in service leave a positive imprint on the path to actual improvements?

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