Leahy to Boeing: you’re “whistling past the graveyard”

This is a story we provided KIRO TV in Seattle, for which we provided reports during the air show.

Airbus A320neo success far exceeds expectations

Special to KIRO TV

Airbus ended the primary portion of the Paris Air Show Thursday with 700 new, firm orders for the A320neo (New Engine Option) and a total of 1,029 firm orders and commitments year-to-date. There possibly could be a few more orders before the show officially ends Sunday, but the trade show portion ended Thursday.

The results surprised even Airbus super-salesman John Leahy, who said at the company’s closing press briefing that some deals came together unexpectedly during the show.

Leahy declined to forecast how many more orders would come by year-end, saying only that much time would be spent on firming up the 300-plus commitments into actual orders. Regardless, the number reported by Leahy was stunning by any measure, and it puts more pressure on Boeing to respond with either a re-engine or a new airplane.

After the formal press conference, I caught up with Leahy for his take on the prospect of a new Boeing airplane with a prospective entry-into-service (EIS) in 2019.

Transcript of quick interview with John Leahy on the prospect of Boeing proceeding with a new airplane to compete with the neo:

Hamilton: Boeing suggests that a new, small airplane would be up to 16% better than the A320neo, all-in on cash costs.

Leahy: They are whistling past the graveyard. That is absolutely not going to happen.

The only way that would happen would be to abandon the single-aisle market and build a twin. Then they will try to compare a twin with substantially more seats in it to the NEO. That’s the only way you can fudge the numbers on that.

If they want to go with an airplane the size of the 737-800, which I would assume they would do, and the size of a 737-700—I would like to believe they are not crazy enough to abandon that market—then they will end up with about 3% better on the airframe and all the rest is coming on engine technology [that we have].

It would be a very similar situation [for the 737-900 vs the A321neo]. If they built an all-new airframe, it would be about up to 3% better on the airframe side. We did the studies before we did the NEO that an all-new, clean-sheet airplane aerodynamically could save us about 3% in fuel burn. Everything has to come from the engines.

Leahy said A320neo slots are largely sold out. EIS is slate3d for October 2015. Boeing says it could respond with a 737 re-engine as early as 2016, but Airbus would likely have a year’s jump. By the time Boeing could effect EIS of a new airplane in 2019, Airbus believes it could deliver 1,700 airplanes, CEO Thomas Enders told me in a separate interview.

122 Comments on “Leahy to Boeing: you’re “whistling past the graveyard”

  1. All this for a E1 billion investment, said to be largely financed by GE and PW.
    Must be the best business case ever for Airbus.

    I wonder if a A321 stretch will be an option in a few years. The ingredients (strenghtened wing, 40k lbs thrust options, bigger landing gear (AI) ) all seem to be in place. Adding 5 rows extra could be another no brainer business case IMO.

    • To fit the Airbus way a 321++ would need a bigger (more span) wing.

  2. The A321 is on the limit of what can be achieved with the wing. Any stretch would require a new larger wing. And honestly, I think only few operators really ask for such capacity.
    One option would be a slightly largened “A320.5” offering exactly 200 seats in all economy.
    Such an aircraft would be an ideal solution for Ryanair and the like.
    Some limitations have to be accepted though.

  3. I think Mr. Leahy enjoys winding Boeing up. Sadly Jim Mcnerney does not play along as well as Harry Stonecipher. To get a rise out of him, I think the letters IAM need to be used.

    One thing that gets overlooked in Boeing’s big talk about a new narrow body is the challenge of integrating 50 years of FAA mandates they got to dodge by grandfathering the 737. I am no certification expert but I do believe that will account for a lot of weight and space they did not have to concern themselves with before.

    I am trying to understand the signals coming out of Boeing. First they claim their customers aren’t interested in a re-engine, then they say the numbers don’t add up, then they openly push the new narrow body without definitely committing to it, then they let stories out that the re-engine option is far from being a dead duck.
    The only constant from them is that the A320 family, which, before the air show, had about 46% market share, was quite inferior to the 737 family and even with the NEO, they will, at best, be competitive with, but not really better than, the 737 family.

    Is this some brilliant strategy to make Airbus believe they don’t know what to do or is that really the case?

  4. It looks like Boeing lost the initial race against the NEO, unnecessarily.

    Had Boeing not been so preoccupied and worried about the 787 and 747-8, they might
    and should have recognized the threat from the NEO to the 737 program, much earlier!
    Fortunately, the market is big enough for Boeing to still conquer a good portion of it,
    with an all-new carbon fiber 737 aircraft, as long as Boeing now acts expeditiously!
    The new 737 airplane, based on the (painful) experience gained with the carbon-fiber
    787 and the latest avionics, should be a much more efficient aircraft compared to the
    conventionally structured NEO, no matter what Mr. John Leahy said about the inferi-
    ority of such a new Boeing 737, compared to the NEO.

    • Compare Boeing to the US auto industry.
      They are at the camel breaking final point of extending the
      livespan of a superanuated product.

    • spoken like someone without any practical knowledge of composites. The case pro composites diminishes with the size of it’s application.
      It’s being bandied about as a messiah, like synergy and “the cloud”.

      or does “much more efficient” equate to ~5% for you?

  5. I think a serious issue for Boeing, also in the US market, is that a reengined 737-900ER will still be inferior to the A321 NEO. It has little market attractiveness after 2015.

    I pointed this out a year ago, (triggering a direct repsonds for Randy Tinsett 2 days after). Stretched variants from the NEO, C919, MS21 are longer, offer more range, have container capability and spacier cabins.


    Now I have the feeling that 2015 might have been optimistic..

  6. The master stroke for Airbus was getting the engine people to foot the bill for neo.
    PW because they needed a major project and GE/ Safran because they could see a situation where they had nothing to hang Leap on if Boeing continued to sit on the fence.
    Boeing may now have painted themselves into a corner where they have to provide their own funds to counter neo. Not a lot of incentive for the Leap people to leap to their aid.

  7. The market for narrowbodies is huge – even with new competitors, there are many. They – Boeing – can still wait a bit more before publicly committing to any path.

    You know, they were 10 years on from the A320 with their 737NG..

    • There is a difference in establishing a new product on the market
      between a new manufacturers first and either a major upgrade or
      a second type in the same market.
      i.e. Airbus first NB aircraft took some time to build real pressure
      for Boeing.

  8. Boeing has not had a sales failure in any product since they introduced the B-707 (the B-717, nor MD-11, did not start out as Boeing products). They seem to know what they are doing. The MD management people are retirering and Boeing people, or people from other industries are moving in. Boeing has world class engineers, who are the key to the success of a new product airplane, or even a reengined airplane. These engineers found that by increasing the hight of the nose gear, they could mount up to a 67″ (1.7 m) fan engine. Now they need to find an engine and use the B-737RE as a bridge airplane to get to the NSA they really want to build.

    If they design a new wing box and stronger wing, they could mount taller MLG and eliminate the fan size restriction, but that will be a major redsign effort.

    John Leahy knows that if Boeing goes to a composit NSA, the 16% improvement over the NEO is just the minimum improvement number, and he is afraid Airbus cannot keep up that until the mid 2020s at the earliest. He also knows that if P&W and/or CFM have engine problems, like the RR Trent-1000 did for the B-787 program, he will miss the EIS date, by a lot.

    It is the Boeing Engineers who are in the driver’s seat for the future of the NB market, Airbus has already played their hand by introducing the NEO. The Boeing Engineers can still work on PIPs for the B-737NG and B-777 series, while at the same time also work on a reengining program, or significant improvement in operating cost factors. Boeing will also accept inputs from WN, DL, AA, and other customer engineering staffs about what they want and need in a reengined, major redisign, or replacement product.

    • You forgot to finish your post with an Amen, cause it looks to me like a prayer.

      Boeing’s best option is to launch the new plane as soon as possible for entry into 2018, which is about the time that any new A320NEO order will be delivered.

      • @Otis: Be nice, have mercy … It is a cardinal virtue to have mercy.

    • 🙂 The whole piece reads like it was written for a Boeing Gazette

      KC135TopBoom :
      John Leahy knows that if Boeing goes to a composit NSA, the 16% improvement over the NEO is just the minimum improvement number

      Not even Boeing is claiming that type of improvement…

      KC135TopBoom :
      He also knows that if P&W and/or CFM have engine problems

      Where did you hear that from then?

      KC135TopBoom :
      It is the Boeing Engineers who are in the driver’s seat for the future of the NB market,

      Well of course they are…

      • @UKair: Be nice, have mercy … It is a cardinal virtue to have mercy.

  9. “Boeing has not had a sales failure in any product since they introduced the B-707”

    It depends on your perspective. The 736, 753, 764(ERX) , 777LR en 787-3 sold dozens but may not be seen as failures, still the same folks call the A340 (450 sold) a failure.

    “Now they need to find an engine and use the B-737RE as a bridge airplane to get to the NSA they really want to build.”

    Agree, it would at least decreases pressure for the 2016-2021 period.

    “John Leahy knows …, and he is afraid Airbus cannot keep up .. It is the Boeing Engineers who are in the driver’s seat for the future of the NB market”

    😀 ;D

    Don’t push it KCTB, even Boeing might not agree with you. They have to catch-up & Airbus will decide when and how to launch their A30X, after watching Boeing, Comac, Embraer and Bombardier implementations and talking to the airlines, taking lessons learned and using enhanced technology from the common Boeing / Airbus supply chain.

  10. Typical John Leahy , well known for his quips , apart from being a top sales man for Airbus , so what is new? The Paris air show messages are clear:
    1)B has to now make a call (if a decision is not that straight forward) on their narrow body ; this response has to come this year , for their customers to be situationally aware of B’s plans.One thing though-B traditionally has been good on the offensive (in coming up with a totally new product/ idea); but it has not been that good ,in my opinion in defending on time: we saw the early dismissal of the 320 , even 330 and now to some extent , on the C series and Neo. The reason possibly is the strong cash cow position 737 and a reluctance to touch something that is pretty well the backbone of the product portfolio. Sometimes, you need to kill your own product to ensure that the competition does not get a one/two year lead, after which B has to play catch up -as it happened with 320 , which is now a clear equal and a force to reckon with.
    2)The wide body message is also clear (at least to me): A has work to do on its positioning vs 300 ER and is vulnerable on its portfolio up to 300 seats -with the best selling cash cow 330 about to be eclipsed by 787. so what is their plan?
    3)Finally the duopoly is over at least in the narrow body and no 50/50 share goals ; BBD is going to make a dent ultimately though written off by A and to some extent downplayed by B;the Chinese and Russians coming in and E could well have a good alternative.It is no longer a two player dominated game ; the customers will be better off with a wider choice and the risks are greater for A and B if they do not get it right.

    • A has work to do on its positioning vs 300 ER

      What exactly must Airbus do?

      As it currently stands, the A350-1000 will outperform the 777-300ER in payload capability at all ranges while at the same time having at least a 20 percent less fuel consumption. It seems to me that it’s B that has work to do, and I’m not sure that even a significant upgrade of the dash 300 will be enough. What Boeing in all likelihood must do, that is if they want to compete in the 300+ seat segment (8000+ nm range, pax and luggage only), is to mount a -300ER-sized wing and a new triple bogey main landing gear system on a stretched 787-9/10 fuselage; or if that option is rejected, IMO Boeing should go ahead with the Y3.

      and is vulnerable on its portfolio up to 300 seats -with the best selling cash cow 330 about to be eclipsed by 787. so what is their plan?

      Due in part to the massive delays on the 787 program, Airbus had 338 outstanding A330 orders (-200/-200F/-300) as of 31st of May 2011. With few, if any 787 production slots being available until late in this decade, Airbus should easily be able to sell another 500, or so, A330s (including freighters). So, in the medium term Airbus is well covered in the 250-300 seat range.

      In the long term — from 2020 and onwards — Airbus will in all likelihood develop a successor to the A300/A310/A330 based on the A350 fuselage and coupled with a new high-lift wing with at least a 20 percent smaller wing area. The A350 production infrastructure will thus be utilised to the greatest extent possible. Such a new family of airliners would incorporate technology advances made over the 15 years beween the launch of the 787 and a 2019 launch of a possible A360 program (200-300 seats medium/long range).

      • Addendum:

        What Boeing in all likelihood must do in the long term, that is if they want to compete in the 300+ seat segment (8000+ nm range, pax and luggage only), is to mount a -300ER-sized wing and a new triple bogey main landing gear system on a stretched 787-9/10 fuselage; or if that option is rejected, IMO Boeing should go ahead with the Y3.

  11. Keesje said;

    “Boeing has not had a sales failure in any product since they introduced the B-707″

    It depends on your perspective. The 736, 753, 764(ERX) , 777LR en 787-3 sold dozens but may not be seen as failures, still the same folks call the A340 (450 sold) a failure. ”

    I was talking about the airplane families, not the submodels. BTW, isn’t Airbus’s biggest failed submodel the A-318 and the A-345? The B-736 was also disappointing. But the B-753 and B-764 were asked for by the airlines. The B-783 was dropped for the same reasons the A-388F and A-389 were dropped, to give more engineering resources to the lead airplane in the family. The B-77L is still in production and offered, but it is a neich airplane like the A-345 was.

    Many of you are right, Boeing now has to show results in a B-737RE, NSA, or both. With the latest version of the A-350-1000 now on the table, Boeing now has some breathing room for the B-777-300ER. They can, for the next several months concentrate on the NB airplanes as the B-788 and B-748 programs are finally moving towards EIS.

  12. KC135TopBoom :
    Boeing has not had a sales failure in any product since they introduced the B-707 (the B-717, nor MD-11, did not start out as Boeing products).

    I hate to play this game but you should be aware of the poor sale numbers for the 737-100 (only 30), 737-600 (69) and 737-900 (52 so far).

    The 747SP (53) and 747-300 (81) were also commercial failures.

    Each manufacturer have their own failure. The A318 hasn’t attracted market either as well as the A340-500.

    We should focus discussions on positives aspect and end partisan-ism…

    • another failure: the 777-300 ‘classic’ — only 60 sold (this was the stretch of the -200)

  13. KC135TopBoom :He also knows that if P&W and/or CFM have engine problems
    Where did you hear that from then?

    Here is exactly what I said;

    “He also knows that if P&W and/or CFM have engine problems, like the RR Trent-1000 did for the B-787 program, he will miss the EIS date, by a lot.”

    Neither Boeing, nor RR ever forcast the test stand uncontained failure for the Trent-1000. Neither Airbus or RR planned for the inflight uncontained failure on the QF A-380, nor how much damaged that airplane actually suffered.

    I never said I heard anything about problems with the GTF or the LEAP engines. I only said that if there was a spectacular failure of one, or both engines, John Leahy knows how badly it will effect the A-32X-NEO EIS.

    The same could happen with any new engine proposed for the B-777ADV, B-737RE, or the NSA. It could also be the failure of some other component, like the electrical box fire on B-787 ZA-002.

    • Hmm,
      looks like Boeing was extremely carefull in preparations to avoid dependency
      and single link failure from the engine manufacturers.
      Contrary to Boeings say so nothing from the engine side effected EIS delays.
      ( Which imho is the core reason why Trent1000 and GenX both had “unhurried”
      developement process. Compare to TrentXWB meeting spec early on. This could
      be indicative of RR knowing that they don’t get another batch of gratitiously gifted
      multiyear delays. I.e. A350XWB is thought to be about on time )

    • You are right, TopBoom, you did say *if*, which I did not catch in the sentence, however if we start compiling a list of all the *if*s that could happen… the possibilities are endless. Thankfully, RR is not involved in either of the developments.

      • Yes, you are right, the possibilities will be endless. But it is the engineers at the OEMs and engine makers to eliminate as many failure possibilities as possible. Some will creep through, as I am sure the RR Engineers never thought about the engine parts, materials, and the events that caused the uncontained failures of the Trent-1000 on a test stand, or that of the Trent-900 on the wing of an A-380 inflight. These things do happen.

        Uwe, I believe the Trent-XWB is a derivitive engine of the Trent-1000, which itself came from the Trent-900. There are differences in all 3 engine designs.

        • After the cathartic creation of the RB211 all successive RR threespool engines seem to have close relationship to their respective successors. ( Beyond the floury marketing tags they do share the RB211-* designation )

          Apropos ETOPS and CubJ3:
          In my understanding politics in the form of unavailable FAA certs played a significant role
          in Airbus path of derivative types ( and led to the conjoined twins A330/A340 family )

  14. The 777-300ER took over from the 747-400 at Boeing’s top end – not counting the 747-8I. What that means is that the 747-400 was in the market, essentially unchallenged for a number of years, and sold a bunch of aircraft that effectively doubled the sales of the 747 family. The 777-300ER is now on course to both exceed the number of years the 747-400 was in the market unchallenged, and likely the sales figure too – it will double sales for the 777 family too. There will come a time when its market value decreases – especially in its current form, but this is the way of the world with good things. Ditto for the A330, which essentially has gone unchallenged for some time. The A350 is a slightly larger aircraft than the A330 — so you see, the two manufacturers will trade capability for slight advantage in a respective market. (A350 is the slight move up, 777-300ER is a slight move down.) They hardly ever have one-for-one matching aircraft anyway. The A320 & 737-800 are not the exact same size, and neither is the 777-300ER and A340-600.

    One point to keep in mind, the Boeing failures noted here, particularly the 747-300, for example, are were not all that bad – it is essentially a -200 with a SUD. How expensive could that be? Saved the -400 from making one leap with too much changes – reduces risk. Ditto for the 777-300 and -300ER.

  15. A “failure” is an aircraft which was hinge of a multi-year strategy and failed to do so, and weakened the market position. I think the B747-300 was no issue, because these wasn’t any competition. The B757-300 didn’t weaken Boeing’s market position, the only close alternative was a -200 or a B767 (surely nothing from Airbus).
    The B767-400ER was different: it was badly molded by the A330-200 and finally kicked off the B787 program, probably with a bit too much momentum.

    Vice versa, the A340-600 (the -500 was just fall out) was a failure, actually a very significant one. The A340 was no failure, probably a bit less successful than originally anticipated, while the A330 was much more successful than originally anticipated.

    • Even the A340-600 wasn’t a crashing failure.
      It pressured Boeing to pave the way for major ETOPS extension.
      An increase that would not have been easily available by way
      of the FAA for a non US manufacturer first. Compare to the A300
      doing ETOPS-like things long before Boeing introduced the much
      boasted about the newly created ETOPS certified 767.

      Finally Airbus builds A330 and A340 on one line with predominantly
      the same parts. (commonality is very high). Thus for Airbus the summ
      of sales counts.
      Similar will be valid for the NEO line in the A320 family. Same production
      line, only a few parts are taken from different bins dependent of type and

  16. “Even the A340-600 wasn’t a crashing failure.”

    Uwe, just when I start to think that you have some minimal credibility, you say something like this that is completely wrong (assuming that you are not saying that the A346 actually crashes). The -600 did not force B to extend ETOPs. They were already doing that. Instead, the success of the 772/772ER ought to have induced A to build the A345/6 as big twins. The fact that it did not reflects severe problems A was having in the late 1990s conceptualizing what the mkt wanted re the A345/6 an thge 380. With the former, A was unable grasp that twin engined ETOPS was what their customers wanted and what the FAA and European regulators would approve given the fact that the then current rules hasd been written in the 1950s for far less reliable piston engines. A’s blindness to these realities is all the more surprising because the A330 got ETOPs cert before the 772. In addition, A executed -600 deliveries very badly, including that the wings of the early planes to Virgin (and I believe others) were too heavy. The result for A has been a “crash” in every sense of that word (except literally). B has sold about 550 -300ERs, and will likely sell 7-800 or perhaps even 1000 by the time the -300ER is fully PIPd and B introduces a new replacement, at very good prices, while A has sold only 103 -600s and will never sell another at any price. (They had their chance with Virgin Australia but did not even try.) Likewise, with the A380, A was unable to see that the mkt was going point/point so the their high estimates for VLAs were at least highly suspect, if not outright wrong.

    Imagine what a great postiion A would be in now if they had not done the 345/6 and A380, and instead had spent all those billions on a new family of twin engined wide bodies similar to the 777, ranging from 320-390 seats, which included freighters from the beginning. They would not only have gotten 50% or more of the 300-400 pax mkt, but also a substantial part of the 744 replacement mkt, and actually have made lots of money along the way.

  17. Given that both A and B are both sold out through 2016 for NB aircraft (450 x 5 = 2250) the NEO orders appear to be for 2017-18 and should be approximately 1000 aircraft (450 x 2). I would expect that most B 737 operators are waiting for the announcement from B on the NSA aircraft to make their decision on what to order for this time period.
    Presuming B does due diligence and produces a product with clear advantages (20% fuel, 10% cost/maintenance) as they suggest they can and also produce a creditable production and ramp up plan, I would presume the 2019-20 time period would be the tipping point for a dominant B NB era.
    The keys are: 1. Is the tech there to trump 1980-90 technology (320) coupled with 2016 engines? A says no, B says yes. If B engineers say it is so, then I would be hard pressed to bet against them. If B MARKETERS say so, then all bets are off…
    2. If so, does A have the resources to counter with a new NB similar to a new B NSA, given that they have to get the a350 program right?
    I would argue that A is struggling to get the a350-1000/1100 up to snuff to beat the 777… the 777 engineering must be really impressive to have lasted this long. The comments from Al Baker are I would guess meant to spur A on.
    As for Al Baker, for the airlines, it is best to have competition which is why I think they will support both companies to enable them to develop products to compete with.

  18. KC135TopBoom :
    Keesje said;
    “Boeing has not had a sales failure in any product since they introduced the B-707″
    The B-783 was dropped for the same reasons the A-388F and A-389 were dropped, to give more engineering resources to the lead airplane in the family. .

    When was the A-389 offered to airlines and then dropped?

  19. Sorry but I do not contribute to the idea that neo is sold out up to 2018.
    If each customer to date were to receive two planes per month, and some like Cebu Pacific as an example will probably take less than one per month(average of course), then IMHO there are still lots of slots available.

    • I am also sure there are slots available before 2018. If AA, for example, came in with an order, the first will arrive before 2018, I am willing to bet. A manufacturer always holds slots for premium customers.

  20. Is AA a ‘premium customer’ for Airbus? I don’t think they are. AA has not ordered any Airbus airplanes in 20 years, the last order was for the 40, or so A-300-605R. The old UA, NW, and (the current) US are what I would call ‘premium customers’ for Airbus, as well as most EU and ME airlines. Can we still say that for the new UA (merged with CO) and the new DL (merged with NW)?

    As far a slot availability goes for the NEO, with the first deliveries in 2016 (A-320NEO), 2017 A-321NEO) and 2018 (A-319NEO) I just don’t see AA getting any NEOs before 2018-2020. Airbus has over 1000 NEOs on order, many to already established ‘premium customers’ with them. Would Airbus ‘bump’ some of these customers to a later delivery just to secure an order from AA or DL (who wants their new NBs beginning in 2014)?

    Remember all the NEOs need a supp. cert. for two engines, which should take several months for each model.

    • AA is a premium customer. Airbus would love to place their NEOs with them and if an order is signed, I am sure they will get their planes earlier than 2018. That was my point.
      A320NEO – 2015
      A319NEo – 2016
      A321NEO – 2017

      When 787 was being ‘ordered’ by AA, Boeing miraculously found early slots for them…

  21. So Airbus sells 1,000 narrow-bodies in six months for delivery 4-8 years in the future, and somehow that means Champagne corks are popping at Boeing HQ? Crazy talk does not begin to describe this. Airbus just secured 2 additional years of cash-flow at a time it will need this to begin work on the A320 successor (say, an 8 year programme for EIS in 2025). How much margin are we talking about per A320? 10 per cent? Well that would be anywhere from 3-6 billion then. That comes close to financing half the programme. And Boeing is supposed to be happy about this?

  22. On the A346, it’s either with 20-20 hindsight to criticise the programme, but… If oil had stayed at USD20/bbl, (and let’s remember the mini oil crash in 2001/2, when e.g. Norway shut in production) the programme would be in rude health today. Airbus would have sold hundreds of them by simply offering them cheaper than 773ERs. It was only after 2005/6 that it became clear that the days of 20 dollar oil were over, and that therefore the fuel efficiency of the 773ER would bury any similar-sized 4-engine plane.

    So yes, Airbus would have been better off with a different programme, but on the other hand almost all professional oil nmarket analysts failed to call the oil price developments.

    • Andreas – You miss my point. The issue was never oil prices. B was developing ths 773ER under the same uncertain oil price conditions as A faced when designing the A346. A’s mistake was its failure to grasp that ETOPS rules for very long flights, which had required four engines and that planes fly only very short distances from emergency airfields, were ripe for change so that they would allow much more efficient twin engined arrangements and longer and longer flight times from emergency fields. Even Leahy’s famous statement that the way for A to sell A336s was to open A’s check book (ie reduce the price to account for its lower efficiency) did not work.

      A also failed to appreicate with both the A346 and 380 programs how important it was to make freighters in integral part of their offerings from the beginning, and therefor have no product that compares to 777F or the 748F. Their 380 failure was shocking, given that for the 747 program they had counted on revenue from new freighters and conversions from the beginning. I have even read that the A380F’s upper deck was located in a different postion from the upper deck in the pax version, and that is why A ran into such huge expenses to finish the freighter. If true, this also means that the A380 pax cannot be easily converted to freighters, unlike the 742 and 744. If anyone can confirm/this, pls do.

      One can even argue that A again got it wrong with the A350, or did not get it as good as they could have, by trying to stretch down into the 200-300 segment of the mkt, instead of stretching up the about 380 seats, and doing an A330neo (which I am sure is coming alongi n five years or so, once the 320neo and 359 are firmly out the door). Put another way, only 35 seats seperate the 359 and 3510, while 65 seats seperate the 772ER and the 773ER. To get to that with the 3510, will require major expenses which A cannot afford. So once again they have left the 773ER alone on its throne.

      I am not an A hater. As an American, I am deeply distressed and ashamed by B’s horrible botch of the 787, and the corporate psycology that lead to it. But what I have said about A and its botches of the A346 and 380 is also true.

      • A large Boeing longrange twin was a mandatory waypoint
        for FAA extension of ETOPS rules ( and this is the third time I
        have to repeat this. ) This would never have happened for a
        sole Airbus product.
        Additionally the A340-5/600 precedes the 777-300LR by a
        couple of years.
        You miss out on the games the US plays with FAA certification
        rules ( same applies for the 737 )

      • Sorry Chris, but it is clear that you miss my point too. The issue was very clearly oil prices. Even with lower oil prices the 773ER would still dominate the market place, but it would not have slaughtered the A346 the way it did. The offer to open Airbus’ cheque book was too little, too late.

  23. If Airbus got the engine OEMs to foot the bill, or most of the bill for the NEO (estimated as much as $2.2B USD, or E1.5B Euros), who gets most of the profits from selling the NEOs? Airbus? P&W and CFM?

  24. Airbus of course. The engine manufacturers may get most (but not all) of the MARGINAL profit over an OEO.

    • Thanks, that’s what I thought. To me this means one of the reasons Airbus went ahead with the NEO program was not for profit generation, but for bragging rights in market share.

      • Hehe,
        TB, your “Home Team Cap” is irretrievably grown in 😉

        Even if Airbus sold that bunch of scintillating NEOs without the announced markup ( only In your dream) they at least doubled
        yearly sales ( 2010:400+) futher solidifying the case for increased production in the future, doubling revenue in the NB segment and significantly increasing absolute _and_ per item profits.

      • Refer to Andres’ reply #38, this is the key point a lot of people are missing…

  25. May I just add two points to the discussions.
    1. The 737NG entered into service in 1998 or ten long years after the entry into service of the all-new A320.
    2. The 737NG is a derivative response to a clean-sheet all new aircraft.

    It means that:
    1. EIS timing for narrowbody aircraft is not as crucial as widebody-long-range aircraft,
    2. a derivative can be an effective response to a clean-sheet design if there is no technology step change.

    As far as NEO orders are concerned, it is unclear when those aircraft will be delivered. Considering the huge backlog, I suppose there is not any delivery available before 2019.

    The huge neo orders raise many questions
    – How come LCCs plan to acquire aircraft so much in advance?
    – Why doesn’t the A320neo get bigger a little bit following the normal trend in the narrowbody segment?
    – will the airframes delivered in 2013 onward be able to get the new engine? After all, it will be exactly the same airframe except the pylon. I expect airlines and lessors want to protect the value of their airframe by asking an engine interchangeabilityé

    Neo huge order is clearly a good news for the A320 program. But, don’t ever think that it is a bad news for the competitors. Au contraire, it confirms that Airbus has just frozen its narrowbody strategy for the coming ten years. Their narrowbody production means will be saturated at least until 2019. Unless if the orders as not as firm as it looks.

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    • Try basic math before blogging. 500 deliveries per year (42/month). 1,000 orders. Production start in 2015. Slots will be available in 2017.


      • With all due respect Vero Venia, I’m surprised that someone who’s been working in the industry seemingly believes that
        when an airline orders new aircraft, the last frame on order is delivered “shortly” after the first frame on order, and that the rate of deliveries is not spread out over a number of years.

        Air Asia’s 200 NEO orders, for example, will be delivered over a time period of 10 yrs.

        AirAsia Group currently operates 89 A320s and already had orders for another 86 A320s. The 200 A320neos, which will be powered by CFM LEAP-X engines, will be delivered from 2016 to 2026. The annual delivery clip will gradually increase each year, hitting a high of 24 per annum in 2023, 2024 and 2025.


        As for the A320neo being stretched by a few frames; there’s nothing that should stop Airbus from doing that a couple of years after Boeing has decided to launch the 737ngneo.

        ….and no, the A320-sharklet family that will start to be delivered from late 2012 and onwards, will not be able to take the new engines.

  26. – The 737 classic (300/400) was is a derivative response to a clean-sheet all new aircraft in the eighties.
    – The 737NG was a derivative response to a better then hoped competitor
    – EIS timing for narrowbody aircraft is crucial, it’s the bread and butter for both A & B. As Boeing says you can’t risk getting it wrong

    “- a derivative can be an effective response to a clean-sheet design if there is no technology step change”

    Thats what Airbus hopes, they say the derivative (NEO) will be (nearly) as good as a clean sheet design because the step change technology (engines) is not exclusive.

    I guess the A321 won’t be enlarged early because there is little competitive pressure. Enlarging the A320 seems a reasonable suggestinog The difference between the A320 & A321 is so large. I would like the to know the story behind that..


    • No Keesje. The B-737-300 had a FF in Feb. 1984, while the A-320 was just beginning to be pinned onto the drawing board. The B-733 began with the launch in 1979, long before the A-320 was. I believe US and WN placed the first orders. The B-747-400 was launched with an order from PI and was intended to fill the gap between the B-737-300 and the B-757-200. The B-737-500 was a direct replacement for the B-737-200/-ADV, it was launched in 1987 with an order from WN.

      There was a total of 1,988 were built and delivered by Boeing between 1984 and 2000.

      Both the MD-80 series (1980) and the A-32X series (1981) were launched after the first model B-737-CLASSIC was launched.

      The A-32X does have roots in the JET (Joint European Transport) program at British Aerospace. It then went to Airbus in 1980 as the SA1, SA2, and SA3 (Single Aisle) programs. It was formerly launched as the A-320 program in in 1981 as a response to the B-737-300.

      BTW, the A-320 series is in its third dirivative version. The A-320-Original, the A-320E (Enhanced) and the A-320NEO. The B-737 is also in its third dirivative version, the B-737-Original, the B-737CLASSIC, and the B-737NG.

      Wouldn’t your assumption on the NEO as a dirivitive airplane being nearly as good as a clean sheet apply to a B-737RE?

      • The 737 is a much more limited design than the a320.

        Compare effort and cost for stepping each type forward
        through their upgrade epoches.
        Afair every A320 subtype brought new things that percolated
        partially down to its elder sisters.

  27. The rationale behind a bigger winged A321 is that it would make for a decent 757-200 replacement. Boeing built nearly 1,000 of those – that’s your competitive pressure. A stretched A320 is not an A321 – it is further away from the 757-200. Similarly at Boeing, the 737-900ER is not there yet either.

    Here’s a question: Are those APB winglet equiped 757’s in good shape, does that mean carriers will wait a bit longer?

  28. I believe the A321neo needs to change from its current definition. But, any change in the wing definition means two year delay.

    Should we expect a two year delay of the A320neo introduction? We are still in the very early stage of the program, it would be extremely weird if we already have to expect a delay.

    • I believe the A321neo needs to change from its current definition.

      What exactly is your belief based on?

      Should we expect a two year delay of the A320neo introduction? We are still in the very early stage of the program, it would be extremely weird if we already have to expect a delay.

      I’m sorry, but this seems to me to be borderline FUD.

      According to Airbus, the introduction of sharklets will improve A320 takeoff performance in terms of payload by approximately 6600 pounds. Also, because of the increase in MTOW for the NEO-family (A319,A320,A321), the whole wing will re-gauged and the wing’s static load capacity will increase by 1.3 percent. From Rib 8 and outwards, the NEO wing will be re-gauged due to an increase of 3.5 percent in fatigue load. Rib 27 on the the wing on both the A320-sharklet family and the NEO-family will be re-built in order to accomodate the sharklets. Additionally, on both the sharklet-family and the NEO-family, the outer wing will be reinforced due to a higher yaw bending moment as well as higher torque while the centre wing box will be upgraded with local reinforcements.

      Finally, the wing movable surfaces will remain unchanged for the NEO-family which means that the unique double-slotted flap system on the A321 will also remain unchanged.


  29. TB as you indicated the A320 program started in the seventies, as a European project for a CFM powered single aisle, in 3 lenghts including the newest technology. Boeing was fully aware of it, and reacted (succesfully) by starting studies on including that engine on the 737-200. The victim was MD that for some reason first underestimated the impact of the CFM engines, then overreacted (UDF’s) and then introduced the PW alternative (V2500) too late.

    Re- a further A321 stretch, it would be a seperate program, no rational to delay the NEO program for it. IMO there’s a gab in the A&B portfolio’s. The A300/310, 757, Tu154, 762 leave open a medium capasity, medium range segment. Imo it’s a significant segment, just saying it’s a 757 replacement is a gross underestimation. Think intra Asia, long US flights, EMEA, high frequency shorthaul city pairs and leisure segments. At least 2000 airframes in the next 15 years.

    Powerpointed a A322 NEO last year:

    • Correct, an A321 stretch programme would be separate to the ongoing NEO programme.

      Your powerpointed A322 looks good. However, such an aircraft would need, among other things, a significantly larger wing (i.e. in area and not just in span) in order to lower take-off and landing speeds, and increase the climb performance and to fly comfortably above FL250 when the aircraft is heavy.

    • Seems like some easy pickings for sure. Airlines make some good money off of the 757-300 and the A322 would have great economics as well for little extra investment. Not sure about the double bogey, might be cheaper to go for a lower cost shorter range derivative.

  30. It’s not a real programme.

    Boeing is in the driving seat.

    It will be delayed 2 years.

    Boeing can better it by 10/20/100%.

    Airbus does it only for bragging rights.

    Whistling past the graveyard about describes it.

  31. Why does it take so long to re-engine an aircraft?

    If the entry into service is defined by the engine’s availability then why did Airbus launch the A320neo so early? It still has more than 2,300 A320 Classic to deliver.

    • Why?
      let me guess: very strong demand and an acceptably filled orderbook to 2015 ?
      And it closed the door for Boeing to compete on price ( i.e. large rebates ).

      Airbus may have learned this from that 42 holer spat.

      For Boeing that could mean remains only, the demand that Airbus cannot fill.

    • And now it has 1,000 NEOs to deliver as well. What’s bad about that? Why would you not want to sell a product today, rather than tomorrow, if today you have no competition, and tomorrow you may have it.

    • “Why does it take so long to re-engine an aircraft?”

      It does not take that long. As others have mentioned, the powerplants are a determinig factor for the scheduling but also the manpower availability at Airbus. There should be enough people freed up to work on the NEO by that time.

      “If the entry into service is defined by the engine’s availability then why did Airbus launch the A320neo so early?”

      Because it has thrown Boeing’s plans for a slight loop. Granted this is no knockdown punch, but 1000 orders (which was scoffed at by all and sundry, including or perhaps especially Boeing, and all of its supporters)is something that should be taken seriously. The fact that they have reached this level quite handily, should, in my opinion, put some pressure on Boeing to come up with some sort of decision/response sooner rather than later. Not to mention that Boeing has now been shown to be wrong in their estimate of the response to the NEO.

  32. Uwe #41 & Andreas #42. Perhaps we are talking past each other. Uwe, are you saying the FAA would never have certified an A346 twin for ETOPS before certifying a B product? Even if this is true, it does not negate my point, Andreas. A should have seen, as it began considering the A346 design, that twins for long range ETOPS were the way of the future and that the FAA would certify the 772ER for ETOPS and B would deliver the first one in 2/97, long before the A346 entered service in 8/02 because B had gotten the first order in 1990/1 (and also for the -300ER). It should also have considered the effect of possible high fuel prices on a quad’s ability to compete against a twin. Thus, to me, it was A’s initial decision to go quad when they knew B was going twin for LR ETOPS, and to run the risk that oil prices would rise when they knew prices were always volatile, that sank the A345/6, not the high oil prices of the early 2000s which I agree came to pass.

    The result was a badly conceived aircraft overall, including A’s continuing to use the A330/330/340 fuselage. Don’t forget, that in 2008, when the mkt for bus/first class was booming, and A should have been selling lots A346s because they had space for lots of bus/first cl pax, A told airlines to reduce forward cargo by 5000 lbs to compensate for the increased weight of the bus/first class seats.

    A botched the A346 because they wanted to spend the billions on the A380 instead of on a new plane family to compete in the 300-400 pax mkt and replace the 744. This decision nearly killed A. But luckily for A, B so admired A’s incompetence that they decided to rescue A by doing them one better. They out-sourced the 787 to suppliers all over the world, many of whom did not know a horizontal stabilizer from a coffee maker, and did not even supervise them (talk about dumb, blind failure to recognize and compensate for risk). Et voila, A has risen like a phoenix from the ashes, selling it’s best product ever, the 330, like hot cakes, boldly doing the A320neo with the easily predictable Paris success, and finally doing a decent job of correctly conceiving an airplane family with the A350, which includes for the first time a freighter. I am ready to forget the A346 if you two are.

    • “I am ready to forget the A346 if you two are.”

      I almost laughed out loud at that one!

    • Christopher, apart from outsourcing (the dumb evil foreighners did it) I thought the sonic cruiser was a responds to the (rightly predicted) run away succes of the twin long haul A330. Airlines rejected it and told Boeing to build an even better A330 and they did. Collapsing 767 market demand forced them to rush / overpromise a bit (its innovative & w’ll fix it within 4 yrs) with known consequences.

      The A340-600 wasn’t a big succes, a bit like the 747-8i.

      • The difference is the B-747-8 is just beginning its sales and production phase. The A-340-600 is over and done for and at the end of its orders and production phase.

    • A botched the A346 because they wanted to spend the billions on the A380 instead of on a new plane family to compete in the 300-400 pax mkt and replace the 744. This decision nearly killed A.

      With all due respect, that’s a whole lot of nonsense. First, it’s pretty hard to get killed in a duopoly. 2nd, the 350-seat market is only one part of the market, and the A333 has had the 300-seat “intermediate” range market all to itself. You know, you don’t have to have a range in excess of 7000 nm to compete in the 300-seat market, do you? 3rd, Airbus could, of course, have decided to develop an all-new large twin in the mid to late 1990s, but that would have been a major strategic decision, and Airbus was not in a position to launch an all-new programme until the turn of the Millennium.

      Such a new aircraft would have been a Chinese copy of the 777 with few, if any, technological advances over the 777. It would have cost as almost as much as the A380 to develop, and the development programme would in all likelihood have encountered the same issues with CATIA 4/5 as the A380 did. Also, as Uwe has pointed , the A345/A346 programme was a relatively cheap undertaking. Hypothetically speaking, had the programme been launched in 1995, and not in 1997, and if nine-eleven hadn’t occurred, I’m quite sure Airbus would have sold more than 300 units. 😉

      Now, quite a lot of people seem to conveniently forget that the A340-300 is essentially an A330-300 (i.e. more than 90 percent common) . In fact, the A343 and A333 have significantly more common parts percentage-wise than, for example, the 777-200ER/777-300 and the 777-300ER. Compared to the first 773, the first 77W had 60 percent newer, or revised parts. All the external changes, and all of the modifications to the interior was made in order to accommodate a much higher MTOW on the 77W, and therefore the aircraft had to be configured with a heavier gauge fuselage and wing skins. Yet, despite all of the airframe differences, Boeing is easily producing 77Es and 77Fs/77Ls/77Ws on the same production line.

      The A346, of course, had a similar amount of newer and revised parts compared to the A333/A343, in addition to the new wing-jigs that was required for the A345/A346-wing final assembly; the A345/A346 was still produced on the same production lines as that of the A332/A333/A343. Also, the A345/A346-wing with a span-wise plug inserted mid chord (1,6 m at the root) is 20 percent larger in area while the fuel capacity was increased by some 40 percent.

      The A345/A346-wing would have been too much wing for a twin (i.e. too much structure and fuel volume). Also, I’m not sure if it was at all practicable from a performance point of view, to develop an A333-based wing for a new and larger twin having a span-wise plug, with a smaller area than the A346 plug, inserted mid chord.

      As I’ve already indicated, the A345/A346-wing was a much cheaper undertaking than developing an all-new and better optimised wing. In fact, a new wing development today usually accounts for up to 40 percent of the development costs for an all-new airframe. Mounting an all-new wing on a 75 m long twin having a A300 derived fuselage would indeed have been a foolish thing to do.

      • With the A345/A346-wing Airbus introduced a CNC controlled variable jig for wing assembly. ( Puts a bit different light on the cost of the announced A380 wing twist adjustments).
        Carbon pressure bulk head was another technology step.
        The A345/A346 upgrade seems to have been a tech playing field.

      • OV-099:

        botched the A346 because they wanted to spend the billions on the A380 instead of on a new plane family to compete in the 300-400 pax mkt and replace the 744. This decision nearly killed A.

        With all due respect, that’s a whole lot of nonsense.

        I agree with Christopher. The A340-600 was Airbus’ worst ever mistake. It could never have competed with the 777 and Airbus were in denial to have claimed so. Unlike other commentators, notably Richard Aboulafia, I actually think the A380 was a decent enough decision at the time. But to the extent that it prevented Airbus coming up with a proper answer to the 777, it was a fatal distraction. If Boeing hadn’t so spectacularly mucked up the the implementation of the 787, Airbus wouldn’t have sold half the A330’s that it did, and it would have found it difficult to get traction for the A350. The success of the A320 would have ensured the survival of Airbus, but it would have been a much weaker company.

      • FF, as a “standalone” programme the A346 would have been a disaster. But it wasn’t. It shared greatly the production infrastructure with the A330. Hence it was not Airbus’ “worst ever mistake” for a multitude of reasons, some of which have been outlined above. End of story.

        But to the extent that it prevented Airbus coming up with a proper answer to the 777, it was a fatal distraction.

        Well, Boeing hasn’t had an answer to the A330-300 for 18 years and counting…. What was Boeing’s “fatal” distraction?

        At least Airbus seems to have kept their engineers busy during the development of the A346; testing out “stuff” etc. for later use on the A380. 😉

        If Boeing hadn’t so spectacularly mucked up the the implementation of the 787, Airbus wouldn’t have sold half the A330′s that it did, and it would have found it difficult to get traction for the A350.

        Boeing couldn’t have done the 787 in 4 years under any circumstances. End of story! IMO, what they “mucked up” was not allowing at least 2-3 years of extra development time. Of course, the main reason for this excessively shortened development time, was that the company had let the sales department lead the show in order to “steal” as many orders from the A330 as early as possible, and we all know how that turned out.

        As for the A350 suppossedly not getting traction if the 787 “had delivered”; Airbus had sold more than A350s at the time of Boeing’s third 787 delay announcement in January 2008 (EIS planned for 1Q 2009). Clearly, the market wanted larger 772-sized NG aircraft as well.

        The success of the A320 would have ensured the survival of Airbus, but it would have been a much weaker company.

        Believing that Airbus would only have had the A320 left in its portfolio if the 787 had been put into service in May, 2008, or shortly thereafter, is IMO the same as believing in fairy tales.

      • Addendum:

        As for the A350 suppossedly not getting traction if the 787 “had delivered”; Airbus had sold more than 350 A350s at the time of Boeing’s third 787 delay announcement in January 2008 (EIS planned for 1Q 2009).

      • OV-099: From a sales point of view, the A340-600 was a big mistake, I’m afraid. The 777-300ER that it went head to head against is a vastly more attractive product to customers. The only point of producing planes is to sell them. While the implementation of the A340-600 project was more or less OK – leaving aside the excess of teething problems on early models – that’s almost an irrelevance.

      • My addendum to your addendum. Airbus moved to Mark 2 of the A350 only because of the failure of the A340-600. Mark 1 A350 would have been a good response to the 787 in the medium term. They moved to Mark 2 because they needed to address the 777 even more urgently than the 787. The A350 in its current form is trying to do too much in terms of market coverage, but Airbus was forced into this situation by its previous mistake.

      • OV-099: I realise I didn’t quite address your point about the A350 having racked up considerable orders at the point when Boeing started announcing its really embarrassing delays. You’re right, of course. But the critical point is that if the 787 had come out five years before the A350 they would have got through most of its original backlog before the A350 could come on stream. At every stage they would be able to offer earlier availability to airlines that are choosing between the 787 and the A350. If airlines are somewhat neutral between the two planes, this would tip the balance decisively in favor of the 787. And once airlines buy one model they tend to stick with it through options and purchase rights..

      • FF:
        The think to keep in mind is that the A340 step up to -5/600 precedes the 300ER by a couple of years and being more
        involved was less adaptable to later changes. Additionally
        GE put real effort into its engine 😉

        A330+NEO+AlLi would have been on par or better than the
        Dreamliner. Only lacking in Boeing PR freshly introduced “shiny attributes” ( Boeings major achievement in the last
        decade, UDH was imho working for Boeings interest there.)

        A350Mk1 and A350XWB seem to have been from the
        internal conception on completely different projects.
        Only public visibility by way of the tag “A350” was transfered
        from a A330 upgrade to a A340 typerange replacement.
        and my guess is during a hefty but low visibility faction fight inside Airbus.

      • FF:
        IMHO we have to look at the timeline to understand this:
        2004.04 787: project launch with ANA order
        2005.02 A380: FF and ~ start of A380 bashing fest,
        Boeing knows they are in trouble and
        start to do preventive damage control PR
        2005.06 A350: launch of Mk1
        2006.06 XWB: relaunch and project start
        2007.06 787: Potemkin Rollout
        2009.10 787: Airbus “787 lessons learned”
        2009.12 787: First Flight

        Q: when can we assume that Airbus knew with some certainty that Dreamliner EIS was delayed and the following production ramp up unachievable were a certain thing?

  33. Regarding the A340-600, up to around the time the 777-300ER left the ground for the first time in 2003, most of the discussion around the A340-600 was that it would be the ideal 747-400 replacement candidate. Together with the A380, Airbus had the right strategy to defeat the 747-400. And it worked for them, so to that end, it was a highly successful programme. 747-400 production seized shortly after.

    At the time of its launch in 1997, the A340-600 was envisaged with a MTOW of 365 tonnes, a maximum fuel capacity of 194,500 litres, and a range of 7,500 nautical miles. This grew to 380 tonnes, 204,500 litres and 7,900 nautical miles by 2007 with the HGW. (Just over 5% range growth.)

    In February 2000, P. Condit & Jack Welch launched a 777-300ER with an MTOW of 344.55 tonnes, max fuel capacity of 181,264 litres and a range of 7,170 nautical miles. By January 2001, Boeing & GE found another 80 nm. By February 2003, they collectively found another 170 nm. By May 2003, a further 75 nm was discovered. Some time later another 30 nm. In December 2003, they increased for the first time since launch in 2000 the aircraft’s MTOW to 351,534 kg, range went up 180 nm. By July 2004, they had again found another 175 nm. And by the first quarter of 2007, Boeing and GE found another 50 nm. Right now, I believe MTOW remains at 351,534 kg, max fuel at 181,264 litres and range at 7,930 nm. That is an increase in range of 10.6% — much to do with ETOPs certification, unrestricting fuel capacity with greater MTOW. But it is true they found improvements in its engines and in the airframe.

    No one could have seen that kind of an improvement in 2000 – it was not on the radar for 747-400 replacement. It was what I like to think of as a truly shocking development in aerospace. And that’s how it won. It won because in 2002, much of the talk in aerospaceville was that Boeing would become a super contractor, having decided to leave the airliner market altogether, because the A340-600 & A380 were better than the 747-400 – which was true (they are better). And there it was, an aircraft over 10% better than what they promised 7 years earlier.

    If only they did 787 development like that.


    The 747 lives on as the 747-8 – it is not dead yet. Currently much of the around the A350-1000 sounds like the 777-300ER’s development. It is moving that direction, and will get there. The A380 continues production, the A340 is near the end. The A330 continues. Both manufacturers seem to be in good spirits. The End. 🙂

    • Great post. thx. What do yout think of my point tho that A could have done an A346 twin instead of a quad, particularly given that it has an entirley new wing.

      • Afaik the 346 wing was derived by adding an insert at the wingroot of the A330/340 wing. This may be simplistic.
        ( the -5/600 design in was cheap! )

        Who could have provided an engine for this “A330-600” ?
        GE exclusively paired the 777 and the whole GE90 family.
        or not ?
        Biggest RR at hand was Trent 900 and the Trent1000 in the works while a “Trent 1200” @95000++lbf would have been required at that tech snapshot.
        Now imagine an A330 with GE90-115 size engines dragging in the dust. Gears would have needed significant extension
        which would have been a very disruptive redesign.

      • I thought they should have done that in 2005 – but then, at least only with the A340-500. Of course, now I think also the A340-600, but it’s too late now, it was too late in 2005.

        They had issues with reliability, engine removals at Virgin towards the end of 2003 – about 18 months after they received the aircraft. Unfortunate considering the Trent 500 was certified to the same ETOPs standards as the Trent 700 and 800. Then there was that weight issue in the nose. Bit of a messy situation Airbus had, but these were fixable issues.

        I read in a Flightglobal article then: “The 17 aircraft [B777-300ER] in service by early June [2004] had established a rolling 12-month average dispatch reliability rate of 0.992, while the engine in-flight shutdown rate and removal rate had both remained at zero.”

        This all the more interesting considering that Airbus had done quite well on the A340-500/-600 programme from its launch in 1997. By the time it flew in April 2001, the A340-600 had firm orders & commitments for 127 aircraft from 11 carriers – according to a local daily. Boeing, by contrast, apparently struggled with the market launch of its then 777-200X/-300X, succeeding only in 2000. By the time the 777-300ER flew, it had roughly the same firm order book as the A340-600. So it caught up. It was only in 2005 that sales took off and it did the A340 in, 15-1.

        But Airbus is a pretty respectable company, it is their job to know. I think they were genuinely surprised, many people were.

        It’s fascinating to me because the 777-300ER was the first programme I watched from start to EIS, and also for some of the parallels with Nokia/Symbian as that takes a beating now.

      • The 777 longer-range models where exclusively GE in return for GE carrying some of the development costs. But all 777 engines were only used by 777, and in the case of the GE90, certain technologies such as the composite fan were 777 only until the GEnx. Many other aircraft are powered by triple-shaft Rolls-Royce, so that was not 777 exclusive.

        I think an “A330-600” would have faced the same resistance as the 737RE, as Uwe says about the engine mainly.

        So with the A350XWB going RR exclusively, does that mean RR carries some of the cost, or what technologies will be found only on the A350XWB?

  34. Airbus could have Neo’d the A330 years ago. All the ingredients were there, longer fuselages, landing gears, higher MTOW wings, wing boxes (a340) and significantly more fuel efficient, clean and silent engines, the GP7000 and T900.

    EIS could have been 5-6 yrs ago. In the end they sold piles of non re-engined A330s and are producing them at 8 a month today.. Discussed it nearly 8 yrs ago


  35. OV-099: From a sales point of view, the A340-600 was a big mistake, I’m afraid. The 777-300ER that it went head to head against is a vastly more attractive product to customers.

    FF, the A340-600 didn’t go head to head against the 777-300ER, it was the other way around. The A346 was launched in December 1997 and the 77W was launched in February 2000. From a sales point of view, the A345/A346 sold quite well until the economic downturn following Sept. 11, 2001. Due to the economic downturn and the then ongoing development of the 777-300ER, a significant number of airlines where delaying placing orders, which btw, further worked to the advantage of Boeing.

    Frankly, I’m puzzled by the seeming preoccupation (in a negative sense) with the A340 in the blogosphere. IMO, the only interesting metric when comparing the 777 and the A340 and/or the A330, is the comparison of total number of sales of the combined A330/A340 programme and the 777 programme, and the total cost for both programmes. As of May the 31st, 2011, Airbus had secured a grand total of 1506 orders for the A332, A332F, A333, A342, A343, A345 and A346, while Boeing had secured a grand total of 1229 orders for the 772, 77E, 77L, 77F, 773 and 77W.

    Although the A330/A340 programme was launched three and one-quarter-year before the 777 programme, it was nevertheless launched in the same time period. Now, quite a few people seem to be ruefully unaware of the fact that the total development cost for the combined A330/A340 programme (including the A345/A346) only cost Airbus about half that of the total development costs of the entire 777 programme (total estimated cost for the 777 programme includes a reportedly 100 percent cost overrun on the development of the initial 777-200).

    Clearly therefore, reusing most of the A300 fuselage production infrastructure in the A330/A340 programme has handsomely paid-off for Airbus – big time.

    Sure, the 77W has owned the 350-set market since 2005, but the A330-300 has been more or less unchallenged in the ~ 300 seat, intermediate range market for the last 18 years. So, why don’t we agree that the success of these two aircraft more or less cancel each other out?

    I realise I didn’t quite address your point about the A350 having racked up considerable orders at the point when Boeing started announcing its really embarrassing delays. You’re right, of course. But the critical point is that if the 787 had come out five years before the A350 they would have got through most of its original backlog before the A350 could come on stream.

    But the 787 didn’t EIS in 2008, did it? In fact, it has still not entered into service. Looking behind Boeing’s finely tuned choreographed façade on the 787 since the time of the programme-launch, one could quite easily figure out that the planned production ramp-up, from even before the time of the Potemkin roll-out, was totally unrealistic.

  36. PauloM: So, the question is whether a strategy to kill the the 744 made sense in the mid 1990s, or was the better approach to compete in the 300-400 pax segment with a family of planes which were slightly larger thatn the 777 family? Reasonable people can differ, but to me there is no question that it was clear for those who wanted to see that there was at least a noticable trending to point/point and twin-engined long rangers in the mid 1990s which meant that VLAs would be less in demand in the years to come. Had A built a 300-400 pax twin-egined family, the larger plane would very likely have accelerated the 744’s demise just as the -300ER has, while the smaller would have gone head/head against the 772ER, giving A a mkt share of more than 1000 planes by 2020, when B says it wll start doing 777PIP/replacement plane.

    OV-099: My point is that A’s decision-making process was flawed because they did not see the future which was right in front of them, and therefore the two planes they built, the -600 and A380, did not do well. I think part of the reason fwas that they were blinded to the future by their desire to attack the 744 for which they had no compeititor and which therefore was a cash cow for B, and talso to complete their line up with a VLA. Note the result: (1) Even tho the 744 is no longer with us, B continues to enjoy a very profitable monopoly with the -300ER which will continue well into the next decade because A still cannot chllenge it. So perhaps the question for A should have been in the mid 1990s, which monopoly do we want B to have, in the 350-400 pax mkt or the 400-450 pax mkt? If A could have read the hand writing on the wall, the answer would have been clear: Give them the VLA segment. (2) The 340 is dead.

    That said, you are certainly correct that the A330 is a brilliant and well-deserved success for A.. Why? Because, unlike the 340 and 380, it, particularly the A333, fits perfectly with two engines into the brave new burgeoning world of point/point of routing for which B has no competitor, particularly in Asia. (SIA and Garuda just ordered more A333s). B’s approaching 787 deliveries (I will believe it when I see it) seems to be dampeninbg A332 sales, or perhaps its pax growth.

    • @Christopher Dye aka CubJ3:

      I remember seeing I think Phil Condit saying on CNN or BBC that Boeing expects to sell 60 747’s a year. That was early 2000’s. I think then, the future of the 747-400 was very much at the center of aerospace interest (as the 737 is now), but even then, Boeing was saying that it would not respond to Airbus moves but rather market demand.

      The marketing coming out of Boeing then was confusing – conflicting. Seemed to be such an unsure company on so many different, but interlinked fronts. They went from a massively modified 747-500/-600 & -700 to the 747-400X/-400X Stretch & 767-400ERX of 2000, then onto the 747-400XQLR, (which eventually led to the 747 Advanced, which would became the 747-8), then onto a peculiar aircraft known as the Sonic Cruiser, and then onto a boring 7E7 (albeit with cool marketing) as the 777-300ER was gaining momentum. Still interesting reading through the 1999/2000 Flightglobal print – Return of the Giants & Forecasts 2000. Of course, the same time was one of tremendous growth for Airbus Industrie. The European company was reorganizing its shareholders in preparation for the launch of the A3XX, and moving quite effortlessly on all of its major widebody programs. If you read enough reports then, you got a feeling that it was already projecting a much stronger, and assured image than the utterly confused Boeing.

      It’s interesting then that the 747 remains in production still, ultimately neither the A340-600 nor A380 could quite kill it — and neither of those aircraft are quite there yet as all-cargo types. Time will tell how the A380 evolves, with the enormous potential of its huge wing. In the meantime, the 777-300ER has outsold all quad jets since 2000 – combined. All of this reminds me of a fake CNN broadcast during the first Gulf War.

      • Productwise Boeing is rather autistic.
        They were regularly well served with customer demanded types. They tended to be good in realising such demands.

        Without that prompting they are LOST.

    • Chris, I perfectly understood your point. However, I don’t believe that your analysis takes into account the industrial side of the equation, and neither does it take into account what it means to a have a long-term strategy, and how the game theory is played out by the two OEMs.

      Before launching the A350XWB, Airbus had one fuselage-type for their narrow body, one fuselage-type for their twin-aisle wide bodies, and one fuselage-type for their new double-deck, quad-aisle VLA. Few people would disagree that Airbus has been very good at choosing the right cross-section for their single-aisle, twin aisle and quad-aisle, double-deck aircraft.

      By reusing the A300 fuselage and thus the A300 fuselage production infrastructure on the A330/A340, albeit with some new generation jigs and tools in addition to a few new systems and avionics, and in combination with a new generation super-critical wing capable of functioning as a twin and a quad, Airbus was able to produce a new family of WBs optimized for both intermediate and long range. As I indicated above, the R&D costs for the A333/A342/A343 was about two thirds of the original projected R&D costs for the 777-200, which reportedly busted the budget by around 100 percent. It’s also worth mentioning that the A340 was Airbus’ first foray into the long-range B-market and that the combined A330/A340 were as well Airbus’s first foray into the high capacity 300-seat A and B markets, which had been up to that point dominated by Boeing, McDonnel Douglas and Lockheed.

      Ted Piepenbrock, who btw, has been mentioned by flightblogger quite a few times lately, has repeatedly used Airbus as case on “when to time operational innovations”.

      LINK: http://www.london.edu/assets/documents/facultyandresearch/Charlie_Fine_-_MIT.pdf

      In this linked paper, Boeing is described as a having a modular enterprise architecture, while Airbus is described as having an integral enterprise architecture.
      In a modular enterprise what’s perceived to be important is short-term speed and flexibility (i.e. laying off personnel when there’s a bust in the cycle) to ensure short-term maximization of shareholder value. In an integral enterprise, on the other hand, long term speed and stability as well as maximization of stakeholder surplus are the primary objectives.

      Boeing’s response to the A330/A340 was, of course, the 777, but it was aimed straight at the A340. However, the A-market 777-200 model was supposed to counter the A330-300. With only 88 units sold it wasn’t very successful against the A333 thanks to the heavier weight (OEW) and a more voluminous 777 fuselage (i.e. more structure), and a 20 percent larger wing. The B-market 777-200ER model went up against the A340-300 and has won about two thirds of the 300-seat B-market (as of May, 2011). With the entry into service of the A330-200 in 1998, Boeing had no real competitor to Airbus in the 250-seat B-market, and the 300-seat A-market.

      From an industrial production point of view, it didn’t matter much to Airbus if they were producing A330 or A340s. The A333 initially sold slowly, which meant that it was the A340-300, and later with the addition of the A330-200, that secured for Airbus a steady and predictable A330/A340 production line during the 1990s; and that is what truly matters for an OEM in the LCA business. With the single A330/A340 production line, in the 1990s, Airbus essentially competed with the two production lines at Boeing (767-300ER/-400ER and the 777-200/-200ER). Surely, one functioning production line is more efficient than two, right? At the same time, the A340-300 put downward pricing pressure on the 777-200ER.

      You don’t have to try to compete in all markets simultaneously. In fact, companies looking ahead long-term will never attempt to do that until they have reached market domination. And Airbus in the 1990s was still a long shot away from achieving market parity with Boeing. When the 77W in 2005 achieved total dominance in the 350-seat B-market, It wasn’t really that big a of deal for Airbus. As I’ve said, when all is said and done, the only really interesting metric when comparing the 777 and the A340 and/or the A330, is the comparison of the total number of sales of the combined A330/A340 programme and the 777 programme, and the total cost for both programmes. If we are using those metrics, I’m quite sure that most people would agree that it looks like the ROI for Airbus is better on the entire A330/A340 programme than the ROI for Boeing on the entire 777 programme.

      Quoting Ted Piepenbrock:

      ” After product standardization occurs, radical process innovation can occur, followed by a long period of incremental product and process innovations in a modular/modularizing enterprise architecture.”

      “ When market penetration approaches saturation and further growth comes from replacement and market/GDP growth, radical operations innovation (accompanied by business model innovation in an integral enterprise architecture) can disrupt the former established product/process leader(s).”

      “The emergent-to-dominant business innovators embark on a long series of incremental product and process innovations until a next disruptive product innovation drives the former industry into decline”.

      So, the A340-600 was an incremental product that was significantly cheaper to produce than the 77W at the time of the EIS of the latter aircraft. This remained so until at least Boeing, and especially GE, managed to significantly increase production due to the massive increase in sales from 2005 and onwards, although the 77W remains a costly product to produce partly thanks the relatively high costs of the GE90-115B engines.

      Even though the total number of sales for the A345 and A346 has only been around 130, it should have paid back most, if not all of the development costs when you take into account after-sales, parts and services as well. It’s interesting to note that what is barely mentioned by the critics of the A346, is the downward pricing pressure from the A346 on the 777-300ER. Without the A346, Boeing could have charged higher prices for the 77W. Reportedly, in late 2004, Boeing started employing aggressive sales tactics when Scott Carson replaced Toby Bright as head of airplane sales. It was well known in the industry that the 777-300ER was a very expensive airplane; even after discounts were subtracted. BTW, these aggressive sales tactics carried over into the 787 programme as well. For example, in December 2005 the 787 beat out the original A350 to win the coveted Qantas competition, and apparently, Qantas only had to pay $65.7 million for their 787-8s.

      For Airbus, therefore, it made no sense to develop a new wide-body line in the 1990s. It was far to premature. However, with the launch of the A350XWB in 2006, Airbus could develop a new innovative WB fuselage architecture that can be phased in as the A330 gradually is phased out. Although Airbus was seemingly “forced” to do this by their customers, the timing was just about right. The XWB fuselage will replace the 222-inch diameter A300 fuselage within a decade (i.e. 2020 onwards), and in all likelihood there will be at least one future Airbus family of aircraft using the XWB fuselage in combination with a significantly smaller wing (A300/A330 replacement).

      It’s interesting to note that the 777-300ER is almost a VLA. It’s only 10 percent smaller in floor area than the 747-200, but it was Boeing’s own replacement aircraft for the 747-400, however unintended. Now, it’s true that with the A346 and the A380, Airbus planned to squeeze the 744 from below and above, but that was not the primary goal for the A380 development. The goal, which should be pretty obvious, is to dominate the crowded hubs in Asia and Europe with a CASM-king flying the most heavily travelled routes between these hubs. In a world where global demand for travel seems to be doubling every 15 years, I’m quite sure that the math will prove compelling in the long run, creating a very healthy market for the big jet. Also, when considering the fact that the A380 is growing ever more popular among passengers due in part to the ability of providing significantly better comfort for especially Y-class passengers, this avantage combined with likely addition of futurethe A380 future stretch versions, the CASM advantage will increase further,

      Finally, it made perfectly sense for Airbus in the year 2000 to start developing the A380. With that aircraft everything was new, and Airbus didn’t make a product competing with one in their portfolio. With Boeing, on the other hand, you had the 77W competing with the 744 and now you have the 747-8I competing with the 77W, which btw, doesn’t seem to pretty smart and indicates a lack of a coherent long term strategy on Boeing’s part.

      • OV-099,

        First of all, what a great comment, really dig the Piepenbrock!

        A few notes on your comment. Although Piepenbrock seems to paint Boeing as modular enterprise (Blue), I do have difficulty in seeing it as Blue only. Although, I do agree with Airbus being integral (Red), mainly due to the fuselage width choices there.

        Keep in mind that the 767-300ER was the most profitable Boeing airplane for some time.

        The comment about the A340-600 being an incremental product works quite well for the 747-8 (it is the exact same thing), and in a sense, the 777-300ER is, in fact, more incremental than the A340-600. The 777-300ER, essentially, is a very good example of what to expect with the Airbus A320NEO. Basically, a re-engine, with some systems modifications and airframe strengthening, and slight wing changes – most notably the raked wing tip. The 777-300ER stepped up from the 777-300, which had already been stretched. The A340-600 was all that in one go.

        Regarding pricing pressure, the 747-8 will keep A380-800 prices in check, albeit quite close to the 777-300ER in Boeing’s lineup. This is on a comparatively very low investment in an incremental upgrade (derivative) against that for the A380; very high initial investment, cleansheet. (What is the A380, red or blue, especially in a mature market?)The -300ER, as you say, is a mini VLA, and thus is also a brace on A380 prices, largely due to its generous uplift (lower deck) capability, but also its flexibility vis-à-vis point-to-point and the thinner of hub-and-spoke. In this case, it is probably better to face price pressure in a broad market segment, than in a small one. We do not know yet if Asian wealth, particularly in China & India will generate huge sales of VLA’s – it may even be too early for that anyway.

        Didn’t Boeing & GE come out at some point saying they were committed to reasonable pricing on their market dominating product? Once demand for the A340-600 collapsed, Boeing would have had carte blanche to charge what it believed was the market value for it’s twin.

        Anyway, thanks. Great Stuff!

      • Wow!
        On of the best comments of all times! And one of the best analysis! Thanks

  37. “Productwise Boeing is rather autistic.
    They were regularly well served with customer demanded types. They tended to be good in realising such demands.

    “Without that prompting they are LOST.” Uwe #92.

    Uwe – There you go again. Whomelse would any airplane OEM rely on to decide what to build? As I have tried to point out, A’s failure with the A345/6 is that they built the planes they wanted to build, not what the mkt wanted.

    • IMHO Boeing gets good results from focused customer demand:
      737,747,777 are afaics good examples.
      What Boeing seems to be less able to do is synthesizing a focused
      definition from a buquet of “wish you were here” indicators.
      examples for me are the Sonic Cruiser … Dreamliner design that
      after an elefantine gestation period resulted in a predominantly
      marketing driven success and the 737NG onward developement
      where Boeing seems to have painted itself into a corner.

      To return to the A340-5/600 issue.
      IMHO Airbus got adequate sales for cheap money, pressured Boeing into
      going forward with extended ETOPS certified derivatives paving the way
      for an Airbus craft utilising that advance in the certification framework
      finaly a field testrun for major tech changes. All that for about $3.5b

      New Boeing NB craft:
      I don’t see Boeing developing a new ~200 seat family for $10B.
      The 777 got done in time on twice the budget, the Dreamliner will
      have taken about twice the time for thrice the money when all things
      are said.
      A new craft will take upwards of $20b to do in that reference setup
      and it will take upwards of 15 years to achieve significant production
      numbers ( with 1 or 2 GFC like intermissions just for the fun of it 😉

  38. Paulo and OV-099, thanks for your illuminating comments. The problem I still have with the A346 is that no matter what system produced it, modular, integral, or something else, that system did not produce a plane that did what it was supposed to do: Sell well. The fact that the A330 saved the family is irrelevant. To me, the proper question is, how much better would A have done building a new family in the 300-400 segment than they have done with the A345/6? The answer is speculative, but I think much better because the mkt was and is so large and it would haved given them the two profitable families, one in 200-300 pax mkt, and another in the and 300-400 seat segment.

    • Here’s a speculative question to go with that: is the A350 being stretched too broadly, across 250 to 350 seats, to be optimized for action both against the 787 and 777-300ER (or -8X/-9X) – just the same as the 777 was not optimized for competition against both the A330 & A340 (it is a larger, more capable aircraft than the A330)? i.e. does this mean Airbus will “give up” the 200-300 seat market, or try compete on price?

      • Delaying the -800 and -1000 may provide time to further differentiate those variants away from the base model.

        Leahy has mentioned that customers are clamoring for
        an A330NEO reengine ( even retroactive? would that be
        possible?). This from Leahy is probably not just idle chatter.

        The Dreamliner advantage ( if there is one in field use ) is purely engine driven. Neither weight nor MX advantage
        seems to exist in the advertised form.

    • Yes, the Air Asia boss spoke about that plane, or was quoted speaking about during the recent Paris Air Show. It will be funny* if they actually launch an A330NEO, because that is what they always hoped to do with the A350.

      • Well, the A350 Mk1 would have added a new wing and extensive AlLi use to the improved engine.
        That Thing would have trounced the Dreamliner for sure on efficiency. Well hindsight is 20/20. Additionally Airbus would
        never have gifted that plane away for a measly $67m ( as sold to Qantas ).
        This marketing heist really worked for Boeing and for a time only to come back later and bite with poisoned fangs.

        A future A330 NEO would gain all the additional engine improvements from the last decade.
        Derived from which baseline engine then:
        Trent 900 / Trent 100 / Trent XWB ( and/or the comparable
        engines from the competition )
        I don’t think a GTF derivative as it will not have “grown” enough in the near future.

      • I’ve been on record for quite some time on this blog as being in favour of an A330-NEO. Due to the continued success of the A332/A333, I’m now not so certain that such an undertaking would be necessary in order to ensure a stable and predictable A330 production run through this decade. After 2020, IMO an “A330NEO” could rather be a new A330-sized aircraft that would be a derivative of the A350 (i.e. same fuselage; new and smaller A330-sized wing).

  39. Hi Paulo, if you dig Piepenbrock, here’s his Ph.D. thesis (download on the bottom of the page): 😉


    A few notes on your comment. Although Piepenbrock seems to paint Boeing as modular enterprise (Blue), I do have difficulty in seeing it as Blue only. Although, I do agree with Airbus being integral (Red), mainly due to the fuselage width choices there.

    Piepenbrock: Part II: Theoretical Constructs & Propositions Multi-Level Nesting: Product-Organizational Architecture Mapping

    Quotes (page 402)In fact, examples of modular organizations successfully producing integral products are not common. This research dissertation will attempt to show that in the commercial airplane industry, Boeing is evolving toward a more modular enterprise architecture, while its products are relatively more integral. Conversely, Airbus has a more integral enterprise architecture, while its products are more modular.

    “Conventional aircraft comprising separate wings and fuselages accomplish the functions of providing lift and housing passengers using separate portions of the aircraft. Typically wings and fuselages are designed by different engineers and made within different factories.The Airbus consortium was structured to take advantage of this architecture. Wings are made in the UK, fuselage barrel sections in Germany, tail sections in Spain, and final assembly and integration take place in France.”

    Quote (page 402): Enterprise architecture does not necessarily drive product architecture, but product system (or platform) architecture. For example, it is much easier and more likely for an integral enterprise architecture (like that of Airbus) to produce a family or system of products which share more commonality, than it is for a modular enterprise architecture (like that of Boeing). In a sense, it is not Airbus’ integral product’s, but their integral product strategy, that is produced by the integral enterprise architecture.

    Regarding pricing pressure, the 747-8 will keep A380-800 prices in check, albeit quite close to the 777-300ER in Boeing’s lineup. This is on a comparatively very low investment in an incremental upgrade (derivative) against that for the A380.

    Well, the difference being, of course, that while the A346 and the 77W are about the same size, the A388 has around 27 percent greater floor space than the 747-8I. Also, in the typical 3-4-3 seating configuration in Y-class, the seat width on the A388 is 18,5″ while it’s 17,2″ on the 747-8I. So, they are not really comparable. Boeing now says the 747-8I will complement the A388 rather than competing with it directly.

    That being said, what’s important to note is that while the A346 was an incremental aircraft, it wasn’t incremental in isolation. It was part of a busy product line. Not so with the 747. The 747 production line is unique with no commonality with the rest of Boeing’s aircraft lineup. At most Boeing will produce 2 747-8I/F per month, which is IMO too low level of output to be economically efficient in the long run.

    I agree that the 77W as a VLA (i.e. more than 400 seats in a two-class configuration) competes with the A388. However, except for the case of CX, it’s proven to be the perfect complementary aircraft to the A388 at airlines such as EK and SQ.

    As for you last point on once the demand for the A346 “collapsed”; the time period in which the A346 put downward pricing pressure on the 77W was in the significant number of sales campaigns between 2001 and 2006. After the launch of the A350XWB, it seems as if Airbus didn’t bother too much offering the A346 to new potential customers.


  40. Hi Chris, just adding to everything that I’ve previously said about the A346; if Airbus hypothetically had launched the A350, or a slightly larger frame, in the time period you’ve been advocating, it would likely not have been a great differentiator to the 777-family. For a $15 billion investment, that’s just not good enough. “Waiting” to 2006 makes all the difference in how the A350 will compete. As I’ve indicated, again and again, IMO the 77W (which apart from the freighter is the only member of the 777 family still selling well) will not be able to compete with the A350-1000 once production of the latter has commenced. Neither do I believe that the possible 777-8X and 777-9X derivatives would be a sound undertaking. Better for Boeing then IMO, to go full speed ahead with the Y3, sooner rather than later.

    • 108 messages! I pitty Scott. He’s had to comb them all for inappropriate linguality. I think we’ve done quite well keeping ourelves in check.

      But back to the battleield. OV-099 and Uwe. A did not “wait” until 06 to do the 350xwb. They were forced into it their customers who were dissatisfied with their initial attempts to imporve the 330 to compete with the 787. Then as with the A346, they were trying to get the airlines to buy what they wanted to build because they did not want to spend the big bucks to build an all new plane. It was Tim Clark I believe who straightend them out when he he humiliated A by saying loudly in public words to the effect that they should stop whining about how much a new plane would cost. They were in the airplane business and that’s what it costs to do that business.

      • Not Tim Clark. It was Steven Udvar-Hazy back in March, 2006.

        One flaw in your condemenation of Airbus not earlier pursuing a large, long range twin has to do with powerplant availability. Boeing and GE made a mutually exclusive agreement and to this day, no other engine maker is able to compete with the GE90-115B engine.

      • As I indicated in comment #93, although Airbus was seemingly “forced” to launch the A350 by their customers, the timing was just about right from a strategic point of view. The technologies that were required for undertaking the A350 programme had by that time reached a satisfactory level of maturity. Additionally, might I add that IMO it was, in fact, pretty gutsy for Airbus to launch an all new programme at a time when the A380 programme was undergoing a serious production turmoil, and when the A400M was in full development mode. So, the seemingly reluctancy on the part of Airbus to launch an all new program in 2005/2006 had more to do about the availability of sufficient engineering resources than a lack of financial resources.

        The A350 Mk.1 and the re-engined A330 concepts were more of a response to the 787 than a long term and sound product strategy. When the Mk.1 started to have less and less in common with the A330, IMO the Mk.1 made less and less sense. A different strategy to the one ultimately undertaken could have been first to do an A330NEO + sharklet-type winglet devices with an EIS around now, and a full blown launch of the A350 in 2009/2010. However, as things turned out, the unmodified A330 has sold extremely well since the launch of the 787; something quite a few analysts “ascertained” back in the heydays of the tremendous drug-like rush of the 787 to be virtually an impossibility.


        “I think the latest version of the A350 looks excellent. But it still has some elements left over from early models of the [manufacturer’s] widebody family. Airbus needs to address will they have a new family of aircraft,” said Udvar-Hazy, speaking at last week’s ISTAT conference in Orlando, Florida.

        He added that Airbus is at a crossroads, faced with building the A350 as presented today, based on the A330 platform, or committing to a new widebody design.

        Although the A330 twinjet formed the basis of the A350 when the design work was initiated two years ago, in its latest iteration the two models have less than 5% commonality. Despite adopting aluminium lithium for the fuselage structure and carbonfibre for much of the wing, the new aircraft retains the A330’s fuselage cross-section and wing planform.

      • Cubj3, to me it is not quite clear what explanation/situational interpretation you want to argue for.

        IMHO Airbus wasn’t completely off in dragging their feet going
        by what the 787 will achieve performancewise over the A330.
        The way it looks today Boeing has sunk money well beyond the A380 effort for just a “chinese copy” of the A330.

        What brackets the path to the current situation is not about technology and performance but about unbounded marketing.
        Boeing was just too successfull marketing a perfectly styled mirage for Airbus to be able to “sit it out”.
        Airbus U-Turn is effected by different factions inside Airbus
        changing their “weight”.
        What would Airbus have moved to the fore in those parallel universes where the A350Mk1 was built or the A330 just got some AlLi ribs and a new engine ( and thus consumed few resources ). A380-(800F/900) ?
        As a “political/strategic” move, to bind customers away from the competition, the introduction of the Dreamliner was perfectly executed. The 747-8 much less so. This was completely ruined by botching the transfer to real world tangibles starting well before the Potemkin Rollout.
        I would like to repost my earlier question: What is the earliest date Airbus could have had good understanding of Boeings issues ( incl. a valid projection on to be expected delays ).

  41. Around 2004.

    “Colin Stuart, Airbus vice-president of marketing, said composites should be introduced with caution in aircraft design. ‘If you start to look at the various loads on composites [in an all-composite fuselage], it is absolutely the wrong thing to do.’

    Current composite material is unsuitable for many areas of the fuselage claimed Alain Garcia, executive vice-president of engineering. ‘It’s perfect for tension and fatigue, but poor for compression.’

    Airbus has stepped up the war of words with Boeing after the US company criticised weight increases in the A380. Airbus claims the 7E7 will be heavier than Boeing has admitted. ‘The 7E7 carries the weight penalty of a compromised and rushed design,’ the company said.

    Stuart said: ‘They have rushed this aircraft through in a ridiculous way. ”

    Read more: http://www.theengineer.co.uk/in-depth/rushed-and-ridiculous/267564.article#ixzz1RAisCm5p

    A US reporter translated this into Airbus saying the Dreamliner was “rushes”and “ridiculous” and the rest of the press (blindly) copied and attacked this. Airbus was behind, jealous etc.

    • That was obvious from the moment Boeing’ s issues with fasteners exposed design principles:
      A plastic tube infested with metallic bits and pieces, all difficult to mount and thermally connected in problematic ways. Same for the stabiliser issues that indicated carelessness
      in designing in proper parts matchup.

      Still, Boeing was able to entice Airbus to vantage into the mire of carbon skins and ribs too. Though i guess with much better understanding of the materials. Interesting question in this context: Will we see more black fuselages or a return to Al(Li) for the sparse structures?
      For dense structure ( aerosurfaces, concentrated load bearing structure later landing gears and engine pylons ) will stay the path taken imho.

      Apropos: For the A380 is Airbus thinking of replacing GLARE parts with material from the new range of AlLi alloys or are other elements targeted? That recent pressrelease gave the impression that they already are busy utilising this.

      Scott, was this a point of discussion in front of attending journalists?

  42. Aeor Ninja #110 Why not PW and RR? They both powered the -200ER. Why would they have been incapable of providing as sole source engines four a medium/long range family of two planes 320 and 385 pxd 3 cls? My point is, we will never know because A did not want to build the family Iam suggesting in the first place.

  43. Aeor Ninja #110 Why not PW and RR? They both powered the -200ER. Why would they have been incapable of providing as sole source engines four a medium/long range family of two planes 320 and 385 pxd 3 cls? My point is, we will never know because A did not want to build the family I am suggesting in the first place.

    • Rolls Royce is having enough of a challenge in designing such an engine now, forget about 10 years ago. I cannot say for certain, but I am under the impression that none of the other engine companies was up to the challenge 10 years ago.
      Who knows what would have happened if Airbus had tried to emulate Boeing instead of building the A380? I believe Airbus still has alot of problems with customizing on the A380 and much of that has to do with them being in a very bad position vis a vis delays. It was very difficult for them to tell a customer that they could not revise their interiors when the aircraft was running almost 2 years late.
      I am curious to see if Boeing is going to run into that situation as well, which for them could be worse due to the number of aircraft to deliver and the number of different customers they have for the 787.
      If they don’t run into that problem, I wonder how they keep their customers happy without giving the planes away for free.

      To be honest, I am not certain how we got on to the topic of the second generation A340 vs the second generation 777 when Scott’s post was about Boeing’s seeming nonchalance at the A320 NEO sales success and John Leahy’s comments on that nonchalance.

    • Certainly not in the order and timeframe you propose.

      But as I said before a long range twin from Airbus kicked
      off around 1995++ would have run into certfication hassles
      with the FAA. Additionally Airbus had been recently burned
      by engine manufactuer(s) overpromising.
      I don’t know about the intricacies behind the abortive SuperFan
      effort but from Airbus view this could have been interpreted as
      enemy action.
      Obversely this gave the A330/340 family its advantageous winglayout 😉

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