Assessing the 737-900ER vs Airbus NEO

AeroTurboPower has an interesting piece looking at the fuel burn and cash costs of the 737-900ER vs the A320neo and A321neo.

The post is noteworthy as an independent analysis to Airbus or Boeing. Boeing, of course, claims the 737-900ER is more efficient that either the A321 Legacy or A321neo.

71 Comments on “Assessing the 737-900ER vs Airbus NEO

  1. The problem with Aeroturbopower’s analysis is how he arrives at his fuel burn data baseline. In his last post, he used airport and facility planning data to extrapolate the fuel burn of the 737NG and A320. His conclusions, both for fuel burn and range were miles from reality. None of us were surprised, considering his source data. This time, he doesn’t even bother telling us where his fuel burn numbers come from (the analysis for his previous post?) and forges on to conclusions, which likely have no grounding in reality. I look at Aeroturbopower’s “analysis” as being unreliable at best, and quite possibly very biased (has he ever shown a Boeing product ahead of an Airbus?). Consume his data with eyes wide open.

  2. Why didn’t they compare apples to apples instead of apples to donuts? Why don’t they compare the B-737-9MAX to the A-320NEO and A-321NEO? Have they given up on comparing the B-737-800 to the A-320 and the B-737-8MAX to the A-320NEO?

    The chart do not compare the B-737-900ER to the A-321, and that CASM chart was just useless, as DL doesn’t have any B-739ERs yet. So the chart is actually comparing the A-320 to the B-757-200 and B-767-300ER, and it is wrong, the bigger airplanes will have a CASM much lower than the A-320 on any but the shortest missions.

  3. CM, the fuelburn comes from PIANO, the software used by almost all aircaft and engine OEM’s. Calibrated B737-900ER, A320 and A321 models came with the software, so that only had to model the sharklets and new engines. There is absolutely no bias in that analysis and I do not own any stocks from either EADS nor BCA.

    • Piano (or Piano-X) is a fine analysis tool. Like any other, it’s only as good as the data you input. For your last “unbiased” comparison, you chose a non-wingleted 737-800, and did not bother telling us if the airplane was equiped with carbon brakes, Tech Insertion engines, or any number of features which all new-build 737-800s are equipped with today. These features are worth -6% on block fuel on a mission shorter than you compared. Until you tell us the details., it’s pretty hard to take your analysis (even with a good tool) seriously.

      • CM, I took the chart that Boeing provides. What is in and what is out, please ask in Seattle or Chicago. The document is updated in May 2011 IIRC, so it should reflect actual performance. If not, I regret, but please do not make me responsible for it.
        For the comparison between the 737-900ER and the A320neo/A321neo I used PIANO. There are the winglets in the model and I factored in a 1% SFC improvement for the CFM56-7BE. Range with 180 passengers came out within 1% of what Boeing states.

  4. The aircraft’s has only been built on a superdoper computer (remember the 787) let’s wait & see the fuel burn on a real aircraft before we all start Airbus/ Boeing bashing start’s again.

  5. a380 is correct. The comparison is for different sized airplanes and against the B-737-900ER vs. the two NEO models. That is comparing apples to donuts. The A-321NEO won’t be flying in 2016, it isn’t scheduled to EIS until 2017. The 2016 A-320NEO will have about 153 seats (two class) vs. DL’s B-737-900ERs with 180 seats (two classes). So how did you arrive at a lower CASM for the A-320NEO when it is flying the same mission with 27 few passengers?

  6. Boeing 737NG sales in the 90s: 700-446, 800-705, 900-43
    For the years of 2010 and 2011: 700-46, 800-618, 900-177

    What will the demand be for the 700 in another five years?

    • Paraphrasing John Leahy of Airbus, I would say that the Bombardier CSeries has pretty much killed the business case for the Boeing 737-700.

      • Like the A319, there will still be a few 700s needed where their capabilities are fully utilized on long flights from short runways and high altitudes. A similar situation to the A345 and the 777LR, if they sell 50 frames it will pay off as a bonus to the larger program.

      • Well, if you and `ol John Boy are correct, then the C-Series also kills the business case for the A-319, doesn’t it?

  7. aeroturbopower :
    What is in and what is out, please ask in Seattle or Chicago. The document is updated in May 2011 IIRC, so it should reflect actual performance. If not, I regret, but please do not make me responsible for it.

    It’s hard for me to know if you are being serious, or willfully ignorant. I’ll assume the best, and explain why you cannot draw conclusions from your simplistic analysis.

    1. Configuration matters – As I pointed out, for any single commercial aircraft, configuration can swing block fuel considerably. For a 737NG, the difference between two 737-800s can be as much as 6%, based solely on the installed equipment. You have acknowledged you don’t know what configuration you analyzed.

    2. Mission rules matter – Because assumptions about winds, temperatures, reserve fuel, passenger weights, baggage allowances, etc, all have an effect on economics and range, it is critical to know and state what mission rules are applied to any analysis. Generally, when you see an advertised performance claim from a manufacturer, this information will be buried somewhere in the fine print. For your analysis to be taken seriously, you need to state what rule set you have applied.

    Blaming Boeing or Airbus for not including these details in their facilities planning documents is just plain silly. These documents are not intended to convey aircraft performance, and I can assure you both documents will explicitly state that very fact.

    I will just remind you again; if you want to be taken seriously by the people who live and work in this industry, your analysis is going to need to be significantly more robust than what you have demonstrated to-date.

    Cheers!

    CM

    • “It’s hard for me to know if you are being serious, or willfully ignorant. I’ll assume the best, and explain why you cannot draw conclusions from your simplistic analysis.”

      CM, you are new to Commenting; please read the rules in Reader Comments. This is nearing violating the personal attack rule. Debating the validity of the analysis is fine. Personalizing is not.

  8. Overloading the public with different, seemingly contradicting figures, introducing new variables while leaving others out, selecting specific favourable cases and suggest general applicability. Giving people the impression their are no winners/loosers, it all depends on so much..

    All proven tactics to blur unfavourable numbers.

    • I would assume that today most airlines cannot be easily fooled by those numbers. The computer software to analyze the data is readily available and the expertise is out there. And the word will spread quickly if an operator is unhappy about a particular aircraft model.

      Since humans are not strictly rational beings Boeing and Airbus will try to exploit the emotional weaknesses of potential customers. And they probably will succeed to fool some of their customers, some of the time. But the majority will demand hard data and guarantees. Al Baker of Qatar Airways did just that towards Pratt & Whitney’s claims over the GTF engine.

      In the end it sounds so childish, if not foolish. I just wait for a new generation of aerospace executives who will refrain from making unrealistic claims and unsubstantiated statements.

    • Add the other catchwords introduced by Boeing : hybrid laminar flow ( popping up everywhere these days) a new tail , semi FBW : as targeted indirection to not be called out
      on their “facts” immediately. Just like the Dreamliner imho.

    • Keesje, I would never have imagined you would be so crtitical of Airbus. LOL

      • I think you missinterprete Keesje here.
        Airbus doesn’t author Boeing’s press releases 😉

  9. This reminds me of the neverending dialogue regarding the comparison of the submissions for the Tanker contest.

    For most of us untrained in the areonautical technical world, it is hard to determine who is more “correct” . I assume the Carriers cast the ultimate vote and pay little attention to the hype and/or exaggeration that accompanies the public marketing of these planes. Perhaps there are small or large differences in “efficiencies” but the choice to purchase includes alot of non technical matters but include, delivery, support, price, routes, etc. I assume the Carriers have staffs to sort through all these factors with a keener eye .

    I know this opinion page is intended to flesh out the issues. The competitive information and disinformation makes that difficult. Perhaps someone can sort out these contradictions and bring better clarity .

    • Well said, Investor.

      To try and bring this back on track, here are some things for Readers to dissect:

      Look at the physics and specifications:

      The 737 series is lighter than the A320 series.

      The A321 carries more passengers than the 739.

      The 738 carries more passengers than the A320.

      The 737-700 and A319 and their follow-ons are about equal in passengers.

      Ranges vary.

      The GTF and LEAP are compromise solutions for the A320 family.

      Boeing claims the LEAP will be “optimized” for the 737 MAX. What does this mean, and what differences if any compare with the NEO?

      Try all this on for discussion.

      • Scott,

        you caught my eye with the statement that GTF and LEAP are compromise solutions for the A320.

        Sorry if I missed it, but could you explain what that means?

        Thanks in advance.

      • Are we certain “optimized” isn’t market speak meaning optimized for the constraints of the 737, that is low ground clearance?

      • Leehamnet,

        all due respect, but the notion that Airbus would get compromised versions of PW1000 (would does everyone call it the GTF? the family name is PW1000G) and LEAP is a truck load of bologna…

        The LEAP family is, well any family really, scalable so a difference of a few thousand lbs thrust does not compromise anything either way (I say either way ’cause do we know which size the base LEAP engine has?). After all, it was a design study for a new B aircraft, not a re-engined one, and I seriously doubt B intended to stay with the low MLG on their new a/c… likely therefore that a larger fan than 68″ was the baseline fan size… I do not have personal experience, which is why I say likely.

        As for the PW1000G is was purpose designed for the A320, with the architecture from the PW1524G engine for the C-series kept. Trust me, I know this for a fact. It is never a single engine that is designed, like you imply, it is always a technology platform. So how can it be compromised?

        Implying that a new engine on an old a/c is by default a compromise is just too plain and simple. The world is not black and white and you should know so… neither the engine or the a/c knows what age the other’s design is, the interface on the wing is the same anyway… for example: let’s assume for a second that engine today’s engine technology existed in the 80’s and that the PW1000G was PW’s proposed engine for the A320 back then. Would that engine then have been a compromise for the A320? Of course not!

        And to argue from another viewpoint: the PW1000G that was born first was the PW1217G for the MRJ. Does this make the PW1524G engine for the C-series a compromise since it was scaled up from the PW1217 (it was scaled up, I was there…). Or was the GEnx-2B engine a compromise for the 747-8 since it used the -1B core? Or the CFM on the 737Classic since it was made for the 707-based tanker?

        An engine is always a technology platform from which could can depart in a number of directions depending on the opportunities that pop up. The Trent family is probably the very best example.

        I would very much like for you to explain your reasoning, because it is really beyond me how you could arrive at that conclusion.

        • We’re not suggesting the engines are a compromise. We’re suggesting mating a new engine with an old airplane is a compromise. So did CFM, and it strikes us CFM surely would know what it is talking about.

      • How much efficiency is gained by slowing down? The MRJ and CSeries fly at mach .78 and the wing and engine are optimized for that. How slow will Airbus, Boeing, and Embraer go on their next new small aircraft?

  10. Leehamnet, Thank you. I hope that will bring some focused comparisons and discussion.

    Are there really two levels of evaluation that have to be applied. First and accurate comparison of the physics and specifications.

    Secondly, but probably “softer in comparison”, the other factors that lead to a sale…financing, service, maintenance, fleet mix, EIS, engine interchageability, etc

    I think the physics and specifications can be made clearer and the distinctions emphsized. Are we comparing modeling and goals or does “PIANO” provide accurate renditions. Perhaps the physics and the specification stated with reasonable descriptive equality what this discussion is best at because it can be presented with some “engineering” measurement.

    The secondary factors sit more with the Carriers and I think it is foolish to assume they believe marketing information. There will be performance requirements in the final contracts. I wonder what happens if these are not met…what happens ? But these are the non engineering factors and may not necessarily be compatible in the ultimate decision.

    Maybe the discussion here should focus on the First for clarity until that is better settled.

  11. What I would like to see dissected, as suggested by leehamnet, are the following issues on:

    – Weight

    When discussing weight issues which one is more relevant, Operational Empty Weight or Maximum Take Off Weight? What is the effect on performance at various fuel loads, anywhere between OEW and MTOW? In other words between residual fuel and maximum fuel capacity. Between flying empty versus fully loaded.

    Why is it that the A320 is heavier than a 737-800 and yet carries less passengers? Yes the fuselage is larger on the A320. But what is the penalty here? It is said that the 737 was certified before the A320 when the requirements permitted a lighter airframe. Can someone quantify this for us? Is the 737 not penalized in terms of weight for being able to carry more passengers?

    – Range

    When learning about the inability of the A320 to make it to LAX when flying against westerly wins from JFK I was quite a bit surprised, if not shocked. When Airbus designed the A320 they must have had in mind to make it a true continental aircraft, that is capable of crossing United States, it’s targeted market, in either direction and regardless of the conditions. What went wrong? Bombardier is claiming the CSeries (ER) to be a true continental aircraft also. Will they end up facing the same limitations as Airbus and be unable to fly coast to coast directly when the wins are not favourable?

    – Costs

    What is the effect of using an aircraft with a lower Cost per Available Seat Mile (CASM) when an operator is incapable of filling it up most of the time? Where is the cut-off point exactly? At what load factor one should decide to switch to a higher CASM aircraft that would have a higher load factor? In other words, what is the relation between load factor and CASM?

    – Materials

    Why is it said that for a Narrow Body aircraft it is not advantageous to have a carbon fibre fuselage, but it would be for the wings?

    – Engines

    How can an engine manufacturer compensate for the smaller size of a fan, and the associated lower by-pass ratio, in other areas of the power plant like the number of stages, compressor speed, etc… What are the consequences on Specific Fuel Consumption and noise for the smaller diameter fan and can they be compensated for?

    Can anyone tell us if the Pratt & Whitney GTF engine can be designed (scaled) for a large aircraft like the 787 and retain the same efficiency it has on the CSeries for example?

    I will appreciate if other Readers can share their expertise with us un those vital issues.

    • Very limited yes/no:

      – Weight

      Empty weight per seat is a key metric. If an aircraft is a certain MTOW y has an OWE (aircraft structure) x, its structural payload (pax, freight) z and fuel t, very basically y & x are certificated constants, y may not be exceeded:
      y = x + z + t,
      x + z may not exceed a figure known as MZFW,
      x + z + t may not exceed y

      – Range

      Emirates wanted a 747-8I that could fly a full load from DXB to SFO/LAX, I think. So they have not bought that aircraft. Each airline has a set of their own regulations under which they operate aircraft. These regulations must first take into account the prevailing civil aviation (federal, national regulator, FAA, CAA, etc) rules. So the airline rules can be tougher than the regulator, equal, but not more relaxed. See – Weight.

      – Cost

      You want to be achieving good load factors almost all the time, also high utilization pared with low maintenance costs. You want to match, as closely as possible, seats to market demand, and fit that into your utilization rates. Why does the 737-700 work for SouthWest, and the 737-900ER for Alaska, the 737-800 for Ryanair, and the A319 (737-700 equivalent) for easyjet (do that operate that type?). This blog looks at the workings scheduling at airlines: http://www.thingsinthesky.com/

      – Materials

      With carbon fibre, the minimum tape thickness for a 787 size aircraft fuselage is not much different for a 737 size aircraft, so the weight advantages you’d gain by using the material on a widebody aircraft, you’d loose on a narrowbody. Metal thickness of narrowbody aircraft are considerably thinner than for widebody aircraft. You can search Flightblogger as the topic has been covered quite well there by more knowledgeable readers. Fuselage no, but wings yes? The wings are not pressurized so “only” need bare aerodynamic and structural loads, compared to fuselages which must additionally carry pressure loads, 6,000 or 8,000 ft(?) altitude pressure at 33,000 ft+.

      – Engines

      Smaller fans must rotate faster, generate the same (required) flow rate, as a consequence are noisier. Your bicycle wheel hub rotates faster than the tire, so too the fan tip rotates faster than the hub. Smaller fan, faster rotation at the tip. In general the smaller the fan, the less air passing through and around the engine (bypass is the air flowing outside the core). This can be offset somewhat with special material linings on the intake, as well the intake design and so forth. The Rolls Royce Trent 900 has such special materials which you can view at airliners.net on this image I.D. – 1473275. The fan blade architecture also makes a difference in flow rate, and the Trent 900 is a good example there too with the curvy blades. I think the best example are the blades of the GE90-115 compared to prior GE90 engines.
      The idea with the GTF is that the gearing allows the fan to rotate slower than the part of the core driving it, so more optimum speed, slower and quieter. The GTF will probably make it to the big time after several years in service, and in stages — they will “build” the technology with experience.

      Hope that helps as limited as it is. 🙂

      • Thanks Paulo. It’s a very good start.

        I am most satisfied with your answers on weight and materials. I think you have hit the nail on those two.

      • Correction: The hub travels faster locally than the tip, but the rpm is the same at either point. Apologies for the major faux pas.

  12. Bypass ratios don’t lie. Ask CFM. Neither does container capability, payload-range, payload revenue potential, Cg management, cabin space,aisle width & noise. Topics Albaugh will never discuss promoting his 737s .

  13. keesje,

    Jim Albaugh may not discuss these subjects when promoting the new 737MAX line, but the Carriers are sure to ask these questions of the sales team. These are not characteristics that will go unheaded , hidden or undisclosed.

    • I once heard that some low cost airlines don’t give a sh… about passenger comfort and are also not so keen on transporting additional freight. I cannot substantiate that but when I hear that the RyanAir CEO loudly thought about letting the passengers pay to use the toilets, it may be not far from the truth. For such Airlines, the 737MAX would be perfect. No need for premium economy, or more seating comfort, the aisle width is also sufficient for quick turnaround so why a more spacious cabin. Network carriers however might like to stuff in LD3s for additional revenue potential and maximize the comfort, especially with regards to business travellers.
      In a nutshell: Different airlines will ask different questions and draw different conclusions, depending on their individual business case.

      • You may be right about FR. But they are such a ‘unique’ airline they deserve their own ‘special catagory’. I have never flown FR and have no intentions to, but they do seem popular as an LCC in the EU. WN, or B6 are not the same type of LCC that FR is, and I doubt they ever will be as both make a lot of money off of moving freight and have their own following of passengers here in the states.

        • Nobody likes Ryanair. Not even the people that flay with them. Their success lies in the very fact that they offer the absolutely cheapest fares, full stop. Part of that comes from the fact that Ryanair rarely flies into a major airport. They always fly into the airport of some smaller city that is roughly 20 to 50 miles away from the “destination” city, hence they save a large amount of money on airport fees. Then the people get to take a bus or train (extra charge) to get to their final destination.

          It works easier in Europe, where the population density is notably higher then in North America, and mass transit in regional areas is more developed.

          I wonder how it would work if some airline tried to copy the model in the northeast US and the eastern seaboard.

          The irony is that the owner actually seems to have nothing but contempt for his customers but because the prices are so low, they keep coming back.

          I have flown with them myself, just for that reason, and I don’t like the airline. But when the difference in price is at least $100, the difference in service and attitude is not really an issue, is it. Unless one happens to be independantly wealthy, that is.

  14. CJ Lindholm :
    Are we certain “optimized” isn’t market speak meaning optimized for the constraints of the 737, that is low ground clearance?

    Hehe, inverting the word meaning, they do.

    In the right context the NEO engines certainly are less optimized for their individual application.
    Where you just hang a bigger fan onto the A320 family so to speak the
    adaption of a similar class engine onto the 737 certainly needs a lot more
    optimisation. Well: a marketing ploy. Who will fall for it?

    • You do know the B-737MAX will have a 10%-12% bigger fan than the B-737NG has, don’t you? The fan on the CFM-56-7B engines for the B-737NG is 61″ compared to the bigger fan of the LEAP-1B engines of the B-737-MAX, which is 66″ or 68″. If the 68″ fan version is selected, that is about the same sized fan as the current CFM-56-5B engines on the A-32X family (68.3″). So, it looks like the A-32X-NEO family is only gaining about 3″ in the bigger fan LEAP engine, or about 5%.

      • I thought the LEAP-1A fan diameter is 78″. If so, that would mean a 10″ increase for the NEO.

        Sorry, what am I missing here?

        Also, how can Boeing go with a bigger diameter engine for the 737? I thought they were maxed out (sorry ’bout the pun) with the NG. Hence the flat bottomed nacelles.

        How can they go with bigger engines now? Embed the engine in the wing? That would be alot of work, not to mention a maintenance PITA (pain in the …).

        Of course I do not believe that Boeing would do something like that but I do not understand how they seem to be having no problem with what was purported to be a geometrical constraint.

      • The NEO GTF is targeting 81″ and
        Aero Ninja says the LEAP-1A goes for 78″.
        that is a 20% resp. 15% increase in diameter
        or 42% resp 32% gain in frontal area.

        What the MAX images seem to hint at is
        a raised lip on a widened intake to
        combine a larger and lower reaching fan
        with a high enough entry to get around FOD
        dangers.

      • That 81″ PW1100G GTF is the largest geared fan Pratt is building for its four manufacturing clients (actually identical to the PW1400G), and the smallest GTF is considerably smaller than the LEAP-1B expected to fly on the 737 MAX.

        Interestingly enough, three of those engines have the same BPR.

  15. Aero Ninja :Sorry, what am I missing here?

    What you are missing is that some posters here have a tendency to get their numbers wrong.

    “Olivier Savin, also CFM v-p, admitted that the recent critical decision to increase the fan diameter of the Leap engine by two inches, to 78 inches (to meet Airbus’s demand for an equivalent fuel burn to the PW1100G), has driven changes to the rest of the engine. “But we weren’t yet at design freeze,” he said. “This is part of a normal design process. The fan is now at its optimum diameter.”

    Although the change has added some weight to the Leap engine, the bigger fan increases bypass ratio from 10:1 to 11:1, bringing a corresponding 2 percent reduction in fuel burn. Both engines now offer a 15-percent improvement in fuel burn over existing A320 powerplants, enabling Airbus to offer them with fuel-burn parity. ”

    http://www.ainonline.com/news/single-news-page/article/paris-2011-cfm-set-foranticipated-major-a320neo-orders-will-likely-mean-good-news-for-cfms-leap/

    The current fan is indeed just over 68”: http://www.deagel.com/Turbofan-Engines/CFM56-5B_a001738004.aspx

    The difference in fan size will increase from 11.5% (68/61) to either 14.7% (78/68) or 18.2% (78/66). I guess this difference alone makes one wonder how Boeing can trumpet its numbers about how much better the MAX will be at this stage, when (as Airbus points out) they haven’t even settled the fan size. Unless of course they think those are minimum numbers, and can only get better. In which case, I guess it is time to point back at the Boeing propaganda that the 737NG (sic!) was 2% better than the NEO (I previously posted links to this).

    So a 10% improvement in bypass ratio in this case is a 2% improvement in fuel burn. Of course that won’t be linear.

    Note how he says this is the ‘optimum diameter’. What that means for the same engine with a 66/68” fan is an interesting question.

    • Sorry, I thought I had read the LEAP-1A for the A-320NEO was to have a 71″ fan…..me bad.

  16. “Note how he says this is the ‘optimum diameter’. What that means for the same engine with a 66/68” fan is an interesting question.”

    Could it be that the “core” of the engine as well as other part would have to be bigger to handle the bigger fan.

    As you say, the gain is not linear. If that was the case, the A380 would then would benefit greatly with an engine with twice is fan diameter.

  17. KC135TopBoom :
    Well, if you and `ol John Boy are correct, then the C-Series also kills the business case for the A-319, doesn’t it?

    Yes it does kill the business case for the A319 as well. Of course the gap will narrow with the A319NEO. But on a purely technical basis the CSeries will beat any other aircraft offering equivalent seat capacity. Now or in the foreseeable future. And for two reasons:

    1- The aircraft is lighter because it uses aluminium/lithium for the fuselage and carbon fibre for the wing/empennage.

    2- The aircraft is designed around the engine. Not the other way around, like the competition.

    Yet, we have to be careful when we talk about “business cases”. Each transaction is a business case in itself. Boeing and Airbus can offer financial incentives that Bombardier cannot match. But if the price of fuel was to go up and stay there, those financial incentives would become less attractive. As Newton would put it, the attraction would be inversely proportional to the price of oil.

  18. The Cseries will be much leaner then the A319 NEO. E.g. it cargo bay isn’t capable of pallets/containers and probably will have lower payload range. If those aren’t important for operations it seems unlikely the A319 will come close in fuel consumption.

    About the engine core of the Leap for the C919, NEO and Max series, I guess it will be close to identical. Scaling down/up the core basicly means a new engine. Hopes CFM will somehow do a better core for the MAX are not realistic.

    • keesje you have two excellent points here concerning cargo bay and range.

      As we all know the A320 family has a wide enough fuselage to carry LD-3 containers. For some operators this could be important.

      The range of the A319 will also be superior to the CSeries, even the ER version. This could also be decisive for some operators.

      We could also add to that list the capability to operate from a high altitude or high temperature airport. Or be able to take-off from a short runway. Other items worth considering would be noise footprint, environmental impact, passenger appeal, fleet commonality and support.

      So all these factors, some more important than others, will have to be considered in any business case.

  19. Normand Hamel :

    KC135TopBoom :Well, if you and `ol John Boy are correct, then the C-Series also kills the business case for the A-319, doesn’t it?

    Yes it does kill the business case for the A319 as well. Of course the gap will narrow with the A319NEO. But on a purely technical basis the CSeries will beat any other aircraft offering equivalent seat capacity. Now or in the foreseeable future. And for two reasons:
    1- The aircraft is lighter because it uses aluminium/lithium for the fuselage and carbon fibre for the wing/empennage.
    2- The aircraft is designed around the engine. Not the other way around, like the competition.
    Yet, we have to be careful when we talk about “business cases”. Each transaction is a business case in itself. Boeing and Airbus can offer financial incentives that Bombardier cannot match. But if the price of fuel was to go up and stay there, those financial incentives would become less attractive. As Newton would put it, the attraction would be inversely proportional to the price of oil.

    keesje :The Cseries will be much leaner then the A319 NEO. E.g. it cargo bay isn’t capable of pallets/containers and probably will have lower payload range. If those aren’t important for operations it seems unlikely the A319 will come close in fuel consumption.
    About the engine core of the Leap for the C919, NEO and Max series, I guess it will be close to identical. Scaling down/up the core basicly means a new engine. Hopes CFM will somehow do a better core for the MAX are not realistic.

    Normand Hamel :keesje you have two excellent points here concerning cargo bay and range.
    As we all know the A320 family has a wide enough fuselage to carry LD-3 containers. For some operators this could be important.
    The range of the A319 will also be superior to the CSeries, even the ER version. This could also be decisive for some operators.
    We could also add to that list the capability to operate from a high altitude or high temperature airport. Or be able to take-off from a short runway. Other items worth considering would be noise footprint, environmental impact, passenger appeal, fleet commonality and support.
    So all these factors, some more important than others, will have to be considered in any business case.

    Hmmm, so the business case for the CS-300ER, in most cases kills the business case for the B-737-7MAX and not the A-319NEO? I think not. According to the announced Airbus schedule, the A-319NEO makes its airline debut in 2018, the last of the 3 NEO models, and years behind the CS-300 (I believe the first C-Series model, the CS-100 has a scheduled EIS in 2013). Boeing, OTOH has not said anything about which of the 3 B-737MAX models is first, second, and third. We all are assuming the first model will be the B-737-8MAX, but I have not seen the schedule, or how much time between the EIS of the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd B-737MAX models.

    • KC I will repeat here what I said above:

      The CSeries will beat any other aircraft offering equivalent seat capacity. Now or in the foreseeable future.

      I also said that the A319NEO narrows the gap. I never said the NEO closes the gap. Only that it narrows it. It’s obvious that Airbus has made progress with the NEO. And they must thank Bombardier for having pushed them to do so.

      When I paraphrased John Boy earlier I was talking about the 737-700. But like the A319NEO, the 737-700MAX will also narrow the gap. But neither of them will ever CLOSE that gap. It’s impossible. Again I will refer to Newton. Only this time it has to do with his law of gravity. Both, NEO and MAX, still carry excess weight when compared to the CSeries.

      That being said, we have to keep in mind that fuel burn is only part of the equation. It plays a bigger or smaller part as the price of fuel goes up or down.

      In the meantime I will let the operators decide for themselves which plane is the best buy.

      • As fuel goes up, smaller family members become less economical. Continental is looking at retiring newer 767-200ERs, Frontier is scrapping newer A318s, and the 777LR is down to one or two copies left to be made.
        If you’re an airline, why not buy value? With the intro of the 787, which will hold its value better in the future, a 332 or a 333? I wouldn’t be surprised to see some conversions from the 332 to the 333.

  20. You are absolutely right TC. If you can fill an aircraft to maximum capacity, then the bigger the better. Most of the time CASM is inversely proportional to size. Ask Emirates Airline why they bought so many A380, or ask Lufthansa why they have purchased the 747-8.

    That being said, on some routes there might be an optimum size that will generate maybe less revenue, but more profit, than a larger one. A small aircraft fill to capacity is more profitable than a larger one flying half empty.

    That’s why an airline like Jet Blue has both the A320 and the ERJ-190 in it’s fleet. Southwest on the other hand has chosen one type only and is slowly migrating towards a larger variant of that same type. Yet both airlines are successful.

    Now that Southwest is integrating AirTran they will have an additional smaller type to deal with in their network. When time comes to replace that aircraft what will they look for? Maybe they will just pass down their old 737-700 to AirTran as they take delivery of brand new 737-800MAX for Southwest. Who knows.

    The question is what kind of aircraft is best suited to the old AirTran network. Are the requirements different enough from those of Southwest to warrant a different type? If the B717 is perfectly adapted to the AirTran network then one could argue in favour of the CSeries CS-100 and/or CS300.

    Air Canada is a very different kind of airline than Jet Blue. Yet they use the same Embraer and Airbus on totally different routes. Most airlines have many types of aircraft to help them deal with various requirements in terms of capacity and range. Southwest is an exception that cannot be easily emulated.

    I can imagine having to choose between say a 787 and a 777MAX (or what ever they want to call a revamp 777). The A350 falls between the two in size. If I am already a Boeing operator I might want to stick with them and compare the merits of their two models. On the other hand if I am an Airbus operator it’s different. I might be tempted to choose the 787 because the size fits me perfectly. But maybe I also need some 777 because of their additional capacity on specific routes. If that’s the case, why not settle for two variants of the A350 which might possibly answer different needs with a single type?

    As we can see it’s very complicated. And I have not even discussed range yet! But the more competition there is the more options there are for the airlines.

  21. Reply to Tom #47 and CM #. It sure looked panicked – pushing and pushing AA, Southwest, West Jet (and others according to CM) to buy the NSA, and then flipping at the last minute when they did not even have board approval (I grant you it was likely a formality) and pulling the rug out from under at least one of their best customers without notice? You may be right that most companies do not spend billions in a panic, but there is no such guarantee for Big B; and in any case it was billions no matter which way they jumped.

    To me, the question remains: Why did B persist with the NSA when it was on any rational balance of pros and cons clearly not in B’s best interests even if the plane would have been great? Why did they lead so many customers down the garden path and then push them under the bus when they must have known for months that they could not produce enough NSAs fast enough to meet their customers’ demands? Why did they persist with the NSA, a single aisle plane with razor thin margins, when doing it posed obviously unreasonable risks, EVEN UNDER THE BEST OF CIRCUMSTANCES, to their higher margin twin aisles, particularly their 777X cash cow, and their need to get the 787 and 748 under control ASAP? It is not enough to say, as B and CM do, that customers wanted the plane. Of course they did from the specs B was giving them. Who wouldn’t? But the fact that airlines wanted it doesn’t mean it was good for B to build it. (B is very good at telling demanding customers to shove it, like not shortening the 748 I for Tim Clark.)

    I think the answer is that B is stuck in a culture that simply will not rationally and frankly take real risks to program success into consideration when considering aircraft manufacturing decisions. I think this dysfunctional Wayne’s World started the 737NG program under Phil Condit and continues to this day. B’s errors with the 737NG and 787 programs are almost identical: Each was a response to an A threat to an established B mkt. In each case. B got lots of orders up front for their response but failed to appreciate the risks inherent in their supply chain from producing those planes, so in each case the production system collapsed. With 787, it is now clear that B did not do ONE MATERIAL THING that was right and sensible in designing the plane or its production system, from adopting an untested system for producing the fuselage that is now so slow and expensive that it threatens B’s ability to ever deliver their vast backlog on any on-time basis without continuing drains of capital and resources which should not be happening at this stage of the program, to the spectacular site of 40 or so 787s parked all over the place, making B’s facility look like Davis Montham. According to Francher it wlll take TWO, REPEAT TWO years to get these planes in shape for delivery.

    The same dysfunction infected the NSA: Responding the A’s neo by pushing a great new plane when they knew for months or had good reason to know that they could not produce enough of them. Lord help the 789/10 and 777X.

    • @Christopher, Interesting comment. Boeing and its labour union partners will have to exercise great restraint with regards production facilities for the MAX – they will have to find amicable labour solutions in Renton.

      Could the MAX be efficiently built in North Charleston? If so, that could be an option for higher programme margins. Hopefully, they can build on what they got, seeing they are already considerably restrained on design.

      • The B-737MAX could be built in CHL, but Boeing would have to invest a lot of money on new tooling for SC. So, I doubt they will build it there. I think Boeing will build the MAX in Washington State, and build the NSA in SC. That leaves the decision of where to build the B-777NG?

  22. 1 point related to the topic of this post, which is Aeroturbopower analysis of the 737-900ER vs the A320 NEO.

    There are two aircraft in this world. One of those aircraft is very good for trans-Pacific (longer sector) flights. One is very good for interregional Asian (shorter sector) flights. One has bigger more powerful engines than the other, and is heavier outright as well. Those aircraft are the A330-200/-300 and 777-200ER. Remember the marketing fuss surrounding those two?

    My question is this: Are prevailing and future ~150-plus-seat narrowbody LCC average sectors closer to the engine and weights of the 737 MAX, or are they closer to those of the A320NEO?

    • Well, the two big LCCs in the US are WN and B6. But they fly different missions. Most of WN’s missions are 1,000 nm or less, many of them less than 500 nm. But they do have missions longer than 1,000 nm. B6 flies most of their missions at 800 nm to about 1500 nm, they even fly TRANSCON through much of the year.

      The longest TRANSCON in the CONUS is MIA-SEA at 2367 nm. But that is only 17 nm longer than the more common BOS-SFO (2350 nm), and about 100 nm longer than BOS-LAX (2269 nm). All distances are great circle routes, not airways.

      The current B-737-800W has a max range of 3115 nm and can fly any of these missions. The A-320E is advertised to have a max range of 3200 nm, but it still can’t fly TRANSCON in the winter months, non-stop, west bound. B6 schedules a tech stop in PHX (west bound winter months) while flying from BOS or JFK to LAX. WN doesn’t fly TRANSCON with their B-73Gs, but they could. They have yet to receive their first B-73H from Boeing. But AA, DL, and UA/CO fly their B-73Hs TRANSCON, in both directions and all year long, non-stop. The B-73H is also flown from California to Hawaii, yet no one flys an A-320 CA to HI.

      Perhaps that will change with the A-320NEO? It should be easily able to fly TRANSCON non-strop year round and both directions. It should also be able to fly CA-HI. My guess is US might be the only airline to want to do that.

      The B-737-8MAX/-9MAX should also be used more on those types of missions as more B-757-200s are retired.

  23. KC135TopBoom :
    The B-737MAX could be built in CHL, but Boeing would have to invest a lot of money on new tooling for SC. So, I doubt they will build it there. I think Boeing will build the MAX in Washington State, and build the NSA in SC. That leaves the decision of where to build the B-777NG?

    Is the Boeing FAL design really so limited that it is unable to cope with model variations/updates? If the basic geometry doesn’t change too much the same FAL should be able to
    assemble the full range of types of that family, right?

    Though I do remember that US car/suv/small truck manufacturers where unable to
    retools in a reasonable timeframe for other models. one more reason for the dire straits there were( are) in.

    • No, no. The issue is, is the Boeing/Labour relation so toxic that it would warrant such a move. Perhaps that’s made out worse than reality.

      • Hmpf.

        You can not run away from yourself.

        If Boeing management is unable to achieve productive
        cooperation with the unions chances are high they
        won’t excell elsewhere either ( unionised or right to work ).

        Though I think the unions are not passive participants in
        this failure.

  24. Boeing already has 2 B-737 lines in Renton now, and a P-8A/I line, too. The P-8 line could be used to increase B-737 production, and one of the other lines retooled, as needed, for the B-737MAX.

  25. As an industry insider, there are layers of political hyperbole to satisfy any plane decision
    In any country except the US. Lots of Airbus jobs here and corresponding Boeing jobs in Europe

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