Odds and Ends: More from the Airbus Innovation Days

We have some follow-up to our trip last week to the Airbus Innovation Days:

A350 Program: Aviation Week has this article about the A350 program, noting that the A350-800 seems to be suffering from from benign neglect.

A350 Engineers: There is a lot of buzz “out there” that the A350-900 program is sucking up engineers from the A350-1000. We asked Airbus about this at the Innovation Days. There is no question that the -900 timeline is challenging (see chart) but Didier Evard, EVP of the program, says engineers will be released soon for the 1000.

“This year we have to ramp up the 1000 team,” Evard said. “We have internal plan and to increase the workforce from the outside to start the detail design this year.”

We asked what was the level of engineers assigned to the 900, using the example that if 100% were the norm, was the program at 100% or 125%, for example. Evard didn’t directly address that but said:

“The 900 this year will go down from 100% to around 60% or 70% and be stable.”

A380 Wing Rib Fix: Airbus showed this illustration:

Although the slide shows 60 ribs per wing, in practice, Airbus says only 20 have needed repair.

A320neo affecting A320ceo demand: JP Morgan issued this observation following the Innovation Days:

A320neo EIS is affecting demand for the current version. The imminent introduction of the a more efficient version of the A320, the neo is scheduled to enter service in 4Q2015, should make it more difficult to drum up demand for current generation A320s in 2014/2015. The years immediately preceding the changeover have always seemed like a potential rough patch, both for the A320 and the 737, which will transition from the NG to the MAX, in 2017. According to Ascend, A320 slots are filled for 2014 with 484 aircraft scheduled for delivery, 42/month implies ~480 deliveries, but 2015 is not yet full at 362 A320s. As some customers could walk away ahead of the neo introduction or for other reasons and new orders should be hard to come by, holding the rate at 42/month looks reasonable. Lease rates on current generation A320 family aircraft have been the weakest among major Airbus and Boeing platforms, an indication that the market is not as hungry for more of them as it is for other models.

We heard long ago that Airbus was worried about demand for the ceo, but we also heard the same is quite true for Boeing on the 737NG with respect to MAX sales. This is why we are seeing many Airbus and Boeing deals include the current generation of airplanes with the re-engined models. It’s also why, we believe, we’re seeing pricing on the current generation of airplanes dropping precipitously, which will of course affect residual values and lease rates.

6 Comments on “Odds and Ends: More from the Airbus Innovation Days

  1. I would like to know more about something a few of you have alluded to.
    Why do both AB and BA go after more and more range. There are very many 6-8 hour flights where a widebody with 200-220 seats in 2 classes would be great if optimised just for those sector lengths. in that sense the original 767, the later 757′s, the A300/310 have had no natural NG sucessors. The A330′s are too big, the 787 too much range. I have not seen the data but believe that more than 50% of widebody flights dont exceed 8 hours. . Any thoughts out there ?

  2. Given that engineers will be transitioning from the -900 to the -1000 this year, where does that leave the -800? The Av Week article is good, but it would have been nice if Wall or Flottau had bothered to ask about that. Are Airbus re-sequencing? Going from -900 to -1000 and delaying the -800? The comments about seat mile costs being no better than a 767 is quite interesting.

  3. Simply there is, for now, nearly no structural change between the A358 & A359 !
    Roughly, the A358, will only get the Spars & Panels length adjusted !
    A mere marketing move to lower the pricing roughly 25 Millions $ per unit !
    And the results are somewhat disappointing, like anticipated !
    We just hope the A358 will benefit of a 2nd round of improvements, later and behind the A351 EIS, with more optimized engines too …

  4. FlyingDutch re:
    “Why do both AB and BA go after more and more range? There are very many 6-8
    hour flights where a widebody with 200-220 seats in 2 classes would be great if
    optimized just for those sector lengths.”
    You are absolutely right!
    Right after the 787 had been launched, I questioned A. Mulally on their claim, that
    “the 787 would be designed for ranges up to 18 hr flights, to enable the a/p to fly
    point-points flights connecting smaller cities at the each end the world and bypas-
    sing the major hubs.”
    The reply from Mike Bear, 787 program manager at that time, said:
    ” The 787 is really expected to fly ranges up to 14 hours,” without explaining why
    the a/p was being designed for 18 hr ranges, penalizing the a/p with the extra long
    range capability it was being designed for. I never got an answer, they had better
    things to do, I am sure!

    Ironically, the new 787s which have gone into service so far, are all flying long
    ranges, connecting major hubs around the world and NOT connecting small cities!
    Presumably that will change after the “new”‘ 777s and A350s will start operating.

  5. Randy – JAL is flying (or announced) service from Tokyo to Boston, San Diego, Berlin, Helsinki. ANA is flying to Seattle and San Jose. I don’t think these would be considered hubs, and some of these are not particularly long range. ANA is also flying them on 5 domestic routes.

  6. Sorry – Rudy not Randy. To the range question – it is better when buying a plane you plan on using for 20+ years to have one that can do anything you might want it to do. United regrets buying short range 777’s. And it doesn’t make sense for the airframer to invest the development cost in a limited plane: the sucess of the A330 over the short range A300 and the cancellation of the 787-3 speaks to this.

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