Odds and Ends: Airbus to Mobile; No “doubts” about A350

Airbus to Mobile: The New York Times reports that Airbus is gearing up to announce plans to build the A320 in Mobile (AL). We reported this prospect during our reporting from the Airbus Innovation Days last month. Bloomberg has this take.

A350: No doubts at Airbus. But the margins are probably gone to first flight and EIS. Airbus is sticking to its schedule of EIS by mid-2014; we think it will slip into early 2015.

Update, June 28, 10am PDT:

We can confirm that as of this moment, EADS/Airbus has not made the decision to establish a final assembly site in Mobile. We think we have a reasonably clear understanding of the situation that leads us to believe an affirmative decision is near. It is our belief that any FAL will follow along the lines that were discussed for the KC-30/45 FAL: build the parts within the current supply chain and ship to Mobile for final assembly. This follows the well-established FAL model for Hamburg, Toulouse and Tianjin.

We received some speculation that this FAL might be fore the A330 P2F conversation. We don’t see a business case for this. Our focus is entirely on the A320 family and the intense competition with the 737 family. Note we do not distinguish between ceo/NG and neo/MAX.

91 Comments on “Odds and Ends: Airbus to Mobile; No “doubts” about A350

  1. Even if Airbus is on time, their whole chain of supplyers are not. I doubt they will make it on time.

  2. Scott, your “No Doubts at Airbus” link leads to a Guy Norris article on how JAL’s GEnx powered 787’s are beating Trent-1000 fuel burn by 2%. I appreciate the irony, of the link, but I don’t think it was intended 😉

  3. How low were the below-par performance expectations that the 787 has beaten?

    I would be more interested when 787s are meeting contracted performance guarantees.

    Beating “better-than-anticipated fuel burn” is a free ride.

    • You might be surprised to know that post line-20 787s will meet contractual guarantees for many operators. That’s a bit different than saying they will meet public marketing numbers, which I think is what you really are looking for. This is not because the public marketing and airplane contracts are derived from different numbers. It’s because guarantees are always written with some margin off of nominal performance. The earlier in a program guarantees are written, the larger the guarantee tolerance. This is done as a protection against an unforeseen performance shortfall cropping up during the course of a development program. For fuel burn guarantees, the tolerance can be large (several percent). I would not be surprised if early (launch) customers were offered something like -16% for an airplane which was targeting -20%. I don’t have any insight to how the in-service 787s are performing relative to guarantees, but I would not take it as a given the post line 20 787s are not meeting guaranteed performance.

  4. You think it will be early 2015? What do you base this on? It’s one thing to say that, but what actual facts do you have to point to that conclusion? Gut feel? Information from suppliers? Tea leaves in this mornings breakfast cup? I’m really interested to know.

  5. “If this is confirmed, it is nothing short of a tectonic shift in the dynamics of the North American aerospace market, with strong ramifications for both commercial and defense.”

    I agree with this exert from the Bloomberg article. It would be a bold move on the part of Airbus. Especially in view of the fact that they have lost the Tanker contract, which they were scheduled to assemble in Mobile.

    That probably means they don’t hold any grudge over the issue. It would not surprise me because I noticed that they made little noise when they received the news and have elegantly exited the scene shortly after the announcement.

    But if the A320 is assembled in United States it will probably weaken Boeing’s position in its own turf. With A320 assembly lines in France, Germany, China and the USA, Airbus will reinforce its increasingly dominant position.

    If the rumour is confirmed it means Boeing and CFMI will have to work even harder to make the MAX as competitive as possible with the neo. It could actually push Boeing to reconsider the NSA. But as CM pointed out in a previous thread, some of us don’t have the technical or business acumen to be a good judge on these matters:

    “I read some of the posts here from “old timers” claiming “Boeing should have gone forward with NSA rather than the 737 MAX” and “I hope they come to their senses, reverse course on the MAX and launch the NSA”. Honestly, it’s hard not to laugh out loud. There is zero technical or business acumen behind these sentiments.”

    If CM is right that could explain why Jim Albaugh left the company. 😉

    • I don’t know, it would have a major impact on defense contract possibilities (or at least secure Airbus Alabama’s mighty congressional delegation) if there were any contracts for large military aircraft to be had in the forseeable future; there really aren’t given the current budget crisis. If anything, the rise of Airbus (and Boeing’s continued overseas sales as well) has shown us that airlines don’t buy aircraft for patriotic purposes one way or another. If they go through with this plan Airbus could potentially reap the benefits from the exchange rate differential of the dollar vs. the euro but given the current state of monetary politics in the world? I guess I’m saying it sounds like an unnecessary gamble to me, one that risks creating excess capacity for a market that might not be there in five years. But hey, it’s their money (and the money of Alabama’s taxpayers).

      • It is indeed a gamble. But I don’t think it is an unnecessary one. Airbus has the upper hand at the moment. If they open an FAL in Alabama they could potentially crush the competition. But if it turns out to be a mistake it would not hurt Airbus that much. Therefore we could say it is a well calculated risk.

    • Could this have politically leverageable scope in view of the upcoming election?
      ( The potential Airbus Tanker win released quite bit of mostly rightwing political energies )

      How would Airbus fare with a US FAL in respect to the WTO findings and trade retaliatory
      measures from the US?

      • Not really. Electoral politics in Alabama are fairly fixed; this plan was supposedly brought on by the GOP governor there, so I don’t think this will become a political bone of contention unless somehow Obama’s union supporters decide it’s time to come out against right-to-work states (unlikely). As far as WTO disputes, this won’t affect them at all, what with Airbus still being a foreign company and all. Alabama’s congressional delegation (7 members) isn’t sufficiently large to effect any kind of change at the federal level, and while it gets you 3 HASC members, that’s not really enough clout to turn acquisitions programs in Airbus’ favor either given how many members from Missouri, Washington, California and South Carolina are also represented on the committee.

  6. Howard :
    You think it will be early 2015? What do you base this on? It’s one thing to say that, but what actual facts do you have to point to that conclusion? Gut feel?

    Hi Howard.

    The people I work with (Boeing people, of course, but also airlines and industry consultants) generally are estimating between 18 to 24 months delay for the 350-800 EIS. A few are saying as little as 12 months and some as much as 36 months, but the bell of the curve seems to be around 24 months. This delay would be in addition to the two 6-month slides already announced by Airbus, moving the A350 EIS from its original date of “mid 2013” to where it is today (2Q 2014).

    I’ve recently done some comparisons on how the current A350 schedule stacks up against the actual execution of the 787 program, and how it stacks up against a 787 program with the 787’s major delays removed. What that comparison shows is that Airbus must execute flawlessly to pull off the current schedule. Even at that, they appear to come up with an additional 10 month delay, making EIS in 1Q 2015. You will find the evolution of the announced A350 schedule in reply 197 of the a.net thread linked at the bottom of this post.

    Since the time I did the comparison, the benchmark milestone for the comparison (FAL start for MSN001) has been delayed by about a quarter, and the “Static test begin” milestone (which is scheduled for right now) is long lost as that frame is still waiting for wings which have not yet shipped from Filton. You’ll find graphics of the referenced schedule comparisons and a more detailed explanation of everything in reply 202 of the same a.net thread.

    http://www.airliners.net/aviation-forums/general_aviation/read.main/5429000/

  7. Possible A350 delay: let’s be honest, no one can give a good prediction over the A350 delay. If even Airbus doesn’t know, how should airlines or Boeing people? Usually people make the prediction from previous experience. In case of the B787 all predictions fell short of the actual delay, which surprised everybody.
    Additionally, laymen talk of delay of first flight, some more informed people are more interested in the more relevant first delivery. Real experts know that “average delay of the initial 100 aircraft” counts. And this is also influenced by the planned production ramp-up. If Airbus plans a bit less aggressive than Boeing did on the B787, the average delay for MSN0100 might be within 1 year compared to the original plan.

    B787 performance: I think the public marketing numbers are difficult to translate into hard fuel burn numbers. “20% better” without giving aircraft, layout, route, assumptions. Compared to a B767-300ER (no winglet) on a 5000nm mission even early B787 (>LN0022) shall able to achieve the “20%” (blockfuel per seat for comparable layouts).

  8. There were a comment I read about a supplyer saying it out loud, they are not up to speed but at least a year behind. As the 350 shares some suppliers with 787, who would be surpriced? The supply chain is the weak link for both A and B, they do less stuff in house with every model it seems. Ok it seems B took it one step too far and had to correct it.

    • Looks like Airbus had to bail some suppliers that got on the financial rack by way of the dreamliner delays.

      • Please elaborate. Which suppliers were driven into financial ruin by the 787, such that they needed Airbus to bail them out? Please list them.

  9. Should Airbus’s plans come to fruition, it will be a welcomed economic boost to the Glf coast. Hopefully, the hysterics surrounding the tanker completion will not be repeated.

  10. I, too, think the A-350 EIS will slip into 2015. But my educated guess has no relationship to the delays in the B-787 program. It has more to do with the statements, or in this case lack of statements, released by Airbus about the progress of the A-350 program and the calander. This is exactly what Airbus did during the 2 year delay in their A-380 program…..they went silent. We are about to enter 2012Q3 later this week and Airbus still holds to an EIS just two years from now? They have a lot of work to do to meet that schedule, and they are far from it. Completion of the static test airframe is still months away, if at all in 2012. Flight test airplane #1 is also in that schedule, months away from completion/roll-out.

    If we look at the A-380 time line from first flight (April 2005) to receiving EASA and FAA certification (December 2006) it took some 20 months to complete, then another 10 months to its first delivery (October 2007). Comparing that to the A-350 flight test and certification program, Airbus is attempting to cut that time line almost in half, down to about 10-12 months.

    The B-787 took about 18 months (including the delay due to the fire emergency aboard ZA-002) from first flight (Dec. 2009) to certification from the EASA and FAA (Aug. 2011).

    This tells me the FAA and EASA are in no hurray to certifiy these new and advanced technology airplane designs.

    If we assume the time from roll-out for the A-350 to first flight (the time line of the A-380) of 4 months, and the roll-out happens in January 2013, just 7 months from now we can expect first flight around May or June of 2013. If the flight testing and certification process takes 16-18 months (shorter than both the A-380 and the B-787), that puts the time line into 2015Q1. That means it is critical for Airbus to make each of the next 7 months fully count and all the suppliers must also meed that tight 7 month schedule. There is no slippage at all then to meet a 2015Q2 EIS.

    • KC135TopBoom,

      the only thing I see different to your analysis is the 16-18 month flight test and certification program. Boeing got stung badly by that fire and I think that cost them at least 6 months. The A380 is, how to say it, a different animal altogether. I think Boeing saw a very similar situation on the 787 as Airbus did on the A380. IF they were to openly exchange notes on the situation, I believe they would come to the same conclusion. Picture the configuration chaos of the 787 and then add another deck.

      Incidents like the 787 fire do not come up that often in flight test programs and I hope that Airbus has learned much about supplier oversight, producion planning and configuration control since the A380.

      Based on those 2 factors, I see the flight test/certification phase running about 12 months.

      Of course if they have an incident or truly have not learned their A380/787 lessonsl, your estimate might even be considered optimistic.

      Only time will tell. Let’s talk again at the end of 2014, beginning of 2015.

      • Planning to execution is the more interesting metric imho:

        A380 was planned for 19month FF to CERT ( 2006/12)
        then EIS ( 2007Q1 ). FF was delayed by a couple of weeks
        CERT was 19month later EIS another ~10month.
        Delay announcement was in jun 2006 for EIS 2007Q1 to 2007Q3 ( and a beanstring of underdeliveries per year )

        787 was planned for RollOut to EIS ~12month.
        effective : RollOut to FF 30month, FF to CERT : 20 month
        and EIS 2 month later.

  11. Howard :You think it will be early 2015? What do you base this on? It’s one thing to say that, but what actual facts do you have to point to that conclusion? Gut feel? Information from suppliers? Tea leaves in this mornings breakfast cup? I’m really interested to know.

    From the “About” section of this website, “Leeham Co. provides consulting services to the aerospace industry, including identifying business trends and opportunities, competitive intelligence and through an affiliated company branding and marketing.”

    i.e. It’s what he does and, as he has often mentioned, he gets information from various sources which he is not allowed, ethically; to reveal; the sources and sometimes the information.

    Heck, I came up with a smilar estimate, based on what I have read on the net. It’s also why I didn’t buy the Boeing mantra of “all is going well and we will have first flight in no time at all”.
    In the last 2 years of the 787 development program, many people here were slammed for being untrusting or for being “Airbus fanbois” by the pro-Boeing contingent when there was doubt cast on Boeing PR announcemnts.

    The most amazing thing I find is that they could not see the reason for these doubts!!

    Some read, some think and some also remember.

    I can’t wait to see how the NEO and MAX development programs develope. They are both going to be quite heavily scrutinized for any delays and every statement from representatives of both companies will be equally scrutinized and taken apart.

  12. Sorry Scott. Unfortunately some people really have a hard time of behaving courteously. I wonder if it is because of the anonymity or if such people behave this way in person as well.

  13. Concerning the Mobile line rumour, if true, judging by some comments here and in the articles, it seems that this is a no-brainer for Airbus. Granted there could be some problems with the EADS host countries, but I really doubt the individual governments involved still have as much clout as some estimate. The Airbus reductions starting in 2006 (Power 8) and the A400 contract talks seems to show the new balance of the relationship. I think Monsieur Hollande is going to be in for some rude shocks if he continues with his plans as is (vis a vis the Euro and with Airbus).

    But the question remains, what are the risks of this action? Overcapacity at some future point in time? Despite the opening of this line, no reaction vis a vis orders from USA based carriers? Political fallout in Europe (Germany, France and perhaps even Spain)?

  14. All that Angst about production rates and slot availability. This Airbus announcement about expanding A320 production was so eminently predictable.

  15. Airbus is seriously considering an increase of the output of the A320NEO, up to 50-60 / Month !
    And just now Airbus is fighting for a new contract in China, to maintain the activity of the FAL after 2016 … without results and no new orders for the Tianjin facility up to day !

    Airbus, between AA, Spirit, Jet Blue, Republic, Virgin, and US Lessors has pocketed between 400 and 500 orders, they may win 500 more over à 10 years period !

    A FAL at Mobile could churn out 10 A/C per month between 2016 and 2025 for the US market only !
    A logical move is-int ‘it !

    • Airbus majority owns the facility in China. They could ship everything to Mobile. The processes are Copied from the Hamburg lines. Airbus is negotiation with the Chinese and ETS is on the table too. The chinese are always combining unrelated issues, now Airbus/EC does the same thing.

      I love to see how the A380 delays are drawn in again. The A380 was ” 2 yrs” late (19 months) and the 787 “more then 2 yrs” late (39 months?) If I remember well the A380 got its first flight with little delay, and its STC also. The rewiring delay was pretty clear soon and announced early. Not an endless string of new problems / broken promises. The A380 proto’s swarmed all over the world visiting customers, shows, while gaining hours, getting out cild deceases, resulting in a mature introduction, aircraft meeting performance targets from day 1. McNerney would have given a leg for a similar introduction.

      • I would hardly try to push up the A380 as a paragon of how to “do it right”. You want to talk endless string of problems… that would be A380. Just ask the airlines who now have to pull all their A380s out of service to implement a wing crack fix, and then do it again for 8 weeks once Airbus “gets it right”.

    • Who actually floats these airy production numbers?
      Isn’t that mostly from secondary sources pulishing their projections?
      Searching the airbus.com site tends to produce much more conservative numbers.

  16. John Leahy, at the end of 2012 (And may be just after Farnborough) will not have a slot left up to the end of 2019 , he is the men, pushing hard to get 10 more slots, each month, !
    And beginning in 2016, if possible !
    Apart LH, none of the EU Major’s (AF/KLM, IB, BA, AL) has ordered the A320NEO , JL needs urgently 200 slots for them !

    • Rensim, the talk of Airbus wanting to push A-320 series production to 60 (+) airplanes per month has been going on now for more than 2.5 years, well before the NEO program, or the talk of a new FAL in Mobile. I believe the current production rate is somewhere around 40-42 airplanes per month, including the Chinese FAL. That is up to and just north of 500 airplanes per year. A production of 60 per month adds another 116 airplanes per year, to 720. That is 1,440 engines, and 720 individual sets of landing gear, wings, etc. Can the suppliers keep up at that pace? Add to that many A-320 suppliers also supply Boeing’s B-737NG line-up and Boeing, which already has the extra space for another complete B-737 FAL has talked about going to 62 airplanes per month, 744 per year. Combined that is nearly 3,000 engines needed each year, and about 75% of those engines will need to come from CFMI. I just don’t see where that capacity might be for the suppliers that produce airplane parts for both the A-32X/NEO family and the B-737NG.MAX families. Leahy may want the increase in production, but he isn’t the person in control, neither is Airbus or Boeing, it is the suppliers and perticularly those that supply both lines.

      This is why I don’t put a lot of energy, right now, worrying about any EADS FAL in Mobile, AL. I just don’t see how it can happen unless Airbus closes the FAL in Tianjan, China. I don’t see that happening, either.

      • it seems the supply chain is critical. 737 and a320 share many suppliers at a system level. A rebalancing of current backlogs and production rates could provide some space at the suppliers.

      • Just count 11 month of production in Europe !
        I just think suppliers with a delay of 3-4 years to increase known & stable parts, have to cope with production increase , 10% a year is not out of sight !
        Otherwise, better they change their business !

        I’m worried effectively, by P&W who seems to be very slow in the launch of the PW1100G plant !
        And it may be worsened by the LeaP1A coming one year later … and/or may be struggling with specs the first years …

      • I share your concerns for the supply chain. There is potential for a genuine bottleneck there. However, if Airbus decides to open an additional FAL in Mobile we can only presume that they have performed due diligence with their suppliers.

        Because Airbus was for a long time the challenger they often had to take bold decisions in order to establish themselves. While in the same time period Boeing has been more conservative because of its dominant position. But from a purely cultural standpoint, Airbus has always been more risk-averse than Boeing.

        If anyone sees a contradiction there it is because the difference between the two is quite subtile.

    • then kindly explain why Airbus recently said they weren’t going to kick production up to 44/mo? Leahy himself said that demand just isn’t there.

      • Well, Leahy was obviously talking about the existing A32X and not the A320neo, which should EIS a little more than three years from now. There’s no point in increasing production of a product that’s going to be phased out 5 years from now, is it. For the A320neo it massively makes sense to increase production to well over 60 units per year from 2017/2018 and onwards.

      • What Airbus said was they were concerned about the supply chain and capital markets (for airlines to pay for the A320CEO) but that they would want to increase production for the NEO. We were present when this was discussed at Airbus Innovation Days.

  17. CM or any one else, I would be interested to know what A’s proposed production ramp up will be for each A350 model, particularly the -1000. If that is late and produced in small amounts, what will happens to B’s calculus re the 778/9x and the NSA? Does it open the way for B to return to the NSA with deliveries by 2020?

  18. Chris, Airbus currently has about 548 orders for the A-350 family. By model the A-359 has the most at 368, followed by the A-358 at 118 and finally the A-3510 at 62. The A-350 has sold out its production line through about 2018. Production is thought to begin in 2013Q3, so for the 48, or so months an average of 11.4 airplanes per month need to be produced. As I understand it Airbus says they expect to build up to 12 per month, once they are fully ramped up. That is higher than the current A-330 production rate of 11 per month. Airbus will still be building A-330s, be it at a lower rate, by the time the A-350 production is fully ramped up.

    The B-777 production rate (currently around 10 per month) is a little different. As the ramp up to the B-777-8X/-9X ramps up, production of the B-77E/L/W will decline. Only the B-77F will still be produced at about the same numbers as it is currently being built. So, essentially the B-778X/9X will replace all the current pax model B-777s over time on the same production line.

    I think Boeing will return to the NSA, but with a phased in approach, working on the larger NB model first, replacing the B-757 and A-321/NEO, then shrink the NSA down to the replacement of the B-737NG/MAX family and A-320/NEO remaining models.

    • A350 Suppliers have been asked to be ready for “Up to” 14 sets monthly, for common parts !
      It’s just the maximum Airbus Ask for !

      They have in Tls , 2 Mini & parallel FAL and I think, if each of them reach a throughput of one A350 per Week, it will be a fair production ! 90- 96 A/C yearly
      It will be easy to add a third …. if necessary !

      • Nope. At the beginning of this year production was 8.5 going to 9. They are currently at 9 going to 9.5 later this year in the fall, then to 10 next year. 11 isn’t even certain yet, and apparently depends on whether the Chinese order 34 planes… which doesn’t fit with the other rhetoric that Leahy has put out, about super awesome demand for A330, but ok.

    • KCTB: “I think Boeing will return to the NSA, but with a phased in approach, working on the larger NB model first, replacing the B-757 and A-321/NEO, then shrink the NSA down to the replacement of the B-737NG/MAX family and A-320/NEO remaining models.”

      Difficult choices, shrinking an aircraft capable of moving 250 souls 4200NM makes it a Hummer for flights with 150 seats over 1000NM. Guess where most flights are:

      http://i191.photobucket.com/albums/z160/keesje_pics/RobertNuttallRRNButilization.jpg

      Doing so would probably have Airbus launch an aircraft 2 yrs later that is 10-15% smaller, lighter, less range and 15% cheaper to operate..

  19. To go beyond 50-60 neo frames per month Airbus should in addition to the FAL add manufacturing facilities for the production of aft and forward fuselage sections as well. This would mean that the Mobile plant would essentially become a duplicate of the entire A320 production setup at Hamburg Finkenwerder. However, the A320neo cockpit and wing manufacturing capacity would have to increase as well. What better place to locate such facilities than Wichita (KS), where Airbus would have access to a well-established pool of skilled workers.

    In short, therefore, the current A320 production infrastructure should continue to produce some 42 neo units per month, while all additional units produced per month could come from new expansive US-based production facilities. By locating additional manufacturing facilities in the US for all A320neo components (i.e. wing, fuselage etc) in addition to the Mobile Final Assembly Line (FAL), Airbus could be churning out more than 70 A320neo frames per month by the beginning of the next decade. Of course, suppliers will have to keep up, but with the neo already becoming a clear market winner, the predictability needed to justify significant commitments of additional capital at the supplier level, is already there.

    What would this mean for the MAX?

    Well, IMO the roughly 50-50 market split between the 737 and the A32X is soon to become history. The question is now how a big a market share the neo will grab. If Airbus invests in new expansive facilities in the US, neo availability should no longer be an issue. Hence the A320neo IMO should easily be able to grab up to two thirds of the single aisle market.

    • Addendum:

      Add A320neo centre fuselage production facilities to the hypothetical Wichita plant as well.

    • That would make sense, but that isn’t what has been put on offer. Just a FAL.

      • IMO, locating a Tianjin-type FAL in Mobile with an output of just 4 units per month makes relatively little sense if Airbus wants to significantly ramp up the production output of the A320neo from the current A32X level.

  20. Howard :
    Please elaborate. Which suppliers were driven into financial ruin by the 787, such that they needed Airbus to bail them out? Please list them.

    Why do others regularly have to do your research? ( Supplier interaction has been discussed here as well in the last 6 month.)

    PFW seems to be the most prominent example:
    http://www.aspireaviation.com/2011/12/01/airbus-a350-faces-further-challenges-business-case-remains-sound/
    google will show you more cases. A lot of activity in that context will get zero press exposure.

    • The two largest examples of supplier failures are one Global Areonautica, the Joint Venture between Alenia and Vought, which Boeing aquired. Boeing also took over 787 production from Vought on the aft fuselage.

      Uwe – what are you referring to “pull 13 customers…”??? Also, after a few minutes of skimming the linked file couldn’t find what you were aluding to.

      One thing I would take exception to in the reference that the center section is the most complex part of the airplane. I think most would agree wings are more complex and I’m willing to bet Spirit would say the nose is the most complex part of the fuselage. Perhaps this is why Airbus kept that portion as Aluminum?

      Also – is anyone else skeptical about 15%-25% improvement of A-350 vs. 777? The 787 has made huge advancements over the 767 and it is about 20% more efficient than that 30 year old airplane. The 777 is 15% more efficient than the A-340. The 777 is only 15 years old and the engine technology more like 10 years. Al-Li was the baseline alloy for the 777 until it ran into problems. The aluminum manufacturers market is dissapearing are desparate to maintain there foothold for aircraft since all airframers are incorporating more composites.

      If the A-350 production rate is planned at 12/month I believe that makes it the highest production rate of a twin aisle ever. This at a time when most/all A and B product lines are stepping to their highest rates ever and several new designs are moving into the pipeline. I think the supply chain will be stressed beyond anything anyone has ever seen before.

      • ‘Alenia and Vought’:
        The how and why of failure is the interesting part. but that been
        kept mostly an internal problem _inside_ the 787 project.

        There seem to be many more suppliers that face a hurdle
        due to their involvement in a botched project.and not from
        inside missmanagement.
        Every supplier expected to have sold several hundred shipsets of “their” parts by now!

        ’13’
        What ever glitch the 787 might develope at the moment it won’t affect many samples : 13 at the moment. minimal impact.

        ‘metal cockpit skin’
        said to be for EMI advantages and damage/birdstrike tolerance.

        ‘most difficult part’ ( not my cite )
        each and everybody has the most difficult part 😉
        http://www.arabesques-editions.com/journal/academic_essay/2862204.html ( second para)

        ‘A350 improvements over 777’
        one does hear less scepticism from the technically minded people 😉 The envelope extension may have been the wrong balance. But that is very difficult to assess.

  21. Howard :
    I would hardly try to push up the A380 as a paragon of how to “do it right”. You want to talk endless string of problems… that would be A380. Just ask the airlines who now have to pull all their A380s out of service to implement a wing crack fix, and then do it again for 8 weeks once Airbus “gets it right”.

    Hehe. I can up you on that one:
    Boeing is hard limited to potentially pull 13 dreamliners from customers at the moment.
    ( from a projected couple or three hundred? )
    I do think you can be much more costructive here 😉

    • sure, but couldn’t you as well? Where does this rabid hatred of Boeing and all things American come from? Being a fanboi isn’t constructive.

  22. Howard :
    then kindly explain why Airbus recently said they weren’t going to kick production up to 44/mo? Leahy himself said that demand just isn’t there.

    Right !
    There is no such demand for A320 EOS !
    But !
    There is a lot of demand for A320 NEO !
    And …
    May be some fight for conversions at sight !

    So Airbus may foresee a huge “A320 Black Hole” between End of 2014 and end of 2015 !
    If you add the risk P&W may not be able to produce monthly 80 PW1100G or more at the beginning …
    And Airbus waiting for CFM with the Leap, to enter the market “A la GE” late & under spec’s … the B787 way !

    You may easily imagine what is coming up, and Airbus is right to be very cautious with the A320 NEO output, for the 2015-2016 years !

    And need to upgrade production quickly after 2016 !

    • “You may easily imagine what is coming up, and Airbus is right to be very cautious with the A320 NEO output, for the 2015-2016 years! And need to upgrade production quickly after 2016!”

      Exactly right, Rensim.

      Why is hard for some people to grasp this simple concept of orchestrating a ballet of manufacturing where one product is being phased out, while the next generation replacement product is being phased in. 🙂

      • My impression is that Airbus will never have to orchestrate such a transition in Mobile. They will probably skip the ceo and initiate production over there with the neo only.

      • Yes OV !

        Not so easy for Airbus, they will be ready largely ahead with structures , although I’m slightly worried with the pylon’s … (a lot of late hiring’s at sight now in Tls,! )

        But, they got, Airbus, two new engines to certify … one, the P&W will benefit from little experience, from Bombardier , the second, CFM, is going to be all new, assuming the COMAC will be somewhat deferred … or simply assimilated to the Leap1A development !

        And Boeing too, will have to cope with an all new, and tricky development of the CFM Leap …
        Interesting, and a bumpy ride just ahead, for both OEM !

        Certification, perf’s, availability … good luck for everybody !

  23. IMO regardless of the future of the new Airbus plant in Mofile, Boeing will loose market share
    in the NB segment and will try to claw it back by launching NSA.

  24. Normand Hamel :
    That probably means they don’t hold any grudge over the issue. It would not surprise me because I noticed that they made little noise when they received the news and have elegantly exited the scene shortly after the announcement.

    In a way it was a decent result for Airbus, they were seen to be a good partner on a large defense project (which bodes well for the future), They hammered Boeing on price for the tanker, which is already costing them something like $300m as the price rises (and I understand Boeing will pay for any further rises).

  25. EIS of the A350 mid 2014? And will Santa Claus be the pilot?
    Who they think that believes in this dreams of managers? This program, as ALL recent programs will take much longer (and cost more) than what the manufacturer says. In my opinion, 2 years or more. For the ones that do not agree, read my article about the SR-71 (www.engineerstoolkit.net/the-fastestest-ever-aircraft), that I present the development time for a few projects. Nothing today is taking less than 10 years (what is a shame).

  26. It depend largely on the engineering quality and management !
    Bombardier is going to make it with the C Series, within a year of delay maximum !
    The A350 is close to be 1 year late now… and the wings are late … just one or two month to wait from now , mainly machinery adaptation and learning curve, at GKN and Filton !
    Further delays may depend of technical issues that have to be seen, for now, I have not seen emerging surprises !
    Unnecessary to paste the B787 saga to the Airbus A350 development !

  27. The Airbus Tianjin Factory was approved in May 2006. The first A320 was delivered in June 2009. So if the new facility is launched in 2012, new aircraft could be delivered around 2015. Alabama is no China though, where they are used to erect mega structures in no time..

    • China also doesn’t have the enviorinmental laws that Alabama and the US has, keesje.

      • You may be misinformed there. There are some “blind spots” but for new construction requirements are high.

  28. “We received some speculation that this FAL might be fore the A330 P2F conversation. We don’t see a business case for this. Our focus is entirely on the A320 family and the intense competition with the 737 family. Note we do not distinguish between ceo/NG and neo/MAX.”

    To be honest I thought a Mobile line would be A330 focussed all along. Fedex and UPS have large inefficient A330/A310/DC10/MD10 fleets that need replacement. The A330 seems just right. When the A350 starts to get produced, resources in Europe could be shifted to that program, while a Mobile site could assemble upgraded and re-engined A330s (NEOs) and convert A330s and A340s into freighters. Maybe PEMCO can join in.

    http://i191.photobucket.com/albums/z160/keesje_pics/A330FNEO.jpg

    • FedEx and UPS have resoundingly rejected the A330F and P2F. The A330F doesn’t do the job well enough for them, and the A330P2F is even worse.

    • You just don’t get it, keesje. Airbus is not interested in the freighter business the same way Boeing is. Airbus has only one freighter in production, the A-330F, and with the ‘record sales’ it is generating, nobody seems too interested in it. Airbus turned down the A320P2F, A-340P2F, and A-330P2F programs, although they are being dragged screaming and kicking into support for the A-330P2F. They do have the A-359F on the very distant horizon, but they don’t talk about it, choosing instead to talk about the A-3510 inwhich there is no interest. The A-380F? It will not happen and no one is interested in a mega box carrier any more. A frieghter that sized needs to be able to carry outsized cargo, something the A-380F will never be able to do.

      Boeing will build about 50 new freighters this year in its B-767F, B-777F and B-747F models.

      That’s a pretty drawing of a UPS A-330NG freighter. The problem is it will never be built. In case you forgot, GE will not sell the GEnx to Airbus for just a few airplanes. An A-330NGF like that one will make the A-359F stillborn, just like the A-380F. The A-330F suffers the same problem another Airbus product, the A-400M, suffers. It is an ‘in between’ freighter between two excellent frighters. For the A-330F it sits between the better selling B-763ERF and the B-772LRF just as the A-400M sits between the C-17A and the C-130J.

      One more thing, the freight carriers are experiencing an economic down turn right now, and some have even cancelled or deferred new build Boeing freighters in the past year. If they are cancelling or deferring Boeing freighters, which they put deposits on, why would they think of ordering an Airbus freighter?

  29. I am guessing Tom Enders is pushing this. He is very keen on globalization and on working in the US in particular. He was previously Chairman of Atlantic Bridge, an organization dedicated to developing business links between Germany and the US.

  30. Interesting Keesje, but …

    I would not bet much on further Airbus development in the freighter area, just for now …
    And the US market is fed-up with very low cost B767, just to maintain Boeing’s FAL, waiting for the tankers !
    The project for A330 P2F transfo, is on his way in Singapore today, Airbus do not need much more for now !
    May be one day Airbus choose to transfer the A330 FAL, just to free space for the A350, in Toulouse, when the A351 enter service !
    Although without re-engine, this bird (A330) is going to a much lower production rate, beyond 2016 !
    I still think, an A320 NEO FAL, has to be the backbone, for an Airbus manufacturing facility, in Mobile, if confirmed … !
    And may be both, the late A330’s, and 10-15 A320 NEO / Month !

    Another idea … Airbus has to change rib’s on about 100 A380 !
    I just think it may be uneconomical to make it through MRO “Worlwide” I just hope they may choose some organized and well planned method to win money & time !
    In Tls or in the USA ???
    They are now in a 300 million€ budget , ultimate estimation !

  31. Many think its easy to ramp up production, but not the least its an economical problem, your supplyer base have to invest into their production and they maybe dont have that economical muscle. I know the Japanese had to build a new autoclave to make the 787 ramp up possible. Its not like you just up the rate, the whole chain has to up the rate at the same time. Its very complicated! And to add to the negative, A and B are starting to doubt that all of the recent orders will come true. If they spend a lot to up the rate and then we have a real financial crisis that wipes more airlines off the map, they have made a costly mistake.

  32. I think EADS plans for Mobile base are long term and could also include HC-144A, UH-72A Lakota and future programs support (e.g. AAS-72X, A400M, KC-Y).

    If a A320 line is the way ahead, one wonder if the current Beluga´s don´t have to make too many fuel stops and if there are enough of them. In 2010 Airbus.com published some A330 Beluga pictures in a library and quickly removed them when people started asking questions. Too late..

    http://www.flightglobal.com/blogs/flightblogger/assets_c/2011/08/beluga%20winglets-135993.html

    • With a good planning, and except for emergency, all may be sea freighted directly to Mobile harbour !
      One of the advantages of Mobile !
      15 days delay, are not so much …
      A330 Belouga has been often contemplated, but up to date … nothing in progress !

  33. Rensim :
    Just thinking to :
    A St Nazaire – Mobile shuttle once a month with all the kit’s on board … !
    Wing’s may be freighted via Belouga to St Nazaire ! It’s a 40′ Flight !

  34. Uwe :‘Alenia and Vought’:The how and why of failure is the interesting part. but that beenkept mostly an internal problem _inside_ the 787 project.
    There seem to be many more suppliers that face a hurdledue to their involvement in a botched project.and not frominside missmanagement.Every supplier expected to have sold several hundred shipsets of “their” parts by now!
    ’13′What ever glitch the 787 might develope at the moment it won’t affect many samples : 13 at the moment. minimal impact.
    ‘metal cockpit skin’said to be for EMI advantages and damage/birdstrike tolerance.
    ‘most difficult part’ ( not my cite )each and everybody has the most difficult part http://www.arabesques-editions.com/journal/academic_essay/2862204.html ( second para)
    ‘A350 improvements over 777′one does hear less scepticism from the technically minded people The envelope extension may have been the wrong balance. But that is very difficult to assess.

    EWE – I was hoping I would get from a technical expert such as yourself something substantial as to what is contributing to the seeminly unprecented improvement over previous airplanes. Is there some new structural material being used that is hugely better? Is there some new system that is introduced (like replacing pnuematics with electric)? Is there some major aerodynamic improvement like a blended winglet?

    The reasoning for the aluminum cockpit sounds lame to me – Boeing and Spirit obviously figured out how to do it on the 787 in composites.

    The biggest failure I see on the 787 is Boeings inability to get huge direct launch subsides from goverments – the WTO’s findings, not mine.

    • “EWE”

      rest of your posting seems to be in style.
      If you are out of ideas continue with being abusive?

    • EU illigal subsidies (20 bill) were loans (=pay it back) where to low interest rates were charged.

      The subsidies the WTI ID for Boeing Boeing (5 billion) weren’t loans at all (just keep it).

      http://www.eturbonews.com/28296/sweeping-loss-boeing-wto-appeal

      + the Boeing supply chain (Japan) was heavily subsidized making the 787 the most subsidized aircraft in history according to some.

      just concluding 5 billion is less then 20 billion is the kind of interpretations we got used too.

  35. “Airbus going Mobile” has hit the papers here. Relaxed positions.
    Consensus is that every FAL job has a tail of 10++ further Airbus jobs
    and significantly more in the European supplier industry ( with the assumption
    that nonEU content is up to 50% we can assume even more jobs attached to
    each and any FAL job.
    press consesus here is that ab additional FAL anywhere in the world will create EU-local jobs.

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