Analyzing the Airbus plan to offer A350, A330 “Regional” aircraft

Note: The Blog by Javier takes an analytical look at the 20 year forecasts for the twin-engine, twin-aisle aircraft here.

Airbus will offer “Regional” versions of the A330-200/300 and the A350-900 that will reduced the Maximum Take Off Weight (MTOW), engine thrust ratings and range to better match most routes flown by airlines that don’t need the 8,500nm range and weights.

We revealed earlier that Boeing is planning a lighter weight 777-8, reducing the planned 9,400nm range to 8,500nm to more closely match the A350-900’s weight and specification. While the 777-8 “Lite” has substantially longer range and weight than the “A350-900R,” the concepts bring airplanes to the market that are more closely aligned with airline realities than with maximum performance.

The A330 originally was designed as a “regional” airliner, with ranges in the area of 4,000-5,000 miles. Since the airplanes entered service in the early 1990s, Airbus has undertaken a number of Performance Improvement Packages, bringing the A330-200 to a range of 7,200 miles and the A330-300 to around 6,000 miles. But Airbus also says that a majority of the flights of the aircraft are 2,000nm or less—“regional” service within Asia, Europe and the Middle East.

We live in Seattle and most of our international travel is to Europe. Most of this service was operated with the A330/340 and the Boeing 747-400; no Boeing 777s are used to Europe. Over the years, as Airbus improved the A330-300, carriers began using this sub-type for the first time on the routes, reflecting the range improvements in the aircraft. The A330 series is also now used across the Pacific from Seattle as range improved.

But the PIPs made the A330s “more” airplane than most airlines needed, and this is what is driving Airbus to return to the aircraft’s roots, so-to-speak.

The A350-900’s 8,500nm range is far more than is needed for many routes, as is the similar range of the Boeing 787-8 and 787-9, and is one reason Boeing settled on 7,000nm for the 787-10. At one time, Boeing planned a larger wing for the 787-10 to maintain the 8,500nm range of the smaller sisters, but more than a year ago said that airliners didn’t need or want the range. Initially Boeing planned a 6,750nm range but at the urging of Steven Udvar-Hazy, CEO of Air Lease Corp, and some key Middle East carriers, the range crept up slightly.

John Leahy, COO-Customers of Airbus, is quoted extensively in this Aviation Week article.  An Airbus spokesman told us, “We have the A330 workhorse today. We’re looking at A330 as a regional optimized spec[ification] today and its part of a larger strategy. [The A350 and A330] aircraft will be the same physical hardware.

“In both cases there is a slight engine derate, optimizing capacity and payloads for regional routes. We aren’t permanently changing hardware. There will be a software change.”

The spokesman said “Airbus has products that will be at least as cost effective as anything Boeing puts out.”

A key part of this will be the lower capital cost/lease rate than the 787 family. Our assessment is that if capital costs were the same, the 787 would have a significant economic advantage. We further believe that the price-point difference has to be significantly lower for Airbus to have an economic advantage. With the A330 family, which has been amortized in the production system for years, there is considerable pricing flexibility but as fuel prices rise, Airbus will have greater challenges to offset the economic disadvantage with capital costs. The new A350’s economics are, according to our analysis, competitive but the lighter-weight 787s make the economic advantages of the larger-capacity A350-900 (to the 787-9) challenging.

Aircraft

Today’s MTOW

(Tonnes)

Regional MTOW

(Tonnes)

Today’s Thrust

(Lbs)

Regional’s Thrust

(Lbs)

A330-200

242

205

64,000-68,000

A330-300

240

205

70,000

64,000-68,000

A350-900

268

250

84,000

75,000

Flights for the A330 will be up to six hours and up to eight for the A350-900. The lower MTOW will reduce landing fees.

“Operating flexibility full range can easily be restored with software and paperwork back to full range, so can go back to maximum flexibility if customer wants it,” Airbus says.

The changes for the Regional are all done via software and FADEC (the engine software) changes, or as Boeing’s Mike Bair said with respect to the 777-8 “Lite,” it amounts to “papering” the weight.

This permits the operator the flexibility of re-papering the weight to return to a long-range, maximum weight/payload aircraft.

Airbus views the competitive line up thusly:

  • A330-200 vs 787-8
  • A330-300 vs 787-9
  • A350-900 vs 787-10

Because Airbus is focused on the A350-900 at this point, the spokesman said he has no information about offering a Regional aircraft for the A350-800 and -1000 sub-types.

The spokesman says the economics shape up this way:

  • The economics of the A330-200 at standard max MTOW is 4% lower than 788 per trip;
  • The A330-300 has 6.5% DOC vs 789; and
  • The A350-900 has 4% COC per trip vs 781.

Note the distinction between Direct Operating Costs (DOC) and Cash Operating Costs (COC) Airbus claims.

We’ve asked Airbus for the assumptions that go into these figures; if we get them, we will update this post. Key to the assumptions are the fuel cost and lease rates. In 2011, Airbus used a fuel assumption of $2.50 per gallon, a range of 2,000nm and lease rates of $900,000/mo and $1.2m/mo for the A330-300 and the 787-9 in arguing the A333 contributed a net $113,000/mo to revenue more than the 789. We challenged the assumption of $2.50 fuel as unrealistic, unaware as we were of anywhere fuel could be purchased for this price. We also know that lessors were charging $1m/mo for the A333, which essentially made the calculation advanced by Airbus at $2.50 fuel a break-even proposition and a net negative to the 789 at $3.50 fuel.

Thus the assumptions used in reaching the above calculations are critical to know.

Airbus is emphasizing the greater passenger seat comfort in coach in its airplanes vs the narrower 787: 18 inches vs 17 inches in nine abreast.

.

787-9 Paint hangar  rollout

Boeing 787-9. Boeing photo

92 Comments on “Analyzing the Airbus plan to offer A350, A330 “Regional” aircraft

  1. Shows that Airbus is also quite good in making up DOC/COC numbers aligned to wishful thinking. While the point of lower capital is generally valid, there are many more aspects that need to be incorporated:
    – how much resale value is the leasing company expecting
    – what is the interest rate is has access to
    – does the airline already have an inventory of Airbus aircraft (no transitional cost)

    Making a “Regional” version is a cheap way of lowering cost. However, it usually doesn’t change much except the charges paid for landing and navigational services. Fuel burn stays exactly where it is. To achieve a real advantage in fuel burn, you need to cut design range by 50% (base: 8500nm). Then you get something close to double-digit numbers, strongly depending on assumptions.

  2. It’s worth reminding ourselves of AIrbus’ original two aims for the A350 XWB: (1) the A358 successor to the A330, that competes with the 787; (2) the A359 and A35X successors to the A340, that compete with the 777. The sales figures tell us that the A350 meets the second objective very well, while hardly denting the 787 competition.

    AIrbus still needs a replacement for the A330.

  3. Love the story about Airbus and then at the end of the article a pic of of the 787. Freudian? Or intended

  4. Scott, a couple of points about the table… Both A330-200 and A330-300 are currently being offered at 242T. As far as ‘Regional’ is concerned, it only applies to A330-300, there is no need for a -200 version.
    Airbus is not doing anything clever here. The weights are already certified, engine derate is also available, all they will do is update the maintenance manual with the new inspection intervals and the plane is available in 2 years, far earlier than anything Boeing could offer. Airbus is playing the availability card, while they can. It remains to be seen what interest this generates.

  5. So no one wants the A350-800 and Airbus is feeling the pain of all those recent A330 sales now going to Arizonia early and figues it needs to find a way to leverage that inventory as a reason for not going back to Boeing.After having given away all the NEOs to own a 60% share of the space management has come to the conclusion that the A330 program needs to become the company’s cash cow? Let’s do this, ask the market whether they want an old less risky a/c (as Mr Leahy says) or do they want a new more efficient (newer approach) to the workhorse portion of their widebody fleet? If the market goes with the 787 family Mr. Leahy and company will have a much bigger mountain to climb in the next 10 years. The A350 family will really be boxed in and every A380 sold will have an A320 full of cash taking off a the smae time. Not to mention the NEO will also be a drag on profitability because each will be sold at low margins. So will the 60+% share of the single aisle and a dated approach to widebodies be a long term winning propostion. The numbers here say 10 years from now every program will need an overhaul and the profit from exsiting programs will not be ample o cover the develop ment costs of A330 replacement and develop a new narrow body. Take the bite now and do the -800 program.

    • Is that giving away NEOs having learned the lesson from Boeing with the 787? Do you actually have any evidence for the alleged low pricing of the NEO, and are you not aware that there are rumours of “aggressive pricing” from Boeing with the MAX? I’m not arguing in favour of either, just trying to inject some balance!

      • And and answer to you both. Let’s be honest, Airbus statred out with only saying they were offering NEO at a premium over CEO, and the prices ended being the same in offerings. Boeing needed to capture share after the denial move and dropped prices as well. Both assumed that they had that lattitude because monthly output increased, so they took the capcity gains and plowed them back into the discounts. Now Airbus is sticking their head in the sand on the widbody side, as Boeing did on the single aisle and once again assuming they can pass the asvings from the current A330 program on to the customers and win more sales for that line. Yes 787 has growing pains but long term that will not last and the A330 gets Airbus in a very tough situation because the A350-800 has to be developed and wasting time with this approach says that the market will not accept neither the -9 or -10 as alterntives when the -9 is on it’s late track to meeting program target dates. By the time Airbus gets it, both the -9 and -10 will be in the hands of customers. Fix your A350 issues now, meet customer expectations on performance goals and move on. The A330 sales are all but drying up.

      • What a lot of nonsense.

        The A350-800 will in all likelihood enter into service fully optimised a couple of years after the A350-1000. Meanwhile, the A330-300 will remain competitive for at least the remainder of the decade due to both 787 availability issues and fact that the slightly higher fuel consumption level of the current A330 on, for example, 2-3 hrs intra-Asian routes, is not all that important.

      • l7room :… Airbus statred out with only saying they were offering NEO at a premium over CEO, and the prices ended being the same in offerings. Boeing needed to capture share after the denial move and dropped prices as well. Both assumed that they had that lattitude because monthly output increased, so they took the capcity gains and plowed them back into the discounts. Now Airbus is sticking their head in the sand on the widbody side, as Boeing did on the single aisle and once again assuming they can pass the asvings from the current A330 program on to the customers and win more sales for that line. Yes 787 has growing pains but long term that will not last and the A330 gets Airbus in a very tough situation because the A350-800 has to be developed and wasting time with this approach says that the market will not accept neither the -9 or -10 as alterntives when the -9 is on it’s late track to meeting program target dates. By the time Airbus gets it, both the -9 and -10 will be in the hands of customers. Fix your A350 issues now, meet customer expectations on performance goals and move on. The A330 sales are all but drying up.

        A little difficult to understand the main thrust of your argument, l7room, but you seem very concerned by the lack of orders for the A330 family in 2013. Fear not, the contracts team is about to get very busy in the second half of the year. I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

    • The NEOs have lower operating costs, bigger BPR (sfc), a spacier cabin, container/ pallet capability, a 236 seat variant, a 2 year lead and a possibly superior GTF option. Boeing went into denial. IMO the sales figures only partly reflect the lack of parity. Fleet commonality, slot availability and government financing seemed a little too important for MAX sales. I expect a NSA proposals sooner then later. If Airbus offers an right sized 200 seater, within a year.

    • During its early years of development between 2004 and 2006, Boeing sold the 787 at steep discounts partly because it believed its costs would plummet with manufacturing and design covered mostly by suppliers. Having learned from the troubles of that program—which was delayed for years—Boeing will have to spend more itself to develop the 777X, including new factories to build the jet’s wings. As a result, the company is weighing a more conservative approach to selling its new jet.

      http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324251504578581701698058098.html

  6. Me too product positioning from Airbus ;JL as usual trashed the -10, “now we have a regional -900 ,at least as” economical” , and by the way it is 5 inches wider ,hence more comfort”.
    -800 going the way of 87-3 , but 330 the aging great work horse will do it , in terms of lease rates and at low fuel pricing. If fuel prices are high , 350-1000 beats the competition, if it is low, 330 beats the new series 787.Ony one of them could hold, we all know, fuel prices would be dearer in future , you do not need a crystal ball.
    JL is a great salesman, he and A will do well to improve in product strategy . Remember ,this is the same guy who said, he will lower prices and compete with 777 300 ER with his 4 engines plane.
    320 is still the best product for A , clearly ahead of 737 ; why cannot they do it again in wide body?

    • If fuel prices are high , 350-1000 beats the competition, if it is low, 330 beats the new series 787.Ony one of them could hold, we all know, fuel prices would be dearer in future , you do not need a crystal ball.

      Well, the A350-1000 will beat the hell out of the competition on long range sectors where the first few hours of long duration flights are spent burning fuel to carry even more fuel needed for the remainder of the flight.

      For the A330 flying, for example, short sector intra-Asian routes, fuel consumption percentage-wise of DOC is significantly lower than what’s the case on intercontinental 77W flights. Hence the fact that the current unmodified A330-300 will probably remain competitive for another decade, while an unmodified 77W will not.

      • Okay, drink the coffee and please explain whether the numbers are based on the $2.50 per gallon. Boeing went back to the drawing board on the 777X and has had changes on their -8 that might impact your calculations. But in November we’ll see if they did the right thing or not. If the 777X holds position at major 777 customers, the theory you’re selling fails. The -10 has caused a change in the space so we’ll see what happens.

      • I was talking about the “competition” (77W) as defined by Vaidya, and not the A350-1000 vs. the 777-9X, nor the A350-1000 vs. both a seemingly uncompetitive 777-8X “Lite” and a 777-8X “Niche”.

        The fact of the matter is that the 77W will not be competitive with the A350-1000 on long range sectors, while the current A330-300 might just be more competitive on short to medium ranged sector lengths despite what some people might believe.

  7. It was ever so; the airlines complain about “being forced to buy more capable aircraft than they need” and then go out and buy the most capable – because of the uncertainty in their fleet planning.
    They can hardly plan ahead 2 years, much less 5 or more.
    The operating lessors just buy the most capable, most flexible aircraft, period.
    That also happens to be the aircraft that holds its value best.
    We have heard the “paper change” aircraft upgrade routine before – remember Boeing’s flexible mtow foolishness?
    I think in the long run AI’s A350 Lite will go the way of the 787-3 – and the dodo bird.

  8. I have to correct your statement that ‘no Boeing 777s are used to Europe’. BA’s service from SEA to LHR is often provided by a 777. I’ve flown on it myself.

  9. What does all this cost Airbus? Little. Risks? No.

    The A330-300 and A350-800 have an order backlog. Its an extra cost reducing / sales option for customers. The 777-8i sold zero and is offering the option already too. Not a desperate adjustment to the A350, just a sales option.

    IMO Airbus is still leaving A330 options open. We can debate the A330 vs 787 cost (dis)advantages. If Airbus re-engines the A330, we have a new situation and have to recalculate.
     
    If they decide to bite the bullit and spend E3 Bill to put on a smaller optimized wing, maybe they’ll sell an additional 600.. replacing A300/310s and 757/767s. http://1.1.1.2/bmi/i191.photobucket.com/albums/z160/keesje_pics/AirbusA330-700Light.jpg

  10. Why would the A350 have 1″ wider seats than the 787 when they are both 9 abreast and the the A350 is only 5″ wider than the 787?

    787: 18′
    A350: 18′ 5″

    It seems to me that the seat width difference should be more like 0.56″. Or, will the 787 somehow always have 2″ wider aisles than the A350?

    • Airbus designed the A350 in such a way that economy class seats on the A350 will have the same seat bottom width and armrest width at 9 abreast (i.e. 17.75″ and 2″, respectively), as that of the A330 when the latter is configured with 12 armrests at 8-abreast. (i.e. 2-2+2-2). However, the aisle width of the A350 is reduced to 18.35 inches (i.e. 19″ on the A330). If the A350 is to have an 18-inch seat-bottom-width and a 2-inch armrest width, the aisle width will have to be reduced to 17 inches, or the same aisle width as that of the 777-300ER when it’s configured at 10 abreast with 17-inch-wide seats.

      In a like for like, apples to apples comparison, the 787 will have a 17.4-inch seat-bottom-width when the aisle width is reduced to 17 inches (i.e. armrest width at 2″). Hence, the A350 can accommodate 0.6 inch wider seats than that of the 787.

      • Agreed, 0.56″ is close enough to 0.6″. It seems a bit misleading for Airbus to round up in this instance when they are claiming that 1″ gives noticeably increased comfort. The round up makes the seat width advantage appear double what it really is.

      • Well, AFAIK Airbus has been talking about both the 787 and the triple seven. When compared to the current 777-300ER at 10 abreast, the seat width difference in an apples to apples comparison is indeed 1-inches (i.e. 17″ on the 77W and 18″ on the A350 – at 9 abreast; both aircraft having 2″ armrests and 17″ aisles). I agree though that Airbus Marketing has been slightly stretching the truth in regard to the 787 vs. the A350 cabin width-wise. However, a difference of 0.6″ is still a difference of 0.6″….. 🙂

      • In my humble opinion, 0.6″ would make very little difference in my comfort level. A 1″ difference I might feel, but my shoulders would still be touching my neighbors for the entire flight (assuming clones as neighbors).

      • Sitting in a 17 inch wide seat on a long duration flight, is out of the question for me. 6-7 hrs is OK, but not 12-14 hrs, or more.

      • I do the 5 hour east/west coast trip on United about 6 or 7 times a year in economy plus and I get pretty uncomfortable after about 3 or 4 hours. Flying in cattle car class has really taken off the luster for me.

        I also have to say that I notice very little difference between United’s 17.3″ seat in their 737’s and their 18.0″ seat in their A320’s.

      • You should try flying an Emirates 77W in coach, and then do the same flight in an Emirates A380 in coach. However, the the difference in seat width in the EK configurations is as much as 1.5″ — which, of course, is much more noticeable than 0.6″.

  11. Flying regional means high cycles and low flight hours. Sticking a 787 on that kind of operation will drive up maintenance costs (especially engine) since it is an aircraft designed for long haul. Also, low flight hours operation makes for higher proportion of ownership costs in the cost build up. It makes sense to put a cheaper asset into a regional operation, and the more expensive one on long haul. So maybe the A330 can surprise us yet.

  12. “Airbus is emphasizing the greater passenger seat comfort in coach in its airplanes vs the narrower 787”

    I thought the 787 cabin was a few inches wider than the 330… or is this another case of different baselines for measurement (e.g. one measures width at cabin floor, the other at seated passengers’ hip/shoulder or something?)

    • never mind, just read the AvWeek article where the comparison (seat/cabin width) is A350 vs B787, not A330 vs B787…

  13. Airbus do seem to be on the backfoot yet again. The widebody market seemingly will continue to challenge them. Still over 600 orders isn’t bad and hopefully better profit margins that the 787s sold thus far?

    • You’re right not bad at all. But with marketing like this that number will not move as fast as doing the things the markets wants. The A330 was a nice a/c but whether you re-engine or do the boat load of changes outlined above, the A350-800 would be a better platform to use versus going back to the well. Just do the -800 and get the productline filled out in a way that fits long term needs.

    • A300: 561 delivered over a span of 30 years, A310: 255 delivered over a span of 15 years, A330: 984 delivered in 19 years, 1,246 ordered over 19 years. A340: 377 delivered in 15 years. Now they have 678 orders for the A350 in a span of 7 years and you believe they are on the backfoot because why?
      Because Boeing is finally delivering the smoking hot 787’s at some sort of propor pace and now have announced a 787-10 which won’t be around for 7 years and keep promising one or even two 777x variants for delivery around the same time?

      Personally I don’t see a 777x launch for some time to come. Boeing itself has said they were snakebit by doing concurrent programs the last go around and with Max going on for another 3 to 4 years while the 787-10 will be occupying them for the next 7 years, I don’t see any 777x versions being seriously considered until 2017 or 2018 by those at Boeing that make the decisions.

  14. Airbus sold 1600 widebodies during the last 8 years. The A350 seems fine and A330 do 10 a month. The 777X won’t be there for 7 years and 787… Not a bad position IMO

    • How many were sold in 2013? I think the boat is about to leave the port and this is a last ditched attempt to get some more sales before the A330 is done like the A300. Wait are they still offering the A300s?

      • 8 A330 and 97 A350. For comparison – 26 777 and 83 787. (105/109). What’s the obvious conclusion?

      • The obvious conclusion is that l7room is very frustrated with the market traction the A330 family is currently getting. However earlier in the thread I tried to provide some assurance that some interesting orders are in the pipeline.

      • Last A300 was delivered in July, 2007. EIS in May, 1974. Oddly enough the 767 is still on offer and it was supposedly “killed” by the A330, which in turn was supposedly “killed” in turn by the 787-8, 787-9 and now the 787-10, which will have EIS in what, 2020?

  15. ANA cancels flight in Japan over it’s flight control system’s issue then tranfare passergers to Japan Airlines.

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  17. I am skeptical regarding the john leahy’ s handling A330- /350 de-rated. It is a cry of despair. The 787-10 has leave scars to the competitor. If it turns out that it works for them, then why Boeing would not with the 787-3 too ???

    • The A330 and A350 “Lite” will – as you say – just have de-rated engines coupled to a lower set MTOW, while the 787-3 was to be outfitted with an expensive major hardware change; namely the clipped wing. Hence, there is nothing to suggest that this is “an act of despair” on the part of Airbus. Boeing can, of course, do the same trick for the 788/789.

      The A330 and A350 “Lite” are cheap stopgap measures until an all new A330 replacement can EIS a decade hence. IMO, such an aircraft should be optimised for medium range (i.e. 5000nm vs. 8100nm) and would be derived from the A350 (i.e. it would share the same fuselage, empennage with the A350, but it would have 20-30 percent smaller wings, area-wise, as well as smaller, lighter MLG, smaller HTP, and a MTOW of less than 200 tonnes). Outfitted with fully optimised engines having upwards of 10 percent better TSFC than, for example, the Trent-1000, I’m not sure how a heavy, less efficient 787-10 would fare against a truly optimised, next decade state-of-the-art, medium-ranged wide-body.

      • There was no question that the 787-3 is the de-rated 787-8?? With same fuselage with same engines??

        Do projected it not expensive for Airbus to come with a wing 20 % smaller on an A350-900? The 787-10 is narrower and the prime can’t to be compete on this ground.

        John leahy test to make noise. He knows he does not have the appetite to launch an all-new aircraft …

      • Again, the 787-3 was to have a clipped outer wingbox just outboard of the outboard ailerons. Including certification, a 787-3 undertaking would’ve cost at least half a billion dollars.

        Do take a look at the 3-view diagram at: http://www.aerospaceweb.org/aircraft/jetliner/b787/

        Of course, developing a very high aspect, all new wing, 20-30 percent smaller (i.e. in area, not in span) than the one on the A350-900, would not be cheap, but we’re talking about replacing the A330 family with an all new state-of-the art, medium ranged wide-body family

        IMO, the 787-10 is too big. A fully optimised, medium ranged wide-body should IMO have about the size as that of the 787-8/A330-200, and not the size of the the 10 plus meter longer and excessive ranged 787-10.

    • Why despair? It costs little and the aircraft can be re-certified as heavy later on if requirements change.

      Maybe Fred Bearden is right and its mostly negotiating games and airlines order the most capable variants in the end. Many airlines use a heavy twin for a short regional rotation in the morning and send it to Asia in the afternoon. That has some value too.

      If OEW & payload stay the same, what real benefit / cost reduction does a “lite” bring?

      The 787 & A330 are long haul machines. Later on I will try to make a realistic specification guestimation of a real A330 “Lite” with a optimized wing, wingbox, engines, LDG, 2 class 9 abreast seat chart etc.

      I did it for a regional 767 a while ago. 8 Abreast, GENX etc. The 767 has a real low OEW compared to e.g. A330 and 787 and fits the regional gates. Scott suggested it at the time. IMO wouldn’t have been a bad idea at all.. http://www.airliners.net/aviation-forums/general_aviation/read.main/4672776/

  18. Scott, do you see Leahy’s comments as up front genuine, as more of an opening public chess move to see how Boeing moves next, or a combination? And does this quick availability Lite version of going Lite play to any particular major orders expected?

    • If I may… When it comes to marketing, it is always a chess game, being it in public, behind closed doors or on a golf range.
      We have seen numerous examples of that in the past: one competitor will try to plant doubt about another one’s offering, then take action if it does not work. Examples:
      – Airbus reaction to the 787
      – Boeing reaction to neo
      – Boeing reaction to A350-1000
      In case of the second one, up to the last second Boeing insisted that their NG is still better until they faced losing one of their fortresses.
       
      In the current case, no doubt, Airbus is trying to minimise the market impact of -10, with the instruments they have already in hand. It will be interesting what response -10 will get towards the EoY.
      On the other hand nobody is actually talking about the A350-900 having a true competitor. I think this will be a very strong model going forward.

  19. Boeing settled with 7000NM range for the 781 because the side-of-body was too weak to support more span or gross weight.
    Since the SOB design was revised for the 789 theres a potential for a modest increase in 781 MTOW.
    The limiting factor is the main landing gear now. In general the 788 weight creep has eaten up most of the growth potential that had been designed into the 7E7.

  20. As posted before, Airbus don/t know which way to jump and are keeping all options open. I suspect an optimized wing for the 350-800 would make it the best 330 replacement, but as they can’t build a350-900s and 1000s quickly enough why bother adding another seriously different model?? I think an a330 NEO will probably happen just because the infrastructure is there to build 10-11 per month, if no NEO Airbus will have to make bigger discounts, and why discount so much when half the NEO development costs fall on the engine maker anyway? I suspect Airbus are waiting on P+W to finish the development work on the PP1000 series and to see if GTF delivers as promised. They could negotiate with RR or GE, but they won’t be so interested in competing with the 787, whereas P+W need a customer to keep in the widebody business.

    • What’s the actual cost of paper de-rating the A330? I presume it’s the equivalent to half a day’s mailing cost at EADS, or in any case irrelevant, compared to a normal derivative development that comes in at EUR1-5billion, and a new airplane development cost of EUR10-15 billion. So why not go for it and see if it gets traction? That’s not the same as not knowing what to do.

      • Agreed, what I really mean is that Airbus are keeping ALL options open

      • I suspect Airbus know that they need to bring out a new lighter, more efficient, plane than the current A330s and A350s. They are not ready to announce it yet. After the A350 has been in production for a couple of years will be when they do it – like Boeing has just done with 777X.

        To minimize risk, the new plane will be based on either the A330 or A350. I think they will go for the A330 if they reckon they can get away with just a new lower thrust, more efficient engine. If they need a re-wing as well, they might as well do that on the newer A350 and take advantage of a common platform that they can continue to upgrade.

        • Maybe. But in the meantime what’s the harm in fishing around with the particular bait of a paper de-rate?

  21. It looks like Airbus has enough orders to produce the a330 like cazy through 2015 and then….what? I mean, their current backlog of ~240 orders will have been depleted by then and a350 production will be ramping up (and this production will cost Airbus billions of cash yearly until they come down on the learning curve). For Airbus, I’m also sure they are hoping costs on the a380 program will be about zero by then (i.e., 2015) and the a320 program will be printing money so-to-speak. So…would this be a good time to sell lot’s of a330s – even at deep discounts – to help earn enough money to cover a350 initial-production losses? I figure with over 1000 produced, the a330 is well down the learning curve and is an aircraft with high-margin profits. So…why not have an a330 sale to generate cash? Maybe even offer a 2-fer-1 at list price? Hey…maybe John Leahy can even hire Cal Worthington as a sales consultant! (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QOsLdT4slsk)

    Anyways…seriously. Does anyone see Airbus selling the a330 at discount in an effort to help cover the a350s initial-production cash burn? Thanks.

  22. I think some people here expect Airbus to be at parity with Boeing on the widebody segment. I don’t believe Airbus sees themselves quite there yet and are actually quite happy with the position they are in at the moment.
    Granted, some sort of decision vis a vis an A330 replacement needs to be made quite soon but just because they don’t talk about it publicly does not mean they have not discussed, evaluated and planned for it privately. You can keep them guessing with silence just as much as you can by throwing out red herrings.

  23. Any a330 regional with the current engine will never match the fuel efficiency of a 787 with a Trent-TEN engine.
    JL and airbus are just preying on the gullibles. Soon or later ab will come up with a330 regional-neo and they will make all sorts of claim how that aircraft is better than the 787.

    Although some airlines will buy into it but these will be the struggling ones who cannot affor new high tech frames. airbus and JL lshould not think that a330 regional will become a hit and popular choice for the Emirates, Qatar, BA and other high end airlines.
    I have seen many aibus advert where they claim inovation leadership but so far aibus has shown none of that.
    The a350 programme is a response to the 787 and the 777 but it’s clumsy because you cannot aim at 2 different families of aircraft with one family offering 3 variants.
    airbus has its hands full with the a350 for maybe the next 10 years so they will not be able to offer a replacemen for the a330 earlier than 10 years from now so this regional thing is just a show of desperation. Now that the true leader in inovation Boeing has made giants strides, the follower cannot keep up.
    What could have been for airbus so called leadership in inovation if the 787 programme did not suffer the 3 years delay, only God knows.

    • Are you trying to promote yourself to get a job for Randy Tinseth?

      I love how you think that Airbus is so behind and backwards. I keep wondering if you really believe this stuff yourself or if you naively believe others will accept these claims of yours.

      To paraphrase Howard, who is strangely silent when people blow it all out of proportion in Boeing’s favour, “Boeing über alles!”, which is actually more fitting, seeing as Wilhelm Boeing, the founder of the company, was a German immigrant.

      Now to the less farfetched points you have made:
      I do believe you are correct in that Emirates, Qatar, BA etc. would not be buying any more A330 versions, reeingined/reworked or not.

      You believe the A350 to be a clumsy response but you seem to be in the vast minority. Selling 678 frames in 7 years is not the sign of a clumsy response. As Boeing and its amateur shills keep boasting about “boxing in” AIrbus, has it occurrred to you that Airbus has found a “sweet spot” between the 787 and the 777?
      According to the wsj article noted above, Boeing’s largest 777x version would cost as much as an A380 and much less than the 74-8i. That doesn’t strike me as the recipe for a great success but time will tell.

      You claim AIrbus will have its hands full with the A350 for the next 10 years but the -800 is scheduled to enter service in mid-2016, and the -1000 in 2017. Even if they get delayed a year, that is still only 5 years away, and not 10.

  24. 1) The trend in future fuel costs actually is a major unknown, not something easy to guess as you suggest. I refer readers to the following AirInsight piece, that you certainly have read :
    http://airinsight.com/2013/07/23/as-oil-prices-slide-again/

    The writer (Addison Schonland) wonders whether the ongoing shale oil production surge and slowing economic growth will turn the oil market trend around. In that event, all numbers would be changed to the benefit of the older designs/engines.
    Remember : projecting past trends into the distant future is a sure way of making a faulty forecast, as all stock holders know.

    2) The A350-800 is not mentioned in your analysis. I suppose the reason is that your focus is on regional versions, and that aircraft should be anything but that. I also undestand that apart from reasserting their commitment to the aircraft, Airbus remains tightlipped on the subject.

    Yet I think that this sub-type is going to exist, and to have a significant influence on the market, though its timeline and specifications may still be changed. If it is to be delayed and improved, or lauched as is and later improved, it may be more successful than currently predicted. That upcoming aircraft makes it all the more relevant for Airbus to focus the A330 on regional routes.

  25. Anybody hear anything more about the Qatar 787 that didn’t have a fire but seems to have had some sort of incident that is not significant enough to report to anybody at all but still somehow seems to have been enough to have grounded this airframe for over a week?

    Is it flying again or is it still being “spared” or “saved” for some greater and nobler purpose?

  26. Le bon vivant :
    Any a330 regional with the current engine will never match the fuel efficiency of a 787 with a Trent-TEN engine.
    JL and airbus are just preying on the gullibles. Soon or later ab will come up with a330 regional-neo and they will make all sorts of claim how that aircraft is better than the 787.
    Although some airlines will buy into it but these will be the struggling ones who cannot affor new high tech frames. airbus and JL lshould not think that a330 regional will become a hit and popular choice for the Emirates, Qatar, BA and other high end airlines.
    I have seen many aibus advert where they claim inovation leadership but so far aibus has shown none of that.
    The a350 programme is a response to the 787 and the 777 but it’s clumsy because you cannot aim at 2 different families of aircraft with one family offering 3 variants.
    airbus has its hands full with the a350 for maybe the next 10 years so they will not be able to offer a replacemen for the a330 earlier than 10 years from now so this regional thing is just a show of desperation. Now that the true leader in inovation Boeing has made giants strides, the follower cannot keep up.
    What could have been for airbus so called leadership in inovation if the 787 programme did not suffer the 3 years delay, only God knows.

    Fully agree with you. That is what I was trying to explain. But you did better than me …

  27. Here’s one airline that doesn’t agree with the assessment that the A330’s day is over (From Flight International):

    “The Airbus A330 will remain the core workhorse of AirAsia X’s fleet, even as the airline gears towards expansion that could see it order more aircraft in the coming years.

    The Malaysia-based long-haul low-cost carrier operates a fleet of 13 A330-300s and two A340s, and has a further 19 A330s and 10 A350s on order. While the A350s will be delivered only after 2018, the carrier will have a fleet of 32 A330s by 2017.

    AirAsia X will take delivery of seven A330s in 2013 and 2014 respectively, and a further five in 2015, its chief executive Azran Osman-Rani tells Flightglobal Pro in an interview.

    Asked whether more orders can be expected from the carrier, he says: “We think the overall market oppurtunity is far bigger than our firm orders.”

    “The best way of illustrating it is if you look at the industry, we see it reaching a steady state situation where LCCs get about 50-50 market share split with full-service carriers,” Azran says. “If you look at our numbers and you look at their (full-service operators) numbers, you realise that even if we fulfil all of our combined explicit orders, we’re only going to get about 20% of existing fleet size today, which basically means there is an easy opportunity to double whatever we have committed today.”

    Should the carrier only focus on adding frequencies on existing routes, starting new services in countries it already flies to, and kicking off its Thai AirAsia X joint venture, the carrier would have “37 planes worth of opportunities”.

    He adds that the A330 will remain at the core of its fleet because of the economics the aircraft provides, which it believes, based on its internal numbers, “trumps” the Boeing 787 in terms of per seat economics.

    “Looking at the current market price of the 787, I think the A330 gives it a run for its money, without the reliability issues,” says Azran, adding that the A330 also has a global fleet scale that makes sourcing for parts easier and cheaper. “

    • Interesting that he is talking about reliability issues. When Boeing or analysts say reliability issues are normal with new models the 787 is not so new any more, nearly 2 years in service. I wonder how many operators are starting to worry? When did Boeing last score a new operator for the 787? Any ideas about what discounts/prices went with it?

    • The A330-300 has become the de facto wide-body trunkliner in China.

    • Air Asia X puts 9 seats across in its A330s. That would certainly boost the per-seat economics of that plane relative to the standard 9 across 787. Of course, there are several other Asian airlines doing the same thing.

  28. We find all the skepticism expressed by readers over the Airbus Lite program puzzling. Mike Bair said Boeing will do the same “paper” change for the 777-8X and this level of skepticism is totally absent Boeing’s plan. Rhetorically, why question Leahy and not Bair?

    • I’m skeptical about all of the 777-8X in terms of how well it will compete with the A350, not just the paper de-rate. As I see it, there will be some demand for the 777-9X as the biggest available twin. There will be loads and loads of demand for the 787-10 as the twin aisle workhorse. I don’t see where the 777-8X fits in, except as freighter.

    • ps if the a350 is to take over from the a330 as well as the b777 replacement business it is doing now Airbus will need to go to 20 or 25 per month. That is a lot of new composite infrastructure. How many years away are they from being able to do that?

    • As usual for such situations, the usual suspects!

      That does go both ways. You should be happy you didn’t get alot of acerbic skepticism about the 777-8x announcement. Part of that may be that many already knew of the Airbus planning when the 777-8x announcement came out, maybe part of it is that the 777x is still a theoretical aircraft (no approvement yet from the board) that still has a long way to go before it becomes real.

      I personally suspect that the 777x programs will not come about as soon as many are believing, hoping and some are advertising.

    • I’m not skeptical about the software/paperware 350. Although it at first feels like the sort of thing that an OEM would offer on a slow selling line (ie not the 900), it’s got to be inexpensive, might head off potential 787-10 buyers (ie buy the 900R, get growth built-in), and looks like a nod to the relative lack of hard cash interest from the likes of ILFC to date.

      I am skeptical about the 330 sw/pw being as significant a pitch though, for an airbus internal reason. Once the 350-1000 work is done they’ll face a serious lull in the, critical for business success, wing design work. These individuals and teams are too valuable to let leave and realistically a 330 rewing (w/NEO) looks like the only game in town to me to tide over until any 320 replacement ramps up next decade.

    • Well it’s a paper create of a paper airplane. What could possibly go wrong? Paper is patient in any case.

  29. Not sceptical, it is a solution which will be quickly available on the a330, but by 2018-2020 I think Airbus will have something better, less discounting=more profit.

  30. For those suggesting a new wing on an A350 fuse as part of an A330 replacement, don’t you think that fuse is too large for such an aircraft?

    • I think so. A spacey 9-10 abreast cabin, an enormous cargo bay and overhead crew rest space for a 200-300 seat regional aircraft would be just 25-35 rows at 30 inch with few galley space, making it very short. The tail is also dimensioned to compensate 90k lbs of aseemetrical thrust..

      Even the A330, just like the 787, is a heavy long haul frame. To make it at an acceptable regional you would have to go back to A300/767 like dimensions and weights. Shaving of 10-20t of the A330 OEW and making it fit regional ICAO Cat D gates, unlike A330 and 787(-10).

      http://i191.photobucket.com/albums/z160/keesje_pics/AirbusA330-700Light.jpg

      An A330 NG new wing, tail and engines would probably cost about E3-4 Billion. An A330-700 would no longer overlap with A350 and have an existing supply chain and great global fleet commonality and infrastructure.

    • I don’t think so. The extra empty weight of the A350 compared with the A330 will mostly be in the much larger wing. Cut the wing size to something more like the 787 and I think you will make up most of the difference. A disadvantage of the A330 NEO is that the A330-200 is actually too small to be optimal in today’s world so you are relying on just the -300 model to be viable. A rewinged, re-engined A350 – let’s call it the A360-800 and -900 – would take on the 787-9 and -10. While the A350 is optimized on the -900 model flying a maximum 8000 miles, the A360 would be optimized on the -800 model flying a maximum of 6000 miles or so.

      • It would probably become another 787-3, to heavy, to large & expensive. In a regional configuration a A330-200 fuselage easily fits 300 passengers, airlines don’t need bigger.

        The A350 is made to do a hard landing at 270t or move 300 people and cargo over 7000NM. That’s why it has the weight it has. look at e.g. the center wingbox, a massive structure.

      • I would expect a new plane to have a different center section from the A350 while retaining everything fore and aft of it, including the systems and the dimensions.

        I think it depends what you mean by “regional”. Roughly speaking, it needs to fly shorter trips more efficiently than the 787. The 787 is already well established in the market place, so the new Airbus plane would have to more than match its efficiency. But it doesn’t have to be limited to a range of less than 3000 miles.

        Unfortunately, the A330 and A358/9 in their current forms aren’t quite efficient enough to compete well with equivalent 787 models. Airlines only take the A330-200 in preference to the -300 if they need the range, otherwise they go for the more efficient A330-300 (or the A321). They don’t seem to take the A330-200 just because it’s smaller.

  31. l7room :
    After having given away all the NEOs to own a 60% share of the space management has come to the conclusion that the A330 program needs to become the company’s cash cow? Let’s do this, ask the market whether they want an old less risky a/c (as Mr Leahy says) or do they want a new more efficient (newer approach) to the workhorse portion of their widebody fleet? If the market goes with the 787 family Mr. Leahy and company will have a much bigger mountain to climb in the next 10 years. The A350 family will really be boxed in and every A380 sold will have an A320 full of cash taking off a the smae time. Not to mention the NEO will also be a drag on profitability because each will be sold at low margins. So will the 60+% share of the single aisle and a dated approach to widebodies be a long term winning propostion. .

    Well, having been involved in a narrowbody contest between A and B recently, I can categorically tell you that the big discounter actually happened to be on the West side of the Atlantic. And based on what else could the sell it? The airplane was at the time pretty unknown, and still is to a large extent, and will have significant limitations.
    And Scott, I have trailed a BA 777 into SEA quite often.

  32. The A330 lite doesn’t have to sell that many examples to work well for Airbus. Simply by keeping Boeing ‘honest’ (read keep prices low) on the 787, and it will help Airbus by giving Boeing less profit to pump into improvements and supporting other models.

  33. Pingback: Airbus adds to information about A330/A350 “Lite” | Leeham News and Comment

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