Odds and Ends: Fixing Ethiopian’s 787; Pricing the 777X; Indigo and Frontier Air

Fixing Ethiopian’s 787: The New York Times has a good article on the challenges of fixing Ethiopian Airlines’ Boeing 787.

Pricing the 777X: The Wall Street Journal has an article about Boeing’s challenge of pricing the 777X. It’s via Google News, so it should be available to all Readers.

Indigo and Frontier Airlines: Sounds to us like Indigo is gearing up to be Frontier Airlines’ new owner.

Spirit Airlines Announces Sale of Common Stock by Indigo

MIRAMAR, Fla., July 29, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Spirit Airlines, Inc. (Nasdaq:SAVE) announced today the public offering of 12,070,920 shares of common stock by certain existing stockholders affiliated with Indigo Partners LLC (“Indigo”). Upon completion of the offering, investment funds affiliated with Indigo will no longer own shares of common stock of Spirit Airlines. The company will not receive any proceeds from this offering. Barclays is acting as the sole underwriter for the offering.

The shares of common stock are being offered pursuant to the Company’s existing shelf registration statement filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) on July 31, 2012. A final prospectus supplement describing the terms of the offering will be filed with the SEC and, when available, may be obtained from the SEC’s website at www.sec.gov or from Barclays Capital Inc., c/o Broadridge Financial Solutions, 1155 Long Island Avenue, Edgewood, NY, 11717, Telephone (888) 603-5847 or by e-mailing Barclaysprospectus@broadridge.com.

In connection with the offering, the Company also announced that Messrs. William A. Franke and John R. Wilson have informed the Company that upon completion of the offering, they expect to resign as directors at the next board meeting, presently scheduled for August 7, 2013. Upon Mr. Franke’s resignation, the Company’s board intends to elect Mr. H. McIntyre Gardner, a director since 2010, as Chairman of the Board.

This press release shall not constitute an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy, nor shall there be any sale of these securities in any state or jurisdiction in which such offer, solicitation or sale would be unlawful prior to registration or qualification under the securities laws of any such state or jurisdiction.

59 Comments on “Odds and Ends: Fixing Ethiopian’s 787; Pricing the 777X; Indigo and Frontier Air

  1. Is that the order for 40 CS300 will be included in the agreement?

    • I think you may be jumping to conclusions with what needs to be repaired and what doesn’t. Also, I don’t think that once the repairs are completed this airplane needs to be recertified. Apparently Boeing has already completed some ramp rash type repairs on B-787s. Although those repairs are not as significant or extensive as this one will be. I am sure the Boeing AOG Team will deploy with everything they need, or it will be shipped to them.

      Airplanes have been repaired before after a fire burned through the hull and consumed wiring harnesses and/or control hydraulics and cables, etc. Replacing these systems is not rocket science. Boeing has the drawings (in computers) of each individual airplane they build (as Airbus does).

      I would not underestimate the capabilities of either OEM AOG Teams.

      It took nearly 18 months to repair A-380 tail # VH-OQA at a cost of some $145M USD. But that extensively damaged airplane returned to service. The repairs added some 100 kg to the weight of the airplane. I am sure the repairs to B-787 tail # ET-AOP will be just as successful.

      • Dont take this the wrong way KC but i think you may also be jumping to conclusions also… where is the evidence that Boeing has approved repairs for extensive damage?

        I know for a fact there are none for certain sections of the wing, areas that historically get damaged by debris on tkoff/ldg, as well as catering trucks running into…

        I wait with baited breath to see if/when this frame gets back up to FL360.

    • The externally visible damage is entirely on section 48, so I would expect the most severe internal damage to be in section 48. However, that does not mean that there is no damage to section 47 or the interface.

    • How do you know the 48 section was damaged? I think you are making wild guesses yet again, how (not) surprising. I think you don’t even know where the 48 starts.

    • Howard,
      I’m not sure if you were talking to me or keesje, but if it was me, you’re right. I might well have gotten my section numbers mixed up. My point was, however, that the externally visible damage was limited to one section, shown in the following photo.

      http://seattletimes.com/html/photogalleries/localnews2010120471/10.html

      Whether this is officially called section 47 or section 48, I’m not sure. I’ve seen conflicting diagrams, but I’m leaning toward section 47 because of the following briefing on page 24.

      http://sdm.mit.edu/systems_thinking_conference_2010/presentations/jenks.pdf

      The visible exterior damage is pretty well centered in this section, but the joins on either side might have sustained some damage as well.

      • I’m talking about the fact that the ET photo you posted shows there is no section break (join) where the externally visible damage is. The diagram you posted incorrectly includes the section with the aft cargo door as section 47 and 48 (orange portion of the diagram). The aft cargo door is actually located in section 46 on the lower starboard side. A more reliable diagram is given on page 24 of the following briefing.
        http://sdm.mit.edu/systems_thinking_conference_2010/presentations/jenks.pdf

        The aft portion of the aircraft that is finally joined to the center portion in the FAL is made up of two sections:
        1) Section 47, which has the two aft exits and the smaller bulk cargo door on the lower port side
        2) Section 48, which has the cutouts for the stabilizer structure and the transition from round to flat sides to accommodate the various stabilizer positions

        See the three pictures from inside the 787 surge line in the Everett FAL (post #872 by Momo1435)
        http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showthread.php?t=174610&page=44
        In the first and third pictures the joint between sections 47 and 48 is clearly visible, as is the distinct lack of a cargo door on the starboard side.

        It is clear from the links I provided that the externally visible damage shown in the ET photo is limited to section 47. The joint in front of the damage is in the middle of the large gap between the 4th and 5th window forward of the aft exit, and the joint behind the damage is located about where the “P” is in ET-AOP in the ET photo. The visible damage does come close (~2.5 feet) to the joint with section 46, but is pretty far away (~6.5 feet) from the joint with section 48.

        Having the majority of the damage in one section could very well make a patch repair much easier, although none of us know the extent of the internal damage. In any case, your original assertion of a damaged interface between sections is indeed just a guess.

  2. Re: Pricing the 777X.

    For 777 10 abreast airlines like AF, AA and EK, the 777-9i is an expensive two row stretch over the pretty good, young 777-300ER. It is similar for airlines that stick to 9 abreast in 777 economy class.

    Theoretically, switching from

    – a 9 abreast -300ER to a 10 abreast -9i,
    – a 9 abreast -200ER to a 10 abreast -8i

    gives Great efficiency gains. Amazing CASM improvements from the cabin switch alone!

    Apples to Oranges though, you can not assume airlines will do what gives Randy great figures. Airlines can switch from 9 to 10 abreast on their current 777s too.

    Boeings can’t come up with “20% less fuel per seat” at Emirates or AF HQ.

    10% improvement over the 777-300ER from 2021 is more realistic. And pricing will be based on it.

    • Keesje,

      Your point about seat count improvements to CASM is fairly made, but doesn’t the same apply for the A350’s CASM gains over the current generation 777? After all, if the A350 is 10″ narrower, but you calculate its CASM over the same number of seats per row as the 777, doesn’t that calculation also miss a big difference in passenger comfort that might also be monetizable? All other things being equal, wouldn’t an airline that values its premium brand have an at least equal preference to run 9 abreast on a 777 floor plan rather than 9 abreast on an A350’s, as they would for 9 abreast in an A350 over 10 abreast in a 777?

      • Interesting in relation to this question, a new article in the NY Times about tools for finding the right seat. http://travel.nytimes.com/2013/08/04/travel/finding-a-seat-that-fits-on-a-flight.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

        Reading it, I was struck by the fact that widespread application of this technology could have a sharp impact on the overall march toward ever tighter seating arrangements. The general rationale given for this trend, in the face of the opposing trend in at least American waistlines, is that ultimately people will not pay for comfort. For myself, this is still really true — I will never fly anything other than coach, as long as the premium for greater comfort is disproportionate to the benefit. However, better transparency in ticketing tools could well make it possible for people to accept more incremental price trade- offs for greater comfort, which could in turn affect fleet utilization and planning.

        It seems conceivable that if customers really had a simple mechanism for paying a premium for additional space that was proportional to their benefit (i.e. not a 2-5x multiplier of the lowest available coach fare), Cost divided by usable floor square footage might become as important a metric as the more arbitrary CASM.

  3. keesje, just what makes you think Boeing cannot achieve a fuel burn per seat reduction of 20% without knowing anything about what the B-777X will be or how much improvement the GE-90X engine will have?

  4. Writing for a leading financial newspaper, Jon Ostrower links the 777X pricing issue to airlines’ anticipations regarding future fuel prices. Since I already posted a few lines on this issue to-day, I am not making further comments, except to stress that such forecasts are extremely difficult, and yet should weigh heavily on financial projections and decisions to invest … or to wait.

    I find it hard to believe that Boeing could actually get a large premium over the price of the present 77W, which for all practical purpose is exempt from competition. At best, a higher list price would come with steeper discounts.

  5. This might be me asking an obvious question, but considering the 777X is just a derivative of a known and successful aircraft programme, why is it so expensive? $400m is within whiskers of an A380 O_O

  6. KCT, if you claim 20% less fuel per seat, just increasing the seatcount works great. And that is just what Boeing does with the 777-9X. Realizing 10% better sfc over the GE115X is a hell of a job, the GENX e.g. is technologically a derivative of that engine, accordig to GE. Pushing temperatures and pressures further can have its drawbacks. So I can see airlines take a “show me first” approach.

    Re the Boeing AOG team, I’ve seen them in action twice. Impressive operation. Thing is, this has not been done before. You don’t drill holes in heavy carbon structures like you can in metals. Bonding carbon is so unpredictable in strenght authorities won’t certify such a repair. A testing, certification and inspection program will have to be approved by the authorities.

    The 777X will likely get a new wing and everything related. Expensive.

    • It’s not a derivative engine. It was a competition between GE, Rolls, and Pratt. All offered new engines. Pratt withdrew, GE was selected.

      Yes the 777x has a new wing, a composite wing. This has been in the press for over a year.

  7. I find it absolutely silly that Boeing’s answer to the a350-1000 is a plane that requires folding wings and is reported to be significantly more expensive – but still isn’t as efficient! As best as I can determine, the 777x idea as an answer to the a350-1000 has been considered for at least 5 years, and yet no one will commit – and yet the chattering about the 777x never stops. All talk and no action. It’s getting tiresome.

  8. Boeing would love for the question on 777X valuation to really be what incremental profit the new version can provide over the current offering, but it seems more realistic to say that the 777X is just the price of poker for staying in the 777W’s market segment.

    That said they still need to figure out what improvements really can pay for themselves in customer value, and which ones can’t.

  9. The link to the WSJ article “Boeing and Its Customers Try to Put a Price Tag on Fuel Savings” is not working.

  10. Jimmy :
    I find it absolutely silly that Boeing’s answer to the a350-1000 is a plane that requires folding wings and is reported to be significantly more expensive – but still isn’t as efficient! As best as I can determine, the 777x idea as an answer to the a350-1000 has been considered for at least 5 years, and yet no one will commit – and yet the chattering about the 777x never stops. All talk and no action. It’s getting tiresome.

    Strange that you see a good plan of A330 at a discount and that the 777-X is depending on you a ridiculous plan … wait the 777-X will come …

  11. $400m it’s a high price! Besides the cost I wonder what else factors would effect the price? As the WSJ press mainly talking about the fuel price forecast related to the jet value, it translates in my mind that if the fuel price is between a certain range while the carriers can profit on the said jet, they would take them even the payment of the jet is so high. But this idea is based on the separate individual, and there is a alternative, the competitor A351. I wonder whether the high price will become a disadvantage?
    And as Philidor mentioned above that the higher list price means steeper discounts so is the high list price necessary?
    I’m a learner here so I would be glad to see your wise ideas, thank you.

    • Sophie :
      And as Philidor mentioned above that the higher list price means steeper discounts so is the high list price necessary?

      What this means is that the return on the investment (ROI) would be lower, or longer, because of the heavy discounts. Normally the margin on a widebody aircraft is quite high, but because the list price is expected to be so high Boeing would be forced to lower its margin, given that it is competing with the A350-1000. The high list price is not artificial, it is commanded by the R&D expenses.

      If the A350-1000 delivers on its promises Boeing may have to abandon the 777-8X and concentrate on the 777-9X. One way to asses the position of the 777-8X is with the time it takes Boeing to launch the project. If they cannot make it economically viable they will drag the project for ever. At least for this variant. There is a big risk in developing new wings for the 777-8X because it is competing directly with the A350-1000. And two different sets of wings is obviously more expensive to develop. Actually the whole project is extremely expensive for a design that dates back to the nineties. And Boeing wants to avoid another bad investment like for the 747-8.

      The task appears more difficult than I had originally anticipated. That is because I was skeptical that the A350-1000 would be able to easily dislodge the 777. But the former appears to be so efficient that the latter now needs to be completely redesigned. It comes to a point where there is little difference with a brand new aircraft.

      I thought that Airbus was taking a gamble with the A350XWB. But I now have the impression that they knew exactly what they were doing. Boeing has owned the widebody market for a long while. But like for the narrowbody market they may have to surrender it to the competition. Boeing needs to put its best engineers, and most experienced ones, on the 777X because the stakes are high.

      • The 8X range of ~9,400nm is a niche the -1000 cannot match and the 8X will be the platform for a freighter. The 8X will have a role in the “space” but it will be a limited role.

      • Thanks for your kind reply. So the key point is on the expenses of its development and manufacture, but why the development cost is so high regarding the 777X as a upgrate rather than a brand new product?

        • You can see my other posts in this thread for a more complete answer. But lets just say that the 777X will have a brand new composite wing, an Al-Li fuselage and a completely up-to-date cockpit. Along with significant upgrades of its various systems, including the engines. But the key point is that the A350-1000 is forcing Boeing to extract the maximum from the “old” 777 and commands an extensive revision of the aircraft and its systems. It comes to a point where there is not that much difference with a brand new design.

  12. What would be the business case if Boeing put the new GE9X, the 10 abreast cabin option and a 2 row stretch on the 777-300ER?

    The engines will be 6-8% better then the GE90-11X according to GE. Aerodynamics tweaks 1-2% (?), 5-6% more seats (2 rows). A CASM improvement of 15%. Without a new wing.

    EIS 3 years earlier, cheaper, lower risk, little investment. And it would preserve the value of the existing 777 fleet for the leasing companies. http://cdn.airnation.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/air_lease_boeing_777-300ER_z49vg2.jpg

    • 3 year jump could be a huge bonus, that would be 300 aircraft with new engines instead of the old version. If the wing has to “buy its way onto the aircraft”, I’d like to see the assumptions and number projections for a 5 billion dolllar wing. I agree with you, the engine is the low hanging fruit.

  13. One issue that so far as I know has not been commented upon here is that Boeing plans to build a new composite wing for the 77X but keep the present basic aluminum skin and stringer design of the fuselage and just stretch or shrink it to fit the variant.
    I happen to think this is a mistake as Boeing can be accused of not building the best aircraft they can, and it will make it easier for AI to build a better all new competitor.
    But there could be several reasons for Boeing’s decision.
    The official reason as given to me is that Boeing wants to get more value out of the existing 777 fuselage tooling.
    This doesn’t survive the smell test as that tooling is now pre-1994 for the oldest bits and probably about pre-2002 for the youngest, so it is well used and near fully depreciated under typical accounting rules.
    Maybe a better reason is that Boeing has never gotten the composite fuselage costs down as they anticipated they would.
    Another more sinister reason could be that they never got the weight reduction over an aluminum fuselage that they wanted.
    Another real possibility relates to the expected high list price and Boeing’s difficulty in keeping the aircraft competitively priced.
    As mentioned above it is possible that the composite fuselage costs are higher than expected and keeping the existing fuselage should reduce costs considerably.
    I know this is all speculation but the real answer will eventually come out and I don’t think it will be the one given me.

    • We think the true reason is that Chicago didn’t have the appetite for another all-new airplane after the 787 debacle.

    • An aluminium-lithium (Al-Li) fuselage might be a good compromise between traditional aluminium and composite. Boeing would be able to use the same tooling while saving a lot on weight (close to 10%).

  14. I would not be surprized if the 777X ends up with a smaller span and advanced wingtip devices instead of folding wingtips. Cockpit and cabin enhancements, said new engines, the small 2 row stretch, e.g. below deck lavatories.

    Maybe Boeing will be recalled on the 777X wing. Just like 2 years ago by SW, DL and AA on the NSA/ MAX. JAL/ANA asking Boeing if they can deliver a 15% fuel cost reduction on the 777 by 2018, competitively priced. Please answer within 2 months. Waiving with a Leahy XWB -1000 MOU.
    http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/analysis-a350-1000-challenges-japans-loyalty-to-boeing-386755/

    And shift the bigger wing/ wingbox development to the 787.

  15. leehamnet :
    The 8X range of ~9,400nm is a niche the -1000 cannot match and the 8X will be the platform for a freighter.

    Boeing is king in the long range and freighter markets. But is the long range niche big enough to justify the investment? Will the freighter market be strong enough to support the 8X when it comes out of the assembly line? How much money is Boeing going to spend on the 8X alone?

    My concern is the commonality of the 8X and 9X wings. How much of the 9X wing can be carried over to the 8X? If we were just talking about a traditional aircraft like the 777 Classic I would have few reservations for this project. But it looks like the 777X is going to be a very advanced design. Maybe not as revolutionary as the 787 is, but nevertheless, because of the size of the aircraft and the advanced technology it will be very costly to design and setup the manufacturing process for its production. Especially if Boeing decides to do the wings in-house. But the last I herd they were going to leave it with the Japanese.

    The development of shale gaz and oil in United States has revolutionized the oil market. And because of that we can expect the oil prices to remain relatively low for the foreseeable future. So if the 777X price tag is going to be as high as they say it does not bode well for the 777-8X business case.

    • “But is the long range niche big enough to justify the investment?”

      That’s why Boeing will also offer a 777-8X Lite.

      • The Lite sounds like a good idea. But I don’t know if they can keep the price “Lite” as well! 😉

  16. “But it looks like the 777X is going to be a very advanced design.”

    Not so advanced.
    No weight savings from composite fuselage.
    No long term maintenance advantage of composite fuselage.
    No all-electric architecture.
    No bleedless engines.
    No lower cabin altitude.
    No larger cabin windows.

    It is pretty easy to envision a more advanced aircraft than the planned 777X.

    “We think the true reason is that Chicago didn’t have the appetite for another all-new airplane after the 787 debacle.”

    If Boeing executives don’t have the appetite for a new aircraft (777X will be around for the next 20+ years) then it is time for new Boeing executives, with at least some of the courage of their predecessors.

    • “But it looks like the 777X is going to be a very advanced design. Maybe not as revolutionary as the 787 is…”

      This is the way I put it: advanced design, but not revolutionary. The Dreamliner is in a class by itself. Even Airbus did not dare to go as far with the A350XWB.

      That being said, the 777X will have a composite wing, the largest and most complex part of the aircraft. The fuselage will also be made out of advanced material like aluminium-lithium. Al-Li should save a lot of weight (10-12%). Maybe not as much as composite, but close. It is also much more corrosion resistant than conventional aluminium. The 777X will also have the latest in terms of propulsion. The engines are another important part of the aircraft. The engine choice can sometime make or break an aircraft type. And it lends itself well to constant PIPs.

      It is my understanding that Boeing wants to review the entire design of the 777 in order to improve the performance in every aspect as much as it is technically possible. Systems commonality will be less than 60% with the Classic. Boeing is indeed considering a lower altitude cabin and larger cabin windows (see link below). The cockpit will be completely revamped as well. Maybe not revolutionary, but definitely an advanced design.

      http://www.aspireaviation.com/2013/03/28/boeing-777x-to-spark-mini-jumbo-war/

  17. Fred Bearden :
    Not so advanced.
    No weight savings from composite fuselage.
    No long term maintenance advantage of composite fuselage.
    No all-electric architecture.
    No bleedless engines.
    No lower cabin altitude.
    No larger cabin windows.

    – Not so advanced: When compared to the 787 it is indeed not so advanced. But compared to any other aircraft it can be considered as an advanced design.

    – No weight savings from composite fuselage: There will be considerable weight saving with an Aluminium-Lithium fuselage.

    – No long term maintenance advantage of composite fuselage; There are long term maintenance advantages to be derived from a third generation Al-Li fuselage.

    – No all-electric architecture: Thank God!

    – No bleedless engines: This is related to the all-electric concept and does not offer any significant advantage in itself.

    – No lower cabin altitude: Boeing is studying the possibility of lowering the cabin altitude.

    – No larger cabin windows: Boeing is studying the possibility of adopting larger cabin windows for the new Al-Li fuselage.

  18. Boeing set the bar quite high with the 787.
    Now in my opinion they are lowering it with the 777X relative to the 787.

    The 787 composite construction, bleedless engine and electric architecture were supposed to be the future.

    If Boeing now is having second thoughts about the benefits of those improvements what does that say about the 787?

    Every major advance in commercial aircraft has entailed very considerable risk.
    The Comet, 747-100, many others were early disasters but we learned with each attempt.
    We learn a lot less with derivative aircraft.

    As for the disdain for electric aircraft, I’ve been around dirty, oily, smelly, sticky, leaky old aircraft all my life and welcome the improvements that electric systems will eventually bring.

    Despite the 787 early problems i believe it will be a world changer; I don’t see the 777X, as currently proposed, in the same light.

    As for 777X lower cabin altitude and larger windows, they will not be as low and as large as the 787’s.

  19. Fred Bearden :
    As for the disdain for electric aircraft, I’ve been around dirty, oily, smelly, sticky, leaky old aircraft all my life and welcome the improvements that electric systems will eventually bring.

    – Dirty: After a few flights the 787 will be as dirty as any other aircraft because it has to face the same elements.

    – Oily: The 787 has similar engines to any other modern airliner flying today. The real breakthrough came when we switched from the pistons to the jets: no more puddles of oil under the cowlings.

    – Smelly: It is possible that the 787 will smell less in the cabin. But that is for the benefit of the passengers and flight crew, not the technicians and engineers working around the aircraft.

    – Sticky: The landing gear will not retract on the 787 if you don’t grease it. And the flight controls will jam for the same reason. By the way the Dreamliner still taxis on wheels. Boeing did not have to reinvent that tried and true technology.

    – Leaky: The 787 hydraulic system still uses the infamous Skydrol oil as does any other big jet outside the military (except for the brakes). The only real difference is the pressure: 5000 psi versus the standard 3000 psi that can be found on other airliners. It still leaks from time to time, and when it does it makes a bigger mess because of the higher pressure. There is also one additional hazard that is not found on any other aircraft: liquid cooling of the electrical system.

    Don’t get me wrong Fred, I know exactly what you are talking about. But the 787 is still an aircraft, more or less like any other aircraft. If anything, it could end up being a nightmare to maintain: all-composite, all-electric and all-new. 😉

  20. Normand Hamel :
    Smelly: It is possible that the 787 will smell less in the cabin. But that is for the benefit of the passengers and flight crew, not the technicians and engineers working around the aircraft.

    Joke aside, for those who are wondering why the 787 would smell less inside the cabin, it is attributed to the bleedless concept, which is itself tied to the all-electric architecture. On a “normal” aircraft the pressurization would come from the air that is bypassed from the engine (bleed air). This air could contain various contaminants like engine oil or exhaust fumes. Occasionally the passengers and crew might suffer some degree of discomfort because of a defective oil seal or a wind gust that will deflect the exhaust towards the intake of the engine, from where it will eventually reach the inside of the cabin.

    For a frequent flyer this could turn out to be a substantial advantage. Even more so for the flying personnel. Fumes inside the cabin can actually pose a serious health hazard and it is reported that some crew members have been (permanently) incapacitated by it. So a cabin free of nasty fumes could be a big plus for the Dreamliner. Time will tell. But in the interim this advantage my be nullified by the smell of smoky batteries, toasted electrical panels or burning CFRP. 😉

  21. Normand Hamel :
    – No bleedless engines: This is related to the all-electric concept and does not offer any significant advantage in itself.

    I was thinking in terms of specific fuel consumption (SFC). It has not been demonstrated that the bleedless engine saves more fuel than a conventional engine. It is true that the by-passed air makes the engine work less efficiently; but on the other hand it does not have to drive those huge generators. That is what I meant by “does not offer any significant advantage”.

    But when it comes to the quality of air inside the cabin I would dare to say that the bleedless engines on the Dreamliner might be the beginning of a new era.

  22. I’m curious of the development expenses of recent new planes, such as 787/380/350? Could Scott show me the data?

    • 787 said to be $22bn, but Boeing has never said this.

      A380 believed to be ~$15bn but Airbus has never confirmed.

      A350 advertised to be around $15bn, jury is still out.

      For comparison, 777 in 1994 was said to be ~$12bn but never confirmed, but the reason 787 was outsourced so much so Boeing’s target exposure was just $5bn. We saw how well that worked out.

      A new, single aisle 737 replaced estimated in 2011 to be $10bn-$12bn, so MAX was said by James Bell (then Boeing CFO) to be 10% of NSA cost. It’s turning out to be much more than that.

      • I can’t imagine that the Airbus a350 development cost would be near as much as the 787. Number one, the a350 is not as technically “exotic” as the 787 in it’s implementation of CFRP or electrical systems. Number two, the a350 program hasn’t suffered the supplier woes that befell the 787 during it’s development. Number three, the a350 program is an incremental-tech follow-on to the a380 program which, for all its woes, was at least designed, developed and certified without trauma (the trauma came when it was time to build the a380). Number four, Airbus has taken it’s time developing the a350 – probably in large part because Louis Gallois said that development was to be funded from existing cash flow.

        Now…the Airbus a350 is entering the production phase of the program – the part of the program where cash burn rapidly accelerates. As a result, we will soon see how well AIrbus is able to produce the a350 and get it’s production efficiency down the learning curve fast enough to staunch the cash flow. Exciting times ahead.

        • “probably in large part because Louis Gallois said that development was to be funded from existing cash flow.”

          EADS/Airbus got some “reimbursable launch aid” for the A350, but it’s not been disclosed precisely how much.

      • Thanks a lot, this info is very interesting! The gap between the design and reality of 787 really surprised me. I laughed I admit, the data is beyond my imagination especially the low designed cost. There must be some serious deviations through the program and I hope they can smooth it gradually.

  23. leehamnet :
    “probably in large part because Louis Gallois said that development was to be funded from existing cash flow.”
    EADS/Airbus got some “reimbursable launch aid” for the A350, but it’s not been disclosed precisely how much.

    Of course. BTW, I read that Airbus got as much as $4.8 Biliion in Launch Aide (http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/53d80402-59d5-11de-b687-00144feabdc0.html#axzz2aqZVY3vh). Nevertheless, this Launch Aide will be relatively meaningless if Airbus can’t get a350 Production efficiency headed down the learning curve pretty quickly. For fun, I did some calculations on expected a350-900 production costs (per unit) at various stages of production given a 16% learning curve and came out with the following (in millions) in USD:

    Unit 20 $261.42
    Unit 40 $219.60
    Unit 60 $198.30
    Unit 80 $184.46
    Unit 100 $174.39
    Unit 150 $157.48
    Unit 200 $146.49

    I’ll be watching these numbers closely as an indicator of how well Airbus does.

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