Odds and Ends: The risk on airborne fires; C919 delays; A380 v 747-8I

The Risk of Fire: FlightGlobal has this story about the risk of fires on board (free registration required). The news article is alarming about the risks of lithium-ion batteries, combined with the new composite technology.

The page for the original report is here.

The 70-page report is here.

Among the findings FlightGlobal reports is what we wrote about early this year: if you have a fire on the airplane, you have to get on the ground in a short period of time (15 minutes, according to an Airbus study, 18 minutes according to this new one).

The interaction between the batteries and composites is a concern.

COMAC C919: The Wall Street Journal has an article talking about the anticipated delays of the COMAC C919. This is via Google News, so it should be accessible to Readers. Here is also a short news item from China Daily and one from Bloomberg.

Airbus loses advertising complaint: Remember those Boeing ads promoting its 747-8 as 26% more economical than the A380? Airbus filed a complaint with a UK watchdog agency, which denied the complaint Tuesday. Aviation Week has this article. One of the things that strikes us from the regulator’s decision is its conclusion that customers would, essentially, see past Boeing’s claims.

Boeing’s use of seats counts–notably 467 for the 747-8–supports the math of the advertisement. But Airbus is right that in true airline configuration, the count would be 405 seats, which dramatically alters the Boeing claims.

Regardless, we have previously opined that the comparison is ridiculous. Given the large differences in the size of the airplanes, comparing the 748 with the A380 is like comparing the 737-700 with the A321. Boeing is cheeky to make the comparison and Airbus fell for it. This debate is hardly worthy of two world-class companies,

Rather than engaging in a debate over seat-based economics, Airbus has a clear upper hand in these numbers: airlines have purchased 262 A380s and only 40 747-8Is. These are the only numbers that count and with these, Airbus clearly has the better advertisement.

Update: AirInsight has some statistics to look at.

25 Comments on “Odds and Ends: The risk on airborne fires; C919 delays; A380 v 747-8I

  1. I noticed Airbus didn’t compare the KE A-380 with 407 seats to the LH B-747-8 with 405 seats. Both are premium products of their respective airlines.

    • Which LH 748 with 405 seats? There is none that I can see.

      LH have a 748 version with 362 seats and a version with 386 seats. LH has either 8/80/298 or 8/92/262. Korean has 12/94/301. So the revenue potential of the Korean Air A388 is higher than either LH version, while seat numbers are 5 or 12% higher, depending on which version you look at. By class, the seat number difference is 50/2/15% or 50/18/1% higher for the Korean Air A388.

  2. It is interesting to see that the Boeing spokesperson managed to misinterpret the meaning of the ASA ruling:
    “We are pleased that our advertisements underlining the advantages of buying Boeing products have been supported,” Boeing spokesman Matt Knowles said by e-mail.

    It is also interesting that Boeing had also launched their own complaint about an Airbus reply advert. I find this whole advert war quite amusing.

    • He’s quite right, no? The advert underlines the advantages of buying Boeing products (he didn’t claim they were real, rather than made-up), and the ASA supported the ad by not upholding the complaint. Of course, ASA is also right as Scott points out, that those happening to be in the market for a four-holer seem to be able to not be influenced unduly by the ad. It’s not like the 748 has been flying off the shelves since it was published. Of course, one could argue LH was taken in. I can imagine the conversation. “Achtung Nico, ve must buy ze 748, it is Vorsprung durch Technik, I have read it in ze Flight Magazin.” “Ja Wolfgang, let’s buy ze 20 Maschinen. “But Fritz, it is so much Vorsprung, ve need more of zem.” “And die 20 Options zen.” Ja!” “Prost Wolfgang.” “Prost Nico”. Somehow, I don’t zink so.

      • It can be viewed that what the spokesman said was that the ASA supported ‘the advantages of buying Boeing products’. It’s all in the language of course.

        The question of aim for these ads is also interesting. If those making the decisions cannot be swayed, then who else, particularly as they are not decision makers?

  3. leehamnet :
    405 seats is what you get in an apples-to-apples configuration compared with the A380 at 525 seats.

    Thanks, that does make sense. But it’s not an LH configuration. I believe they initially looked at that number of seats though, which is probably where the confusion comes from. It’ll be interesting to see what their A388s pack when they are converted to the same J standard as the 748.

  4. A380 vs 747-8 seat counts/ specs and cost per seat based on it. Discussed it many years ago.


    IMO the only reason Boeing is sticking to 20 year old seat specs (business class.seat , 7 abreast @ 40 inch pitch anyone?) is its a tool to keep up a public (not industry) image they build the more efficient aircraft.

    Seatcounts are ideal to work the numbers.

    The guys at the wheel all have large stock related incomes. Half truths and a confused public bring in dollars.

    And no, its not: the other guys do it too.

  5. Looked through the document on fires and composites you provided. It seems to be more the risk of Li batteries is higher than most expected. The main theme I got was that wiring and debris were major risks for fire and smoke in addition to the fact that Li batteries are not a good thing to transport. There was actually not much on the difference of fire in an aluminum hull versus a composite hull that I could see (pages 45 on).

    • What stood out to me there were the risks they identified, and the response they were met with by Boeing. There seemed a disconnect.

  6. The ASA at least said one thing right that the decision-making of airlines won’t be impact by these advertisments so they need not be agitated while the public’s view means little to the makers.

  7. Did anybody count how many hours of discussions have been spend on the theme: “correct number of seats in a plane type” ?
    I think this is wasted time because every airline and every manufacturer defines its own furniture schema. It is a variable and not usefull for defining figures like fuel comsumption.
    In contrast to this is the usable floorspace a constant for every type.
    By using the figure: fuel comsumption/usable floorspace = [l/sqm], there would be a constant base for comparisons.
    …And the air lines are free to install as many first class seats as they want or cafeterias or even swimming pools in their planes … and the fuel comsumption per usable floorplace doesn´t change.

  8. Reply to Scott:

    “Airbus has a clear upper hand in these numbers: airlines have purchased 262 A380s and only 40 747-8Is.”

    Agreed the argument is ridiculous, particularly because I don’t see how A can have the “upper hand” if the planes are so different from one another.

    If one does compare, the 747 is not doing too badly vs the A380. According to B’s web site, they have gotten 220 orders for all 747 variants since A launched the 380 in 2000, 42 less than A’s 380 orders. Of those orders, 152 were freighters (49 -400Fs, 38 -400ERFs, and 65 748Fs). So B clearly has the “upper hand” in the cargo area, 152 to 0 (zero); and there is no chance that A will ever mkt a A380F, or that pax 380s will be converted into freighters. When EK starts getting rid of it’s 380s after only 12 years, they are likely to head to that great junk pile in the sky to join the A346s.

    I think the real question now, is whether either plane will have sufficient orders going forward to justify continued production. There are indications that the cargo mkt is beginning to pick up,so maybe the 748F will begin to some more orders.

    • Boeing’s advertisement did not talk about the out-of-production 747-400, so these sales figures are irrelevant in context.

  9. Leeham,

    i wonder if you are not an Airbus boy …
    You give the wrong to Boeing. Highlight the things in the context. It is not a question of who has the best advertising. But why Airbus a scope complaint wrongly especially that they know they have the advantage

    the truth is that the niche market of jumbos plumbed the economy of Airbus, the A380 provides complication for Airbus.

    You say that 262 A380 have been sold against 40 747-8i … why you don’t count the 747-8F? …

    Year launch A380 : 2000
    launch year 747-8 : 2005

    106 orders of 747-8 it is not bad against 262 (questionable) for an aircraft launched 5 years later …

    • Checklist, you couldn’t be more wrong, Scott is far from a fanboy for Airbus, or Boeing. He writes them as he sees them. Yes, he has written many critical articles about Boeing, but he has also written and said some good things about them. The exact same thing can be said about his stories on Airbus.

    • We don’t count the 747-8F because there is no A380F. If you did count the 748F, it’s just 105 Boeings against the A380–only a 29% market share, which is still pretty dismal. But we’re talking passenger aircraft, not pax and freighters.

      For our recent view of the A380, you might look at this July 22 post:

      As for your reference about the Airbus complaint over the Boeing advert–as we wrote, Boeing baited the hook and caught a whale (actually we didn’t write it exactly that way but make up for it here).

  10. Airbus could put the 747-8F hump on top of the A380 as a vista-dome lounge. Win-win for both companies.

  11. kc135topboom :Checklist, you couldn’t be more wrong, Scott is far from a fanboy for Airbus, or Boeing. He writes them as he sees them. Yes, he has written many critical articles about Boeing, but he has also written and said some good things about them. The exact same thing can be said about his stories on Airbus.

    That which is false is to say that Airbus has reason … It is saying that Boeing to wrong! Denmark … Therefore saw that Boeing is attack to wrong and across and that the complaint of Airbus is considered inadmissible after a year of investigation. It is more than obvious that Boeing to beat Airbus on this field despite him. When one is serious it refrains to say of assemption of this sort …

    Leeham must recognize this error. Thank You

    • I’ll try to understand you.

      You believe Leeham is at fault to say that the Boeing numbers are wrong or at least misleading (467 vs 405); And you require this opinion blog to accept the Boeing numbers since an advertisement was not ruled to be likely to mislead the average reader of flight magazine or actual aircraft purchase people…

      But the numbers are misleading – that’s the point of marketing (and why I don’t understand Airbus’ move (though a win would have been epic in fanboy world (and meaningless in real world (I’ll stop with the asides here)))
      The ruling did not support Boeings claims – just that the numbers did follow from the input. the little fact that the input was excrement was not important because no-one in their right mind bases a/c buy decisions on marketing spin.
      This is an opinion blog – and gracefully allows us unworthy pundits to expound our brain farts at each other in the comment section. A happy passtime with no real impact on the world.

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