Odds and Ends: Lufthansa’s pending widebody order; MRJ v E-Jet E2; MAXimizing space

Lufthansa’s Pending Order: As we have written on previous occasions, Lufthansa Airlines has been preparing a large order for twin-aisle, twin-engine aircraft: 50 or more. We’d noted that the order was likely due in September.

Aviation Week has this update.

Mitsubishi MRJ v Embraer E-Jet E2: Flight Global reports that the Japanese OEM says the latest 15 month delay won’t hurt sales of the MRJ (to which one wag notes it’s not selling well anyway–there are only three customers), but what caught our eye is the Mitsubishi reference comparing the MRJ with the Embraer E-Jet E2. This is like the debate of new vs re-engine between Bombardier’s CSeries and the smallest Airbus and Boeing products.

MAXimizing space: Boeing shifted work around at its Renton (WA) factory as it prepares for production of the 737 MAX. The Seattle Times has a good wrap up.

47 Comments on “Odds and Ends: Lufthansa’s pending widebody order; MRJ v E-Jet E2; MAXimizing space

  1. There is one notable difference when comparing CSeries and A320neo/B737MAX on the one hand and MRJ and EJet E2 on the other: the EJet E2 will get a new wing! Fuselage materials are the same for both for now, Mitsubishi opted for ordinary (and cheap) aluminium. Embraer still could decide to use a mor advanced alloy and then could have the upper hand.

  2. LH will go with A330s and A350s to replace A340s and 77x to replace 747s. No options for 748 will be exercised.

    If it does not go this way, I shall eat my hat

    • In this scenario (which I agree is likely) I would expect LH to convert those 748 options to 779 options. Maybe even convert some of the 748 firm orders …

  3. The 737 has MINimum space at 6 abreast. Time to get to work on the new small airplane.

  4. EbbUK, why would LH order more A-330s? They already operate 24 the A-333. LH has a history of ‘bucking the trend’ when it comes to WB orders. They didn’t order the current B-777 versions, did get the A-343 and A-346, at one time they operated the DC-10-30 on long haul, and one of the few to order the B-748i. They will not follow everyone else here, too. I see them exercising the 20 B-748i options, the 3 A-388 options, ordering the B-777-9X and the B-787-10 over the A-350-900/-1000.

    LH likes a balanced fleet, so with an all Airbus NB fleet, this order is Boeing’s to loose.

    • I can’t see them taking up any 748 options given that the LH CEO has publicly stated (in June) that LH is considering retiring the 748s early.

      • “early 747-8 retirement.”

        Has it ever been cleared up if this was a misunderstanding on Jens Flottau’s side?
        ( quite a bit of discussion around if this was maybe munged with info about 747-400 retirements. )

        • I question that too, Uwe. LH is flying the B-744s to 120,000 hours, and sometimes a few more than that. Why would they retire their $250M airplanes early?

          • Yes. ( Though it is probably not much more than $150m asset )

            Different question:
            How does an A340’s value as parted out spares compare to a 747(-4, -8) wrecking value ? ( LH seems to retire A340s faster than their 747-400 )

          • The A-340 parts value depends if the part is common to the A-330. The A-340 unique parts will be of lessor value.
            There are still several hundred B-744s flying around the world, so the value of parts from retired B-744s is still relatively high.

          • “lots of 744 flying around”

            but vast numbers are unused and/or in storage ( or in the process of being broken up. ) while a smaller number of A340 could be made available
            as donor for flying A340 _and much more interesting_ the large fleet of A330s.
            My guess would be that 95% of removable parts from an A340 can be used on an A330 ( except the engines of course ).

          • According to Ascend, 545 of 622 744s are in service with the others in storage. Scrapped and destroyed aircraft are not included in these figures.

          • WP:EN says 694 built across all subtypes.
            ~72 “passed away” already and
            ~77 are in storage
            Together about 1 set of (potential) spares for every 4 frames in use.

            On the Airbus side the situation is less rich. IMHO one reason why P2F conversions for any of the FBW types won’t kick off. ( Significant improvements without loosing major spares compatibility.)

  5. I think it has become late to order the A330s. Getting them from 2015 to operate for 20 years probably isn’t an attractive proposition anymore. Unless LH says they should have new 787 style RR engines and Sharklets (LHT has an engine MRO JV with RR). Reducing noise, taxed pollution and fuel consumption by about 15%.

    Maybe a best of both worlds is most likely. 787-9s, A350-1000s and further A380s. I would expect them to operate their 747-8s for at least 10-15 years. So they have some time left to think about a replacement. By the time the 340s get replaced they’ll be over 20 yrs old. They served the cargo heavy routes well.

    • I suppose they go with a two aircraft fleet of A350-900s and 747-8s. The A380 will be shortlived.

      • I don’t think that will work for LH, TC. They would have two 8000 nm WBs and would have to fly heavier aircraft on their shorter missions. That isn’t very economical.

  6. Rudy Hillinga Why is filling out these two lines a new equirement every time I write somethingScott?

    Having been responsible for Boeing Sales to LH before I retired, I know
    from present insiders at the Airline, that they attribute the 747-8 order to
    have been a huge mistake, attributed to one particular individual in their
    Planning Department!

    • Rudy, I heard (from an LH-Technick guy) that Lufthansa had a major voice in configuration decisions, stemming from their own operational experience with the 744. So the 748i should really be what LH wanted. Further I heard (but without proof) that LH got them so heavily discounted that BCA does not profit from that deal. I cannot proof the last statement though. I heard it also from an LHT engineer so its hearsay.
      Further, I know that there is a strong “pro Boeing” Pilot lobby inside LH who dearly wanted the 748, but decision making in a business does not take into account pilots wishes if the numbers are not right.
      I wonder why the deal is considered a mistake inside LH? Can you give more details without compromising your source?

      • Industry chatter, never confirmed but plausible, is the 748s to LH were part of a compensation agreement for Boeing cancelling Connexion, of which LH was launch customer.

      • Why would the Lufthansa pilots be such pro Boeing fans? Is it only because of the 747 or does that apply across the whole fleet?

        I could understand their preference for the 748 if they want to have the nostalgic experience. I had a chance to look in the cockpit of a brand new 748 a few months ago. Talk about retro!

    • If fingers are pointing to one particular individual, is suspicion of unethical behavior part of the story ?

  7. Boeing just rolled out ZB001 (first 787-9) to the flightline. It happened a bit later than I thought, but it looks like there is still plenty of time to get the first flight off before the end of September.

  8. The 787-9 looks like the optimal 787 to me. A good balance between wing area, capasity, range, weights. Airlines ordering 787 from now on will likely prefer this type, 787-8 customers will try to convert them to -9s. As has been happening over the last few years.

    Re: the LH 747-8 I think it has been clear for ever nobody wants to be the sole operator of a type. You have to take care of all paper work, modifications, MRO etc yourself with little choice in suppliers. I remember Boeing was desperate for a launching customer, long after they launched the 747-8. LH promoted the 747-8i for years in the hope of other airlines joining (and sourcing their MRO and training to LH.) No they are stuck with it.

    Giving the situation as it is, they’ll have to make the best of it. Completing the 20 orders seems likely, maybe they can aquire the 5 KA ones cheaply too. The aircraft fill a niche between the A340-600s and A380s. An efficient long haul 400 seater with good cargo capabilities. LH will develop a fleetmanagement structure with Boeing to make sure they’ll can keep them in service for another 15 yrs at minimal costs and maximal efficiency.

    Similar to low production aircraft like Concorde, the Brequet 737, VFW614, CO 767-200ERs, 747-400ERs etc.

  9. L plans to replace 100 WBs (767s, 772s, A340s, and A330s), with the A330s being the last to go. I don’t know what 767s they are referring to because neither L nor Swiss operate them now.http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-04-09/lufthansa-prepares-wide-body-purchase-that-will-favor-one-vendor.html b.oomberg The former were delivered between 5/89 and 3/02, the latter between 3/93 and 6/2000. The current plan is to replace L’s two oldest types, 744s of which L operates 30, and A343s of which L operates 24, according to their web site. L will buy 22 744s and 24 A343s. http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/08/22/us-lufthansa-order-idUSBRE97L0ZS20130822.
    L’s decision may be based on how quickly they want replace the A343s to get better fuel economy, even if it means replacing them before the end of their normal useful lives. L has already moved swiftly to replace Swiss’ fifteen 343s with 777-300ERs because they could not get 787s/350s until the end of the decade, or even 2020. If memory serves, Swiss will get their -300ERs starting in 2015. If L do the same with their 343s, they will get the deal of a life time from B, perhaps several life times, with delivery the next day. And, if L does this, then why not buy -300ERs to replace the 744s? After all, this is what they (and the A346) were designed for. An even better deal of several life times. There would be savings from commonality with L’s 777Fs and Swiss’ -ERs. L would join the many airlines which will take delivery of hundreds of –ERs in the next three years and beyond and be likely to keep those planes for 20-25 years because their operating costs are so much less than those of the planes they will replace. The –ER is not a plane, like say the A346, that airlines will have to dump before the end of their normal useful lives. Or, L could lease –ERs for themselves and their affiliates until they can get 778/9Xs in quantity. The deal of a light year!
    I know this is iconoclastic and likely will not happen. BUT, IMHO, such a deal is consistent with L’s stated desire to get big twins into their fleet ASAP, and also their “bottom feeder” process for buying very expensive new planes: buy early and cheap, particularly planes that are not selling well or may not be the best in class, or for some other reason are very, very cheap for what they have to offer; eg C Series, A346, and 748i. Speaking of the last, why not exercise the -8i options. The price would be more than right. The deal of the Galaxy!

  10. The lower half of the first paragraph should have read:

    “The former were delivered between 5/89 and 3/02, the latter between 3/93 and 6/2000. The current plan is to replace L’s two oldest types, 744s of which L operates 30, and A343s of which L operates 24, according to their web site. L will buy 22 744s and 24 The former were delivered between 5/89 and 3/02, the latter between 3/93 and 6/2000.”

  11. Am I the only one thinking that A380s + B748s + B777-9 would not be a very smart mix, even for a big airline group like LH ?

    I can see the -9 joining LH’s fleet only as a conversion of outstanding 748 orders, the existing 748 fleet being later traded in or somehow disposed of with Boeing’s support. Absent this kind of deal, I could see LH going for the -1000.

    • A380, 747-8, A350-1000, 787-9 seems a good / likely mix IMO.

      520, 400, 340, 290 seats. All with good payload (cargo) -range.

      747-8 / A330 Replacements can be decided later this decade.

      The 777X is still undefined and not available in good numbers until early next decade. It would mean a direct capacity / payload (cargo)-range cut when replacing the 747-8.

  12. In the Aviation week article it is reported that LH want to start receiving the new ac from around 2018-2019, so that rules out any order for any 777 version as these will be available only from late 2020.
    So expect a major order of ab350 and few 787-10. Don’t forget that LH is an european company so I don’t see them ordering more Boeing aircraftes that AB aircrafts.

    • Your characterisation of LH as a euro-jingoist actor probably is a bit off 😉
      LH buys “planes designed to measure” and/or well fitting opportunities.
      They tend to purchase away from the mainstream trend looking for
      proper granularity in fleet capabilities instead of overexpecting on scaling effects.
      LH Technik is a material lever here.

  13. L has criticized B and A for building planes that have more performance than most airlines need. Apparently they feel the two big OEMs are pandering to the demands of the Gulf carriers. Right now, L has only one plane with an 8000 mile range, the 748i, which they are not replacing in this up-coming order cycle, and will be taking at least 8 more of, according to Planespotters. Perhaps the question is, do L need another 8000 miler? If so, will those 8 -8is be enought? In that case, the 787-10 may be what they want. Or, even the -300ER? Perhaps Cathay’s and SIA’s models will apply: Melded together, these carriers intend to use A350s for multi class flights per the current model, using theihuge range to open new mkts, and the 788/9/10 for an LLCish model, in which case they will split. This option may be good for L because they like planes customized to specific routes.

    That said, I wonder if L is really committed to deliveries as late as 2018? Neither OEM will have the capacity to quickly deliver what L wants, Their oldest 343s will be 25 years old. How quickly could L get the 24 planes they want to replace the 343s? The quickest way is probably to split the order between A and B, particularly if/when Leahy gets the second A350 line he has been screaming for. Assuming twelve from each OEM, maybe they get the 24 by 2020. Does L really want to operate their gas guzzling 343s for another 6-8 years? They didn’t want Swiss to. But maybe Swiss was a special case. But Uwe says L owns 63, so even after taking delivery by 2020 of the 24 343 replacements they are ordering now, they will still have 39 to replace during the next decade, using fuel at prices which are impossible to predict now. What can be predicted is that the 343s’ fuel consumption is budget bustingly high.
    now and that will continue during the next decade.

    I just don’t believe they will hold onto them for so long. That is why the -300ER delivered in 2015 (altho I feel certain B could deliver even earlier if L wanted), keeps popping up in my mind. If they buy those now, to replace all 63, for delivery by 2018 or even 2020, they will have solved in as timely a way as they the 343s’ fuel problem, and will be ready for the next round of buying when the 7810/359-1000, and 777X are available.

    • to continue:
      One has to look at the delta between nominal range and the distances LH typically uses their planes on ( should give an idea about cargo utilisation as LH does quite a bit of cargo)

  14. LH planes and range ( q&d WP pick):
    A380 : ~8500nm
    747-8i : <8000nm ( does not perform to spec, though sufficient for LH )
    747-400 : ~7500nm
    A340-300 : ~7400
    A340-600 : ~7750 ( do they have early or late i.e. HGW specimen? )

    If LH orders for delivery before 2022 the 777 is imho out of the running.
    ( Compare to other recent 777 orders that only filled the gap to A350-1000 availabillity.)
    As has been shown on the A340 a large fuel delta can not be compensated by pricing.
    ( Though I think there is more activity behind Boeing tilting the scales towards their 777.)

    • “If LH orders for delivery before 2022 the 777 is imho out of the running.”

      Perhaps there is this scenario: Boeing sells LH more 747-8Is as bridge aircraft to the 777X…at a huge discount.

      • He!

        Any absolute quantity associated in your mind with “huge discount” ?
        maybe buy one get two for free or there abouts 😉
        ( LH already seems to have a contract for buy one get one free as it stands )

  15. I think that just like partners SQ, UA and competitors BA and AF/KL, the chances of the A350-1000 being in the mix are pretty high.

    BTW fellow forum VeroVenia discusses the A350-1000 a lot and has interesting views. http://verovenia.wordpress.com/2013/08/22/no-visibility/#comments. He and other contributors think it is important for Boeing to make sure that the A350-1000 is actually built and delivered. If the A350-1000 is canceled, then Airbus might well launch a new aircraft. The point of no return for the -1000 is still not reached in his opinion. VeroVenia believes it is easier for Boeing to compete against a weak contender than against a strong one.

    In that light, it might be a good idea for Boeing to “give” this order to Lufthansa.

    Last week I posted a responds that of the 700 A350s on order and 200 options, as much as 300-400 might leave the line as A350-1000s. Airlines typically include clauses that give them rights to switch subtypes xx months before delivery, just like this happens with the 787 backlog. That reply somehow evaporated.

    • Do you mean Airbus might launch a new larger, long range aircraft? I would have thought they would focus on some sort of A330 replacement.

      • Thats what I think and many others too. It is however inspiring to see other opinions such as VeroVenia’s. He also concluded the A320 should have been launched back in 2011. That was to early. And he is pretty sure the 787-10 beats the A350-900 on flights just under 6000NM’s and Boeing has Airbus locked in. Generally the blog always concludes Airbus has a big problem.

      • I think that will depend on how much they can get out of the a330, if an a330 NEO works well enough to counter the b787, and only Airbus and Pratt would know, then I can see an a330 NEO and a new VLA twin.

    • I guess you can just skip him up, that is a place without accepting any perspectives conflicted to the blogger while the views there are always bias. Well, for entertainment is good.

  16. Interesting that I thought the 787-10 might be the perfect 787 dimensions wise, but looking at the 787-9, it looks like the 787-10 might look too long now.

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