Odds and Ends: Supply chain demands; Southwest hints?; Retrospective on A320/737 replacements

Supply chain demands: Earlier this week, we talked about the prospect of production wars as Airbus and Boeing ramp up over the next five years, combined with the new entrants and the new offerings from Bombardier and Embraer.

We noted that this will mean opportunity and risk for the supply chain. Ryan Murphy from Salem Partners has a long analysis the starts with the finishing sector but which goes beyond this to discuss the broader implications. It makes for an interesting read.

Southwest: Hints of things to come? Yesterday we wrote about Southwest Airlines and the demise of the Wright Amendment that restricts travel from Dallas Love Field. We suggested several routes that Southwest would launch from Love once the Amendment passes into history.

Here’s a display Southwest erected on its countdown to the end of the Wright Amendment. We think it hints at things to come. Going clockwise: Chicago, New York and Charlotte seem to be where the airplanes are going. Then Los Angeles and Salt Lake City seem to be implied destinations. But the last one? Boise, or some other obscure city?

Or are we reading too much into the placement of these airplanes?

Source: Dallas Morning News

Our thoughts:

WN Love Field

Retrospective: We were looking at previous posts for some specific information and in the process re-read one about replacing the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737. The post dates from 2009. In light of subsequent events, it makes for interesting re-reading. We discuss the internal views of Airbus and Boeing about replacement or re-engining their aircraft and the engines from Pratt & Whitney and GE Aviation/CFM. We also touch on Boeing leaning toward not replacing the 777.

Retrospective, Part 2: Airchive has a nice set of historical looks at the development of the Boeing factory at Everett: Part One and Part Two.

19 Comments on “Odds and Ends: Supply chain demands; Southwest hints?; Retrospective on A320/737 replacements

  1. Scott, one thing I’ve not seen mentioned is the possibility of Airbus or Boeing buying either Bombardier or Embraer. If, for example, either bought Bombardier, they’d get a decently newer airframe than the 320/737 that would surely sell more with Airbus’/Boeing’s more aggressive and developed sales operation behind it. They could then push the size of the 737/320 replacement upwards, and in Airbus’ case combine it with a 330 replacement. They’d also get access to high speed rail systems, which seem well placed to continue to eat into the case for many short haul air routes in Europe and Asia. Or if they bought Embraer they’d get BRIC and lower cost production access. All while addressing suppl chain issues, production wars etc.

    Is this discussed much? Any thoughts?

  2. Slightly off-topic, but David Kaminsky Morrow at Flightglobal has just posted a link on twitter to a new Airbus patent for a folding wingtip.


    The difference from other type of folding wings is that the tip is not folded upwards from a horizontal configuration to a vertical configuration upon landing.


      • Folding wing designs are commonly used in naval aircraft. Folding wings enable naval aircraft to occupy less space in confined aircraft carrier hangars. Wing fold joints in naval aircraft use highly loaded hinges and locking pins acting over very small wing bending reaction moment arms. However, naval aircraft are much smaller than large commercial aircraft, and present folding wing designs for naval aircraft are optimized to different mission parameters than large commercial aircraft.

        In commercial aircraft, a folding wing design may be scaled up. High reaction loads may be overcome by increasing the size of the hinges and locking pins. However, these size increases would increase aircraft weight, and increases in aircraft weight are undesirable because operating costs such as fuel costs are increased. Consequently, the increase in weight negates the advantages offered by the long span wings.


      • I guess Boeing thinks that raked wings with folding tips are substantially different in concept from plain old wings with folding wingtips based on their claims. If I came up with the idea to use folding wingtips on the next LCA, I would not have been the one to push for a patent. But like a said below, I’m no patent lawyer.

        As far as I know, it is well understood that folding wingtips on an LCA would place a whole different set of requirements on the joint and mechanism than the folding wingtips of a naval fighter aircraft. So in my view, this fact does not make the idea new.

    • Wings that do not fold up, but instead fold back are not new and therefore not patentable in my opinion. But hey, I’m not a patent lawyer.

      Indeed, the claims in patent application EP2650212A1 focus exclusively on a very clever locking mechanism for a folding wingtip. A hinge mechanism for the wingtip is presented that folds the wingtip back instead of up, but there are no claims made with regard to the hinge of the direction of fold.

  3. A few threads back Rudy wrote:
    “To quote Scott, “The question is, which company goes first? We think Boeing has the greater need and greater motivation. We believe Boeing will be first off the mark.” You are absolutely right Scott, but you did not stress the principle reasons why, i.e., The A320 has a much taller landing gear compared to the 737, allowing Airbus to put the all-new Geared-Fan-Engine (GFE) on the A320 ASAP, while this will NOT be possible on the 737, because of inadequate ground clearance, putting the 737 at a very serious disadvantage v.v. the A320GFE!
    With 10,000+ 737s sold so far, Boeing should and will, therefore, produce an all new carbon-fibre 737 replacement a/p with the GFE, as you indicated, which will in turn be a much better a/p than ANY A320 with the same GFE, but with a non c / f airframe. This will put Airbus at a serious disadvantage v.v. the all new (737)GFE!
    My conclusion: Airbus would be foolish to put the GFE on the existing A320 air- frame, but instead sell as many of the existing A320NEO’s as possible and follow Boeing ASAP thereafter, with an all new CarbonFibre-GFE powered a/p, putting them in second place to the all-new Boeing (737)GFE, for several years there-after!”

    This retrospective is a reminder the NSA didn’t materialise, and why Boeing find themselves in a difficult position – a new airframe doesn’t add that much to the party in efficiency gains, it is the engines that are the real drivers, and because Airbus have an airframe more suited to accepting them they are in a position to sit and wait for the NSA and then leapfrog it.once they see it starting to eat into their sales. But, it would be a big investment on the part of Boeing to gain that 4% from the airframe, if Airbus can use the same engines as the NSA.

    In the Neo/Max battle, Boeing have the greater exposure because they are solely reliant on the Leap engine delivering as promised – if it doesn’t and the GTF does, Boeing really do have a problem facing them.

  4. One thing in the retrospective is I don’t remember any talk of rewinging the 737 or A320 with a CFRP wing on the existing fuselage. It seemed like there were only two options, re-engine or new airplane. Option C didn’t seem to be a consideration until the advent of the 777x.

  5. That top aircraft could be going to DEN but it does look like it overshot it a little so my best guess in SEA. They already have about a dozen routes out of there and a half dozen seasonal routes and a Texas destination is noticeably absent. Also, I assume the aircraft is going to OAK not SLC where they can take on NK. I could see SLC as well so we might indeed be over thinking this…

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