Airbus’ A350-1000 dilemma

Airbus has a dilemma with what to do about the A350-1000.

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Does the OEM stick with the -1000 as it is, ceding the 400 seat segment to Boeing with its new 777-9X? Or does it stretch the -1000 (we’ll call it the “1100” for a placeholder) for what appears to be a very limited market segment?

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If Airbus does stretch the -1000, what does this stretch look like? One that will match the 9X range and capacity? Or one that matches the capacity but not the range?

Here are the implications of the dilemma facing Airbus.

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Stay the Course

For a long time, Airbus officials said they were satisfied with the design, once tweaked, of the -1000 and they didn’t need to respond to a “paper” airplane. The characterization had a ring to it, for that’s what Boeing officials often said about the -1000: it wasn’t a “real” airplane, they didn’t know what it was, it was a “paper” airplane or some variation thereto.

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Of course, this was rhetoric by both parties. Lufthansa Airlines ordered 34 777-9s. A huge order+option commitment is anticipated at the Dubai Air Show from Emriates Airlines for the -9 and the smaller, ultra-long range (ULR) -8 that is sized directly across from the -1000. Airbus is now faced with the prospect of Boeing once more having a monopoly position with the 777-9 as it did for many years with the 777-300ER.

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Does Airbus want to cede the 400-seat segment to a Boeing monopoly? The question is, how big is this segment? Is there a business case to build the airplane, or one that’s big enough for two airplanes?

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Boeing’s current 20 year forecast indicated there is a need for 4,530 “small” twin aisle, 200-300 seat jets and 3,300 for “medium” twin aisle jets, 300-400 seats, for a total 7,830. Airbus forecasts a need for 4,694 250-300 seat jets and 2,085 350-400 seaters, for 6,779 jets, a difference of nearly 1,100-but, then, Airbus doesn’t have a competitor to the 787-8 at the lower end of the small jet sector.

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Airbus further breaks out its forecast: 2,438 250-seat and 2,256 300-seat jets within the “small” twin; and 1,306 350-seat and 779 400-seat jets within the “medium” twin category. Boeing doesn’t subdivide its forecast.

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The 777-9 will kill the near-dormant 747-8 Intercontinental and will likely eat into sales of the Airbus A380. Does Airbus avoid cannibalizing its own product or does it allow Boeing the monopoly to do so?

A350 Range

Source: Great Circle Mapper

Match the 777-9

Airbus could decide that, despite a its own narrow forecast for a 400 seat segment, it would be better to play in this sandbox, whatever the impact on the A380, than to cede this segment to Boeing. The question then arises, does an A350-1100 match the 777-9 in seats (or come close to it) and range, around 8,100nm-8,400nm?

To match means a major undertaking for a small number of airlines that need a plane with this range. It means a new wing–typically a $3bn project, more or less–and new engines in the 104,000-105,000 lb thrust range. The Rolls-Royce Trent XWB on the A350-1000 is 97,000 lbs and it can’t be pushed any farther, our information tells us. The cost of developing an entirely new engine for such a narrow market doesn’t have a business case. One might exist on the presumption that engines have to get bigger, and a new engine design would provide the basis for an entirely new generation of engines. After all, the Trent fundamentally has been around since the A330. It may well be time, but is an A350-1100 the product from which to develop it? Furthermore, it takes at least seven years to develop a new engine and probably a lot longer. The engine is the pacing item, far more than the airframe. Even if the go-ahead were given this minute, Airbus and RR would be hard-pressed to come up with an A350-1100 by 2020, when the 777-9 EIS is anticipated. So…

The 787-10 Approach
The most viable option for stretching the A350-1000 appears to be following the approach Boeing took with the 787-10: a couple of simple fuselage plugs, some enhancements to the existing engines, the same wing and reduced range that covers 90% of the markets required by the airlines–foregoing the miniscule need by Emirates Airlines for that last 5%-10%.

DXB ranges

Source: Great Circle Mapper

An A350-1100 with reduced range of 7,000nm-7,500nm and a 400 seat capacity would have highly favorable cost per available seat miles. It wouldn’t get you from Paris to Tahiti, but how big is this market? It wouldn’t get you from Dubai to Los Angeles, but are billions of dollars worth of R&D to do so going to get the return on investment to make sense for this airplane?

The clear choice, the financially responsible choice, and the expeditious choice appears to follow the Boeing approach and develop an A350-1100 (or, perhaps, the “A350-1000-10”).

95 Comments on “Airbus’ A350-1000 dilemma

  1. The trick here is to do an all new wing not just for one airframe, and where the A350-1100 would be the smallest “member”. What Airbus should not do is making an all new, one-trick-pony wing, which IMO is the case with the 777-9X.

    The “biggest” member should be a twin engine version of the A380. Let’s call it the A370X. Hence, the wing should support MTOWs from 340-350 tonnes to say, 420-430 tonnes. That’s about the same difference percentage-wise in MTOW as that of the A350-800 and A350-1000.

    For example, the new wing could be sized smack in the middle of the “wing-area-gap” between the A350-1000 and the A380-800. Hence, a wing with an area some 35 percent bigger than that of the A350-1000 would fit that “requirement”; with the current wing of the A380 being around 35 percent bigger than that of the conceptual wing on an A350-1100 (-/A370X) . Interestingly enough — with such a wing — the wing-loading for an A350-1100 would be about the same as that for the A350-800.

    —————————–Wing Area (m2)
    A350-1000——————460
    A350-1100/A370X———620
    A380-800——————–845

    • IMHO you have a similar valley of inefficiency we see between NB and WB craft in the step up from WB to RVLA ( as in Real VLA ). The A380-800 seems to
      be the smallest viable modern example. ( the 747 arrangement is no longer certifiable )
      Setting the 777 on a little step so to speak to push it over the once arbitrarily choosen 400 seat border creates overlap but no real VLA.
      Boeing has been very busy to introduce that ( IMHO false) meme for most of this year now by way of their associated “analysts” and is now trying to walk onto that prelayed pathway.

      • You may be right on the fuselage size, but the problem is that the wing of the A380 is optimised for a stretch version, or two, and not really the current A388. A twin-engined, state-of-the-art A370-900X as described down thread, would have about the same floor area as that of the current A380-800 (i.e. 545m2), and make for an incredible efficient beast. Design range could be around 7500nm. Hence, a shrunken, 65 meter long A370-800X (i.e. range: +8500nm), would have a floor-area some 100m2 less than that of an A379X; or only about 10 percent bigger than that of the 747-8I.

        • The question of a twin engine A380 – shortening it…wouldn’t it need an even bigger vertical stabilizer?

    • To avoid killing the a380 (and any hope of ROI on that a/p) shouldn/t Ab do the A389/A381 first?

      • An A370-900X wouldn’t kill the A380 programme. It would be a twin-engined version of the A388; minus that large wing and main landing gear (MLG) that are optimised for far bigger A380s; it would have a new, smaller, very high-aspect ratio composite wing commonly shared with an A350-1100, although the engines would not be the same. The engines for the A370-900X would have a take-off thrust level requirement of around 125,000 lbs of thrust, while for the A350-1100 around the 100,000 lbs thrust level. A contra-rotating fan could provide for significantly higher bypass-ratios for less fan diameter, hence a fan size not much bigger than the one on the GE90-115B should be enough.

        If Airbus would go ahead with such an undertaking, the development costs of the all new, carbonfibre wing could be attributed to the A350-1100, so what about the fuselage of the A370X?

        IMJ, an A380-type fuselage with two full passenger decks will see even higher weight-savings than a what is the for a single deck aircraft if the fuselage is built out of CFRP. The way the A350 is built architecturally quite similar to the A380 shows how Airbus could make the A380 quite similar to the A350. The metallic cockpit (Section-11) on the A380 would remain the same. Same goes for the empennage (Section-19) and everything below the main deck on the centre fuselage (Section-15). However, fuselage sections 12, 13-14,16-18 could become all composite like the way it’s done on the A350.

        Now, if the costs associated with the switch from metallic to carbonfibre fuselage panels and frames on the A380 would be attributed to an A370X programme, then the ROI on the current A380 wouldn’t be influenced by the development in making the A380 fuselage barrel out of CFRP instead of the current aluminium.

        However, the ROI would be influenced by switching from metallic to carbonfibre on the outer wing box (i.e. the centre wing box is already mostly made out of CFRP). Assuming that the leading and the trailing edges could be retained, IMJ such an undertaking should be doable.

        Hence, an A370 programme would not kill the A380 programme. It would instead lead to a vastly improved A380; not the current A388 but a stretched 80-81 meter long A380-900 and a 88-90 meter long A350-1000 having both a composite fuselage and a composite wing, in addition to very advanced engines based, for example, on the new RR 3039 concept engine.

        • The A350-1100 or -1800 Airbus likes to call it is an easier stretch than the 777-9. Airbus should spend the Money on a new wing optimized for this Aircraft and can then keep the Trent XWB-97 Engine that most likely has a 10-15% margin. RR could certify it to 116k thrust with the ALPS system and let customers derate it as needed. That wing and Engine can later be introduced to the -1000 for even better range and lower seat mile cost. Hopefully Airbus would make so much Money on the -1100 that there is plenty to spend on the A380neo. Listening to Mr. Clark, Udvar-Házy, LH and SQ would maybe give a similar designed wing but bigger with the same ALPS Engine that would stay on wing for close to 50 000hrs only using 85k thrust and a stretched fuselage to close to 80m.

      • I agree, the 380 improvements must come in between the 350-1000 and further stretches. This makes sense, for 2 reasons in particular: 1st: The 350 backlog reaches till 2024, so first priority is to deliver. 2nd: The 777-9 spec are clear till then: It should be feasible to make the new carbon-350 a serious competitor (I don t like the word killer) for the 30 year older 777.
        I have my doubts, though, if it will be the -900 already. I think rather of improved 380-800s. The 900 will come it there is more growth or if EK, LH, BA and CY come and say: If you build it, we buy a combined 100 pieces NOW!

  2. Focussing purely on seating capacity in this story is not really exploring the complexity of the competition between the A351 and the 779X.

    First, the extra capacity of the 9X is only secure when using the 10 abreast configuration. Whatever one thinks of the comfort, there will be clear cases amongst airlines who do not accept this. So the 9X is not in a category of its own in those cases. The situation is analagous to the A320 vs 737-800.

    Second, even Boeing numbers suggest that there will not be a significant per seat advantage versus the A351 when using the 10ab configuration. Yet there will be a significant per trip disadvantage due to be being some 30t heavier on OEW. And typically airlines argue that higher capacity comes with lower yields. So even if an airline accepts 10ab, there are still strong economic arguments that can lead to selection of the smaller module.

    So whilst it is entertaining to reduce the story to a simple question of size, I am not sure the reality of the airline world will bear out this view over time.

    • “First, the extra capacity of the 9X is only secure when using the 10 abreast configuration.”

      And 7-abreast in J.

    • The 777X has a greater cabin width allowing for 18″ wide seats. This configuration has been announced for months now. Comfort at 10 abreast in 777X is same as 9 abreast A350. Therefore the 777X is the clear winner in capacity, comfort, and cost per seat mile.

  3. I have always wondered if the 50 seat advantage of a 777-9 is indeed achievable only by having a 7-abreast layout for Business class which then means that to have 49 such seats, only 7 rows will be required. An A350-1000 with a 6-abreast layout & 48 seats will need 8 rows. That extra row will then lead to less space available for Economy class.

    This really disorients me so I appreciate it if someone could help provide details on how seats will be distributed by class, seat pitch and number of seats per row. This will make it clear how different the 777-9 & A350-1000 really is.

  4. Thanks Davenport for pointing out the cabin factor. Additionally, there is no garantued cost advantage when increasing seat numbers by fuselage stretching. Yes, a moderate stretch of a basic airplane usually provides a cost advantage (due to higher wing loading, generally better OEW per seat). But Airbus said that the -1000 is not better than the -900 in cost per seat. Hence, stretching it would only increase capacity but not lower COC per seat.
    The decision of Boeing to go 407 seats (and by that crossing one of the abitrary boundaries of the size categories) is driven by maximizing the efficiency of the product, not driven by the demand for 407-seat aircraft.
    I would recommend to stick with the -1000 and rather invest money in an A380 upgrade. Both (A380 and A350) offer superior passenger experience and I hope that some day passengers will include this in booking decisions, providing a 5-10% yield advantage that cancels any marginal trip cost disadvantage.

    • The Trent XWB-97 needs to produce more power with the same fan. Automatically less efficient, so its not surprising the seat mile consumptions are similar. As Boeing’s decision not to allow an increase of fan diameter on the 777-X also limits the improvement GE can make both aircraft are a bit compromised on the engine front.

      • The GE90-115b has a fan diameter of 128″, BR of 9 to 1, a pressure ratio of 19 to 1 and a OPR of 42 to 1.
        The GE9X has a fan diameter of 132″, BR of 10.3 to 1, a pressure ratio of 27 to 1 and OPR of 60 to 1. Also will have 16 wide-chord fan blades vs. 22 on the -115b.

        Hardly seems compromised to me…

      • GE-9X has a 12% bigger diameter than Trent XWB-84 and is intended to produce nearly 30% more thrust according to latest reports. Compromised.

      • First, the XWB-97 does not have the same fan as the -84, the fan area is increased by changes to the spinner diameter. Second, the GE9X has a 20% larger fan area (which is what counts) then the XWB-97 at 6% more thrust.

      • ferpe, I’m comparing with the XWB-84, and I think the 97 is a bit compromised, I don’t think the changes to the fan design will do to maintain the efficiency of the 84. By the same token the GE-9 will be compromised.

      • MartinA, what you are trying to do is comparing the propulsive efficiency of the GE9X and TXWB84. The proper way to do that is comparing specific thrust for the engines (specific thrust=the overspeed of the air passing out the back, the lower the better = higher propulsive efficiency), the GE9X is around 290m/s and TXWB 300m/s. So the GE9X has a higher propulsive efficiency and everything points to also a higher thermal efficiency = higher overall efficiency. It also shows in their optimal TSFC, TXWB 0.52 and GE9X 0.49 . For more http://www.airliners.net/aviation-forums/tech_ops/read.main/331445/ (I have not published my TXWB analysis yet but the specific thrust is around 300 m/s).

      • Thanks for the details ferpe. 300m/s is for the TXWB 84 or 97? I am trying to understand the above that, according to Airbus, the A350-1000 is no more economical than the 900. I am assuming it is the engine.

      • @ferpe:
        tsfc 0.52 versus 0.49 would fit the 1%/year estimate of _new engine_ improvements ( ~6+ years EIS delta ) ?
        Then, first order the gains are 50:50 between thermal/internal and propulsive ?

      • @MartinA, the higher value (ie less efficient) is for the TXWB84. RR has said they stay with the same TSFC for the TXWB97 despite a higher specific thrust, ie the improved thermal efficiency (improved turbines) compensates the lower propulsive efficiency.

        @Uwe, yes about 50:50. The hotter turbines means more hp to turn a larger fan from a relatively smaller core. This give a higher BPR and lower specific thrust = improved propulsive efficiency. The higher PR (61 at top of climb, 55 at mid weight cruise) improves thermal efficiency together with lower cooling flows due to ceramics and I am pretty sure flow regulation (cut cooling at cruise) like the TXWB does.

  5. It think Airbus decided to enable a -1000 stretch option nearly 4 years ago, when instead of a simple stretch, they beefed up the -1000 wing, engines and landing gear.

    Instead of focusing on a 1-3% ULH market better look at 7500NM (15 hours) from relevant big markets:

    ORD: http://www.gcmap.com/map?P=&R=7500NM%40ORD&MS=wls&MR=1800&MX=720×360&PM=*

    NRT: http://www.gcmap.com/map?P=&R=7500NM%40NRT&MS=wls&MR=1800&MX=720×360&PM=*

    LHR: http://www.gcmap.com/map?P=&R=7500NM%40LHR&MS=wls&MR=1800&MX=720×360&PM=*

    Not a problem at all. And if range is a problem, a -1000 most likely isn’t a terrible alternative or unavailable..

    IMO the picture that Airbus in in the defense is beside reality. They won the first round in 777/A340 replacement market. 1:0.
    http://s191.photobucket.com/user/keesje_pics/media/A350orders777operators_zpsf8017683.jpg.html

    Now for the next round. A A350-1100 simple stretch might be part of that but Airbus doesn’t seem to be in a hurry. About the VLA the A380, I’m not saying it cleaned the 747-8 clock, but the numbers are numbers. The A388 seats at least 200 extra than a 777-9X. Its that upperdeck..

    • @keesje
      About the VLA the A380, I’m not saying it cleaned the 747-8 clock, but the numbers are numbers.

      Not a clock cleaning, but a pyrrhic victory.

  6. I still don’t buy the conclusion in this post that only a simple-strecht is technically feasible. In comparison to its predecessor the 779 will have a new wing and lower (or at least not higher) trust engines. The wing seems to be the key to success for that.
    Why should airbus be unable to achieve the same with a new-winged A350-1100?

    Apart from that, wouldn’t a compromiss between the two option be also a possibility ?
    That means low cost changes to extend the existing wing and some improvements to the engine. Target would be to maintain the range of the A350-1000 as far as possible.

  7. The problem with “over-stretched” twins is that field performance might cut into your range. A B787-10 has an advertised range of 7000nm at an MTOW of 251t. That results in 770kg/sqm wing loading and .275 thrust/weight. As soon as a hot and/or high airport is used, the possible MTOW quite quickly, and the effect on range is even more than for the unstretched variants. So, if Lufthansa says the B787-10 lacks range, they do not ask for more than 7000nm, but they ask for more range out of specific airports at specific payloads.
    Same would apply for a “simple” stretch of the A350-1000.

  8. Contrary to the 787-10, an A350-1100 would not be a “double stretch” .

    It would be a stretch based on the -1000 with its unique enlarged wing, 6 wheel bogie main landing gear and bigger core RR XWB engines..

  9. I think that another driver for a ‘simple’ stretch will be that of resources.

    Airbus surely need to get a A330 replacement in place c.2022, and maybe a A321 stretch/upgrade too. Wouldn’t developing a ‘true’ B777-9 competitor put back these projects?

    ROI should, perhaps be looked at across the board, not just on this one project.

    • I’m certain Airbus board will be looking at multiple options before authorizing a project of this magnitude. And as you say, this one might not provide the best ROI.

  10. As I have suggested before, I think what is happening now in the 3-400 pax twin aisle segment is that the carriers and the OEMs trying to define the largest plane for which there is market case. Scott has asked the core question re the -9X: What is the actual mkt size? The answer will depend on a huge number or variables, and a lot of evolutionary thinking by the airlines. For example, one dividing line is between the US carriers and foreign ones. Among the US carriers, only AA has bought the 77W, and only Delta and United operate the 744, and United seems to have chosen the 359/1000 to replace those. Do any US carriers want a plane that carries 407 pax 10ab for 8000 miles? I doubt that mkt will be large.

    Another variable, will the -8/9X be popular with carriers outside the ME? Scott has referred to the -8X as “Tim Clark’s plane,” but is it Air France’s,ANA’s and SIA’s plane? There are carriers that want 407 pax but for whom the -9X maynot work; eg. rumors that the “Emiratization” of the -9X has turned off BA (http://www.airliners.net/aviation-forums/general_aviation/read.main/5909608/) even tho WW was very enthusiastic about it earlier this year.

    Dubai will be the defining moment I think, giving strong indication of who wants the plane and how many, and who doesn’t. It is the “who doesn’ts” who IMHO will decide the business case for the -1000 stretch. They are likely to be carriers who do not need 407 px plane, which to me means they will be taking the -1000 and perhaps the 787-10, as BA has, and as SIA may well do. That said, there may be a growing number of carriers who want 407 pax but for whom the -9X does not work, like BA above. Those may be the mkt for the -1000 stretch, including the US airlines which already have the 350 on order But again, what is the mkt size for the stretch?

  11. Airbus will do the a350-1100, and it will be a straight stretch. The 4000 mile market is reasonably big and the to big OEMs will try and not do exactly the same thing because there isn’t room for two LR 400 seaters. I guess the A380-900 will be overdue by then anyway.

    Once apon a time I expected Airbus or Boeing to go for a new VLF twin but I can’t see it happening now. You would need a whole new engine as nothing current and modern looks like going to 120-150k, market is maybe 1000-2000 engines in the foreseeable future as the engine would be too big to be used on another type as well. Just not worth it. Only engine maker who looks interested in going over 100k is GE, and they are so tied to Boeing that if Boeing don’t want to do it, GE won’t. Boeing’s decision to go with the 777-X instead of a clean sheet kills the idea.

  12. I meant to add re BA, that one of the most surprising things to me about the LH’s -9X order was that it contradicted their criticism of the OEM’s for building planes with the ranges the ME carriers wanted, which they claimed was far more than other carriers wanted. Then, LH went out and bought the plane they said they did not want, and did not buy the plane (7810) they appeared to want before their decision to buy.
    Walsh may do the same because BA clearly wants a 400 pax plane, but again, we all need to wait for Dubai.

    • LHT needs for licensens and tooling for new engines, APU’s and Aircraft (Landing gears, avionics and Nacelle) decide what LH buys. LH makes more money in its technical division than flying pax. Hence they get a very diverse fleet by time.

    • Keesje, Lufthansa 777-X purchase is about minimum standards. They never took the 77W as they didn’t want to offer sub 17″ seats, but once they bought the 748i (which by some reports is now regarded as a big mistake) they became committed to 17″ as a minimum standard and the 777-X in 10 abreast fits that standard, and unless they want to scrap their new 748i fleet, which they bought on the cheap anyway, its too late to change course, unless they can find an 18″ airplane which is cheaper. Like A359 for A340 replacement. I’ll bet they didn’t pay a lot for the 777-Xs anyway.

  13. There seems to be a lot of speculation about an airplane (the 777x) whose design has not been firmly defined, or whose manufacture has not been approved.

    I mean, at this stage we don’t even know whether the 777x will, or will not, sport the “Magic Wing” Boeing touted for the original 777 but never delivered. We don’t know anything firm about the 777x….and neither does anyone else.

    So why torture ourselves speculating about the utterly ambiguous?

  14. I would agree that Airbus will most probably due a simple stretch. First of all, it would be fairly cheap to develop (few hundred millions) and it would save on engineering resources. As BouncerN pointed out, there are other areas those resources could be used better. The risk is small enough to do two things at once 1) provide a negotiation point when airlines talk to Boeing on 777-9x price, thus hurting Boeing the same way the 747-8i hurt the A380 out of proportion to the amount sold. Already publicly thinking about it will hurt Boeing in Negotiations. Little surprise this thinking started just short of the Dubai Airshow…. 2) Chances are, that very much in the same way the A330 was bought by 777-200ER operators as it was lighter and cheaper to operate on many routes, the A350-1100 would be complimentay to the 777-9x even though it is similar in size. If the Market really picks up, Airbus may still chose to develop a A350-1100 ER, or simply wait that a series of PIPs expand the Payload/Range of the A350-1100 as a by product.
    Airbus probably learned a lesson out of commiting to the A340-600 first, and then Boeing was in the comfortable position to know what to compete against (Boeing could have chosen to do not to do anything at all, would they not have been sure that develop something better, two years after Airbus started to work) . Since the development of the -1100 would be fairly straight forward, Airbus could sit and wait until Boeing has commited to the specs, before commititng to the development.

  15. This one is lost. As I said about the seat width, Airbus does little to understand their markets well on the widebody side. Narrowbody, they kill Boeing but in the widebody side the story seems to be discredit of Boeing’ s strategy. The A350-1000 was lost when it failed to gain traction as the only offer in the space against the 777-300ER. Airlines failed to see the value and sales were stalled. Boeing analyzed the Airbus miss and designed the 777-900 for a space that they knew met their plan. They are going to own the -8 space because Airbus failed to support the -800 and they have ridden the A330 for far too long. T

    • I’d say the A350-1000 has done quite well in its market and I am confident that it will sell more than the 777-3000ER and the 777x. I think Boeing is the one who does not understand the market for they refuse to build a new plane – just a warmed-over 777. It seems that Boeing has lost its appetite for new aircraft development after the 787.

  16. Airbus has done little to provide the airlines comfort with a clear and effective widebody strategy. It is proven out by the actions taken with the A350 program. The A380 was a flop and sales have dried up, the A350-800 was the first program in the A350 family and it was overshadowed by all of the A330-300 conversation. Now the A350-900 has been having a wonderful flight test program only to be overshadowed by the concerns about the -1000 strategy!!! They never fail to amaze the market with such a lukewarm commitment to any of the offerings. Now the 787-8 is facing its challenges but the -9 is doing quite well. There is no discussion about the right strategy or not. But for Boeing that was not the case with the narrowbody program.

    • The 747-8 was a flop. The half-way selling 787-9 is OVERSHADOWED by catastrophic 787-8 problems and delays… etc

      Just wanted to say: Please be a bit more objective…

  17. John is an excellent guy for the narrowbody program but he fails to lead the widebody strategy at all. Anybody remember the Japan win? Now that is being overshadowed by answering what to do next. Do we do the -800, the -1000 or a new -1100? Or we can do a A330 NEO!! Stupid!!!! Make a plan, work the plan, and ldeiver. Explains why GE said no to providing engines.

    • “Now that is being overshadowed by answering what to do next.”

      Isn’t that mostly an external image painted by a FUD campaign ?

      • Yeah…it sounds like a FUD campaign to me – a campaign that’s intended to direct attention away from the fact that Airbus is absolutely dominating the narrowbody and VLA markets while slowly strangling the 777.

  18. I7room:
    “The A350-1000 was lost when it failed to gain traction as the only offer in the space against the 777-300ER. Airlines failed to see the value and sales were stalled.
    “Now the A350-900 has been having a wonderful flight test program only to be overshadowed by the concerns about the -1000 strategy!!! They never fail to amaze the market with such a lukewarm commitment to any of the offerings. ”

    I7room, you confuse me. I thought the A350-1000 recently convinced 777 key customers Cathay, United, JAL and BA. EK, QR, Etihad and Asiana were already in the pocket. SQ, LH, AF/KL and others explicitly mentioned they kept options open to convert their -900s to -1000s.

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/09/19/lufthansa-fleet-a-idUSL5N0HF1JU20130919

    The Boeing camp for years tried to create doubts about the A350-1000. That’s over, now that it hit the bulls eye. Almost all 77-9X prospects ordered A350s already.

    http://i191.photobucket.com/albums/z160/keesje_pics/A350-1000JAL_zpsa7904512.jpg

  19. Would the new Airbus folding wing extension be aimed at the 350-1100.
    How much more performance could be achieved using the existing 350-1000 Trent with a greater wing area?

  20. An 80m long A350-1100 with a 64.8m wing is going to look odd.

    One family stretching from 270 seats to 400 in 4 sizes and one wing would be impressive. Never before has an OEM produced three successful sizes concurrently. 4 is a tall order.

    The strength of the supply chain will be important because Boeing will undoubtedly be able to do 22/month (14 + 8) between the 787 and 777. What is the most optimistic output rate of the A350? How many A351s and A350-1100s can they produce/month? Even if the 777-9x doesn’t have the lowest cost it seems to have the highest revenue payload/range in the class and will have availability.

    777x customers don’t appear to be interested in the frame for use on regional routes. How many orders would the a350-1100 take from the 777x vs the A350-1000? Isn’t Airbus already getting the 10 hour routes?

    I would like to see Airbus pens money elsewhere.

    • “An 80m long A350-1100 with a 64.8m wing is going to look odd.”
      – The way heavier 777-300ER seems to manages with a 64.8 m span..
      – 80M? A ~4m stretch (78m) seems more likely

      “One family stretching from 270 seats to 400 in 4 sizes..”
      – Again.. the -800, -900 wing is not the -1000 wing.
      http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/airbus-opts-for-larger-wing-on-a350-1000-through-trailing-edge-341004/

      – As far as I can see, no major changes are required for a -1100. 7500NM is a very respectable range. E.g.further then a 747-400.

      • I should have said same wing ‘span’. There is indeed 4% more wing area on the -1000.

        I see a 4m stretch primarily competing with the A351. 1 row of J and two Y? Only 24 seats? It would be about the capacity of the 77W.

        The primary 777x customers need 8knm+ range. American and European customers could indeed be interested but I think they will already be big A351 buyers.

  21. Boeing may be hoping to repeat “the 300 ER” domination with 7779 -assuming the sweet spot has moved up to 380-400 seats ;not sure it will be that good a domination this time, given the 350-1000 as it stands to day. Take a seat out of the 10 abreast and the 7th seat in the business -I will never take that middle seat -in the business one on any plane- -1000 is fine, except that 7779 would lift more cargo.
    I think A should go ahead and execute -1000 and not follow the other into the new 400 category. They should seriously think of how to position in the freight market -it will come back some day ;and break B’s grip .

    • Agreed, Airbus has their hands full on A350-900 ramp up / -1000 development and seems sold out this decade. Only a few major 777 carriers seem undecided. ANA, Korean, AA, QF and the Chinese and those seem unlikely to push for something bigger then the -1000.

      • QF isn’t a B777 carrier, it was their big mistake, they chose to go for the A380, 2 years late, and the 787, nearer 4 years late by the time of delivery, instead. The costs of old 767s and 747s have nearly broke them. To add to the injury their plan to use 787s to serve lesser European destinations was lost as Emirates moved in via Dubai, so they ended up having to form an alliance with the enemy! I can’t see QF taking any more types that aren’t already in service in the near future.

    • Most 77Ws are now being fit with 10 abreast. The 779 is only two rows of coach bigger. That is 18 seats. Airlines don’t seem to have trouble filling the aircraft now. Hard to imagine 18 seats being too much 10 years from now.

  22. In the future, I would guess that neither A or B is going to produce a plane that does not meet the airlines needs…they have both been burned (see 380, 747-8, 340 programs) trying to dictate terms. (Even if they did listen on these programs they didn’t do a good job…raes ipsa loqiter) Both the 350-900 and 350-1000 are going to sell at capacity as they are fine planes for their niche. A will produce (likely) 150+ a year by 2018-19 (14 x 11) and sell every one.
    B is going to produce a lot of 787s in 2018-2019 with a capacity of 160 + a year (14 x 12). The 777 will still be produced at a high rate, maybe not 8 a month but likely close say 75 a year. Assuming GE gets it right, the 777-8/9x programs seem to be attractive to a number of different airlines besides the ME3 (Lufthansa, CP). Will others sign on board? Time will tell, but if rumors are true, the 777-8/9x will have over 200 orders 7-8 years before first flight. That is pretty darn good for a big WB aircraft that is nearly as expensive as the 380 (at list) and is more than the 350-1000 has now and is close to the entire book of the 380 which has been on sale for a long time.
    Airlines IMHO are reading the future and seeing that: 1. increases in passenger numbers are going to occur 2. Meeting demand using big twins is less risky and more cost efficient/flexible than using quads 3. Business plans/models may need to change ie 9 abreast may need to be modified to 10 abreast in coach…the time inelastic business traveler is not going to care about economy if the first or business class product is the same. 4. Four engine VLAS are going to cost more no matter how you look at it…it’s twice the engine maintenance and higher capital investment risk.

    The Big twins are going to win…

  23. Just wondering, but with the -9X won’t Boeing themselves be ceeding the lower end of the 300-400 seat market to Airbus too? The -9x is being touted as a 400+ seat aircraft, the -1000 a 350+ The -8x as far as I’m concerned is a non starter as it probably gets beated by the -1000 anyways. So it’ll seem that Boeing won’t have a viable competitor in this market, just like Airbus “might” not have one on the higher end

    • The 787-10 with around 323 seats and 7knm range should do well.

      Boeing has an aircraft from 240 seats to 460 seats at ~15% range increments.

      • The 787-10 imo, is not really a A350-1000 competitor for what most most of the customers buying it would require. So, maybe I should phrase it differently, is Boeing not ceding the 300-400,8knm market? My main point is Boeing really has no direct, worthy competitor to the A350-1000

  24. The key to me is the replacement market:

    – The A350-900 seems to be dominating the 777-200/ER & A340-300 space.
    – I see the 787-10 doing the same in the A330-300 space.
    – The 747 replacement market probably should favour the 777-9x.

    The question is, will the 777-300ER generally be replaced by a ‘similar type’ (ie. the A350-1000), or will most Airlines want to upgrade to a larger capacity (ie. 777-9x)?

  25. I see a slight inflation in range requirement on the internet. 7000 Nm is a 14-15 hr flight, how many are longer? 5000NM with reserves and a good cargo payload (e.g FRA-HKG) is what counts.

  26. To BouncerN: Replacement of the 77Ws will not start until 2024 at the earliest, or later for those who keep them for 25 years. (The exception is EK which says they retire the planes in 12 years.) This replacement process will last for years because the 77W will continue to be delivered until at least 2016 and likely beyond. The current round of buying is to replace the 300 pax long rangers for which deliveries started in the mid 1990s and 744s. So, I think it’s premature to speculate what may replace the -300ERs.

    • I essentially agree with your synopsis about the current replacement (300pax) round, but the fact is that the early adopters of the 777-300ER are looking to replace in the next decade, and indeed JAL have already jumped with their A350-1000 order. (I would question your ’25 years’ rule for many blue chip airlines?)

      And as you highlight, this big replacement market could keep rolling for 20-25 years.

      So, far from being ‘premature to speculate’, I think the big question is: from 2020 who is going to take the lions’ share of this ongoing revenue stream?

  27. There is a lot of Apples and Oranges comparisons going on in this debate, here’s a try to stem that. To make a -1100 out of the -1000 with minimal changes to counter the 777X one has to first understand where things stand, based on that one can discuss needed changes. Wingloading and Thrust/Weight will dictate the acceleration distance to lift off, Sloff, thereafter if will be lift to drag L/D to get past the 35ft obstacle at V2. Lets first compare the wingloadings using ONE consistent wingarea measurement method then the the acc distance to Vloff and V2 speed and L/D. For background read here http://www.airliners.net/aviation-forums/tech_ops/read.main/315161:

    Airplane…..MTOW….Wingl……T/W….Sloff…..V2 L/D…V2 kts
    300ER……..351t….785kg/m2…0.30…2300m….11.4…….173
    -9X…………..351t….700kg/m2…0.27…2400m….13.2…….179
    3510………..308t….665kg/m2…0.29…2100m….12.0…….166
    3511………..320t….695kg/m2…0.28…2200m….12.2…….167

    The table shows that a stretch .-1100 with a 100klbf Trent97k and a Scimitar wingtip stacks up well against the -9X in all parameters discussed here. In practice Boeing is using the high -9X L/D to increase the flap angle so that they get the Sloff to around 2200-2300m but the point is a -1100 is fully doable without large changes and there are margins. To keep the Sloff the same as the -1000 without wing changes you need 104klbf as Scott sais, with a scimitar wing and the better then expected low speed lift of the A350 wing (ref flight tests) you can stop at 100klbf. With a non PIPed Trent you fly 8000nm, with the expected 3% improvement by 2020 8300nm.

    • Just to complement, the -1100 burns 10% less trip fuel then the -9X and flies the 400 pax in 18” seats at that 🙂 so it is a no brainer. Airbus will skip the -800 and do the -1100, as outlined it is a larger effort but not by much.

      • Quite a big gamble for Boeing to invest in the 777X under those potential competitive circumstances.

      • Looks like this is more Boeings dilemma than anyone else.
        They need a “usefull” product that Airbus can’t encroach on.

        My guess is the media dripfeed is designed to push a range of potential 777x customers to come forward to buy a scarce product by way of an “inverse potemkin” lack of slots.

        Also the market will depend significantly on Airbus ability to ramp up A350 production. I would expect some activity towards sabotaging that.

      • The present winglet on the A350 is a sharklet just with a more progressive blending, this comes from the manufacturing freedom CFRP gives rather then the blend + blade of the 320 and the 737 which has more traditional manufacturing methods. A downward blade increases the efficiency but also increases damage probability from fueling trucks and bad landings. You therefore don’t apply it until really needed. You can be sure Airbus is running scimitar models in CFD and windtunnels since the MAX and BAP scimitar went popular. It was the same story with blended winglet vs fence, “fence are as effective” only to gain +4% when you did as the competition, Airbus has been less aerodynamically innovative then Boeing the last decade, it is not the Airbus of the 80-90’ies, it used to be Boeing who said “we have looked at it and it does not bring anything” 😀 .

    • How easy would it be to put a scimitar wing on a hypothetical -1100 without increasing wingspan into Code F or having to do much wing re-work?

      • As easy as adding a downward blade on the existing A350-1000 winglet which does not goes any further out then the top blade. This is exactly what Boeing Aviation Partners did to their 737 Winglet, it does not change the Airport code, nor does the Boeing MAX design.

      • What do we know about the A350 wingtip device performace “as is” ?
        Also of interest is the aeroperformance in relation to forex the 787.

      • Ferpe I expect the AP MAX proposal was a slightly more efficient but Boeings solution smarter taking everything into account..

      • Re efficiency of 350 winglet and wing versus the 787 wing and wintip. The reference I gave was to a rather comprehensive review of the 350 wing vs the 787 one. Conclusion was they are similar in many respects but have different design philosophies when it comes to wing stiffnes. The raked tip and inboard high speed flaperon is consistent with a less stiff wing design for the 787, thereby gaining weight. The 350 winglet and outside high speed aileron brings more torsion loads into the wingbox which makes it weigh a bit more, for that it gains some low speed performance. It also seems to have a thicker profile and thereby regain some of the weight advantage of the 787 wing.

        All in all two very good wing design with similar performance.

        • What I always wondered:
          doesn’t the large wingflex cut into effective wingspan ?
          ( from geometric span reduction as well as from an offset liftvector )

      • The 787 wingflex lowers the lift marginally, it is also part of the 787 roll stability ie it forms the dihedral angle at cruise. In all lower weight is more important then the % they loose in lift, you loose about 0.5% efficiency per tonne of empty weight. The loss of lift due to wing flex by gusts etc also lowers max wing bending moment = lower OEW.

    • “…better then expected low speed lift of the A350 wing (ref flight tests) ”

      Is that something that’s been reported/confirmed in recent A350 flight tests? I couldn’t find any online reference to it?

      • It is nothing the journalists has picked up. There is a very active forums (production and flight test) on Airliners.net which has followed the A350 program from start, some of the contributors are in the know (I am not 🙂 , I just analyse what is posted). There has been info to that effect from those in the know.

  28. Boeing says the downward blade ads another % in efficiency, the BAP Scimitar ads 2+% . To a large extent they are dependent on their physical size, the BAP blade is longer. I would expect things to be similar for the 350 winglet, no reason why not. A raked tip builds more span but is more efficient per meter.

  29. I took a detailed look at current A350 orders sofar;
    – subtypes ordered
    – aircraft to be replaced by the customers
    – growth in the markets customers come from
    – trends in orders for the -800, -900 and -1000 versions
    – entry into service windows
    – continued annual growth rate of 4-5%
    – production ramp up / rate

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Airbus_A350_XWB_orders#Firm_orders

    I think roughly 40% of the current A350 orders will leave the FAL as -1000 version and 60% of the current options. So ~0.4 x 746 + 0.6 x 247= ~450 A350-1000s in service by 2025, when all current commitments will be delivered (assuming production 140 A350s /yr in 2025).

    Then it is likely additional -1000 orders will come in in that period.

  30. Reply to Uwe.
    “My guess is the media dripfeed is designed to push a range of potential 777x customers to come forward to buy a scarce product by way of an “inverse potemkin” lack of slots.”
    Uwe, what exactly are you saying? What exactly is so “Potemkin?” Do you mean Boeing has lied in all its meetings with customers about the 7X? That they have no intention or true ability to build the plane? That they cannot actually deliver it anywhere near 2020? Are you saying that there is no lack slots? There certainly will be now that customers are beginning to buy.

    Are you actually saying that Tim Clark could have been affected by “media dripfeed?” Did B somehow bamboozle him with lies he could not see through? Did they do the same to Cathay when they proposed a seating plan for the -9X for 420 pax, a plan that Cathy touted publicly in their company news letter?

    And what about the poor dimwits who run Lufthansa? They must have been putty in B’s hand. In your scenario, here is how the board meeting went:
    Dir1. “Gott in Himmel! The Boeing engineers are geniuses. They have put the entire design for the 9X on the back of a paper napkin!”
    Dir2: “ Ja, just like how Fokker designed the Tri-plane for von Richthofen.”
    Dir3: “ If it was good enough for von Richthofen it is good enough for Lufthansa.”

    What are you saying, Uwe?

    • Potemkin has been associated (probably wrongly) with presenting something that is not really there.
      Here I would interprete Boeing’s behaviour as insinuating more customers close to ordering from a limited number of slots than are actually there. Overcoming cutsomer reluctance with the perceived need to go early for a limited supply.

      If the rumor is correct that LH sees the 748i as not meeting expectations and keeping in mind that open compensation for terminated services played heavily into the 748i purchase I would assume the 777-9X as target for 748i options transfer the 777-9X was the less undesirable purchase from Boeing ( and on a “much water down the river” horizont at that ).

      IMU Boeing tries to bind as many customers _before_ the Dubai Air Show ( and any possible Airbus product announcement )

      Recent history and press releases have shown that Boeing will push anything into the public they can get away with even if only for a limited amount of time.
      ( Find the complete toolbox used described under Microsoft’s Linux Wars )

      • Exactly what role did the compensation for Boeing’s cancellation of Connexion play in LH’s decsion to buy the 748i? Certainly they were not obligated to take the plane as compensation. They could have taken cash or some other B product or service.

        There is no question that LH wanted the 748i very much, otherwise why are they the only customer of any substance, including having taken the 20 options you speak of. Nor is there any question that they are satisfied with it’s performance, particularly after the delivery of the 11th (or 14th?), which will be totally PIPed. See their recent laudatory video on B’s site, altho I grant you that LH has an interest in seeing that more of the planes are bought.

        And if in deed LH is substituting -9Xs for -8is, so what? They are also cancelling some of their A380s. These VLAs are not selling well at all, at least for now.

        I listened carefully to LH’s full press conference and read their related publications on their A359 and -9X orders. It seems obvious that this one of the most carefully calculated fleet replacement decisions I have ever heard of, or at least the most transparent. There is no question that they wanted the A359 and not the -1000, and that they wanted the -9X for what it would give them, even if they replaced the -8is options. One thing seems certain: LH will keep those -8is for 2025 years, just as they are doing with the A346s. Chalk up another victory for the Bean Counters.

  31. Initial 777-9 sales should provide Airbus with valuable information on market trends.

    If the 777-9 is a moderate success, Airbus will stay put. If however the new Boeing aircraft is a hit, Airbus may have to determine whether a larger A350 derivative would still make sense, though launched after a competitor has raked in the most obvious orders.

    If Airbus decided to move, they would do something very different from the competition, thus minimising the drawback of starting second. In that context Scott’s ‘reduced range’ version would be a good topic for discussions with customers.

    Fr the moment, Airbus should do nothing, except studies, and a lot of talking to muddy the waters.

  32. Pingback: Airbus’ A350-800 dilemma | Leeham News and Comment

  33. Philidor,

    I do not see things as you. IMHO, if the 777-X is a hit Boeing will remain number 1 in the world on the market for widebody aircraft and it is Airbus which will indeed launch an all-new airplane and then Boeing will keep the advantage by launching a replacement of the A350-900XWB in a few years after that Airbus is launching its program.

    If the 777-X is not a good case, Boeing will have to launch a whole new plane before Airbus.

    In both cases Boeing will have the advantage over Airbus eyewink the 787-777-X surround the A350-XWB, whereas the narrowbody Airbus will dominate the Boeing …

  34. If Boeing is poaching A380, then how can Airbus poach its own A380.

    Its a logic bust. If its poachable, the 777X will do it, all Airbus can do is offer a competative offering to stop as much as possible.

    Certainly range vs capacity is the dilma that Airbus faces and what it cost to resolve that

  35. I think that one point should be reminded :

    A350 is way lighter than 777
    First A350-900 are 118t MWE (< 116 t mature), 777-200Er is almost 130 t MWE (no estimate here, just facts…)
    A350-1000 might be 132t MWE when 777-300Er is 150-151 MWE

    787 did not enjoy the same advantage vs A330 (surprise !) and A350 (more logical)
    – A330-200 is 4-5t heavier than 787-8 (MEW)
    but
    – A330-300 is within 1t-2t of 787-9 (MEW)
    – A350-800 is also within a couple of tons of 787-9
    – A350-900 is also within a couple of tons of 787-10

    So if 777-9X compromise on an old "fuselage" technology paired with state of the art wing and engine, why can't A350-1100 compromise a light airframe with not up to date engine ?

    • But we’ve been told that the situation for Airbus is rife with dilemma all around !!
      ( so don’t bother us with the facts 😉

      To note: The more the less than perfect situation for Boeing increases visibility
      the more FUD topics are kicked off all around.
      “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”
      ( Mahatma Gandhi ) which phase is it? To repeat myself : the parallels to the Microsoft/Linux face off are rather interesting.

  36. Agree with your analysis. If indeed Airbus decides to do a further stretch of the A35J..it would probably be a simple stretch. If they want to maintain the same range, the investment may just be too high as the stretch would need a new wing and a not insignificant bump in engine power at the very least. The market may just not be big enough to warrant the investment and effort required (though given the increases in traffic, who knows what the scenario will be post 2020).

    But here’s a thought..I’ve been thinking this for some time now and it makes sense to me at least. Instead of trying to compete with the 777-9 with a stretch of the A35J, why don’t they go for a simple stretch of the A359 to compete with the 787-10. Arguably the market is a lot bigger and the investment required would be a a fair bit lower. There will be a LOT of A333’s up for replacement in the next decade and as of now Airbus has nothing in the pipe to compete with the 787-10. This stretched “A350-950?” would have about 350 seats and the same MTOW of the A359 (consequently the same MLG) with a reduction in range to ~7k nm. The only thing I am not sure of is would such a plane be better served with the wing+engines of the A359 or the A35J? All said it would be a true regional and medium haul aircraft and be very competitive with the 787-10.

    Also, a second A350 FAL is essential IMO. With the 787 at 14/mo and 777 at 8/mo, Boeing will be at 22 WB aircraft/month by the end of this decade and Airbus will be at just 10 by 2018 and expected to go to 14 by the end of the decade. The A330 will be wound up at some point as well so that would leave them with just the A350 (not counting the A380 at max 3/mo). They may not be able to match Boeing but IMO they will have to be close. Availability will hurt Airbus (it already is hurting them) a lot in the long run.

  37. IMHO all airbus needs to do is increase the range of both -the 900 and -1000 to beat the 9x, lets’s say to 8500nm and then offer derated versions of each if needed.

  38. I totally agree with article. simple strech of -1000 is the only feasable way to go for airbus. my question is “how much can the a350-1000 b streched using the same wing?”

  39. Bottom Line – Its all about:
    – Passenger comfort
    – Safest aircraft based on the latest modern technology
    – Based on any one flight, giving a return to the company
    and satisfaction to the passengers.

    This is how to sell an aircraft – It’s not about putting more into one plane, but putting in more flights that match passenger requirements and still meeting the company’s bottom line.

    Not rocket science – The customer is always right..

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