Airbus’ A350-800 dilemma

Last week we discussed Airbus’ A350-1000 dilemma. The -1000 will be a fine airplane, but we concluded the company needs to go forward with a larger capacity “A350-1100” to match the size of the Boeing 777-9X, but take the Boeing 787-10 approach and be content with sacrificing range in lieu of designing a new wing and engines.

Airbus’ A350 dilemma doesn’t end there. What’s it to do with the A350-800? One fleet planner told us a year or more ago that the “-800 is an expensive A330-300” with the same operating costs as the larger capacity A350-900.

Airbus has been encouraging customers to move up to the larger A350-900, with Hawaiian Airlines and US Airways the key hold outs. Conventional wisdom says US Airways will swap its order once the merger with American Airlines goes through (which is looking more and more likely, given settlement talks with the Department of Justice). American has a large order for the Boeing 787-9, making the -800 unnecessary in a combined carrier fleet plan.

There are now around 80 -800s in Airbus’ backlog, and even officials at Airbus have been ambiguous about green-lighting production of the -800, which is supposed to enter service in 2016 (after the -900 but before the -1000). We have written several posts in which we concluded the -800 would be re-sequenced to 2018, after the 2017 EIS of the -1000.

We believe there is a very good chance the A350-800 will be dropped in favor of proceeding with an A350-1100.

So what’s Airbus to do in the 250-300 seat space now occupied by the -800 and the aging A330 family?

We believe the oft-talked about A330neo will finally get to go-ahead.

A long time ago, we reported that a fleet planner (a different one from the previously reference planner) told us he expected Airbus to drop the -800 and proceed with an A330neo by the end of the decade.

Rolls-Royce and GE each have an engine that could go onto the A330: the Trent 1000 (or 1000 Plus) and the GEnx, respectively. While the original concept of the A350 involved GEnx engines and a new wing, an A330neo–if it followed the A320neo example–could be a minimal change concept. Or would it?

John Leahy once told us that a center-line gear would be required, along with other changes. The center line gear shouldn’t be an issue for the A330 since the virtually identical A340 has one. Would returning to the A350 Version 1 concept, or something similar but not quite as complex, work this time? Would we be looking at following the path of the 777X: a new wing (but not entirely new engines) and some new systems? Or would we be looking at following more closely the A320neo concept?

Airbus is focusing more on the A330-300 than the A330-200. Sales of the latter have fallen sharply in favor of the former, and recent product upgrades have been for the -300. A neo only on the -300 would make it more competitive with the Boeing 787-10 (which Boeing claims will “kill” the -300, and which has an EIS of 2018). But dropping the A350-800 means Airbus won’t have a competitor to the 787-9, which is gaining in its own sales popularity as customers move from the -8 to the -9. This suggests the A330-200 should get its own neo treatment. The -200 has a range of 7,200nm; a neo could add perhaps 400nm as well as improving fuel economy, making the airplane more competitive with the 787-9.

We believe an A330neo is likely. Otherwise Airbus will have a major gap in its product line that would demand an entirely new airplane at a time (the mid-2020 decade) when a new single-aisle replacement design will be moving toward the forefront. We don’t believe Airbus wants to tackle a new wide-body and a new narrow body at the same time.

105 Comments on “Airbus’ A350-800 dilemma

  1. Could we gain some interesting information from looking at the
    A330-200 and A330-300 range versus sales over time metrics?
    i.e. is there a distinct “liftoff” payload/range that made the
    individual A330 subtypes “good enough” ?

  2. Ahem, typo?

    “… green-lighting production of the -800, which is supposed to enter service in 2016 (after the -800 but before the -1000).”

  3. Airbus should IMHO EIS a fully optimised A350-800 at the beginning of thenext decade. MTOW could be as low as 230 metric tonnes due to +5 percent more efficent engines than the TXWB-84, optimsed CFRP structure, MLG etc.

    The A350 fuselage replaces the legacy constrained A300 fuselage as Airbus’ twin-aisle platform. Hence, the basic A350 fuselage will, in all likelihood, be used on future Airbus twin-aisle projects as well

  4. On a related topic (the ‘what to do with the a350/a380 mix) given that RR have a 430kN engine in development for the 350-1000, would it be cost effective and make sense to develop a trijet version of the A380-800? It would get the efficiency gain of the new engine, the advantage of 1 less engine, the cost and development advantages of being part of a much larger production run / higher production rate, and also allow airlines operating both the 350 and 380 to simplify their supply chain. Ge (rather than EA) could do something similar, with similar advantages for 777X/A380 operators.

  5. Giving the A330 a new engine would create an aircraft with little difference to the A350. Further, it would not provide the required “range optimized” medium capacity widebody.
    Considering the substantial cost (at least 2 billion) and the probably bad pricing against better performing B787 variants, Airbus had to sell more than 200.
    The A330 is currently performing strong because Airbus offers very attractive prices (using Airbus provided data, 130 Million USD are probable, which is a hefty 110 Million USD less than the official list price). Airbus can do this because manufacturing is working at peak efficiency, and non recurring cost are paid off.

    I would rather equip the A350-800 with a smaller wing which can also be applied to the A350-900. The actual cost would be comparable, but would have the advantage of fully utilizing the A350 build process and all technologies.
    The A330-300 has a realistic airline OEW of 125t. The A350-800 will come out close to that (maybe 120t). The A330 has a 365sqm wing, the A350 features 443sqm. A wing area reduction to ~350sqm would take out couple of tons OEW (~roughly 8-10t) and make it a dedicated 4000nm aircraft.

    If such wing is available, a shrink of 5m would make it a good A330-200 replacement, and generate an aircraft of less than 100t OEW and best for 5000-6000nm missions.

    • I agree on all accounts. As you imply, the A350 build process will be significantly more automated than what’s the case with the A330. Developing and producing, therefore, not only a fully optimised A350-800, but also a new A350-derived short to intermediate ranged family, will IMJ be much more cost-effective than what would be the case with the manufacturing of two distinct twin-aisle families having nothing in common.

    • Agree. If you develop a new wing and add the Trent1000 or Trent1000-TEN, you might as well do it on a much morfe modern platform, i.e. the A350-800 instead of the A330. Could offer the GEnx-1B as well.

      The cost for the wing + pylon will be more or less the same in both cases I would think.

    • Airbus can do this because they get free money to launch aircraft, all the rest is nonsense.

  6. The new plane needs to beat, not merely match, the economics of the 787 -9 and -10 models, otherwise it won’t be worth doing. That’s a tall order given how efficient those planes are. The new plane can trade range for efficiency.

    I think that implies a new plane based on the A350 fuselage and systems but with a new center section, including new smaller wing and lower thrust engine. Unlike an A330-NEO, this plane will address the threat of the 787-10, which is actually a bigger problem for Airbus than the 787-9 and 777-9X.

    • The 787-10 is too big IMJ to effectively corner the wide-body, short-to-intermidiate range market. Operational frequencies matter much more in these markets than say, long range flights from Asia to Europe. Therefore, a fully optimsed short-to-intermidiate ranged family with the smallest member being roughly the size of an A300-600, and the largest one roughly the size of an A330-300, would IMJ compete very effectively against the dash-10.

      • I think I disagree here, although I am with you on your other points above. Airlines generally take the bigger plane if the cost to operate it is similar to a smaller plane. The 787-10 will cost about the same to operate as the 787-9. I expect most airlines to take it in preference, except where they need the range. The same applies now with the A333 versus the A332 and to some extent with the A321 and 737-900ER.

        Efficiency is the first priority; then load and range; finally size.

      • The other point is that if they don’t need the size of a 787-10 , they can downsize to an A321 or 737-900ER. Those are significantly cheaper aircraft to operate over a short range.

      • I tend to believe that the 787-10 is an opportunistic stretch. Boeing had to play the hand of their own making (i.e. too much of a hassle in making the 787-10 a true +8000nm capable aircraft). Having a maximum range of some 7000nm (pax + bags), is IMO “too much” aircraft for high frequency short and intermediate range sectors that don’t require that capability. It’s still quite heavy and it has a massive lower deck cargo capability (40 LD-3s) that will seldom be put to full use on these shorter ranged flights. At the same time, it seems to be “too little” aircraft for many of the worlds longer range routes; that is, if any meaningful amount of cargo is to be carried on the lower deck.

        Hence, any new wide-body aircraft family optimised for the short and intermediate ranged sectors should, IMO, easily be superior to the 787-10. First, it would have vastly lower OEW (i.e. below 100 metric tonnes). 2nd, have a more reasonable underfloor cargo capacity due to the shorter body length (i.e. not flying around with a lot of wasted volume downstairs). 3rd, should be able to more effectively compete with single aisles on distances of over 2000nm. 4th, it should have significantly lower fuel burn per seat, and a likely lower CASK as well. If the latter would hold true, then Boeing would in all likelihood have a hard time selling more dash-10s.

      • FF, for an airline size/ capacity / range is not a requirement. They are the starting points. Network / market / passenger demand dictates them. Then they start filling it in in the most efficient way.

      • I would say the 787-10 was designed to meet customer requirements. There were major discussions before it was introduced. Boeing only offered when customers demand existed. Can’t change history OV-099

      • I’m sure it was. However, getting a sufficient number of launch orders in 2013 is IMO immaterial to the fact that the 787-10 would have a hard competing with smaller WBs that would be optimised for short and intermediate range, a decade hence.

      • Agreed, keesje. The end result is purchase decisions for aircraft that are always dictated by economics; sometimes by range; less often by size.

        The A333 NEO, but not the A332, will match the 787-9 for economics but not range. It will match the 787-10 for range but not economics. Airlines will buy the 787-9 when they need the range and the 787-10 when they don’t.

        Timing is everything. Airbus can continue to sell the A330 for ten years with a few tweaks. The question is what will sell in the decade after 2025. By then 787 production will be humming with ready availability, lower production costs and an optimized product.

        The A320 NEO is the success it is precisely because Boeing came late to the party and didn’t in the end go for the New Small Airplane. If they had, it would have killed the A320.

  7. Fully agree Scott on this, for years already 😉 Better selling 500 A330NEOs from an established supply chain than 200 A350-800s occupying A350-1000 slots..

    In my opinion Airbus will go for a simple NEO upgrade consisting mostly of new engines. (I expect both RR & GE offerings) and more or less “off the shelve” mods

    – The cockpit overhaul of the A346 can be further developed with A350 screens/ systems and HUD (A330R)

    – If rest value is a concern, the A330F nose landing can be implemented for a level maindeck also reducing complications installing a large more efficienct fan on the engines. (A kind of 737MAX nose wheel height extension)

    – Sharklets seem a slam dunk (2-3%).

    – 2020 capacity optimization; the airframe has been build in at least 6 lengths. Adding a few frames to the -200 or 300 or both won’t be a major complication If Airbus wants to fill niches among existing 767, A330, 787 and 777 fleets. Or e.g. matching 787-8/-9/-10 seat capacity with 18 inch seats and a few more cargo positions.

    – I saw 2 A330-200s from China Southern at AMS last week at the same moment. The A330-200 is/ was used to open up dozens of new long haul destinations by most of its operators. Long haul 2 class & a good cargo load. Has that niche evaporated?

    – Cabin enhancements options like bigger bins, belly lavatories etc. seems (almost) off the shelve too. E.g.

    Tonnes of A330 / A340 smart STC’s are developed all over the world. The best can be included into the Airbus A330 product catalog..

    A few years ago I sketched this NEO. Re-engining the A330 took much longer than I expected. Airbus itself was talking about the GP7000 around 2000 and GENX in 2006.. But Airbus seems to have been right. A330 sold great without new engines too..

    • Keesje,
      the A330 sells well, but the key features are availability and pricing. Against an established B787 line the A330 will suffer strongly. Yes, a NEO would regain most of the distance to the B787. But it would never be better than the B787. Would you invest 2 billion USD in order to have an inferior product?
      I was a NEO-fan, until a thought about it for more than a minute.

      • “the A330 sells well, but the key features are availability and pricing ”

        Those would remain key features versus the 787.. E.g availability: 10 a month from 2018 and a price typical for a high volume paid for production line..

    • A simple as possible re-engine and a lowered MTOW would make a very discountable product, and 787 is a very heavy, expensive aircraft for short/medium haul. The long range market is covered, over-ordered even, by 787s, I see most future orders being for regional aircraft, and a 330 NEO might well be best CASM virtue of capital cost and installed base.

    • Lets call them winglets which is the correct technical description not the nonesensical marketing nonsense of Airbus PR.

      Are we going to call them Englits next?

    • The word is the A330 is OLD technology and no matter what you do with it the 787 family wins. The 787 flies faster and burns less fuel on the same routes. Yes it gets sales but the airlines will stop buying it in 3-5 years no matter what improvements you do. Let’s put it this way, the first round of A330 improvements will be met with a next round of 787 improvements, which means the baseline will move again. I thought you and others said the A350 program was well positioned. What happened? Not a single revenue flight and the strategy is based on continuing the A330? Kind of says that this entire plan was not well planned and the people defending that strategy here and other sites are full of hot air. Boeing has had a tough time with the 787 but Airbus is having a tough time selling their entire strategy. Is the flight test going as well as all say because much is being made because the 777X must be close to cleaning the clock of the program. Maybe John has some sales up his sleeve from another Japanese airline for A350s and A380s!!! Come on John you said the 787 program was a joke, and now you seem to be the one that failed to realize that joking about your completion can be a?

  8. I have been on record 4-5 years ago the A358XWB isn’t going to be able to compete against the B789 (in terms of sales, etc.)

    As I mentioned previously, the A358XWB is a “niche” plane (a good one at that actually) but Airbus would be wise to address the situation differently.

    The A350-1100 is an interesting concept. I wonder if its gains traction.

  9. Loren Thompson chips in as well. The good doctor is now seemingly the talking head with the “inside sccop” that the A320, A330, A350 and A380 are “lower-performance-products”.

    The company is determined to exercise tight control over the cost of developing and producing the plane, because it believes that in combination, the 787 and 777X can take market share from lower-performance Airbus products as long as the Boeing offerings are affordable. Boeing has traditionally followed a strategy of developing “disruptive” technologies that transform the nature of air travel, while Airbus has offered more prosaic airframes keyed to concessionary pricing.

    • Not the first time Mr. Thomson has problems with “his” history.
      Nonetheless I do think they are all part of a carefully landscaped
      ecology to help people think the right thoughts
      and then make the “right” decissions.

      Interesting that we see more of this activity ahead of the Dubai
      Air Show. Might indicate that this show will at a cross roads moment
      of history.

  10. In the meanwhile, in 787 news, this was in reported today:

    “AI-311 was operating from Delhi to Sydney via Melbourne with around 80 passengers and 12 crew members.”

    Has anybody noticed how low load factors seem to be on 787 flights when they get in the news?

    This one got a cracked windshield, and being a 787……. Boeing will need a perfect EIS with 99+% DR from the “9” to get OUT of the news.

  11. Very hard to have one frame, A350 to cover all possible applications as opposed to the 777X and 787 line up. Boeing has the low end, middle and high end covered with more options for airlines to choose from.
    I believe Airbus will drop the 350-800, too few orders and very little interest. The -900 will be the big seller.

    • Boeing has left a gap which is why the A350-900 and 1000 are selling.

      They could cover that with a new 777 fuselage but I have yet to see a study that shows if they could do it with the Al Li or need to go composite.

  12. I think it would be very logical for Airbus to skip the -800 and do the -1100 and then do a rather straight neo of the -200 and -300. The key to this is the very nice A330 wing, it is not very far from a modern CFRP wing in comparision. A primary indicator of a good wing is the effective aspect ratio, the 788 has 9.5, A350 9.8 and 330 10.2. The wingarea is within 8m2 the same as the 787 at 362m2 so start performance would be like the 789. So no need for a new wing, put on a scimitar (the same as researched for the 1100) and new variants of the T1000 and GEnx with 2% better fuel burn then the T1000-TEN (fully doable until 2020) and you get very competitive airplanes for a small investment and a very low project risk. Here the block fuel burn over 6000nm for the combatants:


    As for the -1100, a no brainer 🙂

    • Just to complement, the range of the neos would be 7900nm and 6700nm, ie in the bracket of the 789 and 7810. This is with OEWs of 124 and 130t respectively, better engines weigh more (1.2t) and are wider (fan goes from 97” to 112) therefore nacelles, pylons and wingboxes have to be enlarged/beefed. Ground clearance will be a problem so the 330F nose landing gear might be handy (also weigh more), guess Airbus will have to learn how to hang those engines high from Boeing 😀 .

  13. What’s the rush? Why use T1000/GeNx engines?

    Surely it’s more sensible to use a later generation engine that could give even a A330neo (EIS c.2022) some good economics, and these same new 70-76Klb class engines could also be used on an A380neo (which I think unfortunately they’ll go ahead with!)?

  14. Simply comparing the A330 with the A350 and 787 misses the point.

    The 1000 A350 orders/ options sofar will basically fill the A350 line until 2025. Assuming a production rate of 140 aircraft per year by then. So does Airbus want to produce 12 twin aisles per month by then or 18-20?

    And what about A330 freighters/ tankers. Close the lines? Or invest even more in the A350, next to the -1100 and 800 Light.. Mainwhile close down the smoothly running 9 cashcows a month A330 supply chain. Stockholders would revolt..

    Apart from not being available for at least a decade, an A350-800 Light would still be a massive, expensive too large machine for many markets. Too large & expensive, a Hummer with small wheels.

    How can the succesful proven and paid for A330, offering a further effiency boost of 15% fuel reduction be unsuccessful? Fleet, maintenance, crew commonality, unimportant for airlines?

    The A350-900 / -1000 will be way more advanced, offer far more payload-range and are far bigger and more expensive. Little overlap.

    If Boeing had introduced GP7000’s on interim 767-300/400NG’s around 2005 with the upgraded 767-400ER flightdeck, signature interior, raked wingtips, Boeing would IMO be King today. Boeing placed all their eggs in one optimal, carbon basket though. The NSA/MAX, 747-8, 777X suffered dearly and the A330 wasn’t killed but instead sold 800. Airbus should avoid a similar shortsighted drama.

    • Thank you, that is one I continue to think would have been dynamite possibility.

      But like the A330 advanced which got beat to death by those who wanted something totally new and spiffy.

      They are paying the piper and it will be intere3sting to see what that leap (leaps) will cost and or pay off. One off so far as the 777 will not be a spun fusealage

    • Keesje – I agree – the A330 should not be compared to the new twins. I feel that the fully depreciated manufacturing line should be maximised to continue to roll out the A330 with minimal changes. If existing engines are refined and optimised to gain say 3-4% and sharklets can garner another 1%, then an airliner that costs, say 20% less than a new twin will be an attractive option for an airline that keeps jets for around 10 years. The knowledge that in the future, as old A330’s become even more mature and are broken for spares, this makes the total cost of ownership over a decade more easily calculate-able. Imagine having an all A330 airline covering domestic and long range routes, with a one jet inventory of spares, MRO and pilot training. Over 10 years I can imagine that an A330 harem would have ownership cost similar or possibly lower than to having the new twins in your stable.

      • The primary sales argument for buying A330 is availability.
        ( See the sales spike for the 777-300ER after the A350-1000 EIS moved 2 years the right )

        While others wait another decade for their 787 of any ilk A330 buyers can expand their network on short notice.

  15. I think that the dilemma does not affect only the A350-800, but also the hypothetical A330-NEO, because it will never be competitive at 787-10 face to face

    there is another dilemma which is the A380. If Airbus launched the A350-1100 it will cannibalise because it will reduce the chances of getting more orders, it will be stuck between the 777-9X and A350-1100 the two different design range

    Airbus will want to protect the380 program, it will be an investment for the long term …

    It is in fact too premature to talk about with regard to the hypothetical A350-1100. IMHO!

    • The 777x and hypothetical A350 offer similar capacity to the A380, although at lower comfort levels. A380 maindeck that is. There remains a gab of 200-250 seats dependent on future version of these 3 aircraft. The twins are simply not in the same category as the A380.

      • Keesje,

        The A380 will be marginalized by the 777-9X and A350-1100 twin engines what that the 777-9X will be a better belly freight that the A380 for the payload but the A350-1100 will be lower than the A380’s range but more efficient

        the 777-9X is the best compromise ?

        Airbus will he attend the slow death of A380-800 marginalized? …

  16. We’re forgetting the Trent-900 and GEn-1 aren’t new engines any more, the a330 wing is not bad, as ferpe points out and the airframe is light for its time, while the 787 is heavy considering it is a next generation aircraft. A medium range a330 NEO could well have the same or better fuel consumption, even if it was done with just engines, wingtip devices and some lightening. Same production line and quickly same airframe price, Not cheap engines, but with Boeing labouring to ROI the 787 Airbus will be in a position to discount much more, as needed.

    • P&W has a conceptual engine for that sized bird and they really want to launch it. The GTF can scale up to those levels just fine according to the reports and a lot of easy upside to fuel efficiency gains as time goes by

    • You do not give a precision on the A330 NEO …

      How many passengers it can carry?
      What is its range?
      How many containers LD3?
      Wings are they in composites?

      I think that the A330-700 as was present Keesje is perhaps a good solution ? …

      • Minimal change, meaning same fuselage and wings, they could put the toilets below deck as it is already developed for the A340 and a lower weight aircraft will carry less freight anyway. Lower MTOW as big engines won’t fit This aircraft will not last forever so I think changing the fuse or going for new wings is a waste of money. I clean sheet would be best but I guess Airbus have figured that the 787 wasn’t such a leap forward for medium range operators and a NEO will be enough. It comes from Boeing concentrating on the long range market.

  17. Any ideas around on how much OEW reduction the A340 clean out ( and maybe some other slimming activities ) could bring to the A330?
    ( Problem will be that the newer engines all come with more mass needed for being more efficient.)

  18. The 340 pylons were marginal in weight. Really, just 4 months ago Leahy was proclaiming the 359 Regional as the answer to the 787-10. I haven’t read any reason to think this strategy may have changed.

    Why launch a new model on a dying platform with new engines for 200-300 frames? How is the 787 a heavy frame? I think Airbus is going to be left merely badmouthing customers who put in 17.4 inch seats. The 78J remains the no-brainer for <9 hour segments, but the longer span/greater size/range on the 359 should be favorable on the longer ones flown by A333/772's today, with 20% or so more cargo volume than the 333's.

    • A A350-900R would not competitive vs the 787-10, as the 777-8X will not comptitif vs the A350-1000 …

  19. Hi all,

    I’ve really enjoyed the insightful post and the sharp analysis in the comments section. However, I’m struggling to understand the “787 is heavy” comments. How is the 787 20% more efficient that current widebodies if it’s that heavy? I understand the benefits of the super critical wing and new engines but weight is weight and composites are lighter than metal. So where does the heft in the 787’s weight come from?

    • OEW for 787-8 is around 118 metric ton while a333-200 is around 120 ton. They are similar length, the 332 is a meter or so longer and maybe has an extra row or two. The Boeing was designed to seat 8 wide but operators choose 9 wide in most cases. Few Airbus operators choose 9 wide in the 330 as the cabin is slightly narrower. So if we only look at 8 wide the Airbus is probably lighter per pax, the 787 only has an advantage if it is 9, but not by so much that a newer engine might not make up the difference and wingtip devices. It’s because the 787 is designed for 8000+ miles and has to be strong enough structurally to deal with the fuel load etc, while the 330 was never intended as a long range aircraft, it was however compromised by sharing a lot with the a340

    • Re: Super Critical Wing.
      Interesting that the homesteading of inventions by Boeing is regularly accepted without question.

      for a bit of an eye opener read :
      ( use google translate fr 2 en, the result is rather readable )
      Whitcomb at NASA is definitely not the sole nexus aero developement passed through. On the Euro side and for commercial airplanes the evolution path is A300, Falcon 50, A310, A330/A340, starting point was German research in the 30ties, early 40ties and British work same period but continued.

      • Why the surprise? A couple of years ago they claimed they’d invented the jet airliner with the 707.

  20. Keesje :

    “If Boeing had introduced GP7000′s on interim 767-300/400NG’s around 2005 with the upgraded 767-400ER flightdeck, signature interior, raked wingtips, Boeing would IMO be King today. Boeing placed all their eggs in one optimal, carbon basket though. The NSA/MAX, 747-8, 777X suffered dearly and the A330 wasn’t killed but instead sold 800. Airbus should avoid a similar shortsighted drama.”

    I am not in agreement concerning the 767-300/ -400NG engines with GP7000.

    The 787 has is a solution to offer more belly freight and more range /payload than any hypothetical 767-NG

    The 767 is limited to the LD2 containers!
    The 787 fact of Boeing a king, not the 767.

    To finish, the 777-300ER has had 500 orders since the launch of the A350-1000 also as the A330 has had orders on the 787 must say ….

  21. Both the A330 and 777 entered service around 1994, of types both more then 1000 were build, both have hundreds in the backlog, saw sales records during the last 5 years and are produced at 8-9 a month.

    Why is the A330 certainly a dying platform that should be ended, contrary to the 777 that will be next big thing? Is that really rational and objective?

    IMO 15% Fuel reduction and quiet, clean engines won’t hurt sales of A330-200, A330-300, A330-200F, A330-300F, MRTT and other possible future versions.

    • Keesje,

      I say earlier that the A330-700 you propose with a new wing smaller and a fuselage shrink is not a bad idea to cover the market of “Regional” … It will be something like an A300/ -A310 Neo

      but the A330 NEO is simply insignificant against the 787-10!

      It is clear?

  22. Wasn’t it obvious since the very beginning, both for the -800 and -1000?
    This has been discussed many times.

    • Hi Vero Venia, as for as your disqualification of the A350-1000, I guess at some point a blogger has to accept things simply went differently then hoped/ predicted.

      E.g if you advise Airbus to stop the doomed -1000 project and CX, BA, JAL and United place orders shortly after.

      don’t look for a “delete post” button on this blog..

      • It seems this log (Leeham) only confirms that -800 and -1000 both have some issues. It was obvious since the very beginning, wasn’t it?
        The question is what will happen to the a350-800 and then to the A350-1000. There are many questions without answer. It is very sad that it happens the way it happens.

        But I like your optimism on the A350-800 and A350-1000. Keep it that way.

  23. It seems popular to discredit the poor old -800 with just 80 orders
    I recall for a long time the -1000 had a mere 75 orders was was greatly denigrated.
    Where are we now?

  24. Airbus is now quoting a range of only 7,750nm for the A350-900. I believe this is a reduction from the previous 8,100nm. I suspect this is probably due to the first batch of A350-900 being overweight. But will this shortfall be addressed later on with weight reduction initiatives and enhancements to engine efficiency?

  25. The popularity of re-engining is very high around here. Actually, there has been no really successful application of re-engining in the last decades:
    – B747-8 is an obvious disaster. It’s not the engine though. But this project was lauded as no-brainer when it started, turned out a disaster.
    – A340-500/600: yes, it’s also a re-engine, the A340-2/300’s CFM56-5C never were real performers. Project went bad as it never became best in class, despite being a very nice aircraft.

    Re-engining worked best on single aisles were small performance issues don’t hurt that bad (after all: reference mission is 800nm). Any investment into a widebody needs to make it best in class, otherwise the investment will not pay off. Despite some funny calculations in the previous posts, the A330NEO will never become best in class. The B787 has flaws, but it not flawed in a way that a simple makeover of a 20 year airframe will beat it.

    The A330 is a dying platform. I would use the term “Panikblüte”*. At best it can have its share as cargo aircraft at marginal prices.

    *Panikblüte: stress-induced flowering. A plant produces a bloom using its last resources in times of stress in order to spread its genes before folding finally.

    • Yes there has. The 777 was re-engined enormously successfully, to the detriment of the only 2 cases you cite as failures. Re-engining didn’t fail. Choosing to re-engine a quad where a twin was able to do more or less the same thing was the problem.

      • I would tag as a reengine a refit with engines of the same thrust class.
        A320 NEO, 737 Classic and 737 MAX fit that definition.
        I would exclude the 737 NG, a new plane made to look old, grandfathered by keeping the original wingbolts and an older engine 😉

        I don’t think one can class the 777-300ER as a simple reengine.
        Beyond the span extension the changes under the hood are said to be hefty.

        A340-5/600 fits a reengine even less so. Beyond the fuselage extension it sports a completely new wing. ( Even if some like to deride it as just simple inserts.)

        For completeness neither is the 748, which seems to have got less of a new wing than the A340-5/600, a simple reengine.

        KCTB preferred transport seems to have got a successfull transplant also.

      • Uwe, I don’t agree with you on the A345/A346-wing. 😉

        True, the wingbox was essentially all new (i.e. re-profiled, larger wing covers, larger wing-ribs etc.). However, the leading and trailing edge of the wing was essentially the same for the A333/A343 and A345/A346, and AFAIK the costs associated with the R&D for the movable surfaces accounts for about two thirds of the costs for an all new wing. Hence, the low-cost A345/A346 solution.

        BAE says it decided on the insert solution as it provided the benefits of increased area and greater fuel capacity, while enabling the leading and trailing edge components to be common with the existing A340 wing.

  26. An A330 NEO would definitely come with the advantage of a fully operational supply chain and an assembly line churning out aircraft at a pace of ten per month.

    Would however this aircraft (aka A350 mark 1) be accepted by the market now, after being rejected a few years ago ? I have doubts … The fact that 800 new A330s have been sold since that time does not guarantee new sales in the future (the only declared candidate customer seems to be Air Asia). Airbus’ risk with this project is to invest for little more than cannibalising the existing A330 backlog (or, worse, the A350 backlog), and collecting a few additional sales by heavily discounting the new type from day one after launching.

    I suppose that most customers already have made it clear to Airbus that they cannot be relied upon to invest on a second-best program. The difference with the 777X is that the latter is based in a future, cutting-edge engine. With no better powerplant than existing 787 engines, an A330 NEO would be unconvincing.

    Airbus’ offering on that market segment must be based on its only fully competitive program, the A350. In the middle term, optimising the -800 is Airbus’ best choice. In the short term, Airbus must support its customers, even if this eventually means producing the aircraft they actually bought, however imperfect. Scott is right, though, that this may be avoided through creative negociations.

  27. “Oh oh the A330 is dying yet again.. its already 20 years old”.

    The A330 threat Boeing? Lol!

    Blogcrikey fact in the stupidity extra wide body and Keesje in the Neo ridiculous … oh oh!!!

  28. DL/NWAC, the industries no-nonsense leaders, have been ordering 787s and A330s for a decade. Their 2013 move:

    The 787 is more efficient then the A330 per seat over longer ranges. And less reliable, comfortable, available, flexible, affordable and offers less fleet commonality. Better ignore that? Lets give it another upgrade and reduce fuel consumption by 15%… Stocking up with beer & popcorn..

  29. There are two issues that are not addressed.
    1. There can be another A350 Final Assembly Line.
    2. The A350-800 will be more efficient than the A330NEO.

    I would go with what Schorsch commented earlier of equipping the A350-800 with a smaller wing which can also be applied to the A350-900. I would also add that the current A350-800 is build as well. The A350 is going to be a phenomenal line for Airbus, similar to the A320.

  30. After the 350-900 “The next A350 off the rank is the stretched -1000”, according to Ben Sandilands. Scott is it official now?

    • No, it’s not official nor is there an internal proposal yet at Airbus. Ben is probably concluding much as we did: an 1100 makes sense.

    • Freighters aren’t really urgent when you cannot satisfy your PAX frame customers.
      777F filled the void spots that the non -300ER fall in 777 PAX demand created.

  31. To defend A350-800,
    1) it’s relatively airport friendly. It’s pavement loading for 259 t is almost the same as 787-8 (and less on bad pavement).
    2) It can be a good take off performer (good for small airport or hot/high)
    3) it’s a good neighbour (noise is lower than current A330’s)

    The real problem of the A350-800 is A350 ramp up … and final output (10 / mo ? more ?) and compared 787/777 combined outpout with A350/A330

    And the problem of the A330NEO is that PW is going to be ejected of it if T1000 / GenX derivatives are used…

  32. Airbus prefers selling / building -1000 over -800s.

    The 1000 A350 orders/options sofar basically fill the line up to 2025. Rebuilding the A350 into a light weight seems fully unfeasible until then.

    Coincidentally they have a better sized, highly successful twin including production capacity available today. So if a new medium wing/ wingbox is a good idea, better strap it under those.

    It seems a A333 NEO would have a higher price and cost less to produce then a A350-800 and would block -1000 sales. The A330 has many current and future options; 4 versions are in production with 3 engines, it sports a growing MTOW and booming production line.

    Not further milking this, definitely right sized, design by extending the product live cycle would be an economic crime. Killing the cashcow..

    I expect Airbus and the market to agree.

    “I suppose that most customers already have made it clear to Airbus that they cannot be relied upon to invest on a second-best program. The difference with the 777X is that the latter is based in a future, cutting-edge engine. With no better powerplant than existing 787 engines, an A330 NEO would be unconvincing.”

    What would prevent RR or GE from putting their best engines on a A330 NEO? Pride? Principles? GE’s sympathy for the A350? RR preferring to give up its leading position on the A330?

    • Surely Airbus is contemplating expanding A350 assembly capacity, or migrating A330 capacity to A350 … in which case the equation changes.

      • Thysi,

        You are right, but this may happen later than customers would like. It is a supply chain issue, not only a lack of FAL capacity. Airbus already has plans to produce A350s at a pace of ten per month in 2018. The A350’s commercial success, exceeding expectations, warrants further increases beyond that date, but even then the lack of production slots should hinder sales.

        Yet, unless Airbus perceives a strong market expectation I am not aware of, developping an A330 NEO to meet short term demand would be questionable.

    • A330 NEO needs a newer tech engine than the “old” 787 engines to make up for the age difference, and needs it to be available not too long after the 787-10 eis. RR-3029 looks likely but it won’t be ready until 2022? Scott has talked about replacement for current A330 about that time so I guess he is looking at engine tech. I wonder whether P+W might beat them into service with a larger GTF? If they had gotten it on the 777X it would have had to be ready 2019? IF it performs as expected, but Airbus must have some faith in it to offer GTF on the A320 Neo, and, outside of P+W, they are the only ones to have any experience of GTW actually under the wing.

  33. Just wondering if anybody knows anyone woh works at or for Airbus? None of my contacts are working on the A350-800 but rather on something else.

    Guess what that might be.

    • Two options to choose from? The 350-1000, or a330 neo. Or just one option? 😉

      • For a first delivery in 2016 the 350-1000 is for sure already inside CATIA and on the workstations of the engineers.

  34. Pingback: Airbus’ A350-800 dilemma | Leeham News and Comment | The Airline Industry and its Management Challenges

  35. why not put a scaled down wing on A350-800….325 sq meters instead of 443? and new optimized engine. it ll make it much lighter and efficient than 787. should make a better investment than A330neo. I don’t understand why A350 fuselage wall thickness is 14″…787′s is 11″…777x’s is 9″ thick that means 3 to 5 inches of extra cabin width from the same fuselage!!

  36. Pingback: Half time 2014 for Boeing and Airbus | Leeham News and Comment

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