Odds and Ends: 777X site; A380 reconfiguration; 777 flashback; PNAA’s 13th annual conference; A350; MC-21

Build 777X “where it makes the most sense:” A Boeing executive, in a CNBC interview, said the 777X would be built “where it makes the most sense.”

CNBC writes that Shephard Hill, president of Boeing International, said, “Honestly, we’re looking within the United States at this point because of the large infrastructure we have there. But again, with the mandate to do it on time, to do it in a quality way, that will drive the decision.”

Meanwhile, Alabama officials revealed they talked with Boeing about locating “some [777X] work” at Boeing’s Huntsville operation. Stories are here and here.

A380 reconfiguration: After our post concerning the secondary market of the Airbus A380 and a figure cited by a lessor that it could cost as much as $20m to reconfigure the airplane (assuming all bells and whistles), we received two emails from readers giving a different perspective.

One wrote that Airbus took the Emirates Airlines specification, which is not as customized as perceived, and outlined three scenarios for reconfiguration.

  • Simply change the cabin colors: $600,000 from Airbus and $500,000 for Buyer Furnished Equipment (BFE).
  • Change three class to two class, with only the upper deck changing: $3.6m in Airbus costs, $1.6m for BFE.
  • High-density, all Y-class, both decks: $4.3m for Airbus costs, $3.5m for BFE.

Another reader wrote that the $20m figure is correct if all existing cabin stuff is tossed and the reconfiguration starts from scratch, but seats and other equipment could be sold to reduce the cost. Going one class, this reader wrote, had a price of between $8m-$10m (slightly higher than that reported by the first reader) and a two class configuration would cost about $5m, roughly the same as noted above.

Flashback on 777 successor: Jon Ostrower, when he was with Flight Global, Tweeted out a flashback down memory lane when we did a podcast with him six years ago, talking about a Boeing 777 successor. We looked pretty smart back then, as it turns out.

PNAA’s 13th Annual Conference: The Pacific Northwest Aerospace Alliance has released the agenda for its 13th Annual Conference held Feb. 4-6, 2014, in Lynnwood (WA), north of Seattle and south of Everett. Crafted well before the Boeing 777X events of last week, the conference is entitled “What’s Driving Change in the Aerospace Industry”.

Boeing says it will decide within three months where it will build the 777X, or in December or January, the latter just before the conference. Whatever this decision, this specific action will clearly come up at the conference, though it is not specifically a topic on the agenda.

We’re presenting on the State of the Airline Industry on the first day and share a panel on the third day with analysts Michel Merluzeau of G2 Solutions and Richard Aboulafia of The Teal Group. We’ve done this panel each year for several years now, and it’s a free-wheeling discussion of what we’ve heard throughout the conference and events generally.

This conference has now become the largest of its kind on the US West Coast, with nearly 450 attendees this past February. The Big Four airframe OEMs, the Big Three engine OEMs and a host of suppliers and lessors present.

MC-21 program update: ATO.ru, a Russian publication, has this update on the Irkut MC-21 program.

A350-1000: Akbar Al-Baker, CEO of Qatar Airways, is known for his about-faces at a whim, so much so that he has the nickname U-Turn Al. Once a vocal critic of the Airbus A350-1000, he now says it is a great airplane, according to this interview in Gulf Business. He urges Airbus to consider a larger version of the plane.

46 Comments on “Odds and Ends: 777X site; A380 reconfiguration; 777 flashback; PNAA’s 13th annual conference; A350; MC-21

  1. Regarding EK’s A380 order, there’s a new article on Reuters that has a few interesting quotes from Tim Clark, including him claiming that they would be able to fill 10 more if they had the real estate at DXB.
    Link is
    http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/11/19/us-airshow-dubai-emirates-idUSBRE9AI1B420131119

    Some quotes:

    “I’ve been very vocal with the Airbus management, saying don’t bottle out of this … it’s a really good aircraft,” Clark said.
    […]
    The apparent shortage of demand had fuelled internal discussion over whether to cut production and review A380 strategy, as Reuters reported last month.
    “We were aware of it. But that was not the reason why we did this deal,” Clark added. “We wouldn’t place orders of this size if we were concerned about it.”
    […]
    Time will demonstrate that you can fill the 500-seater. I can name 10 airlines today that I’m convinced can fill the airplanes, who are not operators of the 380.”

    The article also mentions that the new order is unlikely to fill many of the open delivery slots in 2015.

  2. Regarding A380 refurbishment: the same problem applies for all aircraft. And cost do scale with aircraft capacity. The advantage of an A330 or similar sized aircraft is the availability of more possible locations for such work.
    Regarding the latest comment made by Karelke following by comment, it looks like the owners of the aircraft can actually lease out the aircraft for very little money since the investments are fully recovered.

  3. I can’t see any justification in assuming the A380 won’t be in demand in the future.

    1. Comments that it is too big? Same was said in the mid 70s about the B747, but nobody took into account that the western world in the early 70s was in recession, like the world has been since the A380 EIS, and these programs typically live through 2 or 3 recessions during their life. The world will grow into it. My father declared the B747 dead after his first flight on an A300, reasoning that it was more comfortable and could cover so many shorter routes much more cheaply.

    2. Airport constraints are becoming even worse today than ever, look at the debacle called the maybe Sydney second airport, the Gatwick second runway or the Heathrow third runway. Politically nearly impossible. Even China will run out or runways as the peasants are rioting over government land grabs, that’s leaving out the airspace problems that China has. PLA is not going to give away its control of Chinese airspace! Land prices in places like Brazil are sky-rocketing as well.

    3. A380 is a today airliner, which had EIS in 2007. With 0.5-1% improvement in airliners annually comparing an A380 to an A350 or a B777-X is an apple to orange comparison. Even so, with unrivalled degradation performance, to quote Clark:

    “Also, Emirates has observed a very low degradation factor: The first aircraft delivered in 2008 would normally perform around 2.5-3% less efficiently than in the beginning, but according to Clark the degradation has been only around 1%. ”

    So a 10 YO A380 will be a lot better than a 10 YO B777 delivered on the same date. I guess Emirates could be a driving force in offering another engine around the start of next decade as well, which would maintain a CASM advantage over the big twins. Something (RB-3029 or GTF??) that will do for an A330 replacement can be up-scaled for the A380, or the Trent-XWB down-scaled.

    • ​…the early 70s was in recession, like the world has been since the A380 EIS,

      This excuse for the poor sales of the A380 and 748 is specious. The Great Recession did not hurt the sales of the 777, A330, or A350.

    • …the early 70s was in recession, like the world has been since the A380 EIS

      This excuse for the poor sales of the A380 and 748 is specious. The Great Recession did not hurt the sales of the 777, A330, and A350.

      • ps how many people bought Chevy Aveos on 2006 and how many more bought them in 2008?

      • I think Airbus have a problem with the A330 successor, I suspect they want to wait for next generation engine tech, but it won’t be available until about 2022. That’s quite a long time away.

    • It would be quite interesting to know how much money Boeing has spent behind the scenes on muddying the waters for the A380 and other Airbus products.
      All that influence and money could have made quite the difference on forex the 787.

      • I thought you cried about comments made on giveaways by Airbus, and now you say Boeing has been a bad boy in the dark? So, let’s agree that Boeing never did anything in the dark and Airbus never gave away an aircraft?

      • Not sure about how much is “spent behind the scenes” to “muddy” the waters for competitors, but could it be possible Boeing did it all in the open? Is it possible the entire B747-8i was developed as a ruse encouraging and prodding the A3XX along?

        The -8i wasn’t suppose to cost as much as they thought, but even considering all the problems they spent less than developing a brand new 2-deck VLA. No less, Boeing’s projected VLAs at 3% (2000-2010, ~1116 airframes/17,796), then, 5% (2000-2019, ~534/22,315). Was/Is there profitability room for two competitors in this segment?

        http://www.boeingblogs.com/randy/archives/2010/07/back_to_the_future_-_part_iii.html

      • Can you point to something specific Boeing has done to muddy the waters for the A380?

        • Are you kidding, Rick?

          *Boeing has engaged in an anti-A380 PR campaign since it was launched.
          *Boeing compares a 467 seat 747 to a 525 seat A380 and makes claims about better seat mile costs, etc., when any airline configuration would have the 747 at 405 seats, which presents a totally different picture than Boeing’s distorted comparisons.
          *Boeing launched two-page, full color ads comparing the 747 with those 467 seats with the A380.

          • That and the dense rain of negative articles from purportedly neutral/independent sources that seem to scoop from common cheat sheets if you analyse their content. These also tend to spring up simultaneously in unconnected domains from different authors but with surprisingly similar content. negative Astroturfing.

      • I find the whole discussion of “muddying the waters” silly. Both manufacturers tout their aircraft and its attributes to the detriment of their rival. As Lee pointed out Boeing did it and when the 777 was outselling the A340, Airbus came out with the campaign about how 4 engines were safer than 2 when crossing the ocean. And when was the last presser hosted by John Leahy that didn’t take a pot shot at Boeing? There is no need for “behind the scenes” muddying, they both do it quite out in the open and often. But the question should be when is the advertising just an effort to sell your product and when is it muddying the water? Here it sounds like one mans sales promotion is another mans mud.

      • We are not talking about pot shots but about a carefully crafted behind the scenes defamation campaign with no hold barred.

      • Didn’t Airbus used to inflate the number of seats on the A340 when comparing it to the 777?

        Remember how Leahy was always going on about how uncomfortable the 9-across seating in the 777 is, and the dreaded “double excuse me seat”?

        And he likened the crew rest in the crown to stuffing the crew in an overhead bin.

        And then the ad campaign implying that twin engine jets were unsafe for trans ocean flights?

        All of this ended when Airbus came out with their own 9-across twin with a crew rest in the crown.

  4. Engines for A380: GP7000 has thrust of about 81 klbf. The Trent1000-TEN has 76 klbf, but RR mentiones “capability” up to 78 klbf. GEnx-1B goes up to 76 klbf as well. I think a little higher thrust can be squeezed from either engine without too much trouble. Even if they would have to sacrifice a little TSFC for the extra thrust I think they’d be good engines. Difficult thing is adding bleed…

    Or tech from these engines can be added to Trent900 or GP7200 upgrades. Whichever is easier.

    Both engines would be fine for an A330NEO. Should Airbus focus on short/medium range they can choose the GEnx-2B, which has up to 64 klbf (this is the engine on 747-8…), should be plenty for that application.

      • I suspect the A330R won’t sell well, it costs Airbus nothing to do anyway. I don’t follow his argument that the solution to air traffic congestion is more flights. I think he is smoking the Kool-Aid rather than drinking it.

      • Martin- it won’t cost Airbus a thing at all. Is it in the current Airbus strategy to give lower end share to Boeing? If it is, well just offer and promote the A330NEO/R/Any Other Configuration as a competitive solution.

      • This Ihssane Mounir has a point, its a lot of weight you are carrying around with an A330. A light 300 seater doesn’t exist (767-400?) What he shouldn’t underestimated is that A330 can also carry a mature amount of cargo and China is big. “There are 125 A330s in service in China, with a further 60 on firm order.” tells something..

      • @MartinA
        I don’t follow his argument that the solution to air traffic congestion is more flights.

        He didn’t say that. He said:

        The solution to congestion, he says, should be better frequency and air traffic management. This means airlines should optimise their networks, change frequencies and also upgauge their aircraft.

        Changing frequencies could mean fewer flights, especially when combined with up gauging aircraft.

      • upgauging is exactly what you do with using an A330 ( A300 probably would if available with new engines serve the same purpose ).
        I am rather certain that chinese customer mentality differs significantly from american ones.

      • Scott, that was a response to Uwe’s comment about up gagueing to an A330 from a narrow body, to relieve airport congestion. It might make sense if you already operated the A330. But if you had to add a new type to your fleet, it might not.

      • Rick, upgauging by 10..20% doesn’t do much for frequency/congestion.
        ( It will enable you to take some customers from the competition )
        If you double capacity you can reduce traffic movements by a factor of 2
        producing more of an impact on the initial problem.

        A320 / A330 cross crewing shouldn’t hit that much of a problem in a sane setup.
        IMHO the complexities of adding another type are overvalued. Having good capacity granularity adds dispatch complexitiy ( requireing competent personel ) but provides significant advantage.

        For US airlines obviously this solution opens a tin of probs. Union arrangements unduly limit how your can deploy your crews and the thinking behind fleet deployment is totally fixated on single type pools.

        • Upgagueing by 20% is significant, and will reduce congestion by 20%.

          Time will tell if the lower weight A330-300 is a popular solution for congestion at Chinese airports.

  5. Trent 1000 and GEnx-were 2007 engines. For A330 Airbus will need the next generation which is coming to compensate for the age of the A330. That’s why I guess RB-3029 or a GTF.

    • Too late EIS for these engines, 2020 or more, Martin !

      Either for a TXWB scaled down that may take 5-6 years …. and a scaled up GTF Too !
      – GE is not going to help much Airbus, anyway …
      – Only practical solution the T1000 (Ten version if possible) with 4% more bleed air, and a scaled down Gearbox for less Kwatts needed !
      – And some improvements for the, wings, airframe, landing gear , may help too !

      JL is speaking of hundredth of A/C, Airbus has to put their investments together with their marketing hopes !

      • I agree with you that they need something sooner, but I have my doubts about available engine options doing for the A330. We shall see.

  6. Actually the A380 could become a great regional hauler for a country like China with the proper facilities to load and off-load passengers and freight. Less fuel and more payloads on a 3 to 4 hour flight of 1500 to 2000 mile haul. This could also mean the A380 would make a great coast to coast hauler from NY to LAX or Miami to Seattle. Out and back with no layover for fuel, just a thought of course.

    • Before that happens you’d see a prop to tail stream of yellow checkered C172 flying from place to place. 😉
      IMHO Long term China will try to limit air transport to those connections that are difficult to reach by HSRail.

  7. Before sending an A380 regional, I rather use any A330 or B777-200. Especially the latter can load 440 Pax, and using weight per seat, is better than or at least equal to an A380 with 800 Pax.
    Further, I would use second hand aircraft or former long haulers from own fleet. These can absorb being parked half of the time.
    The A380 is a pure long haul platform. And its application is indeed limited. I would assume that Airbus will not be able to constantly sell more than 30 a year. Over the long run, that can still be profitable given the negative incentive for any competitor to go into this segment.
    Apart from the weak market for the A380, there is pretty much no way of making a 500Pax aircraft any better (within the limitations given > 80m box).

  8. And a side note: now Airbus and Boeing are both locked in the business model “Middle East Wunderwachstum*”. Good Luck!

    means: mysterious growth

  9. Boeing and the 777X were the big winners of Dubai. Finally the reality of the current 777 backlog, production rate and 2020 is kicking in.

    “Boeing (BA) dominated the Dubai Air Show this week with a record haul of 259 orders for its new, long-range 777X, worth nearly $100 billion at list prices. What could prove to be a problem is that the new jets won’t be delivered for more than seven years, leaving Boeing to sell current versions of its 777. An analyst downgraded Boeing today to “market perform,” citing the lack of a financial “bridge” between the two jets.”

    http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-11-20/boeings-new-777x-is-a-hit-dot-now-what-about-the-old-one

    • Earlier I had noted 44 777-* sold through Sept. of this year.
      Going back to Boeing.com this now stands @ 42 ( net ) orders.
      Cancelations?

  10. GE woud love to remain a provider of A330 engines. Specially after they missed out on the A350. The Genx seems just right. Boeing wasn’t romantic on the 787 either.

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