A350 XWB program update at the PNAA conference

Daniel Wenninger, senior director of the Airbus A350 XWB program out if the Airbus Americas office, appeared at the 2014 Pacific Northwest Aerospace Alliance conference last week in the Seattle area.

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[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QMyM5NLu3V8]

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[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1YNb0UFKiMw]

Simon Pickup of Airbus Americas joins Wenninger for questions and answers.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eMtO4AfpZB4]

32 Comments on “A350 XWB program update at the PNAA conference

    • Boy of SQ takes the 777-9X over the A350-1000, just so they can have 160 more seats and 800 tons more metal. As you’ve said many times Keesje, the airlines perform the analysis and then determine which frame best meets their need. So we wait to understand whther the Airbus story or the Boeing story wins this and many other orders. The next 18 to 24 months will determine the success or failure of the 777-9X.

      • I would think 40 if that is what SQ is projecting. Did they not say the 777-9x was to replace 747-400s and some 777-300ers. The 350-1000s I assume are also for 777-300er replacement and some expansion. Let ‘s also not forget that some of the -9x will be for a380 replacement as well. Yeah those frames will be pulled from service at some point.

    • Regarding Asiana, I think the article you posted is misleading, possibly because of bits getting lost in translation. The number 14 (until 2018) refers not just to the A380, but to “superjumbo and other airliners”, and it happens to tie in with what they have on order for delivery through 2018 anyway – namely 6x A380 and 8x A350.

      “Asiana will receive two A380 airliners by June, order two more next year and another pair in 2017, Mr. Kim said.”
      Although this uses the word “order”, it actually ties in with Asiana’s delivery schedule for the A380. It would be a bit odd to announce planned orders (“two next year and another two in 2017) this way, as well.

    • Somehow I dont see Singapore Airlines going 10 abreast on the 777.
      So what advantage is there for it vs the A350?

      • Ask SQ because they expressed interest. It might be that the competition are going for it. If CX, LH, EK, and others have it and you don’t have a similar size a/c you might not be competitive. A350-1000 is in the fleet as well for all of them. Again ask SQ if you need more detail.

        • “It might be that the competition are going for it. If CX, LH, EK, and others have it and you don’t have a similar size a/c you might not be competitive.”.

          Lol, now where have I heard that argument before?

  1. KC135 it depends. If you think 10 abreast on a 777 is 1 too much and you add First seats, its 4 seats more and 20+ tonnes of metal 😉

    • CX seems to be ok with 10-abreast. SQ is thinking about it. The seats can already be wider than a 787 at 9-abreast and that is industry standard (but for JL; not coincidentally an A351 customer!) going forward.

      I think most customers will find more than 50 extra seats over an A351 if they want them. Others can find more.

      • “I think most customers will find more than 50 extra seats over an A351 if they want them. Others can find more.”

        That’s really it — if they want. An airline’s desired seat density (and, conversely, passenger comfort) will play into the choice of aircraft given their different fuselage diameters. You could cram 10-abreast into an A350 as well — or 11-abreast into a 777. Where will it all end?

        • Airlines will not have trouble putting their 787 or 747 seats into the 777x. It has not been a problem with those aircraft so I don’t see a problem with the 777x. Passenger comfort is actually increasing from the popular 10-abreast 77Ws.

          CX and LH seemed to agree.

          If economy is too comfortable the seats will be heavy and less people might upgrade to premium economy which I see only increasing in availability for this reason. I wouldn’t be surprised to see less than 18″ seats on some A350s. I hope I am wrong.

          I think we will see 10-abreast A350s. I believe AirAsia has already committed to that. If I am not mistaken that seat is close to 16.5″

      • That’s really it — if they want.

        What will be next? 10-abreast on an A350? Or 11-abreast on a 777? Where will it all end? Who will lead the race to the bottom?

        • This whole 10 abreast issue is a worthless argument. Airlines will define Y based on the customer they are attempting to attract. If the CASM enables a 9 abreast strategy airlines will offer it, if not they will cram your fat butt into a tight fit. 16.5 is too small for me, so I’m not a customer of interest. NH has shared this approach when they developed their wide body plan. Some frames have higher seat counts than other frames. The market strategy drives seat count. Which may be why they too are looking at both Airbus and Boeing for their 777-300er replacements.

      • There is nothing that says SQ is thinking about 10-abreast. SQ is considering the 777X and the A350-1000 based on their seating requirements and we don’t know what that is. They will not make them sardines cans just to make it work. At best, the 777X will have about 25 seats more in Y and the same in J (1-2-1). For a reference, the current 777-300ER seats 278 while the 777-200ER also seats 278 and the A330-300 also seats around 278. The difference is how they are used and where they are flying to which determines the seating requirements. It is not the other way around.

        SQ would be stupid not being “interested” in both, otherwise they end up paying a higher price. And knowing them, they will squeeze both and get the best deal (purchase cost, operating cost, revenue potential, and whatever else, not the best “CASM” which seems to be here simplified to being just the passengers/fuel) – it could go either way.

        They did the same for the Silkair fleet. They had both bid against each other and Boeing won (which is not the same as the 737-Max having a better CASM than the A320NEO). From what I heard it was not Boeing who won the deal, but Airbus losing it due to being cocky and assuming they had it in the bag – I also heard that everyone in Silkair assumed it would be the NEO and even high ranked insiders were shocked it ended up being the MAX.

        In the end the best deal wins and that is a lot more complicated than just calculating the amount of fuel per passenger.

        • “There is nothing that says SQ is thinking about 10-abreast. SQ is considering the 777X and the A350-1000 based on their seating requirements and we don’t know what that is.”
          -I actually cannot see SQ operating the 777x in 9-abreast. More than likely the A351 would be the better purchase at that point.

          “They will not make them sardines cans just to make it work. At best, the 777X will have about 25 seats more in Y and the same in J (1-2-1).”
          -I count at least 50 and some have counted up to 66 extra seats if you focus only on economy. The 2.6m stretch is three rows of Y that is 27/30 additional seats. But going to 10-abreast should yield another 26 (26 rows in SQ Y) and the 779 is going down to 4 exits from 5 so that should add another row (and then some) so that is 10 more or 66 additional seats.

          The A351 should be more than adequate in the other cabins though I suspect they would lose one row of J because they only use 51″ of vertical pitch because their J seats are at such an angle that uses the wider 777 cabin. But that is the difference of only 4 seats.

          I don’t see a 17.3/17.4″ seat as a sardine can. Its more than adequate for me personally though I love 18″+.

  2. Watching the A350 update made me realize why Airbus sees value in a A 330 Neo because there is nothing much gained from the work on the A350 airframe.this flight test has proven to show that the engines are the biggest driver of performance improvement. Rolls says they can offer a 5-7% improvement then the A350-800 will be a marginal improvement over the A330NEO. Why do I think that? The comments were bland. The airframe has performed as predicted. Airbus did not push the airframe envelope as did Boeing and the engine has to make up for that design strategy. Not saying there has been no improvement, but that improvement has not shown the level Boeing has found. Reason, the engines on the 787 failed to meet performance but the airframe was on track to hit its design parameters despite weight. Another point, Rolls is using XWB components in an attempt to get the 1000 on track. Customers are still seeing performance at target despite engine misses. If I was wrong engines would not be the center of Airbus recent discussions. Boeing’s miss on the 747-8 I made the 777-9x a decision that had to be played. Why, both the frame and the engine missed. But, the lessons learned from the wing development made the -9x a much easier design commitment. Plus the -300ER had more in its design than the -400 frame. Long and short the A350 will find frame performance 5 to 7 years from service intro. The -800 will replace the NEO in 9 years. The frame has potential but Airbus was unwilling to risk intro pushing to the levels of Boeing. The price, NEO as a stop gap. Profitable gamble, low cost low risk play to holding share. The biggest risk is if Boeing’s 787 program gets through the pains and gets 15-20% from the frame over that 9 year period. The risk to Boeing is a huge cost delta for that performance gain.

    • l7room, I must say your posts in this comment-thread have been a real step up from your previous comments, they have been very good reads and of much interest (I must say I never thought that about most of your comments in earlier threads).

      Much appreciated!

      On to discussion: I think you are right in that Airbus did not push the airframe design as much as they could have. And why should they when the engines provide the lion’s share of the improvements anyway? Especially when doing so would have introduced massive amounts of (extra) risk.

      Airbus is a company that is evolutionary in philosophy, and I think you are quite right in guessing that Airbus will continue tweaking the airframe in the years to come.

      I also think the A330NEO would be a little disruptive to more than one’s strategy, simply because it was not considered until only recently. And one disruption will defenitely be possible price level visavi the 787 (it does not even have to be that finally, only the prospect will be enough to spawn counter-plans from B).

        • They paid $100 Million for those aircraft. They just made $15 million per plane doing a sale lease back. If Airbus comes and takes AI’s remaining orders off their hands I am sure Boeing would be grateful. They are extremely happy, but it doesn’t mean they won’t complain and try to get more out of it. More power to them.

    • I’m not sure I’m following you here. Sure, the engines are the biggest drivers in performance, on the A350XWB as on the 787.

      What I fail to understand, though, is how you arrive at this conclusion:

      Airbus did not push the airframe envelope as did Boeing and the engine has to make up for that design strategy.

      Can you quantify that in any way? And I mean quantify – we’re all aware of the different approaches (barrel vs. panel) taken in the fuselage construction for 787 and A350.

      Reason, the engines on the 787 failed to meet performance but the airframe was on track to hit its design parameters despite weight.

      That sounds like a contradiction in terms, given that weight is one key design parameter.

      The -800 will replace the NEO in 9 years. The frame has potential but Airbus was unwilling to risk intro pushing to the levels of Boeing. The price, NEO as a stop gap. Profitable gamble, low cost low risk play to holding share.

      I actually agree with you here. The -800 has become the troubled child, but from all we can tell, this was a result of market demand. Airbus saw more demand (and margin) in the -1000, so that took priority over the -800, given that they only have a limited amount of resources. Boeing also focused on getting the 787-8 and -9 out the door, cancelling the -3, and only launching the third variant (787-10) about two years after EIS.
      Which is fair enough, I think. Focus on those variants you believe will do best for the first 5-10 years, then launch then next model as engineering resources get freed up. Regarding the A350, this approach gives Airbus time for a relatively low-risk A330neo (which everybody seems to take as a given at this point), while an optimised A350-800 still remains in the cards for ~2020 or thereabouts.

      By the way – regaridng SQ and the 777-9X/A350-1000: SQ already has 70 A350 on order, with conversion rights to the -1000 for a bunch of them. So I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they went for 40 777X or a mix like 20 777X and 20 A350-1000 on top of their existing A350 order. (Assuming the numbers bandied about are correct.)

      • “The -800 has become the troubled child …”

        Just like the 783, the A319 and the MAX-7. Airlines are buying the larger (and more efficient) versions of the frames across the board.

    • Considering iirc, the A350 per Airbus’ number is supposed to be getting a 15-20% fuel burn on the 777, which is similar to what the 787 is supposed to be getting over the 767/A330(the older generation plane it’s supposed to replace). Airbus seems to have been able to get the same amount of improvement as Boeing over the airframe it’s meant to replace without as you’ve glibly put it, “not taking any risk” and pushing the airframe, which also includes embarrassing delays and multiple problems. So, tell me again why Airbus should have taken the same risks as Boeing when keeping it simple, going about everything efficiently and not stupidly trying to try so many new things at once, has worked out just fine for them(so far).

  3. “Airbus did not push the airframe design as much as they could have.”
    “Airbus is a company that is evolutionary in philosophy”
    “Airbus was unwilling to risk intro pushing to the levels of Boeing.”

    I sense some deep cultural and national believes and values 🙂

  4. Lets not make this an A vs B bashing.

    Airbus and Boing both had their “bet the company” projects in the past. Both had clean sheet projects and both had evolutionary steps. There’s even a lengthy Leeham article in the archive about that.

    Airbus thoroughly watched all pitfalls Boing ran into with the 787 project (the internal powerpoint was leaked on the web). I think with hindseight Boing wanted more innovations at a time than its organisation could handle and ran into trouble. Airbus had its own share of trouble with the A380 project and burned its fingers, too.
    Airbus consciously decided to be more conservative with the 350 design than Boing with its 787 (e.g. panels instead of barrels, no Li batteries, etc).

  5. Airbus wasn’t more conservative on the A350 technology. They concluded it would take 7-8 years iso 4 to develop, they decided to solve first problems when they arise iso forward/ ignore and not to outsource too much too far away. And be conservative on communication. Lessons learned.

    • “Airbus wasn’t more conservative on the A350 technology.”

      They certainly were more conservative on electric infrastructure, non-bleed technology, and CFRP tubs vs panels.

      Some of these more conservative approaches may turn out to be wise in hindsight but they were ‘more conservative’.

    • More conservative is not the same as less feasible.

      If you conclude a technology’s benefits don’t justify its risks, costs, timetable, you make a different choice. E.g. MHI using a metal wing for the MRJ. Or Airbus not using a CFRP wing on the NEO. Or Boeing not putting a composite tail on the 777X.

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