CIT Aerospace, one of the Top Tier lessors in the business, takes a look at the future options of the Airbus A330.
In a short paper released concurrent with the start of the AGM of ISTAT, the International Society of Transport Aircraft Traders, in San Diego today, CIT’s Steve Mason outlines what he sees as the options facing Airbus to improve sales.
The four page PDF may be found here.
We have production rates of 14 Boeing 787s a month (vs 16 in the CIT analysis) and 10 Boeing 777Xs a month (based on Boeing’s own information) vs eight in the CIT analysis, but otherwise the CIT analysis is very similar to the issues we’ve written about here previously, so we won’t repeat them. We presented yesterday to the ISTAT Appraisers Continuing Education meeting about the production gap facing Airbus, Boeing and Embraer between their current airplanes and future programs, a topic we’ve also discussed here previously. CIT and we concur that Airbus has a major dilemma with the A330 going forward; we believe Airbus should proceed with the A330neo, which should extend the life of the airplane by 10-15 years. Absent this, we believe Airbus will be at a major production rate disadvantage in the important 210-400 seat twin aisle sector.
I believe before Airbus makes any decision on the A-330, they have to decide whether they will actually bring the A-358 to market, or not. They have been aggressive and somewhat successful in convincing some customers to upgrade to the A-359 and/or A-3510.
I do not believe Airbus will do anything to hurt the A-350 program, as it stands today (with the A-358 included). Dropping the A-358 will not hurt the A-350 program. They have dropped a model before and lost a few sales to Boeing by (effectively) cancelling the A-380F model and not developing the A-389 model.
Competing any A-330NG against the B-787 may not be “in the cards” either. Any possibility of a minor, NEO, or significant upgrade to the A-330 must have a real business plan behind it. Airbus must weigh the very real possibility that Boeing will introduce improvements to their B-787 family. Any suggestion of a vastly improved engine for an A-330NEO must include that same engine family could also be added to the B-787.
Mr. Mason sees an A-330NG, or NEO, or whatever as an option, not a firm order, yet. Before he does so, he needs, he needs to get orders from his customers first. Yes, there are other customers interested in an A-330NEO, but as far as I know they have yet to commit to it, much less any firm orders. That is because Airbus has not designed it or came up with pricing. Of course Airbus cannot do anything until they get information from the engine OEMs. Then again Airbus has not announced anything about what they can do by themselves, like adding “sharklets”.
“Any suggestion of a vastly improved engine for an A-330NEO must include that same engine family could also be added to the B-787.”
The general expectation here seems to be for 1% performance improvement per year for new engine designs. The RR announcements seems to be in line with that. Do you see any new designs outperforming that technology evolution curve?
How much better are potential new engines for the 787 ? Nobody sees the A330-Neo as a 787 killer yet, so why should Boeing sacrifice profitability for a re-engine ?
In the long term (say 2030) the picture may be different.
If I remember correctly, Tom Williams said recently that adding sharklets may not be giving them much benefit, as the A330 already has full regular winglets.
Sharklets may be better, but not by a margin that’s big enough to justify the additional development and installation cost, plus additional weight introduced by them. So sharklets don’t sound like they’re a given, even on an A330neo, never mind as a refresh on the A330ceo.
Other than that, Airbus can chiefly work on weight reduction (they’ve been doing a lot of that by removing A340-related structure from the frame – no no longer needed) and aerodynamic improvements.
I always thought that Keesje’s CFRP A330-700 had merit. A light lower thrust engine on a 200 ton model? Shave weight everywhere, and build the new 4000nm workhorse.
I mean CFRP wing A330-700.
Boeing has been producing a maximum of 8.3 777s per month while owning the large freighter market segment (i.e. 77F) and the 350-seat long range WB market segment (i.e. 77W). Believing that Boeing somehow should be able to maintain current triple seven production levels of some 8.3 777X units per month, or even going as high as 10 777X units per month post 2020, when there’s going to be a whole different level of competition going forward (i.e. A350-900 and A350-1000), is wildly optimistic, to say the least.
I would be suprised of Airbus goes for a new wing for the A330, but then very few thought they would do an A330 NEO as little as a year ago. Ok, so it is not yet a done deal but it is being considered seriously enough that nobody scoffs at the idea like some used to (actually a little humble pie could be served to some of the more vociferous keesje critics out there).
Still a new wing is a major investment and by the time they get that all designed, produced and tested, their window of opportunity would most likely be gone.
Boeing has to sell 300 777s to keep the line open until 2020. That’s what should be on the agenda. I’m not saying airlines are hesitant on the 777X, but 67 orders since launch is not record breaking. Maybe passenger feed back/ online trip reports on long haul 10 abreast 777 seat comfort is having an impact on re purchase intention / margins and airlines can’t ignore.
I guess the question is return on investment. Big investment, big gamble. Markets shift quickly. Look at how the 747-8F has been undercut by the 777F.
I can’t get the “4 page pdf” to download: is it just me?
No, it’s your computer.
Try the right mouse button and “save as” in case your are right handed.
I wonder what additional enhancements Airbus will offer for the A330 NEO apart from new engines. System upgardes, cabin options (e.g cargo belly lavatories) seem likely, but stretches to match / beat competitor capacity / lower CASM are also possible. They do not have a moving target & can focus.
The 343 small center gear seems unlikely. a significant MTOW rise would cut into the A350 business case too much. Unless Airbus doesn’t mind about that as long as they sell. http://cdn-www.airliners.net/aviation-photos/middle/7/6/4/1470467.jpg
“I wonder what additional enhancements Airbus will offer for the A330 NEO apart from new engines.”
Has Airbus said they will build the A-330NEO? I don’t think they have said that.
What about an engine replacement for old A340-200/300? The A320NEO engines might fit.
I still think Airbus tries to skip the current engine generation and will offer then next engine generation for an A330NEO-Advanced around 2020.
Why should Airbus change the A330 within the next 4 years? I doubt Airbus likes to hire more workers. To expand the A350 production several worker will move from the A330 line. That will reduce the A330 output and with a reduced output of about 50 aircraft per year Airbus can easily reach 2020. Cheap freighters are also an option to fill potential gaps (compare to last big 767 orders).
I expect now big wing or fuselage modifications. Airbus already did this. It’s called A350.
Publicly no – but in talks to airlines yes.
There was a news item on aero.de some trime ago referring to statements of a frankfurt based airlines fleet planner. (Can be only Condor or Lufthansa.)
An A350 style cockpit would help commonality and could be a sales argument for mixed A350/A330Neo fleets.
According to Aspire aviations figures (engines aside) the A330 structures are 5% less fuel efficient than the 787-10. A stretch could close the gap in seat mile cost.
Maybe they could also lower the main deck a few inch (flatter floor beams etc) and offer 9 abreast for medium haul flights, OCR, bigger bins, etc. And/or a A330-250, A330-350NEO, A330F NEO.. lots of options. What to loose if the A350 is sold out?
But they should move quickly, time to market is critical. Beeing metal isn’t a disadvantage when modifying aircraft.
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