Odds and Ends: Boeing earnings; Shandong is a new 737 order; MH370; Boeing SkyInterior; Azul and Airbus; 186-seat A320

Boeing earnings: Boeing announced its 1Q2014 earnings today and they were better than expected on a per-share basis. David Strauss of UBS remains grumpy about the 787 deferred costs:

787 deferred production grew by $1.5B, in line with our forecast, with balance now at $23.1B as compared to BA’s ~$25B target. We estimate deferred production per unit at ~$50M, lower from $75-80M on positive production mix of nearly all 787-8s from Everett as problems continue on 787-9. We continue to believe that deferred production peaks at $30-35B as compared to BA’s $25B target.

Boeing’s earnings call is later this morning.

Shandong’s 737 order: Early this week, Chinese media announced that Shandong Airlines had ordered 50 737NGs and MAXes. Boeing’s statement the next day acknowledged the news report. With more than 600 737s listed in Boeing’s Unidentified customers, we asked if this was a new order or one from the Unidentifieds–Boeing told us this is new.

MH370: Flight Global’s safety expert reporter, David Learmont, doesn’t think the Boeing 777 that was Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 will be found. We only found this story (pun intended) five days after it was posted. As Readers know, we wrote weeks ago that former NTSB investigator Greg Feith made this prediction.

Boeing SkyInterior: Boeing posted a video on its website about some of the thinking that goes into creating the SkyInterior, which is similar across the 787, 747-8 and 737 lines. Passenger experience has become an important part of Boeing’s product strategy (as with Airbus, Bombardier and Embraer as well), so in a departure from our usual practice of generally not linking “house videos,” we’re doing so on this one to give Readers a peek at what goes into some thinking at the OEMs.

Azul trans-ocean jets: Brazil’s domestic low cost carrier, Azul, will order Airbus wide-body jets for its planned trans-Atlantic service, according to Reuters.

A320 at 186 seats: Airbus is seeking certification of the A320 for 186 seats, just three short of the maximum of rival Boeing 737-800, according to this article in Aviation Week. (We had heard the effort was to 189 seats.)

59 Comments on “Odds and Ends: Boeing earnings; Shandong is a new 737 order; MH370; Boeing SkyInterior; Azul and Airbus; 186-seat A320

    • The lack of comments did not impact negatively the quality of your site.

    • Scott,

      I think puns involving MH370 are in poor taste. Keep in mind that this was a tragedy and involved the lives of 239 individuals.

    • Scott,

      I know you can’t monitor each one all the time but how about just blacklisting them?
      One warning and out!

      I would like to offer up this site to add to your list, the guy does a good job of keeping track of the 787 program.

      http://nyc787.blogspot.com/

      • I was myself blacklisted by Scott and banned for TWO YEARS 2011-13 … tough luck ! I really resented being just ‘switched off’ … Now, based on my own experience, I would recommend for Scott to enter hard-headed commentators like myself, when exceeding acceptable limits, into a kind of “ice-hockey time off box”, listing blogger Alias with N° of days to go until return permitted, as a public warning and incitation to “behave” ? Eg “Frequent Traveller” suspended from the Forum, with yet another 730 days-to-go …

        • Public shaming? I somehow feel that would hurt the quality of this site than improve it.

          • Everyone: Stop this line of commenting. It has no relevance to aviation issues.

            My solution for all this whining will be to either close comments permanently or change this to a paid subscription site at a price that will weed out the fringe elements.

            Shape up.

            Hamilton

        • FT was banned for two years because of repeated violations of our Reader Comment rules and repeatedly ignoring private email warnings to cease and desist. Next time, FT, you’ll be banned permanently.

          Hamilton

        • Missed it, thank you and no comment on comments (grin I hope!)

  1. Here is Boeings order book through 4/15/14;

    http://active.boeing.com/commercial/orders/index.cfm

    What is the pitch for the 186 seats on the A-320? The B-737-800NG is longer than the A-320-200.

    B-738 length = 129 ft 6 in (39.5 m)

    A-320 length = 123 ft 3 in (37.57 m)

    For the 180 (1 class maximum) seat version of the A-320, the seat pitch is 28″ and 29″. For the B-737-800NG with 189 (1 class dense) seats the pitch is 30″. To get to 186 from 180 seats, Airbus is adding one more row of seats.

    • “For the B-737-800NG with 189 (1 class dense) seats the pitch is 30″
      Do you have a source for that?

      189/6 seats per row=31.5 rows
      So reducing seat pitch on the 737-800NG by 1” would add one row.

      Easyjet and Airasia already use a 29” pitch on their Airbus narrowbodies (source: seatguru.com).

      • but the certificated emergency exit capacity of the 737-800 is maxed out at 189 so reducing pitch and adding a row is a non-starter.

        in face, early -900s were also limited to 189, although I think they fixed that for the -900ERs

      • …and Spirit already does 28″ pitch economy on theirs (seatguru).

    • In view of all the A330neo discussion, it’s interesting to note that, so far, this year the current model A330 is comfortably outselling the 787.

      • Some articles before Scott had a nice graphic about planned A330 deliveries by year. It showed a large gap opening between orders and production rate beginning in 2014(!)

        I’m wondering why Airbus is running such a risk. Are so many orders for short term delivery in Leahys pipeline? Producing dozens of white tail A330s would be a desaster for cash flow and pricing of new orders.

        • I can’t see any problem until 2015 at current production rates. I don’t know what production rates Airbus is planning for the upcoming years. I even guess Airbus has already delayed reducing the production rates for the A330. The A350 lines starts and the A330 is still at high rates. More output than 767 and 787 together. What else would make Airbus happy?

          Why do Airlines like the A330?
          “De-risking the venture is therefore crucial and the well proven A330 reduces risk.”
          http://airinsight.com/2014/04/23/azul-jumps-up-to-wide-bodies/

  2. There is a thread on airliners.net about more seats for the A320.

    That space flex options effectivly means moving the toilets into the tail cone and giving up some galley space. I think that toilet design is a bit more uncomfortable for passenger because of the heavily curved sidewall at head height in the tail. But that’s ok on short hops. It remains to be seen if that galley space is enough on routes with longer range though. I’m wondering if Boeing has optimized the 737 in a similar way yet.

    I think all comparisons 737-Max against A320-Neo didn’t take those plans into account yet, considering the A320-Neo and 737-8 an even match. The A321-Neo already is seen superior to the 737-9. Thats a nice way for Airbus to get a lead with the A320-Neo, too.

    The A320 family always was considered less economic in fuel burn than the lighter 737-NG family. Still Airbus gained a 50% market share. Airbus closing that gap and even getting ahead in economics can’t be good for Boeing.

    • “The A320 family always was considered less economic in fuel burn than the lighter 737-NG family.”

      Considered by who? Not “the industry”. IMO the A320s 69 inch CFM56 has better fuel burn then the 737NGs 61 inch CFM56. CFM says so. The MAX gets 69 inch.

      • The A-320s wider fuselage has much more drag than the B-737NG. The A-320 is also much heavier than the B-737NG. Thus it does burn slightly more fuel than the Boeing. Even Leeham has made that comment.

  3. In its presentation (page 22, J.P.Morgan commercial update) explicit mention is made to a “new exit limit” …. but nowhere in the presentation is there any further info concerning by means of what precise modification(s) to the A320 structure the referred “new exit limit” is hoped to gain approval by the regulating Authorities; if the A320 Emergency Exits specifications remain unchanged, the whole “189-pax” affair appears somewhat dubious : surely, it cannot be arranged as merely a paperwork job ?

      • Actually, the theoretical exit limit of the A320 “as is” today = 2 x 75 + 65 = 215 pax, but the rule is, once you’ve been through cabin certification (based on a given set of EE), they quote an “Exit Limit” for the type. Thereafter, you cannot revisit this procedure unless there is a specification change to your EE (Emergency Exits). Factually, a certified max pax of 180 equates to a TOTAL BLUNDER when compared to the theoretical Exit Limit of max 215 pax … it is high time it’s corrected !

        • A320 cabin certification (1988) actually seems to have been TARGETTED to reach 179 pax, as the reports from the event say the stopclock pointer passed 81 seconds as the mancount reached 179 pax, and that was the end of the evacuation test ?

          Which we may interprete as follows : at the time, 179 pax shoehorned into the cabinspace of an A320 was considered ambitious or ‘excessive’, hence more than sufficient as an Exit Limit … but times have changed : superslim seats were not invented and the “LCC cabin culture” was unknown in 1988 !

          Meaning this : with more pax inside the aircraft at the start of the demo, plus assuming a steady paxflow throughout the demo from t = 8 seconds (= ‘EE open’ completed), the paxflow was apprx. 179/[81 – 8] = 2.45 pax per second, or yet another 2.45 x 9 = 22 pax would possibly have escaped in the remaining 9 seconds, total 179 + 22 = 201 pax as the corrected A320 cabin Exit Limit, with the same EE configuration ? But again : once you’ve passed the cabin certification, you don’t re-pass it, unless the Emergency Exit configuration is different ? Let’s see how Airbus will solve the issue ?

  4. In some respects, I would argue that the A320 and 738 have too little floor area for the capability of the wing and engines. For airlines wishing to fit in more than 150 passengers, the more economical choice is the 739 or A321.

    A stretched A319plus or 737-7plus to 36m, for 150 seats at 32″ pitch, might increase interest in these models, for turnaround time, or for long and thin routes.

  5. ” . . as problems continue on 787-9″

    Would that be a typo? .. or do the Mk1 problems carry over to the stretch model
    which up to now appeared to be going forward very well indeed?

    • Boeing Co. (BA)’s stumbles in producing a new, longer 787 Dreamliner are reviving concerns that the world’s largest planemaker isn’t close to breaking even on its marquee jet.

      As Boeing prepares to post first-quarter results tomorrow, a 2015 target to get the 787 into the black may be receding, said David Strauss, a New York-based analyst with UBS AG. He projects the Dreamliner program consumed $2 billion in cash in the period.

      Costs rose and deliveries slowed when employees at Boeing’s South Carolina factory couldn’t finish work on center fuselage sections as the output tempo rose and 787-9 assembly began. Boeing hired contractors to help complete the components and routed parts shipments away from the plant so the backlog of unfinished pieces doesn’t overwhelm storage space.

      http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-04-22/boeing-s-bigger-dreamliner-seen-imperiling-787-s-profit.html

      • While Boeing’s track record on reducing 787 production costs doesn’t inspire confidence, “we continue to take the long view, believing that ultimately the 787 will be a very successful program,” said Ken Herbert, a San Francisco-based analyst with Canaccord Genuity who rates Boeing a buy.

        • Same article, “After more than doubling last year’s gain in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, Boeing has been a 2014 laggard as Dreamliner deliveries trailed the 10-a-month output target. The stock fell 0.1 percent yesterday to $127.82, pushing its 2014 decline to 6.4 percent against the S&P 500’s 1.3 percent advance. Copeland rates Boeing as overweight and Harned’s recommendation is outperform, while UBS’s Strauss is neutral. ”

          You seem to have picked out on of the very few half way positive analysis out of this piece.

  6. The aft galley devleopment has been going on for more then 18 month and is a soap behind the scenes. large airlines, ambitions, politcis, competing galley OEMS, crew unions play roles.

    A similar product is under devlopment for the narrower 737NG, although demand isn’t as strong. Lean aft lavatories give the 737-700 an extra row reaching its 149 flight safety maximum and the 737-800 seems large enough for most airlines.

  7. What seems to be metal sheet with rivets found along australian coast, being identified as we speak.

  8. If Boeing looses the advantage of having a longer cabin for the 737-800 because it cannot put more than 189 passenger on it, can it do the opposite and actually cut some frames off this airplane to make it lighter and still seat the 189 passengers, though making it a bit more economical to fly per seat? Unless of course the can get it certified to see more than that as it is.
    If you can’t compete one way, try a different direction.

    • A shorting of 2 frames (effectively removing one row) will only have a very small effect on actual performance, significant only for aircraft that need 200nm more range. Another option would be to add an exit, add a few frames and generate a B737-850 with a 200 Pax limit. Especially attractive for airlines flying on routes below 1000nm (which is the majority).

  9. If I am informed correctly, Boeing gained the 189 for the B738 because it added safety features which were not strictly required by its certification basis (the wing slides).
    The A320 does have larger exits in front and aft than the B738.
    In my personal opinion an evacuation test should be demanded. In general, we see today’s single aisle with on average much larger seat count and much higher load factors, so that the actual pax-to-exit ratio has get worse.

    • Only major design changes require a new evacuation test. The new exit limit can be achieved by modeling the results from the previous tests again.

    • Schorsch, Boeing got the 189 seat limit for the -800 by changing the overwing exits. Originally, they were removable hatches – release them, place them on the seat next to the opening, and go [I suspect most would have just tossed them out on the wing]. The new design is a quick-release flip-up hatch. Pull the lever, the top-hinged hatch flips out and up, and off you go.

      The 737-900, -900ER and -9MAX are still exit-limited to 189 pax, but with more space for premium seats and/or lavs and galleys. The -900ER and -9MAX have an option to add a pair of type II exits aft of the wing whichincreases the theoretical exit-limit to around 215. I’m not sure how many could actually be stuffed in at 28-29 pitch.

  10. The evacuation test bottleneck in the present A320 EE specification is at the overwing double type III openings : the safety egress path is narrow (cross-aisle spacing of twice 10″ with interference between the two, due to close vicinity) and the hatch opening delay is slow, exceeding 6 seconds … also, for some irrational reason, the escape path onto the wing attracts uncontrolled pax preference, to the unwarranted effect that queuing occurs here more than can escape in 90 seconds. As redirecting the paxflow to doors 1 or 3 is time-consuming, the emergency evacuation test for the A320 proves very challenging : there is strictly NO BASIS for claiming a better result than the originally demonstrated 179 pax, unless Airbus do apport some specification changes to the EE hardware of this aircraft type, plus PROVE the effectivity thereof, redoing a successful evacuation demo to whatever new exit limit they will claim to apply ?

  11. While it is true that no MH370 parts have been found yet, they seem to have a pretty good idea of where the crash site is located, based on various signals they have received after approximately 30 days. Now it’s probably too late to hear anything.

    Because they have a reasonable idea of where the airplane might be located it’s only a matter of time before they will locate the wreckage. But it will be much harder to find the boxes because the signal is probably too weak by now; and to add to the difficulty those boxes are probably buried under the silt.

    • It depends on which reasonable. If the CVR and FDR pings were good, then its findable. However I have not seen any analysis that says how good a direction and or cross position they got with it. Last report 90% of that area was scanned and no hits.

      If you are talking about the calculated com pings from the ACARS system antennae, then no, its still a huge area that would take years to scan (assuming its not too deep in parts of it as is currently marginal now).

      While I understand the Malaysians screwing up, I don’t understand why ping equipment was not headed to Australia as soon as the sane people figure out that it was possibly down there. If they had moved, they would have had two weeks or a bit more to pick up and or zone in on the black box pingers.

      No one looks good on this. We still don’t know why the satellite data on the arcs was not kicked harder when they realized the Malaysians were playing ostrich.

      • I expect there to be more to this than the “Malaysians playing Ostrich”.
        Out in public you only see a limited number of the “actors” and what you
        see may be reactive behavior triggered by stimuli from the off.

  12. RE Boeing’s SkyInterior, on the same site there is a fascinating high speed, time lapse piece showing the conversion of a 744 to a BCF.

  13. A minor consequence is that marketing managers favouring cost per seat (CASM) to compare aircraft will have to be adjust graphs, lowering A320 CASM by 3%.

    • While this change increases the maximum seat count by up to 9, by how much does the typical configuration change?

      • 1 Row, 6 seats seems reasonable. It’s mostly focussed on low costs operators and mainline European flights were a drink and a sandwhich has replaced tray service on all but the longest flights. The front galley and mini galley in the tail combined are big enough for that services concept. The new aft galley complex (Diehl, Driessen-Zodiac) is basically a seats for food exchange.

        • Does anyone have a seat plan of the new aft cabin configuration? Does it provide space for one row at 30 to 32-inch pitch plus 3 inches recline? Does it retain enough galley volume for meal service? If so then standard mixed class arrangements will benefit. But, as Keesje says, If it provides minimal galley volume plus space for another row at 28 to 30 inch pitch at zero recline, then just the one-class max density seat count will increase.

        • Oviver, see my link at the top of comments, page 23.
          Maybe not enough gally space for full service hot meals *shrugg*. Any flight attendents here who can comment ?

        • There is an emergent L (lavatory coefficient) shortfall issue with the new Airbus A321 @ 240 pax proposal : A321 LOPAs in Airbus’ sales brochures have consistently been represented with 4 Lavs wherefrom we derive L = 45 thru 55 (3 Lavs in the A320 —-> L = 50 thru 60 whereas the new 189 pax layout with 3 Lavs give L = 63 pax/lavatory, somewhat high ? NOw, to reach 240 pax in A321 [ cf http://avia.superforum.fr/t724p600-a319-a320-a321-neo#37026 ] an entirely new approach to L is adopted by Airbus : 3 lavs only, or L = 80 ?!? The risk for the Operator to experience recurrent toilet runs (a ghastly affair) becomes tangible ?!

  14. The driver behind all this is the reality that the A320NEO has become a kind of small to replace the large, aging A320 fleet.

    The A321 is not a “balanced capacity” increase over the A320, as Airbus is trying to convince us (twice) in the presentation linked by aviaponcho (they worked the pictures) , its 50 seats / 20-30%/ 7m up. And a lot of weight, price, operating costs etc.

    Airlines keep asking for 200 seats with reasonable pitches, galley and lavatories. The 737-800 offers 2 rows more then the A320, its longer. The galley/lav/seatpitch move Airbus is showing now is an attempt to suppress that 200 seat demand.

    Airbus doesn’t want a “A320 NEO Plus” stretch like I promoted a few years ago in a very similar picture and with an identical product name. http://i191.photobucket.com/albums/z160/keesje_pics/AirbusA320NEOPlusFamily.jpg

  15. Nofly, thanks for the link.
    From what I have seen of 189-seat 737-800 seat plans [also known as “LOPA’s”],
    here are the differences:
    – Seat pitch [inches]: 737 mixed 29 & 30; A320 mixed 28 & 29
    – Galley carts: 737 has nine; the A320 has six
    – Attendant seats: the requirement is one attendant per 50 pax = four for 189 passengers. The 737 has six attendant seats, two in front plus four in back. The A320 only seems to have three, two in front plus one in back; if so that’s not legal [an attendant cannot be assigned to a passenger seat; among other requirements, he or she must have a seat with a rigid full-height seat back and a six-point restraint harness]
    – Lavatories: both only have three lavs, for a 63 pax per lav ratio. The 737 has three standard size modules, one in front plus two at the back of the cabin. The A320 has one in front plus two special modules against the bulkhead.

    • Seat pitch and seat width are in a limited adjustment range exchangeable.
      ( no idea if this is “fixed area” or a more lossy relationship.)

      IMU the primary advantage for the new Airbus design is the ability to
      move walls and increase space in one lav significantly to accomodate a handicapped person ( while most of the time two acceptable sized units are available).

  16. “the requirement is one attendant per 50 pax”

    I’m not sure if that is a worlwide rule. Is that FAA requirement mandatory for all airlines entering FAA territory or maybe only for aircraft registered at the FAA (aka in USA)?
    Flight time restrictions are governed according to the latter, e.g. dubai has much laxer rules. And I remember someone here stated some time ago, in Canada it’s 60 pax/fa.

    PS: What’s the meaning of the accronym LOPA ?

    • LOPA is one of those ancient Boeing acronyms. It supposedly stand for “Lay Out Passenger Arrangement”?

      The number of attendants is governed by the country of registry. The “one per 50” rule is in FAA part 121.191;

      in Canada it is one per 40
      http://gofar.aircanada.com/go-far-answers/question/fa-required-per-flight/.

      I’m not familiar with the UKCAA or EASA requirements, but I doubt that either airworthiness agency would approve having just one attendant to cover a pair of exits in an emergency evacuation of 189 passengers. Is anyone familiar with the UK or European rules on this?

      • It’s enough to consider MOL’s famous “Sweet Spot” feeder, RYR preferably seeking an ideal 199-seater requiring 4 cabin attendants (EASA rule = max 50 pax/CA ??) … One more CA consumes the equivalent income from # 6 seats, so from 199, the ‘minimum jump’ is to 210 seats or beyond, all the way to 250 seats, if feasible ?

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