New and Derivative Airplanes: Some good, some not: Part 2

Part 2 of two parts.

With multiples and multiples of billions of dollars at stake to develop new airplanes, and the billions of dollars of cost overruns at risk, it’s understandable the Airbus and Boeing are shifting to looking at derivatives and incremental improvements now for the lower-risk and ability to “harvest” technology across family lines.

This is hardly new. Airframers have been doing this since the Douglas DC-1 prototype begot the DC-2, which led to the DC-3. The Douglas DC-4 was the basis for the DC-6 and DC-7, for which there were A, B and C versions. Lockheed revamped the L-049 Constellation through several major upgrades (the -649, 749, 1049 and 1649, with several sub-sub-types in between). Convair created the CV-240 and revised it twice with the CV-340 and 440. The Martin 202 became the 303 (dumped after design issues with the 202) and the 404.

The trend continued into the jet age. Douglas created the DC-8-10/20/30/40/50 on the same basic airframe and really went to town with the DC-8 Super 60 Series. The DC-9-10 became the -20/30/40/50, the Super 80 (in four variants) and the basis for the MD-90 and MD-95. Boeing’s ground-breaking 707-120 became the 138/227/320B/C, the 707-020 (more commonly known as the 720), the C-135/KC-135 and a number of other military variants. The fuselage was the basis of the 727, 737 and 757. And so on. (Text continues below the photo.)

Later this month, we will unveil a new, updated Leeham News and Comment with a combination of paid and free content. Watch this space for more information.

Later this month, we will unveil a new, updated Leeham News and Comment with a combination of paid and free content. Watch this space for more information.

European manufacturers of the early jet age followed the same pattern. There were four commercial versions intended for the deHavilland Comet. The Hawker Siddeley came in multiple versions, as did the British Aircraft Corp. BAC-111.

Bombardier created several versions of the Dash 8 turbo prop and the CRJ regional jet. Embraer has four versions of its E-Jet, reduced to three in the forthcoming E2 re-engined derivative.

Derivatives usually are successful, but not always. Often there becomes a “derivative too far.”

The small Boeing 737-500 sold reasonably well, 389, but its upgraded counter part, the 737-600 proved a dud with just 69 sales. The 737-7 MAX has done even worse: 55 sales to just two customers. We doubt this model will ever be built.

The Airbus A319 sold more than 1,500 in its original version, a solid number by any standard, but the upgraded A319neo has just 49 sales. The smaller A318 topped out at 79 sales.

Specialty airplanes haven’t done well, either. The Douglas DC-8 Super 62, designed to be a an extended long range airplane of the era, garnered just 51 orders. The more recent super-long range airplane, the 777LR, has sold 59; the last commercial airline order was three years ago. The -200LR replacement, the 777-8, is unlikely to do much better. The 747SP did worse, selling just 45.

Boeing’s decision to proceed with derivatives for the 737 and 777 rather than new designs stemmed from the debacles of the 787 program, which in turn adversely affected the 747-8, inducing two years of delays and adding billions to the cost.

Boeing ridiculed Airbus for proceeding with the A380 but went ahead with the 747-8, which has done far worse. The A380, no barn-burner by any means, has 314 net sales but the 747-8I has 51 sales (19 t Lufthansa and several head-of-state orders). There have been 67 747-8F orders. Boeing has already taken a write-off of more than $1bn on the program and is likely facing another big charge and a production rate cut. Outside of the public face of Boeing, there are few who believe the program has much life left and when talking to Boeing personnel privately, they almost to a person agree. This is clearly an example of a derivative too far.

So were the Airbus A340-500 and to a lesser degree the -600. One can argue whether the A340 was a mistake, but at the time of its launch, ETOPS was in its infancy and two-engine safety over water for extended flights was still a matter of some disagreement. The A340 simply came along at an inopportune time. Developing the super-long range -500 fell into the specialty airplane tap and the -600 was hampered by thirsty engines at a time when twin-engines had made four-engine aircraft obsolete. Bad timing all around.

Boeing’s 787 family now consists of the -8/9-10. The 10 has 139 orders, but sales have largely stalled since its launch. There are 459 orders of the 8 and 456 for the 9. Why isn’t the 10 selling better? It’s the largest family member, at a nominal seating of 323, with decent range of 7,000nm. Economics on the airplane should be at the top of the industry.

When we talk to people in the industry, comments range from the 10 will be a “niche” airplane to the line is sold out to 2020. The consensus opinion, however, is that Boeing is simply demanding too much money for the value received. The 10’s list price is $297.5m, $40m more than the 9 and $32.5m less than the larger, more capable 777-300ER.

Boeing’s 737 MAX family is a story of Good News-Bad News.  The program has nearly 2,300 firm orders, clearly a success. But the MAX 7 has only 55 and the MAX 9 perhaps 350-400 when making some allocations of the Series TBD category–not bad, but trailing the competing A321neo by a factor of more than 2-3:1. The MAX 9 is widely recognized to have field performance issues. It can’t get off a 10,000 ft runway with maximum payload and fuel, according to our sources and our own calculations. The poor-selling MAX 9 is a get reason why Airbus retains about a 60% market share in the single aisle category and why a survey of an audience of 1,200 at the recent ISTAT conference in Istanbul showed 50% believe Airbus now has the better competitive single-aisle airplane vs 23% for Boeing–a market perception that must strike a dagger in Boeing’s ego.

Airbus announced it will re-engine the A330 and incorporate some other improvements. Boeing quickly began to talk down the airplane, to be point of being insulting-which tells us it’s worried about the A330neo. (Airbus resorted to the same tactic against the Bombardier CSeries.) Boeing routinely compared the 787-10 with the A330neo and boasted the 10 has 30% better economics. When you consider that 10 carriers 35 more passengers, you can see why Boeing would make this claim–but Boeing’s silence on comparing the 787-8/9 with the economics of the A330-800/900 is deafening.

Our own sources inside Boeing tell us Boeing is, in fact, quite worried about the challenge the neo presents to the 8/9, particularly with Airbus’ ability to price the neo much lower than the 8/9.

Embraer comes in almost as an afterthought in such discussions because with jets seating 75-122 passengers, the E-Jet is essentially overshadowed by the sex, sales and bickering at the Airbus and Boeing levels.

Some make an argument that Embraer was wiser to choose the derivative route in proceeding with a re-engined E-Jet, the E2, than was Bombardier in designing a new, clean-sheet jet. BBD had no choice: its CRJs are out-classed by the E-Jet and the CRJ-1000 is another example of a stretch-too-far.

Furthermore, the E-Jet aircraft isn’t that old–although design does, indeed, date to the late 1990s (the E-Jet entered service in 2004), wings and engines make the airplane and the E2 will have new designs of each. With a large, installed customer base for what is now known as the E1, EMB faced a much easier sales task than BBD did and does for the CSeries, for which a customer base must be created. In many respects, on a number of levels, EMB’s decision to go with a derivative was the classic no-brainer.

Despite the Airbus/Boeing strategies today of pursuing derivatives and harvesting technology, we are firmly convinced Boeing has no choice but to launch a 757/737-9 replacement in 2018, followed in two years by a replacement for the 737-8. The 737 has been taken as far as it can go. The MAX 7 is dead and the MAX 9 is struggling. The recently launched MAX 200 will be a highly niche airplane that will limit its appeal. This makes the MAX family basically a plane-and-a-half family.

The A319neo, if it is built (we think this more likely given special hot-and-high condition of Avianca Columbia) has already been reduced to today’s A318. The A320neo and A321neo are selling very well. Both are subject to incremental improvements and we expect to see more that will further enhance their competitiveness and capabilities. But when (not if) Boeing launches a replacement program for the 757/737, Airbus will have to follow.

It’s almost 2015 and 2018 isn’t that far away. For the purists who want to see new airplanes, we don’t think you will have long to wait.

65 Comments on “New and Derivative Airplanes: Some good, some not: Part 2

  1. At present the desirability of the 777X series outside the ME3 has to be proven. Both planes do not look a fit for US airlines – certainly not in large numbers. Time will however tell.

    • Yeah but the most popular variant of the 777 the 300ER is only flown by one US airline – so I’m sure Boeing is not too worried about a customer base that does not currently exist. You build a product for actual demand e.g. ME and Pac-Rim airlines.

  2. Nobody doubts the 777-9X will be hugely economical – if you can fill it. Heard that before? So chances are high, the market will grow to Boeings favor (and at the same time to that of the A380).
    If you can’t fill it, the options will be: Fly your 777-300ERs longer the same way the 757 continues to live, since they are paid for, and use a couple of 777-9X for growth. Buying 777-8X vs A350-1000 vs. continuing with 777-300ERs will be quite interesting to see (my guess is that the 777-8X will be more than a niche, but too much plane for most)… but then again…
    What if Boeing would create a 777-300ERneo, and do to the A350-1000 what the a330neo will do to the 787 (even if it does not sell well, it will hurt Boeings pricing btw. probably the same way the 747-8 hurt Airbus out of proportion to the amount sold)

    • What if Boeing would create a 777-300ERneo

      That’s what the 777X is. If Boeing could have made a 777 revamp work against the A350 that wasn’t as costly and time-consuming as the 777X is going to be, rest assured they would have done just that.

    • The A330NEO works because the EOW of A330NEO and 787 are quite close. You should also look at what the A330 already did, does and will do against the 787.

      EOW for 777-300ER is 168 t and A350-1000 will be around 140 t (EOW A350-900: 120 t + 20 t).

      With the same engine generation the A350 will always be better than the current 777. The 777X is just a ploy to reduce the costs per seats by adding more seats.

      The 777-9X might be hugely economical. The problem will always be an aircraft that is more economical.

      • anfromme: What I am getting at ist that to me the 777-8X is partially similar to the a350-800 in that it carries a lot of excess weight, and is to much airplane for quite alot of potential customers. So I assume that Boeing targetet it’s own space for the 9X first, and that is why they did it. And the 8X was als created, because it could be fairly easily destreched, and still has a lot of appeal on its own.Still leaves room for the same path Airbus took.
        mhalblaub: True, but the point I am making is similar to a330neo to 787 … the a330 being slightly larger, and this makes a couple of percent difference on its own. So if you talk about 25% less trip fuel for a350-1000 vs 777-300ER, depending on seating with 10 abreast, you will arrive at less per pax. Then subtract maybe 10 % Engine SFC add more drag, subtract aerodynamic improvements… this could still be attractive, since the 777-300ERneo could be priced accordingly.

        • anfromme: What I am getting at ist that to me the 777-8X is partially similar to the a350-800 in that it carries a lot of excess weight,

          That’s exactly the point – the A350 is lighter than the 777 as it stands.
          So when you look at the 777, you have a significantly heavier frame as a basis. Doing a “simple” NEO/MAX treatment adds more weight because the engines are going to be heavier, which in turn means enforcements are required in the wings, adding even more weight.
          The only way Boeing could make a revamped 777 work was by doing a lot of extra work on the fuselage and wings – and by stretching it, to bring CASM down.
          So the relatively straightforward NEO treatment the A330 gets (new engines, reinforced wings, new winglets – but no stretch, no new wings, no big changes to fuselage materials) is not a path open for the 777, because it would produce a dud.

          So I assume that Boeing targetet it’s own space for the 9X first, and that is why they did it. And the 8X was als created, because it could be fairly easily destreched

          A de-stretched (i.e. shrunk) 777-8X would do even worse than the A350-800, as it would carry way too much structural weight for its capabilities. There’s be no contest between such a 777-7X and the A350 line-up.

          a350-1000 vs 777-300ER, depending on seating with 10 abreast, you will arrive at less per pax. Then subtract maybe 10 % Engine SFC add more drag, subtract aerodynamic improvements… this could still be attractive, since the 777-300ERneo could be priced accordingly.

          If Boeing had seen a way of making such a cheap/quick revamp work against the A350-1000, they would have done just that.
          Again, as a reminder – the current 777-300ER has an OEW that is 12t higher than the A350-1000’s. That’s a lot of dead weight to be carrying around, and a simple NEO/MAX would only widen that gap.
          For comparison: The A330ceo is about 1t heavier than its 787 counterpart. That’s a main reason the A330neo works at all (that and its price tag).

    • 1) A simple 777-300ER “neo” just wont work against the A350-1000.
      2) Boeing has no competitor to the A350-900 or the A350-1000.
      3) Airbus has no competitor to the 777-9x.
      4) Boeing has no competitor to the A380.
      5) The 777-8x will be awesome but by no means a competitor to the A350-1000.

      For most US airlines and other Airlines throughout the world needing to replace their massive amounts of 777-200 ER’s and 777-300ER’s, Airbus clearly has the better positioned planes.

      The 777-9X would make a good replacement of airlines flying 747’s at full capacity.

      The exciting stuff is between the 787-10 and the A350-900 Regional and between the Neo and the 787/8 and 9.

      • If the A350 regional is good enough to compete with 787-10 on economics, then a de-rated 777-9X is good enough to compete with the a350-100. So boeing does not need a derivative or cleansheet to compete with a350-100.
        The 787-10 will get more order once it enters service and people start to see its unbeatable economics. The 787-10 is optimised for the range it can fly.
        Only the gullible buyers will believe that an a350-900 designed for 15h+ missions will give you the same benefits on a 7h mission. the a350-900 is not an optimised regional plane but the 787-10 is.
        As for the 787/8 and 9 there is still room for improvements that will make them better than the a330neo.
        Starting with the Trent 100 TEN engines, they will have 3% better SFC, because they are new programs further improvement can be made few years down their life cycle.
        The a330neo on the other hand starts from a design that has not much left in it to improve. 10 years from now we may be talking about a 787-8-9-10 Neo the same way as we will be talking about a380 neo in the next 3-5 years if that plane has to remain viable when the 777X enters service. The a330neo is stuck for the rest of its life cycle.

        • As long as you don’t run into hard limits ( like the 737 ) nothing will keep you from NEOing any airframe ad nauseam. You need some potential in the basic airframe to accommodate new engines and other tweaks, the design needs that to incorporate (the real) efficiency advances without loss by way of diminishing returns.
          Being fully FBW and having a contemporary sized wing there is nothing holding an A330 back from staying competitive.

        • Wrong assumptions leads to wrong conclusions.

          “If the A350 regional is good enough to compete with 787-10 on economics […]”
          There was an A350-900R but the “R” stood for Range. A 30 t higher MTOW and 3.000 km more range compared to the standard model. Why should an airline order an A350 then the A330 can do the job?
          The 787-10 on regional flights first has to compete against a 9-abreast A330-300R. By going to 10 abreast? How against an A330-300/900 on slightly longer routes? Just check the price tags:
          $245 million/ $275 million/ $300 million/ $300 million
          A330-300 / A330-900 / B787-10 / A350-1000

          These are list prices. You should know that during the tanker contest Airbus could offer the A330-200 for about the same price as a 767 – official list price $185 million.

          “[…] then a de-rated 777-9X is good enough to compete with the a350-100[0 sic!].”
          The only advantage of the 777-9X is range with additional cargo. Taking that away what is left? Also check the price tag. I doubt a 777-9XR will be cheaper than a 777-300ER at $320 million.

          “As for the 787/8 and 9 there is still room for improvements that will make them better than the a330neo.”
          The problem is when will these improvements arrive? We will see how many resources are left while building the 787-10 and 777-X.

        • “Only the gullible buyers will believe that an a350-900 designed for 15h+ missions will give you the same benefits on a 7h mission. ”

          Theoretically you are right, but consider this: Many 330s and 340s just fly regional because they would otherwise stand around for … in your case 9 hours. Then that plan gives you even more benefits on a 5-6 hour mission than any optimized aircraft.

          On top of that, I assume, lots of older plans, no longer in use on big carrier’s long routes will be used for shorter routes or acquired by charter airlines. SO, take up will remain sluggish, but the -10 could one day become a really seeked after plane.

        • Leeham´s analysis of the 330 NEO case was based on the 787 having TEN engines. Secondly in considering the 787-10 vs a350-900 you are not considering capital costs. As pointed out a number of times by Scott Boeing are not willing to price the 787 competitively, presumably because they are trying to recover their costs and have a long backlog anyway. Airbus did the a350 for half the cost of the 787, how big a discount will they be able to offer for an a359 after they already on order 750 airframes have been delivered? The program will be just a paid off as the a330 is today while Boeing will still be suffering from the cost overruns of the 787, and trying not to discount the 787-10 too much so as to not lose money.

  3. Great writing, – you are producing a lot of arguments to buy the new pay-site!

    But it is interesting how competition goes back and forth:
    Airbus was very innovative with the original A300, – which was the first twin widebody.
    They more or less lost it with the A340 (not so much A343 as A345/346), – and Boeing had an epic chance to leap frog with 788, – but lost a lot of their lead again.

    This is what make this business so interesting, and the reason why A&B Cheerleader always can find a arguments for their producers superiority.

    KR/
    Steen

  4. Nitpicking department on the chronology: KC-135 fuselage based on the dash 80, and narrower than the standard 707 one. So the sequence is a little off.

  5. B707 and C-135 origins: Although the 367-80 (first flight July 1954) preceded the first C-135, series production of the the latter (from August 1956) preceded the 707 (first delivery December 1957). More significant is that the 367-80 and C-135 have 108″ width floors (3+2 seating, if installed), whereas the 707 (and the C-137 derivative) has a larger diameter fuselage, with 125″ floors (3+3 seating). So the C-135 was developed from the 367-80, not from the 707 – a common misconception.

  6. Martin, you have the details (I do cultural history, so those often escape me,) so great complement! -g

  7. Excellent writing. I agree that the A340 is an outstanding aircraft and perhaps the only “true” mid-sized long haul airplane built capable of flying unrestricted anywhere. Politics of Etops and OEM’s, fuel prices, lead to its demise but most people know darn well what that airplane is all about.

    Mathematically speaking, the four engined aircraft has a redundancy built-in that no one, no study, no manufacture company can hide. I bet you if fuel prices weren’t an issue, Etops would not have transformed into what it did.

    • You are right. Economics has trumped mathematics. The increasingly complacent ETOPS will at one point stumble on a bad roll of the dice and 400 people will plunge to their death in the ocean.

      The next technological step is, of course, the fully automated airplane, with only one pilot as a backup.

      • And that is a lot closer than many people imagine. Yes, the FAA and all that but technology will advance so rapidly in the 2020’s that one pilot backup will be the norm.

      • Bernard P:

        If that is true in your incidient, 400 people will also plunge to earth if over land. If its a plunge then land or water makes no difference.

        If its a glide:

        You will someday see several hundreds of people in the water, where they are and if they can be rescued is the issue.

        Same ditching over land is probably worse (off airport) as a water ditching can be a pretty good thing, going through hills and trees not so much.

  8. Why would Airbus need to counter a clean sheet Boeing narrowbody with a clean sheet airplane of their own. Slap even better engines and a CFRP wing on the NEO and there you go. Worked ok for Boeing with the 737NG against A320ceo.

    • Correct. And that would also give Airbus the opportunity to optimise wing size and body length. I expect they will increase the wingspan and make the smallest version very much like todays A320 or just a tad shorter, a large version about 2 m longer than the A321 and one mid size inbetween.
      The CFRP wing will give it extra range, so this might in fact also cover the 757 envelpope completely.
      For Boeing there is no way around a clean sheet design. FBW, cargo,… They might even take the opportunity to make the body a bit wider that the A32x and “steal” the idea of wider seats from Airbus. I would just love to see that move. 😀
      (…and then sqeeze in 4+3 seats for O’Leary!)

      • 4 + 3 won’t work due to evacuation rules and the restricted arm length of flight attendants. Only 2 + 3 + 2 is possible. Sorry Mr. O’Leary.

      • An inbetween A320.5 and further A321 growth version would be very feasible IMO.

        Possible reasons it didn’t happen so far;

        – Hard to convince the board to do additional investments if you already dominate.
        – An optimized 200 seat A320 would outdo the (rightsized) 737-800/200 pushing Boeing under the 35/40% marketshare edge and have them launch something ASAP, shortening the A320 product life-cycle..

        http://i191.photobucket.com/albums/z160/keesje_pics/AirbusA320NEOfamilyconcepts.jpg

        • Yes, these are still the relevant ideas for A320 derivatives, new lengths, and like the 777x, a new wing grafted onto an established production line.

          As for the 737, a 2.5m stretch of the 700 would give Boeing the edge for an optimum 150 seat economy/premium economy model.

        • Keesje your graph is too pessimistic since the A321NEO can already seat 240 pax so a further 4m stretch would be able to seat about 260 pax IMO.

        • The A321 will sonn be certified to an exit capacity limit of 240, which doesn’t mean it can really carry this amount of people. The cabin is simply too small. A 4.5m stretch would equate to 6 rows. Current A321 can carry 200 people in a moderate economy class, hence the stretch would allow 236 people at standards comparable to current mainline carriers. A 2-class layout as used in the USA would see the capacity of a stretched A321 grow to ~200-220, compared to 185 seen today. In fact, many airlines already asked for this type of aircraft.
          A moderately stretched A320 with enlarged wing and 85-90t MTOW would become capable of transatlantic flights.

    • What new engine? GTF is as advanced as it gets, the improvements are in materials not a new engine so it increments as time goes by.

      • What new engine? Pratt is just introducing the geared fan but everything else in the new engine is made from rather conventional materials, GE/CfM on the other hand offers advanced materials but a conventional fixed shaft. Each one improves efficiency by 10-15%. The next generation engines will simply combine both and so make the next 10-15% performance step.

        • IMU synergy from combining GTF and LEAP detals is not 100%.
          at least not an easy 100% combined gain. LEAP optimises a relatively slow turning turbine while the GTF gains from the turning the turbine much faster.

  9. Leeham, there is a lot of talk about the “high” costs of the 777X programme in comparison to other derivates, however, I have not heard reliable numbers. Do you know the Boeing estimates and do they correspond to your estimates?

    One derivate family, that is probably among the worst economic desasters in history was surely the A340: Starting with a mere 28 340-200s sold, they did a quite costly 777x-like programme resulting in 34 -500 and 97 -600 versions sold, partly with garantees and side agreements that still cost Airbus money TODAY. In comparison, the 777-8 and -9 are highly successful already now!

    Second question: would you see an Airbus 320 model placed right in between the 320 and 321 as promising?

    • Regarding the A340, one can say that A343 with 218 copies sold was a respectable number, – but not a success.
      It has a lot of commonality with A332/A333, and my guess is that A342/A343 was not a in loss.
      The 345/346 certainly was.

      In the general overview i think the B764 should have been mentioned, – with only 38 copies sold that program must have been in loss as well. I know it was a “simple” stretch, – but nonetheless.

      • In the general overview i think the B764 should have been mentioned, – with only 38 copies sold that program must have been in loss as well. I know it was a “simple” stretch, – but nonetheless.

        Definitely should have been mentioned, I agree.
        It was not a simple stretch, though. It got new wingtips and new cockpit systems. There were some other changes as well that made it much more than a simple stretch…

  10. The consensus opinion [about the 787-10], is that Boeing is simply demanding too much money for the value received. The 10’s list price is $297.5m, $40m more than the 9 …

    There is a simple solution to this problem: charge less. I expect them to do exactly that once the current backlog is burnt down and they are competing on price and volume.

  11. The Embraer E2 has not yet announced a wing span, nor how they produce it. Embraer is close to flight testing the KC390, which has an A320-sized wing. After all, the E2 versus E1 is comparable to the B737NG versus B737 Classic.

      • Thanks, been too lazy to really look for it.
        If wing loading is kept similar to E-Jet levels (565kg/m² for highest MTOW variant), they achieve an aspect ratio of 11. That is above A320 levels and considered too much for a metal wing by many (AFAIK highest metal wing aspect ratio is about 10 for transonic aircraft). Would be a major step for Embraer, the current E-Jet rather copies the B757 wing in layout (which has a dismal aspect ratio and produces quite a lot of induced drag).

        • That must be why it has such short range and sold 1000 copies (of two variants)

  12. As neither the A330NEO or the 787-10 are in production, why is anyone eager to sigh on the dotted line or give someone a big break?

    The dance will go on until one party or the other decides to fold em. The initial money is down to hold the postion and that is all gthe early entrants wanted is to ensure they get it when they cut the deal.

    Boeing knows who wants the 787-10, what they are likely to pay in the end but in the meantime its all good write off for the sales guy wining and dinning ticket. Airlines don’t want to put the big bucks down any sooner than they have to.

    A330NEO might be a bit different, they lost their blue chip customer in Delta (so you might want to think twice about how Delta is going to go). That may very well have ti back down to 300 total before all is said and done.

    It will be interesting to see Delta reasoning.

    Also if they pick up open 777-300ER slots to actually replace the 747-400s as the 787-9 is a tad small and the A350-900 is not close to a 747 size wise either, just bigger than a 787-9.

    • A330NEO might be a bit different, they lost their blue chip customer in Delta

      Aren’t you jumping the gun here ever so slightly?

      • Indeed, I find the recent comments by RA about “choosing between the 787-9 or A350-900 to unlock range”, a bit ambiguous. You can’t say for certain if that means a firm “no” to any of the other types in the RFP – A330, 787-10, 777. And I don’t see a 50 unit order for just either the 787-9 or the A350-900!. Perhaps a decision has been made on the others and, it is a battle between the 789 and the A359 to tip the scale towards the right mix of aircraft. 787-9/10/777 or A330/A350.

      • I don’t think so. Air Asia X is a suspect customer. They are not a blue chip, wild orders, not truly an airline as much as an ego trip by the owner. Those tend to wild swings and even giving up when they start to loose money.

        If South West had dumped the 737 it would have been the same tyupe of affect.

        The following is a list of the airlines you WANT. Singapore, AA, United, Emirates, Qatar, Etiad, AF, IAG, Lufthansa. Not all because they are doing well but they are all long established serious airlines with good tech assessment departments.

        So, Air Asia X aside, other operators that are not the lead ones are going to look at it and ask, why did not Delta go for it when they asked for it and it suits their routes?

        Maybe its time to move on and buy the 787 or A350.?

        I am not saying it won’t sell, I always thought 250 or so, I may have nudged my thinking to between 250- 350, but I don’t think it will do the 1000 or 1200 that the enthusiasts think either. Considering the original A330s have sold something North of a 1100 now I simply do not buy a niche derivative will.

        Like the 787-10, the ones that really feel it works are in negotiations with their place in line, but its not the kind of numbers Boeing stacked up with the 787 or Airbus with the A350. It may very well be worth while for Airbus for a number of reasons, but it does not look like its going to be the killer ap that some believe.

        It’s a good fit for operation like Air India that just can’t get the tech act together. Air India really needs simple not advance (noting that it looks like two 787s have been canalized for parts.

        • Air Asia X is a suspect customer. They are not a blue chip, wild orders, not truly an airline as much as an ego trip by the owner. Those tend to wild swings and even giving up when they start to loose money.

          Sounds like exactly the same line of FUD Aboulafia was initially spreading about the A350XWB.
          As for Air Asia(X) – Air Asia and its affiliates like Air AsiaX currently operate almost 200 Airbus planes. Not the first on my list if we want to talk about “suspect” customers.

          why did not Delta go for it when they asked for it and it suits their routes?

          Now – assuming that DL is indeed not going to order it: Well, they could just have found that another plane suits their needs better, all things considered. It happens. It’s not like the A330neo is doomed if DL don’t go for it.
          So far, we haven’t had any confirmation either way – other than Anderson only mentioning the 787 and A350 in a non-public speech that wasn’t primarily about the RFP. So let’s see what they’re going to do in the end – no NEO for DL right now isn’t the end of the world, nor does it preclude a NEO order in the future when more 767s are going to be replaced.

          I am not saying it won’t sell, I always thought 250 or so, I may have nudged my thinking to between 250- 350, but I don’t think it will do the 1000 or 1200 that the enthusiasts think either.

          I don’t expect 1000-1200 sales, but 250-350 is definitely a very low figure… Airbus already have ~120 commitments, so I’d expect them to eventually reach ~500-600 total sales.

        • Are you implying that it is Air India’s fault and that they “don’t have the tech” to handle this lemon called the 787?

          History has already shown that the A330 is a better planned airplane (like the777 to be fair) and that the A350 will for certain be better.

        • It’s a good fit for operation like Air India that just can’t get the tech act together.

          Sorry, but that sort of statement borders on trolling, IMHO.

          noting that it looks like two 787s have been canalized for parts.

          Cannibalising for parts would to me indicate a financial problem rather than technical inaptness.
          In any case, I count just one 787, VT-ANI, which hasn’t flown in a while (since late April 2014). The other 15 787s in their fleet have all been active in the last 24 hours (according to planefinder), and they only took delivery of their 17th 787 last Thursday.
          VT-ANI happens to be the first 787 from Charleston, which may or may not have anything to do with its current status. In any case – there’s a whole a.net thread with speculation about VT-ANI, but nobody was able to provide anything substantial; the one thing that thread did produce was confirmation that VT-ALH, a 777-200LR, was indeed not being scavenged for parts, despite previous reports to the contrary.
          So I’d say – tread carefully when alleging that AI, cash-strapped and somewhat disorganised as they might be at times – are scavenging a 2 year-old 787. Similar allegations in the last few months regarding a 777-200LR have already turned out to be untrue.

          • Looks like it is organisationally easier for AI to canibalize a “resting” frame than to order ( or provison for ) spare parts. Taxes and excessive paperwork seem to also play into this. Others appear to have similar problems but those aren’t played up in the press on a comparable visibilty level.

        • Looks like it is organisationally easier for AI to canibalize a “resting” frame than to order ( or provison for ) spare parts. Taxes and excessive paperwork seem to also play into this. Others appear to have similar problems but those aren’t played up in the press on a comparable visibilty level.

          While that may be an explanation if AI is indeed cannibalising frames, I’d again say to be careful in alleging that they do, because so far we have not seen any evidence of this. Allegedly, VT-ALH (a 777-200LR) was being cannibalised, based on photos showing engines and the nose radome removed, when in fact it turned out that this frame was being sold to Etihad (like the other AI -200LRs) and just being readied for that.

        • Some news on VT-ANI, as it happens – according to this article, it is indeed undergoing a “reliability improvement retrofit (modification) and will resume operations in November.”
          http://www.bangaloreaviation.com/2014/10/exclusive-photos-air-india-stripping-new-boeing-787-8-dreamliner-for-parts.html

          Of course, a.net and even that linked page had a field day about what a basket case of an airline AI allegedly is as they’re scavenging a brand-new 787. Which then turned out to not actually be scavenged. In fact, it was apparently the airplane that had issues, not the airline.
          Sure enough, the next question is what they were doing that took six months, but in any case, VT-ANI is obviously not being scavenged for parts, just like VT-ALH wasn’t scavenged for parts (despite claims to the contrary).

    • It is not for certain that Delta gave up on the A330Neo. Remember, Delta will be replacing 747’s and 767’s.

    • The question for Delta is when are the aircraft available?
      Also when does Delta need new aircraft?

      According to this overview: https://leehamnews.com/2013/09/24/busy-decade-ahead-for-new-derivative-airplane-eis-dates/
      the following availability could be expected:

      today: B767/B787-8/A330-200/B787-9/A330-300/A350-900/B777-300/A380
      end of 2016: A350-1000
      end of 2017: A330NEO
      end of 2018: B787-10
      eeend of 2019: B777-X9

      Slots for 787 and A350 are restricted. Maybe some free slots for A350 due to infinite A350-800 delay and 70 canceled aircraft. Boeing is behind schedule for 787 delivery. About 60 aircraft because a production of 10 aircraft per month was expected for end of 2012.

      The only aircraft available soon are A330, 777 and A380 (never say never). Maybe some A350. The 767 is also available but no NEO is expected.

      What aircraft does Delta need to replace?

      The 777-200 will be replaced by the 787-8. Smaller but easier to fill the seats.

      A large number of Delta’s 767-300 are other 20 years old. Two aircraft are 27 years old. The majority was build before 2000.

      Deltas fleet of 757 will be replaced by already ordered 737-9 and A321.

      The 747s are quite young.

      So Delta’s order will be a 767 replacement. Therefore no need for excessive range.
      The 787-8 and A330-200/800 offer slightly more seats than the 767-300 but even the old A330-200 offers much more range. What about an A330R with less MTOW than the 767-400? The slightly younger 767-300ER/WL could be replaced by the A330-300/900.

      My bet for Delta: more A330-300, several A330R and maybe some A330-900.

      • Are the 747-400’s that young (asking for a fact check)? They ordered a total of 16 and was the launch customer for the first in 1989. They ordered the last 2 in 2001, but can’t find when they took delivery. 14 are still in operation, so it would seem they are on average pretty old. Both NW and DL have historically known for operating some of the oldest fleets for a major airline and holding onto planes long after other airlines retired their models.

      • Well its a nice theory, but takiing Delta at their word, the only ones in the current running are 787 and A350.

        So A330 is out unless we want to say Delta is plain lying

        • Delta is not lying. Delta is negotiating.

          So even if Delta is looking for a certain aircraft by a certain manufacturer Delta needs another quotation to keep the competition going. By just going to Airbus and ordering several aircraft Airbus would offer them at list price…

          For the right price an airline would take any current aircraft even a 767. Therefore I don’t think the A330 is out. Just the current offer by Airbus for the A330 is out.

        • My bet (like mhalblaub) is also that Anderson is negotiating. He has old NW options for 787-8 he could use to replace 767s, amoung other options.
          He also said “The important thing about that is that fleet is going to unlock the longer haul markets” – so this would point his current focus, and possibly the range of the A330-900 not enough. So this does by no way rule out anything else, neither number or potential other orders. Since the A350-900 is larger thant the 787-9, his comment may or may not indicate that he wants to get a message to Rolls that he wants to do maintenance in house, and that could be one factor where Airbus is the hostage of Rolls…. just a guess..

  13. “The 777-200 will be replaced by the 787-8. Smaller but easier to fill the seats.”

    Delta has high load factors and looks for growth on Asia. Replacing the young capable 777 by significantly smaller 788 would be a crime against revenues I guess.

    If the 767 would be replaced (europe, south america) the 787-9 seems the most likely candidate. Significantly more capable and efficient and future growth possible (-10). For who the 788 is better then the -9? Dunno..

    For replacing the 777s (Asia) the A350 seems the best option, probably later on. Payload range/ long haul comfort and future growth (-10) possible.

  14. Some was good, some not…
    But a good question is: what WILL BE good? What will not?

    There are still many important questions:
    1. B787-9/-10 with longer range and higher MTOW (larger wings?): 260-280t?
    2. B777-8X with lower MTOW?
    3. B737-9 MAX longer version (43-45m?)
    4. A350-900X (or U – ultra range): -900 size with MTOW, wings, engines and MLG from -1000.
    5. A350-1000R (regional): -1000 size with MTOW, wings, engines and MLG from -900.
    6. A350-800 with Trent 7000 like engine (smaller and lighter than XWB, up to 78k lbs.) and a bit longer? Smaller wings?
    7. A350-900R (regional) with T7000 and lower MTOW?
    8. A380neo? -800neo with ultra-long range, -900neo with a record number of seats?

    Who knows the right answers?

    • Ideally, Airbus would come up with:

      1) An A350-900 Ultra Long Range -9500 nm (as described on Wiki and Rolls website)
      2) An A350-1100 with range -7000 nm.

  15. I feel very strongly, that Airbus should carry the A350-type overhead bins into the A330 Neo, not just the LED lighting. I just flew a brand new A330-300 of Iberia last week and those bins truly look small and dated now. The remainder of the aircraft was just fine. Very quiet, smooth, and comfortable.

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