Odds and Ends: C919 EIS in 2020, says consultant; Qantas goes on diet; BBD tables Russia; Swiss not Cseries launch operator

C919/ARJ21: Aviation Week reports that the COMAC C919 might fly be the end of next year and that EIS may be in 2018.

However, Michel Merluzeau, of G2 Solutions in Kirkland (WA), predicts the EIS won’t happen until 2020. Speaking last week before the British American Business Council-Pacific Northwest unit conference in Seattle, Merluzeau said that after a recent trip to Shanghai, where COMAC is, he now sees EIS in 2020, some four years late and 12 years after the program was launched. The C919 competes with the Airbus A320/321 and the Boeing 737-800/8 and 737-900ER/9.

When C919 was launched, it was the only of these three airplane types to use a new technology engine, the CFM LEAP-1C. This gave the C919, which generally looks like the A320, an advantage in fuel burn. But since then, Airbus and Boeing launched the neo and the MAX; and the five year delay erases any possible advantage of the C919 except price and the Chinese government forcing domestic airlines and lessors to buy the airplane to support an indigenous industry.

Certification of the C919 is related to certification of the AVIC/COMAC ARJ21 regional jet, which is eight years behind schedule. The 90-seat airplane looks very similar to the old Douglas DC-9-10 and has been beset by development and design issues. Aviation Week has a program update in the same article linked above.

Qantas goes on diet: Struggling Qantas Airlines is going on a drastic diet, reducing weight in a variety of areas to save fuel, according to this Bloomberg article. The carrier has been losing hundreds of millions of dollars annually.

Bombardier tables Russia: Bombardier has given up for an indefinite period the plan to sell up to 100 Q400s in Russia and build an assembly plant there. The political situation from the conflict in Ukraine and international sanctions are why, BBD said on last week’s earnings call.

Swiss will not be launch customer for Cseries according to this note from Reuters. Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr gave the information after announcing the groups Q3 earnings. While Lufthansa was the launch customer (i.e. first to order the airplane) they apparently don’t want to be the first to operate the Cseries (as wouldn’t Braathens Malmö Aviation). Lufthansa still plan to take deliveries in 2H 2015 according to Spohr. One wonders who will be launch operator? And what does Lufthansa / Swiss gain by not being launch operator but still take among the first aircraft?

22 Comments on “Odds and Ends: C919 EIS in 2020, says consultant; Qantas goes on diet; BBD tables Russia; Swiss not Cseries launch operator

  1. Pingback: Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China - Aviation News - 3 Nov 2014 -

  2. It could be that BBD’s problem is Boeings solution.

    Boeing taking over underpowered BBD/ CSeries, introducing a second line in the US, pull forward the CS300 and CS500, get a second engine (GE) option. Covering the 120-170 segment. Boeing power behind the CSeries would comfort the LH’s of this world.

    And initiate a 7 abreast, LD3-45 capable ,170-240 seat, medium range platform. To stop Airbus kicking them around in the bigger NB segment. I guess taking into consideration sales margins, prospects and high profile customer switching, the situation is even more urgent then the A/B 60/40% NB marketshare would suggest.


    • IMO, Boeing is stuck between a rock and a hard place when it comes to both replacing the 737 and/or the 757 and compete with the A321 derivatives and/0r further additions to the A32Xneo line-up (i.e. A322Xneo and A323Xneo). The A320 platform can be re-winged With a new composite wing while using new state-of-the-art RR UltraFans and 2nd gen. GTF engines from P&W coming online at the halfway point in the next decade.

      However, this is not the 80s, or the 90s when nobody in the industry were seemingly thinking real hard about alternative fuels and/or hybrid electric passenger aircraft. Times have certainly changed, There’s now a sufficiently high signal-to-noise ratio to rule out anything but anthropogenic reasons for climate change — despite the incoherent sputtering from all the naysayers and denialists — thus, the industry will IMO probably have to act sooner rather than later. Therefore, if Boeing prematurely launches a single, twin aisle, co-development 757/767 style for their next new airplane programme — as was reported by Leehamnews on November 2, 2014 — IMJ, they would run the risk of having two programmes prematurely come to an end due to a medium term possibility of a paradigm shift in fuel and propulsion systems for short haul passenger aircraft (i.e. a single aisle and a new “light twin” at 7 abreast). Long haul aircraft could probably linger on for quite some time using bio fuel instead of conventional JET B, JP-4 etc.

      The basic 727/737 fuselage (i.e. forward fuselage ahead of the wing on the 727) has lingered on for more than half a century. The A320 fuselage design will be 30 years old when Airbus is through with the A32Xceo/A32Xneo transition. The 777 fuselage design will be 25 years old when the 777-9X enters into service. Hence, one would like to think that Boeing would be planning to use the fuselages of an all new single aisle as well and an all new “light twin for at least a quarter of a century. IMJ, Airbus would be ready to launch an all new, alternatively powered, short haul, single aisle aircraft by 2030. If that would happen, what would Boeing do next if their two new platforms were not designed in such a way as to accommodate new revolutionary propulsion systems coming online, due to a sufficient level of technological readiness in addition to a massive public pressure on the industry in order to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

  3. Saying that “Bombardier has given up for an indefinite period the plan to sell up to 100 Q400s in Russia and build an assembly plant there. ” is somewhat misleading.

    Here is a quote from the conference call transcript:

    “Julie Arseneau – The Canadian Press
    (Interpreted) Question. Yes, good morning, Mr. Beaudoin. We haven’t been hearing about Russia all that much in late. Is there less pressure in terms of sanctions? Can you update us about the project for the Q400 over there in Russia?

    Unidentified Speaker

    (Interpreted) First of all, as concerns Russia, it is still important market for Bombardier. We’re there for transportation. We also have a lot of sales of private jets over there. So, for the Q400 right now, we’re not moving ahead because the conditions are not right at this point in time for a joint venture in Russia.

    Julie Arseneau – The Canadian Press
    (Interpreted) Do you have a better notion of what the timelines might be? When the agreement was announced for 2014, it’s been pushed back at least to 2015.

    Unidentified Speaker

    (Interpreted) Well, given the political situation and the economy in Russia right now, we’re setting this project aside for the time being. And we’ll see what happens over the next number of months and then decide if we have to go ahead.

    Frederic Tomesco – Bloomberg News
    (Interpreted) One last question, if I may, coming back to the question that my colleague asked about Russia. So, basically, your talks with Rostec are interrupted?

    Unidentified Speaker

    (Interpreted) Well, the Q400 project for an assembly line in Russia, that’s been set aside for the time being. I’m not saying that we’re not talking with Rostec. They do believe in the Q400. And we think that there’s quite a market for that in Russia. And we could look at other ways for us to get into that market than not just the Q400.

    Frederic Tomesco – Bloomberg News
    (Interpreted) But, this won’t move ahead as long as the plant doesn’t move ahead?

    Unidentified Speaker

    (Interpreted) As I said, we’re looking at other ways to penetrate that market. They need an aircraft such as the Q400. So, we’re still talking about selling that plane to Russia.”

    So the plan has not been cancelled just put on hold for a few months. If the situation improves they can resume their talks. In the meantime they can still sell planes to Russian customers. This is what they said a few months ago so I cannot understand why this seems like news. Bombardier, the number three plane maker in the world, is still in good shape to sell planes in Russia and the assembly plant deal can still go ahead at a later date.

  4. Pingback: Australia - Aviation News - 3 Nov 2014 -

  5. All the latest iterations of 150 seat airliners still look similar to an A320.
    The situation is very similar to the road bus, which is still a 4 abreast vehicle which has improved machinery and style changes but still fits the basic envelope of the original motor coach.
    Unless we do see a small twin aisle which IMHO is unlikely, any new small airliner is still going to look like another A320. Just look at the COMAC as an example.
    I think the engineers at Boeing would undoubtedly have wanted a new wingbox and undercarriage(maybe a modified 757 assembly) for the MAX, but were stopped by the financial constraints imposed by Chicago who insisted on maintaining their “grandfather” rights to keep the costs down.
    The 738 MAX will be a fine airplane but it cannot regain Boeings marketshare in the segment we are considering and appears to have nothing left as far as development goes because of the ground clearance constraints.

  6. Roughly I would say the optimal ranges in all econ are:
    4 15-25 60-100
    5 20-25 100-150
    6 25-35 150-210
    twin aisle
    6 30-40 180-240
    7 35-45 245-315

  7. The wingspan for the E190 E2 is at 34m, the CSeries at 36m. So for the optimal single aisle 6 abreast aircraft at 42m or 44m of length, the wingspan is 40m at minimum. Time to restructure airport gates for the future.

    A 2-2-2 aircraft probably 45m. A new 2-3-2 aircraft, and might as well use all 52m of code D wingspan.

  8. From an efficiency standpoint a 2-2-2 cabin is never a good idea IMO. Only if capacity gets high/ the airframe long, its works for the stiffness / structural efficiency. A narrow long tube gets heavy at some point.

    For the rest 2-2-2 only adds an aisle and accompanying structural weight compared to a 3-3.

    That is why Airbus and Boeing look at 2-3-2. In multi class configurations it works well for domestic First class too: 2-2-2. 2-1-2 premium in a narrow fuselage isn’t an advantage.


    Probably a high wing to accomadate future high BPR engines.

  9. American Airlines* may be on the verge of becoming launch customer for the A321neoLR (or A321neoR — and it looks as if Dick is worried. IMJ, Airbus could possible also launch a 10 frame stretched A321 derivative** that would have the same 97 metric tonne MTOW as that of the A321 while carrying up to 36 more economy seats. (i.e. 20+ more seats than the 757-200).

    Boeing Co. (BA:US) faces fresh pressure to devise a replacement for its discontinued 757 jetliner, favored by U.S. carriers for trans-Atlantic flying, as American Airlines studies a new Airbus Group NV (AIR) model as an alternative.

    American’s interest in a long-range A321neo signals that Boeing may have to speed planning for a new 757 version, said Richard Aboulafia, an analyst at consultant Teal Group. Already trailing Airbus in narrow-body sales, Boeing can’t afford to see airlines go to its rival for a 757 successor, Aboulafia said.

    “If Boeing does nothing and Airbus is alone in that class, you could see a pretty good chunk of orders going to the long-range A321,” Aboulafia said in a phone interview from Fairfax, Virginia. He estimated that Airbus may sell more than 1,000 of the jets, including conversions of existing plane deals.

    **Source: Frequent Traveller

    OV-099 : from the outset the A322 is a fully defined concept, ie, from the very launch of the A32X family in the early ’80ies : it is a 10 frames/210″ stretch beyond A321, with capability for 7 aft + 6 fwd, total 13 AKH. Take-off rotation angle is very precisely 10º (for DC-8-63 the r.a. was 8.3º and is considered a lower limit) or 1.3º less than today’s A321.


    • AirInsight didn’t credit Leeham News for breaking the A321neoL while every other media outlet that we saw did. This made quite the conversation on Twitter.

      That aside, the piece was error-ridden and full of assumptions. The A321neoLR will be offered with the CFM LEAP as well as the GTF. The 35k thrust of the GTF is needed only for hot-high and the standard 33k thrust is sufficient. The CMF LEAP 1A top thrust is 32,900. AirInsight initially reported that no US carrier had seen the concept when in fact at least four and at least one lessor had already seen the concept.

      Although AirInsight reported the market at about 40 airplanes, Kiran Rao told us (which we reported) it was 100 and Airbus told one potential customer it is 200. The market is more than just the trans-Atlantic fleet that is the focus of AirInsight.

      The reference to tax breaks to keep Renton in operation misunderstands the Boeing mentality and the physical constraints at Renton, and Washington’s ability to keep opening its checkbook.

      • Well, I used the link primarily to quote from Frequent Traveller (i.e. last comment in the thread) and the information he provided on a 10 frames/210″ stretch beyond the A321. Having the same MTOW as the A321neoLR, about the same range as the current A321ceo and about the same capacity as that of the 767-200, it could be a pretty good replacement for the 762 on transcontinental flights within the U.S. As for Airinsight; yes, of course, I agree that they should have credited Leeham News for breaking the story; but again, that was really not the reason for why I provided that link to Airinsight.

        • Looking at JetBlue and American, a 5 frame stretch/105″ would give them a 200 seat aircraft with room for extra premium seats, so I think this is a good idea.

          On the low end, JetBlue configures their A320 with exactly 150 seats. American configures their 738 at a premium heavy 150 with four seats blocked out, and three flight attendants. I’m surprised they didn’t just go for the A320. In my opinion, Boeing needs spend money in the low end of the market against the heavier A320. I would suggest two new models, a MAX7.3 at 117′, and a MAX7.7 at 124′ to go head to head with the A320. Boeing has the best and lightest product in this area.

          • In that link to Airinsight and to the comment section, I proposed two new A32X neo models. The first one would be a 6-8 frame stretch of the A320 (i.e. A322Xneo). It would have the same wing and MTOW as that of the A320neo and about the same range as that of the current A320ceo (i.e. trading range for capacity). In fact, it would have about the same range and capacity as that of the 737-900ER. Now, the A321 is already a 13 frame stretch of the A32o. So, a further 10-frame stretch (i.e. A323Xneo) would have a fuselage that would be 23 frames longer, or (21″ * 23 =) 483 inches longer than that of the basic A320. The A323neoX would have the same MTOW as that of the A320neoLR and it would have about the same range as that of the current A321ceo (i.e. US transcontinental range capability).

  10. Addendum

    As you would, of course, know by now; Richard Aboulafia is talking about a market of 1000 units for the A321neoLR version However, in your judgment, how large would the market be for a 10 frame stretch of the A321 (i.e. about the same floor area as that of the 767-200 when you subtract the second aisle)? FWIW, I’d reckon it’s substantially bigger than the market for the A321neoLR (i.e. US transcontinental, all of the route sectors currently flown by the A321 in Asia etc.)

    • Turnaround times for a 10 frame stretch could be a problem, don’t you think?

      • Not necessarily. Doors 2 could be moved forward either by stretching Section-14A* or Sections-13/14. That would enable easier boarding through door 2L with a jetway. Due to the proximity of the engine on the A321neo (i.e. nacelle has a footprint further forward than on the A321ceo), using 2L for boarding with a jetway could be problematic. Also, if an operator would primarily use the aircraft on, for example, very short-haul, high density routes, then the cabin could be outfitted with the same 17-inch wide seats that’s in use on the 737/757, but due to the additional cabin width of the A32X-series the aisle would be 25 inches wide.


        Richard Aboulafia, an analyst at the Teal Group, an aviation industry consultant, said the time savings on transcontinental flights do not make much difference. “But if it’s Baltimore to Islip on Long Island, it matters.”


      • To solve the A322 airport ground rotation paradigm but also for doing away with the “757 syndrome” in-flight, consider the H22QR configuration, featuring Premium 1+2+1 and Y-class 1+3+1, total pax 180-230 and generous AKH payfreight capability on top, or – if convenient – a pair of ACTs to liberate some extra range … adding A322 and/or H22QR to the Family would elegantly diversify the offer of “win-win” feeder companions alongside A321+A321LR+H21QR : let Operators take their pick, with a snazzy APEX in mind – if only to please Runway Girl’s followers ! Who said “757 Replacement” ? Done ! – next item ?

  11. I don’t see how you can conclude that Lufthansa will not be the launch customer. Lufthansa has 30 CSeries on firm order and 30 more options. Lufthansa is a company that does not mess around, so they will probably convert the options unless the plane is a dud. (unlikely). I still say Lufthansa will be the launch operator. Germans are very precise with their language. You need to understand why Lufthansa is so committed to the Cseries. With their huge services division, they plan to be a center of excellence for everything Cseries, so the plane will be launched under the Lufthansa or more likely German Wings banner. Where it can operate from a Lufthansa teknik major hub. They just arranged to unload 10 CRJ900 to make room for the CSeries. Having Lufthansa as a lunch operator is really the absolute best one can hope for, and it will happen here.

    • We are not saying anything, we reference Reuters which is reporting that the CEO of Lufthansa told them they will not be launch OPERATOR, ie the first to put the aircraft into service. Lufthansa is launch customer, ie the first to ORDER the aircraft, that is something which is not debatable as it is a historical fact.

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