Odds and Ends: U-Turn Al does it again, delays A350; rate cuts for 747-8, A330; A380 future delivery

A350 delivery delayed: U-Turn Al Baker, the CEO of Qatar Airways, has once again become a pain in the tailpipe to an OEM. The delivery of the first Airbus A350-900, set for Saturday, has been indefinitely postponed. Qatar posted this on its Facebook page:

#QatarAirways announces that the Airbus #A350 aircraft ceremonial transfer of title has been postponed until further notice.
With the imminent launch of the new Airbus A350 programme, both entities are committed to introducing the A350 very soon. #QatarA350
Qatar famously postponed delivery of its first Airbus A380 for several months, claiming quality control concerns over the interior.
Boeing 747-8 rate cut: Boeing announced it will cut the production rate of the 747-8 in September 2015 from the current 1/5/mo to 1.3/mo, still holding out hope the cargo market will recover. The Wall Street Journal first broke the news.
Boeing 787-9 to AA delayed: American Airlines won’t receive its first Boeing 787-9 until the first quarter, several months later than planned, reported the Dallas Morning News. Certification issues for new seating designs appear to be the delay.
Investing in the A380: Bloomberg News reports Airbus has a dilemma over the A380: invest more into a slow-selling program or throw in the towel. We imagine this will come up during the Airbus investors day commercial presentations tomorrow.
Cutting A330 rates more: Airbus just announced a further production rate cut on the A330 during Day 1 of its investors day, but didn’t say by how much.

60 Comments on “Odds and Ends: U-Turn Al does it again, delays A350; rate cuts for 747-8, A330; A380 future delivery

  1. Al-Baker is on a roll! This guy loves to give the OEMs a lot of stick…

    Wasn’t it a couple weeks or months ago he was singing the A350’s praises and now he delays delivery acceptance? If anything, he’s consistently inconsistent, and a source of great humor…

    • Al-Baker announced a surprise _at_ the delivery ceremony.

      So they are not finished haggling about another order ?
      Airbus balks at something in that context.

      we’ll see.

  2. “Boeing 787-9 to AA delayed”

    Similar story for Scoot’s first 787-9, delivery has been rescheduled for early 2015.

      • Mostly -8’s.

        The accumulation was planned, as Boeing’s 787 delivery guidance given at the beginning of this year was 110. It looks like they will achieve this goal, give or take a few frames.

        Since Boeing will probably roll out 120 frames (both -8’s and -9’s) this year, the accumulation over the year will probably be 14, given that 4 deliveries this year were early build frames.

        • Yep, Boeing planned on having billions in airplanes sitting on the ramp undelivered, you see it does not pay to actually deliver aircraft and get money on them (tax write-off?)

          Or you can believe they have issues and aren’t getting the job done.

          Its better to actually have the workers working and not cowering (or it used to be)

          • Thanks around.

            So is this artificially running up inventory or a real bottleneck?

          • Chill out TW. Never said there are no issues, did I?

            It was obvious to me last January that there would be an inventory pile up this year. Do the math, 11o delivery guidance and 10 frames per month never quite added up. Pretty simple.

            What ever issues there are, they must have been at least partially expected or the delivery guidance would have been more in line with the rate. I wonder, could integrating a new derivative into the production system, a tooling change, have anything to do with it? This in addition getting past the wing crack issue.

  3. If Airbus is going to decide to stop the production of the A380, what would be the next logical step for Airbus to do? Create a big Twin larger than Boeings 777X? How would it look like?12 or 14 seats in a row,Doubledecker,very long?

    • If the A380 is too big there’s no point making a big twin the same size, I’d have thought. Also, A big twin can’t be more than 11 abreast (3-5-3), so to get wider it would have to go to triple aisle.

      It’s probably better to it back for a bit and see how the 777-9 sells- so far it’s not exactly flying off the shelves. apart from to the ME2 who have ordered in bulk.

      Id have thought, though, that an investment of, say 3bn over however many frames Emirates will commit to would be doable (particularly if the engine maker chips in) and would allow a bit of a return on the airframe itself.

      • It’s a really tough call,I’d be tempted to go with the 900.the original decision to build the dammed thing was risky too.whatever they decide to do,they haven’t got long as the backlog shrinks.this is particular Aircraft cannot afford to be sitting around as whitetails.

      • re 3-5-3 max, why would 3-6-3 be off the table? if it is ok for a window seat to be 2 away from the aisle with no other escape path, why not 3-6-3. worst case is still 2 away from nearest aisle.

        it would be horrific from a passenger perspective, but we all know that doesn’t actually matter to the airlines.

    • According to todays press conference A380 will break even next year (video 15:57:00). So why should Airbus stop producing the A380?

      The interesting part about the A380 was the animation about EBIT and cash between 2015 and 2020. The A350 will produce EBIT and cash while the A380 will stay at the threshold. I can see one reason for that: new investments into the A380.

      The A380 is good for Airbus as long as it stays neutral and contains the 777. An A380NEO can contain a 777X. Little investment for Airbus but much for Boeing.

      • I believe that is break even on a per plane basis, meaning they have (in theory) lost all the money they are going to lose at that point.

        when is program break even, the point when Airbus will have made an overall profit (in program start year dollars)

        • Yep, last best figure I saw a 550 or north of that and that was before the wing rib issue.

          At current rate of production that’s only 20 years away !

    • “Airbus stopping the A380 production early in the next decade” is nothing but wishful thinking by Richard Aboulafia.

      What Airbus is probably doing, though, is to carefully look at the upgrade options for the current A380-800. Doing something to the wing along with new engines might prove to be a prudent decision.

      One suggestion: Re-design the current wing and re-make it as a “black-aluminium” wing by replacing the current front, centre and aft spars with new ones in CFRP, in addition to replacing the upper and lower wing covers — made out of multiple panels — with one one-piece wing covers in CFRP. The current aluminium wing ribs would be retained, albeit slightly modified to accommodate the new composite hardware. The leading and trailing edge would remain the same. This “new” and significantly lighter wing should, in addition, have two 7.5m folding wing tips, which would increase the wing span to 95m. The aspect ratio of the current wing is 7.53, while for the “new” one it would be around 10.2; or just slightly lower than the aspect ratio of the 777X wing. So, coupled with the addition of optimised new generation engines, trip fuel burn might be reduced by up to 20 percent. A 12 frame stretched A380-900NG should have a reduction in fuel cost per available seat km of around 35 percent over that of the current A380-800.

      Finally, a new big twin from Airbus could share the same wing and MLG with an A380-derived twin. Both aircraft could be offered with two different fuselage lengths ; 350 metric tonnes and 410 tonnes. The 350 metric tonne versions would have two six wheel bogie main gears, while the 410 tonne MTOW versions would have an additional centerline main landing gear with a four-wheel bogie. The 350 metric tonne single decker twin would have 11 abreast seating in economy class, have about the same length as that of the 777-9X. With 11 abreast, it would, in all likelihood, put a premature end to 777X production.

      • “This “new” and significantly lighter wing should, in addition, have two 7.5m folding wing tips, which would increase the wing span to 95m.”

        HA! Folding wingtips? Are you mad? Don’t you listen to John Leahy and his opinion on “folding wingtips?!”

        Quote: “In Airbus’ closing news conference, he insisted that the design concept Boeing presented in Paris is unfinished and unwieldy. He derided the planned folding wingtips as “silly things.”

        Let’s see him back off that statement for your plan to work…

        • Yet Airbus filled a patent on their own folding wingtips design..

          Back to more serious things… I think that with modest changes and a new generation engine (very likely to be the RR Advance) the A380 can be made very competitive again

          • I seem to remember an Airbus patent that covers span extension under aerodynamic loads.
            i.e. down turned wing tips that bow up and out under lift. no articulation just wing flex in the right direction. The Airbus gulled hanging wings already loose less span under full load than forex the 787.

        • Ah, I think the error you’re making is in taking what a salesman says seriously. Yes.

      • I have been thinking very much along the same lines. A stretch to 80 mtr lenght, which is the limit acording to air port regulations. I have also been thinking on folding wing tips, here also is 80 mtr span the max allowed on the ground. I think this also apply on the runway, so any wing tip extension above 80 mtr would have to fold in the air after takeoff and before landing. This is a very tricky point.

        Further more any control surfaces on the folding part would greatly complicate the design. Boeing is to desigh their 777X wing so the aircraft is airworthy even if one wing tip separates in mid air. So I feel a folding tip as long as 7,5 mtr would be demanding to design. However a 5 mtr tip for a 90 mtr span should be much more doable. This would still have a huge significance on the total drag in flight.

        The A380 is a somewhat unusual aircraft in some respect. You have mentioned the low aspect ratio of the wing. This causes a very large induced drag compared to every other remotely modern airliner, bot in absolute terms and as the percentage of induced drag vs parasittic drag. Also the frontal area, and even more so the wetted surface of the fuselage is rather small in relation to the floor space/passenger capasity of the aircraft and compared to other large twin aisle aircraft. This would be even more true for a 80 mtr stretched A380-900. All this causes any increase in wing span and aspect ratio to have a proportionately much more favourable effect on the total drag and hence fuel consumption of an A380 than on any other airliner.

        So, a stretch, new engines AND folding wing tips to maybe 90 mtr would cause an A380-900neo to be a true killer plane in term of fuel consumption on a per passenger basis.

        New engines, -5 to -10 percent, folding wing tips to 90 mtr span, -12 percent, and an increase in lenght/passenger capasity, -10 percent, for a combined reduction in fuel consumption/drag of about 25 to 30 percent per passenger acording to my back of the napkin calculations.

        • The current metallic wing will probably not be able to accommodate a significant wing span extension. However, a CFRP “black metal” version of the current outer wing box should quite easily be able to handle the significant higher bending and torque loads. As the wing structure typically accounts for upwards of 40 percent of Manufacturer’s Empty Weight (MEW), you’d see significant weight savings as well. Hence my (conservative) estimate of a 35 percent reduction in fuel cost per available seat km for a 12 frame stretched A380-900NG. As for the wing tip extension, here’s a link to an Airbus patent for an aerofoil with a foldable tip section:


          • What’s not to like, billions more down the rat hole!

          • Well, reducing fuel cost per seat by at least 35 percent would, in all likelihood, change the equation dramatically. Thus IMO, it would more than justify the additional R&D expenses. Also, a 12 frame stretch would increase lower deck cargo capacity by about 26 percent (i.e. capacity of 48 LD3 positions vs. a max of 38 LD3s on the A388).

      • I would like to point out that during the whole rib-feet thing, Airbus went from composite ribs in a mostly aluminium wing to aluminium ribs in a mostly aluminium wing…

        I’ll let you make your own mind up about why that might be.

  4. Doesn’t the aircraft have a 5 year backlog, options, no competition and a good part a of the world premier networkairlines as happy customers? This A380 thing sits deep..

    • 5 year backlog is optimistic, quite a few of those orders are very dodgy.production rate is already very modest.777/777x&330/330neo type production gaps would be quite ugly with a380. I Suppose it depends on whether they can sell any more CEOs and the right moment for engine developments.if they can’t sell any more CEOs,is the neo worth the bother?a question for the experts,does the a380 actually need folding wingtips if it extends its wingspan?

        • Keep in mind the plan was 4 aircraft per month, they are below that by a lot and do not look to ramp up (maybe ramp down more)

          Pesky economics get you in the end.

    • Bloomberg is one of the most anti-A380 sources on the net if we count the so-called reputable ones. They have the homecrowd to please. Let’s not forget many view the A380 as an insult to America itself. How has someone (French!) dared to usurp the iconic 747 which is to America what Big Mac, Space Shuttle and Statue of Liberty are. So these kind of stories need to be told at regular intervals.

      • Big Mac and friends are killing more US citizens per month than Taliban did within 10 years. The Space Shuttle is already in the museums and will be replaced by a WernherVonBraun like design. The Statue of Liberty always was a French Lady. The “B” before 747 originates from guy originally called Wilhelm Eduard Böing born in Detroit. His other child United Airlines already operates Airbus aircraft …

        • Let’s not get into geopolitics here. This is a rather bizarre posting.


      • meh. The A380 was always more driven by politics than actual business value.

        in 1994, Airbus justified the beginning of A3XX development on the back of a claimed the market for 1700+ over 20 years for 400+ seat aircraft, Boeing said ~650.

        It is now 2014, conveniently 20 years later. since 1994 Airbus has delivered 147 A380s and Boeing 492 747s. that’s awful close Boeing’s projection. close enough to strongly suggest that Airbus’s original 1700 number was pulled out of somebody’s bum.

        the A380 is a magnificent technological achievement, but as a business decision on Airbus’s part a disaster.

        Meanwhile the midsize and big twin markets have been going berserk in sales volume.

        At the end of the day, Boeing’s market projections seem to have been pretty much on the money across the board, and Airbus’s projections crafted to support political agendas.

        • Those comments are so lacking in diversity and evolution that they could well come from robo posters ( or clicked together from cheat sheets ).

          • Update: Here’s more [edited] comments from the local cheerleaders. Interesting to speculate on the reasons why so many Airbus bashers demonstrate such a high level of [edited].


            Edited as violation of reader comment rules.

            A reminder: personal attacks by partisans of any OEM are prohibited.

    • I think the difference can be explained by several factors

      1) Adjustment for inflation (NOT the most important)
      2) Various costs due to deliveries delay
      3) Various costs due to problems with wings and cabin doors
      4) Costs due to the fact that Airbus is losing money on each A380 sold. (Boeing call this “deferred production cost” which reach 25 billions on 787 and will probably reach 35 billions before “break even”)

      • PS: I am talking about the 12.2 billion vs 25 billion development costs.

        • I thought when the 12.5 versus 25 billion figure appeared the first time on a.net someone traced it to a stupid error where the cost overrun was added twice. And this was just in someone’s comments… I certainly hope Bloomberg isn’t quoting random posters from a.net!

  5. The database shows large gaps in production starting 2015 at a production rate of 30 per year. That means lots of white-tails from now on.

    Also, I did not realize it until today, but Lufthansa, Qantas, Air France and Singapore have deferred deliveries and are not currently taking aircraft. Will they restart or is their backlog as good as dead? Virgin, Amedeo, Air Austral and unidentified orders? Who knows. Only Airbus and the airlines. Taking out all these, plus Emirates, leaves only 25 aircraft to be delivered. Plus the Emirates backlog of 81. Total 104. To be delivered over the next 9 years. It does not look good.

    • Singapore has not deferred as far as I know. AF , Qantas and Luft deferred yes.

      Virgin will never take theirs, Amedeo is a joke order (fluff, not commitments)

  6. The bottom line on the A380 is that so far from an Airbus financial perspective its been a money pit. If it cost $25 billion so far to develop why would any responsible company sink more more money into the project when they have no chance of ever seeing a profit. On a per plane basis maybe they might break even soon, but on overall project costs its doubtful they will ever reach a profit which it what really matters to the bean counters. Airbus stopped speculating on how many frames they would need to build to break even over all years ago. I’m sure they know the answer, but they won’t tell anyone, why is that? Because they know its an unreachable number that would all but admit the plane is a financial failure to Airbus even if certain airlines do well with it.

    Remeber Boeing and Airbus are not bulding airplanes out of the goodness of their hearts. They are in business to make money. Airbus might as well take the $5 billion they are thinking about spending on upgrades and just burn it because they will never see any return on investment.

    • It doesn’t really matter how much money has been spent to date. Sunk costs are sunk costs, whether for the A380 or for the 787.

      When making decisions about whether to do something new, or stop doing something you are doing now, you really only care about the future: what return will you get for the money you will spend from today forward?

      The big money pits look bad, for sure, and are a black eye on each of the two companies, but they don’t determine whether to proceed on A380 production or a 787-10, for example.

      • There is one significant difference – the money Airbus has spent has already gone through the books while Boeing is carrying it all in deferred costs.

        • Yes. But Boeing’s deferred costs will eventually hit the books, too, whether they choose option X, Y or Z for the future.

  7. “It is now 2014, conveniently 20 years later.”

    Convenient chosen indeed. The A380 was launched 19 december 2000 and first flight was 27 April 2005.

    • as I noted up thread, initial concept development work started in 1994 and called the A3XX. that decision was based on unrealistic market projections.


      development cost was estimated at >$8B. the fact that they took until 2000 to formally launch it is a side issue. if the demand was truly there for that many aircraft, airlines would have bought more 747s than they did while waiting for the A3XX to be ready and would today be buying 747-8s which are roughly on par with a 777-300ER on CASM, but nobody’s buying them cause they are too big, while they (have been) buying -300ERs like hotcakes.

      • The only thing that matters is the actual launch than some obscure concept imagining. We are not counting Sonic Cruiser development on the 787 development fiasco either. As for your matter about which aircraft were on market in 2008 is totally irrelevant. Böeing has now put on another aircraft over 400 seats on that market.

  8. Pingback: Qatar - Aviation News - 10 Dec 2014 -

  9. As a sidenote you just don’t talk about your products in this way. This CFO dude should have known better. If I was Airbus shareholder I would be pissed. This is like the Stephen Elop memo at Nokia.

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