Odds and Ends: Qatar gets first A350-900; WTO Airbus-Boeing fight, continued; A380, continued; 767-2C first flight; our Holiday schedule

Dec. 21, 2014

Qatar gets first A350-900: Unless U-Turn Al U-Turns again, Qatar Airways

Source: USA Today.

will take delivery of the world’s first Airbus A350-900 on Dec. 22. Reuters has a retrospective of the airplane’s development.

WTO Airbus-Boeing fight, continued: It never ends. As we reported Friday, the European Union filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization over Washington State tax breaks extended to Boeing for the 777X. Long-time readers of this column know how we feel about the WTO generally and the trade dispute between Europe (Airbus) and the US (Boeing) specifically. We consider it all a waste of time and money.

Now that the EU has officially complained about the 777X tax breaks, we fully expect the US Trade Representative to officially file a counter-action against allegations Airbus is receiving illegal subsidies for the A350. During the height of the previous complaints, USTR and Boeing complained about launch aid provided for the A350. The EU said this aid complied with the findings and compliance requirements of the previous dispute. The USTR tried to wrap the A350 aid into the then-ongoing complaint, which was rejected by the WTO for procedural reasons.

Boeing’s statement Friday about the EU’s latest action cited the WTO’s rejection of including the 777X into the current appeals of the previous actions, suggesting this made the new complaint without merit. This is sophistry. Whether the 777X complaint has merit or not (we think it does), the inclusion was rejected for similar procedural reasons as the USTR effort to include the A350 issue: a new action was needed.

As we wrote at the time (and which is linked in Friday’s post), Boeing’s acceptance of tax breaks for the 777X is hypocrisy given its long-held position against Airbus tax breaks as outlined in the WTO complaint. The 777X tax breaks are extensions of the 787 tax breaks found by the WTO to be illegal.

Boeing has no basis on which to complain about the EU complaint. But it will, because this is how the game is played. And so look for a USTR action on the A350 launch aid.

A380, continued: The fascination over whether Airbus will proceed with a re-engining of the A380, and what engine will power a neo, continues. A suggestion that Engine Alliance could be a contender for the A380neo seem farfetched. Aviation Week’s Guy Norris has this analysis. In it, he notes that Pratt & Whitney and GE each doubt the business case for an A380neo. PW also told us when we were at its media day in May there was no business case. It’s also clear PW won’t go it alone with a big GTF: the CEO of parent United Technologies ruled out a big GTF two weeks into his tenure. Aviation Week previously reported Rolls-Royce and Airbus are close to an agreement to power the A380neo. We agree that RR will wind up with the business.

767-2C first flight: This is expected between Christmas and New Year’s. This has been widely viewed as a major milestone in the development of the Boeing KC-46A USAF aerial tanker, and it is important, but Boeing is downplaying it. There won’t be a a media event surrounding the flight. This will be saved for the first flight of an equipped tanker next year.

A320neo GTF engine certified: The US Federal Aviation Administration certified the Pratt & Whitney Geared Turbo Fan that will power the Airbus A320neo family last week.

Our Holiday schedule: We’ll be around and posting on a reduced schedule now through January 4. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

14 Comments on “Odds and Ends: Qatar gets first A350-900; WTO Airbus-Boeing fight, continued; A380, continued; 767-2C first flight; our Holiday schedule

  1. Merry Christmas to you, Scott. And let us look forward to another interesting year in aviation!

  2. It seems Rolls has a strong position in the WB engine market because of a natural progression from the Trent1000 into the TrentXWB, now into the Trent7000, and long running R&D programs such as CTi fan, Advance and UltraFan. Gradually developping and implementing new technologies with each new program.

    It won’t be too long before they can offer an improved engine for the 787. With new hot section technology, new materials and a lighter carbon fan.

    • Miner tweaks only, they have to get a return from the program, you can’t endlessly update engines and never establish a firm base population.

      the money goes into a never to get a return on A390NEO (if it actually occurs)

  3. Looking ahead to 2015, will we see the launch of an A322, stretched by 3-6 seat rows over the A321? As aircraft sizes creep upwards this must surely come at some point.

    • If e.g. UA, DL, CAAC, Aercap, BA or AF commit to a combined 300 bigger A321s, we might have a go for a larger wing, cabin, range, payload. No competition should ensure a healthy margin / quick ROI.

  4. Pingback: Qatar - Aviation News - 22 Dec 2014 -

  5. The A322 stretch and cranking up the PW1100G to 37k is a no brainer. It might need a new APU (new ones are on the way), more emergency exits, one more toilet, revised brakes, revised wing with more fuel, revised landing gear, bigger galleries etc. Hence cost keeps creeping up to $2-3 bn until they are on the limit of the current Typ Certificate.
    Also doing the A350-1100 to match the 777-9 to sit nicely between the A350-1000 and the A380 is logical. The A380neo is more complicated as it will need new engines and a new wing, increasing range with 1hr, having systems updated to 2015 technology and limit options for interior similar to the A350, Having flying aircraft being utfitted in Fuhlsbüttel for 6-8 months before delivery and final payment can ruin any program. Airbus should do the A380neo after the A322 and A350-1100 derivative programs, they should be thru engineering by 2020 then the A380neo with RR Advance engines can be worked on for 2024 deliveries and maybe by then a -900 it should fit a 100X100m box not todays 80X80m box.

    • The length is not quite restricted. The problem with wingspan is also related to taxiways and runways. That is a much bigger problem for airports.

    • “The A322 stretch and cranking up the PW1100G to 37k is a no brainer. It might need a new APU (new ones are on the way), more emergency exits, one more toilet, revised brakes, revised wing with more fuel, revised landing gear, bigger galleries etc. Hence cost keeps creeping up to $2-3 bn until they are on the limit of the current Typ Certificate.”

      No new APU, galley, exits, toilet options required, just follow the NEO catalogue. PW / CFM already indicated future growth to 40klbs is foreseen for their NEO engines.

      The wing is the critical A321 part. Its fuel capacity, wingloading, airfield performance have reached critical levels already. I think w’ll see specification creep for the proposed A321NeoLR. Looking at various flight profiles the proposed 4100NM net range is on the low side.

      To conquer the middle market reliable 4500NM range flexibility with some cargo and ~30 extra seats are probably on the AA, DL, United and leisure operators wishlists for the 2018-2038 timeframe.

      To optimize wing, (future) engine and field performance a new landing gear would probably be part of a re-wing. I doubt the current wingbox would do. Therefor, as you indicated, $2-3 bn seems a reasonable indication.


      • The A322 might not see the daylight as Airbus might think the 737-9Max is not that much of a competition for the A321neo. Airbus should move with a revised wing and beefed up landing gear. they might focus on the A380neo after Emirates tells them exactly what is needed to beat the 777-9. It might be money smarter to do the A322 and A350-1100 firts.

  6. I think that Airbus can’t discontinue the A380 without loosing its credibility and reputation. Moreover, if A380 production is discontinued in 2018, Airbus will need to lay off a lot of employers and Airbus needs to consider the effect on its stock market.

    Also, Airbus will loose its investissement in tooling and will need to convert its assembly line in Toulouse which will required a lot of money. So even Airbus is bleeding money on this program, it is forced to continue with it. This choice is acceptable if we assume that direct and indirect costs of the program cancellation are more important than the cost of selling the aircraft at lower price than the production cost. Since Airbus has already invested 25 billions in this program, the question is which one is the “less worst” decision.

    My opinion is Airbus made a mistake by launching this program in 2001. Apparently, according to some insiders, Airbus’s executives claim that the A380 is the “right aircraft” but acknowledge that they launch this program “10 years too soon”. In my opinion, Airbus launch its A380 20 years too soon. All the advantages of the scale effect is cancelled by new development in propulsion, aerodynamics and composite. Perhaps in 15 years, it will be justified to switch from 777-9X to a jumbojet like the A380.

    • Initially it is for Hong Kong Airlines but the airlines want to cancel its order. I imagine that the order is not officially cancelled because of the huge amount for penality. Thus, I assumed that Hong Kong Airlines try to find, in cooperation with Airbus, a new customer for this production slot.

  7. Airbus can be agressive and trade in B777-300ER for A350-1000 and A380’s for good prices. Especially routes that fly full on the 777

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