Looking ahead in 2015 in commercial aviation

Here’s a visualization of events to look for in commercial aviation in 2015.

2015 events 3

Click to enlarge for crisp view.


20 Comments on “Looking ahead in 2015 in commercial aviation

  1. ¿Is it fair to put the Leap on the same string as the GTF? As far as I know, the GTF is already certified by FAA, so it seems to me that the LEAP is the one to take a closer look at next year. It has quite an impact on the performance of the MAX, since there is no other option.
    Also, Is there anything new regarding the GTF?

    • There can alwayhs be suprises. The oil seal failure and field repair on the GTF that went not only bad but revelaed a serious porblme on the GTF being a case in point.

      GE when industrializing the 787 engine and changed the coating that then shucked parts (on the filed fortunately ).

      RR with some issues on various new models (A380 and the 787 engine).

      so yes, stay tuned on all of them.

    • The GTF for the MC-21, MRJ and E-Jet E2 continues in development.

      LEAP 1C (C919) is in flight testing, LEAP 1A follows for the A320neo and LEAP 1B for the 737 MAX remains in development.

      • Thanks for answering. Anyway, it seems that the A320 NEO will already be more than 6 months old after first flight with the GTF . If I remeber it right, the LEAP-powered NEO’s should be airborne 6 months after the GTF-powered ones. First flight of the GTF for the NEO was some time in june 2013 http://theflyingengineer.com/flightdeck/pw1100g-gtf/
        First flight powering the A320 was September 25th, 2014.
        On the other hand, the LEAP 1A is already in ground testing, but has not yet made to the skies. How long could it be from fligth test to first flight in the new airframe?

  2. I have some questions about the EIS of the CSeries. First the “launch customer” of CS100 is Swissair of Lufthansa but the airline refused to be the “launch operator” of the aircraft. Then, Bombardier found a new “launch operator”, the swedish Braathens Aviation. A few months ago, Braathens changed its plan and refused to be the first “operator” of the CSeries. And recently, Bombardier claims to have find a new “launch operator” for its aircrafts albeit it declined to identify the airline.

    For an external observer, this seems very odd. Why its is so difficult for Bombardier to find a launch operator? Why the airline refuse to be identified?
    It seems that there are so many uncertainities in this program.

  3. And we have the A330MRT beating up on the not yet proven KC46 (767 by any other name)

    France is now taking 12 supposedly but slow negotiating the contract.

    And big bucks (10 billion) being poured into Arianne to make it “competitive ” though hard to beat Space X.

    • Actually it is 4 billion Euro for Ariane 6. But the cost will probably increase to about 10 billion before the program completion. Space programs are always over budget.

      Since you are talking about this rocket, I think it is ridiculous that Safran-Airbus claims that they can develop a rocket with a launch cost of 75-90 millions Euro (comparatively to 160 million Euro for Ariane 5) with the same global architecture and the same engines (Vulcain II, Vinci).

      • Afaik Ariane 6 will have a solid first stage ( 3++ identical boosters ) and a solid second stage ( 1 booster, same type ).
        the third stage will have the Vinci engine but new tanks.

        Nothing much to see that says automatic cost overrun.
        And solids done right should be very cost effective.

        • No No No!

          You are not up to date. Airbus Group and Safran decided to create a joint-venture and propose a new design. Their initial design, Ariane 6.1/6.2 was rejected and a few months later Airbus-Safran come with a new design Ariane 6.2/6.4.

          The first stage is a cryotechnic stage with 149 tonnes of propellant (comparatively to 173 tonnes for Ariane 5) with a 4.6m diameter core (5.4m for Ariane 5). The engine is a Vulcain III. The second stage is a cryotechnic stage with a Vinci engine with about 30 tonnes of propellant (15 tonnes for Ariane 5 ME). For Ariane 6.2 there are 2 solid boosters P120C et for Ariane 6.4 there are 4 solid boosters P120C.

          Basically, they change design to something nearly identical to Ariane 5ME except they change the size of the core and upper stage but claimed that they can meet the initial requirement for a 75-90 million launch vehicle. The new rocket is about 20m higher than Ariane 5ME. The only thing that really change is the possibility to have 2 0r 4 boosters of 120 tonnes of propellant instead of 2 boosters of 241 tonnes.

          • The design that you talk about is Ariane 6 PPH which was cancelled. Basically, the Europeans get rid off 2 years of work and come with a new design within a few months and claim that the cost of the new launch vehicle was not affected.

          • Well, the Ariane 6 seems to have quite extensive cost-effective measures built in to the design. First, the diameter of the central stage was chosen in order to enable using the same barrel diameter on both the first stage and the upper stage. 2nd; there will be no (expensive) common bulkhead to separate the cryogenic LOX and LH2 tanks on the upper stage; 3rd, the main engine will be the existing Vulcain engine of the Ariane 5 ECA; 4th, the P120 solid rocket boosters will be common with the first stage of the enhanced Vega-C launcher; 5th, the upper stage will be propelled by the Vinci engine which has been under development for the better part of the last decade.


          • You have a good point, but the toolings of the current Ariane 5 are already existing. And reducing the production cost of the Ariane 6 will need a certain learning curve.

            Why initially developping a common bulkhead for the upper stage if this is so expansive? I am not saying that Ariane 6 will be more expansive than Ariane 5, but claiming that it is possible to cut half the price of the launcher?

          • Remember, ESA has cancelled the expensive Ariane V ME (Mid-life Evolution) that would have had an all new cryogenic upper stage. Instead, Airbus/Safran will develop an all new optimised upper stage for the Ariane 6 instead which will have the same basic tank structure design on the LOX and LH2 tanks on both the lower and upper stages (i.e. same barrel diameter and nearly identical bulkheads).


            As I previously indicated, an upper stage having a common bulkhead is significantly more expensive to both develop and manufacture than one using two separate bulkheads and an intertank. For example, the second stage of the Saturn V (S-II), which had a common bulkhead between the LOX and LH2 tanks cost more to manufacture than the larger first stage (S-IC), which had an intertank structure. Now, it’s true that a common bulkhead design weigh less, is shorter in length and has better performance. On the Ariane 6, however, cutting launch cost will be the main driver, and not launch performance which has usually been the main driver during new rocket development programmes.

            Finally, the current large steel-case segmented solid rocket boosters on the Ariane V are very expensive to manufacture. Ariane 6, on the other hand, will use much smaller, composite monolithic solid rocket motors — two or four — which should be much cheaper to manufacture. The Ariane V was originally designed to launch the Hermes space plane and was thus optimised for Low Earth Orbit (LEO) insertion, and not GTO insertion.

  4. I don’t think Europeans can get close to SpaceX on costs, because the Chinese have already stated they can’t compete, and don’t know to do so. Good luck to Ariane.

    • “I don’t think Europeans can get close to SpaceX on costs”

      Perhaps not on launches to low Earth orbit, but that’s not the primary market for the Ariane 6, which BTW is going to be optimised for launches to geosynchronous transfer orbits (GTO) — and that’s where the money currently is in commercial space transportation. Establishing reliability is an uphill battle that all launch vehicles must initially face, and usually three to four successful launches are required just to enable a vehicle to be considered commercialy insurable at reasonable terms. One failure of the Falcon-9 on a GTO insertion and it’s back to square one for SpaceX.

      n any case, uncertainty is unnerving; while the Ariane 5 rocket’s reliability is admired and is, in turn, rewarded with a low premium rate, concerns remain over its ability to fly two high value insured spacecraft on the same launch. “As sums insured continue to increase, and due to the accumulation of exposure on dual launches in particular, the insurance market will probably find itself with insufficient premium revenue to pay a single large loss,” says Wade. The market is also having to cope with new risks. While Ariane 5, Proton and Soyuz are well known, they are being joined by a new and diverse range of launch vehicles. SpaceX’s Falcon 9 has built up a large launcher order book, but is relatively untried.


  5. KC46 and A330MRT:

    The KC46 finally gets rolling though there are the Italian and Japanese 767 based tankers delivered.

    KC46 will be behind for some time as a flying tanker you can get soon vs the KC46A which has not flown yet (first one is not tanker capable, second one is) let alone all the testing to get it to work. To be seen is if they get any orders if they will ramp up 767 production and can get them in the que soon enough to satisfy the competitions.

    Ave Week had a bit of a break down on the French Air Force and trying to get the A330s ordered as well as interesting US support.

    France has 14 of the KC135Rs operating but the US has permanently assigned two (KC135Rs I think) to support African operations.

    It does seem odd that France cannot support Africa out of the current tankers (the A330s are ordered piece meal as it were and staggered in over a long time span due to budget issues)

    US supply tankers for the ISIL operations (not stated is if there are any other country doing so, France was specifically listed as using US tankers in that theatre)

    I am still amazed that the wiring got to be such a problem on the KC46A.
    No one has said why, as Boeing is picking up the tab it would seem to be that it was specified and Boeing did not do it right.

    Can they claw back the delays? I would call that the one of the top 3 2015 stores along with the C series and how well the A350 EIS goes.

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