A380, 10 years later

April 28, 2015: Airbus is celebrating 10 years of its A380 super jumbo.

Just about everybody else is taking pot shots at it.

There’s little doubt the airplane is a masterful achievement. But production miscues delayed the airplane by two years, the market moved on it and when it was envisioned in the late 1990s, the Boeing 777-9 wasn’t.

So 10 years after entry-into-service, and a mere 15 after the program was launched, Airbus faces a crossroads: does it re-engine the airplane on an iffy business case or can it come up with enough Performance Improvement Packages for the airframe and with the engine makers chipping in to give it new life until the market grows into the airplane–if it ever does, say detractors.

Some at Boeing we talked with are rooting for Airbus to take the neo plunge.This would suck up resources and money and make it difficult to do what needs to come next: the Middle of the Market airplane and the replacement for the single-aisle aircraft. These same officials still chortle over the story that Boeing cleverly maneuvered Airbus into launching the A380 program in 2000, sucking up manpower and billions of Euros.

Whether the story is true or not, it’s certainly urban legend. But just think of what would have happened had Airbus foregone the A380 and devoted its money and resources to the rest of the market.

With the A380, Airbus has more than a 50% market share of the Big Two. With the A380, Airbus outsold Boeing and until recently out-delivered Boeing. Just imagine what the Duopoly would have looked like had Airbus taken a different path: would Boeing, aided and abetted by its self-inflicted wounds, been reduced to a 40% market share instead of hovering in the high 40s, essentially being even-up with Airbus?

Would Airbus have dominated the twin-aisle sector all these years instead of just the most recent few?

It’s a testament to Boeing’s own arrogance, failed strategy and ineptitude that, having claimed it tricked Airbus into the A380, Boeing didn’t run away with the market on the back of the A380.

Airbus maneuvered Boeing into re-engining the 737 instead of proceeding with a new small airplane–and Boeing’s market share in the single-aisle sector suffers for it.

Airbus now has the A330neo, which is off to a good start with 145 orders–but sales have somewhat stalled. Economics that come within 2%-3% (by our numbers) of the 787-8/9, it costs a lot less and it’s available a lot earlier. Will it get the 1,200-1,500 sales Airbus and Steven Udvar-Hazy, CEO of Air Lease Corp. and a launch customer, predict? We doubt it–more like 400-500, we think. But for the $2bn it costs to develop (with Rolls-Royce picking up most of the tab), the ROI is easy and a expense a mere pittance to the 787 and its high technology that even top Boeing execs now say airlines aren’t willing to pay for.

The A380 has all but run the 747-8 out of the market. As poor as sales of the A380 have been, it has around 90% of the Very Large Aircraft Passenger airplane sector. Boeing launched the 747-8 to remain competitive with the A380, and it was years late, billions over budget and sales virtually non-existent for the VLAP. Another large forward loss is likely.

Maybe those same Boeing officials who chortle about tricking Airbus into the A380 should take a look at their company’s own decision about the 747-8.

Perhaps Airbus will have the last laugh after all.

119 Comments on “A380, 10 years later

  1. Not mentioning the enormous upgrade potential of the A380 platform … 😉 IMJ, the A380 maneuvered Boeing into “having to respond with something” — and what they finally came up with was the 7E7/787 that was to be developed on a ridiculously abbreviated schedule. To paraphrase your line; it’s a testament to Boeing’s own arrogance, failed strategy and ineptitude that, having claimed it tricked Airbus into the A380, that they managed to launch the 787 programme on a tale of hubris and mismanagement. It’s my judgment that without the existence of the A380, Boeing would not have decided to launch the 787 on a four year schedule from start to finish – a decision that IMO has proved to have serious long term ramifications for the company.

    As the buzz surrounding the 7E7 gets louder, Boeing’s board of directors faces a big, expensive decision: either build the plane or risk losing the company’s credibility as a commercial jet maker — and potentially cede the future of commercial jets to archrival Airbus.

    “The board almost has no choice,” said Richard Aboulafia, an aviation analyst with consulting firm Teal Group. “They’re set up for embarrassment if they don’t. … Face is involved here. Politics is involved here.”

    Boeing is particularly vulnerable to bad publicity, Aboulafia noted, with the recent firings of its chief financial officer and a vice president for unethical conduct.

    More than credibility is at stake, said Michel Merluzeau, principal analyst with New York-based market research firm Frost and Sullivan.

    “Boeing will not be a player in the commercial aircraft market if this project does not go ahead,” he said. “It would be a very serious mistake.”

    Boeing’s board will have to approve two decisions before the 7E7 is a go. Next month, it will consider whether to offer the new airplane for sale. Then, the board would decide next year whether to formally launch the 7E7 program.

    Boeing declined to make board members available for interviews with The Associated Press. But Boeing spokesman John Dern said that, as with previous jet programs, the company is looking for the right plane at the right time.

    “The company has been very open in sharing details of the program, and the fact is that there is lots of confidence that the 7E7 is on the right track given all the developments in the market,” Dern said in an e-mail. “Ultimately, however, it will be the business case and the associated analysis that drive final decisions.”

    Those decisions will help determine the company’s future as a commercial jet maker.

    For decades, Boeing’s jetliners were the company’s prime moneymaker. Its aircraft, from the workhorse 737s and 757s to the widebody 767s, 777s, and jumbo 747s, are global icons of America’s technology and manufacturing prowess.

    But in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, Boeing’s defense division now brings in more revenue than commercial airplanes. Boeing has expanded its space, communications and other businesses as well.

    The company has not launched an all-new plane program since its 777 jet in 1990. Meanwhile, rival Airbus expects to eclipse Boeing this year as the world’s largest commercial jet manufacturer in terms of deliveries and is developing the new superjumbo A380 for service in 2006.

    Boeing had considered an extensively updated and larger 747 jumbo jet, dubbed the 747X, but shelved it in 2001. Boeing then seized on the idea for a new plane that would travel near the speed of sound — the Sonic Cruiser — but similarly abandoned that project at the end of 2002.

    Now, it’s the 7E7, proposed as a super fuel-efficient jet to replace the 757 and 767 with greater range to handle long-distance, point-to-point routes.


    • To your point about the Sonic Cruiser, I think that story doesn’t get nearly as much coverage as it deserves in the ex post strategy debates.

      Before the 2001 burst of the dot.com bubble and 9/11, airlines were enjoying massive profits and growing fast – the late 1990s were the Golden Years for airlines. Much of airline strategy centered around outgrowing each other and and outdoing each other on the product side. In that context, the Sonic Cruiser offered tantalizing prospects: uniquely faster service for the flying public (especially valuable for business travelers) and, if airlines could figure out aircraft rotations across time zones, the promise of significantly higher aircraft utilization – not necessarily more hours per year, but certainly more miles per year. In other words, higher unit revenues and more ticket sales per aicraft. In that sense, the Sonic Cruiser had the potential to be a true game changer – possibly even more so than the 787 today.

      Unfortunately for Boeing the burst of the dot.com bubble and 9/11 seem to have played a major role in killing the Sonic Cruiser: overnight, the airline game shifted to hoarding cash, reducing unit costs and reducing capacity. A revenue-enhancing aircraft no longer made since. Hence the efficiency-oriented 787?

      Just for the fun of it, we could suppose that neither of the terrible events of 2001 take place. If the Sonic Cruiser had proven to be the game changer that Boeing envisioned, wouldn’t we now view Boeing’s ploy to maneuver Airbus into the A380 as an exceptionally brilliant move?

  2. Paraphrasing the famous “There can only be one” of MacLeod, the Highlander, building on its impressive VLAP experience and to definitively cut the grass from under the MLG of the 747-8F, the next move of Airbus should address the Second Modal Revolution, creating an AGA-liner, the dedicated air-freighter equivalent to the Triple E, capable of 26 AGA (= TEU) or minimum 350 metric tonnes cargo payload over 6,000 nm. Only 2 % (or 200 billion FTK) of the world’s containerised cargo transits by air, the remaining 98 % or 10 trillion FTK are moved by shipping (in TEUs or FEUs) proving that there is tremendous potential for a new tool capable of moving AGA-conditioned merchandise by air at around or less than 15 cents of an € per FTK.

    • What I tried to say was that whereas the A380 has successfully neutralised Boeing’s 747-8i and whereas family sequels A389 (NEO ? + Combi ?) will successfully contain 779 dissemination, there is still some life in the 747-8F, Airbus being a brilliant absentee (A332F excepted) on the dedicated freighter segments, where Boeing has a variety of offerings 767F, 777F and 747F. Opposite these, a feeder freighter A321F, more A332F but more importantly an imposing Ultra-Freighter for East-West AGA air-bridge operations, would be a correct way of celebrating the 10th Anniversary of the A380 : summimg up, Airbus did a VLA once … DO ONE AGAIN, BETTER AND BIGGER, for freight !

      • OK, here’s a suggestion for an A380 derived freighter (i.e. A380-300XF)

        First, raise the floor of the upper deck by about 30″. The upper deck would then be able to handle the same height containers as that of the lower deck (i.e. 64″ vs. 96″). That would mean that the main deck could handle the same 10 ft (120″) high pallets and containers as that of the 747 freighter — the main difference being that the ones going on the A380-300XF would not have to be contoured on the top.

        Second, redesign the forard section of the Aircraft by putting an A400M-type cockpit section on the upper deck of the A380-300XF, and then, add a hinged 747-type nose for a front-loading cargo door. Add a center main gear 4-wheel bogie and increase MTOW to around 650 metric tonnes, but use next generation engines and the same aero enhancements possibly developed for a next generation A380 – as described in a comment of mine down thread – and you’ll have a freighter capable of carrying upwards of 250 metric tonnes.

        ———————–Structural Payload Capacity
        747-8F———————–140 tonnes——-
        A380-800F——————150 tonnes——
        An-225———————–250 tonnes——-
        A380-300XF—————–250 tonnes*——

        * Estimated

        • I’d move the cockpit out of the way completely a la Beluga. Always thought of the Beluga as genius.

        • What we need to do is make an airfreighter that we’d go sell to international shipping, not to Cathay Pacific Cargo or Korean Cargo or Lufthansa Cargo etc. It should carry ICAO TEUs (AGA), not ULDs or any other special-to-“Paxliner-F”-typed (whether Airbus or Boeing) pallets/igloos. Big-scale logistics is about standardisation … and the standard is TEU (AGA in an ICAO context). For the 747-8F, the Payload-to-MTOW ratio is 0.307 … I’m looking to raise this parameter to around 0.40 or higher ?

          Airbus have proven the world’s VLAP Leaders with A380 … the next move should be to challenge Boeing down from their pedestal as the current Freighter Leaders. Airbus can do it ! The question is : do they have the guts to produce a really efficient freighter mastodon to go for Modal Change Nº 2 high style full speed all sails out ???

          • The Payload-to-MTOW ratio for an A380-300XF would be 0.38 and be far less costly to develop than an all new one.

          • @ OV-099 : by what engineering magic would you achieve this feat, starting off from the known design Payload-to-MTOW ratio for the originally planned A380F which was 0.26 ?

          • @Frequent Traveller

            As you probably know, the A380’s wing is sized for a MTOW of over 650 metric tonnes, while the A380-800F was supposed to have a MTOW of 590 tonnes. So, the first thing to do is to increase MTOW to 650 tonnes. Then, we have to add a fifth centre main gear 4-wheel bogie, for a total of 24 wheels (i.e. 20 wheels on 4 bogies on the current A380). Next, we’d like to lighten the load on the upper deck by raising the floor by some 2 ft over that ove the current A380 and thereby optimising the upper deck for smaller containers and pallets; or the same type of 64-inch tall pallets/containers that are used on the lower decks of all current wide-bodies save for the 767. The upper deck of the A380-800F was supposed to carry 96-inch tall containers which would have required significant heavier re-inforcements than what is required for 64.inch tall pallets/containers. The upper deck cargo door would have roughly the same position on the upper forward fuselage as was planned for on the A380-800F. By raising the upper deck floor by some 2 ft. you’d be able to carry the same 12 ft. (i.e. in height) containers that the 747 freighter can carry (i.e. 12 ft on the 747 vs 10ft on the A380.-800F). As I’ve already mentioned, I would put an A400M derived cockpit section on the forward upper deck, a nose door for the main deck immediately below the re-positioned cockpit. The clue is to design for a much higher MZFW, which would re-make the A380-800F from what was essentially a package freighter, into an A380-300XF which would be a general purpose freighter, just like the 747F. The original A380-800 F suffered IMJ from not enough payload capability as a function of OEW, and too much range capability; or too much plane for the mission. Remember, the A380-800 is really just the “A318-version” of the A380, and a shrunken Aircraft is never structurally efficient – and an A380-300XF would obviously be stretched as well.

            Hence, an A380-300XF would be like a general purpose freighter on the main deck, but in contrast to the 747 freighter it would have a huge additional payload carrying capacity with the full upper deck being able to carry the same type of pallets as on the lower deck.

            Now, by adding all of the features that I envisaged in a separate post, for a second generation A380 (i.e. new engines, composite wing covers, aerodynamic refinements such as folding wing tips etc), significantly less fuel would have to be carried than what would have been the case with the A380-800F.

            So, by dividing 250 tonnes (payload) by 650 tonnes (MTOW), we get a Payload-to-MTOW ratio of 0.38.

          • @ OV-099 : you’re almost convincing me … but we are in 2015 and such an Ultra-Freighter venture if launched now would be for EIS around 2024 … and we’re doing no better than the Mriya, that first flew in December 1988 ? If we assume that we’ll want a power setting (klbf)-to-MTOW(mT) ratio of 0.55, your A380-300XF would require 650 x 0.55 / 4 = 89.4 klbf per each engine, but why wouldn’t we take advantage of the latest technology powerplants of 2024 (Rolls Royce Advanced or scaled-up P&W GTF) in the 110-to-130 klbf class and we would be able to take off with 110 x 4 / 0.55 = 800 metric tonnes up to 130 x 4 / 0.55 = 945 metric tonnes, which would guarantee a payload of (800-to-945) x 0.40 = 320 mT-to-378 mT (if we know how to design good aircraft ?) and we’d have something to be proud of. The scaled economics of such an Ultra-Freighter would drive FTK costs down to below 20-15 cents of an Euro, which is what we want to shoot for ?

            I mean, if we’re here to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the A380, let’s uncork the right Champagne bottle, don’t you agree ?

          • @Frequent Traveller

            Nice ideas, but an A380-300XF, and further derivatives, would still be far cheaper to develop than an all new freighter.

            Also, there’s actually an enormous growth potential for the A380 platform. For example, you could add a sixth centre main gear 6-wheel bogie, for a total of 30 wheels (i.e. 20 wheels on 4 bogies on the current A380-800 and 24 wheels on 5 bogies on the conceptual A380-300X). With 50 percent more main gear wheels than the A380-800, you could increase MTOW to 900 metric tonnes; or twice that of the MTOW of the 747-8F. A MTOW of 900 tonnes would require more wing area, so stretch the centre wing box by two fuselage frames for a chord-wise wing insert combined with a wing span extension to 110m (i.e. with folding wing tip option), leading to a wing area of about 1000m2 and wing aspect ratio of 12.1. Finally, you could stretch the aircraft to well over 100m. With a Payload-to-MTOW ratio of 0.4, such a beast could carry 360 metric tonnes of cargo. 🙂

          • Now you’re talking … 360 metric tonnes payload, 900 tonnes MTOW, we’re coming close to the Ultra-Freighter !? But I’m a little nervous about structural resilience, z-x bending moments etc when you propose to double the monoplane wing area and extend the fuselage to 100 meters. You’re also somewhat unclear as to the AGA-capability (number, unit MGW) and load/unload operations where we want to use a (shipping type) high-load bridge-crane, for quicker docking turn-around time. I suppose you are planning to lodge the AGAs longitudinally by two, side-by-side … 86 meters (useable x-length) that’s 3,386″ or 14 TEU, times two, gives 28 TEU on main deck (plus room for x-latching and y-latching) … On top we’ll have room for quite a number of LD3 on lower deck and possibility for general purpose cargoes on upper deck ? Or would you leave upper deck empty as impractical for cargo service ?

            In my own view, such a beast should need a Prandtl wing, for high lift, improved aerodynamic control and structural resilience combined. The high wing could be an A350 wing without pylons, with U-junctions at the tips in lieu of sharklets ?


          • Ok, it doesn’t have to be 100m long. 88m would be fine. 🙂 Such a beast would have the capability of carrying 24 IATA ULD code, AGA 20-ft box containers deck (96″ x 238.5″ x 96) or 24 IATA ULD code, PGA 10-ft high 20-ft flat pallets with net (96″ x 238.5″ x 118*) on the main deck (i.e. 12 containers/pallets side by side); 60 Ld-3s on the lower deck and 25 Ld-9s on the upper deck.

            *In contrast to the 747 that can only nose-load 96″ high pallets/containers, an A380-300XF would be able to nose-load 118″ high containers/pallets.

            So, the maximum gross weight for all the containers/pallets carried on all three decks would be roughly 270 tonnes on the main deck, 100 tonnes on the upper deck and 90 tonnes on the lower deck — that’s 460 metric tonnes.

            Still assuming a Payload-to-MTOW ratio of 0.4 — and not the possibility of an even higher ratio — you’d have the option to operate both as a package freighter or as a general purpose freighter with relatively lightly loaded upper and lower decks.


          • Popppfffffff !! That was the Dom Pérignon Jeroboam I just uncorked to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the A380 … and the venue of an “Avant-Projet” of its sibling, the Ultra-Freighter, the dedicated AGA-liner and general purpose ULD-liner combined which will detronise Boeing from its Pedestal ceding airfreighter Leadership to Airbus SAS for the next 50 years, whereof 250 to 300 units will be sold to International Shipping, starting with Mearsk Line, Launching Customer, who will take fifty units for a start ?!

            He who has the tool, controls the Market. Each UltraFreighter will deliver approx. 2 GFTK per annum, costing – say – 18 cents of an Euro per FTK (annual production cost = 360 M€) but selling for 1€ (fruit/vegetables …) up to 18€ (ISPF – itemised, small, packaged freight, Kurier service, valuables …) per Kg of merchandise rendered West from East or v.v. totalling 1 G€ in annual revenues ?

            Long Life to the A380F Ultrafreighter, King of the Air ?!

  3. It is always interesting to look back on how things happened and decision were made at the time. Even more so over the last 10-15 years, because much of the documentation, discussions, opinions, editorials are still online and can be traced with Google. We can even read back our own views / opinions 10-15 yrs ago back. Re-writing history becomes harder, a great new dimension!

    IMO the 787 was a necessary move by Boeing and didn’t have much to do with the A380. Market analysts and sales forces of both Airbus and Boeing saw the medium twin long haul with belly cargo market booming. The 767-400ERX was done, 777 heavy and the LD3 capable/ big winged A330 hit bulls eye.

    The Sonic Cruiser discussions were going nowhere and airlines just wanted a 10-15% better A330. And so Boeing did, the Y2/7e7.

    The impressive A380 getting all the headlines, incredible 9-11, the tanker drama IMO let to a gung-go/ can-do groupthink (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Groupthink) within the Boeing camp, that formed the base for the 4 yrs up to EIS Dreamliner planning and severe over promising.

    Airbus sold 1000 A330s in direct competition with the 787 while congress steered the KC46 contract to Boeing, preventing a Mobile USA A330 final assembly line. Studies on A330 re-engining (RR, GP7000) have been going on since 2000.. so

    What if Boeing hadn’t launched the 787? ..


    • @Keesje,

      Why oh why do you continue to trot this out, proven wrong numerous times…
      “Airbus sold 1000 A330s in direct competition with the 787 while congress steered the KC46 contract to Boeing”

      Yet, no matter how many time you say it, doesn’t make it true.
      Since 2005, Airbus sold 817 A330s (not counting NEO), and even with the NEO…….wait for it……959. Not counting the freighter.

      And Congress didn’t “steer” anything. If you look, (and I know many people have given you the link) the USAF improperly “steered” the KC-X towards Airbus, prompting a re-bid. NG dropped out because they knew they couldn’t compete on cost, and in a proper bid process, Boeing won. Too bad. (And I actually thought Airbus would win it again…full disclosure)

      Like a poor marksman you keep missing the target….

      • The KC-46 did win on a strange metric to calculate the fuel burn rates. About 7 touch&go maneuvers for every mission were used.

        • The Air Force broke its own specs, they gave the A330T credit for fuel and cargo capacity that was not in the spec.

          They also ignored another spec on wing spacing.

          None of those in themselves are issues, but you can’t give a credit when it was not there to be given.

          Boeing then won on cost and both getting credit or lack of for the offering.

          The A330 is a wasted asset for 80% of the fueling missions which was its claim to fame (i.e. more fuel). Typically a tanker brings back a lot of fuel. Ergo having a lot more fuel to bring back is wasted. It takes fuel to carry fuel, more waste (or go light and then you have a larger airframe that burns more fuel)

          The US also does not operate the way other Air Forces do.

          We have tanker bases all over the world, you have flights coming through your region, you assign so many tankers to top them up and then they return to base. they do not carry cargo.

          Ergo, for most missions the A3330 cargo advantage is also a waste.

          That does not mean there is not a place fore a heavy y fuel (KC10) but that contest was for the KC135 replacement, not the KC10.

          Also its a bit of an understatement that not a great deal of confidence e in the A330T when the fuel boom falls off or gets knocked off very easily The US demands a bit higher standard (grin)

          Kind of a shame Europe won’t buy enough tankers to support Libya type operations and depends on the US, but then its been that way for a long time.

          • You are looking to much at refueling missions. The KC-46 will also be a wasted asset for 79 % of all refueling missions.

            “Typically a tanker brings back a lot of fuel.”
            The reason for this is a safety margin for the tanker himself to stay longer on station if needed and to provide more fuel to other aircraft if needed. Also most KC-135 are not able to be refueled.

            The Air Force did choose in the first competition the best aircraft offered: the KC-45.

            Just read what the Air Force wanted:
            “THE NEED FOR A FLEXIBLE TANKER” http://www.amc.af.mil/shared/media/document/AFD-070227-044.pdf (*)

            The problem with KC-135 is that this aircraft is hardly a cargo or a troop mover. That is the reason why the KC-135 did get so old: nothing to do except some refuelings. The KC-10 does all and the airframe is nearly done due to huge usage. ” Finally, up to 20 KC-10s also were assigned for pure airlift sorties, moving more than 3,800 tons of cargo and more than 4,900 passengers in this capacity.” (*)

            Boeing did win the final competition on pure KC-135 mission profiles because the KC-46 is closer to the KC-135 but not the best aircraft for future KC-X missions as mentioned here (*). Touch & go is today trained with simulator and the US Air Force also had an RFP for KC-X simulators. You won’t train touch & go with troops or cargo aboard. Moving around troops or cargo will be the main job for KC-X so the fuel burn calculation was biased towards the less capable aircraft.

            The risk of delays was not priced in. The Australian KC-30A is ready today:
            Well, Boeing will with pleasure continue to maintain the KC-135.

            The future costs for maintenance of an out of production aircraft was not considered. The 767 will be much earlier out of commercial production than the A330. For a KC-46NEO only the US taxpayer will have to pay. First parts for A330NEO are already produced and maybe the A330NEO will fly before the first real KC-46.

            Finally the A330-200F (MTOW 242 t) can move more payload (79 t vs 78 t), 463L pallets (32 vs 18) and troops (228 vs 134) than a C-17. It is nonsense to use a C-17 to move pallets around the world with many stops or areal refueling while the KC-45 could have done it without refueling.

            Another thing is even the old A330 with 232 t MTOW can deliver more fuel at long ranges / long loiter times than a KC-10. So no need for a second type of tanker aircraft.

            It is interesting to see that “A380” related articles get always far more than 50 comments.

      • I’d be very careful criticising others when you seem utterly confused yourself.

        1st point; why do you say “since 2005”, when the 787 was formally launched on April 26, 2004, when ANA became the launch customer.

        2nd point; it’s harder to find Airbus cumulative orders than Boeing’s. For example, the A330ceo Wiki pages only have deliveries per year and not orders per year. However, if you take a look at page 2 of John Leahy’s A330neo presentation in the link below, you’ll see the A330’s cumulative orders since the A330 and A340 programmes were jointly launched on June 5, 1987. On the line graph, you’ll see that 657 A330s had been ordered by the time of the A350 XWB launch on December 1, 2006. The problem is that the same number for cumulative A330ceo orders reached by the time of the 787 launch, is not stated with an absolute value; so we’ll have to guess. I’d reckon the actual number is somewhere around 450. As the A330-ceo/-neo has now passed 1500 firm orders, it looks like your number of 959 units is plainly wrong. The correct number should be in the neighbourhood of 1050 firm A330-ceo/-neo orders since April 26, 2004.



        • The correct number should be in the neighbourhood of 1050 firm A330-ceo/-neo orders since April 26, 2004.

          Not quite, and I’m afraid that Neutron73, while – IMHO – wrong about other bits & pieces, is more on the money with his A330 sales numbers.

          Looking through the various spreadsheets I’ve saved off (see below for details), I get (pax only variants) the following for A330 sales between 787 launch and March 31st, 2015.
          A330 CEO only: Between 747 and 798
          A330CEO and NEO: Between 892 and 943.

          Here’s how I arrived at these numbers:
          Unfortunately, I don’t have Airbus’ end-of-year spreadsheet for 2004. But I do have every end-of-year spreadsheet since 2005 inclusive (except 2014, which I somehow missed, although I have the by-family breakdown of orders still available on airbus.com).
          The 2005 spreadsheet shows a cumulative total of 571 A330 orders as of 31-12-2005. For 2005 itself, only 7 new orders are listed. So as of 31-12-2004, orders stood at 567.
          Another spreadsheet – overview of orders & deliveries from 1974 to 2007, broken down by family – shows 51 total orders in 2004.

          So on April 26, 2004, the total number of A330 ordered was anywhere between 516 and 567.

          The latest spreadsheet (through March 31st) shows 1314 A330ceo cumulative orders, and 1459 cumulative CEO and NEO.

          PS: If anybody has the 31-12-2014 Airbus spreadsheet and could share it, let me know!
          I was sure I’d saved it off somewhere but can’t seem to find it.

          • “So on April 26, 2004, the total number of A330 ordered was anywhere between 516 and 567. The latest spreadsheet (through March 31st) shows 1314 A330ceo cumulative orders, and 1459 cumulative CEO and NEO.”


            Thanks for the data.

            According to Airbus, they have now 1501 firm orders for the A330*. Also, as Airbus usually likes to book orders at air shows – and finalise them by the end of the year – I’d hazard a guess that as of April 26, 2004, Airbus would have booked very few A330 orders for the year 2004 and would have waited to announce orders until the Paris Air Show of that year.

            Now, if you check out reply 119 in this link**,
            there were 64 orders for the A330 in 2005. Your reference of 7 A330 orders seems to be for December of that year only.

            So, as of December 31, 2005, there were 571 firm orders for the A330. Deducting 64 from 571 leads to 505 firm orders as of December 31, 2004. Further deducting 51 from 505, leads to 454 firm A330 orders as of December 31, 2003.

            Now, when were the 51 A330 orders booked in 2004? Again, I’d hazard a guess that not many were booked before April 26 of that year, which would seem to indicate that my original guess was pretty spot on. 🙂

            Hence, my conclusion that the correct number should be in the neighbourhood of 1050 firm A330-ceo/-neo orders since April 26, 2004, would still seem to stand.

            Airbus’ successful widebody A330 Family has passed the major milestone of winning over 1,500 firm orders from over 100 customers. Total sales to date (1,501) include a recent order for four A330-200 Freighters from Turkish Airlines and 25 A330-900neo from Air Lease Corporation.

            * http://www.airbus.com/presscentre/pressreleases/press-release-detail/detail/over-1500-orders-for-the-versatile-a330/

            ** http://dn-www.airliners.net/aviation-forums/general_aviation/read.main/2553114#menu102

          • Addendum

            Correction: 456 firm A330 orders by year end 2003 and 507 firm A330 orders by year end 2004 (i.e. instead of 505). 🙂

          • Addendum

            In 2004 the major air show was at Farnborough.

          • According to Airbus, they have now 1501 firm orders for the A330*.

            Yes, that’s the same number as is shown in the latest spreadsheet, but that includes freighters.
            So subtracting the A330F (42), I arrived at the numbers above:
            The latest spreadsheet (through March 31st) shows 1314 A330ceo cumulative orders, and 1459 cumulative CEO and NEO.

            there were 64 orders for the A330 in 2005. Your reference of 7 A330 orders seems to be for December of th
            at year only.

            Dang – you’re right. Missed the last line in the spreadsheet, which gives the totals for 2005. Embarrassing. 🙁

            That pretty much messed up my numbers – with your corrected numbers for 2003/04 I arrive at the following totals since April 26th, 2004:
            There were anywhere between 456 and 507 orders on April 26th, 2004, which gives us anywhere between 807 and 858 CEO between then and 31-03-2015, and anywhere between 952 and 1003 CEO/NEO. It’s only if you add freighters (which I personally wouldn’t, as they don’t compete with the 787) that you arrive 994-1045 total.

          • OV-99 – really does not matter. The A330 in flight fleet will begin to reduce and the number of 787 will increase. That is the way of the world. Whteher Airbus sells 100 per year for the next 5 years (which all know will not happen) the 787 will become the most used midiszed frame in the world. Here is why. The 787 sold more frmaes in a shorter period than the A330. Within 10 years the 787 has as many as the A330 had since 1987. The 787 saturation point will come far faster than any other aircraft in modern history. No program has a fleet as large as the 787 within first commerical flight. Between 2011 and today there are 267 frames in the hands of customers. The A330 never had that many deliveries in the same time window. Why, because the A330 has never delivered 10 frames per month. The A350 will never come close to the inservice fleet of the 787, and in 10 years the A330CEO will be hard to find at airports. The 787 will dominate gates. It happens, and it’s called evolution. Sorry, but you better hope Airbus comes up with a better widebody solution. Never understood how Scott claimed Airbus was the leader in widebodies when the total sales of A350s is less than total sales of 787. The A330NEO will never do anything but be a short period stop gap. 787s will dominate airports. Next round of major orders will be for 787-9s and maybe some A350s, but the 787 in service fleet will drive demand.

          • @anfromme

            Agreed, between 952 and 1003 A330-200/A330-300/A330-800/A330-900 ordered since April 26, 2004. I’d still hazard a guess that very few A330s were sold between January 1 and April 26, 2004 and that, therefore, Keesje’s statement that “Airbus sold 1000 A330s in direct competition with the 787”, is correct.

            Now, the OEMs themselves seem to include freighters, especially when they’re marking order or delivery milestones, which seems to be perfectly logical since from a production standpoint it doesn’t really matter if they’re manufacturing passenger carrying airliners or freighters — and manufacturing freighters helps the bottom line and product competitiveness.

            Boeing (NYSE: BA) has delivered the 1,500th 747 to come off the production line to Frankfurt, Germany-based Lufthansa. The milestone airplane is a 747-8 Intercontinental, the 14th one that Lufthansa will incorporate into its long-haul fleet.


            Airbus’ successful widebody A330 Family has passed the major milestone of winning over 1,500 firm orders from over 100 customers. Total sales to date (1,501) include a recent order for four A330-200 Freighters from Turkish Airlines and 25 A330-900neo from Air Lease Corporation.


            952 and 1003 CEO/NEO

      • “And Congress didn’t “steer” anything.”

        Outside the US the decision was immediately recognized as 100% political. Keeping Boeing valid as a strategic defense supplier to the USA. Congress made DoD change selection criteria to make the smaller 767 win. Boeing won according to a proper (new) bid process and has been busy re-writing history since.

    • Nice! Thanks for helping me start off my morning with a good chuckle.

    • @Neutron: I suppose Monday’s Pontifications defending the 787 was ghosted by Randy Tinseth?

    • Don’t like the message, ignore content but attack the source 😀

      • Yeah, like a certain group of people on here like to do to Richard Aboulafia and Daniel Tsang on a somewhat regular basis.

        • Yeah, like a certain group of people on here like to do to Richard Aboulafia and Daniel Tsang on a somewhat regular basis.

          Difference being that Aboulafia (don’t read Aspire that much, so not sure there) is quite clearly biased, while Scott and Bjorn (and Leeham on the whole) by and large aren’t.

          • So, is it OK to attack you because, in my opinion, you clearly show bias? Just wondering.

          • So, is it OK to attack you because, in my opinion, you clearly show bias? Just wondering.

            It’s ok to call out (perceived) bias and point out where one thinks somebody else is wrong.
            Does that really need clarifying?

          • @anfromme @Mike Bohnet: Stop it, both of you. Personal attacks are a violation of our Reader Comment rules. Period. This is the second warning. If I see another of this kind of exchange, you will both be suspended.


          • “Does that really need clarifying?”
            No. My question was rhetorical.

            Do I really need to clarify the difference between attacking someone and calling them out? Because, keesje quite plainly used the word attack, and so did I in my rhetorical question.

          • @Scott – Apologies. I think this was mainly a round of misunderstandings (well, speaking for myself, anyway).
            @Mike – Apologies as well, I missed the first round of references in the use of the word “attack”. The distinction between “attacking” and “calling out” that you made was actually exactly what I was after. 🙂

    • @Steve: it needs 10%-15%. PIPs can bring maybe 5%, perhaps a bit more; the rest of the cost reduction comes from more seats.

      • Can the wall thickness be reduced to make space for another seat abreast?

        • you are unhappy with 11 abreast ;-?

          … the evacuation test that established 853P+20C was done using a 10 abreast cabin.

          • 11 abreast with a wider seat would be even better. : )

            And 12 abreast for the sardine airlines …

  4. I don’t know how much of an advantage Boeing would receive if Airbus were to go ahead with an A380 NEO.

    Both aircraft manufacturers keep claiming there will be no new programs until 2030.

    Or is that a red herring by one, the other, or possibly even both?!

    • The A380 sales suffers from the good 777-300ER performance per seat. Airbus designed the A350XWB-1000 to be better than the 777-300ER and Boeing came up with the 777-9. Airbus can respond with the A350-1100 if they chose. The A380 most likely will go 2 ways, either a -800 with reduced mass and RR Trent7000 engines for the same routes as today maily for Emirates and Qatar or a A380-900 stretch with more pax, more range and even more effective RR Trent Advance engines making a stopover in Dubai not required for any route, an aircraft suitable for AF, BA, LH, SQ. By Paris Air Show we should know.

  5. “Both aircraft manufacturers keep claiming there will be no new programs until 2030.”

    If past experience means anything, I wouldn’t lean too much on those long term claims. It’s more like wishes for stockholders. 😀

    A few months after McNerney’s “no moonshots” statements, the MOM popped up. Same for Airbus, it just isn’t in its genes to send all the engineers home after the A350-1000, while Boeing takes the the 220-280seats <5000 NM segment.

    • “Same for Airbus, it just isn’t in its genes to send all the engineers home after the A350-1000, while Boeing takes the the 220-280seats <5000 NM segment."

      Airbus has been sending alot of engineers home since summer of 2014. Maybe there is still some work in Toulouse but if you don't have major experience in manaufacturing in Hamburg, you are out of luck.

      From what I hear, Seattle has also gone "silent running" engineeringwise the last 6 months.

      I am not referring to permanent employees, they won't be laid off until the bottom line really goes bad. But all the other contractors and engineers from the smaller companies are being released. A330 NEO and new Beluga variant won't bring many, if any, of them back.

      Agree thet 2030 is a long way off but I do wonder when a new program will be launched by either company. Even 2020 is a few years down the road.

      Who would still be around with experience with new programs then? 2030 would be even worse. Same mistakes, repeated again.

      • That’s true but only half the Story. I don’t know about Boeing, but at least for Airbus their design Engineering personal (not talking about production/process engineers!) consists of about 3/4 permanent employees (both in France and Germany). There is no other option in Europe anyway. They had additional time-based employees and external guys in the high days of A350 yes, and these are now gone, that’s true.

        But that still leaves about 3/4. What will they do? The A330neo? They better redesign it from scratch lol. That’s one reason I’m 100% sure the A380neo is close and it won’t be just a re-engineing.

        • “That’s one reason I’m 100% sure the A380neo is close and it won’t be just a re-engineing.”

          A re-engining, composite wing covers and 2 x 7.5 m folding wing tips should be able to lower trip fuel consumption by upwards of 20 percent – and then. a stretch or two…. (i.e. A380-900 and A380-1000)

          Add re-profiled, thinner fuselage frames just above the floor cevel of the main deck – in addition to a slight local increase in skin gauge – and raising the floor by some 5″; the effective internal width at seat level could be increased from 248″ to about 266″. That would mean 11 abreast with an 18″ seat bottom width, 2″ wide armrests and 20″ wide aisles. In comparison, the 777X will have 10 abreast at a 17,2″ seat bottom width, 2″ wide armrests and 18″ wide aisles. Hence, the A380 should relatively easily be able to handle 11 abreast comfortably (NB: I’m not talking about the 11 abreast A380 configuration — having a 777 type of comfort at 10 abreast — that was shown recently at the Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg).

          Hence, a properly done next generation A380 should have a fuel burn per seat and CASM that would be vastly superior to both the A350-1000 and 777-9X.

  6. I don’t think NEO’ing the Superjumbo is much of a problem for Airbus either financially or from engineering perspective. After 2017/18 there isn’t much for Airbus engineers to do anyway when A350-1000 has entered service, A320NEO is ready just like the A330NEO. They can proceed with A380NEO to be ready for service in 2020/21 and concurrently launch whatever new aircraft they need to do.

    I think the bigger problem is how to keep those engineers busy and their know-how intact within Airbus than the modest input that an A380 NEO will require.

  7. I can’t see how those clever people at Boeing can claim they tricked Airbus into the A380 unless they specifically knew about the program clusterf… that would drag them down to the current situation.

    • They didn’t need to know about the “clusterf…”. They just needed to know that the program would require so many financial, engineering and managerial resources that Airbus wouldn’t be able to develop another new plane in parallel, which would in turn give unfettered access to Boeing in the market for newer, smaller widebodies.

      • But that didn’t work out for Boeing either with their own colossal screw up. The 787 program consumed so much resources that it prevented them from bringing out a better narrowbody strategy. Did they trick themselves into it?

        Since the 787 launch, Airbus could actually be ahead of Boeing in terms of sales in the small widebody category space that the 787 was designed to fill.

        • Very true. Many people say that Boeing’s mistake with the 787 was to try and innovate on 2 fronts at the same time: the plane itself, and the supply chain.

          • The real problem lay with the downsourcing of design and supply.
            While Boeing had vast inhouse knowledge of both, it didnt know how to oversee the work when it was being done outside.

          • The 787 supply chain logic is somewhat similar to what GE did with the CF6-80C2 supply chain and the Risk and revenue sharing programs that became a big success commercially and tax wise for GE. James Mc Nearny did not clearly see the difference between the likes of MTU, Snecma, Volvo Flygmotor, RR, Fiat Avio and other RRSP on the CF6-80C2 to some of the partners he was involved in choosing on the 787. Now he sees…

        • A point to ponder…

          Were Boeing tricked into such a distributed supply system for the 787 by Airbus’s own system?

          • nope. American MBA school culture dictates an outsource everything model.

            In the American MBA model (speaking as someone who has one) can be simplified to 3 basic rules:
            1. The next quarter is the only quarter
            2. Employees are a cost center that should be eliminated wherever possible
            3. Outsource Everything

          • They tricked themselves into being cavalier about going there. They expected everything to magically self organize just from wanting it.
            Building bombastic cathedrals on roman foundations so to speak, only there were no roman foundations 😉

            I still wonder about some things. Was the (unavoidable to happen in near future) GFC factored into the Dreamliner timeline?

            How much effect did irregular market influencing ( aka bashing campaigns ) have?

  8. In a few years there will be “787, 10 years later.”
    Different programs, different hits and misses.

  9. Why no mention of the A340-500/600 in this historical narrative? It also sucked up Airbus resources to create a costly derivative that was to be the final nail in the 744 coffin. Boeing was able to surpass it with a cheap 777 derivative. The 777-300ER is still the best selling twin aisle single model.

    Both companies can be criticized for arrogance and contempt for their competitor.

    • Contempt?

      No, I think we leave that for a.net and here… 🙂

  10. @Scott, do you have opinions on why the A380 hasn’t been more successful? It is very much a known quantity to operate.

    In the finance world, larger risks are compensated by larger rewards (and losses). Emirates knocked that one out of the park. But if other airlines are more risk averse then that can still be solved (eg half the price/lease fee in return for the financer keeping half the rewards/losses).

    • In the case of the A380, is the reward proportionally larger enough than the risk to justify?

      For Emirates, it seems so, but likewise it seems other airlines are having a hard time making that case on more than a very small number of routes.

      It seems that unless you have extreme slot constraints (as at Heathrow) or a rather unique network (as Emirates) it is a hard case to make when you can get 2 777-300ERs for the same price and have equivalent profits with less capacity risk.

      • Are you sure you can get two 777-300ERs for the price of one A380? It is hard to find the exact prices actually paid versus the list price fantasy. Then there is also the operating costs to consider (double the number of pilots and crew etc).

        Cathay Pacific has many 77W flights close to each other between London and Hong Kong (at one point 3 flights within an hour!) Surely by every measure A380s would be better for that route?

        • They would need to have more than one route with the traffic to handle the A380. The 777’s can fly many routes
          Remember the 777 only really took off when the 777-300ER was indroduced about 10 years after 777 EIS. It was the maxx of its day.

          • The 777-200ER didn’t do too badly – 422 frames sold.

  11. Maybe Boeing did “trick” Airbus? Maybe the trick was SO good that Boeing failed to see the need to develop an airframe within their committed due date? Maybe Airbus was so pissed about being “tricked” they simply took the narrowbody market? Maybe Boeing was so busy moving its office to Chicago that it failed to develop a sound production plan for the 787? Maybe Airbus saw the pilot sleep at the wheel of the Dreamliner that it failed to do much about developing a sound strategy for its widebody program. Maybe the “tricking” is finally over and the suppliers will take take both compaines seriously and produce externals that actully meet performance specs on day one of commercialization? It’s time for the aerospace industry to stop thinking about “tricking” each other and producing products that meet performance requirements from day one. Hey Airbus, congrats on the A380 program, and what ever you do, think about what you want to accomplish in the VLA market segment. Please do it without trying to “trick” folks in to believing that you were not out to “fool” anyone with another warmed over NEO program. One where you pin all the responsiblities on the suppliers. If you do that, then all you’re really doing is trying to “trick” folks in to thinking you are an airframer. Hey, Boeing remember that engine cfm is developing for you for the MAX? Well guess who is going to have to figure out how to make that air frame meet performance targets? Stop trying to trick folks industry, build “excellent” airplanes please. It’s your job, and it’s not a game.

    • I often wonder the same thing.What if you were running in a race and didn’t worry about the other runners and just ran around the track fastest?I suspect that the A350mk1 would have been good enough but Airbus felt that they had to cover 787.A380 came about by trying to out do 747,which then forced their strategy with the 777.Obviously it’s a bit more complicated than that ,with companies trying to guess where the market will end up in 20years time.

  12. “IMO the 787 was a necessary move by Boeing and didn’t have much to do with the A380. Market analysts and sales forces of both Airbus and Boeing saw the medium twin long haul with belly cargo market booming. The 767-400ERX was done, 777 heavy and the LD3 capable/ big winged A330 hit bulls eye.”

    So what exactly did Airbus come up with?? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9TbRyhLJqT0 Wait, I think I found it. http://flightclub.jalopnik.com/the-first-a350-design-sucked-so-bad-that-airbus-had-to-1674122251/1674151207/+travis Conveniently you omitted the fact that the 1st version of the A350 was the A330 under the vale of “upgrades” and “improvements” and that even the former head of Airbus North America said “it was like putting a patch on a broken leg”. ouch ….

    “The Sonic Cruiser discussions were going nowhere and airlines just wanted a 10-15% better A330. And so Boeing did, the Y2/7e7”

    Or maybe airlines needed something better than the A340 or the 772A? (remind us how the moniker of 4 engines 4 the long haul turned out) Everyone who jumped the A340 and the 772A ship didn’t hop aboard the A330 ship.When the Sonic Cruiser was abandoned in 2002, orders were 24, 54, 51 and 64 the following for the same A330 that was offered during the same time period. So if in 2002 airlines wanted a 10-15% efficiency bump, why did Airbus wait until seven months into 2014 before they did the A330 NEO??

    “Airbus sold 1000 A330s in direct competition with the 787 while congress steered the KC46 contract to Boeing, preventing a Mobile USA A330 final assembly line. Studies on A330 re-engining (RR, GP7000) have been going on since 2000.. so”

    Airbus sold A330’s when the the now 787 was a mere thought. What’s the point of touting these figures when they don’t apply? The Airbus A330 has been selling since 1988 and delivering since 1993. Not the same thing.

    “What if Boeing hadn’t launched the 787? ..”

    What if the human brain weighed more than 3 pounds, what we do then?? Walk and talk with hung heads I guess. It’d make eye contact very difficult but guess what?? The human brain still weighs 3 pounds. The 787 was launched and there is no changing of the past. End of discussion. We can play the hypothetical game until our brains do weigh more than 3 pounds but whats the point??

    • Hi you don’t seem to fault any of the statements I made. Just putting your perspective around it.

      Why did A wait with a NEO? Because they were busy with A350 and A330 CEO proved good enough?

      • In 2002?? Come on Keesje. In 2002 they were not “busy” with the A350. Try again. And you can get away with telling someone else this falsehood but it’s industry knowledge that Airbus needed the NEO to bridge the production gap (lack of sales) because if they didn’t the 787 would have had the 240+ seat market for itself, not the way you’re spinning. Nice try.

        • 2002? Busy with A380, A400M? What do you want to say?

          If you were Airbus and you had a popular widebody rolling of the line at 10 a month. Airlines asking for enhancements and an Engine OEM willing to pick up the check for the upgrade, what would you do?

          Forced? it really was a no brainer to not let a die a cash cow. Regardless of what Boeing was doing.


          Rotate thank for linking the Youtube. Few Boeing people want to be confronted with what proved to be misplaced arrogance. The A330 didn’t even need those “787 engines” to sell 800 since 787 launch.. Hard to digest I guess.

          • You’re incredible lol so let get this right Airbus 12 years to develop the NEO because it grappling with the issues from the A380 and the A400M?? All this coming from a company that has manufacturing in France Spain and the UK, assembly lines in Europe and Asia and now the Americas yet it took 12 years to develop an engine upgrade, most of which the sole OEM (RR) will finance?

            The A400M is built completely separate from the rest of its civil counterparts. How you managed to co-mingle the two is amazing. 2 thumbs up.

            Lastly, I have skin in the game so if X orders 90 779’s or if Y buys 120 A380’s great because I’m invested in both companies. My allegiance is to aviation not a type of aircraft or a
            aircraft manufacturer. I’m just calling bs on what you want me to believe in your colorful rants. As I don’t want to further derail this blog posting, I’m withdrawing from our debate. Good day.

          • @rotate: “You’re incredible lol so let get this right Airbus 12 years to develop the NEO because it grappling with the issues from the A380 and the A400M?? All this coming from a company that has manufacturing in France Spain and the UK, assembly lines in Europe and Asia and now the Americas yet it took 12 years to develop an engine upgrade, most of which the sole OEM (RR) will finance?”

            What’s so hard to understand? 2000-2005 A380 and, yes, A400M were fully occupying resources, 2005-2010 you had A380, A400M and A350 (various iterations) keeping us busy, 2010-2015 was mostly A350XWB with some A330F and A320neo thrown in… attention has only been paid to A330neo fairly recently.

          • @rotate ….

            The Trent 7000 engine is based on the Trent-1000-TEN and will have an 11 percent fuel improvement vs. current A330 at powerplant level. The case for re-engining a platform is much stronger when you can offer an engine that’s at least 10 percent more efficient than the one that is being replaced. That wasn’t the case in the time period that you’re talking about.

            Airbus knew early on that the initial 787 engines had a significant performance shortfall. Why should they have decided to re-engine early on with an engine that would clearly be improved over the course of a decade? Also, the A330 platform has seen continuous performance upgrades since the launch of the 787. Only now with the 242 tonne version and the forthcoming aerodynamic enhancements and new Trent-7000 engine, will the A330neo become a formidable competitor to the 787.

            So, why do you insist of making too much ado about nothing, when considering the fact that Airbus has managed to sell more than 900 A330ceos since the launch of the 787.

            Even the latest GEnx PIP-II engine installed on the United 787-9 delivered earlier this month, however, falls short of Boeing’s original promise to airlines. Judging by GE’s lead over R-R in the 787 order backlog, the performance of the Trent engine has not been enough to usurp the GEnx.

            The Trent and GEnx performance shortfalls were apparent well before either version was delivered to a customer. A leaked Airbus dossier on the 787 in 2008 included the prediction that both engines would miss the specification by 2-3%. As the original Trent 1000 and Block 4 entered service, the 3% shortfall became the baseline estimate used by both companies.

            GE and R-R then designed a series of performance upgrades to reclaim the specification target. R-R has already rolled out Package B and C standards, with the final 1000-TEN configuration scheduled to appear in 2016.

            GE, meanwhile, followed the Block 4 standard with the PIP 1 design, which included a revised LPT. GE had introduced lightweight titanium-aluminide blades in the LPT section of the GEnx engine, believing it could reduce the blade count significantly and lower the weight of the engine compared with the preceding GE90.

            That estimate proved to be too aggressive by about 30% of the LPT blades that would ultimately be required to manage the airflow. The PIP 1 programme corrected the error with a more robust LPT blade count.

            GE advertised that the PIP I would reclaim 1.4-1.6 percentage points of the 3% performance shortfall from the specification. A second upgrade – the PIP II design – was supposed to push the performance to nearly match Boeing’s original fuel burn target. With the LPT improved by the PIP 1 programme, GE now focused on improving the high-pressure compressor section in the PIP II design.


          • @OV-099

            “So, why do you insist of making too much ado about nothing, when considering the fact that Airbus has managed to sell more than 900 A330ceos since the launch of the 787.”

            Hmmm……I wonder where you got THAT number from? Some guy….up-thread, OMG what was his name?!?

          • Why don’t you fish or cut bait?

            And you aren’t able to debunk that number, are you? – I thought so!

  13. Insofar as hubris, Boeing has that market coverage. Inside Boeing they’re trying to scare engineering with “cost comes first” and making powerpointless charts showing how the A team has taken market share. Well if you force your best asset to focus solely on cost you sacrifice the ability to respond with a flexible platform for future derivatives and improvements. You can’t put lipstick on a pig and say it’s a queen of anything. They need a platform for the next 60 years in a new 737 757 replacement family. If you force cost too much, you go the way of McD.

  14. Not a very balanced piece Scott or an accurate assessment for that matter in my humble opinion.

    If the blog doesn’t work out for you, you can always get a job in the PR department at Airbus.

    • KyleMooz, feedback on the content is always much more constructive and informative for the audience as well as less injurious for the author than ad hominem invectives.

      Respectfully yours

    • @KyleMoz: And Monday’s Pontifications defending the 787 is a Boeing PR piece, I suppose….

    • @KyleMoz

      Just curious, but would Fox News qualify as (fair-) and balanced in your view?

      As for blogs related to civil aviation, I’m not aware of any that are very pro Airbus, but I could name a few that are very pro Boeing and exceedingly hostile towards Airbus (i.e. verovenia.wordpress.com, http://www.strategicaeroresearch.com, https://o530w77waviationfact.wordpress.com etc.)

      Finally, as for demanding “balance”; isn’t that a typical trait of the American right?

      The media, in attempting to offer “balanced stories” does a disservice to the public and policymakers by giving small handfuls of climate change contrarians significant attention despite the fact that nearly all climate scientists agree that climate change is underway and that it is human-caused. When they share equal airtime it sends the message that the science is more uncertain than it is. The questioning of science by the American right wing clearly does not accurately reflect the scientific consensus, and is detrimental to those interested in moving our economy down a sustainable path. Why then does the media still give skeptics equal amount of air time?

      This question was recently asked by an independent body in Britain, the BBC Trust, calling on BBC to stop misleading viewers into thinking that the “debate” on climate change is equal. While critical opinion should not be ignored, they stated, a minority of unqualified skeptics should also not be portrayed as having the same weight as the majority of professional climate scientists.


        • http://is.gd/V8UUsB

          Airbus A380: Celebrating A Decade Of Failure – With More To Come

          Posted on April 28, 2015

          ◾A380 Will Never Breakeven, Let Alone Be Profitable
          ◾777-9X Still Superior To Any “A380neo” Concept
          ◾A380 Biggest Financial & Industrial Flop Ever Seen In Commercial Aerospace

          • Saj was helluva hostile towards the GTF. Could never really understand that.

            Vero Venia bangs the sales on the A380, which realistically, are nowhere near the 1500 20 GMO forecast – in either Airbus’ current VLA leadership vs the 747-8i (about 92%) or Boeing’s aim at 50% of the market.

            I have always thought the A380 was launched too early, I have written so in comments on Saj’s blog at some point, and I think at Vero Venia too. My argument was linked to BRIC performance and the massive demand for air travel these countries could possibly generate with their really unprecedented economic surge. We don’t know where the BRICS are headed now.

            Also, in past discussions, I read many comments that said the A340-600/-500 was a relatively cheap undertaking for Airbus – specifically that it was cheaper than the 777-300ER/-200LR. This aircraft had a wing chord extension, four fuselage plugs (-600), wing tip extension and new empennage. The -300ER had mostly upgauging for the higher weights — most of the structural certification effort was covered earlier on the lead 777-200 in 1994, then on the stretch -300 in 1997.


            A380 issues are two fold, early program trouble in execution, and then the weak market. (Does the 747-8i echo the weak market, or is it being hurt by Boeing’s own 777-9?) People make the mistake of equating the A380 with the 787 – it’s really in industrialization that Boeing has slipped, and slipped badly. The orders for the A330, A350 & 787 clearly show very large demand for this category airplane — the A350 + 787 orders show demand for much more efficient airplanes. Market performance is more closely matching Boeing’s CMO than Airbus’ GMO — and even Boeing’s VLA forecasts are a bit optimistic.


            Given Boeing’s current management style and labour relations – well articulated by Ted Piepenbrock in his Theory Towards the Evolution of Business Systems/Enterprises – aka Red-Blue – and given that the 777-9 will have a new composite wing, fuselage stretch and new guts, systems, one should expect it to be a relatively expensive program — even as the company absorbs huge lessons from its 787 experience – both technically in materials and efficient design and, industrially in execution. The program will struggle to match the hassle-free introduction of the -300ER. It must meet performance guarantees while being delivered by a labour force that it not particularly in the best of spirits – per media coverage.

          • The only thing Saj hates more than Airbus and GTF is CSeries and GTF.

          • Yeah, that site is really over the top. But, he was really right on A380 sales numbers and Airbus was way over-the-top with their predictions of VLA sales

          • There’s also the argument that the A380 killed the 747-400 – it happens a lot. If we can agree that the 777-9 is a threat to the 747-8i, then what really killed the 747-400 was the 777-300ER.

            Here’s proof.

        • Quite entertaining. Are you up for a challenge: find something Airbus positive from Saj.

          • Well, Saj seems to be in love with both Boeing and GE/CFM and he seems to dislike Pratt and GTF with a vengeance. In fact, I seem to recall that he’s been not too negative when he’s been talking about the combination of the A320neo and Leap-x vs. the C-series and the GTF.

            While Airbus seems poised to push ahead with re-engining the A320 family, more likely because it has no choice or money to go with a more comprehensive update due to its cash commitments on the A380, A350 and A400M – it is likely that Boeing will sit on the sidelines to come up with something as game-changing for the narrowbody market in the same way as the 787 has been a game-changer for the widebody market,” aerospace analyst Saj Ahmad at London-based FleetBuzz Editorial.com lamented.

            “To that end, the relationship that Boeing has with CFM International as well as the room for improvement on the current CFM56-7BE engine, Airbus could find itself saddled with a GTF engine that delivers less than 9% better fuel burn while incurring $2 billion or more for that privilege and Boeing could achieve the same without a new engine, thereby increasing commonality for operators and keeping the costs down. That is far more of an incentive for buyers than is Airbus’ proposals and it resonates because we haven’t exactly seen a queue of customers banging on Airbus’ door to get the GTF engine given that it is still laden with performance issues that Pratt & Whitney simply chooses not to want to discuss. One only looks at the pathetic sales of the CSeries to see that the GTF is as big a problem as the airplane and that’s why airlines won’t buy it,” Saj further explained.


          • Addendum

            Her’s another “gem” from Aspire in the link above. 😉

            Airbus’ Chief Operating Officer (COO) Customers John Leahy, however, counters that “if we followed the advice of some leasing companies, i.e. ‘No Change’, we would still be flying 727s and consuming twice as much fuel,” Leahy claimed.

            “We, as an industry, have an obligation to be as fuel efficient and environmentally friendly as possible,” Leahy stressed.

            Well, Leahy’s comments can very well be regarded as irrelevant and misleading as former ILFC CEO Steven Udvar-Hazy’s point is that any new airplanes have to bring “meaningful” operational efficiency and fuel-burn improvement to make the billions of dollars of investment worthwhile.

            Though the scenario of Boeing launching a clean-sheet narrowbody design is increasingly unlikely as there is a very strong possibility that Boeing will stick to its approach of continuous fuel-burn improvements, with Aspire Aviation‘s sources indicating that a re-engining program would only deliver “less than 9%” of fuel burn improvements on the A320.

            Should this be the case, Boeing will have significant strategic advantages in the sense that the cost of upgrading its 737NG (Next-Generation) family aircraft is minimized while delivering the same fuel-burn improvement through continuous improvement without any significant changes to the fuselage, wings and the complexities of adding new engines.

            Meanwhile, Boeing can very well focus on developing the game-changing “2nd-generation” or even the “3rd-generation” composite technologies where the current bottleneck of little weight-saving when the use of Carbon Fiber Reinforced Polymer (CFRP) is scaled down can be resolved.

            In doing so, Boeing could potentially revolutionize the narrowbody segment once again just as the 787 Dreamliner does and make the A320 NEO as well as the Bombardier CSeries obsolete overnight.

            Indeed, this will be the worst nightmare for Airbus when taking the stretched engineering resources within the world’s largest planemaker into account and particularly so when the schedule of its A350 XWB program is already slipping in light of the around 6 tonnes overweight in its fuselage which facilitates further strengthening in the wing structures, Aspire Aviation has learned.

            Therefore launching the A320 NEO program risks a dilution of engineering resources which may potentially result in a further slip in the A350-900’s Entry Into Service (EIS) and hamper the weight-reduction efforts undergoing on both the A350 and A380 superjumbo programs.

      • OV: Thanks for the references – I will gratefully admit that until now I had never come across a site with such blatantly written ‘truths’ about aviation. Aviation’Fact’ has been bookmarked and its comments will provide me with much gratuitous humor and pleasure in the future!

        • Well, I stumbled upon that blog some time ago. It sure is hilariously entertaining, to say the least. 🙂


    • CFRP still hasn’t really proven to be “all that” – and that’s before we start to see any effects of fatigue and ageing on these early CFRP fuselages. I’m genuinely curious to see if we caught everything!

  15. Very interesting and happy birthday to the king! Maybe, when we have a look to the sale, Airbus was right too early. However I don’t think Airbus would have reached a better sales level without the A380. First, it helped Airbus to build a real operational model, in a way jumping from the “handwork” to the industrial work. Of course it was painful, but a lot has been discovered and then improved during this project, allowing Airbus to deliver a nearly perfect A350. Second, it helped Airbus to gain credibility against a nearly 100 years old, famous and respected company. We should not forget that Airbus was created 50 years ago, with a mix of very different cultures while Boeing was already a fully integrated company. The A380 did not sell well, that’s a fact, but how many sales in other segments were done because it exists and show clearly the complete Airbus’ know-how? Third and last, the duopoly, by itself, always finds a balance point to more or less 50-50 market shares. I am European, and very proud of what was done with Airbus. However, I have a lot of admiration for Boeing, I do not think that we can tell that Boeing was right over Airbus or the opposite. They followed different strategy regarding the big-twin engines and VLA, but Airbus may be right in the future, it is mainly a matter of cycles. The main point is that no major competitor will emerge before 15 years on the twin-aisle market.

  16. The Aspire article’s always contains lots of information. He better splits them up. Btw the latest article seems to have a broader and more objective undertone then sometimes in the past.

  17. But why not take the cockpit and move it out of the way completely, a la Beluga? Then ad its door as well?

    • IMJ, the problem with a Beluga type nose would be the requirement for a specialised and expensive mobile rack for loading/unloading, whereas a 747-type nose door can use cheap, readily available automated pallet trucks, hydraulic ramps/lifts and forklifts for loading/unloading. Also, it would be pointless in making the nose door bigger than it needs to be (i.e. no point in nose-loading the upper deck).



      In reference to an A380-300XF as I described up-thread, you’d put the A400M-derived cockpit section on the 30″ raised upper deck floor. In contrast to the 747 freighter, an A380-300XF would have a full upper deck carrying the same type of 64″ tall pallets that you’d put on the lower deck – instead of the 96″ high pallets and containers envisaged for the original A380-800F – so, an A400M-derived cockpit section should fit rather nicely on the forward upper deck.

      • It was worth the try – of my comment. But a Beluga nose would allow access to both decks from a single point, with the main deck floor at a similar height to that of the 747. There would still be side cargo doors per the original Airbus design — they’d still have to figure out a cost effective way of moving upper deck cargo.

        In any case, whether the upper deck floor of the A380 gets moved, or a Beluga type solution for the aircraft’s nose is developed — or indeed a combination of the two, these discussions revolve around the fact that the A380 has clearly not been design optimized for both passenger and freighter markets – even the passenger version is found lacking here, especially against the big twins. But the 747 has. And the 747-8F is an increasingly efficient hauler of goods. Modifications to the A380 in this vain would be prohibitively expensive.

        • If you take a closer look at the 747, C-5, An-124 and An-225, you’d notice that the upper decks on these aircraft are much smaller in cross section than their main cargo carrying decks. In fact, the upper decks of the aircraft mentioned are only as wide as a single aisle aircraft as their fuselages are designed as double bubbles (i.e. partial bubble on the 747). The A380, on the other hand has, of course, a totally different kind of fuselage; an ovoid cross-section and twin aisles on the upper deck. As form follows function, the cockpit has by far the most optimium location between the upper- and main-decks, and therefore, is not located on the upper-deck as is the case with the 747. Furthermore, one should not that the shape of the forward fuselage on the 747 produces hardly any aerodynamic sound on the forward main deck, but that the location of the cockpit and shape of the 747 upper-deck is not optimal, which explains why the cockpit on the 747 is significantly more noisy than the cockpits of other wide-bodies, even with those beautifully curved front windows — and increased levels of aerodynamic noise would tend to indicate that drag is higher as well.

          Hence, there is a reason for why the A380 was not compromised in its design in order to fully cater to the air freight market as it is fully optimised as a passenger aircraft, first and foremost.

          Now, I can’t see why it would cost more to develop an A380-derived general purpose freighter (i.e. A380-300X) than a Beluga-type aircraft. You want front-loading for both decks – I don’t. You seem to be forgetting that the Belugas are flying around with unpressurised cargo compartments. In contrast, a large front door serving two pressurised decks would be a much more difficult engineering challenge. Also, I can’t see how you’d speed up loading/unloading. On an A380-300XF, you’d just use a special high loader that can reach the height of about 8.5m above the ground – and why shouldn’t such a high loader be cost-effective? NB: Illustration of a high loader on page 34 in this link:


          Finally, a 650 tonne A380-300XF wouldn’t burn much more fuel per trip than a 450 tonne 748-8F, and with a payload capability of 250 tonnes vs. 140 tonnes, the 747-8F wouldn’t look very efficient.

          The distinctive double-deck fuselage presented its own unique aerodynamic challenges, not least because no-one had ever to attempted to develop such a wide, blunt-nosed and ovoid cross-section of this scale before. “One of the design objectives was to maximise the width of the cabin, but minimise any ‘bad’ flow over the fuselage. There was a lot of work done in terms of optimising the flow around the doors and windows, and we have done well,” says Ogilvie, who adds: “There is virtually no supersonic flow over speeds up to Mach 0.89, and no shockwaves, which is really important.

          “Some of our customers want to belt along at M0.89, so we’ve deliberately gone out to make sure we’re shock free. We ended up playing tricks with the ovoid cross-section to get the flow to ‘go bad’ at M0.93. You have more ‘fatness’ up and down than you do in width, and the acceleration of the air from the nose is dependent on the curvature of the front fuselage. So we had to tailor the distribution of the curvature of the fuselage to maintain this acceleration,” he says. “We tried to make sure the velocity near the doors is as low as possible because the door areas can be susceptible to leaking and noise.”

          The nose shape was critical to not only helping achieve the correct aerodynamic flow lines, but also to helping obtain increased nose-up pitching moment. “After the mid-deck [cockpit location] was finalised in January 1998, we ended up with a shape that was flattened in planform with a more rounded look and less sharp curvature on the profile,” Ogilvie says. The mid-position also gave greater flexibility for the widest first-class cabin.




          • The 747 flight deck position was a trade-off sacrifice for a more optimum dual-use design. This was in the era of Concorde & the 2707. This is no different than the trade-offs that led to the A380 wing per the South African in that beautiful Flightglobal link you shared. Of course, a consequence of the 747 design is that you can’t load the same height cargo through the nose as at the side door — but you can load much longer items. The key advantage of this design approach is a more standardized design overall between the passenger and freighter variants. And this standardized design began to diverge only on the lengthened upper deck of the 747-300/-400 — although the -400F/-400ERF and -8F maintain the same upper deck length of the -100. (There was no -300F as the -300 was a -200 with a lengthened upper deck.)

            I didn’t forget that the Beluga is unpressurized – that was a trade-off. 😉 An A380-300XF with moved upper deck floor would be cheaper than a Beluga-nosed A380F, but it would still be a considerable investment, with a considerable design changes over the existing model, not including the new airport infrastructure need to support it.

            I’m Tim Clark, and I want that Beluga-nosed A380F. 😛 It will be interesting to see what Airbus does in terms of freighter aircraft going forward.

            There was news recently about raising the main deck of the A380 2 inches to better accommodate 11 abreast seating, but I sincerely doubt that such an exercise would be a walk in the park.

            As a compromise design, the 747 has worked exceptionally well, and has shown considerable longevity.

            Of course, the market has now moved beyond the 747 early turbofan era. It is now ETOPs-based. p2p now rules. And the 747-8 exists because of the -8F. Still, the 747-8 was not a cheap derivative.

  18. A reminder to everyone that personalizing comments and attacking others is a violation of Reader Comment rules.

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