Airbus exploring higher capacity A350

By Bjorn Fehrm

23 March 2016, ©. Leeham Co: Airbus is showing a select group of airlines a stretched version of the A350-1000. The idea is to get enough feedback from potential customers so that a decision to go ahead or not can be made during the summer. Airbus COO customers, John Leahy, told LNC at the ISTAT conference earlier this month that an announcement could be made at the Farnborough Air Show in July. Other sources say it might take longer.

We have covered the possibility to extend the A350-1000 to a longer 400 seater version in several articles over the years. The key question for Airbus is how large is the market for a dual aisle twin with 400 seats and has Boeing already covered a large part of that market with its 777-9?

What has changed now it that the A350-1000 is taking form on the Airbus Toulouse Final Assembly Lone (FAL) and Airbus can now see that the A350-1000 will hit its performance and weight numbers. Airbus also has a lot of learning from the A350-900 which makes it confident that an A350-1000 stretch can be made with rather small changes.


A key feature of the A350-1000 is that it’s very close in capacity to the Boeing 777-300ER, yet is considerable lighter. This gives the A350-1000 a distinctive performance advantage. Part of this is that the A350-1000 is made with more modern construction techniques and is equipped with a more modern engine, but a contributing factor is also that the fuselage meets the capacity requirements with only four door pairs.

The fifth door pair on the 777-300ER takes away passenger capacity and it also increases the aircraft’s empty weight. The present capacity of the A350-1000 is around 360 seats in a two class cabin. It would be possible to stretch that to 400 seats, still in a two class cabin, without forcing an additional door pair or additional emergency exits.

A350-1000 stretch

Over the years we have called a stretched A350-1000 the A350-1100. Leahy has said that it’s not a favoured name for the proposals that Airbus is right now presenting to airlines. We therefore call the proposed aircraft configuration the “A350 stretch.” Staying with four door pairs, the total length of the aircraft can only be stretched with around 4m before the distance between exit doors go beyond the allowed 60 feet. As no additional safety exits will be necessary, such an extension will increase the aircraft’s capacity to around 400 seats.

Leahy has said that the favoured engine alternative is a stretched variant of the A350-1000 engine Rolls-Royce TWB 97k. There has been information in media describing the Max Take Off Weight (MTOW) of the variant as going from 308t to 319t. When we feed our proprietary aircraft model with these data, we can see that it’s possible to make an A350 Stretch to 76 meters, which would only require 2-3klbf extra thrust from the engines. Such a thrust increase is available in the Trent XWB 97k. The core was resized in the upgrade from 93 to 97klbf. A 3% thrust stretch is therefore fully possible.

We can also see that the variant would still be very weight-competitive against the 777-9, having an empty weight of some 25t less. With a modest increase in empty weight and an equally modest increase in MTOW, the A350-1000 wing would need no changes. Wingloading goes from a moderate 670kg/m2 to just above 680kg/m2, well below the wingloading of the 777-300ER of 760kg/m2 and close to the wingloading of the 777-9 at 660kg/m2.

One can further assume that Rolls-Royce can offer slightly better specific fuel consumption for a Trent XWB with an EIS of around 2020. Airbus might also gain aerodynamically from having done extensive testing on the A350-900 and -1000 by then. When we feed our model with all this data, we get a range of the stretched A350-1000 which is within 200nm of the range of the A350-1000.

The base design of the A350-1000, which use rather modest values for wing and span loading, makes a stretch variant possible that keeps the range in the same bracket as the A350-900 and -1000 with a lowly 11t increase of the aircraft’s MTOW. Such a weight stretch is within the margins of components like landing gear, aircraft structure and engines, enabling a low cost upgrade project.


Airbus has the gradually gained the knowledge around the A350 platform that makes a stretch of the A350-1000 possible without major changes to the aircraft. By staying within the exit limits of four door pairs (max capacity 440 seats), a capacity increase of 40 seats is possible with minimal changes to other parts of the aircraft.

This would enable a 400 seat aircraft which has a 7,600nm range with a MTOW which is below 320t. This is a full 32t less than a competing Boeing 777-9 that has only a marginally higher passenger capacity. The lower take-off and empty weight would give an A350-1000 stretch around 10% lower trip costs and around 5% lower seat mile costs.

122 Comments on “Airbus exploring higher capacity A350

  1. Any airline that doesn’t want 10-abreast on the B777X will end up choosing the A350. It will be really interesting to see if a 9-abreast A350-1000/1100 is competitive against a 10-abreast B777X on a medium range route (Europe to US-West Coast), and if not if the difference can be compensated by achieving higher ticket prices. I would be willing to pay premium to not sit 10-abreast in a T7X.
    Wouldn’t this be a ideal use case for the proprietary performance model ™?

    If we go really long legs the T7X will probably prevail, but most cities aren’t 6500nm apart. Even the Middle East 3 fly dominantly routes below 5000nm.

  2. Do you think such a ‘stretch’/8000/1100/1000Plus result in the 1000 having a relatively short &/or niche life Bjorn?

    On a separate topic, do you know why Airbus has retained the XWB suffix? It made sense at the launch time but now? I always wondered whether they were pondering a 10 abreast UWB fuselage version to go with it so they’d got ‘comfortable’ 6 (320), 8 (330), 9 (350X) and 10 (350U) sections to play with.

        • Well, I was thinking along the lines of the A350-900, where Airbus allows operators to reconfigure their A350-900ULR to the standard long-haul A350-900 specification should they require it.

          • Since the 3 letter minkers seem to be favoured by Airbus, first XWB then ULR, I propose they use the name A350-1000 ULB for ultralong body for the possible new version?

    • The ‘XWB’ is purely a marketing term and not part of the model number. The models are A350-900 and A350-1000.

        • In most use cases the XWB will have the slightly more comfy seats in respect to the B competing model. ( 777x@10, 787@9. A350@10 is possible but will IMU remain an exception while the denser Boeing seating seems to be a necessity to meet advertised efficiency numbers

  3. Just a little nitpick, though. As you pointed out, a “maximum” stretch that would not require any additional doors would mean 7 frames in total (i.e. 7 x 0.635m = 4.445 m); 4 frames ahead of the wing and 3 frames aft of the wing. If the A350-1000 is stretched by 7 frames, the length of the fuselage would increase to 76.695 m on the dash-8000, while the overall length would increase from 73.79 m on the A350-1000 to 78.235 m on the dash-8000.

    length: 49ft 11.76 in

    • Hmm, that “length” wasn’t meant to be there. 🙂

      Anyway, it’s the length between doors 1 and 2 on the A350-1000. 4 frames is 8 ft. 4″ and 5 frames is 10 ft. 5″. Hence, one can see that a 5 frame stretch in the forward fuselage would slightly exceed the 60 ft. limit.

      • Aircraft fuselages also contain non full length frames where needed.

        • True. The A318, apparently, was shrunken by 4.5 frames over the A319.

      • Hello Bjorn, it is still mentionned in the ACAPS… but it’s old now… (2014)

        With only 4 pairs of door there will be no -1000 @ 10 ab in economy in typical high density layout…

  4. A350-1000 is available with an aditionnal exit as mentionned in the preliminary acaps

    Additional emergency exit :
    On the A350-1000, an optional type C exit is available between door 3
    and door 4.
    Its purpose is to meet emergency evacuation requirements for certain high density layout configurations

  5. Thanks Bjorn. Three questions:

    -Did you model the stretch with scimitar winglet additions? What effect on range/MTOW/thrust does the presence/absence of such winglets have?

    -What MZFW value do you use and how does MZFW range compare with the 777-9?

    -When you say “10% lower trip cost” do you mean fuel cost? COC? DOC?

    • Just as a global observation…

      You and others have written about the overrated advantages of CFRP application to fuselages. IIRC your writing primarily related to CFRP narrowbodies, where skin thickness is primarily set by minimum gauge for avoiding catastrophic ground-handling damage.

      Does the A350Stretch’s very significant weight advantage give us pause to reconsider how useful CFRP is in the fuselage? I can’t imagine any other reason that the stretch is so much lighter than a 777-9. Systems?

      I’d guess the weight savings in the fuselage are multiplied by weight savings related to wing bending moments and then – in a virtuous circle – to savings in MLG, engines, empennage, wing size etc.

      • As you suggest, obviously carbon is much more worthwhile the bigger the aircraft.Makes me wonder about a carbon A380 sized plane.
        Also, although I don’t work in aerospace, I suspect far more progress is being made in production and weight than most people realise. Whenever you take on a technical task its far quicker the second time you do it. The hundreds of small tricks and tweaks really make a difference. It’s when you introduce the second and third sets of tooling that you start to make big savings.
        It seems that Scott and Bjorn are seeing no sign of this in the figures so far, but I think it will come eventually and the benefits will live up to the early expectations.

        • “Makes me wonder about a carbon A380 sized plane.”

          Indeed. IMO this should be Airbus’ next step. Forget about the A350Stretch, do a clean-sheet VLA of a size somewhere between the 777-9 and A380.

          • A full carbon A380 is too expensive derivative. AI can extend the aft one piece tail structure fwd a few frames. The Alu and Glare sections can be replaced with Al-Li alloy. The wings are trickey, for a -900 stretch you want more fuel, the new RR Engines get heavier, you want more fuel and lower mas, they can extend the winglets upwards and downwards and fill with fuel, and you want a more slender wing all this leads to an all new all carbon wing, but the cost is too much unless made in Japan with government money. So most likely a tweek of the wingbox and more Al-Li and carbon in the wings besides tail high wet winglets made in the UK, maybe fully made in the UK with the RR Engines and maybe nacelle all sponsored with UK government Money.

      • I know this is a 777 article, but on the topic of CFRP cost and weight savings…

        the very real advantage that the A350 has over the 787 is manufacturability and repairability due to Airbus’s choice to go with panelized CFRP rather than monolithic tubes.

        in exchange for a small weight penalty (vs 787 style tubes), Airbus doesn’t need to build gigantic sections that need gigantic autoclaves to hold one section, instead they can shove an entire plane’s worth of panels into the same autoclave volume/time and a field repair is just a panel replacement. their fuselage assembly procedures don’t change dramatically from the well understood processes of the last 50 years.

        this will result in a long term structural (business structural) manufacturing cost advantage and probably longer economic lifespan for the A350 vs the 787 due to dramatically lower repair costs.

        • I don’t think I repair techniques will be much different, A350 panels look to be too big to replace.

          • Too big to replace as a whole, but I’d imagine that you can reduce the amount of intrusive skin cutting and reinforcements that is needed if you work along the existing panel edges depending on the location of the repairs.

        • Airbus doesn’t need to build gigantic sections that need gigantic autoclaves to hold one section, instead they can shove an entire plane’s worth of panels into the same autoclave volume/time

          Of course Airbus needs more time to assemble those panels into a tube, thus negating the autoclave volume/time.

          And as grubbie pointed out, repair techniques will be much similar.

          • Bilbo:

            We have castigated Boeing for their nonsense, lets not start putting out Airbus nonsense.

            You are not going to replace and entire panel that covers 1/6 of the aircraft when you can simply patch it. Totally illogical, its more economical to tear off 1/6th of your aircraft (pulling fasters out) then refasten it ? vs mixing up some epoxy and patching it?

            The claim was Boeing would have to replace an entire fuselage sections.

            That was proven completely bogus when they repaired the Ethiopian 787.

            I respect Airbus for what they have done but turning a bug into a feature is more spin nonsense. Really its turning a technical limitation into a feature but the same idea.

            In this case, Airbus got caught with its pants down and did not have an answer to Boeing spun fuselage (for better or worse).

            Ergo panels and the frame duplication of an alumni structure aircraft.

            That said they have done a brilliant job of it and come out with a more than competitive aircraft and flexible as well.

          • “The claim was Boeing would have to replace an entire fuselage sections.”

            You can find enough research on “Howto patch big 2D CFRP items”. Was bogus for both types from the get go.

            “That was proven completely bogus when they repaired the Ethiopian 787.”

            Though I’d still like to know how much that cost. ( In real effort not what was billed.)

            “In this case, Airbus got caught with its pants down and did not have an answer to Boeing spun fuselage (for better or worse). ”

            Inserting frames into a long tube probably is not an easy way to either. Everything has to go in at the small end 🙂
            If Airbus does the section assembly like they do on the A320 … I already know who has the simpler and more cost effective method in use.

          • Uwe:

            You really don’t, what you are missing is that spun allows a dramatic reduction in hand work and fasteners.

            What it does is add technical Burdon but so do computer systems and IT management.

            Ultimately the decider will be what system is most cost effective (and then out of auto clave curing comes along and changes that)

            I hope Bjorn weighs in on the two systems.

          • “You really don’t, what you are missing is that spun allows a dramatic reduction in hand work and fasteners.”

            I don’t think that I am missing anything.
            I just don’t drink Cool Aid 🙂

            Sure, that is “duh! simple, obvious to the untrained eye” …
            … and wrong.

            I don’t think that I am missing anything.
            I just don’t drink Cool Aid 🙂

            IMU Airbus has the more productive workforce. So they obviously seem to know how to go the “efficient” way.

            I’m still waiting for a fastener count comparison ( and how many of those go in via automatic/robot placement.)

          • I don’t think that I am missing anything.
            I just don’t drink Cool Aid

            Uwe, you drank the Airbus Kool Aid.

        • I liked this approach way back when for your reasoning and as it can be more easily retro-adopted to other aircraft lines like the a320/330/380… At any time in the future.

          What Airbus will learn as the a350 matures will stand to it as neo’s become next gen.

          • If you are saying you can sub in one for the other you are not correct.

            Each piece has its own characteristic and you can’t just swap them out.

  6. Hopefully will Airbus spend some time and Money on the -8000 wing as the -1000 wing is a modified increased chord -900 wing. Hence a -8000 optimized slender 80m span pair of wings would fit nicely, as they are made of prepreg the ATL and tooling in Germany can get a -8000 plug for taping up this optimized wing. Then Boeing really have to push GE to deliver on the GE9X Engine to compensate with better SFC to match Airbus lower empty weight. For Airbus is it much easier to do the -8000 than the A380neo.

  7. I think a straight forward A350 stretch trading range for capacity makes most sense. Recent history shows Airbus probably won’t go that road. Airbus will probably prefer investing in modifications to match A350-1000 range and useful payload (cargo) requirements. Airlines mostly are the drivers for this. They want a bigger option without compromising flexibility in their network.

    “Any airline that doesn’t want 10-abreast on the B777X will end up choosing the A350.”

    Conventional wisdom is airlines / passengers really don’t care. Or that is what Boeing and high density operators want us to believe. Because they have no plan B. Here comes in new media, increasingly everybody can give opinions, comment on discomfort, even real time.

    Travel experience is easily found and does influence purchase behavior. Guess who pays all the aircraft, fuel, crew & board members..

    SQ going A350 all the way & moving 787s to Scoot is a early sign, simply ignoring / downplaying / mystifying passenger comfort is so nineties..

    I think Boeing will end up offering a 300 seat variant with A380 comfort levels and A359 payload-range.. The 787-10 and 777-8 ain’t good for that.

    • Keesje: You are getting too practical, I hope to see a return to the pie in the sky double bouble boiled and troubled fuselage added to the A350 asap (grin)

      Agreed, its the right competitive thing to do, cost effective.

      Where that gets you market wise is going to be interesting. Maybe not large, but a nice supplemental to the lineup.

    • I think it will be a nearly straight stretch. No reason to increase range as the driver of range requirements is freight, which is looking more and more like yesterday´s industry. A stretch and toilets in the hold make it enough.

  8. The question is, how big will the market be to support a third member in this category of large twins?How many sales of a stretched version of the A350 will be necessary to justify the development? Are 150 copies enough, or 250? How many additional sales will the Boeing model see in the next five years or so? Also 250 copies or much less, because it is so heavy?

    • It seems under 100 is worth it.

      Boeing did the 747-200 SP (?) not many of those shrunk 747s.

      You would think over the life of the A350 program 150 would be achieved.

  9. Bjorn,
    This interesting marginal analysis of the A350 Stretch makes me think that you could enlighten us with similar calculations regarding a CS500 version of the C Series. For a start, considering the C Series’ wing passed the 150% load test without breaking, one has to assume a CS500 would use the same wing.

    • The next C-series stretch might be the CS400 and the CS100 be renamed CS500, then it follows the Boeing 737 classic logic of the -300,-400 and -500 for a pretty well matching size of planes. Hopefully can the CS300 be stretched 3+2 frames and the wings get more span and fuel for the CS400.

      • Sorry for demistyfing dreams,

        but the CSeriens has other problems.

        No sales, no money, not even EIS and you are talking about another stretch?

        They have to be careful not to run dry….

  10. why does the 777 have an extra (presumably unnecessary) set of doors? that has to be at least a 3 row penalty in wasted space and 3M of unnecessary fuselage length and weight, something on the order of 9000 lbs (assuming fuselage is 50% of OEW, 777-9 fuse is ~207klbs @250′, removing 10′ and a pair of heavy doors)

      • On 738’s seat pitch next to over wing emergency exits used to be 40 inch.

        • On the Etihad A340-600 it looks like the seat pitch is a little bit more than 40 inches at the wing emergency exits.

      • @0v-099

        I clicked on over to the 777 rather than the A340 link you provided. wow, that 777-300ER door placement requiring the 5th door pair is totally a self inflicted gunshot by putting 2 doors way up front where very few passengers are, this was designed before Pot was legal in Washington state, so what were they smoking?
        If they moved the #2 door pair back closer to the wing root they could eliminate the over wing doors and still support 440 and only need a 5th door on high density specials.

        • ” … this was designed before Pot was legal in Washington state, so what were they smoking?”

          Self Gloss. Still at it 😉

  11. The exits need to be at maximum 60ft apart.
    One pair can handle at maximum 110 people.
    The B777-300 can seat up to 550, and long range variants are in service which do have close to maximum package in the rear. Boeing developed the -300 also as replacement for B747D.
    The B777-9X will have only 4 type A exits each side, and an emergency exit in the economy section.

  12. This was predictable. There is no question that this was a strategy of not showing all the cards of the A350 at once. This is evolving nicely, the -900; the -900 ULR, 278t-900; -1000; -8000; and possibly even more variants of the -1000?

    There is no question the 777-X is now under serious attack. Sorry Tim Clark.

    • @Joe,

      I’m sorry, but this “this was predictable and a strategy of not showing all the cards of the A350 at once” is BS. This was a direct result of the 777X basically constricting the A350-1000’s market. What makes your statement laughable is that even John Leahy even basically admitted he didn’t see a market where the 777X existed and “now he can say he was wrong.”

      The reason this card is coming to the front is 1)the 777X basically forced them to ADD the card, and 2) Airbus wants to play in the 777X sandbox, and further try to dust up the 777. Otherwise, they’d have had RR already planning to design/build the Trent XWB well before this time (hence the big differences between the A350-900 Trent XWB and the A350-1000 Trent XWB, so much so that Clark calls them two different engines. Heck there were grumblings about the XWB for the -1000 being an issue. Further, if this was kept “close to the chest”, as you apparently wish to say, they wouldn’t be having a difficult time trying to name something that was “allegedly” already planned.

      • @ neutron.

        Hi Neutron, I respectfully disagree. Everyone knows that the A350-1000 was designed with a possible stretch in mind. The -100 design was frozen after the 777-X was launched. Airbus knew that Emirates was helping design the 777-X and that the ME3 would go for it. It was brilliant for Airbus to wait and test the market for another super twin outside the ME3 before launching it. Who knows maybe there wont be a big enough market. What is brilliant about this game is how they kept to their chest that a simple “inexpensive” stretch of this lighter plane without huge heavy wings will be 25t lighter and beat the 777-9 in everything except for some range.
        I’m sure Boeing also has some tricks under their sleeves for a response and that is what makes all this fun.

        I must admit though, that the A350 family is all of sudden a better preposition unless you need the enormous payload/range of the 777-8 which will be the leader of the pack in terms of performance.

        • One thing to keep an eye on is the 1000 sales which are ok, but not great.

      • Further growth of the A350 was shining through in 2010 when Airbus bumped up the specs of critical parts. You can find many 2010 A350-1100 discussions. Long before the 777X was launched.

  13. Aside from the fact that the A350 is made of 53% composites and the 777-300ER is mostly aluminum, another very good reason why the A350-1000 is lighter than the 777-300ER is because the A350 is physically smaller than the 777. Smaller fuselage (235″ width vs 244″), smaller wing, smaller engines. That needs to be mentioned.

  14. Meanwhile, Airbus is looking at putting lavatories and galleys on the lower deck of the A350-1000

    Here are a couple of pics of the lower galley and crew rest on Lufthansa’s A340-600s.

    LH A346 lower deck lavatories

    • I much prefer the LH arrangement, if nothing else washbasins inside lavs should be banned, it stops people taking half an hour for a wee.

  15. Just a small comment about the possible raise of the MTOW in the A350-8000 at 319tn. Airbus achieved to raise the MTOW by 278/268=3.7% in the A359. If you multiply this number by 308 you get bingo 319 tn MTOW, the number that was communicated by Airbus. So by design they had a margin of 3.7% and IMO this would be the new standard MTOW of the 1000 (expect another 500-600nm in the range). Perhaps the -1000 was more over engineered and will provide another 1-2% in the MTOW that will get it to the 325-330 tn MTOW. This will be clear in about a year when Airbus will complete a major part of the flying tests.

  16. 777-9X is 15 inches wider inside the fuselage at floor board/seat level. If a350-8000 is 400 seat due to AIRBUS configuration, then 777-9 will be 400 seat plus 1 for the length of the economy seat. On a long aircraft like these it will be a 40-50 seat more on the wider aircraft.

      • Good point. For the 777x, it has to use the benefit of the 9/10 split in fuselage width. At least 10 rows of premium economy at 9 abreast Without rational pricing and cabins of 8x on the 787 and 9x on the 777x, there is a good chance many passengers and airlines will gravitate to the A330/A350. At some point there is a critical mass of awareness of width comfort, probably right about as United changes all their 777s to 10x and then has to spend money to rip a lot of it back out.

        • Already been reached I think. A lot of 777 pax are just workers whose employers just want the cheapest ticket (meaning no margin for the airline) and on routes where there aren´t a lot of labourers being flown there seen to be a lot of empty seats.

  17. Would the 350-1100 really be 25 tons lighter than a 777-9? I can see 2.5 tons lighter but not 25 tons. That has to be a misprint.

    • If the A330 has a 40 million advantage in manufacture and attributed unit costs, the 777-9 should have a similar advantage over the A350Stretch. Is that enough to pay to haul 25t extra over the lifespan of the aircraft?

      • The 77X with new engine, new CRP-wing, stretch, internal wall fitting etc. can’t be compared to the A330neo.

        The large autoclaves and facillitys alone build for the 77X cost billions.

        • I forgot about that. I guess that takes a good chunk out of the pricing advantage.

      • If you use an average of 190 pounds per passenger, including carry-on luggage, that is the equivalent of carrying an extra 263 non-paying customers around for the life of said aircraft.
        I wonder what that costs in “lost” revenue.

  18. Bjorn:

    Are we going to get a comparison of the two systems of composite construction?

    I.e. Boeing spun Fuselage ala 787 vs the Frame and Panel of the A350?

    Not comparing two different sized aircraft, but a theoretical one using 787 size or A350 size for direct comparison (or even 777 size) If you made them both the same identical size which provides the lighter aircraft?

    • I’d be very interested as well, but I suspect we might have to pay for it!.
      One thing that would seem to be impossible with the Boeing method is double bubble,likewise any recessed design features. I have read that it’s hard to taper the laminate, although I can’t see why. This would cost a lot of extra weight in non impact areas. I would imagine that the lap joins on the Airbus are not totally parasitic, as the extra thickness stiffens up the structure.

    • No you won’t. The reason is: I can after having gone through the subject at length not see any real difference between the two construction ways, not so that it makes any difference in empty weight etc, both are perfectly OK. At maximum there could be a small difference in fatigue life but both methods give a fatigue life which is well beyond the airframe economical life, so once again a non essential point.

      • By ’empty weight etc.’ do you mean solely the physical attributes of finished examples leaving the factory gate produced using each method or do you also extend this to producability, operational use etc.?

        One of the things I recall from the discussions at the time Airbus chose the panel route was the suggestion it would enable them to evolve the airframe faster than a single tube as revised materials could be used in just the panels that would most benefit (eg by going thinner on panel x than panel y so save some weight).

      • There may be manufacturing cost and flexibility advantages for Airbus’s way.

        Boeing need an autoclave big enough for a whole tube. If they then want to make a bigger tube for a bigger aircraft and their autoclave is too small, they’re starting again on some pretty expensive plant. However they’re not totally daft, they’ve probably thought of that one already.

        However, if they want to increase tube production rate when the line is already at 100% they need to double up on something. This is expensive if all they want a 1.3x rate increase. You can’t have 1.3 autoclaves, or 1.3 fibre layup machines, you’d have to have 2.0x whatever it is that is the bottleneck.

        Of course, that is only a concern if tube production rate is actually the limiting factor in aircraft production rate. However if they’ve sized their equipment for a bigger plane and actually end up making it then they’re going to take a big step closer to their maximum production rate all in one go.

        There’s also absolutely nothing (except pride) stopping Boeing make their next design the Airbus way.

        Autoclaves to bake Airbus sized parts are much more common, and don’t necessarily need to be replaced with larger ones if Airbus want to make a bigger plane.

        And for Airbus it’s possible to have 1.3x extra manufacturing plant. Also Airbus don’t need to offer massive inducements to persuade third party manufacturers to make panels because their investment doesn’t need to be so large. Therefore it’s easier for Airbus to go out to the market for panels to be made.

        • I assume the Airbus method is influenced by works split issues. Different panels can be made in different countries. The one piece barrell do not need the major flanges and fasterners that add mass and risk for crack initiation, also making these Airbus panels to the correct shape is harder as you easier get distorsions on curved panels. One advantage is that you in theory can fill the autoclave with bagged and stacked panels and make a large number in one run unless you need a “787” like barrell tooling who fill up the autoclave to keep the panels in correct form and you only get a singel Aircrafts worth of panels in an autoclave run.

          • I guessed you didn’t see the infamous forward joint mismatch pictures on the first 787 off the line.

          • Claes:

            No, Airbus did not have the tech in place to do what Boeing did.

            Customers were demanding a composite, so they did what they could using a frame and panel system.

            Per Bjorn, it came out well, but it was a flaw that Airbus had not done their homework on where composites were going.

            what worked in their favor was Boeing screw ups of biblical proportions that gave them the time to design it and get it into production.

            Ironic that it should work out so well as Boeing should have a significant advantage.

            what production cost difference is no one knows as you replace hand labor with expensive high tech methods in Boeings case. Of course McNneanry hated unions and I assume not machines.

      • Bjorn:

        Thank you, interesting so much difference and still end result so close to the same as to be a wash (US for one is not better than the other weight wise)

        I would have thought Boeing had a small but at least significant advantage in the 5 to 10% rangfe.

  19. I will just ask again, how much will this help the cargo offset that works to the 779’s advantage. What does the 350-1000 carry, 38 vs. 48 LD3’s for the 779?

    Weight by itself is bad in an airplane, unless it is used to carry things that produce revenue. The much higher bypass/newer GE9X also has much of an advantage in lifting a full aircraft, vs the relatively underpowered notional A350-8000. Maybe Airbus can get by with much less power, using the same engines as planned 10 years ago, the same basic wing, and less cargo. Maybe not.

    • Does cargo even have an economic return on a 16hr leg? The whole premise of the 777-9 cargo could be on faulty economics. Better to stuff the 777-9 lower deck with galleys and restrooms, and have a grand ceremony of cooperation for a flyaway of the last 747 and A380 ever built.

      • I suspect little cargo space is to the A380´s advantage going forward, and no twin is going to get near it capacity wise until RR or GE risk designing a whole new class of engines 50% bigger than anything ever done before for a market that so far has only proven to be 600 engines, if it was a twin. At least the 70k class engine size has a market of thousands and makes keeping the engines up to date, so I suspect the largest airliner will remain a quad for a few more years yet.

    • Looks like the Airbus is able to carry 44 LD- Container, so in reality the difference is much smaller !(taken from the Airbus-Website)

      • Just to have some fun:

        44 LD3 boxes have a net weight of 3.74t.

        @200kg/m³ “UPS/DHL style” 33.88 t revenue payload
        for an overall 37.62t of belly load for the plane.

        At max gross weight per box ( 1500kg + 85kg ) you’d have the plane anchored down with 70t. ( 66t for revenue )

        the 380 does not have enough. But for all other big WB planes it probably is more about bragging value than fully useable for revenue.

        • That’s simply untrue. How did EK become the largest freight airline in the world? By building a hub around global freight efficiency and acquiring a fleet that suites those needs.

          For example, look at EK’s choice of the aft-main deck 9-bunk cabin crew bunks quarter, in order to maximize below-deck cargo belly space. This is the opposite selection of Korean/Qantas, etc. which opt for a below-deck bunk. The 380 has plenty for many airlines. But serious freight loads for long-ish range flights near capacity will be best suited to the 77X over a putative A350-8000.

          I think there will remain a market for both a A350-8000 and 779X. Really, I’m a bit dubious everyone here is more in the know than Aeungus Kelly.

          • “That’s simply untrue. ”

            Any errors in the math?

            In a simplistic first order estamation for average loads we could look at EK’s freight tonnage and divide by number of flights done. ( or twice that number as freight gets transfered once in most cases?)

  20. The writing is on the wall. The 777-X is a one trick horse for the the Middle East 3. The A350 is proving to be a much more versatile and efficient family that even reaches into the 787 family.

    Having said that, the 777-8 will be the ultimate performance machine.

    • Despite what some of the contributers here say, Boeing are not stupid.If we could all see this coming, Boeing will have too.They must have a plan, although I can’t see what it is
      The 777 10 idea seems viable as its already got a big engine. They can do the underfloor thing as well. How would that work out?

    • You could be right. The now ‘family’ range of the a350 will be a big selling point to the non ME3. Look at the customer list for the a350 now. Look at those that have 777s. Keep it in the [airbus] family makes sense – to me.

      And with an -800 model still possible (way later… When the 300neo begins to fade), you’ve got quite an expanse from one airframe.

      Exciting times eh???

      • You are right. I wonder what the Boeing response will be. Perhaps more seats with lower levels lavs. We should remember that there were large number of 747’s flying around outside the MIddle East which carried larger numbers of passengers than the 777-300ER. So in theory, there is market, albeit small, for planes equal or larger in size than a stretched A350 of 777-9. Since the stretched -8000 is not a huge financial undertaking, it absolutely makes sense to bring it out. Since it is a lighter frame, many iterations and future efficiency improvements will be possible to continue to leap frog the 777. Long- term, Aitbus will have the upper hand in this segment.

        Boeing’s trick weapon will be the 787-10

  21. Boeing seems to wait too long to launch its new versions of existing aircraft. IMHO the 77x should (could?) have been launched +/- 2 years earlier thus reducing the 773 order gap and beating (by longer?) an A350-1100 EIS.

    Given the 777-8/9 deficiencies vs 350 – 1000/1100 which seem to be empty weight and seating room in coach with 10 abreast vs 9 abreast 350 I would hope B might do this:

    Once 779 is in serial production, start (sooner rather than later!) development of a new composite fuselage and wingbox that is lighter(?) and +/- 8″ (20 cm) wider to go with the great new wing. Make it in 3 or 4 lengths to compete with 350-1000/1100 and to challenge better (render obsolete?) the VLA class. It would also get a 787 style nose to make it look more 21st century.

    To compliment this development a further evolved GE 9x engine or new geared (variable pitch?) super fan engine would be in order.

    All this for 2030 EIS. One can dream!

    • Yep, the hesistate to see what Airbvus does rather than figure out what Airbgus can do and then go for it.

      I thought the same thing on the 777-300ER/200 with the new wing. Yes it was an economic downturn, they should have been getting those models certified for when the recovery comes.

      No recovery we are all toast anyway so there is nothing to loose (well other than the shareholder feeding trough)

      Years back amidst another down turn I was in class on a diesel engine. The trainer was talking about how the company had all their test cells going full time (they came across an item of interesting in oil use that they had to juggle testing to explore. I asked him how they could do it and he said they were focused on the future. They would take a short term hit for a long term gain.

      Today Cummins is one of the worlds leading diesel mfgs and one of the few if not the only independent provider around (most if not all are tied up with a parent company like Cat that has machinery and or various truck/tractors lines)

      That is the type of strategic long term thinking that makes a company a leader not a lager (bad diesel joke)

      • Caterpillar now also make ruggedized smartphones, including one with an integrated thermal camera.
        The english diesel maker Rushton were one of the first in the small power gas turbine for industrial/naval use, but they are now part of Siemens

        • Cat is maybe buying the phones, not making them.

          Like Boeing and Airbus lots of stuff is outsourced.

          Most of it top quality. I quite using their batteries because they failed too often in our use (standby engines) .

          I believe Exide at the time.

          Only case of that though, rest was top rate.

  22. I think Boeing have made a major long term strategic blunder in their model lineup. The blunder is the smaller 787 being an all composite airframe while the larger 777 beeing only a 50% composite airframe consisting of a metal fuselage and center wing box and a composite wing.

    Compare this with the Airbus model lineup. Here the smaller 330 is an all metal airframe while the larger 350 is an all composite airframe.

    It is clear that the larger airframe shall be more composite than the smaller airframe as it is generally accepted that composites is technically and economically more beneficial the larger the airframe gets.

    In the long run it might be that the 787 will ultimately outcompete the 330, but I think that this is quite some years into the future at least. However I am not so sure that the 777 will stand a chance against the 350 for as many years the 330 will stand a chance against the 787.

    • You might be right, an all new 2nd generation carbon 777 would have murdered the A350 and put the A380 out of it’s misery. This strategy business is bloody hard though, it seems to me that most successful airliners have evolved quite a bit from the original concept. If I or most leeham contributers were running these companies they would quite quickly go bust, accountants are not always wrong.

      • Whats not to say that a composite panel construction 777X fuselage doesnt have a place in the future ?
        Its clear the current oil price slump means that possibility is much further out as it was the oil price which was driving the efficiency gains for airliners over the last 15 years.

        • How practical is it to keep swapping major components like that, rather than a totally new uncompromised project? I don’t know, but it’s a very popular concept on these pages!

    • This is all due to different product cycles. The two companies are obviously not “coordinating” with each other! They are playing off the fact that they have such a difference in the cycles. Yes, the 777 is an older plane. Yes, the 777x has less composite than the A350 and will be heavier. The fact that the 777x will be have slots available 4 years ahead of this talked about stretch A350 is a huge benefit.

  23. The 777-8, 777-8F , 777-9 will sell about 800 copies. The A350-1000 and A350-1000XL will sell about 500-600. Together they will put 747-8 and 380 out of business.

    • Yes, the very big twins will carry more then 400-450 seats, just like the A380, maindeck.

  24. Bjorn,

    If I were an Airbus strategic planner, I’d be more interested in a “half range”
    4000 n.m. much lighter TOGW and OEW derivative of a small-stretch A350-1000 to carry 500 passengers in single “green class”, 9 abreast with 32″ pitch, and little or no commercial cargo, across the N.Atlantic, US mainland to Hawaii, Tokyo to Hawaii, transcon US and many other high traffic density 2500-4000 n.m routes. It would have a new smaller area, more efficient wing with higher aspect ratio, lighter wing boxes, a smaller tail, two new smaller higher bypass engines of around 55,000 thrust, lighter landing gear, a weight-reduced fuselage — and cruise at .8 mach not .85 for minimum fuel burned and carbon dioxide generated. Aim for 15-20% lower seat mile fuel burned than an A350-8000 flying the same payload 4000 nm.

    That would cost a lot more than an A350-8000 and reengined A380 combined but win a much larger market over 20 years and be a much more important complement to the A350 family. High capacity aircraft for high traffic density shorter routes in global fleets will be more important than 8000 nm aircraft in the carbon -constrained future, especially 2025-2050 period. The half range derivative might cost two thirds of an all new airplane 4000 nm, 500 passenger aircraft but that saves a lot of money and it could be several years earlier into service

    So far, the industry seems to have its collective head in the sand about the great dangers of global warming / climate change and likely impacts on the air travel industry — and what to do about it. This high capacity, very efficient, 4000 nm derivative for the mid 2020’s is an example of what will be needed.

  25. I can’t seem to find the answers. Any info would be appreciated.

    Why would the 777-300ER need a 5th door while the A350-1000 wouldn’t for the same pax count?

    • I’m thinking that was for 550 max capacity. JAL has a 500 seat 78J/422Y.

    • IMU because Door 1 and 2 are too close together.
      To meet the 60′ requirement between doors you have to insert an additional door even though your cabin between first and last door is less than 180′ ( + 2 door widht ) long.

  26. Dear Bjorn,
    I hope anybody here on this forum coincide the A330/A350 and the 787/777 are within same market.

    I read that the A350 is just an A330 subtype from a pilots view and pilots therefore just need a type rating. What does pilots need to qualify for a change between the 787/777 combo?

    What about the costs?

  27. A straightforward answer to the A350 from Boeing has yet to come. The 777-9 will be a worthy competitor to any A350-8000 kind of aircraft, based on lift and capacity.

    Boeing has yet to formulate a strategy to counter the A350-900 and -1000 on flights longer then 10 hrs/5000NM.

    The 787-10 and 777-8 are uncompetitively payload range restricted (who wants a 350 seats that can’t do heavy Asia flights?) or expensive (who chooses the 9000NM capable but 25t heavier machine?)

    Time to stop denying & act. Saying it ain’t so costed Boeing 10+ big 777 customers so far. BA, AF, CX, SQ, UA, DL, Asiana, JAL, KLM, Air China, Qatar, Etihad.

    An A350-8000 option for airlines won’t help the situation.

    • Well…I figured the jig was up for the 787-10 when Airbus introduced a plane with similar capabilities and fuel burn: the A350-900R (Regional). The -900R has a software mod that derates the engines to 2×75,000 lbf (330 kN) thrust and a paper-rated MTOW of 250 Tons. Of course, if you want to later turn this gas-sipping “Frog” back into a powerful “Prince”, all ya’ got to do is switch out some engine software and change some documentation and…Viola! Now, you have a full-powered A350-900 in all of its splendor.

      It’s a nice option to have that the 787-10 just can’t provide.

    • Nice chart. I don’t know if the A338 and 788 are the same size, but based on the jump in fuselage lengths, the gap between the 788 and 789 should be bigger than the gap from the a338 to 339.

  28. The A350-1100 option was included in the A350-1000 respecification around 2010. Because it took long, but Airbus knew the 777x would be launched at some point.

    An 777-10 option was included in 777x specifications, because Boeing knew what Airbus had done to the A350 spec around 2010.

    The background behind the current discussions/ proposals is big airlines like BA, CX, AA, UA, JAL, AF, DL, QF, LH are condering there long term, long haul fleet strategies. Interest rates / fuel are low, profits high.

    Most have 777s, ordered A350-900/-1000s and Leahy wants to keep them on board. Unlikely IMO an A350 stretch will be a simple stretch, because Leahy too sees a 777-10 is inevitable.

      • An A380-800 is still way bigger then a possible 777-10. Contrary to what some wants us to believe with funky cabin layout comparisons. It’s that second full lenght 8 abreast deck.

  29. What an excellent stretch!

    Finally high capacity of 400 seat 2-class with 18″ economy seat width

    Can’t wait an further extended version of A350-1200,

    1. Extended cabin after 4th pair of door, so overall length become 80m (approx 5 more rows of seats), while still maintaining max 60 feet distance between exit doors

    2. Allows full use of 440 seats maximum capacity with 4 pairs of exit doors, while still maintain full comfort

    So Airbus A350 will be totally competitive even compared with B777-9X!

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