Pontifications: Airbus CXLs A320, A350 August vacations

Hamilton ATR

By Scott Hamilton

June 20, 2016, © Leeham Co.: Airbus officials canceled the annual August vacations in Europe for the A320 and A350 production lines.

The A320neo and A350-900 are backing up on the delivery lines because of supplier issues with the Pratt & Whitney GTF for the former and galley and lav issues from Zodiac for the latter.

Qatar Airways Airbus A320neo awaiting new-production Pratt & Whitney GTF engines with fixes incorporated. Photo via Google images.

The delays and issues are well documented in the press and for aerospace analysts.

“I cannot confirm that rumor for you,” an Airbus spokesman wrote LNC in an email. “I can tell you that we are putting in place extra resources to deliver on our 2016 commitments and objectives in terms of deliveries, but we are not going into detail on what that looks like at this stage.”

Pratt & Whitney began shipping production engines incorporating the fixes this month. Zodiac says it’s catching up.

Airbus is believed to have nearly 50 A320neos in Toulouse and Hamburg awaiting the engines. The number of A350s awaiting interior components is believed to be fewer than a dozen.

Automating Boeing 737 line

A Reuters article reports that Boeing is adding automation to its 737 line in Renton for some wing work. The touch-labor union, IAM 751, actually discussed this some time ago as an innovation for the 737 MAX, despite the fact this will probably lead to fewer jobs.

The automation is another step in Boeing’s effort to add this process to the production system. The 777 Class wing painting was automated a few years ago. The 777X wing production is a new automated system. The 777X airframe production will have more automation.

This is an area where Boeing lags Airbus. Because the Airbus products, production and plants are newer, Airbus had the ability to clean-sheet the production system on many of the lines. The original A320 and A330 lines in Toulouse remain somewhat antiquated by today’s standards, but the A320 plant in Hamburg–which begot the ones in Tianjin and Mobile–is more modern. The A380 plants in Hamburg and Toulouse are reasonably modern (though with roots in the late 1990s) and the A350 plant is brand new.

Boeing’s 737 and 777 plants are decades old. While Boeing has done a good job of modernizing-in-place, costs are still greater than Boeing wants. Automation is one way to lower costs.

Westjet interest in “737-7.5”

WestJet of Canada, one of just three customers for the Boeing 737-7, is interested in the prospective revised version, the “737-7.5.” So named by Wall Street Journal reporter Jon Ostrower, who broke the story about a slightly larger version of the MAX 7, the MAX 7.5 is a straight-forward shrink of the MAX 8.

Westjet likes the airplane, reports the Canadian newspaper, The National. Boeing’s studies of the MAX 7.5 is in part a response to Bombardier’s C Series CS300 and recent orders and interest in the airplane. The CS300 is a direct competitor to the MAX 7 and offers superior economics. Adding seats to the MAX 7 to produce the 7.5 makes the airplane more competitive with the CS300 on a per-seat basis. The CS300 still is superior on a trip cost basis, according to our analysis.

34 Comments on “Pontifications: Airbus CXLs A320, A350 August vacations

    • I believe this is the strategy. I think this is similar to Airbus looking to move airlines from the A350-800 to more popular models. The difference is the A350-900 and A330s exist

  1. In regards to Airbus problems currently, it makes you wonder how many issues Boeing missed behind the debacle of the 787.

    Someone noted that there are suppliers who had issues that were masked behind the Zodiak ones and as those clear up they get exposed.

    Never easy and a dramatic confirmation that you always need good management.

    • There are more “gaps” waiting to be “discovered”.

      Many think the 777-8 & 787-10 are an excellent couple against the XWB’s around 350 seats. The market seems to have already decided otherwise.

      Same for the A320 NEO. Airbus is spoiled by the sales succes & lack of solid competition. The 737-8 proved a one trick pony so far.

      Still the gap between the A320 and A321 is a costly 7 meters /42 seats. The A321NEO can hardly be sold as a natural A320CEO replacement. And the A320 is getting smallish after 25 yrs.. ask AF, Easyjet and other LCC’s.


      • Me thinks the market is split as the A350-1000 has not sold any better than the -10. Also A350 had a lead.

        Not to mention all the changes airbus had to make to the A350-1000 to get it to sell (shades of Boeing and the MAX situation).

        Lets see, the A320 is a one trick pony, as its counterpart is a different aircraft, A321, which is also a one treick pony as like th4e A320 there is one version.

        Does the 737-7X make the -8 a two trick pony or is it a natural extension of the 737-8 (well ex-shorten as it were)

        -9? Nice adjust to the -8, not an A321 by any stretch (well it may stretch but only if put on steroids)

        So maybe get off the one trick pony thing? I have lots of other bad puns.

        • I think Boeing is discussing a 737-7.5 and 737-10x for a reason. I’m ok with naming the NEO a trick family was it not that there are A321NEO’s ordered..

          If you name some serious A350-1000 changes of the last 5-6 years, I guess the continuously changing A350-1000 specification is not a cultivated urban legend any more!

          Parked “gliders”:

          • Engine change began in mid 2011, not sure when it was finalized, 2012 some time?

          • As an old glider pilot I am glad to see us coming back into fashion.

        • There is a reason why you will not see so much orders for bigger aircraft. Airlines have to pay a small amount to confirm an order. This amount is smaller by ordering smaller and cheaper aircraft in first place and use rights to upsize later.

          Therefore I expect the real A321 relation to be much higher than today’s order show.

          It seems Airbus can force the airlines to commit very early to commit to the larger A321 but is not able to this with the A350. Same situation for 787-8 vs -9.

          • “Therefore I expect the real A321 relation to be much higher than today’s order show.”

            – Current delivery planning is 50% A321 CEO/NEO’s 2017.
            – Hold that against the family backlog of 6000.
            – The A321 vs 737-9 situation more severe than admitted.
            – Boeing speaks to airlines & knows best.
            – Denying/ waiting probably no longer best strategy.

          • The high end of A320 service utility is 189 pax, some say 195 pax ?? or if we venture into sub-27″ pitches, we can dive into “sweet spot” operations = 200 pax ?? But there’s a better way of flying “Sweet Spot” service : H21QR ! The APEX signature is immediately superior, the additional sales profit cashed in by Airbus is healthy and Trip Yields for the Operator will improve by a two-digits ciffer.And Airbus can streamline its FALs to single-type production, H21QR or A321 according to customer preference. Meaning this : H21QR replaces the A320 or if you need something bigger, opt for 3+3 (I know, it’s an obsolete configuration, but what can we do ??) with A321 and you’ll reach close under 230 pax ?

            (I mean, until we get A322 and H22QR ?)

  2. How much is worth paying extra for a cs300?My guess would be quite a lot, maybe 10x the annual cost savings. How much that actually is is going to be behind the paywall.

    • It seems likely to me the CS300 can command a premium over the 737-7 and A319 is it’s operating cost are significantly lower.

      We shouldn’t however neglect advantages of the 737 and A319 have over the CS that aren’t “technical” but can be decisive non the less:
      – commonality with existing NB fleet
      – known aircraft maturity based on decades of operation
      – worldwide competitive MRO support for airframes, engines, components and line maintenance.
      – worldwide available trained pilots/ flight schools for the types
      – bigger luggage / cargo capacity (volume & weight)
      – options the upgrade to higher capacity variants in the future
      – reasonably known rest values in 10 / 20 years
      – fat option / stc catalogues for customization

      Ignore them and you’ll keep running into surprises..

      P.S. new CS video:

  3. Given the expected economics of the CS300, I would imagine Delta will either convert some options to it or even some firm orders, once it is flying commercially and shown to meet performance targets.

    Their A319s are mid-life, at about 15 years, and are getting a significant cabin refresh (and 6 more seats, though I think in v2 it will be just 3 more seats?). But the CS300 should beat it significantly on fuel cost, and DL and other A319/737-7 operators can’t act as if fuel will always be this cheap.

    • Delta is replacing its older MD88s with this plane, not the A319

    • I suspect Delta have lined them selves up as future CS500 customers and that this is as much an indicator of their future narrow body line up as anything.

  4. Do landing fees come into play here as well?

    I recall some discussion about the A318/19 being heavy for the seats and paying higher, not my forte, could be wrong.

  5. This is from Aeroturbopower, well worth a read.


    If the 1000 lbs heavier is true (and tis close regardless) that’s 2000 lb per aircraft as each one is roughly 7000 lbs.

    We can assume that P&W can probably take weight out of the GTF at the same rate as Leap, so they probably will keep the lead.

    And the weight of the Leap B versions? Haven’t been able to find out yet. Smaller, maybe a bit of an evener of weight for the MAX using that smaller engine vs a GTF.

      • Could you clarify, still a bit?

        From what I could see, each Leap is (900 lbs? ) more, a bit confused at the term “aircraft level”

        I took that to mean pylon and all standard fittings when attached to an aircraft but correct me if wrong.

        If its 1000 lbs total more, then it should be 2000 lbs total per aircraft, but again correct me if I am wrong.

        • And I apologize if I am mis characterizing the information from your blog, not intentional.

          That’s the nuts and bolts of the tech end that I am very much interested in.

        • 500kg Isn’t going to make all the difference on a 80t aircraft, if it was compensated by better sfc / MRO costs..

          In my opinion for CFM to worry about is the development potential of the PW1000 series.

          Within a decade the Pratt’s will probably end up with a carbon fan and cowling (-weight), CMC materials/cooling for higher temperatures and pressure ratio’s.

          Those potential enhancements seem hard to beat by CFM, as it already uses these technologies. Apart from that, the PW1000 will always be quieter (slower fan) and seems to offers future higher BPR potential. Boeing knows.

          In the next few years, when the PW1100 matures, Pratt will probably increase maximum thrust in 2 or 3 steps to 40,000lb and probably beyond in the years after. The prototype A321NEO is flying a 35,000lbs already and the LR has yet to come.


          • As noted, it makes 3-4 passengers worth of difference.

            As there are raging fights over who has how much and its gotten sliced finer all the time I would say its significant.

            So I would call it a double edge sword.

            Its lighter and that’s a benefit and it has major upside, not sure when (2018 or 2019) there is a new rev coming out for the standard thrust that’s does another performance jump.

            And the note that the LEAP on the A320 may not be meeting its guarantees.

            Each one chips away.

            P&W needs to execute and not get into a tiff with Al Bakar, they won’t win that and it accomplishes nothing.

            AB has a right to be upset though he never is diplomatic about it.

            I keep reading how he canceled of the first A320NEO, he did not, he has just refused to accept delivery of same.

            He did the same on the A380, which was justified. Why should you accept delivery of a flawed aircraft when there is a fix and delay delivery until its implemented, not take delivery and then have to schedule the fix?

          • The status of “Launching Customer” is a give-and-take one, where you get early delivery (a plus) at a discount (a plus) against a risk for teething issues (drawback) with a commitment attached to feed these back to the OEMs (Airframer, Engine maker and System Vendors) so that they may be overcome the earlier the better. The problem with U-Turn Al Baker is he forgets his part of the obligations, he only wants the goodies … Airbus and Boeing shouldn’t enter into Launching sales terms with such a tricky Customer. Give him slots three or four years down the line, reserve those good slots for Operators who understand/accept the back side of the coin.

          • Business is business and you take Als if he offers it, or go after it.

            Just don’t wine (not the drinking type) when it bites you, be stoic.

          • “As noted, it makes 3-4 passengers worth of difference.”

            That kind of suggests 3-4 revenue passengers less. That isn’t the case. The heavier aircraft will those folks onboard too 😉

          • Yep, but its a higher cost to carry them and you have somewhat shorter range. Not a lot but a bit.

            As we are cutting down to fine hairs its a factor.

            You can bet P&W is beating CFM offering over the head with it in negotiations.

            Naner nanner, sure we have a short term cooling issue, their weight is never going away.

            Maybe even develop a slightly less weighty pylon due to lower weight. The gift that keeps on giving.

    • B777-300ER – $74.0 – 167.0M, $700-1,550,000
      ( oldest to youngest, from airliners.net
      “Aircraft Values, And Lease Pricing – Spring 2015” )

      A “55 per cent off” range. earlierst -300ER entered service in 2004. i.e. 12 years of coverage max. probably less.

  6. Scott, Please update your report on the August 320 & 350 vacation cancellations, which is the only one I saw. The union contract must provide for unilateral vacation cancellation. I assume Airbus included the associated huge overtime payments in the 350’s 385Beuro writeoff last week.

    Airbus’ writeoff announcement did not include the 320. Airbus must plan to catch up the 320 deliveries by 12/31. CEO profits must be about the same as lost NEO profits, on production slots given over to CEOs.

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