Pontifications: Airbus faces conundrum

Hamilton ATR

By Scott Hamilton

July 18, 2016, © Leeham Co.: It wasn’t the dominating headline out of the Farnborough Air Show that Airbus would have preferred: a dramatic production rate cut for the slow-selling A380 from 20/yr to 12/yr from 2018.

A leak to the Paris newspaper La Tribune last Tuesday evening forced Airbus to announce the rate cut minutes later, ahead of prepping its employee work force. It was also ahead of an investors analyst breakfast meeting the following day in London. The event’s headlines would have been Tuesday’s unexpectedly strong number of Airbus orders after a dismal Monday for Airbus and Boeing. Instead, the rate cut dominated analysts’ thinking ahead of the breakfast.

Airbus stock closed at 52.53 Euros on the Paris stock exchange Tuesday before La Tribune’s story posted at 7pm. The stock was essentially flat the next day upon opening.

Rate cut inevitable

Airbus A380. Photo via Google images.

A rate cut to 12/yr was inevitable. We predicted it in our annual forecast in January, though we saw the cut to this level coming in 2020, not 2018. (We also then predicted Boeing would trim the 747-8 rate to 6/yr, in 2018, instead of this year.)

Airbus previously cut the rate from 30/yr to 25/yr. Officials still believe that global airport congestion will eventually require the A380—essentially, the market will catch up to the airplane, which they now concede came at least a decade too soon.

This is a matter of debate. Some believe the A380 is already dead; it just hasn’t been buried yet. This is a position I’ve taken on the Boeing 747-8 for some time. Boeing no longer talks about the 747-8I’s future; it’s all about the 747-8F. I remain skeptical about even this model, but in an interview last week with Randy Tinseth, Boeing VP of Marketing, he explains why Boeing still believes in the 747-8F.

777-9 and 777-10

Boeing’s development of the 777-9 already threatens the A380. Based on our analysis, seat mile costs are about the same and trip mile costs for the smaller, twin-engined aircraft are better, as you would expect. The potential development of the 777-10, a 450 seat aircraft, would put further pressure on the A380.

If Airbus can bring break-even on the A380 production costs down from 20/yr to 12/yr by 2018—a tall order, to be sure—this can buy time for Airbus to see if the market demand indeed will catch up to the plane. It will also give Airbus time to determine whether adapting the A380 to a re-engined NEO will find a business case.

Airbus has no choice, really, if it wants to stick with the A380 for the long term. The economics of this design, which is already about 20 years old, will be sorely dated by the time the 777-9 enters service in 2020, followed in a few years by the 777-10 if this derivative proceeds.

Airbus also has little choice but to keep the A380 if it’s going to play at the very top end of the market to compete with Boeing. The A350-1000 tops out at about 369 passengers. This is about 35 fewer than the 777-9 and 80 fewer than the 777-10. Airbus knows it can add a 400-seat A350-2000 to its line-up but so far is hesitant. There have been few sales of the 777X since program launch and Airbus isn’t convinced yet the business case for the -2000 is there.

There’s also the not-so-little matter that the -2000 could cannibalize some A380 sales. But better to cannibalize your own product than to cede market share to your competitor.

It’s unclear when Airbus will make a decision on the A350-2000. Boeing hasn’t set a timeline for a decision on the 777-10. There’s a little bit of a Mexican stand-off going on: each is waiting to see what the other will do first.

Airbus, making the correct and necessary decision to cut rates on the A380, is likely to have to be the one to blink first on the issue of the A350-2000 vs the 777-10.

It’s quite the conundrum.

88 Comments on “Pontifications: Airbus faces conundrum

  1. Scott, given the way things are going in the VLA, does it make financial sense for Airbus to even bother with a A350-2000 (who will buy it in large numbers?) or an A380neo (Even if Emirates buys 200, and others a couple each, you quickly end up in the same situation as the A380 today)?

    For that matter, given the dearth of orders for the 777X since the initial big splash, does it make sense for Boeing to bother with a 777-10 (again who will buy it? Even if Emirates spites Airbus for not doing a A380neo by replacing them with a 777-10, that’s 200 planes.. and then what?)?

    And then there’s possible cannibalisation of orders from the existing varieties (A350-1000 + 777-9)

    Both companies have already taken on so much debt in bringing new models to fruition (A=A380, A350, A320neo, A330neo; and B=787,777x,737MAX+MOM?), would building a new VLA be a sound investment or just a vanity project?

  2. 777-10 is a design proposal/phantom to lure away customer interest from potential A380(NEO) and A350-2000.

    Everything is on hold until real A350-1000/XWB-97 performance numbers will be available after EIS.

    Most likely outcome will be (due to weight advantage of the whole new design build A350 v 777 “after life update”) the A350-1000 is even killing 777-8 and gets the 777-9 a very hard time regarding pricing power.

    As development for the 777X is more bumpy than desired, Boeing is intimidated by this outlook and tries to improve 777X CASM with the 777-10 proposal, risking cannibalizing his own 777-9.

    I cannot see a real strategy at Boeing management now, other than being in scramble mode, shoved around by “market dynamics/Airbus”.

    • I would like to see citation for bumpy on the 777X.

      It may be so, but so far there are no issues I read that have surfaced.

      • The 787 and KC46 issues all surfaced once the plane was put together and expected to fly. No plane has issues when its still on the CAD screens

        • Agreed on 787, KC46, but how can the 777X BE bumpy before it has those issues? (if it does)

          Kentucky windage? We think it will have issue therefore it does and is bumpy?

          Logic does not work.

          • But did not reveal until it went into assembly.

            I am not saying there won’t be, but the quote was “already bumpy ride” and so far there are no reported bumps.

  3. Would it be possible, or is it too late to re-locate A380 assembly to Hamburg and cut Toulouse out of the equation?
    The logistics of getting large assemblies into the French factory must be horrendous.
    Hamburg is blessed with splendid port facilities and everything can be sent by sea or air without the hassles of the road convoys through the French countryside which must add an extraordinary amount to the cost of each plane.

    • @AH

      Having recently been to TLS and seen the scope of the manufacturing plant it is difficult to appreciate the size of everything related to the A380. I understand the facility used is the largest building in Europe and granted only half the space is currently used the height/width of the main wing/ body join and the subsequent fitting out area are not easy to replicate elsewhere without significant further investment. To give you some idea they were using some of the unused space to perform rework on a couple of A350s (Sri Lankan) and they were dwarfed by their surroundings. They looked like toys.

    • No, send it to China! That would give them 3 white elephants.

      I thought Bjorn’s comment on the Comec booth being deserted was very telling, they don’t get it.

      Are you seriously suggesting that a program that can’t even break even on production cost let alone program costs needs to spend another billion to move it to another location?

        • But in the now world, Airbus looks to have a pretty solid handle on where it stands and what needs to be done.

          Moving it answers nothing and makes the cost far worse. It would not have made sense before and certainly a billion or two to move it let alone the4 work force issues does not support it.

  4. The 777x-10 is a fantastic play by Boeing regardless of whether it is ever built. It plants itself squarely as a low CASM, relatively low risk alternative to the A380. It forces Airbus to react by either investing serious money or cutting their losses on the A380 programme and in the global conflict between the two biggies it leaves Airbus floundering with nothing above 360 seats that is selling. The one question mark is what is the true core market sizing for large twin aisle aircraft. It is not a surprise that the A351 was aimed squarely at their nemesis the B773. It could be that this is the critical market capacity and if so Airbus stand to win. All I would say is that as a traveller I will mourn the passing of the A380 as anyone who has enjoyed the difference the more cramped newer aircraft will readily testify.

    • I would say there is some merit there, but the 1000 has not sold in large numbers either.

      Seems its in flux and very likely an oversupplies segment that nothing is going to sell in large numbers.

    • “The 777x-10 is a fantastic play by Boeing regardless of whether it is ever built. ”

      I’d like to remind you that the 787 was a fantastic play by Boeing. so fantastic that Boeing can not bear the associated cost ever again.
      In the long the run the airframer with the “hard” product has a good chance of winning. ( currently not something available from Boeing.)

      • We can hope Boeing does not make a hash like that again.

        One more and probably sunk (or at least have to quit buying back shareholders stock!)

        I am going to give them the benefit until I see otherwise.

  5. The market will not catch up with the current generation A380. However, with a production output of 12 per year from 2018, Airbus would “only” need to sell another 30+ A380s in order to sustain production at 12 units per year until 2024/2025. Within that timeframe, Airbus would IMJ be well positioned to enter into service something far more efficient than the current generation A380.

    Therefore, instead of developing a re-engined A380-800neo, in addition to a few aerodynamic enhancements, Airbus should IMO take a longer-term look and make something big and massively efficient that will meet the enormous projected air travel growth from 2025-2045 — and then some.

    In contrast to the current A388, next generation A388-derived VLA(s) should be designed in order to beat the most efficient large twins by at least 15 percent on CASK. If that were to happen, the top of the widebody market will IMJ move significantly from the single-deck large twins to super efficient double-decker VLAs.

    Quite a few analysts seem to be unaware of the full potential of the double-decker A380 fuselage and its enormous aerodynamic efficiency, primarily due to the fuselage wetted area of an A388-derived VLA (i.e. same overall length) being only some 20 percent higher than the fuselage wetted are of, say, a 777-10X. Furthermore, at an overall length of 80 metres-plus, a 777-10X would in real world operations waste too much space in the fuselage due to the excess cargo capacity on the lower deck. In contrast, an 80 metre A380-derived VLA would have about the right ratio of passenger to cargo capability.

    So, what are the options for Airbus going forward post 2025?

    FWIW, it’s worth noting that a twin-engined A380 developed with year 2000 airframe and engine technology would have required two engines of at least 175,000 pounds of thrust; 2nd, 2025-state-of-the-art engines should be at least 20 percent more efficient than the current engines on the A380-800. Since the centre wing box on the A388 doesn’t contain fuel, it’s quite obvious that the current wing box would be far too large, volume-wise, for just a re-engined A388neo.

    If an A388-derived twin would be developed using airframe and engine technologies 20 years newer, to what extent would the thrust requirements be reduced from a year 2000 baseline?

    First, an A388-derived twin would be similar in scope to the development of the 777X. The 777X requires an all new composite wing, in addition to all new engines, an all new main landing gear, and all new vertical and horizontal stabilisers.

    2nd, the all new composite wing should be an advanced high aspect ratio wing: Wingspan 90 metres — 79.75 metre wingspan when folded on the ground — and about 700 m2 of wing area (i.e. 15-plus percent less parasitic drag than the A380 wing. That would lead to a wing aspect ratio of about 11.5. In contrast, the wing aspect ratio for the A388 is 7.52 and for the 777X it’s 10.1 (i.e. assuming a near 20 percent larger wing area for the all new wing on the 777X over that of the wing on the 777-300ER).

    3rd, the reduction in Operating Empty Weight (OEW) for an A388-derived twin over that of an A388, should IMJ be in the neighbourhood of 50 metric tonnes. As OEW typically accounts for around 50 percent of MTOW, an A388-derived twin should have a MTOW of around 450 metric tonnes — or about the same as the MTOW of the 747-8. A weight saving of that magnitude is almost equal to the full passenger load of an A380-800 (i.e. passengers + luggage).

    A MTOW of 450 metric tonnes is only about 28 percent more than the 352 metric tonne MTOW of the 777-9. With lower wing loading and a higher wing aspect ratio, the maximum thrust level required for an A388-derived twin would be slightly less than 135,000 lbs of thrust. That’s at least a 40,000 lbs thrust reduction over what would have been needed for an A388-type twin using year 2000 engine and airframe technologies.

    In comparison, the maximum installed thrust levels for the Trent XWB-97 engine on the A350-1000, the GE9X engine on the 777-9 and the GE90-115B engine on the 777-300ER, are respectively, 97,000 lbs, 105,000 lbs (-plus) and 115,000 lbs.

    Just by scaling up the Trent XWB-97 engine by 40 percent to 130,000 – 135,000 lbs of thrust, would result in an engine having a 140-inch diameter fan (i.e. 118-inch diameter fan on the Trent XWB-97 engine). That’s only 6 inches more than the 134-inch diameter fan on the GE9X engine. Airbus should quite easily, therefore, be able to integrate an engine with a fan diameter of 140 inches on an A388-derived twin family. The engine centre-line to fuselage centre-line distance would be slightly larger for the A390-800X (i.e. 0.5 – 1 m). Hence, there would be more than enough ground clearance for the engine without having to make the aircraft sitting higher off the ground. In order to increase/maintain the engine bypass ratio – thereby further increasing the engine efficiency – two contra-rotating fans could be used instead of a single fan.

    Now, the trip fuel burn for an A388-derived twin should IMJ be at least 40 percent less than on the current A380-800; or only around some 10 percent higher trip fuel burn than a 777-10X. IMJ, therefore, a twin engined A388-derived twin — i.e. same fuselage length as the A388 — that would only have a 10 percent higher trip fuel burn, while having a 45 percent larger effective cabin floor area than a 777-10X, would surely change the game permanently.

    Finally, the current A380 could be transformed into a super VLA. An A380NG should IMO be available in both passenger and freighter versions. In order to maintain a relatively low wing loading, the wing should be re-engineered with a one frame chord-wise insert, wingspan extension to 100 metres (i.e. 90 metres when folded on the ground), new composite wing covers etc.

    The A380NG freighter version could have a MTOW of as high as 750 metric tonnes, be around 85 -90 metres long and having a re-designed nose section and a re-positioned cockpit on a 0.5 metre raised upper deck, in order to accommodate nose door loading. The payload capability should IMJ be around twice that of the 747-8I.

    The passengers version could be available in two models. The smaller A380-900NG would be around 95 metres long, while the larger A380-1000NG could be around 105 metres long. MTOW would grow to 630-650 metric tonnes.

    The freighter version would enter into service in the mid to late 2020s, while the A380-900NG/A380-1000NG would obviously be dependent on ground infrastructure catching up. With a decade-long preparation period for major airports, EIS could well be doable by 2030.

    • tl;dr

      All I’m seeing is “if”s, “would”s, “should”s, and “could”s, and far too detailed planning, i.e. presenting an all too refined solution for an all too unclear future.

      • @Bernardo

        What’s unclear about the tremendous untapped potential of a 2025 state-of-the-art double decker VLA in addition to the the fact that air traffic is projected to double in the next 15 years, and quadruple by 2045-2050.

        • Wow, I am stunned at the vision.

          Lets drop something that is not selling, don’t extend it to the 900 originally envisioned (let alone NEO), no, lets spend 30 billion on an even bigger aircraft that does not sell.

          Then reality reared its ugly head and it was only a dream, phew.

          • What is stunning, is your grossly exaggerated cost estimate taken out of thin air.

            Again, the development of an A380-derived twin — about the same size as the A388 — would be similar in scope to the development of the 777X. The 777X requires, among other things, the development of an all new composite wing — in addition to all new engines — an all new main landing gear, and all new vertical and horizontal stabilisers.

            The 777X R&D costs — in addition to the investment in new manufacturing facilities — is reportedly in the neighbourhood of $10 billion. The total R&D, investment costs (etc.) for an A380-derived twin would be in the same ballpark.

            Now, reality is something that is continually evolving, so what might be considered reality today may not be reality tomorrow.

            Of course, if one is perpetually stuck in convergent thinking, it may be hard to envision how a double-decker twin having some 40-50 percent higher passenger capacity than a 777-10X, while burning only some 10 percent more fuel per trip, would impact the market for large single deck widebodies.

          • Me thinks you is wrong.

            You are talking an all new program, 737MAX on steroids.

            Yea maybe the cost is only 20 billion.

            You can’t sell what you have, you can’t sell an extended (designed in) version with an NEO and you are going to do this?

            Pure fantasy.

          • Your credibility is not enhanced by your ridiculously exaggerated cost estimates.

            The joint development of the twin-engine A330-300 and the four-engine A340-300 cost around $3.5 billion (1993 dollar value), or about $6.2 billion in today’s dollar value. However, it was not an all new programme as the fuselage from the A300 was re-used and updated. The 777X development programme is following a similar philosophy. Thus, a $10 billion cost estimate for the 777X doesn’t sound unreasonable. The development programme of an A380-derived twin would also follow that same philosophy (i.e. re-using the existing A380 fuselage).

            If you’re so convinced that an A380-derived twin would cost $20 – $30 billion, why don’t you provide a development cost breakdown for your “cost estimate” and explain why an A380-derived twin would cost between 100 and 200 percent more to develop than the 777X.

            As for Airbus supposedly “can’t sell” an A388neo, you conveniently seem to ignore the fact that Tim Clark is on record saying he’d buy 200 units.

          • You continue to focus on costs but ignore the lack of reality on your end.

            Well lets see, at the very low end its 12 billion.

            I have seen people re-model houses that then cost far more than the house was or doing a brand new house. Ditto with old cars. Trying to kludge and hash the concept onto an airframe that is not intended for it is going to cost far more than all new, and all new is still 12 billion minimum (VLA) and probably closer to 15.

            So, no less than 12 billion, easily close to 20 and is still fantasy.

            It takes more than an APP to make things happen.

          • Well, unsurprisingly you play fast and loose with numbers. Now you’re at “$12 billion” for an “all new” VLA twin and “just” $20 billion for an A380-derived version — and all of this “insight”, apparently, is based on your know-how in home renovation and/or car restoration. ROTFL!

            Now, it’s quite baffling that someone of your caliber and expertise seems to be unaware of the fact that Airbus “kludged and hashed” — using your terminology — the A330/A340 concept onto an airframe (A300) that was not originally intended for it, while merely spending just $3.5 billion (in then year $). How were they able to do that? You know, when Boeing at the same time reportedly blew the budget by a 100 percent cost overrun on the then all new 777 programme (i.e. originally projected R&D costs about $6 billion),

          • Putting it another way, you throw out costs based on a smaller aircraft, then use that on a much larger on, turn a 4 engine into a 2 engines and make guesses as to what it costs.

            VS doing what the A380 was intended to be all along, i.e. 900 version and NEO with 4 it was designed with.

            If the mega hubs has merit (and I agree that is where the traffic goes, just now how many are in a given tube getting them there) then the stretch makes more sense (without the NEO)

            However there is a mix of economics, flexibility and pax counts that plays into it.

            It seems high pax counts is not enough, flexibility is important and the efficiency battle rages by Airbus as well as Boeing.

            If its viable the 900NEO answers all of those. I don’t think we will see it (or any variation of that) and I see nothing that says a new wing is in order let alone the mother of all engines to drive it and can you even get the ground clearance in that size?

            Is RR going to put mega bucks into that? Same position as Airbus, they can’t afford to as there is no indicator its a viable market.

            140,000 lb thrust engines, that is a LEAP

            Best bang for the buck without the risk (which Airbus is not going to engage in)

          • Obviously, you’ve got no idea what you’re talking about. You’re making the fundamental mistake in assuming that the development costs of an airliner increase proportionally with size. Answer: It does not.

            Furthermore, most of the billion dollar infrastructure facilities required for an A380-derived twin is already in use for the production of A388s.

            As for the engine, I said 130,000 to 135,000 lbs of thrust – not 140,000 lbs of thrust. You seem to have a habit of exaggeration and inaccuracy.

            134,000 lbs of thrust is for a 28 percent scaled up 777X MTOW (i.e. having the same wing loading and aspect ratio etc: 353 metric tonne MTOW for the 777X and 450 metric tonne MTOW for an A380-derived twin). However, due to the significantly higher wing aspect ratio of the 90-metre wing of an A380-derived twin, over that of the 71.8-metre wing of the 777X, and the resulting added reduction in induced drag, take off thrust requirements would be closer to 130,000 lbs of thrust. That’s not a LEAP by any stretch of the imagination. We’re only talking about a 13-plus percent increase in installed thrust over that of the GE90-115B engine that, btw, has generated 127,900 lbs of thrust in testing. What was a LEAP, however, was going from 50,000 to 70,000 lbs of thrust engines on the 747/767/A310/A330 to a thrust level of 90,000-plus lbs of thrust on the 777-200ER; and later increasing the max installed thrust level to 115,000 lbs of thrust on the 777-300ER.

          • @OV-099

            I really don’t get this urgency to make the A380 a twin. Did you read Bjorn’s posts about the A380 and A343’s engine maintenance costs? No higher than twins. For A343, fuel is about same as 77E.

            A 130k engine of ~2025 generation will be ~160in (scale up by SQRT(thrust) from GE9X, add 10% for ultra-high BPR. That’s just not going to fit under the wing even it were worth it.

            I like your thinking generally about the A380, but I think you need to frame your solution to diagnosis of the A380’s current sales problem. IMO any reasonable answer has to relate (1) trip cost to (2) efficiency. Your various proposals address (2) but at far greater development cost than a single optimized rewing/reloft, and – for the upper ranges of your proposals – at far higher trip cost.

            You can achieve 90% of the efficiency delta with the current fuselage (sure, maybe a ~10ft stretch if you want), for 1/3 or less of making three models, one of which is a twin. Why make what would already be a huge undertaking into something even bigger?

            What are the marginal sales from your three-model proposal versus a single optimal A380? Are they enough to recover building two wings, two MLG, three fuselages?

          • @Transworld

            Your diagnosis of the A380’s problem appears to be that they should have just built the -900, and should build the -900NEO if anything at all. There are a couple bad assumptions underlying your view and a couple real world facts that contradict it plainly.

            First the facts:
            1. Airbus shopped a (half) stretched A380NEO, even EK said the extra seats weren’t necessary. Literally nobody else wanted it.
            2. Airbus was shopping the -900 since launch, nobody signed up.

            Bad background assumptions:
            1. You assume that because Airbus meant to build the -900, that the -900 would be good. That assumption should be shaky simply from the fact that Airbus built the A380 and that was a mistake.
            2. The fact that the A380’s wing can get the -900 off the ground doesn’t mean it would fly efficiently. The wing is too short for the -800, for the -900 it would be far worse. Induced drag would be way too high, you wouldn’t see the kind of efficiency delta that could change the ballgame for this program.

            …which leaves a new wing as the only real option. No, it is not being publicly vetted as you point out. That doesn’t mean it’s not a good idea; it doesn’t mean Airbus isn’t considering it in-house. To hold Airbus’ public stance about the A380 as the metric for good ideas is, again, plainly bad practice given how enthusiastic they were about this program and what a disaster it has been.

          • @Eric

            If you want to put an all new wing on an A380-derived aircraft, at least you should look at all the options.

            First, it’s cheaper to design an all new wing for a twin than for a quad. More engines equals more interference drag and inlet drag too, unless you integrate the engines within the wings (i.e. limiting the interference drag but not inlet drag). The main challenge in designing a wing for a quad, is where to locate the inboard and outboard engines with respect to each other – and the fuselage, as the interference drag from both the inboard and outboard engines will interact.

            2nd, due to the interference drag of the inboard and outboard engines, it’ll be harder to incorporate drag-reducing natural laminar flow on a wing for a quad-engine aircraft than the wing for a twin-engine aircraft — and drag-reducing natural laminar flow could very likely have reached a sufficient level of technological readiness by the early 2020s.

            3rd, ducted contra rotating fan seems feasible for a 2025 state-of-the art 130,000 lbs of thrust engine. One of the great advantages of an engine using a ducted contra rotating fan is that you can increase the bypass ratio without increasing the diameter of the fan. In order to keep the tips of the blades subsonic at cruise, the rotational speed of the rotor has to be reduced, which leads to rotational flow or swirl in the propeller wake. The use of a second propeller to capture this swirl flow allows the bypass ratio and overall efficiency to be significantly improved. Hence, an 130,000 lbs engine having a 140-inch fan would still be significantly more efficient than the TXWB-97 engine on the A350-1000 (i.e. 140 inch fan would have a 40 percent greater frontal area than the 118-inch fan on the TXWB-97, while only having some 34 percent greater thrust).

            As for the freighter and the larger 95-m long A380-900NG and 105-m long A350-1000NG, a significant chunk of the wing production facilities are already in place — even if you’d re-design the wing using composite wing panels and spars.

            An 105-m long A380-1000 would have about 70 percent greater floor area than the A388. At 11-abreast on a re-designed main deck — i.e. effective cabin width increased to 264-inches from 248-inches due to the re-sculpturing of the side wall frames below the window belt — in addition to raising the floor-panels of the entire main deck by 5-plus inches (including all of the main deck doors) — an A380-1000NG would be able to carry more than 850-900 economy class passengers on the main deck at a seat pitch of 32-inches, or up to 700 premium economy-type seats (i.e. 10 abreast, 37″ pitch). Those 700 premium economy-type seats could be offered by operators at regular economy class fares — and we’ve not talked about what to put on the upper deck (i.e. a combination of more premium economy-type seats at 7 abreast and larger more generous accommodations for premium passengers). Who wouldn’t want to fly in economy on such an aircraft, whenever available, especially if could still be operated with such generous seating arrangements at a hugely competitive CASK.

            An 105-m long A350-1000 (100-m wingspan version) would have about the same thrust requirements as the current A350-900. With ducted contra rotating fans, the fan diameter could retain the same diameter as the current TXWB engines. Any re-engining of the A350 would directly benefit the A380NGs – and vice versa. Having engines at least 25 percent more efficient than the current ones — in addition to the much more efficient re-designed wing, you’d be looking at similar trip costs as the current A388.

          • Eric: I was not saying that an 900, or a 900 NEO or ven the 800 stech should be built.

            I am saying to OV99 that if he wants to improve the eocnomci, that is the way to go as its both built into the desing (stretch or 900) and the NEO is easy.

            He wants to desing a whole new wing which is billions (no less than 4 at a guess) and an engine that does not exist for an aircrafrt that is not selling? I find that stunning.

            OV99: You continue to insistat that a wing and two enginers is the anser. No one who works on or udnersant the reality is going to go that way.

            Back to, if you want to improve the economics (on paper) you do the stgrch Eric refed to, or the 900 with or without an NEO.

            The problem is, it won’t sell, but its a low cost solut9ion

            You all new wing is billions on top of billions with two engine that don’t sell either (and you don’t’ get 4 on each non sale, you get two)

            No one is going to do that.

            You come up with schemes that are not realistic when the problem is you simply can’t sell the darned thing in the first place.

          • OV99: You can’t sell the current freighter, what makes you think it will sell?

            Boeing is having a hard time selling a dedicated built for the application with a front opening freighter.

            No one wanted the A380 as it could not carry the floor density mores (UPS and FedEx excepted) needed.

            I don’t understand why you want to ruin Airbus?

          • @TransWorld

            So, you’re now at “$4 billion” — interesting.

            As for Eric; he also want to see a new wing being developed for an A380-derivative. The difference to my proposal, is that he seems to prefer a quad.

            You all new wing is billions on top of billions with two engine that don’t sell either (and you don’t’ get 4 on each non sale, you get two)

            Are you talking about the 777X? You know, where GE only “gets two on each sale” — and, “billions upon billions”; are you now trying to paraphrase Carl Sagan?

            Now, what I’m talking about is an aircraft that will blow the 777X out of the water. An A380-derived twin having only some 10 percent higher trip costs than a 777-10X, while being able to carry 40 – 50 percent more passengers will put a premature end to the 777X programme – period!

            As for the freighter, you seem to ignore that the world air cargo market is still expected to double over the next 40 years. Just because the 50-year old 747 freighter programme is on its last legs, doesn’t mean that a very large purpose built freighter — having a significantly lower fuel burn per tonne of cargo carried — won’t be viable some 10-15 years hence.

            One problem with the 747 freighter* is that it’s not designed for fast loading since the nose door can only handle 8-ft high pallets/containers, while most of the fuselage (i.e. aft of the hump) is designed for 10-ft high pallets.

            By putting a C-5/An-124 type nose section on a re-designed A380 freighter — in addition to raising the upper deck floor on the A380 by some 2-ft, you could provide for very fast parallel nose loading of two 96″ x 125″ x 10-ft pallets/containers, leading to a considerable faster turn around time than the 3 hours of today.

            Also, by raising MTOW to 750 metric tonnes — from 590 metric tonnes for the original freighter, the payload capability would increase to 350+ metric tonnes; or 2.5 times the payload capability of the 747-8F. The cargo density would, at least, be identical to that of the 747 freighter.

            * http://www.boeing.com/resources/boeingdotcom/company/about_bca/startup/pdf/freighters/747-400f.pdf

          • OV99: No I am saying 4 billion for a wing. Not for the program.

            For all you claim can be done (on paper) we are talking billions on billions more for structure change (to the aircraft) redesign the wing box, engines that do not exist in a configuration that is pulled out of thin air estimate wise.

            None of it adds up, other than pushing a cost of 10 to 12 billion (IMNSHO)

            Last I knew Airbus did not build engines so they would have to pay someone to build that engine (no one is going to put their money into something like that)

            If the A380 has economics issues, then the NEO takes care of that and any stretch you want.

            As no one (Emirates as always aside) thought it would work for them it would have been ago.

            We are not talking vision, we are talking deluvision.

        • The problem with your vision (and the Airbus vision) is that it relies on the assumption that long-haul air traffic growth will mostly come through higher traffic on existing routes.

          However, the other possibility is that growth in air travel makes a lot more city-pairs viable for nonstop routes. That was Boeing’s big bet with the 787. So far, it looks like Boeing gets the point in this debate. As 787 production costs/ASPs come down — and the aircraft potentially gets re-engined in the late 2020s/early 2030s — even more long-haul nonstop routes will become viable.

          As a result, I think that most of the long-haul air travel growth will be met by adding airplanes to the global fleet, rather than massively increasing gauge. There is clearly some niche market for A380-size aircraft, but it’s not even clear that the market can support the cost of re-engining the A380, let alone making bigger design changes.

          • Are there actually that many more long-haul city pairs being served? With 400+ 787s in service now, if that model is correct (as opposed to 787s replacing 767s/A340s/etc) we should surely have at least 50 new long-haul city pairs being serviced.

            Does anyone have any real data on this?

          • I think there are some, its more you are seeing a large city going to smaller destinations.

            It looks like its more that the VLA is so inflexible and costly that you can’t tune and adjust as needed.

            I don’t think Emirates can keep doing it either. Need more long term data for that though.

          • @Adam Levine-Weinberg

            As a matter of fact, Airbus predicted a continuation of the existing mainly hub-spoke system for long range intercontinental flights, so they were right as soon as they made their prediction. It is Boeing’s prediction that remains to be proved, and the Airbus prediction that is yet to be falsified. As thysi indicates, how many of the 430-plus 787s are actually flying point-to-point?

            Now, quite a few people seem to make the mistake as to believe the notion that international hub-to-hub and hub-to-point carriers somehow will lose out to low-cost, point-to-point carriers because hubs are supposedly inefficient. What they seem to ignore is that large hubs allow airlines to collect significantly more revenue from flights because they can connect so many more passengers from cities that otherwise wouldn’t have airline service.

            Also, airports thrive on international passengers as they make more valuable contributions to an airport’s overall revenue than domestic passengers, helping to drive airport retailing and a range of related services. Partly, therefore, quite a few smaller airports around the world, catering mostly to domestic services, are economic sinkholes.

            Interestingly, China is moving along towards a mature hub-and-spoke network fully integrated with their high speed rail system.

            But the international expansion of Chinese airlines cannot be successful without the strong support of a sophisticated hub-and-spoke network, which did not begin to emerge in China until the early 2000s. Point-to-point is still the dominant route structure of Chinese airlines. For this to change, development in hub and spoke airports will need to be strengthened.

            Hub development, with the rapid expansion of Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou airports, has made progress. Growth of 13% propelled Beijing Airport, the hub of Air China, to be the second busiest airport in passenger numbers, handling 73.9 million in 2010. As the next step, China’s hub development at these airports will place quality before quantity, enhancing their ability to consolidate traffic, while improving service and efficiency. This aims to better position them to compete with major air hubs in neighbouring countries for international connecting traffic.


          • Agreed with OV-99 as far as reality of major cities being the launcher of a route. Naritta Airport to San Jose (JAL?) Ditto Boston.

            $64 question (us saying) is a non flexible VLA the answer or more frequencies taking advance of the underused hours?

            So far it looks like both their forecasts or analysis is off.

            Its something in between which argues for the big boy twins though the 787 has a great market.

    • Surely an A380-900 / neo is going to far cheaper.

      I think that the majority of the problems with the current aircraft is that the size of the market simply hasn’t grown to fill it. Emirates and a few others do very well with it because they can fill it up with passengers reliably.

      In fact on routes where A380s are full it’d be difficult to replace it with any other aircraft.

      I’m convinced that Emirates will buy more, possibly with a heavily upgraded engine from RR and probably no airframe changes from Airbus. Without A380 Emirates would surely be hard-pressed to keep their passenger numbers as high as they are. When their current fleet starts to wear out they’ll be looking round for replacements, and there isn’t one, really, that would suit.

    • I agree that the A380 needs a new wing; we’ve discussed before.

      What I don’t see necessary/possible is more than one optimized model. And I don’t think the twin/quad issue is the A380’s problem. Bjorn’s A380NEO and A343 posts have shown that quads can be just as good on fuel and better on total engine maintenance.

      All (“all”) the A380 needs is a new wing, engines, and empennage. Either shave the landing fear for lower weights or build new MLG. That should come in at around 777X price tag – $5-6bn.

      You could look at sidewall shaving to accomodate 11-abreast on main deck. Remove 1-2 doors and reduce certified max capacity 695. That saves ~2,500lbs and increases 2/3-class capacity. Maybe that allows you to take out some air conditioning packs and ducting as well.

      You could get a plane with 900-950k lbs MTOW and ~40% lower trip fuel burn than the current bird (assuming 2025 engines – Ultrafan or similar).

      The focus should be on mitigating risk by keeping trip costs minimal, not by stretching to a 700-seat 3-class monster. -20% trip cost delta gets the A388X within 20% of the 777-9/10 trip costs with 50% more capacity. Now you have a capacity/efficiency tradeoff that many airlines might take. You’re right about the double deck efficiency, but you get that efficiency already at A388 size. Stretching doesn’t lead to any exceptional efficiency gains, it just puts your product into a smaller niche.

      • The problem is it all gets back to reality, if existing and the 900 is not selling (never made) then how many more billions to you put into an already lost cause?

        A380 has something like 20 billion into it already, add another 7 billion (probably a bit more) and average it all out and round up and we have 30 billion Boeing has into the 787 (not quite but close) .

        Now Boeing has to go North of 1200 (probably more like 1800) to just break even.

        Airbus was rropeo9t to need to go North of 550 to break even (program cost) before the wing joint issues and the RR engine problem. Call it a minimum of 750 now and it can’t even break even. Airbus alluded to they would loose as little as money as possible at rate 12, not even break even.

        Right now Airbus is saying no, I don’t see them changing their mind.

        Great aircraft, good economies for the right route and Airline (deep pockets) but not going to take off (BA will of course snatch up used at the right price)

  6. If Airbus kick the can down the road it could be seen as their 757 decision.
    At some point, Airbus may have to replace the A380 with either an A380 NEO with an updated version. I doubt the apetitite for a brand new super twin is there, given the development money that has already been pumped into the A380.

    Regardless of whether Airbus build an A350-2000, I believe we will see an A350 NEO with Ultrafan engines to include an A350-2000 (NEO) with EIS around 2025-2030. This is the strategy that makes sense for me. RR’s plan for these engines is certainly greater thrust with their increased fan blade diameter, and greater efficiency. Airbus may or may not make the 2000 stretch but they will certainly make a NEO version of it at some stage I think.

    Though Boeing and Airbus both deny it, I believe the A380 and 747-8 will die off.

    Long haul high pax plane wars of 2025-2030 is A350 1000 & 2000 NEO (Ultrafan) Vs. Boeing 777-9X and Boeing 777-10X I reckon.

    There is a sweet spot there for Boeing in that no stetch of an A350 could match a 777-10X for pax. That’s also why I believe Boeing will build the 777-10X and retake the market from Airbus in that segment.

    In that case, Boeing would take Airbus’s A380 market from them.
    Airbus could take Boeing’s 777-200 and maybe even 777-300 market from them. Boeing might regret the excusivity deal they gave GE on the 777-X.

    • The reality is that if there is a future VLA, its an A380 derivative (and if the market is there the 900 and NEO certainly can fill it)

      777X can also go GTF when that is available so the fight goes on.

      • Pegasusboots,

        But whatever options are open to evolving A350 with Ultrafan, etc, would also be viable for A380. In fact you could sling a set of Trent-XWBs on an A380 right now and you’ve got an A380neo right there, a point that these chaps at Leeham have made before. An A380 with Trent XWBs would be a significantly improved aircraft.

        Possibly RR could do that all by themselves, simply labelling up an XWB-derived engine as a Trent-900, same pylon interface, telling Airbus that nothing has changed, et voila, de facto un neo!

        If some airline wants to carry 500+ passengers in a single flight, it’s always going to end up looking something like an A380. Some airlines (well, Emirates) do that already, all day, every day, on a lot of routes, and a 777x-10 would be a revenue downgrade.

        • The double deck has the advantage of easily having two air-bridges connected at the same time, I understand at some Emirates locations premium passengers never see an economy passenger as they board directly from the premium lounge.

          • It is. We did it in Dubai last month. A whole A380…with only 10 other passengers. That being said, there was noise emanating from the main concourse to the F lounge, so there were clearly some folks “down there”. 😉

  7. RR’s Advance will save around 20% of fuel compared to the Trent 900 and will be availale for service around 2020.
    The Ultrafan is planed for entry into service around 2025 and will safe 25% fuel.
    The reduction of the production rate is simply a move to buy time until it is clear which engine options will be available at what time and what their performance will actually be. In the meantime the A380s has to prove its value on the used market.
    Airbus also buys time to time to figure out if and how a CFRP wing can be made for the A380 and if and how they can use a CFRP skins on the body for a weight neutral stretch to the -900.
    Last not least we will see if congestion at major airports will become more of a topic in the next couple years or not.
    I personally think that they will draw out the timeline for the A380.NEO as much as they can and then build the stretched A380-900 with Ultrafan engines and much sleeker carbon wings. Fuel consumption per passenger mile on a record low.

    • @gundolf. Your post reads like a bottomless pit of money.

      Leeham has a very detailed post on the matter you refer to and it seems to make a lot of sense:

      I think his reasoning is correct, and that if there is an A380 NEO, it will be Advance engined, or some other derivative of the Trent 1000 TEN/7000, and not as far as Ultrafan. Ultrafan will go to the A350 NEO or other large twin aircraft first I believe.

      • Why would you got with an advance when the GTF is down the road a couple of years?

        The advance has not future, its just a developmental tool that the RR GTF is based on.

        • Ultrafan is a larger diameter engine that is aimed at the super twin segment. 4 of them is overkill and 2 arent enough for something as big as an A380. They could make shrinked versions but that would be further down the road. It wouldnt take too much effort to biild on the 1000 Ten for an A380 though as theyre similar to existing A380 engines in size and power.

          • So far RR is being quiet about the power levels.

            As the GTF is the future, it makes little sense to come out with an engine that is going to be superseded in a couple of years.

            I believe the Advance will never power and aircraft and its Ultra Fan Child will be the engine of RR future.

            Both are the same basic building block so I don’t see a difference in power levels.

            P&W has noted it can be scaled up and down.

        • The three spool RR Trents are 2/3 of the way to a high thrust GTF anyway as the front fan is optimised with its own spool. Plus you dont have the mechanical high power gearbox issues and the much faster main compressor speeds of the GTF to deal with.
          Im of the view the 40-50K GTF will come first before the 100K one.

          • Agreed the 40k will come first as the 797 will need that.

            That said if the 3 spool works so well, then RR has not need for the GTF but that is where they are going.

            I though I read that the advance was semantics and its actually a 2 spool deign.

  8. Airbus haven’t orchestrated 380 news very well at Farnborough or Le Bourget last year. That is true. And this, and only this, is the story. The story of its demise and the production cut really aren’t new stories. The writing has been on the wall for too many years.

    10 years from now and Boeing wants to offer a re-hash of what will then be a 30+ year airframe? I’m not sure it will work given that the competition has 2 airframes to play with. A380and XWB both are more modern airframes to meet future needs, whatever that may look like.

    77710x will be another 748i. Boeing may come out shouting loud but the past performance informs that rehashed airframes, that far out from original first flight rarely do not dominate the marketplace.

    • There are good derivatives and poor ones and will have to see.

  9. If a future 777-10 is a 450 seat aircraft, the A380 is a 700 seat aircraft.

    Apples to Apples, or we are taking the public for a ride.

    • No, its the economics that each one brings to the table as well as PAX count.

      Ergo, if the -10 becomes the defecto leader in economics then it threatens the A380 which is already shaky.

      And down the road is a 777X NEO

      • It may have better economics , but to make sure you dont leave paying passengers behind you would have to have a second flight a few hours later.
        3 class A380 to Lufthansa standards is 525 seats, a 777-10 would be certainly 100 less.
        Look at Cathay flights from London to Hong Kong , 5pm to 10pm there are 4 x 777 flights. You could replace that with 3 flights if one was an A380.

    • I think the A380 IS a 700 seat aircraft (or at least a 600-650 seat aircraft). The problem is that there aren’t many routes where it makes sense to have that many seats. So airlines end up going with low-density configurations that are hardly ever going to be as profitable as a smaller, higher-density plane.

    • Chances are the 777x could be sales limited just like the A380, due to size and some minor inherent fuselage width flaws. In a nutshell, the A380 is too wide and the 777x is too narrow for 10x. The double decker needed to be 243″ wide at armrests maindeck, and 2-2-2 163″ or 2-3-2 183″ econ upstairs. The A380 fuselage was sized a little too large.

      For economy, the A380, 777x, and 787 are all fuselage width design errors. That leaves the A350 and A330neo as better solutions in that regard, so maybe Delta is on to something.

      • IT was funny to read Bjorns comment on the seating situation in that once you got off a C or E2 series you would be moving to a worse seat.

        One of those oddities, does the 787 sell so well because you can stuff it?

        Keeping in mind that the 787 executed right would have knocked out the A330.

        Are the A350 and A330 accidents of width and does that limit their sales.

        Interesting area of speculation.

        • Ah, the art of selling.

          One thing that always sells well is a little touch of class. A380 is popular with passengers because it gives a classy ride even to economy class. A350 is similar. The A380 has taught a lot of regular passengers that air travel can be more comfortable than in the bad old days. A350, C and E2 will reinforce that lesson.

          I tentatively suggest that improving passenger comfort is a trend that airlines would buck at their peril.

          I think that the 787 will turn out to be a mistake; it’s expensive to buy (though getting cheaper), but does nothing for the passengers due to most airlines jamming in another seat. And because they’ll never ever wear out (no real fatigue problems with CF?), replacing them is always going to be an expensive option.

          So if passenger market share starts drifting towards A350 because passengers prefer it, what’s a 787 operator going to do? Throw out a perfectly serviceable aircraft and buy new? Strip out that extra column of seats and restore the sound proofing but run at a loss? Meanwhile one’s competitors with A350s can simply keep flying them without having to replace their fleet to gain a comfort advantage.

          I read that the A350 fuselage diameter and shape (it’s not cylindrical AFAIK) was actually a very carefully nuanced design decision on Airbus’s part. That crucial extra few inches makes all the difference. They so nearly got fuselage shape / size perfect with A380, though from a passenger’s point of view it is currently very good indeed.

          • You have to design so it can’t be up-seated. So only A350 (can we cram another seat in? A330 I believe was talking about cramming more in though not per row.

            A380 can and when they get desperate, they will.

            So have to see if the seat limited gets an advantage, its a wash or looses to the more flexible seat unlimited.

            Certainly interesting to see where it goes.

          • Perhaps it comes down to a half inch per armrest vs higher humidity, higher pressure, cleaner air and larger windows.

          • Since when do airlines listen to what passengers want? Passengers are going to fly regardless of its on an A380 or a 77W. Some will avoid the 77W but it’s a small minority. If you take a look at the carriers that have transitioned to 10 abreast from 9 on the 77W, you’ll agree with me that fleet planners don’t think of passenger comfort. We’re paying for a seat. Plain and simple. Where your seat is on the plane is up to you, the passenger.

            You’re arithmetic is wrong on the 787. Priced in millions. 787-10 (297) < A350-1000 (360) 787-9 (257) < A350-900 (310).

            Passenger market share? Lol Where is this metric even used, assuming it's even credible. 6 + billion humans cover this planet. Who else are those 6,000,000,000 human beings/passengers fighting against to gain or lose market share??? i.e. Narrowbody market share 737/A320. 45% vs 55%. Passenger market share. Human beings 100% vs _______ 0%.

            The sky is not falling. The 787 program will soldier on, as will the A350-900 & A350-1000. No program.

  10. Something Scott said that tweaked my thoughts a bit, the cost of a re-do of a Mega transport is so high vs the twins, it has by default become non viable.

    ergo, there will not be another 4 engine mega for the foreseeable future and both the current ones dies off.

    Tinseth is paid to put out the party line, I don’t see the 747-8F as viable, they will make do with what’s been made and keep the 400Fs flying.

    We still see some earlier F types come through and more than enough 400 Pax to convert in the future (and a number of them out there that were converted)

  11. There have hardly been any new orders (leave out Iranian intentions) for 350 seat plus for a few years now. I see it as Airbus stalling to see where the market goes. Boeing is committed with the 779 but I doubt if they are serious about the 10, there is no market visibility right now.

    • That depends on the Middle East carriers as they are by far the biggest driver of the 777-9 (and possible 10)

      Seems like a straight forward stretch to there is no big program costs involved.

      • I am curious about the 777-10´s likely high and hot performance out of Dubai. Considering the lengths Boeing had to go to to get acceptable 779 performance does the wing have more to give in 45 degrees?

        It will be interesting to see the ¨X¨´s entry to service.

        • Lot behind the scenes. Crank more power out of the GE engines.

          GE has a 787 engine ready to go with 80K thrust (and fixes to get the fuel improvement) that goes on the 787-10.

          RR is also though they gave theirs a name but its 78k.

          The GE might have more power than advertised to allow the -10 to win the Emirates order, it will be interesting.

          • I think Leeham have already reported that GE have a higher thrust 110klb GE9X version in the works, probably for the 777-10 or possibly an HGW version of the 777-9, so my question is the wing. If a 777-10 is done will it get off the ground on a hot day in Dubai with a load enough to satisfy Clark, or will it be more for European or US carriers, like the A350-2000 if it happens, or will more need to be spent on aero development?

          • It’s true that 787-10 development (in particular) could play into the hands of A380 development. The additional power it generates makes it a convenient stepping stone towards the A380. De-rated XWB engines might also work well, but wouldn’t be as efficient or cost effective. In truth, I do believe the A380 NEO would go down this route of familiar technology as opposed to unproven, less mature technology of the Ultrafan which is still a decade away. I’d agree that the improved GenX would be more favourable to Emirates at this time, but there are a few different engine platforms in the mix. I certainly think it would be favourable for a GenX or 1000 TEN with only minor changes to be used for an A380 as opposed to a brand new engine. It seems like a big gamble even to go as far as having a hypothetical “Trent 9000 Advance” specially made for something like the A380, which may yet turn out to be be a dinosaur. If they could use a derived GenX for example, they could spend more money on wing enhancements and even start to profit from the program.
            There is another issue – the conflict of interset. Would it be in GE’s interests to offer a GenX for the A380, given that it could affect sales of the 777-9X. IF, the Trent 1000 TEN is better than expected and a derivative used on an A380 NEO, then that might force GE’s hand into a GenX for the A380. Other posters above believe Ultrafan is the way to go, but I think that’s too niche. I don’t believe Ultrafan will go to the A380 first or even ever. Unless RR are planning to replace the 1000 TEN almost as soon as they launch it – I don’t see that. There’s too much experience and development in both the GenX and Trent 1000.

            Incidentally, I’m not sure RR will go for a ~40K Thrust Ultrfan engine first either. That market is very competitive, given PW’s experience and the LEAP engines. I think they’ll make a bee line for the GE9X, and stay in the market segment they are strongest in. Making more money from the A350 or even A380 is surely a better idea than chasing the not yet existent 797.

  12. Airbus is wise to slow production of the A380 and see how things evolve in a few years. More likely than investing further in the A380, Airbus has three low cost options for enhancing their offerings. A320.5, simple stretch of the A359 (same MTOW trading range for capacity), simple stretch of the A3510.

  13. The A380neo development costs are not supported by the current oil price. The additional cost per aircraft would not be payed through lower fuel consumption.

    Some official price tags:
    777-300ER: $320 million
    777-8X: $370 million
    777-9X: $400 million
    A350-900: $310 million
    A350-1000: $360 million
    A380-800: $430 million

    So the A350-1000 is cheaper than the 777-8X but more expensive than the 777-300ER.

    The price gap between the A380-800 and 777-9X is just $30 million.

    The big Airbus is slightly less efficient per seat with its rather old engines compared to yet to fly 777-9X. In my opinion the A380neo will come back then oil price goes up again.

    On the other end the 777-9X will have a hard time against the lighter A350.

    Undecided Airlines can wait and see how the A350 works and can keep up against the 777X promises.

    Airbus will keep the A380 alive until the oil price goes up again. The airlines will also wait to order until the new version is available.

    • Without the A380 there, Boeing could push up the price of a 777-9 considerably and have a 777-10 for sale at even higher price.

        • The list keeps the relations no matter how many percent you drop on each aircraft’s price. I guess Lufthansa did get more than Emirates due to Lufthansa’s capability to smoothly take aircraft into service without complaining much. (Lufthansa was first costumer for the 737 and retires the last this year.)

          It would be interesting to know big differences between offered discounts but I don’t that.

    • “The additional cost per aircraft would not be payed through lower fuel consumption.”

      Over 20 years? An A350-1000 more than pays for itself against a Boeing 777-300ER, and would make up the price difference several times over. It was definitely a smart choice for BA and Cathay and the other airlines that ordered it, and I think it will get more sales. Virgin just bought some last week.

      About the A380 – its cost is reasonable when compared with a 777-X but remember the existing 777 is already competitive with an A380 in terms of fuel burn / seat, and the 777X will be well ahead of it, and factor in that that’s with a fully laded A380 which is a hard beast to fill. The 777X will also carry much more cargo per passenger, when fully loaded than an A380, or fly further. The A380 needs a NEO, or to retire.

  14. It is not clear why Airbus would need to prep its workforce in advance of rate reductions becoming public in the press.

    One of the Airbus fanboys can correct me if I am wrong, but I assume employees working on the A380 can’t be laid off and instead would just be reassigned.

    • Workforce is to a degree “family”. You don’t unilaterally surprise members of the family with “cold” announcements like that.
      Bad style.


  15. Dear Leehamnews team, with all this 777-10 and A350-2000 musing I wonder about one thing. Bjorn Fehrm mentioned a while ago in a response on 4 vs. 2 engines, that one of the disadvantges of the A350-600 was its fineness of more than 13. If I calculate the figures right the 777-9 is already above the “good” ratio of max. 12 and any -10 or -2000 would be even worse? How does that effect your performance and efficiency calculations? Thanks!

  16. My initial thoughts on the 777-10 were similar to fuesioterrapoit’s: The fineness ratio of the 777-9 is already a bit higher than optimal (12.4, when you ideally want no higher than 12). A 777-10 would presumably hit a ratio of 13.5, putting it in the distinguished company of the A346 (which is slightly better) and the 753 (which is significantly worse).

  17. Wow, a lot of comments about the adjustment of the A380 production rate. Look at the other side, Airbus could have elected to drop the price of the jet to allow production to remain or even increase. They obviously looked at many other factors which outsiders would not even be aware of and took their decision. Looks to me like a company in a happy space.
    The comments also speculates a lot about the expected CASM of a future jet. Until the facts are established, those figures are mere assumptions. At the same time, RR will continually introduce PIPs for existing A380’s, however, these are also to be treated as speculative until they become fact. So if you wish to compare a paper plane with the A380, do so with paper PIPs in order to project a comparison. I would not compare the 380 to a 777 as the passenger comfort levels are too vastly dissimilar. There is a app available to help you find A380 flights which greatly assists passengers obsessed with comfort.

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