From zero to 10,000 in 50 years; can COMAC duplicate this achievement?

By Bjorn Fehrm

October 19, 2016, ©. Leeham Co: Airbus delivered its 10,000 aircraft last week (Figure 1), an A350-900 delivered to Singapore Airlines.

Delivering the 10,000 aircraft after 50 years of start of project is impressive, especially as the competition, Boeing Commercial Airplanes (BCA), the late McDonnell Douglas Corp and Lockheed Co, fought Airbus every step of the way.

Figure 1. Airbus 10,000th aircraft for Singapore Airlines. Source: Airbus.

We have a new player starting its 50 years, Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China, COMAC. It’s on its eighth year and the competitions’ sentiments are: “It will take long before they can compete, decades!”

Let’s compare with the rise of Airbus and see what can be learned. Will COMAC deliver its 10,000th aircraft in 50 years? Or in a shorter time?

Can COMAC mimic Airbus?

To better understand new entrants in the market, we will examine how Airbus rose to market equality with Boeing. We will then make parallels to COMAC’s position and see if these makes sense.

Of the two nations (China and Russia) which now presenting mainline competitors to the duopoly Boeing and Airbus, China and COMAC is the most potent.

This is not because of technical prowess. Russia and its United Aircraft are considerably more knowledgeable, but Russia puts politics before sales. China on the other hand doesn’t mix business and politics (at least for now) and it shows a remarkable commercial learning curve on each field it chooses to compete.

The beginning

Airbus was formed with one manager, an assistant and a secretary, days before Christmas 1970. The ultra-slim management team should manage existing aircraft companies in France, UK, Germany and an A300 aircraft project that had been going between the national industries since 1966. It took until 2001 to form a proper company of the joint venture.

COMAC was formed from the giant Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) with 430,000 employees, 100 companies and 35 research institutes. It started with a proper company structure and could draw on the resources of the sister group. It contains 10 companies and an estimated 50,000 employees. The charter was to focus the important commercial airliner projects of the country and make them a success, the same as Airbus.

It took Airbus until 1974 to deliver the first A300 to the launch customer, home country Air France. Almost all orders and options to date, eight years after launch of COMAC, is to home country, in total 517 aircraft to 21 customers. Until the Eastern Airlines order in 1976, 10 years after launch of the A300, the consortium had 55 orders almost exclusively from home market customers.

Eastern was the first “external” airline to order an Airbus due to a free loan and a lease offer they “simply could not resist.” By 1980, 14 years after project start, Airbus had delivered a total of 100 A300s.

COMAC plans to start deliveries of the C919 in 2019. Few believe that this will hold. But even with a delay, 100 aircraft will most probably have been delivered eight years from now. This would be 2024, 14 years after the C919 project was started.

It took Airbus another 10 years to come to 500 aircraft delivered. Admittedly the market is larger for COMAC in 2024. The China domestic market alone during 2024 to 2034 is forecasted to 5,000 single aisle aircraft.

It’s probable that COMAC deliveries will exceed 10% of that market, especially as most airlines are state controlled. By 2035, 25 years after the start of C919, it’s probable that COMAC will have more than doubled the sales rate of Airbus at 25 years, to 1,000 aircraft or more.

The ramp

The Airbus ramp started in 1990, when the A320 was introduced. But sales of A320 didn’t really take off until 1995 when 500 A320s had been delivered.

By 2001, 35 years after project start, Airbus had delivered 2,500 aircraft and reached 50% market share of world-wide airliner sales. COMAC has every chance of having delivered 2,500 aircraft by 2045; it will probably be double that or more.

The 5,000th Airbus was delivered 2007 and nine years later deliveries had doubled to 10,000 aircraft, 50 years after project start. It will be 2058 when COMAC celebrates its 50 years as a company. The probability that they will have delivered more than 10,000 aircraft by then is high, as the market is considerably larger. It will probably be more than double that.

Conclusion

It’s very difficult to foresee the development of a new player in the market like COMAC. One sees the present deficiencies compared to the established players with their technology, their customer base and their established after market support.

It was the same with Boeing, McDonnell Douglas and Lockheed when Airbus came into the market. “This is yet another state project that will fail. They don’t have the technology, nor the customer base or the aftermarket support we have,” the three US manufacturers claimed.

It’s easier to project what can happen when one compares with history. One then realizes that COMAC has 50 years to exceed Airbus’ success. They have every opportunity to do that. Today, Boeing recognizes that China is likely to be the next competitive threat.

 

55 Comments on “From zero to 10,000 in 50 years; can COMAC duplicate this achievement?

  1. This essay IMHO ignores the preexistence of a range of very innovative entities in Europe ( US manufacturers sucked from that t*t quite a bit :-).

    What the Airbus idea achieved was to synergetically bundle these capabilities into a single corporate front and product line that could counter the market imbalance from the US.

    • Couldn’t agree with you more. The technical base was in existence. Looking at the production facilities of present day Airbus you see a lineage and history stretching back 70+ years. To suggest a lack of expertise is to miss the point. A substantial number of the aeronautical advances have been made by European aviation companies.

      The fundamental weakness was the limited market in any single European country to support the sales necessary to bring down the unit cost to something competitive. In the UK’s case that was compounded by the unique requirements and meddling of the state airlines.

  2. C919 is a guaranteed success, government of China will ensure the local product ends with 50% of the market, assuming future governments have the same priority as the current one. Remember Chinese leaders automatically change every 10 years, at least in recent years. Some questions are being raised about the future of the current system though, it looks a bit like present leaders are making a power grab, anyway I can see the C919 with 2000+ sales in 20-30 years.

    THE PROJECTS PROBLEM IS IT’S STRENGTHS. With it’s captive market I don’t see the improvements coming that will need to come. The driver isn’t there, and as a friend of mine puts it, the law of gravity also applies to economics and China is overdue to come down and rebalance itself. In thirty years time China won’t be a growth market and COMAC will needed to be competitive on a World scale to go on from it’s domestic market. Keeping the faith with Russia is the key in my mind, but China doesn’t have a great history of keeping faith.

    Chinese manufacturing is a strange thing when it comes to quality, they can do it if they try, and have a financial reason to do good quality. Look at Apple etc in the electronics industry. On the other hand shipbuilding is another story. After twenty years as a world shipbuilding power they are still generally cheap and nasty. Quality companies like China Steam Navigation (Swire’s) send Chinese built ships to the breakers after only 8-10 years, in an industry that normally uses ships 25 years. If you want a quality ship from China that will last 25 years they will happily build one, it just costs as much as anywhere else and so isn’t worth the “made in China” stigma. As for Chinese cars, quite a few Chinese commercial vehicles where I live, and Chinese cars have been coming into the country for 10-12 years now. but nobody wants to buy one for their family. At this point in their manufacturing history both Japan and Korea had reputations for acceptable or good quality, China doesn’t, and it is rapidly becoming too expensive to remain “Cheep and cheerful”. So I can’t see things going well in more than twenty years without some major cultural changes. I see more and more that Chinese managers are very different to other Asian management, the sort of responsibility taken by Japanese managers is not enshrined in Chinese culture and they have yet to find a way forward once they can’t do cheap any more. Normand talks a lot about the Chinese being a future massive consumer market, I guess he could be right but at the moment it is the foreign car makers who are reporting all the demand in China, so there is a lesson here for Chinese companies as to who might end up dominating the Chinese market if lessons aren’t learnt.

    • PS I have seen articles stating that Airbus find Chinese built A320s are just as expensive as French and German ones, but that Airbus look on the USA as a cheap labour country and they expect the US built A320s to be cheapest to build.

      • Cheap labor comes with a lot of effort being spent on bringing them up to speed. And looming risk for workplace peace from unreasonable unions.

    • You get what you pay for in respect to China is often misunderstood.
      Quality wise you get what the manufacturer was paid.
      All the remaining “value add” steps to the customers
      don’t bring anything to the equation.
      Replacing a homegrown 100$ item with a 75$ Chinese item
      means that where the manufacturer @home got maybe $25 his Chinese replacement will get <<$5.

      • A lot of truth in that, but you forgot the cost of downtime, so it might be a $75 part but it often comes with a $75 extra downtime cost. However I stand by my comment that China can do good stuff if they are paid, but sorting the wheat from the chaff is costing them as a lot of the time as the “made in China” tag is often an automatic reason to avoid something. It is time they leave cheap and nasty to the next country on the way up.

        • I am baffled by the statement the Chinese do no mix politics and business.

          If the C919 is not political, then I am the next president of the United States (we can all hope not!)

          I don’t recall Airbus throwing massive amounts of money into the aircraft, they did it on a budget solving the technical issues (correct me if I am wrong) – not with major cash to correct each mistake.

          It will be interesting when the Government forces the C919 on the airlines. Airbus was leveraged but I don’t not think it was forced. Probably park the C919s as much as possible and do as minimal as possible on non important routes.

          Massive government cash, influence and mandates does not look to make a happy tale. Inefficient government production plants knowing you don’t have to justify anything, just got the bank with your suitcase and fill it up again.

          I think a lot still stands in regards to cheap.

          They can make cheap tools cheaper than we can.
          They can’t make good tools cheaper than we can.

          Bearings the same.

          Pipe the same (lot of experience with that building the Alaska Pipeline)

          • “They can make cheap tools cheaper than we can.
            They can’t make good tools cheaper than we can.”

            And therein lies the problem they need to solve, their currency is overpriced for what they can deliver. Blame speculation and press talk of the “China Miracle” for that.

            To me the big uncertainty is in national leadership. China nearly automatically changes leadership every 10 years, a sort to quite successful second generation dictatorship. Nobody yet is talking about the next set of leaders who are only about 5 years away, and those who will appear in 15 and 25 years are completely invisible and unknown to us. Will they support an organisation nearly as big as Airbus with not a lot to show for it? I think a lot more is resting on the C919 and possible follow up widebody than we can know.

          • Is it the “unknowness” of future power holders
            or the lack of corporate dominance ( resulting in limited freedom governments. further loss of autonomy expectable via CETA, TTIP, ..) ?
            Corporations are greed driven and that will never change so you do get a kind of continuity from that.

  3. COMAC will sell as many aircraft to Chinese state controlled airlines as the Chinese government forces them to take and they will use their patented system of dumping them on foreign markets in cash strapped countries. There’s no limit to how many they can sell.

    Well done Airbus! Its a marvellous achievement and the 1000th livery is fetching

    • @PB

      Could you explain how they ‘dump’ on other markets please? I accept that China does take advantage of its economic status to negotiate concessions and/or preferential treatment. I am inclined to think that the US and EU does something similar. I do however feel that other countries complaining of China’s competitive position is a bit rich. They can produce most things more cheaply. What exactly are they supposed to do? They will grow and increasingly influence and dominate world trade, whether that includes aerospace is a moot point, but not for long.

      • They can’t sell in the Western world unless they are certified.

        They are not certified, the whole thing went down the drain with the RJ-21 failing.

        They hope to, but they went about it wrong and not likely.

        China and Zimbawee maybe if Robert doesn’t croak.

        • Also its one thing to get an ARM processor and fiddle with it a bit. Its a different ball game to meddle with jet engines. Japan is way ahead of China technologically and although they have Honda and Toyota, Mitsubishi narrowbody is as far as they’ve come with aircrafts. China will continue to hack western companies and rip off their IP but that doesnt mean they know what they’re doing.

          • I think two areas work for quality there.

            1. Non government owned entities (though many do indeed steal IP and are rip offs)

            2. Western branches that hold to high quality control standards.

  4. “Boeing Commercial Airplanes (BCA), the late McDonnell Douglas Corp and Lockheed Co, fought Airbus every step of the way.”

    What did you expect? For those very same companies to roll out the red carpet and say “Oh, Hi, new guy!! Here, have some of my business so I can put my own people out of work and eventually put myself out of business!”

    @Uwe:
    This essay IMHO ignores the preexistence of a range of very innovative entities in Europe ( US manufacturers sucked from that t*t quite a bit 🙂

    Oh boy, here we go. Please enlighten us. I’m certain your list is long if what you are saying is true. And I’m sure the US will come back and say “oh, and how about this veritable Library of Congress of innovations that Europe sucked out of American research, universities, government, and companies…..

    No one denies European companies have made a lot of innovations, but for you to imply that the US doesn’t and has only sucked it out of Europe is the height of ridiculousness

    • – swept wing desing (Germany adopted for e.g. B-47)
      – jet engines (UK and Germany)
      – civil use of fly-by-wire for Concorde (also supercruise capabilty)
      – supercritical wing A300
      – two men cockpit A300 (not so sure about that)
      – carbon fiber use for major parts like stabilizers (A300)
      – digital fly-by-wire for A320

      The mayor problem for Comac will be innovations. Airbus did not build aircraft after existing models. Airbus was (and maybe still is) leader on useful innovations. – I do not think that the kind of 787 fuselage production is a useful innovation. Also folding wing tips for future big aircraft are more or less a stopgap. –

      • I know its an urban legend, but swept wing research was done by others well before WWII.

        Germany did apply it first.

        • It is no urban legend. For it is well documented that in 1935 Adolph Busemann presented a paper on this subject at a scientific conference in Italy.

        • It is always a big step between an idea or paperwork and take off. That was done with e.g. Horten H IX, Me 163 or Me 262. The Focke-Wulf design Ta 183 looks like the father of the MiG-15.

          The Bell X-1 had straight wings. Try to name the “others”.

          Btw first variable wing design: Messerschmitt P.1101

      • Also, wasn’t the Avro Canada CF-105 Arrow flown with ‘fly by wire” control before the Concorde. Also, though not airplane, the Lunar Landing Research Vehicle was I believe run on fly by wire system (and a bit more complicated to maneuver than an airplane as well).
        I could be wrong.

        • Well, that is balanced with the German VTOL craft.
          EWR VJ 101, VAK 191, Do 31. All had some version of analog FBW to be flyable 🙂

        • The Arrow’s flight controls were driven by cables linked to servos. So technically speaking it was not a FBW. As for the LLRV it used thrusters to control the three axis: pitch, roll and yaw. Anyway, we are talking about commercial aircraft here. The history of FBW is complex and has many ramifications with military aircraft. Still, it is fair to say that Concorde was the first commercial aircraft to make extensive use of analogue FBW.

    • “.. but for you to imply that the US doesn’t and has only sucked it out of Europe is the height of ridiculousness..”

      That is your personal (mis)attribution of what I wrote.

  5. “Of the two nations (China and Russia) which now presenting mainline competitors to the duopoly Boeing and Airbus, China and COMAC is the most potent. This is not because of technical prowess. Russia and its United Aircraft are considerably more knowledgeable, but Russia puts politics before sales.”

    Russia can change rapidly. Look what Gorbachev did over a short period of time. For the time being they are stuck with Putin who is a nuisance for commerce with the outside. But if a new Gorbachev comes on board Russia has the potential to become a very powerful player in commercial aviation. I base my assessment on their past accomplishments. They were the first to put a man, and a woman, in orbit. They have produced, and still produce, fabulous fighter aircraft. The Russian population is very well educated and very productive intellectually. And they now have access to the rest of the planet, something only a privileged few could have until not long ago. For all those reasons, and many more, I do believe that Russia is, or will be in the not so distant future, a force to be reckoned with in commercial aviation.

    “To better understand new entrants in the market, we will examine how Airbus rose to market equality with Boeing. We will then make parallels to COMAC’s position and see if these makes sense.”

    The context was totally different when Airbus entered the market. Boeing was dominant; while McDonnell Douglass and Lockheed were struggling to survive as players in commercial aviation, both hampered by their military heritage. An extremely astute Airbus used the opportunity to occupy the place left vacant by the Small Two. At the time commercial aviation was essentially a monopoly: Boeing held 85% of the market. Today we are in a very strong duopoly that happens to be about 50/50. Before China makes any headway they will have to start selling cars to Europe and the USA. And they will eventually have to build them over there, like Japan did. They will also have to stop copying everyone and start to be more creative, which should come with more freedom. We long underestimated China, and now we have a tendency to overestimate the progress of this very old civilization. Japan and Korea are small and nimble while China is cumbersome. When we closely examine the coming of age of Airbus, Bombardier and Embraer we realize that they came to existence under very special circumstances, and no one saw them coming (the Concorde guys were laughing at Airbus). Today everyone sees China coming, which is not a good sign. Where is the magic? Half of the cars in the world come from Japan and Korea, but very few airplanes. That is indicative of how peculiar and difficult the aircraft industry is. And it would be impossible today to produce an extraordinary aircraft like the A300 in just four years. Aircraft have become too complex. Look how long it took China to produce a modernized DC-9, using existing drawings. The first Leap engine was sent to COMAC, not to Airbus. Why was that? Because everyone overestimate them. The only chance they have to break the current duopoly is if Boeing falters. But the way this company has been managed since it was acquired by McDonnell Douglas, I would say it is not entirely impossible.

    • No Russian cannot change rapidly in a positive direction.

      A complete failure of the economy is not a positive rapid change in that regard.

      Culturally they are stuck in the communist era and can’t get out with the current dictator .

      It would take a long sustained effort to get out of the mire they are in and that is impossible with the current mgt.

      • “Culturally they are stuck in the communist era and can’t get out with the current dictator.”

        I remember reading an article in the 70s in the French magazine Réalités. The title was “Why Russia is blocked”, or something like that. After reading it I thought there were no way out. The KGB was simply too powerful. Then came Gorbachev with his Perestroika in 1986 and Glasnost in 1988. One was about restructuring the economy of the USSR while the other gave more freedom to its people. Juts a year later, in 1989, the Berlin Wall fell down in one fateful night. Western powers are doing two mistakes right now:

        1- They overestimate China.
        2- They underestimate Russia.

        China has ten times the population of Russia, but the latter has more immediate potential. And they have a track record to prove it. The USA never had a more potent opponent, and Russia is the only country America ever feared. Today they laugh at them. But they may soon grimace. They have their eyes set on China and don’t pay proper attention to who is coming from behind. Japan is a tired country in decline, and they don’t care anymore. Korea may soon pass them, and that’s all they want. But Russia has a rendezvous with History.

  6. To better estimate China’s potential in commercial aviation we will have to monitor the evolution of their train business. Bombardier currently dominates the world market. But China has united its train businesses into a single entity that is now bigger than Bombardier. But most of their market is internal. I believe the same thing will happen with their commercial aviation business: their market will remain for the most part within the Chinese borders.

    • Yep, you can’t just throw money at it and have it a commercial success.

      Frankly I think Russia and China about the same, Russia has by far the tech advantage, China has by far the more money.

      Both are Government supported.

      Problem is when it comes to actually competing its a whole different story.

    • But most of their market is internal.

      That would liken China more to the US after WWII than Europe ?

      Big economy ( sheer size ) busy internally and cost effective from that size dominating a fragmented external market.
      US advantage at the time was boosted by having the only fully intact infrastructure well run in from the war production.
      ( In that context the Marshall Plan was a must to avoid an internal collapse.)

      • “That would liken China more to the US after WWII than Europe ?”

        Not really. Almost the opposite in fact. The US has always been a very open society that benefited greatly from immigration of people who sometime were only seeking asylum, but most of the time just wanting to live the American Dream. In Japan for example there is little immigration, and it is almost impossible to become a permanent resident. It’s population is getting older and is actually decreasing. Stagnation is a lot more than a financial phenomenon over there, it is also a human tragedy. China is also a closed in society. Yes they do a lot of business with the outside, but look at Chinese airlines, most of them concentrate on domestic traffic, like Southwest does in the US, and the international is in the hands of foreign carriers for the most part. In a previous post I gave the example of the train business where China has become the biggest player after merging their two largest train manufacturers. But all their activities are concentrated in China and the rest of the world still belongs to Bombardier. I believe the same thing will happen in commercial aircraft manufacturing: it will remain domestic for the most part. I have no fear at all of Chinese aircraft invading the rest of the world. Not for the foreseeable future anyway. First they would need FAA and EASA certification, which again is very unlikely in the foreseeable future. Instead, just look south of the US border, where a little Sukhoi aircraft is quietly carrying happy Mexicans. This small fleet of aircraft are the seeds of future growth. Don’t hold your breath, but be prepared for a radical shift; i.e., it will not happen in the near future, but when it does it will be very fast. This is an aviation blog and it is in that spirit that I say the following:

        1- The Russians are coming.
        2- China is a mirage.

    • “”To better estimate China’s potential in commercial aviation we will have to monitor the evolution of their train business. Bombardier currently dominates the world market. But China has united its train businesses into a single entity that is now bigger than Bombardier. “”

      Actually, China’s High-Speed train Business is larger than the rest of the world combined.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_high-speed_railway_lines

  7. We have to remember that Airbus did not start from scratch. Before the A300 there was the Concorde. Everyone at the time thought that the Mercure from Dassault had a much better chance of success that anything from Airbus. Well, they sold less than 12. And it is fair to say that Dassault knew a few things about airplanes when they embarked on this project. This shows how difficult it is to be in commercial aviation. Before that there was also the Caravelle, which inspired the DC-9. And guess on what the ARJ21 is based today. To be frank, I am not impressed by what the Chinese have accomplished so far.

    But when I look at Europe from my North American standpoint I am mightily impressed by what they have created. They put together the expertise of France, Germany and Great Britain, the basic ingredients of a beautiful recipe. Now all they needed was a good chef: Roger Béteille, whom I put on par with Boeing’s Bill Allen. What I find interesting here is that the former was an engineer and a pilot, while the latter was a lawyer. But because most of the Chinese economy is still controlled by the state it is much more difficult to find the right man, at the right place, at the right time, like Allen and Béteille obviously were in their own times.

    We also have to keep in mind that Bombardier Aerospace was created after several state-owned enterprises were sold to this family-owned company. Also, and this is very important to understand their success, at the very beginning Airbus was a GIE (Groupement d’intérêts économiques), which operated more or less like a consortium. Yes they were supported by their respective governments, but the latter acted not much differently than commercial banks would. Except that they were more patient. The role played today by the Chinese government is oppressive in comparison. What the Chinese need is not more money but more freedom.

    • Congratulations Bjorn, you have stimulated one of the swiftest responses I’ve ever seen by so many knowledgeable Leehamnews posters! The British, French and German business roundtable types I’m sure saw the European sales of the B707 and the Douglas DC-8, and knew they could not let a multi-trillion dollar industry be totally across the pond. Working in their favor were all the American OEMs (GE, Honeywell, GR, PW, etc.) that were more than happy to sell them parts designed for Boeing and Douglas aircraft with not much more engineering. I wonder what the American part content was on the A300? I’ve also heard that if you take a A320 apart, you got to know the designers studied the 737 (uh, over than the landing gear).

      • Good point, I have always thought that a key turning point for the A300 was when the rather shambolic arrangement with RR fell through and they were forced to go to the states for an engine. It defined the aircraft at a slightly smaller size which gave it more differentiation from the DC10/L1011. It also allowed leverage on all that development work for the then big 3. Most significantly it discarded a key area of (British) subsidy and forced a more commercial approach on the project. Finally it gave the project some credibility In the market.

        It would not be a surprise if you saw copying of design attributes between OEMs. If it works and is ‘optimal’ it’s not really surprising. Note how both A350 and B787 seem to be converging on nose and tail design compared to previous traits of Airbus and Boeing

        • Having a completely new engine for the new A300 wouldnt have been a good idea anyway, even if RR could have developed the larger RB207 at the same time as its troubled RB211.
          As a smaller 250 seater, the A300 was not ideal for British government investment as it competed with the BAC 3-11 with 2x RB211. ( DC10 fuselage 602cm, A300 564cm, BAC 3-11 605cm, 777 619cm)
          The trouble with putting ‘ Airbus on a more commercial footing’ with a plane design pitched at the US market was that only American was interested in a 2 engine design, the other airlines going for 3 or 4 engines . You can see how much pressure was put on American not to order a plane closely matched to its requirements in 1968 that it wasnt till 20 years later that the A300-6oo ( the neo of its day with updated engine and structural changes) went into service on US routes with American.

          • “You can see how much pressure was put on American not to order a plane closely matched to its requirements in 1968 that it wasnt till 20 years later that the A300-6oo ( the neo of its day with updated engine and structural changes) went into service on US routes with American.”

            The reaction to the A380 is not much different today, is it?

      • What America has accomplished in aerospace since WW2 is simply astonishing and stands on its own. So there should be no need to put down what the Europeans have themselves accomplished. Especially in view of the fact that in the US many of the most important players and technologies were coming from Europe at the time. Think of Wernher von Braun, Gerhard Neumann and Theodore von Kármán, to name a few. And just think of the L-1011, on which so many Brits worked that it can almost be considered a British design. Today most of those brilliant engineers would stay in Europe and would likely be working at Airbus. Europe, with relatively small military budgets, has given us three exceptional fighter aircraft: Gripen, Typhoon and Rafale. Consider this in view of the fact that Lockheed has produced a 400 billion dollar lemon.

        • Normand: Von Braun is not my poster child.

          He got out and cut a deal so his past did not put him in Spandau with the others.

          • He may not be your poster child but that does not change the fact that he helped your country to put a man on the moon before the Russians. Because that was the idea. Without him there would have been no Saturn V and no Apollo project. Just like without Neumann’s J79 there have been no Phantom and no Starfighter. And you must not forget your friends from the North. For a case can be made that without the project Arrow’s cancellation it would have been a lot more difficult for the Americans to achieve what they did in such a short period of time. We have to remember that when Arrow was cancelled on February 20, 1959, nearly 15,000 scientists, engineers and technicians where suddenly available to work in the US where NASA had just been created six months earlier. This was rather convenient for a nation that was going through a state of panic after Sputnik. The same thing had happened before the war, during the war and after the war, when all those immigrants from Europe helped, among other things, to build the first atomic bomb. And you must not forget the Brits who handed to you, in exchange for their freedom, the jet engine that made all this possible. And with the jet engine also came the radar. Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.

        • The L-1011 almost a “British design”? Come on, Dude….that is patently wrong, and I’m surprised no one has called you out on that. It was American through and through, and we can thank British company RR for almost sending Lockheed to the showers with their technical problems with the RB-211.

          And given my access to the F-35, you don’t know what you are talking about. There are many reasons why the F-35 has beaten all the Euro-canards in competitions around the world, and it isn’t because of US government influence.

          • The L-1011 is one of the best designed commercial aircraft in history. Unfortunately only 250 were sold and it eventually bankrupted Lockheed. Thank god this great company was rescued by the government. When I was a kid it was my favourite company because of the F-104, U2 and YF-12A, better known as the SR-71. The 747 remains my all-time favourite commercial aircraft though, but the L-1011 has a special place in my heart. There are no other aircraft like it. On a flight to Los Angeles from Montréal I once took my mother to see its fabulous cockpit. She was overwhelmed.

            All that to say that when the British aircraft industry started to collapse in the sixties and seventies, large contingents of experienced engineers were hired by Lockheed, Douglas and Boeing. This was particularly convenient for Lockheed because it had lost its expertise in commercial aviation when it decided not to produce a jetliner after the commercial failure of the Electra. When I say that the L-1011 can almost be considered a British design it is of course an exaggeration. But I was trying to make a point here. Perhaps you missed it. So I will repeat it once more for you or any other individual who may not understand what I am trying to convey to the American audience.

            However great your past accomplishments in aerospace are, and no one questions them, don’t forget the contribution of the Europeans under very special historical circumstances. This belongs to the past now and will likely never be repeated again. I am of the opinion that this may explain why the US aerospace industry has lost a great deal of its magic.

          • F-104: Fast and a lousy aircraft.

            And I saw the L-1011 thing and too busy to argue.

            Winter hit, 4.5 inches of snow, things to do.

            And who knows what would have happened with the space program sans Von Braun?

            I would give it up in order not to deal with someone of his ilk.

      • American OEMs? The European countries had OEMs too, have you never heard of Rolls Royce, Snecma, MTU. Anyway most new engines now are consortiums with many other companies from above and including Italy, Japan, Spain.
        The biggest help US commercial plane builders had was the USAF, as well know the widebody era was launched when the military wanted a large bodied aircraft with a new engine to match. The previous 4 engined narrow bodied planes were essentially military projects, and its no surprise the manufacturer that sold the most military versions was the most sucessful

      • The similarity is obvious, both have two wheels and are able to retract in the plane…
        As i cannot post pictures here, if you care to look at them, you may notice differences…you may even notice that they are not similar at all.

        • It’s thought that a lot of UFO sightings in the early 70’s were early stealth designs being tested. So maybe you have it there.

          • Funny now that camera phones, dash cams etc are ubiquitous UFOs have practically disappeared from the news?
            Same with modern digital radars, dont seem to track anything, not like the old valve jobs?

  8. And now we know the fate of MAS A380s

    https://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/mas-to-use-a380s-for-pilgrimages-up-seats-to-700-430606/

    My guess is MAS in its ego paid far more than others who negotiated much smarter for their A380s and its costing them dearly (or the investment scheme behind it) . If that unravels and they try to stick it to MAS who then declares bankruptcy then what?

    Pretty desperate as there is no all year round Haj or equivalent anywhere.

    • Haj business has been a backstay of a number of operations, no idea what a ticket costs but it seems to be enough to make it worth buying used aircraft mainly for that trade.

      The interesting thing is the 700 seats. If they can fill a 700 seat A380 they have probably pushed CASM to a new low. Can it be cheaper than B777-X CASM in all economy? I know Doric claims at 630 seats the A380 beats the B777-X on CASM, but I don’t think Leeham agreed, so I’d be interested to see Scott’s opinion of all economy comparisons if you could fill it.

    • Pretty desperate as there is no all year round Haj or equivalent anywhere.
      Read again: They’re talking about Hajj and Umrah.
      True, Hajj is only a short period of time each year. However, Umrah season already lasts 8 months, and it’s currently proposed to extend this to 10 months to be able to meet demand and also increase Umrah tourism from 8 to 30 million by 2030.
      Honestly, I only researched this now, and with that background info, a dedicated subsidiary operating A380s for Hajj and Umrah sounds like a reasonable idea.

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