A330 easier to re-lease than 777

This is the second of two Parts looking at the wide-body market

April 25, 2017, © Leeham Co.: When lessors face re-leasing wide-body airplanes as lease terms expire, they face a far narrower market than for single-aisle airplanes.

While there may be a thousand operators which can be targets for Airbus A320s and Boeing 737s, there may be only a hundred operators interested in the most popular wide-body aircraft. When you get to the Very Large Aircraft sector, the potential market declines to the figurative, and perhaps literal, handful.

A330 more fungible than the 777

There is more of a secondary market for Airbus A330s than Boeing 777s. This is because the 777 is larger, used on longer flights, and the A330 is often used in regional services, such as intra-Asia. Indeed, Airbus says the average flight of the A330 is only around 2,000 miles—less than the distance from New York to Los Angeles.

Ray sisson

“The 777-300ER is a much larger aircraft, dealing with a smaller, more defined market,” says Ray Sisson, the chairman and CEO of the lessor AVi8 Air Capital. “The A330 is more of a commodity-sized wide-body from a lessor’s perspective. The A330/767/787-ranged aircraft will always have a more broad market appeal.

“You see the A330, to a certain extent, serves as a large regional jet for a lot of the Asian and Middle Eastern carriers.”

Future bright for smaller wide-bodies

While Sisson sees a slump in wide-body sales for the next five years, he remains optimistic about the long-term demand for the smaller wide-bodies: the Boeing 787/A330 through the Airbus A350-1000/Boeing 777X.

The 777X, like all wide-bodies these days, is a slow-seller. Few have been sold since the program launch in 2013 and most of those in the launch are from the Big Three Middle Eastern carriers. About two thirds of the orders for the X are from these Big Three.

Sisson believes it’s just a matter of time until sales pick up, and the demand will be strong.

“I think there will be strong demand for that aircraft [777X] amongst the carriers that couldn’t quite get there on the A380,” he says. “The 777X gives them large but not supersized capacity. If you think about large Asian and Middle Eastern carriers, it’s the perfect aircraft for them.”

The A350-1000 is an “excellent” aircraft, Sisson says. “Airbus did a great job answering what was previously Boeing’s monopoly with their 777-300ER.

“Airbus came out with the A350-1000 to be a 777-300ER killer. Even Boeing behind the scenes said, yes, Airbus produced a great aircraft; we have to produce something better again. And it appears they’ve done it with the 777X.

“I think the 777X will sell extraordinarily well. Everyone who is a current 777 operator, I think you can anticipate them picking it up across the product range.”

The A350-1000 hasn’t sold better because customers anticipated Boeing would produce the 777X, and there was a wait-and-see attitude.

“If you chose to become an operator of the A350-1000, you were probably already a 777 operator,” Sisson says. “If you’re a 777 operator and have not made a fleet modernization decision yet, you might want to wait and see what Boeing’s answer to the A350-1000 is before making that choice.”

Sisson also said there were probably some questions about the differences between the Rolls-Royce engines on the A350-900 and -1000.

“I like the 787 a lot. I like the 330neo. The 330neo is slightly disadvantaged because Airbus introduced it slightly later than the market would have liked it.

“It’s a really strong market in terms of steady passenger growth,” he says. “They’re going to do just fine. The market just has some indigestion right now with a near-term widebody oversupply, due to older equipment staying in fleets longer due to low fuel costs. The market will sort through that over the next few years and rebalance itself.”

A380 and the secondary market

“Another driver in the 777X market is what happens to the A380,” says AVi8 president Ed Wegel.

Ed Wegel

With leases expiring soon on the first A380s at Singapore Airlines and then Emirates Airline, the question of what happens to these airplanes is upon the industry, Airbus and the lessors.

Singapore already said it will return the first five A380s to lessors at the end of the leases. (SQ is replacing these with new A380s.)

At one point, Emirates President Tim Clark said he’d simply park his owned 12-year old A380s and scrap them. This caused consternation among the lessors of EK’s A380s. Clark backed off his declarative statement, but never really said what will happen with the aircraft when EK is done with them.

A secondary market for the A380 is problematic at best.

Wegel said start-up, low-cost and second or third tier airlines are typically the targets for used wide-bodies.

The idea of an A380 going to a start-up probably defies belief, but at least one Asian LCC has looked at the idea.

“Given a narrow operator base and high reconfiguration costs, I see a challenging market right now for the A380s as they come off lease,” Wegel said. “Also, given they are limited to certain high volume airports and slot controlled, this makes it near impossible for a new entrant, start-up carrier to fly the A380.”

Sisson agrees.

“It’s certainly tough,” he says. “I think the expectation was that a lot of the people getting out of 747s would go into the A380. I think they are all going downward in size, to 777s, 787s, A350s and A330s. I think that’s going to be a tough putt for the equity in those aircraft.

“I think people will scramble to keep those airplanes in place just to avoid the reconfiguration costs,” he says.

The future of the A380

Airbus, which since 2000 has stuck to its rolling 20-year forecast that there is a need for 1,200-1,700 Very Large Aircraft (depending on the year of the Airbus forecast), still clings to the lower end of this range.

But now officials say it will be the next decade before the market catches up to the airplane.

Sisson sees a future market, but it will be tough.

“The ability of the long-range twins to complete or match up city pairs with frequency limits the opportunity for the A380 to grow at this stage,” he says. “I’m not prepared to say Airbus is wrong in the long-term because I could see a future where there are mega-aircraft serving mega-hubs.

“But the fact is, the orders tell the tale. You are not seeing airlines look at their city pairs and saying, ‘we need bigger wide-bodies,’” Sisson says. “They’re going for more frequency with smaller aircraft. It’s across the whole spectrum of jets.”

Boeing and Airbus, he says, have long range twins that are “so efficient.”

Wegel adds that not only do you have the twin-aisle, twin-engine fragmentation but the evolution to the A321neo and 737-8 starting trans-Atlantic service—the latter via Norwegian—adds to this trend.

It was TWA that began serving secondary markets out of New York with the 757 that is being reversed today with Europe-to-US secondary markets, Wegel says.

There is also a US-to-China secondary and third tier growth with the efficient twin-aisle, twin-engine aircraft.

Parenthetically, Hawaiian Airlines will begin A321neo service soon from secondary Hawaiian cities to secondary US West Coast cities in lieu of twin-aisle aircraft.

“Over time, I think the A380 will prove itself, but not as much as or as many units as Airbus had hoped,” Wegel says.

Wegel notes that “we’re seeing a slow-down in traffic from the Middle East. Do they need all those A380s? Do they need all those wide-bodies? Are they going to slow down their deliveries?”

In fact, Emirates Airline already deferred six A380s and has pushed some 777Xs back one year. Etihad Airways rescheduled a handful of 787s from 2018 to 2019.


The oft-talked about Middle of the Market aircraft, the New Midrange Aircraft (NMA) that Boeing is considering, should have a strong demand, says Wegel. The 7M7, as LNC calls it, could see an Authority to Offer this year and program launch next year.

Wegel sees the 7M7 as a 2025 airplane at the earliest. Sisson concurs.

“There’s a lot of demand for that aircraft,” Sisson says. “Boeing has to do something about the A321neo-LR. It’s a capable aircraft. It does some of the trans-Atlantic missions. People have been clamoring for a 757 replacement for some time.

“If [Boeing] can make a carbon fiber version of the 757, that’s a pretty killer app, which would put the squeeze on the A321neo, which would not be a bad result for Boeing,” Sisson says. “The 737-9 doesn’t do that. It doesn’t do the mission. It’s not as capable.

“I think Boeing does it. I’d be surprised if they don’t. I don’t know if they will announce it at Farnborough or at Dubai, but I know there are people who want it. I know, for example, several operators who need the combination of seats and range who keep extending the leases on their 757s.

“My gut is the [NMA] will be a super-capable 757,” he says.

 More capable single-aisle aircraft

The emergence of longer-range A321s and 737s with the neo and MAX families is another reason pressure is on the wide-body sector right now.

“There are a couple of other things that are going on,” Wegel says. “Delta [Air Lines] said they are doing a complete review of their wide-body program. In the next paragraph, it states they increased their order for the 737-900ER. I think that’s a new trend in the market, narrow-body medium-haul like Norwegian coming across the Atlantic with the MAX.”

Wegel noted that Norwegian Air Shuttle will begin trans-Atlantic service with the 737-8 from points in Western Europe to US secondary cities in New York and New England.

“The narrow-bodies of today are able to make those trips that once only wide-bodies could serve and thus were the aircraft of choice,” he says. “I have heard that JetBlue is talking about the A321neo as its aircraft of choice to go trans-Atlantic, although they haven’t made any formal announcement yet.

“This new trend could meaningfully cut into the number of wide-bodies that airlines will need,” he says. “That should continue to cut into the number of wide-bodies that you’ll need,” he says.


Overhanging everything is the continued low price of oil.

The airlines are getting used to the new normal, Wegel says, with oil trading in the $40/bbl-$60/bbl range “for a period of time.

“They are looking at and adjusting their fleet composition and fleet orders based on that,” Sisson says.

75 Comments on “A330 easier to re-lease than 777

  1. This article gives a very positive spin on the 777X. But Boeing have increased the fuel capacity of the 777X to 197000litres, 16000litres more than the 777-300ER. They didn’t announce a new range, so I don’t know whether it is to increase the range. Either way it is a lot of fuel! 42,000litres more than the A350-1000, which carries 40-50 less passengers, 300nm miles further using the previously published range of the 777X.

    I will leave everybody to ponder the numbers!

    Flight Global have quoted Evrard (Airbus) as saying that they will respond, presumably to the 777X, if necessary, but he thinks they will pick up the next wave of replacements

  2. The extra fuel load could be of more benefit for airlines looking at the long range 777-8X. It could be just enough for QANTAS to comfortably fly SYD-LHR, so from that perspective the 777X series of aircraft could be even more operationally capable than first envisaged.

    • LNR comments on the 777-8?
      ‘ The 777-8X has been viewed as a niche airplane that will not compete effectively against the Airbus A350-1000, which nominally carriers 350 passengers but has a range of about 8,400nm.”

      Thats about 1000nm less than the 778, but the extra fuel cost makes the fares noncompetitive with one stop flights. The reality is Heathrow is no longer a major destination from Sydney anymore, and is falling not growing.
      Does Qantas want another limited use plane as well as its A380 ?
      ETOPs still adds considerable flight times to twins on some routes compared to quads.
      eg Melbourne to J0’burg non stop was 2 hrs longer on a 777 twin than from sydney on the 747

  3. The race between the 777X and the A350 is also one between Rolls and GE. The new gigantic GE9X looks very impressing on paper and may have the edge over the XWB with a larger fan (134:118), higher pressure ratio (ca. 60:50) and higher bypass ratio (ca. 10:9). This and the long wings could make up for the weight penalty of the aluminum body against the CFRP fuselage of the A350.
    We will know for certain only when both planes are in service, but I expect it will be really close.

  4. Sisson: “The A330/767/787-ranged aircraft will always have a more broad market appeal.”

    – That is the reality the NMA is facing.

    Sisson: Airbus came out with the A350-1000 to be a 777-300ER killer. Even Boeing behind the scenes said, yes, Airbus produced a great aircraft; we have to produce something better again.

    – Reading this can make one believe that the 777X is going to be a better aircraft than the A350-1000 when in fact the latter is a more modern aircraft that uses lighter materials. This explains why the A350-1000 can offer the same CASM as the 777X but with a lower trip cost.

    – I believe the A350 has no business in the VLA market and that is why I am not particularly enthusiastic about the A350-1100; but at the same time I also believe the A350-1000 will likely be for Airbus what the 777-300ER was for Boeing in its glory days.

    Sisson: “If [Boeing] can make a carbon fiber version of the 757, that’s a pretty killer app, which would put the squeeze on the A321neo, which would not be a bad result for Boeing.”

    – This suggests that the NMA will be a single-aisle when in fact it will likely be a twin-aisle, or a widebody. Here lies all the ambiguity around the NMA: Is it an A321neo killer or a 767 replacement? Is it a 757 replacement or a widebody aircraft? For it cannot be both at the same time. So a choice will have to be made; and to me, one way or another, it looks already like a bad choice.

    • NMA can blend the top of 757 with the bottom of the 767

      Agreed it will not be an A321 competitor and I think the A321 segment is valid for its own need, not based on anything Boeing has or does.

      AK Airlines (aka Virgin) is getting its first A321NEO and that should be most interesting.

    • “I also believe the A350-1000 will likely be for Airbus what the 777-300ER was for Boeing in its glory days.”

      IMHO, the 77W’s success (800+ units over 15 years) will not be replicated by the A35K. The former was virtually unconstrained by a competitive offering (capacity, range, fuselage diameter) and benefited from B’s ability to invest in production capacity. The latter is entangled among 787-10 (CASM), 778 (range and capacity), 779 (capacity and range), and A’s challenges to invest in production capacity.

      • Good points. The 777-300ER was a fantastic variant which was largely responsible for killing the A340 and 747. Like you said it was virtually unconstrained at the time. But if we can’t say this for the A350-1000 we can’t say it for the 777-9 either. I think it’s fair to say that the latter offers a formidable challenge to the former, and vice versa. Personally I think the A350-1000 is a safer bet because of its younger design. In the future the A350 may get better engines but the 777 will likely remain too heavy for ever.

        • A good analysis. Boeing has only made the 777X competitive by increasing capacity with an extra seat across in economy, having a larger diameter engine and using a longer wing to get better aerodynamics.
          As Darryl F Zanuck once said – ‘get me re-write and make it snappy’, as he made the best of what he had. Howard Hughes, as a filmmaker would have started again from scratch.

          • “Boeing has only made the 777X competitive by increasing capacity with an extra seat across in economy, having a larger diameter engine and using a longer wing to get better aerodynamics.”

            Your assertion seems to be that the A35K, A’s yet-to-be-certified-and-delivered-to-a-customer competitor to the 15-year-old (!) 77W, somehow also renders the 777x family, featuring higher capacity and range, better engines, and better wings, inferior products. And these are markers of B’s inferior product strategy and engineering capability. In a word: hogwash.

            Try this: Airbus only made the A330neo “competitive” to the 788 by substituting a more-modern engine and aggressive pricing to offset the fuel economy and other technological disadvantages.

          • You are totally right NCPx, no one has been under any illusion thats is always been a spoiler for the 787.
            Boeing played the same game with the 747-8, to spoil the competition for the A380, that was the plan but it backfired as its now Boeing whos buying its own planes to keep the line running at an uneconomic rate until its killed by the 77K

      • @NCPx

        “The latter is entangled among 787-10 (CASM), 778 (range and capacity), 779 (capacity and range), and A’s challenges to invest in production capacity.”

        I can’t see why in the current environment that it would have been a smart move by Airbus to invest in a higher A350 production capacity. IMJ, they will obviously do that at the appropriate time. In contrast, Boeing invested in a second 787 final assembly line (FAL) in Charleston, SC in order to be able to deliver 14 787s per month (i.e. 7 per month from Everett and Charleston). With rates likely having to go down, is it your belief that building a second FAL in SC was a smart financial move on the part of Boeing? Remember, Everett was inititally going to produce a 787 “every 4 days”. When that plan went down the tubes, Boeing’s management seems to have prioritised screwing its workers in Everett over that of sound financial planning. In fact, the duplicate 787 final assembly lines are IMJ an example of wasteful use of financial resources for such a low volume of production — especially so, when the total production level is headed down to 10 units per month (or lower).

        • Comments by Boeing CEO this week strongly reinforce intent to remain at 12/month and optimism that expansion to/toward 14/month is likely.

          Try again.

          • “Comments by Boeing CEO this week strongly reinforce intent ..”

            And that has been worth exactly what in the past?
            If it is presented as “intent” the real meaning is ” we would like to do … very much but we can’t, hands are bound. 🙂

        • @OV-099

          “Capacity” is more complex than just the number of units made ready for delivery in a month. The total cycle time from the beginning of final assembly to delivery to the customer is every bit as critical and a key indicator of the “cash efficiency” and maturity of the process.

          B has invested aggressively to overcome the early problems and 5 years/500+ units later, the results are superb. B is at Rate 12 (approximately) with total cycle time average of 70 days between LN 425 and LN 552 (only 4 units in this range exceeded 100 days total cycle time). On April 27, there are 6 units in final assembly, 8 units being prepped for first flight, and 4 units being tested/prepped for delivery. The most-recent 66 units have taken between 7 and 43 days from first flight to delivery, average is 21 days.

          A is at Rate 5 (approximately). No data is available to me for the total cycle time. On April 27, there are 43 (!) units in some part of the assembly “conga” line, seven of which are in “rework” (up to MSN 130), four units are awaiting first flight, and five units are being tested/prepped for delivery. The most-recent 66 units have taken between 15 and 35 days from first flight to delivery, average is 24 days.

          Perhaps A will figure out how to streamline the A359/A35K assembly-to-delivery processes, but the current system is quite expensive and time-consuming. “Time is money” is the appropriate cliché because it is true.

          • Hi NCPx

            There seems to be a bit of an agenda in your analysis, the A350 line is a bit constipated at present, materially due to cabin issues. A considerable number of those aircraft in FAL (I think 15) are Qatar which I am led to believe are waiting a new cabin config/product.

            The delays however pail into insignificance compared to the B787 teens that sat for years with no home or the fact that early development aircraft were dumped off as exhibits as they were completely unsaleable.

            The line process that Boeing has seems to me to be inherently more efficient but at the expense of being less flexible. The Airbus station by station approach is the opposite.

            Airbus appear to ensure that the level of rework is minimised and sequential work is done in the correct order. The Boeing process works when it works but can pump out many half finished and sub-standard aircraft when it goes wrong.

          • @Sowerbob,

            “There seems to be a bit of an agenda in your analysis,”

            Please read my reply to OV-099 further down the list as a reply to the above excerpt from your reply. I hope this clarifies my intent and style.

            If I can figure out how to reply to specific other items in your reply to my comments, I will do so shortly.

  5. GE9X is 5-6 percent better than the compromise XWB97 and the better wing on 777x is why Lufthansa, Singapore, Cathay, ANA and the Middle East big three order it. Who is left for Airbus to capture . BA and AF/KLM. Airbus should go in the direction of A322 for 4200-4700 range entry into service 2022.

    • That leaves the issue of when it gets too long like the 757-300 the boarding issues.

      And I think the A321 has not only a good market but a sweet spot as well, so that model should be continued (not that they have to kill it of course)

      Boeing won’t have a real answer until the 737RS.

    • The 5-6 quote is not proven. There is also the difference beteween TSFC consumption and SFC, the former is offwing the latter is onwing.

      The onwing numbers aee not good. The onwing numbers suggest that the 777X doesn’t meet the numbers of the A350.

      But then we come to capital cost!

      The 787 beats the A330neo by 10% to 12% on operating costs, until capital cost is included. The cost of a A330neo is $30million less than a 787. So the operating cost combined with capital costs are comparable

      The point is the 777X will not beat the A350 unless captial costs are lower for the the 777X doesn’t match the performance of the A350. So they need to sell the 777X at a lower price to the A350 to be conpetitive

      The problem is that the A350 is not expensive to build, but the 787 is expensive to build. So the A350 will meet the price of the 777X and Airbus know it.

      To be specific all sales of the 777X have been a loss maker and Airbus know it. The 777X won’t recover its costs. So Airbus are not worried. Boeing are selling the family silver

      As Scott Hamiton said in a previous article, Rome is burning. Boeing must go for it. The 7M7 is a chance, but it must be CFRP otherwise Airbus will destroy them. Airbus know how to do CFRP and to do it on the cheap!

      • @philip

        Let’s assume that the GE9x will have a 5-6 percent lower TSFC than the TXWB-97.

        What do we have?

        A larger aircraft (777-9) should have a lower fuel burn per seat than a smaller one (A350-1000). Yet, the 777-9 will only match the A350-1000 on fuel burn per seat — or beat it by a couple of percentage points. Hence, something is clearly wrong (i.e. too heavy airframe). The differentiator seems to be the engine. As I indicated in my comment below, if the TSFC situation is reversed by 2025, the 777-9 will IMJ be easily stopped dead in its tracks.

        • The numbers don’t even suggest what your saying. The numbers suggest that the A350-1000 will have a much better fuel burn per seat, unless Boeing are going to announce a significant increase in range, circa 1000 nm for both the 777-8 and 777-9

          Boeing’s web site for the 777X says 10-12% better than the A350-1000, excluding capital cost. I therefore expected a fuel requirement no more than the A350-1000 but with an additional 40-50 seats for free

          Not going to happen and Airbus know it. So Boeing must sell the 777X on the cheap

          • I must say I was surprised that Singapore Airlines went for the B777x in preference to the A351o/11. Does it mean that Airbus are unwilling to go the extra mile with a further stretch on the A350 programme and are only willing to offer a same engine/wing with compromised range and performance. Either that or Boeing are offering serious discounts to get their offering out of the shop.

            Regardless of the current position Airbus must have more scope to develop the A350 both in terms of size and performance based upon its considerable weight advantage into the future.

          • phillip:

            Can you cite some data that shows the A350 is less expensive to build than the 787?

      • To go further into the fuel capacity on the 777X, which is now 197000litres. The A350-1000 as 366 seats, travels 7990nm with 156000litres of fuel. That is 156000/(366×7990) = 0.0533 litres/(seat mile). So to be equivalent, the 777-9 must burn no more than 0.0533×(7600×414)= 167845litres of fuel assuming the previously quoted range of 7600nm and the new seating of 414.

        So if the 777X does match the fuel burn per seat mile of the A350-1000, then there is a 30,000 litres of extra capacity available. That is 2 and a 1/2 hours flying time

        In its update, Boeing didn’t give a maximum range or OEW. Will be interesting if Boeing are now offering a A350-900ULR (8700nm) equivalent with the 777-9 and a sydney/london (9700nm) with the 777-8. Perhaps that is why SIA went for the 777-9

        But it does all depend on whether the 777-9 matches the fuel burn per seat mile.

      • The 787 beats the A330neo by 10% to 12% on operating costs, until capital cost is included.

        That is the delta for 787 to A330 CEO. ( numbers here montioned even went down to ~8%.)

    • @Daveo

      The GE9X advantage in fuel burn over the TXWB-97 could conceivably be reversed by 5-6 percent in favour of an all new RR engine powering an A350-2000X in, say, 2025 (e.g. bypass ratio of 12-plus:1; overall pressure ratio pushed to more than 70:1 — leading to a 10-plus percent lower TSFC than the TXWB-97 engine).

      IMJ, the 777X could be in a precarious situation by 2025. At EIS it will, AFAIK, only equal the A350-1000 in fuel burn per seat. Due to the larger seating capacity, CASM for the 777-9 will be slightly lower vs. the A350-1000. In short, it’s primarily the GE9X engine that makes the 777-9 competitive with the A350-1000 — and not the airframe. If both a re-engined A350-1000 and a stretched A350-2000 (or similar sized aircraft) will be flying around with an engine (post 2025) that would be at least 5-6 percent more efficient than the GE9X, can you imagine what that would do to the competitiveness of the 777-9?

      • “Due to the larger seating capacity, CASM for the 777-9 will be slightly lower vs. the A350-1000. In short, it’s primarily the GE9X engine that makes the 777-9 competitive with the A350-1000 — and not the airframe.”

        Hmmm, (yet) another attempt to position the A35K as more than A’s late-arriving response to the 77W AND inherently better than the 778/9, which is bigger, flies farther, and provides more freight lift. Then, we are to assume that in 8-10 years, A and RR will, without a response from B and GE, fund, develop, and deliver the A35Kneo AND the magical A352K, which together will render the 779 “uncompetitive.”

        Nope, not buying it.

        • @NCPx

          There’s about 15 years between the GE90-115B engine and the GE9X engine. Only kool aid drinkers would believe/hope that GE/Boeing would be able to massively upgrade the GE9x just five short years after the EIS of the 777-9. The fact of the matter is that once you’ve committed to a product development in the LCA industry, you’re actually stuck with that product for the foreseeable future and you can’t, therefore, just change direction on a whim.

          Now, Airbus delivered the all new A350 in about 8 years. I see no reason why Airbus should not be able to deliver an A350-derivative aircraft in 8 years as well. In fact, they should be able to deliver an all new aircraft in that amount of time.

          • @OV-99

            “Only kool aid drinkers would believe/hope that GE/Boeing would be able to massively upgrade the GE9x just five short years after the EIS of the 777-9.”

            I have not assumed B/GE will need to do this because A/RR will NOT have produced an airframe/engine that will require doing so. Your assertion (in the two notes above) that A (plus RR, even though you did not include them) would be “able to deliver an A350-derivative aircraft in 8 years as well. In fact, they should be able to deliver an all new aircraft in that amount of time” by 2025 requires that the program and investments are under way now. Which Kool Aid flavor is involved with that?

          • @NCPx

            I’m sorry, but it did indeed seem as if you were assuming that Boeing and GE would respond to a 777-9 killer — even though they would be hard pressed to do so.

            Then, we are to assume that in 8-10 years, A and RR will, without a response from B and GE, fund, develop, and deliver the A35Kneo AND the magical A352K, which together will render the 779 “uncompetitive.”

            Now, the first A350-900 was delivered 8 years after the official launch of the A350 programme. In contrast, the first A380 was delivered 6 years and 10 months after the official programme launch — and that’s taking into account a one year-plus delay to the A380 that was added to the programme post first flight. Hence, eight years is an extremely conservative project schedule. However, for the A350 it was IMJ a prudent course of action for Airbus to conservatively develop the aircraft — originally on a seven year schedule with one year later added to the schedule — in order not to deliver an immature all composite aircraft to their customers. I wouldn’t neccessarily, therefore, take for granted that Airbus would need 8 years-plus to come up with a 777X killer Aircraft. Thus, I wouldn’t expect that a launch would occur much before 2019.

            BTW, “2025” means mid decade — plus/minus (i.e. closer to 2025 than 2020 and 2030). The point is that the aircraft should EIS in a time period when the wide body market will likely be picking up again.

            Meanwhile, RR is working on next generation engines featuring bypass ratios of between 12:1 and 15:1 (10:1 for the GE9X) and overall pressure ratios greater than 70:1 (60:1 for the GE9X).

            Of course, one can bury one’s head in the sand — drinking the triple seven kool-aid — and hype the GE9X as the best thing since sliced bread and take for granted that the 777X will reign supreme for another generation.

            Whether a direct, same-sized or larger Airbus response to the 777-9 is an A350-derivative or an all new aircraft — which BTW could also be based on an A350 (i.e. double decker version) — is relatively immaterial to the discussion. The point is that the new 100,000-plus lbf thrust class engines required would also be eminently suitable for the A350-1000. Thus, overnight the A350-1000 would go from roughly a 5 percent deficit in the engine TSFC department, to a 5-plus percent advantage in the TSFC — and again, Boeing and GE would be hard pressed to come up with something.

          • Addendum

            Keep in mind that a Rolls Royce 3-spool architecture allows for higher ratios of fan air flow to engine flow — NB: In contrast, on the GE9x the oversized low pressure compressor has the same RPM as the fan. This allows for increased thrust without a corresponding increase in jet velocity and reduction in propulsive efficiency, leading to higher TSFC. In short, a 3-spool engine with the 134-inch diameter fan of the GE9X — and having about the same level of technology in the core — would have a considerably higher bypass ratio than the 10:1 bypass ratio of the GE9X engine. In short, the bypass ratio of 10:1 for the GE9x is not particularily impressive for an engine of that size and which is incorporating today’s state-of the-art technologies.

      • It is a comparison of A350 2017 brochure numbers to 777X 2022 brochure numbers. In the interval the TXWB is an beyond targets moving object while the GE engine is “not there yet”.

  6. I will focus on the narrow body and NMA segment as I think it was the most interesting and maybe smoke and mirrors in some ways.

    First the clamoring for the 757 belies the reality that there are not all that many doing Trans Atlantic (or similar routes)

    Refuting that a bit is Norwegian launching a 737-8 Trans Atlantic route(s).

    So maybe the 757 still used too much fuel.

    But it is interesting to see the Secondray cities direct cropping up in the narrow body market and not the 787 class (those are Major hubs to less flow destinations )

    I know Hawaiian has at least in the past used A320 overnight to West Coast (Riverside) as they were not flying many night flights in the islands.

    AK serves Hawaii from Seattle and Anchorage with 737.

    So maybe the single aisle is where the direct market really lies. Keeping in mind something like the 787 needs a solid tech base to fix at either end.

    On the NMA, the current need on the big airlines part looks to be a 767MIN (minimum) not a MAX (pun+)

    And is there really a market for a small enough NMA to compete with an A321 MAX (which would have to be an anticipated response)

    The A321 is really a realistic 220 seater. Getting an 797 that small seems iffy economics.

    An A321MAX with a fuselage plug and a wing? Solid 240 seater and then you run into already iffy Boarding issues

    I will note that AK has finally gotten a bit smarter and they are seating from rear to front other than those obscenely spoiled first class types who are still in the way as you try to board.

    So, where does that leave our heroes ?(Airbus and Boeing)

    Boeing needs to get the 797 into service before 2025 for sure. 2023 looks to be as soon as they can as they have dithered too much. Funny to see that remark put on Airbus and the A330NEO though.

    At that point, for a while it may wind up a split market with Airbus letting Boeing have the top half and Boeing.

    Boeing will come out with whatever model of the 797 that has the most interest and they can get the money for and that would seem to the 767MIN.

    It should be interesting.

    I do see the last of the A350-800 being negotiated on. A330-800 should be next.

    • Perhaps A should avoid using “-800” in the model identifier. But, hey, they have managed to deliver a couple hundred A380-800s in the course of 12 years. Doubtful the other two -800 designs will reach that pinnacle.

    • I think we might be seeing narrowbody twins finally able to perform the missions of those narrowbody quads, e.g. the 707 and DC-8.

      If operators are eyeing secondary to secondary city pair offerings on an infrequent basis, most national carriers for smaller nations would be able to spur growth while also bypassing nationalistic barriers (e.g. that one end of the travel originate from your country). These would stand to be more profitable overall to the airlines even if less efficient then a large widebody because a narrowbody would only have to be more efficient and convenient then a widebody+regional jet and airlines could price accordingly.

      In that world, a large twin is large enough for most primary to primary routes. Narrowbodies will serve as trans-Atlantic route openers and to “right size” the capacity as demand modulates. Smaller widebodies would be needed to add capacity (and lower costs) throughout the network.

      The losers of this transition will be regional aircraft since their role of reaching a hub on a secondary route is redundant and VLAs since demand for flights into hubs will flatten.

      An A330neo becomes an excellent airplane in that kind of network since its lower costs offset lower utilization rates and it is very flexible to be used throughout a point-to-point network.

  7. I tend to agree with Normand Hamel. A 797 NMA could IMJ be the last all new aircraft from Boeing — that is, if it’s a twin aisle and not a single aisle replacement aircraft for the 737MAX/757.

  8. I agree that the A350-1000 looks like a great airplane on paper, but clearly something is wrong. 777X is outselling it about 3:2 despite having EIS more than two years later.

    Furthermore, the A350-1000 backlog is seeming less solid these days. If Emirates is hurting, Qatar Airways and Etihad are almost certainly in worse shape. Plus United has signaled serious doubts about taking the A350-1000 — it could downgauge to the -900 or more likely switch to the 330neo (or even 321LR) to reduce capex and int’l capacity growth. These 3 operators represent almost 45% of the A350-1000 backlog.

    Of course, the 777X is also heavily reliant on the ME3, but those carriers need the 777X a lot more than the A350-1000. There are a lot of routes that just won’t work with an A350-1000 on a hot summer day in the Persian Gulf.

    As for the long-rumored A350-2000, I don’t see why Airbus would launch such a thing if it can’t sell the -1000. It’s not going to be a cheap stretch.

    • Agree, for the A 350 1100 (2000) to be a real competitor to the 777-9 it will need a bigger (new?) wing and because it is 9 abreast (vs 10 abreast in the 14 inch wider 777-9) it will have to be three seating rows longer than the 777-9 to match the capacity of the -9 (meaning a 80 meter fuselage). A simple stretch with minimal increased MGW would make a much shorter range aircraft (although very economical).

      I would love to see Leeham do a real capacity comparison of the 350-1000 and the current 300 ER. They are almost the same length and with the 777 being configured with 10 abreast (admittedly tight) seating how do the real passenger and cargo loads compare. Does AB manage to get in as many passengers with clever layout or will it actually carry fewer in real life.

      Does anyone (comment writers, editor) have real knowledge about this?

    • I’m not sure if the 777X/A350-2000 (let alone the A380) region is where the music will play in the next decade. With the oil price being low and venture capital desperately looking for investment opportunities, I think we will see the big breakthrough of long haul LCC. As a result of that, large and very large airplanes will be difficult to sell.

      The demographics also suggest that long haul low cost has a lot of potential. In the leading economies the middle class is eroding and the middle classes of emerging economies cannot afford premium products of legacy carriers, so most millenials will meet their global competition in economy. That’s where LCC shine.

      WOW Air crams 365 pax into their A339 (AirAsia X: 377@A333, Norwegian: 344@787-9). The 787-10 and A359 might get close to 400 pax in low cost configuration. I see no reason why LCC should go bigger than that.

      For legacy carriers it will be important to focus on the needs of passengers that are willing/capable to pay more for extra service and frequency, I think this can be better achieved with small widebodies (or business and first only narrowbodies across the Atlantic).

      Personally, I still hope to see an A380neo with RR Ultrafans but I honestly have to admit that I don’t see it coming. The 777X has its market, but it’s far from being a no brainer. I’m not sure if the A350-2000 really is what airlines are longing for, perhaps Airbus should look at an A322 and/or A330neoRegional first (and get the A400M going, which will be costly enough). The crucial market is A321neo/MoM to 797-10/A359 and LCC will set the rules for it.

    • 777X advantage right now is its not going to be here soon.

      It too has major exposure in the ME.

      The ME 3 are hurting and time might be an advantage for the 777X.

    • @Adam Levine-Weinberg

      You said: “Of course, the 777X is also heavily reliant on the ME3, but those carriers need the 777X a lot more than the A350-1000. There are a lot of routes that just won’t work with an A350-1000 on a hot summer day in the Persian Gulf.”

      Would you care to elaborate?

      The fact of the matter is that the wing-loading on the A350-1000 and 777-9 are in the same neighbourhood and that the 3-spool Trent XWB-97 engine on the A350-1000 has its greatest advantage during climb, due to the fan being able to achieve a more optimum speed than what’s the case for a fan on a 2-spool engine (e.g. such as the GE9X engine on the 777X). Thus, I can’t see why the 777-9 supposedly should have a better take-off and climb performance than the A350-1000 on a hot summer day from an airport in the Middle East.

      Furthermore, any cruise burn deficiencies vs. the 2-spool GE9X being caused by the one stage high pressure turbine on the current Trent XWB will be reversed by the new RR engine architecture that’s coming online.

      Step 1 of the evolution involves fundamentally changing the traditional architecture of the Trent core to off-load the work performed by the intermediate-pressure (IP) spool and split it more evenly with the high-pressure (HP) system. To understand the significance of this, it is useful to note the basic architectural differences between the Trent family and the competing two-shaft designs produced by General Electric and Pratt & Whitney. Unlike these two-shaft engines, in which the fan and low-pressure (LP) compressor are driven by the LP turbine, the fan alone is driven by the LP turbine in the Trent. In place of the conventional LP compressor, the three-shaft design has an IP compressor which is driven by an IP turbine. Both two- and three-shaft engines have similar high-pressure spools, though there are fewer stages in the three-shaft compressor and turbine.

      In previous evolutions of the Trent, Rolls has grown engine capability by expanding the work done by the IP compressor and turbine. “As we grew the Trent family IP compressor, we grew the pressure ratio and gradually supercharged the engine, always keeping the high-pressure spool very similar,” says Alan Newby, Rolls commercial engines advanced projects chief engineer. “The big change from the core point of view is that the Advance reverses that, so we will put more on the high-pressure spool,” he adds. The new Rolls engine will have a relatively larger high-pressure compressor with up to 10 stages (compared to six on the Trent XWB) and a greater pressure ratio, and it will be driven by a two-stage turbine against the single-stage used today. At the same time, the IP compressor will shrink from the eight stages of today’s XWB to around four, while the IP turbine count will be cut to one from two stages.


    • Why was water injection brought up for the 777X ( and strong dislike expressed by the customer) ? Why did the thrust requirement creep up on the 777X back to near GE90-115 levels?

  9. OV-099 you are always in denial about the real world strength of the 777-300er. I always read Airbus fans say the a350-1000 is the same size as the 300er. The truth is it is smaller in real world by about 8 to 10 percent capacity. It is shorter by 1 row of economy seat and 11 inches narrower. Airline uses the 777 real estate . 85 percent of 300er leaving the factory are 10 abreast at the moment. I don’t want to compare it to 777x at 15 inches wider , newer wing and better aspect ratio and new engine. Rolls will not do a custom engine for a350- 2000 because the scale is not there and it is a very small company. Go back and read Mr femme post between -1000 and 777x before he join Leeham.. l am a share holder of EADSY and BA .

    • @Daveo

      I’m sorry, but the past performance of the 777-300ER in the 350-seat market segment, from 2005 to 2015, doesn’t automatically put a direct bearing on what the future holds for the 777X.

      The fact of the matter is that the 777-300ER couldn’t hold its own in the market vs. the A350-1000. Not even a cheap A330-type re-engining trick would cut the mustard — primarily due to the high wing-loading of the 777-300ER.

      Airbus has several options going forward if they decide to match the 777-9 in size/capacity — either a stretched A350-2000 or an all new airframe — or both. Due to the current market situation and the fact that most of the 777X production slots seem to be filled for the first half of the next decade, any same size (or larger) twin-engined competitor doesn’t have to EIS before 2025.

      IMHO, the 777X will likely go down as a great strategic mistake by Boeing. They tried to counter the A350-1000 — which, btw, is manufactured on the same production line as the A350-900 — with what essentially is a one model programme that’s re-using a relatively heavy legacy fuselage, without seemingly taking into consideration that Airbus could quite easily respond to the the 777-9 with an all new 2025 state-of-the-art aircraft/engines.

      “Rolls will not do a custom engine for a350- 2000 because the scale is not there and it is a very small company.”


      Frankly, I’d be more concerned about GE that has cast their lot with Boeing. They seem to be counting on the same number of sales for the very expensive GE9X engine as what they’ve got with the GE90-110B/115B engine.

      • I agree, by 2025 Airbus will have close to a 1000 A350s in service. A new engine centred on the A350-1000, derated for the A350-900 and uprated for the A350-1100 (2000, 8000) will put an end to the 777X

        It does mean the A350-800 won’t be built unless they go for broke by taking the weight out and putting a more optimised engine on it

        • @philip

          “I agree, by 2025 Airbus will have close to a 1000 A350s in service.”

          Only if A achieves 10 deliveries/month, beginning now. Where is the evidence that A plus RR plus all the rest can achieve this?

          “A new engine centred on the A350-1000, derated for the A350-900 and uprated for the A350-1100 (2000, 8000) will put an end to the 777X”

          You did not cite a year-certain for this outcome. Please do so.

          • Airbus have said they will deliver 80 this year, no number for next year, but by the end of next year 10/month. So 65 to the beginning of this year. 80 this year. 100 next year and then a 110/year from then on because Airbus have a 11 month year. So add 660 to beginning of 2025 or 770 to end of 2025. Lets take the middle. Not far off a 1000. There is no indication that Airbus still have ramp up problems. Equally, the FAL can go to 13/month.

            RR have repeated said that they can produce a new engine using the advance architecture before 2025. UtraFan, iffy

  10. @OV-099

    “IMHO, the 777X will likely go down as a great strategic mistake by Boeing. They tried to counter the A350-1000… without… taking into consideration that Airbus could quite easily respond to the the 777-9 with an all new 2025 state-of-the-art aircraft/engines.”

    What in recent history would make you come to the conclusion that Airbus could “quite easily respond to the 777-9?” The new programs I’ve been following are all late, over budget, with problematic engines that are not able to meet performance parameters, and have difficulty scaling up.

    Because of those engineering and manufacturing risks, I give the incumbent airplane the advantage since: it can always compete with a new design on price since the R&D and tooling costs are already paid off; to date, a combination of aero and engines have also made an older, heavier model good enough to compete; and because an existing model vastly benefits when the competition stumbles.

    • @Garrett

      In 2025 the 777-9 will not be an incumbent aircraft with R&D and tooling costs already paid off. The 777X programme is probably the most expensive aircraft upgrade undertaking ever attempted.

      As for an Airbus response to the 777-9 — well, the A350-900 and A350-1000 are already highly competitive with the 777-9 on a fuel burn per seat basis. Airbus has essentially completed the development and design phases of the A320neo, A330neo and A350-900/-1000. Thus, their resources are now more or less freed up to design and certify new designs — such as a 777-9 killer aircraft.

      • @OV-099

        “Thus, their resources are now more or less freed up to design and certify new designs — such as a 777-9 killer aircraft.”

        Until today I hadn’t put much thought into this because Airbus has always kept itself busy with new aircraft designs. But you make me realize that there is not much left to be done and if Airbus wants to retain its expertise it will have to come up with a new project.

        On the other hand the whole of commercial aviation seems to have entered a slowdown period that might inspire Airbus to become more cautious and to stop investing large sums of money in R&D. This is a luxury that Boeing cannot afford right now because it has recently initiated a new cycle of badly needed aircraft development.

        But if Airbus elects to continue investing in R&D the only segment left for investment, other than the MoM folly, is the relatively large segment between the A350 and A380. If the right choices are made this could actually become a major turning point for Airbus. And if I have to put a name on this initiative I will call it the A390. But if Airbus wants to introduce this A390 as a 777-9 killer I wouldn’t see a need to make it a double-decker.

        So I appeal to you OV to inform me of the possibilities offered to Airbus in the near future. Show me what’s on the table and feel free to make your own choices. But try to be as conservative as you can possibly be. 🙂

        • Re-engining the A350 in the 2025 timeframe is conservative. Will it be necessary to challenge the 777X. No. But it would put it beyond doubt!

          This slump in widebody orders is a Boeing issue, not an Airbus issue. China Southern signed for 20 A350 yesterday. They got quite early slots, perhaps because US airlines are deferring deliveries or perhaps ramp up is faster than expected. Apparently the A350 will be at 10/month at the end of this year, previously they were saying the end of next year (see Airbus earnings preview on Leemans Web site).

          My own view is that Airbus will sell just about the same number of widebodies (A350/A330) this year as they did last year, circa 130.

          Will they be A350-1000? We need to remember that 777-300ERs are typically less than 10 years old because the 300ER was only introduced in 2004. I think the A350-1000 as it stands will take most of the market. Re-engine it in the 2025 timeframe – from then on no contest.

          But returning to Boeings latest update on the 777X. It can now carry 198,000litres (158tonnes) of fuel. If the OEW remains at 188tonnes (it wasn’t stated in the update), it will only allow circa 50 passenger to be carried at a MTW of 351.5tonnes. To carry a full load of passengers the fuel load will need to be circa 160,000litres. That is A350-1000 numbers with 40-50 extra passengers on board

          At the moment the 777X numbers don’t add up whereas the A350-1000 do. I’m sure Boeing will offer clarity, but not yet!

          • “Re-engining the A350 in the 2025 timeframe is conservative.”

            When I asked OV to be conservative this is not what I had in mind. My intention was to insure he would not propose what I would consider extravagant concepts. For I have not always responded well in the past to some of his proposals, which I found a bit far fetched. This might show a lack of vision on my part though. You see, I already consider the NMA as a very audacious project. That shows you how “conservative” I am. 🙂

          • Just to add to the above. American airlines have deferred their A350-900 again. So that answers why China Southern Airlines got early slots. Equally A350-900 ramp-up to 10/month is the end of next year, not the end of this year as suggested by Leehams – Airbus re-confirmed the ramp-up schedule today

      • “Thus, their resources are now more or less freed up to design and certify new designs — such as a 777-9 killer aircraft.”

        I find this a bit too optimistic 🙂 The A400M is a heavy burden for Airbus. The plane hardly meets any of the required specs, the build quality is a joke and crucial elements like the engines cause problems regularly. Airbus is paying bitterly for this project with both, money and engineers.

        Boeing will release an MoM plane, which means Airbus will have to react to it, either by enhancing current models (A322, A330neoRegional) or, if market dynamics demand it, a clean sheet design (like it happened with the A350).

        At last, there is the question if the world really needs a new VLA. We are at the beginning of the low cost era in long haul services. This means denser cabin configurations and thus a massive capacity growth whilst using current airframes. A clean sheet VLA sounds like grabbing the falling knife to me.

    • Dear Garrett,
      what you said about a possible all new Airbus answer to the 777-9 as “all late, over budget, with problematic engines” and “engineering and manufacturing risks” applies also to the 777-9.

      Therefore I concur with your view: “I give the incumbent airplane the advantage since”. In my opinion the A350 is the incumbent aircraft and Airbus won’t do another new aircraft design between the A350 and A380. Maybe size iterations.

  11. “Thus, their resources are now more or less freed up to design and certify new designs — such as a 777-9 killer aircraft.”

    I think you are all ignoring one aspect, Airbus and Boeing don’t want to continuously develop new aircraft. They won’t mind a break, even if it means losing a lot of their expertise. In fact, they both had hope that we would be now starting a 7 to 8 year quiet period. Events seem to be catching up with that hope/plan, but not for lack of trying on both of their parts.

  12. “They both had hope that we would be now starting a 7 to 8 year quiet period.”

    I hadn’t heard of this before. How did you “discover” this? 😉

  13. @ Normand Hamel

    The A320neo, A330neo and A350 programmes all seem to be going rather well. The situation is obviously not as rosy for the A380. What I’m contemplating for the A380, though, is rather an extravagant concept – as you put it – but I’ll circle back to that later.

    One immediate option for Airbus is to stretch the A330-900 by 11 frames, or so. With a higher MTOW of 251 tonnes (242 tonnes today) now seemingly being offered for the A338/A339, a stretched A330-1000 would essentially replace the A330-300 with higher capacity (e.g. 499 seats at 9 abreast in a LCC configuration).

    The second immediate option is to launch a re-winged and stretched A322/A323 family. That would certainly take the wind out of Boeing’s sails. The A322 should be slightly larger than the A321 (i.e same size as the 757) while the A323 would be sized in-between the 757-200 and 757-300. Airbus should request proposals from the engine manufacturers for engines that would be at least 10 percent more efficient than the LEAP-1A engine and PW-1100G engine that’s currently flying on the A320neo. It would seem, at least, as if RR’s forthcoming UltraFan engine would be able to satisfy that requirement. An all-new 40,000 lbf thrust RR Ultrafan engine would IMJ not only make the 4500 nm-plus A322/A323 highly competitive in the large single aisle market segment, but the engine would also be eminently suitable for a further re-engined A321, as well. The A320neo could be further re-engined with a scaled down version. In contrast, the 737MAX would not be a suitable platform for an UltraFan engine. Furthermore, I would argue that it’s in the interest of both Airbus and their customers to “help” RR to return to the single aisle market with a superior engine.

    A medium term option is to launch a stretched A350-2000 for EIS in 2025, or so. It should have an all new engine that would better the TSFC of the GE9X by at least 5 percent. The 350-1000 should, of course, be re-engined with the same engine.

    Now, what should Airbus do with the A380?

    Most people would agree that the A380 is flying around with an enormous wing, and almost all of the proposals for substantially improving the A380 – sans a neo version – typically involve a new wing.

    If, on the other hand, one asked the question of how big an aircraft the A380 wing could support, then the answer might surprise a lot of people.

    Furthermore, if you’d ask what would happen to the performance if you’d put four TXWB-97 engines on the wing, you’d realise that even a stretched A380 would not be in need of that much power.

    Therefore, you would probably conclude that you’d need a substantially larger and wider fuselage in order to fully take advantage of the potential of the wing.

    Do you remember Boeing’s 747-700X proposal?

    They proposed to “re-body” the 747-600X with a wider fuselage while retaining the existing wing, systems, engines, struts and landing gear.


    Now, that’s what I’m now suggesting Airbus could basically do with an A390X.

    Also, the wider fuselage leads to a substantial increase in wing area. Keep in mind that Airbus was constrained by the 80m x 80m box when they developed the A380. Now, it looks as if airports – DWC, at least – are increasing the box dimensions to 85m x 85m.

    Critical aircraft box dimensions of 85m x 85m that cater for the new generation expanded aircraft versions from the leading manufacturers of Airbus and Boeing.


    So, what we’re essentially doing with the wider fuselage is to “push” the wings further outboard, while the fixed wing span is being increased towards the 85m mark. The overall length of the A390X would be just short of 85m – or about 12m longer than the A380-800.

    Now, the A390X would not merely be a wider double-deck aircraft. It would have a full triple decker fuselage – or four decks if you include the cargo hold.

    Total floor area of the A390X would be more than 2.5 times the floor area of the A388 — and it would have at least 2.5 times the capacity. 😉
    The fuselage would be similar in shape to the 747, but would obviously be much bigger.

    Whereas the 747 has a partial “bubble top”, the A390X would have a continuous “bubble top” having the same dimensions as the A380 upper deck. The circular part of the fuselage would have an external diameter of about 9.7m and the height of the continuous fuselage would be about 11.3m. So, the increase in wing area (of the “fixed” A390X wing) would roughly equal the difference in external width of the A390X fuselage and the A380 fusleage, times the root chord of the wing – or about 45 m2.

    Now, as I indicated; you’d have a main deck, lower deck and upper deck. The cargo deck would obviously be located below the lower deck.

    Lower deck width: about 8m
    Main deck width: about 9.15m
    Upper deck width: 5.3m (i.e. same as for the upper deck on the A380)

    In economy class, you’d have 20-inch aisles, 2 inch-wide armrests and seat-bottom widths of 18.5 inches; a 2-4-4-2 configuration with three aisles on the lower deck; a 3-4-4-3 configuration with three aisles on the main deck; and a 2-4-2 configuration with two aisles on the upper deck (i.e. same as on the upper deck of the A380).

    Due to the wider fuselage, you’d have a cargo hold to match its extended width. In other words, not only will you be gaining another passenger aisle on the main and lower decks, but also another row in the hold (3 LD-3’s side-by-side). In fact, the A390X should be able to carry at least 70 LD-3s in the lower hold (i.e. compared to 38 on the A388). Also, you’d have to centre landing gears – in addition to the two wing gears – located in gear bays placed in-between the wing gear bays. In fact, that’s a significant advantage over the current A380 MLG architecture.

    Also, due to the bigger fuselage, parasitic drag would increase by about 30 percent over that of the A380-800. However, the increase in parasitic drag could be cancelled out if we’d incorporate 2 x 5 m folding wing tips on the wing. That’s with a total wing span of some 95m, wing area increased to 925 m2 (i.e. 845 m2 on the A380) – with a 45 m2 increase due to the wider fuselage, 10 m2 due to the 1.25m increase in “fixed” semi-span of the wing, and 25 m2 due to the folding wing tips. This would decrease the induced drag also by some 30 percent.

    Furthermore, the roughly 7 percent lower TSFC of the TXWB-97 engines should be able to cancel out most of the increase in empty weight (50 tonnes). The A390X would in contrast to the A380 fuselage, be made mostly of composites and take full advantage of all of the methods for fabricating composite components that has been developed for the A350-1000. Like the A350, the A390X fuselage would have 4 shells – with the side shells having a width of about 10.8m, which would indicate that the autoclaves would have to have a diameter of at least 12m.

    The crown of the fuselage would have the same aft taper as that of the A380. The A390X might be able to use exactly the same vertical tailplane as that of the A380 and it would be mounted relatively lower on the empennage – with respect to the upper deck, which would mean that the height of the A390X would only be some 1.5m higher than the A380.

    2.5 times the capacity of the A380 would indicate that the A390X could carry 1250 passengers (in three classes) – that’s about a 75 tonnes increase in payload weight (i.e. passenger weight assuming 100 kg per pax and luggage)

    MTOW would grow from 576 tonnes on the A380 to about 725 tonnes on the A390X. Thus, the wing-loading of the A390X should be slightly better than the wing-loading of the 777-300ER. Hence, it would seem as if four TXWB-97 engines would be sufficient to power a 725 tonne A390X.

    Over a 5000nm route sector – and with a slightly higher trip fuel burn than the A388 (about 10 percent) the A390X would in a first order approximation reduce the fuel burn per passenger from 0.072 kg/nm to 0.032 kg/nm – a game changer?

  14. Correction

    The 5000nm figure should be replaced by 7200 nm in the last paragraph. Thus, the revised figure for a 500-seat A388 is a fuel consumption of about 0.05 kg/nm, while for a 1250-seat A390X the fuel consumption would be about o.o22 kg/nm.

  15. No takers on my comment above? Well, I’ll then just continue talking to myself. 😉

    Currently, the 300-seat A350-900 and slightly smaller 787-9 would seem to be right in the “sweet spot” for wide-body aircraft. Since there’s no large differential in cost per seat for the 787-9, A350-900, A350-1000, 777-9, and A388, it’s no surprise that the 787-9 and A350-900 have logged significantly more orders than the A350-1000, 777-9 and A380. If larger wide-bodies won’t provide a significant delta in CASK/CASM over that of smaller wide-bodies that have a similar range potential, the smaller wide-bodies will usually win out in the end — that is, unless a higher seating capacity is needed on trunk routes. Will this trend continue in perpetuity? IMJ not if larger aircraft would more than cut in half the cost per seat for the 787-9 and A350-1000. The fact of the matter is that a full double decker aircraft – and even more so for a triple decker aircraft – will have a much lower wetted area per passenger than a single deck wide-body. With similar levels of technology and wing aspect ratios (etc.), double and triple decker VLAs would resoundingly trounce single-deck wide-bodies.

    Now, I’d guess that quite a few people would say that there’s no market for a 1250-plus passenger aircraft. Well, as long as you can’t resoundingly beat the 787-9, A350-900, A350-1000 and 777-9 on cost per seat, there would be no incentive for airlines to want to acquire such a mega jumbo. For example, Emirates could replace 6 daily A380 flights to LHR with 3 daily A390X flights – with still one full A380 worth of seats to spare and operations cost roughly equivalent to four A380s.

    I’d also guess that some people would object to the sheer size of and A390X (as defined above). Well, compared to high speed rail operations in China, Europe and Japan – where passenger capacity routinely is exceeding 1000 seats on high frequency trunk routes – the number of seats on an A390 would not seem out of the ordinary. With a dramatic reduction in the cost per seat vs. the 787-9 and A350-900, economies of scale would really start to kick in on the aircraft side of the equation and not on operations alone. Economies of scale have never really been achieved with the current A388 for which the reduction in seat costs vs. same generation aircraft was far too small. When the 787, A350 arrived – and soon, the 777X – the seat costs situation has been reversed in favour of the smaller twins.

    Of course, terminal facilities would have to up-graded in order to accommodate 1250 passengers per turnaround. For example, each gate should be up-graded with a second floor for economy class passengers – in order not to exceed the “footprint” of currently available A380 gates — while the third floor would be reserved for premium class passengers. Thus, on an A390X you’d have direct boarding of economy class passengers from the first floor to the lower deck, direct boarding of economy class passengers from the second floor to the main deck and direct boarding of premium class passengers from the third floor to the upper deck. As many airports around the world are constantly expanding and redeveloping their facilities, most airport capable of handling the A380 should IMJ relatively easily be able to upgrade their facilities in order to handle even an A390X.


    Airbus should IMHO not upgrade the A380. The A380 wing should insted be transposed to the A390X, while the A380 fuselage should be modified with A350-type composite panels and be re-winged with a smaller composite high-aspect-ratio wing that would turn it into a twin-engine A370X (MTOW around 450 tonnes). BTW, the large composite side shells of the A370X and A390X could be manufactured in the same production facilities. The existing A380 metallic cockpit section (-11) and empennage/tail-cone (section-11), as well as all of the avionics, systems (etc.) should be re-used. The all new stuff on the A370X would be the wing and MLG. The A390X would have three passenger carrying decks – 8 abreast and two aisles on the upper deck (Deck 4), 14 abreast and three aisles on the main deck (Deck 3) and 12 abreast and three aisles on the lower deck (Deck 2). The cargo deck (Deck 1)) would hold more than 70 LD3 containers with three LD-3’s side-by-side – vs. two LD-3’s side-by-side on all current wide-bodies. The cockpit on the A390X would be located on the main deck and would have about the same sill height above the ground as the cockpit of the 747. The A390X should also be able to be delivered as a combi-version and with the entire Deck-2 set aside to carry cargo instead of passengers (i.e. Deck 2, or the “lower-deck”, would be larger than the main cargo carrying deck on the 747-8F). For the 7200 nm mission, a 500-seat A388 would, as indicated, have a per seat fuel consumption of about 0.055 kg/nm. A 500-seat A370X would have a per seat fuel consumption of about 0.032 kg/nm , while a 1250-seat A390X would have a per seat fuel consumption of about 0.022 kg/nm.

    Finally, the A390X fuselage would be suitable for both a future hybrid-electric/fuel cell/ liquid-hydrogen-powered aircraft – where you’d locate the large LH2 tanks on the upper deck (Deck-4) – and two very large, high-winged freighters aircraft powered by 6 TXWB-97 engines. Similar to the An-225**, you’d incorporate a very large 25m wide centre wing box on the upper deck (Deck-4) of the A390X fuselage. Then, you’d attach a slightly modified A380 wing and two additional engines to the centre box. Wing area would increase to 1250 m2, leading to a wing-loading similar to that of the 747-8F. MTOW could be as high as 1000 metric tonnes, while the payload could be as high as 500 metric tonnes – or equal to about two An-225s. The cockpit should be re-located from Deck-3 on the A390X to Deck-4 in order to facilitate a very large nose door. The aft fuselage and empennage would be identical in shape (aft cone) to that of the A390X. As indicated, two models could be developed – A480X and A490X.

    The A490X would have an identical fuselage to that of the A390X – sans the nose. As an option, the forward part of the main deck floor (Deck-3) could be raised by 2 ft so that the forward part of Deck-2 would be able to handle 10 ft. high containers (i.e. like the 747 freighter’s main deck). However, in contrast to the 747-8F you’d be able to front-load 10 ft. high containers (only 8 ft. high containers can be nose-loaded on the 747) – while three 96 x 125-in x 10-ft contoured pallets could be placed side-by-side. In contrast, only two such containers can be placed side-by-side on the main deck of a 747 freighter. In short, the A490X would have 4 decks for cargo and a capacity about three times that of a 747-8F.

    The A480X would not have a “Deck-1” as the lower part of the fuselage would be “flattened”; or similar to the shape of the underside of the An-124/An-225 and C-5 — or even the A400M. Hence, the large nose door would not be identical below the floor of Deck-2 on the A490X and main cargo deck floor on the A480X. “Deck-3” would also be eliminated. Thus, the cargo box Dimensions for the A480X would be: 8m internal width at floor level (vs. 6.4m for the An-124/An-225) and an internal height of 5.5m (vs. 4.4 m for the An-124/An-225). Like the An-124/An-225 and C-5, the upper deck (Deck-4) would be “split in two” by the massive centre wing box. However, since Deck-4 would have the same dimensions as that of the upper deck on the A380, you’d be able to put a significant number of 96-inch high containers on Deck-4 – fore and aft of the centre wing Box both on the A480X and A490X

    So, the development of an A390X Mega Jumbo would even provide for designs of significantly more capable replacement aircraft for the 747-8F, the C-5, the An-124 and the An-225 that would also be able to be manufactured relatively economically.

    ** http://toocatsoriginals.tumblr.com/post/96704800314/unfinished-second-an-225-mriya-nato-cossack-in

    • OV-099

      “No takers on my comment above? Well, I’ll then just continue talking to myself. 😉”

      LOL!! Very clever. 🙂

      OV, while there may be places where our views on the topics covered in these postings are divergent, your sense of humor coupled with your zeal for the subject matter are very much appreciated by me (and I suspect by others, too).

      My comments are never intended to attack other writers/readers. Only to fuel further, deeper, wider discussion and/or debate. If, at any point, you (or others) question the intent of something I post, I encourage a suitable reply.

      I have safely flown (way too) many miles on (way too) many A and B and E and Bdr aircraft and am always impressed by the technical skills required to design, produce, maintain, operate, supply, and coordinate these marvels. I have no investment in any of the entities involved nor do I have business activities in the aerospace industry. I am a long-time amateur avgeek, and I engage on this blog only as therapy. Well, and because I like to read the comments from all y’all.

      • @Normand Hamel

        “But try to be as conservative as you can possibly be. 🙂”

        Normand, I think he complied “(as much] as he can possibly be.”

        OV, the two chapters of “Don’t Let Reality Interfere – OV’s Lego Kit for Commercial Aviation” above caused me to re-read them 2X, with a notepad handy to boot, to keep track of the combinations of the multiple use, reuse, re-reuse, (yep) re^3-use of empennages, wings, cockpits, . . . I commend your determination to avoid too much new engineering, certainly to shorten development cycle time, eh?


      • @NCPx

        I tend to subscribe to the philosophy of getting the most bang for the buck. Applying the “lego” principle on a grand scale to state-of-the-art, low volume airframe manufacturing, is IMO long overdue. This can usually only be achieved with modular automation where the OEMs and their suppliers can add modules – such as aircraft components – or switch them off in line with market requirements. Of course, the situation is different for systems and avionics. With the large-scale introduction of automated composite manufacturing in the aerospace industry, at least we’re moving in the right direction.

        There are a few examples of “lego” aircraft, and unsurprisingly most of these aircraft evolved out of Soviet design technologies – just take the TU-95 bomber and TU-114 airliner as an example*. Soviet design bureaus typically preferred using proven components and systems even if they represented a comparatively low level of technological sophistication. Also, they prioritised sizable production runs in order to ensure large quantities of end products – in contrast to Western aerospace manufacturing and design philosophies where low volume manufacturing of end products is typically the norm. However, the Soviets were second-to-none in aerodynamics (i.e. supercritical wings etc.), application of composites in aerospace and basic research.


        My determination would not be to avoid too much new engineering – far from it – but the main problem in the aerospace industry in the West — IMHO — is its prevalent conservatism and lack of holistic thinking. That’s one of the reasons why I believe it’s time for the aerospace industry in the West to adopt certain Soviet design philosophies and design practices.

        Shortening development cycle times, though, was really not what I primarily had in mind. One thing I had in mind, though, was that all of the large civilian and military cargo transport aircraft that’s operating around the world today have ancient 1960’s and 1970’s designs, many of which are old – and they’re not getting any younger. The C-5M, for example is slated to remain in service way beyond 2040.

        One other thing I had in mind was that apart from the 747, none of these large fuel-guzzling transport aircraft had any commonality in design with a civilian airliner.

        The third thing I had in mind was that there are no replacements on the horizon, except for a proposed Chinese copy of the An-225. Both the C-5 and An-124 were funded my the militaries in the US and Soviet Union and the fact of the matter is that in the present aerospace modus operandi in the world’s military industrial complexes, the OEMs are just waiting for that big fat check to arrive – which probably won’t be coming for another half a century. For any OEM to contemplate developing C-5/An-124 replacements as a civilian undertaking is just not going to happen due to the relative small market (including military versions) – that is, if one doesn’t start to apply “lego” principles on a grand scale in airframe manufacturing, although you’d have to have a suitable civilian platform to start with.

        The fourth thing I had in mind was that both the large A390X fuselage design and much of the existing A380 wing would seem to be eminently suitable to be used for two large cargo aircraft platforms — one version as a replacement for the 747-8F (while being three times more capable) and the other version as a replacement for the C-5, An-124 and An-225 (while being up to two times as capable as the An-225).

        The fifth and main thing I had in mind, therefore, was to basically kill three birds (A390X, A480X and A490X) with one stone, using Soviet-era design principles – and where Airbus would be doubling down with respect to VLAs, while simultaneously being able to economically manufacture very large cargo aircraft that would replace the 747F, C-5, An-124 and An-225. Furthermore, by re-using the A380 wing – in addition to the A380’s vertical and horizontal stabilisers – while re-engining the wing with existing Trent XWB-97 engines, you’d have a massive usage of “lego” that would provide for an enormous amount of savings in development costs. This would, in fact, make such an undertaking both economically viable and sustainable with respect to production.

        Now, the An-225 is also, of course, a great example of Soviet “lego-engineering”. Again, take a look at the large centre wing box on the unfinished second version of the An-225; and especially, the curvature on both the top and the bottom of its centre wing box:


        Typically, a centre wing box looks very different:


        What the Antonov design bureau did next was to attach the existing wing from the An-124 to this enormous new centre wing box on the An-225. Well, that’s exactly the same thing we’d do for the high winged cargo aircraft (A480X/A490X) that would be derived from the triple-decker A390X – with the difference being that the A380 wing would have to be modified inboard of the inner engines. Since the current A380 wing is of a “low-wing” design and because the bending moment of the wing is at maximum at the root – in addition the wing now being mounted as a “high-wing” much further outboard than on the A380/A390X — the root depth of the A380 wing would obviously have to be reduced; thereby requiring less span-wise curvature between the inner engines and the root. Similar to how the thickness of the An-225’s centre wing box increases towards the root, the centre wing box of the A480X/A490X would likewise be getting thicker towards the root.

        Finally, in the 1990’s former NASA administrator, Daniel S. Goldin was championing an agenda of “smaller, cheaper, faster, better”. Mr. Goldin seemingly favoured smaller and cheaper spacecraft like the Mars Climate Orbiter** (pun intended), instead of larger and more expensive spacecraft such as Cassini-Huygens which Mr. Goldin incidentally derided as a “Battlestar Galactica”. The large Cassini spacecraft, though, turned out to be flying one of the most roundly successful missions in the agency’s history, and with the spacecraft now set for a grand finale ending with a fiery plunge into the atmosphere of Saturn in September.

        Now, you’ve probably guessed by now that I’m not particularly fond of a “smaller, cheaper, faster, better” philosophy. If I had been the administrator at the time, 😉 I would have advocated for sending Mariner Mark II*** spacecraft to Uranus as well as Neptune, in order to get the most bang for the buck.

        Circling back to the topic at hand, it will probably not come as a great surprise that I’d rather subscribe to a “bigger, cheaper, faster, better” philosophy in airliner manufacturing. 🙂

        ** https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mars_Climate_Orbiter

        *** https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mariner_Mark_II

    • I doubt that we will ever see a hydrogen tank on an aircraft. Just burning hydrogen instead of another fuel is not the best idea.

      My guess is first step will be to use turbines to run generators and electric fans. Next step could be Methanol instead of fossil fuels. Methanol can run fuel cells or generators . Methanol is a liquid and far easier to handle than hydrogen.

      Direct Methanol Fuel Cells (DMFC) are already available on the market.
      Problem is the lower efficiency (40 %) compared to hydrogen based fuel cells (> 50 %). Today it is state of the art to use a reformer to produce hydrogen out of methanol.

      Fuel cells are still heavy. Siemens produces a fuel cells for submarine use with a power output of 130 kW weighting 900 kg. Way to go for aviation use.

      • @MHalblaub

        I would obviously agree that a hydrogen fuel cell powering a large airliner is only a possibility in the long-term. However, hydrogen fuel cells is not the only option for the implementation of hydrogen in the industry.

        One option (1st. link) would be to use liquid hydrogen fuel for turboprop-driven aircraft, while another option (2nd. link) would be to use liquid hydrogen as a fuel in an airliner powered by a distributed electric propulsion system, and where the single turbofan engine would be using liquid hydrogen as a fuel instead of kerosene.

        The top deck on a fuselage such as the one that I’ve outlined for an A390X, would have more than enough volume available for large tanks storing liquid hydrogen. Of course, you’d need all new wings for both applications; a very large A400M-type wing for the turboprop-driven aircraft (quad-prop) and an all new advanced wing for the airliner having a distributed electric propulsion system.

        1st link:

        Turboprop-driven hydrogen aircraft consume less energy than the kerosene-fueled reference aircraft to perform the reference mission, which is partly due to lower flight masses. Although hydrogen-fueled aircraft show higheroperating empty masses than the comparative kerosene versions due to the larger
        fuselages and additional hydrogen tanks, their maximum take-off masses are smaller because of the high gravimetric energy density of hydrogen. Also, for regional aircraft that feature high maximum landing masses with 66.5 % filled tanks, the maximum landing masses are lower. This causes shorter field lengths for take-off and landing when flying at masses close to the maximum values.

        The climate impact caused by the emissions of hydrogen-fueled regional freighter aircraft is less than 1 % of that of kerosene-fueled aircraft. This is due to

        • No emission of carbon dioxide,
        • Smaller amounts of emitted nitrogen oxides and especially
        • A low cruise altitude at which the emissions of nitrogen oxides have little and water vapor even no influence on the climate.

        Given an energy-equivalent price for kerosene and hydrogen, the hydrogen-fueled turboprop designs are competitive to the kerosene-fueled reference aircraft in terms of DOC per FTK. This is due to the long operative life of freighter aircraft of typically 35 years. The savings in fuel costs over this time span more than equal the higher purchase price and maintenance costs. If environmental efficiency becomes an economic advantage in the future, e.g. by means of emissions related taxes, the potential cost benefits will be even higher.


        2nd link:


  16. @OV-099

    “Currently, the 300-seat A350-900 and slightly smaller 787-9 would seem to be right in the “sweet spot” for wide-body aircraft. If larger wide-bodies won’t provide a significant delta in CASK/CASM over that of smaller wide-bodies that have a similar range potential, the smaller wide-bodies will usually win out in the end — that is, unless a higher seating capacity is needed on trunk routes.”

    What you say here is the same argument I use when talking about the risk associated with the 777-9 versus A350-1000. But you still haven’t answered my original question, which was how best could Airbus fill the gap between the A350 and A380.

    In the meantime here is another question that can be tied to the original one: Is the territory between the single-decker and double-decker similar to the twilight zone I see between the single-aisle and twin-aisle?

    Now here is a third question which is also linked to the first question, and perhaps the second one as well: Was the lack of success of the A380 due to the fact that it had a similar CASM as smaller widebody aircraft, or was it because it is simply too big?

    Of course I already know your answer to the last question, otherwise I wouldn’t have understood your last two comments. But I needed to ask it anyway as some sort of statement on my part, if you see what I mean. 😉

    • @Normand Hamel

      The cabin areas of the A350-1000, 777-300ER, 777-9 and A380-800 are about 320 m2, 330 m2, 355 m2 and 545 m2, respectively. So, there’s obviously a gap.

      Now, an A350 derivative aircraft having a larger wing could be stretched to 85m, leading to a cabin area of about 390 m2. Interestingly, it would have a slightly lower slenderness ratio than the 757-300. If a twin-engine derivative of the A380 would be shrunken by 7 frames (about 4.5m), the cabin area would be reduced to about 490 m2 (i.e. A370X) — representing a reduction of more than half of the present “gap”.

      Another option is a smaller double-decker aircraft similar to Keesje’s “Ecoliner” concept:


      The lower half of the fuselage would be identical to that of the A350 fuselage. The floor area for a base model would be between 430 and 450 m2 — right in the middle of the gap. Since the aircraft would be based on the A350 it could use the same wing as a stretched A350. This option would make sense if an A370X would be optimised around 600 m2.

      “Is the territory between the single-decker and double-decker similar to the twilight zone I see between the single-aisle and twin-aisle?”

      IMO, that territory only exists between a larger single aisle — roughly sized in-between the 757-200 and 757-300 and an A300-sized wide-bidy. In short, the “gap” doesn’t have to be as large as it is today.

      “Was the lack of success of the A380 due to the fact that it had a similar CASM as smaller widebody aircraft, or was it because it is simply too big?”

      The A380 only has similar CASM to the best smaller wide-bodies of today — not to the ones that were available when the A380 was launched and when it entered into service. While the fuselage is not too big IMO, the wing is IMJ too big for the current iteration of the aircraft.

      Now, too many airlines around the world seem to have been run by risk averse boards since the last recession. That has not helped the A380.

      • “Is the territory between the single-decker and double-decker similar to the twilight zone I see between the single-aisle and twin-aisle?”

        IMO, that territory only exists between a larger single aisle — roughly sized in-between the 757-200 and 757-300 and an A300-sized wide-bidy. In short, the “gap” doesn’t have to be as large as it is today.

        That happens to be wrong. IMHO and all that jazz.
        It is the same kind of gap you see between single and double aisle layout.
        and the steps are similar due to max across limits.
        SA: 6 across 3+3
        DA: 12 across 3+6+3 ( diminishing returns due to dead area in the cross section.)
        DD: 24 across 3+6+3 + 3+6+3

        A380 is the smallest double deck layout that makes sense over a large single deck design. ( IMU the gulf is even more pronounced than the NB|WB one.

        • @Uwe

          The “gap” in cabin floor area between an 85m-long, A350-derived aircraft and an “A380-700-sized” fuselage would only be about 100 m2.

          Also, the diminishing returns for wide-bodies start IMO at cross-sections greater than that of the A350, partly because a premium-heavy configuration in a wider fuselage essentially won’t be able to accommodate more premium seats per row — due to the desirability and feasibility that each premium seat should have direct access to the aisles.

          As for your first point, you might be right if Airbus won’t ever launch an A322. We’ll just have to see how it’s going to play out.

          • Only the A388 is about the shortest double deck arrangement that still shows acceptable efficiencies.
            Bit of a conundrum: Not too big a step up from the 747 while not falling of the “gap”s upper cliff, so to speak.

            This EcoLiners 767 kind of cross section compromise doesn’t work. It definitely looks super sleek. … but that does not really count here.

          • I would agree that the A388 is as about as short as it can get given the sheer size of the wing (root chord of 17.7m). Therefore, an A380-700 never made much sense. However, outfitted with a 15-20 percent smaller wing — longer and more slender than the current one — an overall fuselage length reduction of 5-7 frames would IMJ work just fine. The key is to reduce MTOW by around 100 tonnes and replacing the current MLG set-up with two 6-wheel wing-body landing gear bogies and one A340-type 6-wheel centreline landing gear bogie. In addition, with a narrower centre wing box the LD-3 capacity in the hold would only be reduced by about two units (34 vs. 36).

            As for the “Ecoliner” – it was just a concept from Keesje. However, I wouldn’t necessarily agree that a full double decker with 9-abreast seating on the main deck and 6-abreast seating on the upper deck wouldn’t be viable. In fact, no one has ever made an airliner with such a configuration except for Boeing with the partial upper deck on the 747, which BTW, originally had 9-abreast seating on the main deck and 6 abreast seating on the upper deck.

  17. Scott, it is possible this thread is a serious contender for the prestigious “Highest Word Count in a Single Thread That Covers Multiple Topics” trophy at the Annual Blogosphere Awards (ABA) ceremony.

    There is such an event, right?? Well, there SHOULD be!! 🙂

  18. @Scott

    PS: I suspect we are not (yet) finished on this thread, so you need to get the ABA thing under way, quick-smart. We’re doing our part!!


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