Airbus 2017 in review and 2018 Outlook

Dec. 26, 2017, © Leeham Co.: It’s been a miserable year for Airbus.

Corruption investigations. Delayed deliveries due to engine issues for the A320neo. Delayed deliveries due to interior supplier issues for the A350. A year’s delay for the A330neo due to engine development issues.

Production reductions and doubts over the future of the A380. Continued cash drains and write-offs for the A400M. Internal turmoil as CEO Tom Enders dramatically changes responsibilities and reporting lines.

Getting walloped by Boeing at the Paris and Dubai air shows, losing the wide-body order race in a landslide and losing the narrow-body order race.

Next year will have continued challenges.

Bright spot

The one bright spot was the surprise deal with Bombardier to acquire 50.01% of the C Series program. The deal was hailed as a coup by all but the fiercest Boeing partisans and, of course, Boeing itself.

While there is divided opinion what Airbus really gets out of this transaction—mainly centered around whether there is a big enough market for the 100-150 seat sector to make the C Series worthwhile for Airbus—the deal in theory puts pressure on Boeing that BBD could not apply alone.

Airbus now has a solid offering in the 100-150 seat sector once the deal is closed. The A319neo is essentially dead (as is the 737-7). With the CS300, Airbus has a good replacement. Boeing doesn’t.

There is a lot to sort out yet, principally whether the plan to build a final assembly line in Mobile (AL), next to the Airbus A320 FAL, moots the Boeing trade complaint.

This story continues to evolve.


Through November, which includes the Dubai Air Show, Airbus trailed Boeing badly in orders. Although Airbus announced an historic 430-airplane deal with Indigo Partners (not to be confused with India’s IndiGo Airlines), it’s unclear if this commitment will be concluded into a final contract by year end.

Regardless, Boeing thumped Airbus in wide-body orders. More will be discussed on this point in tomorrow’s Boeing wrap-up.

Through November, Airbus had 333 net orders, well below a 1:1 book:bill.


Airbus’ issues with deliveries for the A320neo family and the A350 are well known. It’s going to be challenging for Airbus to meet its delivery goals this year due to the supplier issues with Pratt & Whitney and Zodiac. For a time, even CFM had challenges with its LEAP-1A deliveries for the A320neo. Nevertheless, Airbus is optimistic of coming close.

LNC sees these issues continuing into 2018, but fading. Airbus will identify its targets in the first quarter with its financial results on Feb. 15.


Airbus has a problem here.

Low fuel prices lessened the need for customers to upgrade from the A330ceo to the neo. The skyline customer quality is generally mediocre. And there is only one customer for the A330-800, Hawaiian Airlines, for six airplanes.

But Airbus professes confidence in the A330-800 and says it’s day is coming.


Airbus continues to be hampered to some degree by the lack of production slots for the A350. It’s still in ramp-up phase, going to 10/mo by the end of this year. LNC previously revealed that rate 13 is planned, probably for 2019. Airbus officials would not confirm this, but the number (but not the timing) was buried on an obscure page on the Airbus website.

But this is only part of the problem. The A350-1000 isn’t selling. (The only consolation: neither is the rival 777-8.)

Has the market shifted to the smaller, more popular A350-900 (not selling, mostly due to the production issue) and rival 787-10? There’s certainly anecdotal evidence to suggest this might be the case.


The future of the A380 remains in doubt. An order for about 36 of these behemoths was expected at the Dubai Air Show from Emirates Airline, the customer that has orders about half of the total sales so far and which is the only realistic near-term customer for more.

But EK and the UAE wants a guarantee production will continue for 10 years if the order is place.

This seems like an easy task—if the starting point is “today.” The order, at the current production rate of 8/yr, would add to the current backlog, which ends around 2024.

Ten years from 2024 probably is doable, though challenging.

But LNC is told the starting date asked for begins at the end of the delivery of the new order (or from 2028-ish). Given the current demand, or lack of it, this is a huge “ask,” and one that couldn’t possibly be guaranteed.

This problem child will be on Airbus’ mind next year.


If the A380 is a problem child, then the A400M is a juvenile delinquent. The write-offs never seem to end. Something new seems to turn up every year and sometimes several times a year.


Any review of Airbus in 2017 must touch on the plethora of investigations. The UK’s Serious Fraud Office, France’s prosecutor and the US Department of Justice are looking into violations that range from failing to property report this or that to more serious allegations of bribery in defense and commercial sales.

While CEO Tom Enders caused some of the headaches by voluntarily disclosing some of the issues in the interest of compliance, German press speculation raises the prospect Enders himself may have to go as part of the price to clean up these messes.

Billions of dollars in fines may be levied.

These headaches will overhang Airbus in 2018.

115 Comments on “Airbus 2017 in review and 2018 Outlook

  1. Good morning,

    I know the Boeing analysis is coming up and I’m curious to know how the 777x family stacks up against the A350 family in terms of orders and forecasts. If the market is indeed shifting towards the smaller A359 and 787
    , wouldn’t this spell even more trouble for the 777-9 of which 67 % orders from the Middle East? What are the chances that the 777-9 could end up in a similar place as the A380? I keep going to back to the A350-1000 which should be the perfect sized aircraft in theory.

    • If no A380, and if the ME3 recover, then that puts the 777-9 in the drivers seat by default.

    • @Joe: The 777-9 analysis isn’t part of the year and review/outlook. We’ve noted the the small customer base and order concentration in the past, and undoubtedly there will be future opportunities.

  2. Scott you will make me slit my wrists? I believe there are a silver lining for Airbus in certain areas such as potential production improvements.

    You start to read to read more and more about passenger complaints about comfort levels of the 787’s and densified 777’s, this could start filtering through when airlines make order decisions. The 350-1000 could be a late bloomer like the 773ER, a shorter range (6500-7000Nm) with lower MTOW and ~90KLb engines could potentially sell well?

    Hope AB is not stopping 330-200CEO production prematurely. Believe a shorter range lower MTOW version (6000Nm/230T/68Klb thrust) with the NEO’s Airspace cabin has a definite place in the AB line-up.

    • As much as I hate to see it, I don’t see an Airline cutting its wrists over the seat situation.

      The can opt to fewer seats but keep the door open (er closed maybe) on narrower seats if the situation requires it.

      If you can not up gauge (more seats) then you cut yourself off.

      Keeping in mind, it has nothing to do with people as singulars.

      Its the statistician thing. If you can get plenty of people to fly with lousy seats, then you don’t worry about the discerning few.

      And I will add in, I am a pretty wide shouldered guy, what I care about its my legs (and I am only 5′ 9″.

      • You right Transworld, it’s a numbers game as long as passengers have choices. Hopefully the 330NEO’s performance figures will come out better than predicted.

        Flew the first time on a CS300 beginning of the month, really really nice.

    • @Anton:

      I believe there are a silver lining for Airbus in certain areas such as potential production improvements.

      Stay tuned…

      • Will do. Just realized I have to many bottles of Single Malts to jump out of a plane without a parachute.

        • Stay strong, I love good Scotch, don’t go before its been properly taken care of!

    • I agree, Airbus should work hard on reducing mass and cost of the A330ceo to make it a big MoM competitor that can be cycled like an A321. As more airliners use them for domestic routes and cycle them harder new problems are routed to Airbus and its suppliers but Airbus could help by making the plane lighter and lower V1 speed and hence allowing even more Engine derate.

      • I see the 330-200 size aircraft as what the market may require in the NMA market in many instances, but then it needs significant OEW reductions. Its niche is that it could be produced and market at very competitive prices. The T7000 engines carries heavy price, weight, and aerodynamic penalties.

        Sure RR must have learned from the XWB/TEN/T7000 developments to find areas where the T700 could be improved to give better economics for an 330-200E?

        • An ALPS for the T700 and some other improvements making it survive derated on wing for +10 000 cycles with matching reduction in RR Power by the hour programs will catch attention. The question is if Airbus can reduce OEW that much or if T-O thrust can be reduced by using A330neo wingtips onto the A330ceo ?

          • Guess the guys at AB should know, if it was easy was most likely done? Assume the weight is around the centre section/wing box?

          • Swapping aluminium alloy to thinner gauge Al-Li i+ friction stirr welding in some sections makes a difference. 3D printing brackets all over and sculpturing attachment flanges for all LRU’s a few hundred pounds, More Carbon and Al-Li in the wingbox and wing beams a few hundred kg’s, Putting an Alps fan and carbon containment gives a few hundred lb per engine as you can get some mass out of the pylon. The big hit is reducing fuel load as you reduce range. You loose some weight saving by the A330-900 wingtips to allow more engine derate. Landing gears are maybe a wash as they need to take more cycles but at lower loads. It already has carbon brakes and FBW.

          • Thanks, interesting stuff. What is the cost of building Al-Li fuselage vs CFRP’s? The 777X gained ~12cm in cabin width, was wondering about the pros and cons if AB do this with the 321+/322. Could potentially gain 2″ on the aisle plus other benefits and keep the fuselage width the same?

  3. Everything just fine on narrow body front..
    Some cause for concern on wide body programs. .
    Still ,too premature for 350 1000 and 330 neo .though. .

    • More than fine on the narrow body (for now). Boeing doing the NMA whatever it turns out to be could be a real interesting conundrum. I think its morphing to a 767 light but could be wrong.

      A330NEO would be red flag to me. Its biggest customer was Air Asia and they are flaky. Delta is solid. Not much else. A huge number of new A330CEO on the market. Even if things change, then those slots are filled by a pretty good aircraft.

      A350-1000 also looks to be bright yellow if not dull red. The trend is not favorable.

      • The A350-1000 increasingly looks about as competitive against the 777X as the A340-600 was against the 777-300ER. Airbus will have an opportunity to rectify the problem with the next generation of widebody airplanes 15 years from now.

        • Want to disagree here. Around 2019/2020 the 350’s could get updated sharklets, XWB-EP engines and see OEW reductions. Lastly, seat mile cost is a relative thing, what matters is how many of those seats you fill.

  4. Maybe in the end this is really a commentary on how hard a full range product business Aircraft are (Large commercial) .

    Airbus pushing so hard to be equal they shoot themselves in the foot.

    And loosing out to a company that only cares about profits but has managed to limp its way into a dominant position again. Certainly no cause for Boeing to think hard.

    And worry about the Russian and Chinese? With two controlling governments involved? Not what you call a competitor.

    Something that has crossed my mind is that Airbus should have gone with an all new A320 series wing (or wings) and stuck that dagger deep in the area Boeing would not and could not respond in.

    Airbus looks to have a year of a lot of misery.

  5. Airbus will be fine . At 45 percent delivery you are looking at 800 aircraft by 2020.

  6. “While CEO Tom Enders caused
    some of the headaches by voluntarily
    disclosing some of the issues …”
    – Honesty. It may not translate
    directly into Sales, but it does
    win on Brownie Points. Unlike
    their rival across the pond,
    where Metastasized Dishonesty
    as Strategic Professional Culture
    does directly affect offers, sales
    and sworn testimonies.

    • TC: Air Asia is talking about converting to the A350 now.

      Same pattern as on the A330CEO.

      They were the ones that hollered the loudest for the A330NEO.

      Its a Flaky airline owned by a beer company magnet.

      Leeham has them on their red or yellow list as an iffy operation.

      I had watched their MO and that has always been my take.

      • Transwolds’ comment seems to pertain to:
        December 26, 2017
        Perhaps Transworld, if they lose
        Air Asia ,may be in panic mode
        for 330 neo.”, above.
        -Eddie Maddox

  7. There seems to be a malaise at Airbus. A lack of board level impetus is leading to a lethargy across the whole organisation. How come they have been massacred in the sale war? Widebody has been one way traffic and narrow bodies has been a poor performance given the on paper quality of their offering.

    Further they have had supplier issues that are completely unacceptable. Engines are complex and developmental and ramp up issues are to be expected so why did Airbus not factor this into their proposed delivery schedule?

    What shows the lack of grip at Airbus most clearly is the Zodiac issue affecting the A350. This has been affecting the ramp up of deliveries and the quality of those delivered for more than three (THREE) years. How can this still be an issue? In that time Airbus could have built a factory itself, designed the seats, etc etc to supply themselves.

    To me Boeing is playing a number of weak hands better than Airbus is playing a relatively stronger hand, at least in terms of production and sales, you know the down and dirty generation of cash

    • I think they both have weaknesses.

      The worst issue is the investigation in myth opinion.

      Distracting when those other issues need a full court press to stay on top of.

      Airbus is learning one of Boeing’s lessons, you can’t take your eye off ANY of the balls.

      Interesting its interiors but without them, you don not get to deliver.

      I think Boeing strong area is just showing up in the 787 and possibly the 777x.

      Airbus has the definitive edge in the Single Aisles.

    • Well,
      …Zodiac died (i.e., got sold to a bigger fish). Their board will be dismantled soon. Many execs will get sent to new pastures…and Zodiac may be re-branded. That’s real death in business.
      …and P&W did promise in writing their kit would work. It didn’t, ok. But you can’t fault Airbus for believing. UTC is big, credible enough to be taken at its word. Ultimately, this will get fixed too.

      • Its still one of those you need your own people looking over their shoulders. More so interiors.

        Slower ramp up is advised with all new.

        P&W has a some and some reputation.

        I am still somewhat amazed they got it as right as they did.

        Long term Airbus is not hurt, short term embarrassed.

        Remember the penalties Boeing paid on the 787? As well as giving JAL and ANA new 767s!

      • @ivorycoast

        I take your point re written assurances but who is footing the bill for delays?

  8. A400M : The write-offs never seem to end.

    Airbus wants more money from their A400M customers.
    So they need write offs and some crocodile tears to show their hurt.

    • Well they are hurt.

      Program was mucked up the day they dumped P&W who does know how to build Turboprops engines.

      But then you have all those countries that wants its own personal version rather than a group buy of identical.

      C17 did well because Boeing was not going to customize it. No ROI in it.

      Equally shaky is Germany. While they have a significant part of the order, its the same country that has all its subs out of service and less than 100 Leopards ready for combat.

      Shades of WWII where the Panther was a really good tank and it was always broken down.

      • My understanding is that the serious problems have turned out to be not with the engine (those were triggered by the decision to get a civil license as well) but with the gearbox – and there was no ‘dumping’ in that case. Regardless though anecdotal reports imply serious management overview issues in the entire A400 case – hence I suspect the drive to get it under Airbus official management.

        • coalition of the willing sabotage imho: Spain ( Hispano Suiza ) and the UK (BAE) together botched the Software for the engines.
          Gearbox issues seem to have come up after Avio was bought by GE.

          • The engine decision was made by EADS and it was political.

            Supposedly the A400 was to be done under Airbus per commercial practices.

            At the first interference it should have been, ok, we are out of here.

            Keep in mind that you don’t know until you get heavy hours on engines how they do.

            GTF and the LEAP are a case in point.

            RR is replacing tghe Trent 1000 with the Trnt 10.

            Virtualy a whole new engine, went really badly.

            Safran has lost the Silvercret on Falcon 5 and I think that program is dead.

            I don’t think GE had a thing to do with the Avio. Huge difference between hand built and industrialization build. .

            When you throw 3 or 4 entities together that never worked together on a political program thats what happens.

            P&W would have not been zero risk, but a lot less risk.

            You also have to have a robust spares setup.

            Germany has cut that end and is paying a price for it.

          • Correct for the A400 engine FADEC. Incredible incompetence in Spain… they had ‘no clue’ it needed to be certified for civilian use (as it uses civilian airports). Oops… and then a nice 24-35 months delay as they had to learn from scratch & restart from the get go. Amazing!
            Was not aware of the UK role.

            Sometimes to escape our US ITAR rules, one needs to control all key content. If i was a continental european, i would never subject a full new military aircraft to such rules. Military grade engines are part of ITAR.
            Imagine with our friend’s ‘america first’ how requests for sales authorization would be forthcoming from DC if the A400 competed against a C130 somewhere?
            But sure, P&W had far far better know how then. No question.

            Foreign satellite suppliers have learned the hard way during the Clinton/Bush administration that all key components needed to be developed and sourced outside ITAR’s reach. There were it seems some very suspicious (to them at least) and serious delays in getting the go ahead, disadvantaging them. Today they are very competitive… except that the Germans (or swiss g/austrians, i forgot) can’t manufacture atomic clocks that last it seems — LOL. See Galileo 🙂

          • Unless I am mistaken, the Hispano-Suiza company involved in the A400M with the Accessory Gear Box (AGB) is French and part of the SAFRAN Group.

          • Looks like “too many cooks spoil the broth” in engine department? Just can’t believe that AB allowed a rubbish/political engine costing the company dearly. There are only 174 orders (France + Germany = 103) for this aircraft with 60 delivered in a 10 year period.

            By all accounts it seems like a capable aircraft. Maybe AB can recover some money in the long term fitting it with 2 x 45 Klb Ultra-Fans for civilian applications?

          • Ivornycoast:

            YOu miss the poiont that the A400 was sold as a Civlian run operation with civilian competition methods to keep costs down. .

            Then the politico got involved and changed the engine decision.

            None of it had to do with IATA>

            It all had to do with it was sold under one set of procurement and then was changed to another.

            Then all the source countries added in their own wants and it just kept going down hill.

      • What I just can’t fathoms right now is a news bite from tonight: All German A400M are at the moment unserviceable.
        Then Luftwaffe has bought helo hours from the automobile club ADAC 🙁

        • Trust me, we see that on this side all the time.

          Right now we are lucky to see 55% of the F-18s in service.

          Its an ebb and flow.

          Its cyclical . Unfortunately Germany has always been reluctant on acualy defense as oppose to the getting contract for equipment and the jobs.

          I continue to wonder if they have the will to do what it takes.

          We don’t do it right either, but we have a trigger point where the hollering starts and we don’t have that post WWII aspect to deal with.

          The US Military is in a fortunate position that the public by en large won’t tolerate it. Rumsfeld tried to blow it off in the Iraq war and it did not go well.

          Mistakes yes, but what are you going to do about it?

          And shrugging your shoulders and saying to bad does not cut it. \

          Flip side is the general/admirals ride that to a huge amount of waste so.

        • I lived in Germany many years (Kaiserlautern, Pfalz). This unserviceability does not surprise me and is very widespread – see the latest ‘priorities’ from Von der Leyen). From the outside-in, it always seemed the Bundeswehr was an after thought not worthy of much local support. The hardware has never really been quite operational. Purchased kit sits around. So does the personnel.

          This is of course historical.

          Germany is a staunch US supporter with deep emotional (and strategic) ties to the US. Once you cut the chaff and get to the bottom of what local people really think, they rely on the US to have their backs if anything real happens.

          It’s very very deeply ingrained as part of the bargain struck after the war: The US guarantees the security of (western) Germany, the Germans accepts large US foreign troops, physical facilities, US personnel & families living there. And from thereon lots of ties were built. Germany is small comparatively by geography: people mixed really well, despite the occasional spats. You drive around and there and there you have/had a US/UK/FR facility with people around. US presence was much bigger of course.

          The behavior in DC is creating real consternation . It touching quite a few people souls…”how can the US say this…” i hear often (my wife’s german). So they are riding the next 3 years still hoping for the usual sanity to return.
          The Germans really look to the US. Still. Once you get around the chaff! 🙂

          • Good to have that confirmed.

            Wake up call though, each country or its nearest neighbor should be able to handle the lack of US support.

            I would not be supposed to see a massive blow down in the US in what is left of my lifetime.

            Hopefully I will be so old and enfeebled it won’t make any difference.

  9. “Airbus continues to be hampered to some degree by the lack of production slots for the A350. It’s still in ramp-up phase, going to 10/mo by the end of this year. LNC previously revealed that rate 13 is planned, probably for 2019. Airbus officials would not confirm this, but the number (but not the timing) was buried on an obscure page on the Airbus website.” Never underestimate the value of ensuring something gets seen by …

    • Not an issue that Boeing did not face and worse when the 787 failed to deliver and Airbus sold a lot of A330CEO in that gap.

      They made hay then, loosing a bit now.

      Norm for a program. Whats the backlog like on A320?

  10. The A320 and A330 were strategically great designs and are still great airplanes. But Airbus probably lost the chance to have dominant market share in the wide body for now when they did the A380. If they would have followed the recipe for past success, they would have come up a twin that is a little wider and more modern design than the 777, like they did with the 320 and 330. Going too big on the 380 sucked all of the oxygen out of the room and the A350became a compromise, trying to replace the aging 330 and compete with the 777 at the same time. If they would have done the big twin instead of the A380, the A350 XWB project would have been a killer replacement for the A330 which is where the heart of the market seems to be now. Granted the A350-900 is a sweet plane and most discussed as a perfect 777-200 replacement, but how many 777-200 size planes are needed? I guess if you were an airline and you needed a lot of medium and long haul lift, some long and thin, and had some premium, ultra long haul, max capabilities routes, what would be a better fleet choice, 777X and 787 8-10, or A380 and A350?
    I think Airbus has some holes in the lineup that are going to be difficult to remedy in the short term. Airbus is in great shape in the narrow body for now, but whomever launches the new narrow body first, the other will have to immediately follow so Airbus wont have the same advantage they had last time, its going to be who gets it closer to right out of the chute, after a lot of blunders Boeing most brilliant move was to reverse course on a new narrow body and do the MAX, otherwise Airbus would always be a generation ahead in the narrow body. Airbus is a great company, great products and amazing engineering, but it seems the top management decisions haven’t been so good of late, so hopefully with all the changes they will get that remedied. It would be interesting to hear everyone’s thoughts on what Airbus can do to improve the wide body situation. Thanks

    • I don’t think a single deck aircraft wider than a 777 will make much sense. The 777 moves a big unused around right above the passengers. I would say something bigger than a 777 needs to be a double deck aircraft.

      It seems A350-1000 is not selling well. So why should an even bigger aircraft with more seats and equal seat-mile-costs do better? Airbus could even stretch the A350-1000 but was there any demand? Maybe the 777-9 is to big and not only the A380.

      You missed in your line up for Airbus the A330neo, ceo and A321LR.

      • Bob: I tend to agree on the overall but do disagree on the details.

        With the C series Airbus has the single aisle covered with all new under 160 seats.

        There are some good options that have been discussed for the A320/321, including new wings.

        At best Boeing can hold the split at 40% or so.

        Agreed on the upper end but just a all new match for the 777, not wider.

        But keep in mind, Airbus did not put anything into full fuselage or full wing composite until the 787. They then scrambled. What they came out with still stuns me for being equal to Boeing’s more investment.

        And as the A380 was launched 15 years ago, and the 787 10 years ago, Airbus has been asleep at various positions for some time.

        A lot may have been covered up by the Uber hyper Leahy and the bribes situation looks to have been a factor as well.

        • The point on composite fuselage is: It’s not worth doing it….
          There was ages of development on “black fuselage” through the nineties (with hexagonal framework structures supporting single barrel hull – amazingly interesting design from a manufacturing and engineering point of view) and all said: Don’t do it for a classic (tube with wing) design….
          Airbus does it only because customer asked for it – and showed that you can have the same result as Boeing with less invest. As long as you don’t do the whole design suitable for fibre (blended freeform), but as classical – incl ridiculous shell with strings bolded on them rathe then single piece molded – composite will not play its advantages. That’s why it works for e.g. wings and gliders etc.

      • Agree, the 777-9/”10″ most likely the limit of the single deck aircraft (and twin engines?).

    • Airbus normally designs Aircrafts that can replace a corresponding older Boeing design, hence the A350-900 rpl the 777-200 and the A350-1000 the 777-300’s. From Before the A330 targeted the 767 and the A320 the 737 classics, The 777-300ER surprised both Boeing and Airbus as it killed both the 747 and the A380 with its fleibility, range, payload and durability. Boeing hopes the 777-8/-9 will be its natural replacement but we will see as it have to compete with the A350-900ULR and A350-1000. For the A380 historically you bought 4 engine Aircrafts for much higher/payload range performace but today the A380 does not have the Sydney-LHR full payload range, it really needs new RR Advance Engines to increase range a bit and maybe only 2 ea 8 Wheel MLG’s making space for more luggage and a small stretch hitting 79.99m length and more carbon in the fuselage togther with a revised carbon wing. It costs, so what can be done cheaply, maybe full Al-Li and friction stirr welding to replace alu and GLARE sections, a more slender carbon wing and the RR Advance and large cargo doors on the main deck to later allow a 2 deck cargo + one deck pax conversion. Maybe can be ceritifed “on the cheap” for $7-$10 bn?

      • The 350-1000 could pick-up a significant portion 773ER replacements. The 777-9 could (just) edge the 35K on seat mile cost but the 35K’s sector cost should be markedly less.

        Prospects for the 779/10 could be more orientated towards 747/380 replacements maybe that’s why AB is hanging onto the 380? But for the 380 to offer competitive economics you will have to “NEO” it and build the 380-900 to optimize the use of the wing, which look unlikely at this stage.

        Better to put that money towards something that will bring returns, sad but true, cut a hand to save an arm.

  11. Airbus is in deep trouble. Boeing can harvest the fruits of success based on its smart product strategies and a healthy market outlook. As Scott showed the 737-10 will provide strong competition for the A321 and the 787 provides superior value compared to the A330NEO.

    • Keejse: I am not a the sky is falling type of guy.

      And hopefully buck you up a bit. God knows if someone should be depressed it is the citizens of the US.

      I think Airbus has troubles but has a pretty solid base to weather them, painful at times.

      Boeing is simply lucky to have had an opponent who did not play their hand as well as it should have been. To me that is where the A380 took them off track.

      Even when the 747 had all its own market and zero competition it only sold 1600 some over all those years.

      The failure was not to bring on a true 777 equal competitor sooner.

      I don’t think Scott has said or shown the 737-10 will provide strong competition, just more than the -9 – a bit better but still lame.

      Airbus owns that space and kills Boeing with the C Series on the lower end.

      As has been pointed out, stretch the A320 a bit and hits the 7837-8 hard. They still can put a new wing on it.

      If a 767 is still somewhat competitive, nothing Boeing can come out with is really going to zap the A320 series, match it at best.

      And Boeing currently only has one engine choice (that may change, stay tuned) .

      Boeing is big and lucky. You need new products to stay there.

      Airbus needs to look hard at a true 787 competitor.

      I think with a management turnover and a stop of the old way of doing business, Airbus has some extremely top notch products.

      Its going to be painful, the A380 is done (good to see the clarify on the dates so that makes sense).

      The A400 needs to die or the UK< German and France need to buck up and pay for it. Otherwise drop it. What are they doing to do, sue Airbus?

      Lean it down to the C, A320 Series, A350 (and iffy on the A330NEO) and they can beat anyone in that area.

      • And to add in, they can make Boeing blow a gasket with the right structured launch aid for the A390!

        If Boeing can screw Washington State out of 8 billion there is no reason Airbus can’t actually created jobs in the EU with launch aid done right.

  12. Because of the hiring and firing constraints in Europe, I suspect design staff are quietly working away at a makeover of the A320, as they really have no great design projects in hand, so maybe Keesje’s ideas may come to fruition, but very quietly!

  13. The Airbus situation makes me think of a few expressions in business. KISS, WAP (walk away point), stabilize, don’t throw good money after bad money and, don’t panic!

    There are various combinations and permutations on the single aisle front, but AB should not rest on their laurels but stay ahead.

    AB could go a long way by producing aircraft based on only two fuselages. The A320-family and a 350-family, the twin aisles AB’s biggest challenge.

    A solution on the wide body front could be a two wing A350-family that could prove to be efficient, what airlines want and financially profitable to produce. The second (new) wing around 380 Sqm (new wing and wing box ~20T lighter than current)? This theoretical line might look like this;

    351, Wing 2, 280 seats, 8000Nm.
    350-900, Current.
    352, Wing 2, 340 seats, 6500Nm.
    350-1000, Current.

    This still leaves the gap between the 321/(“322”) and A350-280 seater which is the NMA (“797”), and as we know that one can go round in circles.

    Rather do less well and produce a champion product line, CSX, A32X, A350X, just a thought. On the A330/380’s, don’t waste your resources on it, yes market and build it if airlines want it but don’t loose focus on your prime products.

    • Agreeed. Play to your strehngts.

      Drump the A380 and A400. See how the A330 does, its money spent and nothing to loose.

      Scott remarked that Airbus is ready with an A321 Super, I would hope they also do the A320 stretch.

      Wings as well if that would get them a significant increase.

      Strike in new areas when the timing is right.

  14. A commentator/presenter on Bloomberg a couple of weeks ago indicated that the 797 “is a new single aisle”. He appeared knowledgeable and briefly stopped when he said that. A new single aisle from BA could be a bigger problem for AB than a new twin aisle?

      • The problem is that tryhing to cover 100 to 220/240 seats with one desings does not work.

        That what the C does, it give Airbus that under 160 area in one killer swoop.

        Not single aircraft design can do that range economically.

        Ergo, Boeing has 3 project to try to compete there.

        C Series look alive, replace the 737 and the NMA if it comes to reality.

        I still think the 797 morphs more to a 767 light.

  15. When the current crop of senior board members depart there will be a strategic review of the model lineup the like of which has not been seen before at Airbus. If we end up with a top team with no sentiment towards previous programmes and no vested interest in their continuance then some hefty decisions will be made.

    a380 fold or twist probably fold
    A350-900 stick
    A350-1000 stick
    A350-8000 twist on a low cost change
    A330neo stick and hope
    A322 twist on a significant revamp of the whole capability to beyond 4,000 miles range to kill the NMA before it is even conceived
    A321neo stick
    A320neo stick
    A319neo fold
    C300 rename A312
    C100 rename A311
    C500 twist covertly to A313 have the full design spec completed with a view to dealing with the thorny issue of swapping out or at least augmenting the A320neo in 2022

    • Hopefully an A32X wing updates will address the so called rotor-bow on the GTF engines.

      Seems that AB is sometimes caught asleep, the 787-10 for example, for some reason AB is obsessed with ultra-range, not many flights in the world are actually longer than 10-12 hours.

      The optimum use of the 330NEO’s wing, relatively heavy structure and T7000’s is most likely a stretch of the 330-900 (4-6 rows)?

      Assuming an 251T Mtow and availability of 76KLb engines an “330-1000” should have an effective range of around 6000Nm which should will be more than sufficient for many applications and be a plausible alternative to the 787-10’s, price, seat mile cost and comfort?

      Examples are, Transatlantic west from Frankfurt to LA (5000Nm), Shanghai to London (5000Nm), Doha to Tokyo (4500Nm), or Sydney to Hong Kong (4000Nm).

      • Anton: Rotor bow has been addressed.

        It would have been far less or no issue with the right mount but that is done and gone.

        Now its a matter of does a new deigns do anything the fixes have not?

        You don’t do anything that does not have a payback.

        • Thanks. Aircraft manufacturers seem to rely heavily on advances made on the engine front. A pointing case could be is that BA is waiting for an Ultra-fan (?) to give the “797” the edge.

          I am sure if you could stick 45KLb ultra-fans on an old fashioned heavy 757-200 with low aspect ratio wing it suddenly will make accountants smile? Assuming a 15% improvement in fuel burn that old bird will have a range of 4500Nm makes you wonder about the 797?

    • Could canning the 380 fast track the 350-“8000”? B747 operators such a BA could potentially “warm” to such an aircraft, or…

      In some way the ball is in the airlines (EK’s) court, either you want the 380 or “go and play in the traffic” (a local saying).

    • I would go in a different direction and come up with a two family line-up.

      Use the CSeries on the low end and complement the family asap with a CS500. Then as a pre-emptive move create a new oval dual aisle MOM family that covers from 180-270 passengers with medium range. Make this family complement to the CSeries Cockpit etc.

      Keep the A320 family as it is. The order book is full and the market here is big enough to warrant a separate offer. With three families more production slots are available for clients. With a revision, the A320 family can be moved closer to the other two to offer further commonality across the whole product offering.

      • AB will eventually need a replacement of the 330’s. Definition of such an aircraft will to a large extent depends on what the “797” will be, if AB builds an 350-800 to counter the 787-9 run-away sales and the 321+/322.

        The 321Neo-Acf is more than capable and flexible for typical 500-2500Nm routes. Can see the 322 as an “upmarket” aircraft which could fly routes of up to 4500Nm with 180-200 pax, including some flatbeds.

        A stretch (~4m?) will be required for additional amenities, bringing back the 4th exit door, etc. This will put its length at ~48m, the same as the 757-200.

        To achieve performance goals the wingspan could be around 40m (CAT-D), MTOW 105-110T (?) and 4 wheel main bogeys. These are major development requirements which make you wonder at what point its better to develop an all new aircraft?

        The 322 could land up being a 777X like program (Al-Li), which will be costly but the basis for a new 320 family incorporating some of the C-series features?

      • The NMA/MOM makes you actually run in circles and get nowhere. After having a “clinical” look what is/could be there its apparent that Airbus could actually kill a few birds with stone. Assuming the following;

        322, 200-220 seats, 4500Nm,
        787-8, 240 seats, 7000+Nm,
        A330-800, 260 seats, 8000+Nm (251T),
        787-9, 290 seats, 8000+Nm,
        330-900, 290 seats, 7000+Nm,
        350-900, 325 seats, 8500+Nm.

        The “797” currently seems to be ~250 seats and 4500Nm, BA most unlike will go bigger and/or longer range as it will impact on the 787-9. The 787’s are often used for routes of 2000-5000Nm.

        So Airbus could claw back in the twin aisle market with the following;
        All new 8-abreast, A350 seats, elliptical CFRP fuselage,
        270 seats,
        5500Nm range,
        OEW ~90T,
        MTOW ~180T (these two really thumb suck numbers),
        55Klb Ultra-fans,
        CAT-D wing.

  16. Well the have a 6000 aircraft backlog, the A350s, NEO’s and A330-900. Then there are the A400M and A380 which perform well and have no competition. A decisively covered the lower half of their NB segment.

    Maybe they are more than fine & it’s x-mas time in the Seattle area.

  17. I’m sorry, but all this looks more like a case study in how to make things seem worse than they are.

    The eleven first months of 2017 may have been challenging ones for Airbus, but this December is shaping up to be outstanding with respect to both deliveries and firming-up of orders — in short, much ado about nothing?

    What really matters is the long-term trends in the industry. What matters less is any current advantage by an OEM that’s built on flimsy foundations.

    Meanwhile, do have a continued nice and relaxing holiday! 🙂

  18. The 380 future might lay closer to home than EK, BA and LH operates nearly 100 A380’s and 747’s between them, LH ordered 20 x 777’9s. If AB can secure 20-40 orders for 380’s between them it could just revive EK’s interest in the future of the 380?

    Bulk routes like from India and China have potential, Turkey noticeable in its absence. But its grasping for straw, decision time for AB, the 380 hour glass running low.

      • Singapore can say all it wants but if it can’t fill seats on routes then its not so bright.

        Singapore will have a optimum fleet once all the Dr. Peter early builds are gone.

        MA can’t sell their and the Haj project has cracks forming (its not a high return area)

        Early A380 won’t be scraped, parted out.

        Its clear BA doesn’t want them, the early build are not nearly as good as the current.

  19. I don’t know if these development figures are correct but even if its ball-park illustrates the effect the A400M has on AB is “staggering”, excluding penalties, etc. 20 Billion Euro vs the 11 Billion for the A380.

  20. Deliveries:
    How well in scope of its January projections is Airbus sitting here?
    A320 CEO(319) and NEO(134) deliveries amounted to 543 end of Nov.
    linear extrapolation would indicate 494 for 12 month.
    With the year end rush I’d expect that this will be topped.
    A350: 69 @ end of Nov. for 75 in linear extrapolation.

    didn’t Airbus have ~80 A350 in sight?

  21. I guess Boeing readers are served and elsewhere now so maybe it is safe to disclose Airbus will ramp up A350-900 & –1000 deliveries together with A321NEO’s in 2018. They will show up everywhere in good numbers with tails associated with Boeing aircraft. Brace.

  22. If the Air Asia A330-900 order goes the way I think it will, Airbus has an orphan aircraft in the 900 and not just the 800.

    That’s going to be interesting to watch, Does Delta still go all in or move it all to the A350?

    • Try to see the wood from the trees with my (obvious) Airbus cap on. DAL most likely to use the 339’s on the Transatlantic routes. They will be competing with AA, UAL, BA, LCC’s, etc.

      Those are using densified 777’s, 787X, the 339 will have reasonable economics but DAL will be able to offer pax the better flying experience.

      Won’t be surpized if DAL is looking at the 338 for thinner Transpacific routes and/or to alternate with the 359’s on certain routes on a seasonable basis.

      Looking forward to wide-body decisions by Turkish, AA, etc, in 2018.

      • Still at issue is Delta can’t support an A330NEO fleet and if it looks bad for the future (the so called orphan) what does Airbus and Delta do?

        Lots of good 767s to be had of course and or add into buying new ones.

        • How good is the 787-9 really, only figures that I have seen is Boeing’s claims, whats airlines feedback? Do BA tell airlines how pax complain about the cramped seats clogged with IFE’s on a 787?

          Think AB realize they need something new between 200 and 300 seats, for missions >6000Nm the 359 is most likely enough to compete with the 789.

          Of interest is that the 789’s OEW is ~128T and the 330CEO ~122T (NEO heavier?), so what did all the plastics helped the 787’s in the weight department? Yes, and the 330-900 actually carries slightly more pax than a 789 (and it has 18″ seats in a comfortable 2-4-2 layout!).

          The 787’s success to a large extent is a function of BA’s marketing, think/hope the 339’s performance could proof that is closer to the 789 than Boeing’s claims?

          A mistake from AB could be trying to make the 339 compete on range, a model focused on missions between 3000-5000Nm (where many 787’s are used) should maybe have been the priority.

          Getting back to the 359, the following could be in the pipeline that could put the 359’s sector cost closer to the 789. XWB-EP’s, lower OEM, wing updates. A model with a lower MTOW (7000Nm range=772ER), engines de-rated to 79KLb could just be what “the doctor ordered”. Such an aircraft would fit in very nicely between the 787-9 and 10.

    • Yeah… you knew Airbus was going to try that one really hard… and they did bag it 🙂 Congrats to that team.

      After Delta and firming up another 125 A32x that i could see in the past 10 days that’s like 600+ firm in a few weeks.
      They may yet come on top for the year order-wise. Good for them.

      At the end John is leaving with a pretty solid 60% market share on the single isle market it seems. What a reversal if you look back 10 years. But can they produce? Can the engine makers do it? 2018 will tell us.

      Happy New Year you’all (a bit in advance, and from a frigid -23C here right now…brrrr…where’s my Afrika? :-)).

      • They can produce, the issue is they are at the same rate as Boeing so the real market share is down the road.

        If Boeing gets its act together that might not change.

  23. Let’s do some math :
    330 net orders at the end of November
    +430 for Indigo Partners
    +100 for Delta
    + 50 for Viva Air
    + 50 for Aercap
    + 25 for Pegasus
    =985 orders for 2017.
    With the 13rd month of John Leahy, the year will end at more than 1000 orders. Not a bad year for Airbus, after all.
    Happy new year folks !

  24. Somehow it escaped the attention Airbus had a transition year too. A330 being re-engined and delayed, same A320NEO GTF and A350-900 ramping up and -1000 being certified. I noticed because the Embraer year overview is a lot more understanding in this respect.

    • At least JL is going out on a strong note and single aisle sales for 2017 around 18 months production.

    • The airline/aircraft business has long lead times but things can change quickly. Events such as 9/11 basically killed the 757/767’s production, a useless piece of metal from a Continental DC10 engine basically bringing the end to the Concorde.

      With someone like “rocket man” around nobody knows. O’Leary could decide to buy a few A380’s and turn long-haul LCC upside down.

      Always interesting, a “small” unnoticed recent development for me was the Indian build Dornier 228, a real pioneering aircraft, etc.

      • “O’Leary could decide to buy a few A380’s and turn long-haul LCC upside down.”

        Imagine! MOL clones by the dozen jumping around
        the decks in red knit bikinis.

  25. Airbus’s biggest problems are not with the A380 or the A400M or for that matter any of their current projects.
    Airbus’s biggest problem is the German and French employment laws, they are killing the company and holding it back bigtime. Fictitious projects are set up to keep personel employed in Toulouse and Hamburg or personel are moved into project management to monitor programs that are already oversubscribed with project managers. This is leading to Airbus losing experience in vital areas of design and will eventually lead to capability issues, if they don’t exist already. The organisation structure is geared towards production rather than design and expertise is being lost. Airbus now needs a huge clearout of personel and the French and German job creation ethic needs to be terminated. Airbus only survives from the experience and expertise gained by older staff working for Aerospatiale, Deutsche Airbus, BAe Systems and CASA. Airbus probably now lacks the experience to know how to combat a Boeing 797.

    • Interesting as production wise and per aircraft they have fewer than Boeing.

      But the devil as always is in the details.

    • Interesting rant Jan.

      Not sure you have a clue though. Btw, many, many countries including yours would kill to have the German employments rules compared overall on balance to the state of their economy.

      Think that over.

      ps: the Germans did mess up though when they refused to upgrade on time despite repeated prodding to the newer Dassault Catia software version the French had deployed when both sides were working on the A380 design. The wiring did not fit! The rest is -B$ history…

  26. @ivorycoast not a rant, pretty sure I have a clue.
    Watch it bring down Airbus

  27. On the VLA wide-body front the lines are getting drawn, the A350-“8000” most likely a go if the 380 is phased out.

    Maybe AB “lost the plot/misread the market” when they wanted to pitch the 339 against the 789 on range, potentially doing more damaged by confusing airlines and undermining the 359. The answer/s could be simplistic;

    Offer the 330-900 with a 235 MTOW, ~6000Nm range, de-rated 67KLb engines, reduce OEM where possible, even if its 2 or 3 tons. Then it has a well defined role in the AB line-up and airliner market.

    The A330-800 with 251T MTOW (8000-8500Nm) could eventually proof in demand on its own merits and for airlines that want to do seasonal capacity rotation on routes where they operate 359’s.

    Boeing is losing interest in the 787-8 due to low commonality with the 789, this could create a big void between the NMA and 787-9 where an A338 could fit in well.

    An 330-200CEO-Enhanced with Airspace cabin, 230T MTOW, 64 KLb (CEO’s-improved), NEO wing updates, with 5500Nm range and low price could proof high in demand with LLC’s and smaller airlines requiring 767 and aging 330-200/300 replacements for medium haul, etc. Can see this selling 300+, can’t see a 797 being strong in making money with cargo capacity whatever it is?

  28. It just seems that there are some Egos at AB. A380 biggest, how much effort is put into the Qantas Sydney to London quest for longest non-stop flight, 6m stretch of the 35K, etc. EK won’t buy the 350-8000, Qantas most likely will go for the 777-8?

    Some other wide-body bread and butter issues could be for 772ER optimized replacement/s, and better competition for the 787-10 that is gaining momentum. One simple option is a revisited/revised 350-900Regional, 263T MTOW, 7000Nm, XWB79’s.

    Maybe a small 3 panel (3 x 0.64m = 1.9m) 2 row (+18 seat) stretch is simpler and structurally more sound than moving the bulkhead, it will bring seating to 340-345 (6800Nm?).

    If this was a solid offering from Airbus to SIA, Etihad, EK (?), BA, some of the 787-10 orders could have gone AB’s way.

    Important is that airlines such as Cathy, Malaysian, AA, Korean, JAL, Qatar, Turkish, etc could potentially be looking for aircraft with the 787-10’s range and seat capacity. Lease companies may find favor in this type of aircraft at is be a “jack-of-all-trades”.

    Hopefully 2018 will bring better vision for AB’s wide-body strategy and marketing fortunes.

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