Leahy remains steadfast in A380 future

Feb. 16, 2018, © Leeham Co.: It’s been a long struggle and there isn’t a re-engining any time soon, but John Leahy still firmly believes in the market viability of the Airbus A380.

John Leahy stand behind the Airbus A380. Photo via Google images.

Leahy, who retired last month as COO-Customers, continues to support the transition to Eric Schulz, EVP, Chief of Sales, Marketing & Contracts. One of Leahy’s last deals was to firm up an A380 MOU for 20 orders and 16 options for Emirates Airline.

In his final retirement interview with LNC, Leahy didn’t waver from the messaging Airbus used since the launch of the A380 program in 2000: passenger traffic doubles every 15 years, no new airports and few new runways are being added in Europe, the US or Asia outside of China and the need for the A380 remains.

Five years too soon

Leahy concedes the program was probably launched five years too soon for demand. The program should have been launched in 2005, he says in hindsight. It was also ill-timed and unlucky.

Production problems delayed entry into service from 2005 to 2007. By this time, the Great Recession of 2008 was just around the corner, stifling demand.

Leahy dismissed the development of the Boeing 777-300ER (EIS, 2004), the 787 (program launch, December 2003), the A350 (program launch 2005) and the long-range A330 (evolving, but after 2006) as factors inhibiting A380 sales.

He also dismissed the more recent development of the long-range Boeing 737 MAX and Airbus’ own A320neo, which now can serve routes up to 4,000nm.

It all comes back to the demand doubling every 15 years and congestion at airports like London Heathrow, Paris Charles de Gaulle, New York JFK and Tokyo Narita. These are origin-and-destination markets in addition to be connecting hubs, he says, which remain unaffected by the market fragmentation offered by the big twin-aisle, twin-engine and re-engined single-aisle airplanes.

Growth demands bigger airplanes

“There’s a limit as to how many people we can push through these airports,” he says. “It’s obvious we’re going to need larger aircraft.”

“The market is more than twice as big,” Leahy counters when asked about the increasing market fragmentation brought about by all these new aircraft. “More people are flying, RPKs (revenue passenger kilometers) are increasing and I don’t see any new airports being built….

“Pushing more people through these airports isn’t going to work. You have to use bigger aircraft,” he says.

Leahy concedes that there are more “interior”-to-“interior” city services between the US and Europe or Europe and Asia, but continues to argue the large cities are, in themselves, origin-and-destination points.

“It’s just a matter of time that we will need a bigger airplane,” he says.

The A380 will be back in the market in a strong way, Leahy insists.

Emirates deal

“The deal with Emirates gave us that base of a minimum of six aircraft a year for the next 10 years that allows us to sell two here, three there, five over there, on top of that, being able to keep the airplane in production for those next 10 years,” Leahy says.

The base production of six airplanes a year that the Emirates deal provides presents its own challenge: whether Airbus can make money at this rate. So far, Airbus is playing catch-up on costs-to-production reduction.

Leahy says that unlike Boeing on the 787, Airbus doesn’t have deferred production costs for the A380. All development costs were written off as incurred, he says, so only recurring and overhead costs must be brought down to either achieve break-even or report a profit.

However, European subsidies to launch the A380 were found to be illegal by the World Trade Organization. The EU appealed the finding; a decision on the appeal is due within months. If the appeal is denied, Airbus could be required to repay hundreds of millions of dollars or more in launch aid or face tariffs.

Leahy said he is the wrong person to ask about this prospect but nevertheless expressed confidence the EU will prevail.

The track record suggests this confidence may be overstated.

 Strategic mistake

Airbus has been roundly criticized for launching the A380 program. Reflecting on the launch in 2000, Leahy remains to this day angry with the engine manufacturers.

“If there was a strategic mistake, it was we were blindsided when they brought out the 787, with the composite fuselage and the engine technology. That’s part of the problem with the 380,” he says.

“We brought out and launched the 380 in 2000. We’re out there with the 380 and GE and Pratt & Whitney and Rolls-Royce are assuring us there is nothing on the horizon. This is best level of engine technology you can get.”

The engine OEMs assured Airbus, Leahy said, that the A380 engines would be state of the art for the next 10 years.

“Then, within three years, these guys are there with Boeing with the 787 with game-changing engine technology and 10% lower fuel burn than the last generation engines,” Leahy says.

“You stand around and say, these guys knew what they had. They were working on it. They knew it was a big step. They kept their mouths shut and even intentionally misled us with the 380 technology, because why wouldn’t you have just wait two or three years with the 380 to get the new generation engines if you thought there was a new generation engine on the horizon?

“They wanted to sell their own generation engines. None of our engineers knew it. None of our product development people were aware of it. That was a real strategic mistake. I’d love to have an A380 now with 10% lower fuel burn.

“Put this on the record: I’m still upset that the engine guys in the year 2000 said there was nothing on the horizon.”

No re-engine

Despite his complaint and despite urging by the largest A380 customer, Emirates, to re-engine the airplane, Leahy says it’s not going to happen.

‘At this point, what we want is a functional, highly reliable airplane, 99% dispatch reliability or better, putting more seats in—most of the interiors flying today on the A380 are not optimal. They were thinking things through in the early 21st Century. Interiors have progressed substantially since then,” he says. “That’s where you’re going to see the major economic improvements. We don’t see a re-engining right now or on the horizon.”

190 Comments on “Leahy remains steadfast in A380 future

  1. Not quite sure where to start, a post full of contentious issues. It is interesting to note that the A380 seemed to be a victim of ‘here and now thinking’, it benchmarked against the status quo circa 2000 whereas things have changed. Remember circa 2000 really means mid 90s as there had been relatively little activity in wide bodies beyond stretches and variants.

    In my view this led to a lack of aggressiveness in terms of CASM reduction. By building in all that scope for growth, the A388 is considerably less efficient than it could be. The same appears with the engine choices which were contemporary but not ground breaking. Is that the fault of the engine manufacturers? Not sure.

    Perhaps another way of looking at it is to remember the massively aggressive Boeing response. The A380 has been wholly or partly responsible for the B787, B747-8 and to some extent the B777x. And of course the subsequent Airbus response to the response. So what was state of the art only 10-15 years ago now looks distinctly old hat.

    So where from here? I believe JL is being slightly disingenuous when he says no engine change going forward. Surely this is the number one win for the programme and fundamental to any rebirth. And Airbus have any number of engines to choose from sitting in the shelf or in development.

    • The reason there is no new engine available is that the small order numbers that such an engine could win would never cover its development cost.

      So what is on the horizon? Nothing new and big from either P&W nor GE. RR still developing the Advance and the UltraFan. Airbus has once made the mistake to develop a plane (A340) with a new and revolutionary engine (the unfamous IAE V2500 Superfan), they will surely not repeat that. Once RR has either one of these engines running smoothly, they will certainly look at the A380neo again and do their math. By then they will also know if some of their new leads have a chance to materialize.

      • GTF is very much a smaller let down versus the vanishing Superfan but nonetheless.
        Airbus has been nose thumbed by Pratt again.
        ( What did resp does Pratt gain here? )

      • I was not suggesting any new development. RR have multiple platforms currently available which bracket the current 70,000 to 77,000 thrust level. The alternative is to use the UF developments. I fully appreciate that you cannot countenance investment in a unique new model but even a Trent 7000 (say) would have a significant impact on the efficiency of the A380 when combined with weight reduction, modified wing etc

  2. “All development costs were written off as incurred” – so what says is – we admit it is a disaster and prefer to be done with it in one huge blow.
    Even if it makes financial sense, I wouldn’t brag about it.

    • There is no ${fantastic number} unexpected financial energy release potential in the future. ( contrast with Boeing’s $30b negative “asset”).
      I’d see it more as a counter to those catwalked numbers showing Boeing to be “vastly” more profitable.

      • Whether you write off the costs all at once or stretch it out over a number of years, is immaterial. It’s simply an accounting exercise and doesn’t change the fact that the 787 is a sales success and the A380 is a failure.

        • look in a mirror.
          Would you buy a used car from that guy? 🙂

          Moving effectivity of outlay a decade to the right makes quite the difference.
          Especially if you compare to some entity running under different bookkeeping rules.
          Why do you think Boeing uses the PA gimmick if it would give no advantage?

          • Would you buy a used car from that guy?

            I would NEVER buy a used car from Leahy, or you for that matter…

        • @ Rick Shaw

          I liked your comment ‘a sales success’, what you are managing to conveniently ignore is that the B787 is unlikely to be a financial success, it will not generate a return, or if it does that return will be minimal over a massively overlong time period.

          An alternate perspective is that for a similar or smaller investment to the B787 and B747-8, Airbus developed the A380 and the A350. In fact the investments of Airbus were more concerted and hence some of the investment on the A380 has definitely had crossover benefit on reducing the cost of the A350.

          Both the B787 and the A380 have been terribly troubled. It certainly looks like the A380 was a strategic mistake but stranger things have happened. From an Airbus perspective there seemed to have been an attitude that the B747 was their Achilles heel that needed to be addressed.

          My view is that the A380 was the product of muddled execution. Much as I like flying in the beast it is the product of hubris. It could have been the CASM queen if it had been optimised on size, wing, engine and layout rather than for growth or freight, as such would have been such a slam dunk that it would have blown away the B77w in the early years.

          Overall is the A380/ A350 combo too bad? Note these two between them were brand new to the Airbus range and have effectively covered every aircraft size not previously covered. This in itself is valuable.

          • What you are managing to conveniently ignore the 787 will comes a lot closer to profitably than the A380 ever will. With nearly 1,300 orders and likely many, many more to come, it may in fact be a profitable program when all is said and done.

            Some of the investment on the 787 will have crossover benefit on future Boeing flights.

            It [the A380] could have been the CASM queen if it had been optimised [sic] on size, wing, engine and layout rather than for growth or freight, as such would have been such a slam dunk that it would have blown away the B77w in the early years.

            Could have, should have would have… It didn’t.
            It was the wrong size, the wrong wing, and the wrong layout. It covered a range that didn’t need covering.

    • Back in the day, as we have learned recently to say, ’twas not a bad thing to pay bills as incurred, while putting off payment was not seen as good. ‘Owe no man anything,’ as someone or other said long ago.

      • Boeing “owes” nobody – it is just an exercise for the accountants – from one pocket to another.

          • Far more troubling is the belief that ‘cash in hand’ really means actual money in bank. For aircraft manufacturers its mostly the value of planes built but not yet paid for -that could cover planes doing test flights, interior fitting out or maybe even white tails.
            When GM was tipped into bankruptcy it had billions ‘cash in hand’ , which was of course the vast supply chain of new cars from factory lot till they are unloaded at dealers and paid for under floor plan.

          • I know very little about the GM bankruptcy but I’d be surprised if full inventory was allowed as Cash On Hand as a ‘cash equivalent’ needs to be resolveable as cash within 3 months in the USA doesn’t it?

            Re Boeing there is a difference in that the US automotive industry operates a build to stock model, whereas Boeing operates a build to order model and so, the occasional whitetail or picky customer excluded, completed product spends far less than 3 months on the books before the transaction completes. FWIW the European automotive industry is also largely build to order.

          • Woody , I dont think European car buyers are going to wait 2 months for a car exactly as they order, most will wait a week at most. Maybe larger fleet orders are more specific.
            Clearly airliners are all sold before they even start the build, but cash should be restricted to whats in a bank account and another term used for inventory at the final stage before delivery.

          • “Woody , I dont think European car buyers are going to wait 2 months for a car exactly as they order,”

            you’d be wrong.
            A bespoke car order takes its time:
            http://www.autobild.de/artikel/lieferzeiten-von-neuwagen-798304.html ( use google translate … )
            time goes up with class and “bespokeness”.
            Mercedes, Audi delivery is maxed out for ages: wait a year or longer.
            you tend to get fast or even take away delivery for the 3..4 baseline models offered. dealer yard or importer.

          • dukeofurl, cash indeed is and should remain what a reasonable person would understand to be cash. That is why ‘cash equivalent’ has that extra word, equivalent.

            As for the time someone in Europe will wait for a car, it will depend on where the factory is, demand etc, but 6-8 weeks used to be normal for run of the mill product and not a problem for buyers, whether fleet or private. IIRC, the most recent statistics I saw were that a significant majority of new vehicle purchases in Europe are BTO and the trend away from old style BTS accelerated post 2008, catching up with where the Asian market already was.

          • Airbus shareholders who think the A380 is earning a profit seemingly do not fully calculate, or understand, the potential risk associated with looming unrecovered costs.

          • Far more troubling is the idea if you write off a loss suddenly the the project is profitable.

            You have to recoup your development costs before you break even. In order to do that you have to sell planes (a lot of them).

          • 6..7 years and Boeing will have contracted the “Deferred Asset” to Zero. not a single dime will have been recouped
            for developement outlay.

            you didn’t sleep too well last night, did you?

          • @Uwe
            6..7 years and Boeing will have contracted the “Deferred Asset” to Zero. not a single dime will have been recouped for developement outlay.

            How much of the A380 development cost will EVER be recouped?

        • Deferred accounting, in reality, is a tax reduction exercise. Load up a program with all the R&D, expenses, and debts you can so you can show the tax man loads of losses and no profits. By the time the 787 is “paid off” Boeing will find some new program to load the losses onto.

          Look at free cash, look at profits, earnings, stock, P/E ratio. Boeing does not look like a company that is losing money by any other metric.

      • The world is not the same. Witness the success (sometime real, i.e., Boeing) of financial engineering.

        • Airbus financial engineering consists of calling a program that cost more than $25 billion and has only 300 sales after 17 years, a success.

          • On the narrowest basis of ‘is the expectation that the project will meet or exceed the required IRR 100% or very close to’ clearly no-one would term the A380 a success. But once broadened out to include knock on effects (eg did it contribute to limiting Boeing cash cow capability with the 747, does it have a financial halo effect on other Airbus products, did it disrupt Boeing’s product planning which contributed to the A330 achieving higher than expected sales) maybe it isn’t, maybe it is. It would take a rigorous analysis to calculate a range of possibilities and most probable effect.

          • Nice word salad, but the 777 is what limited the 747 cash cow.

            Does the A380 have a financial halo effect on other Airbus products?

            In fact, it has the opposite effect.

      • Of course, they owe their shareholders a profit on the plane.
        The A380 will never earn back its development costs. Just because they wrote off the loss, doesn’t make it profitable.

        • Has there been an official statement or statement by officials at Airbus claiming the A380 project is or has been profitable? I thought they’d made it clear that A380 profitability had so far been limited to a brief period on a handful of units and disregarding development costs.

          As for shareholders being owed a profit, when has this ever been true for any company, let alone on a specific single product/project/service in their portfolio?

          • Hello Woody,

            Regarding: “Has there been an official statement or statement by officials at Airbus claiming the A380 project is or has been profitable?”

            According to the following excerpt from a 2-16-18 FlightGlobal story, Airbus Chief Executive Tom Enders has said that A380 production at a rate of six per year will result in losses that are “digestible”. See the link after the excerpt for the full story.

            “Speaking at a results briefing in Toulouse yesterday, chief executive Tom Enders said the rate of six aircraft represented a “minimum” volume at which production could be maintained with a “reasonable level of efficiency”.

            He adds: “It doesn’t mean we are still making money on that, but the losses that such a low rate would produce are certainly digestible.”

            In 2017, Airbus delivered 15 A380s and was “very close” to production breakeven, says chief finance officer Harald Wilhelm. He notes the airframer had originally put breakeven at 30-35 aircraft a year, but has since realised efficiencies to sustain production at a lower level.”


          • IMU all talk is about _production break even_
            not about _project break even_

            i.e. Airbus is producing A380 at cost. +-

          • It might become a bit better when customers ask Airbus to rebuild the cabins for $30-40M/ea. a few times during its Life and probably do the C-check at the same time.

  3. When announced, it was an 800 seat plus machine.
    The fact that it makes money in its current half full configuration speaks volumes for its efficiency. It is in fact quite unique when you consider that the 777 had to revert to the dreaded 10 abreast to satisfy the airlines financial guru’s
    Will be interesting to see if the Hi-Fly plan works.
    John Leahy will be sorely missed. Just hopes he writes a book.

    • That’s exactly right. The A380 is very efficient if you can fill it and a spectacular place to fly. Any of the three Major US airlines could use one but they would rather fly cramped refurbished old planes and provide poor service. That’s how they make money. Customers dont have a choice really.

      Remember when Leahy said there was no A330 bro and then a few months later it was launched! The A380 will likely survive because it is so unique and a passenger magnet. Sooner or later it will get reengined get stretched.

      • As long as Emirates stay’s in business, the A380 will turn out a few copies.

      • Most airlines have figured out that you don’t need a A380 to provide good service. That’s why so few have been sold. Maybe someday you will figure it out too.

    • IIRC, the 747 when announced was presented as a 500-seater, but entered service three-quarters full at around 375 pax (which, predictably, later became a 777 load). Even the 747-800 was offered at (only) 467 seats, I think. The questions remains when, not if, we will get a 400/500-seat twin.

    • Really? The A380 is so special that it currently makes money half-full? Is that the reason why every airline is losing their minds trying to get on the order book because it blows away other aircraft on efficiency? And the 777 sales absolutely stalled when the A380 debuted, and the 777X is not even getting off the ground; Boeing should just cancel that wasted project…..

      Oh wait……

      • Time will tell about the 777-X. It smells just like another A380. Catered for the middle east and the same A380 customers. No reason to believe it will do much better than the A380.

        The 777X was sold to 8 airlines so far. 76% (235/326) of total 777 X orders are from the ME3.

        Even the A380 did better than that and was delivered that 13 different airlines.

        I would be bit more reserved about forecasting a home run for the 777X. The pattern of customers thus far doesn’t look to0 well. If the market is indeed gravitating toward 787 and A350-900 sized planes (an argument now frequently used to discredit the A380 or even A350-1000), then the 777-X is doomed as well.

        • It is also a function of financing with Ex-Im and EU export credits on hold, seemed to be resolved this week making for an interesting Farnborough Air Show this summer.

        • smells like an A380
          … except with two engines and a much lower seat mile cost.

        • Even the A380 did better than that and was delivered that 13 different airlines.

          LOL! That’s what’s know as putting lipstick on a pig.

    • The A380 still is an 800 seat plane.

      It is unique in how poorly it has performed in the market. You would have to go back to the A340, to find such a flop.

      Apparently airlines don’t want 800 seats or even half that amount. Major FAIL!

  4. Maybe the issue with re-engine it now is that they don’t want to be burnt by the engine manufacturers a second time.
    They will want to wait till there is no prospect of a step change in engine technology, so they will not run into the same issue as in 2000.
    Then they’ll have a comparable engine technological base to other projects

  5. For me, keeping the aircraft alive is what’s important right now, and that seems secured, and I think there will be more small orders – if they price them right [to sell].

    I agree fully with the lack of cabin-space utilization in the current a380 fleets, and I think it will have a market in the future.

    There are no real ‘game-changer’ engines available right now to re-engine, so waiting to do that when there are, and there is a market, supports the ‘keep it alive’ idea.

    As flag carriers get more modular with their ‘economy’ offering I think we will see 11-abreast in an ‘LCC’ type sub-cabin with LCC+ fares to match [or so they’ll say when they do it]. New staggered economy seats would make this even more doable.

    There will be no clean-sheet VLAs from either BA/AB EVER so if/once the a380 is gone… it’s gone… and that shouldn’t be a ‘want’ by anyone/any airline.

    For AB, the money has been spent – it’s still a draw/drag on finances but during this ‘lull’ AB will be even more focused on getting the production cost as LOOOOWWWW as possible… which bodes well for any upturn in the market.

    The airlines that own it seem to think it’s a strong beast so, if true, which I believe it is [over-engineered for growth] it’ll be flying for 20 yrs with many airlines. Early models were overweight and probably have some employee skeletons riveted to the sides based on the traveled work.

    Continue to take weight out if that’s still being done, and improve reliability, and let’s all hush-up about her for a while. Who knows what the next decade will bring. Better have it and not want it, than want it and not have it – if there’s a manageable cost/risk ahead.

    I do like the ‘put up or shut up [or we’ll shut down]’ they did to get the emirates order.

    • No U/LCC is going to touch the A380 in any cabin config no matter how dense. AirAsia struggles enough with their A330s, Norwegian is heavily leveraged on their 788 & 789s. MAS’ transfer to a newly-formed dedicated Hajj charter subsidiary is pure desperation, not business ingenuity. What makes you think Even More Airplane is going to solve their problems?

      Just let Leahy (& his successor) pump them with more A32x and McAllister/Muilenburg pump them with more B737-MAX200s.

    • Fergal – ‘There will be no clean-sheet VLAs from either BA/AB EVER…’ To what limit(s) do you restrain OEMs or airlines in their respective future offerings or requirements?

    • Pricing the A380 right means selling it a loss.
      Can you imagine the leverage EK has as the only customer?

  6. What’s conveniently glossed over in this piece: future fuel prices. EK can risk ordering more Canyoneros – their customer base gets richer with rising fuel prices! The rest of us, not so lucky.

    The only conceivable future order would be BA (and that’s British Airways) B744 replacement come 2023 – watch them run screaming towards more twinjets if fuel crests $95 USD/barrel.

    • Well, those who like to compete with emirates will have to stay in the game. I dont care wiay anyone says, a 777, doesn’t come close to an A380. I didn’t believe it i till I experienced it.

      • Joe: As noted, its not what we like its what they make the most money on.

        Pack and A380 to the tune of a 777 and you have the same issue.

        And at some point, to make it efficient as the twins, you will have to.

        If you can get that many pax at one time

      • Too bad it’s airlines that buy airplanes, NOT passengers.
        Airlines other than Emirates seem to think they can do just fine with A350s.

    • “EK can risk ordering more Canyoneros – their customer base gets richer with rising fuel prices!”

      Think again.

      What percentile of EK customers is from the Arab peninsula ( including the regional fringe.)?

      contrast with:
      US airlines raised in the bottle of “frequency, frequency, frequency” fairy tail and formed by its constraints
      don’t have a viable way to change over to more efficient larger transport. they can’t leave their bottle. stuck.

      • That frequency nonsense is further exasperated by the total lack of competitive ground transportation in the US. That is, apart from the automobile. In contrast to Europe, Japan, China and an ever growing number of countries making major commitments to public transportation, there’s just no real alternative to flying in the US (i.e. > 500 miles). Of course, I won’t mention the absurd primacy of the automobile in American life…. 😉

        • That “frequency nonsense” has been chosen by the marketplace. If the people prefer to have more scheduling options, then they should get more scheduling options and according to airline surveys that is exactly what they want. Customers are ultimately in charge, not arrogant manufacturers. The customer is always right.

          • OV-O99:

            Keep in mind that the US is basically a series of very dense populations on two coast and a very empty middle.

            You would no more make high speed rail work to Laramie Wyoming than we can make Trump smart.

            On high speed straight road it took me 44 hours to drive from Western US to Wisconsin, about 2/3 of the way across the whole US.

            West coast is far spaced on the cities other than the Seattle corridor.

            SFO is half way down with nothing in between Portland and them.

            LA is another 450 miles South of SFO (they are doing a rail there)

            And you throw in the American danged if I will thing and yep, cars.

            If it helps I drive a German car (mostly)

          • Meanwhile, the Chinese are planning to build high speed rail lines from China to all over central Asia.

          • @proppo

            The customer is not always right when it comes to sustainable transportation — i.e. environment, economy, and equity (society).

            Of course, you typically ignore the massive subsidies thrown at air transportation in the US.



            Much is made of the $30 billion spent on Amtrak over the last 30 years, but in that same period the federal government spent $1.89 TRILLION on air and highway modes, according to the New York Times and Washington Post.

            Since 1946, the federal government has poured billions of dollars into airport development. In 1992, Prof. Stephen Paul Dempsey of the University of Denver estimated that the current replacement value of the U.S. commercial airport system-virtually all of it developed with federal grants and tax-free municipal bonds-at $1 trillion.

          • OV-O99:

            Yep, we gave them all our money and economy.

            They need to do something with it.

            On the other hand, the worm turns and nothing last forever and one day they will have a huge infrastructure that does not pay for itself.

        • So the US dependence on the auto and high frequency flights is the reason the A380 failed?

          The excuses get more and more ridiculous.

        • There is no “ground transport” (read Passenger rail) because rail passenger service is unportifable over even intermediate distances, between the distances common in the widely spaced urban cores of the US it’s woefully inefficient and unprofitable vs air transport.

          What little of it exists in the form of AMTRAK requires large government subsides to survive. This by the way is exactly the same in Europe. None of the long distance passanger rail networks in Europe have reliable profits. They are all reliant on government suicides to survive. Subsides that across Europe probably approach literally 100 times what the US government pisses away on AMTRAK.

          Inter-city distance rail passenger service exists only where governments are willing to eat the costs and provide massive subsides, or if a genuinely profitable short haul segment of a system can effectively offset the losses (as in the case of Japan), but even their the long haul stuff exists mostly because it’s mandated (also some segments of even the Japanese system still require subsides). Even with these huge subsides it still can’t really compete on price to actually profitable budget airlines even fairly short distances.

          HSR is even more of a joke, two short stretches ON EARTH, turn a marginal profit. All others hemorrhage money.

          The lack of public transport WITHIN urban cores in the US is a legitimate policy issue, the lack of it between them is simple geography and economics. China is merely ignoring reality and hurling wasteful amounts of money at what time will show to be a huge white elephant.

          It will remain to be seen how long it will be willing to eat the costs of long distance passenger routes that bleed money. This trend is already clearly present, the passangers rail can squeak by with a profit through the densely settled eastern coastal corridor, but it’s hemorrhaging money in the sprawling and more sparsely populated west and central regions. Now doesn’t that sound familiar…

          This all also ignores that trains don’t actually carry many people even in Europe anyway. Seriously go look at the data, when all is said and done the overpowering majority of trips in both are made in cars and the different percentage wise is like ~10%.

          Long haul passenger trains aren’t a panacea they’re a illusionary money pit. Even “good” systems carry a fraction of people compared to cars and barely if any more then planes. If you want to help the environment dumpster the absurd rail subsides and just say give millions of people 10,000 dollars toward a hybrid car every year, or spend in on carbon capture, or subsidizing renewal electrical power instead. That would drastically lower emissions more then any billion dollar rail boondoggle.

          The focus needs to be on making the stuff people actually use more efficient, and spending government money on programs that have the most impact. Not wasting billions proping up passenger rail that few comparatively people are even using anyway and whose emissions are largely a drop in the bucket.

          Use rail for what it’s actually good for long haul freight traffic of very heavy loads at high efficiency. A service which by the way actually pays for itself and which the US easily trounces Europe in, the emission savings vs using trucks like going a long way to nullify any advantage gained by the slightly higher use of passenger trains in the former.

          • So much wrong for so much text written.
            Deutsche Bahn is profitable and sees HSR as a primary profit generator.
            Their interest in freight is lackluster. ( to the never ending disgust of the Greens.)
            IMU you are trying to paint the bleak color of inefficient US transport systems onto everything else globally.
            And note: there is a world beyond corporate profits only and it is nicer.

          • Robert Ryan, you must get the facts right … French TGV travel every 5 minutes between Lyon and Paris with some 500 travelers on board … much faster than cars…trains run from city center to city center .. a huge time saver compared with airport to airport … Electric cars need electricity !! how do you supply this electricity ?? from coal, oil !!! etc.
            as usual UWE is right … he knows the rest of the world more than you to say the least

      • Frequency wins hands down. I have flown 4M (real) miles. I can tell you i have often paid top $$ to fly those routes.

        Just gives you more options you can adapt to given company/customer/projects/get_back_to_your_family/you_have_had_enough events.

        Every other way of thinking betrays little understanding of life on the road.

      • The ones that are from the Arab peninsula (the sheiks) ride up front, and they subsidize the ones in econ, if industry maxim holds.

        As far as the US goes, what constraints? 1) there are no airports as slot-constrained as, say, LHR/CDG/NRT/HKG outside of JFK or LAX or maybe SFO. 2) Take a look at what US airlines use for their transcon hauls: 737-800/900 (AS, UA), A320/1 (AS/VA, AA, B6, F9, NK), B757-200 & 767-300 (DL, UA, AA). That’s it. Notice I didn’t even include WN who uses even smaller aircraft. Median not even 200 seats per segment. No US carrier is in a hurry to upguage & consolidate frequency let alone leap up to a 500+ seat superjumbo.

      • The proof is is in the sales numbers. Compare the sales of 787s, 777s , A330s and A350 to the A380.

        A380 fan boys raised in the bottle of “bigger is better” fairy tail and formed by its constraints don’t have a viable way to change over to more efficient smaller transport. they can’t leave their bottle. stuck.

    • phoenix – tell us about this customer base: half of EK pax are flying to (not away from) DXB and the vast majority departing (whether leisure or business) are connecting traffic in transit, not indigenous citizens. The whole point about setting up EK in 1985 was to invest in travel/tourism because the emirate has such small oil reserves… Compare with QR and that emirate’s oil/gas reserves.

      • The back-of-the-bus pax are foreign workers paid with oil industry proceeds. No oil money, no foreign workers.

        Also, who flies up front? The oil sheiks. They, if the airline industry maxim holds, subsidizes the ones in the back.

  7. If I’d run an American airline I would get me a few A380 and put them on the busiest routes between the most congested airports like Chicago, LA, NY, SF and Atlanta. I bet they would work as honey pots and allow to charge higher prices than flights with any other bird.

    Or is there anything I’ve overlooked?

    • The A380 I think must fly routes of 10-19hrs to really make Money. Anything less people can feel ok in a cheaper A330, A350 or 777, 787.
      If Airbus makes a full CRFP wing for the A380 and put new RR 85k 116″ Advance Engine onto it while RR at the same time offer a smaller version with a 112″ fan as a replacement for the Trent1000-TEN and Trent7000 thus forcing GE to PIP the GEnX another time or force GE to certify the GEnY for the 787. Lehay argue sometimes opposite to their real plans. Why would RR invest so much effort into the Advance and Ultrafan if they did not have Aircraft applications for a new 85k Engine.
      At the time of the A380 GE/RR were bound by NDA’s not disclosing their 787 Engine offers.

      • If Airbus would decide to make a full composite wing for a next generation A380, I’d re-use as much of the present A380 wing as possible (i.e. wing ribs, leading/trailing edges etc.) and turn the aircraft into a twin (i.e. A390X). What most people seem to be unaware of, though, is that if Airbus would mount the (twin) engines on the (inner) A380 engine mounts, as high as the LEAP-1Bs are mounted on the wing on the 737 MAX, there would be enough ground clearance on the A390X (i.e. A380 derived twin) in order to install an engine having a fan diameter of some 170 inches.

        A 170-inch wide fan would have a 60 percent greater frontal area than the 134-inch wide fan on the 105,000 lbs of thrust GE9X engine (777X), and a 107 percent greater frontal area than the 118-inch wide fan on the 97,000 lbs of thrust Trent XWB-97 engine (A350-1000).

        IMJ, an 80m long A390-800X twin engine VLA should use a composite wing that would be remanufactured from the original A380 aluminium wing. The wingspan would be increased to 90 m through two 5 m folding wingtips (increasing aspect ratio by some 25 percent), while MTOW would be around 550 metric tonnes. That would lead to a wing-loading similar to that of the A350-900.

        Since two A350-900s at a MTOW of 280 metric tonnes would just about equal one A390-800X at a MTOW — with both aircraft having similar wing-loading and wing aspect ratios, we can therefore extrapolate that the 80 m long A390-800X would require two engines with a thrust level of about 170,000 lbs of thrust.

        For example, a scale-up of the 105,000 lbs of thrust GE9X engine by 60 percent would lead to 168,000 lbs of thrust; or about the same magnitude in thrust increase as going from the GE CF6-80E1 engine on the A330 to the GE90-115B engine on the 777-300ER, in the span of a decade.

        • OV-099 – would those wing-loading considerations allow you to mount your big engines at the existing inboard locations?

        • First of all I don’t think it makes any sense to develop such a huge engine for only one plane.

          Second: If you look at the whole idea more closely you will find that a 4 engine plane is actually more efficient than a twin engine aircraft, given that the smaller engines offer the same efficiency. The key here is that due to the one-engine-out-scenario you need much less “oversize”.

          Maybe someone around here could do the math, but I believe that a A340 with GTFs would be more cost and fuel efficient than the A330NEO.

          • The point here is by how much the performance of the current A380 is lowered due to the low aspect ratio of its wing. In fact, the A380 is flying around with what is essentially “clipped wings”.

            Why a twin? Because a significant increase in aspect ratio of an existing wing for a quad tends to be a far more complicated undertaking than it would for a twin, due to fact that the the outer engine placement for a quad is rather sensitive to where on the wing it’s located (with respect to the wingtip), and we’re dramatically increasing the wing span and the wing taper ratio that will affect the wing lift and Cl distributions.

            On the current A380, the outer engines are at 64.45 percent of the semi-span. By increasing effective wing span to around 90 m — or preferably 95 m — the outer engines would only be at <57 percent or <54 percent of the semi-span. The outer engines would thus move away from the area of the wing where the wing is most heavily loaded (i.e. the typical location where to place the outer engines on a quad).

            In short, what the A380 is in need of is a significantly improved wing. Doing that with a twin-engine derivative is IMJ a much simpler undertaking than to keep the quad architecture for a wing that would be remanufactured to a composite baseline. Furthermore, I'd want to retain the current A380 centre-wing box, MLG, wing-body fairing etc., in order to keep the costs down.

          • First of all I don’t think it makes any sense to develop such a huge engine for only one plane.

            Does that hold true for the 777X as well?

            One huge engine for only one plane — a plane that’s in a ferocious competition with smaller twins (i.e. A359, A35K and 789).

          • Weill Airbus was not smart enough to go for a folding wing.

            Yea its more a military freighter wing than a commercial wing.

            If they had mounted it high they could have sold it as a freighter to!

          • I’m not sure if the incorporation of a lightweight wing fold would have been a viable option when the programme was launched in the year 2000.

            However, more efficient engines could have led to a smaller, lighter and more slender wing that would have had a higher aspect ratio (reduction in induced drag), leading to a further reduction in fuel consumption (i.e. 5-plus percent from the engines and 5-plus percent due to the reduction in induced drag). Hence Leahy’s dissatisfaction with the engine OEMs.

            Now, the difference with the 777X is, of course, that Boeing probably wouldn’t have sold a single 777X without the wing fold.

          • It is easier making a big engine efficient at max Power that a smaller engine as you get bigger airfoils that can be shaped more effectivly especially in the HPC and the blade tip and root gaps get to be of a smaller % size of the airfoil, You have to work the LP system as you do not want a very big Engine to spin too fast making for too high Mach losses in the fan.
            The big very high thrust Twin Engines suffer at Cruise as they run on a very low% of max trust/rpm and a gas turbine has the highest efficiency at Close to max Power. In a 767 the 60k Engines just give 8k thrust at Cruise.
            The big gain of twin engine aircrafts is in maintenence cost, intially the Trent 500 was as expensive as a GE90-115 to get thru shop, only if a quad engine stays on wing for the full Life of the first owner like 37000hrs does it even out and a 4 Engine widebody will beat a 2 Engine Aircraft thanks to its slightly lower fuel consumption thanks to higher % of max thrust at cruise if at same Technology level. The twin Engine Aircraft would have higher thrust Engines due to T-O thrust reserve for one Engine out and run hotter and not see the same Life on wing at around 16 000-26 000hrs. Note I don’t claim the 4 Engine Aircrafts are at 37 000hrs on wing yet even though some old design CFM56-5C4’s are getting Close. Might be thta some long range RB211-535E4’s are getting there as well taking off from a cold Reykavik most days.

        • I think you don’t want to reuse the metal parts of the A380 wing but go all composite. Just in a hurry replacing Aluminum with carbon fiber is called “Black Aluminum” and does not fully use the CFRP capabilities.
          Using the skills in Filton and the UK gouverment money pumped into it and not forcing a quick and dirty design can give Airbus the series of new wings they will need to be really competetive and get much higher $/lb in sales prices than Boeing.

        • OV-099

          A rewinged, reengined, weight-reduced A380 derivative designed for ~4000 nm range, carrying ~750 passengers in comfortable single class, carrying no commercial cargo, and maybe cruising at .78 Mach instead of .85 would be a very efficient transcon and intercontinental transport serving hi traffic density city pairs. It could be a twin engine or four engine plane; study both. This could be a very important “airtrain” for the era of climate change, which is already here, getting worse and demands attention by the air transport industry

          Similarly, “half range” cargo-free, slower derivatives of the A350-1000 and 787-10 or attached versions should be examined. All could be mid 2020 products

    • Yes, Gundolf. Much overlooked.

      a) Frequency wins. See my post above. I pay top $$ to have timing choice. Don’t care about the plane. Just get me there when i need to get there. Don’t ask me to be 180 minute early because you need to board 800 folks.
      Otherwise, you’r smoking.

      b) Cultural. In the US, space matters. We are not willing to be packed in an airport the same way EU/Asians are willing to tolerate. The airports you mention except perhaps SF and to a lesser extend ATL can handle domestic crowds of that size at a gate (or even merge 2-3 gates). The halls are not that wide (see the United terminal @ Dulles in DC!! lol … or Charles de Gaulle Terminal 1). Many airports are historically physically constrained as they were built 20-40 years ago. If not more. One is going to pay for the airport rebuild? Sure… Just see what happened on that topic even for intl. travel.

      This is not going to happen.

      btw: the Japanese also gave up there 747 on domestic routes for even higher frequency and smaller airplanes. See the trend?

      • I am totally confused by the packed airport/ space matters argument. Are you saying that American airports are more spacious?? I don’t think so, not compared to any new big Asian airport I can think of going through in the last 7 years of which there have been many. And how does this relate in any way to the use of an A380? I get the feeling that your experience is deep without being wide.

    • Or is there anything I’ve overlooked?

      Nothing except business sense. Using A380 on domestic US flights? Ridiculous!

  8. The engine wasn’t the only issue. The wing on the A380 is oversized and inefficient. This aircraft is simply too big and many components were designed for an even bigger version. The hope is to keep an already antiquated plane alive for 10 years so that the market catches up. Airbus previously said they hope to be able to break even on production at 12/yr. Nothing adds up to a rational decision. They screwed up royally and there are too many people responsible for the decision still around to make the tough decision to scrap the plane.

      • Go back and read Leahy’s excuses for the A380 failure.
        He and the entire Airbus brass were deceived by those evil engine manufactures, poor babes.

    • cj – the wing was obviously designed with fuselage growth in mind; if ’twere not true no doubt the nay-sayers would have told us.

    • @cj

      It’s a myth that the wing on the A380 is too big. The wing-loading on a 576 metric tonne MTOW A388 is similar to the wing-loading on a 352 metric tonne MTOW 777X (i.e. asuming 777X wing-area of about 515 m2).

      The main problem with the A380 wing is its low aspect ratio. It would benefit tremendously with a larger wing span.

      • I find it amusing that the people that have designed best of breed wings for some decades are deemed incompetent dorks completely having fumbling the A380 wing.
        Diminishing returns. A 100m A380NW would need a wingbox so large that the belly would rub on the ground.
        And it would carry twice the excess weight we see on the 777X already.

        • “Incompetent dorks” title belongs solely to the team that decided to build this size of aircraft. The market
          has clearly proven this.

          • The wing had to be compromised to get into existing Airports without a whole new runway and taxi way design.

            As it was they had to modify a lot of them.

            Boeing just designed in a folding wing.

            You can’t get a A380 into a 747-400 hanger, but you can a C5A!

          • @cj


            The market has only proven that a VLA with similar CASM levels as that of smaller aircraft is not truly competitive.

            With VLAs having a 20 percent-plus lower CASM than that of smaller aircraft, the situation would change rather dramatically.

            An A380-derived twin would IMJ be that type of VLA.

          • Aside from name calling, the market has spoken. The aircraft is niche. There are a few routes where it makes sense as @TW said. That’s it.

            Love the flying experience on routes i flew with it. Unequaled. Best airplane pax-comfort-wise. But not enough folks willing to $$.

            The crowd management + low frequency by nature + costs = commercially dead. EK’s situation is hardly reproduce-able elsewhere.

            One positive though: By building the plane, AB proved it was a top notch Aerospace company and could stick it to BA. Part of the perception we have that AB is equal to BA stems because AB did the A380, has a full product family, and it’s a fine modern airplane.

          • @TransWorld

            “You can’t get a A380 into a 747-400 hanger, but you can a C5A!”

            That is common sense. The C5A is a much smaller plane than the A380 even the AN-124 is smaller. Only the AN-225 is larger,

          • You are right. Winglets made the difference on a 747, otherwise a 747-300 Hangar likely to narrow.

            Point is that the A380 had to go with a more freighter profile wing than the more optimized long thin wings of a twin.

            Pretty well puts the threshold on what you can do with an airport short of a massive and impossible cost re-layout of of Runways, taxiway and the terminals.

            Denver maybe could do it, not many other places.

            But a folding wing idea was there, Boeing floated in with the 777 (gen II)

            Lack of vision held them back and they wanted it now.

        • @Uwe

          I don’t know why you’re talking about a 100 m long aircraft. My twin engine A380-derived A390X twin engine proposal would merely be as long as an A380-900/-1000 (i.e. 80 – 85 m). And the wing is big enough for any such versions. In fact, the centre wingbox would remain dry. There would be no need for additional fuel capacity due to (i); a 10 percent reduction in fuel burn from the reduction in induced drag, and (ii); a 20 percent reduction in engine TSFC .

          Now, the basic A380 wing is superb. It just needs a longer wing span. However, a significant increase in wing span would be problematic with respect to the current placement of the outer engines. That’s part of the reason why an A380-derived twin would be a logical step forward. Increased span also reduces take-off thrust requirements (i.e. significantly less induced drag with a 90 m-plus wing span).

          Now, each wing* (i.e. without trailing edge movable surfaces) weighs 45 tonnes (ref. to link below) — with the 11.3 tonne centre wingbox** excluded. A composite makeover of the wings would IMJ reduce the A380 empty weight by up to 20 tonnes. That would more than compensate for the weight increase of a 5 – 10 m longer fuselage.

          That’s why the MTOW of an 80 meter long A390-900X would be lower than the MTOW of the current 73 m long A380-800.

          *Pages 14 and 15:


          Page 11:


          NB. The numbers given for the centre wingbox on the A330 is really the numbers for the A345/A346 wingbox.

          • “I don’t know why you’re talking about a 100 m long aircraft. ”
            I wouldn’t know either.
            wingspan, man! wing span!
            all the accomplished aerospace designers here talk about more wingspan ( actually aspect ratio) for the A380.

          • OK.

            Now, extra wing span is good. ,-)

            For example, on the 747 the wingspan went from 59.6m on the 747-100 to 64.4 m on the 747-400 — and to 68.4 m on the 747-8.

          • Interesting how the wingbox and associated saddle are the core of any particular aircraft.

            Wonder what they could do with 2020 materials to knock up a new wingbox for a MD / 90T OEW A360 aka an A300 Mk3?

            Top end MoM’ster @ 8ab for 360 seats and 5K NM real range.

            Real or vapourwear?
            Need 2 x 60K lbs thrust engines.
            Or go 4 x 30K lbs for the here and now.

          • The logic of a twin A380 boggles the mind.

            Bjorn has proven 4 optimal engines can be as efficient as two big ones.

            But in this case, if there was a case for it, Airbus would NEO it.

            The case is barely there to limp it along and hope.

            Better case is to design a big twin that beats the 777x.

            My proposal is to take a 777X, build a bubble on the top that is 2 x 2 or 3 x 3 seating, add 4 latest generation GTF to the wing.

            Now that would be the real deal.

  9. Unfortunately for Leahy and Airbus A380 is not going to work.

    GE and RR had their sights on the 787 and 350. And it paid off. Both have healthy sales in this twinjet market. It doesn’t make business sense to develop engines for the A380. It will kill sales of twin jets, the bread and butter for both poweplant manufacturers.

    If the A380 will be re-engined, it will need a “disrupter” powerplant. Pratt GTF? With their current track record, can’t see anyone at Airbus rushing into bed with them again.

    Pity, I love the A380.

    • Perhaps you didnt notice but a 4 engine plane has more than a 2, thus more sales.
      I think the manufacturers have given up on a new B52 with 8, but are very keen on its re-engining.

      Does seem more than a coincidence though that Airbus got stiffed by CFM with its version for the A340 and then get stiffed by Engine Alliance and RR over the engine for the A380

  10. The A380 is the market changer for a market that doesn’t want to change. Airlines are comfortable with their long haul business model: the profit centre is business class; economy tops it up. Buy planes that are no bigger than they need be.

    Imagine another business model: economy is the profit centre; business class tops it up. Now you want a plane that shifts the most people at the lowest cost, even if it means flying them less often.

    The airline operating the second model will beat the first because it will get all the price conscious economy class passengers and can compete on price for business class passengers. The first airline becomes very marginal defending a smaller number of full priced business class passengers.

    But to do that, airlines have to move to the new model. Apart somewhat from Emirates they prefer to stick with they are most comfortable with.

    • No chance. Otherwise disrupters would have done it. Too many entrants tying to survive/win. i f possible they would have found a way. Nice intellectual flip but a ‘romantic’ one at that 🙂

    • Existing long haul LCCs do that now . Best example is Qantas offshoot Jetstar who now run from 787-8s to A320/321 and even Q300s. Singapores Scoot is another example.

      But national control over air routes means that Jetstar cant fly from Europe to Asia and even Scoot cant fly Australia to Thailand, as its holiday locations that are their bread and butter on long haul.
      Closest to a ‘tourist’ A380 is ANAs proposal to fly from Japan to Hawaii.
      Will wait to see if that turns out ?

  11. The A380 cabin was designed when the 777 was at 9 abreast. If they knew seats would shrink to A350 size, they could have gone with a 243″, 9″ smaller cabin, and a smaller second deck for business seats. Also should have built the wing smaller for one optimized model from the get go, rather than the big plan for a stretch. Lesson for the NMA, zero in on the optimum aircraft and don’t overbuild for some plan that may never come to fruition.

    • Ted – in fact, one (only one) reason why EK has so very many 777s is because they can take ten-abreast in a cabin width originally driven by differentiation from Airbus, which had the A300 (A310, A330, A340…) 222-inch cross-section right first time – all part of continuing airliner evolution. Where next?

  12. My recollection of the A3xx gestation was that it appeared as though all 3 (Airbus, Boeing, McDD) were interested in producing a 747-400 replacement and it was clear that the market was large enough for only 1 product to emerge. In which case waiting 5 years for any regular generational evolution would have been simply too risky.

    Something else I don’t think I’ve seen referred to in the forums is Amadeo’s announcement last November that they are planning to, in essence, become a start up airline (https://www.ft.com/content/cb8209ec-cd19-11e7-b781-794ce08b24dc) after failing to place their ordered fleet as they’d hoped/wished.

    • Start up airline ? Thats even more high risk and something they would have no prior expertise.
      Much more likely to shift from long term dry leasing to more of short term wet lease.

    • Amadeo? The leasing company that couldn’t place a single A380 with any customer?

      I guess they finally found a use for that order of 20 A380s?

  13. Sounds like a lot of Winning from Leahy.

    They were in charge and don’t know their business?

    Well Boeing flat said, we don’t care what you engine people have, this is what we want. So they did it.

    Its called pushing the envelope.

    So Airbus simply made a mistake.

    10 years early, 5 years early, I wish they would stick to a story.

    Now they blame the old engines.

    It seems to me that the GENx and the Trent 10 is pretty close to what they need.

    NEO it and prove it if he is that confident in the reasons.

    • Hmm, that’s a nice example of revisionism.

      The GP7200 engine was originally intended to power Boeing’s cancelled 747-500X/-600X.

      When Airbus asked if GE and/or PW had something more advanced on the horizon, the reply, apparently, was that they did not and that Airbus would have to do with the GP7200.

      • “.. and that Airbus would have to do with the GP7200.”

        established Airbus lament:
        .. here you have an engine wrap a plane around it.
        Mr B, how would you like to have your bespoke engine for that new plane of yours?

      • The Boeing 747 Advanced ( eventually the 747-8 models) was announced in 2004. Thats nearly 10 years after the earlier rewinged -500/600X. So of course thats in the time frame for the more advanced GEnx engines that were used in the 787.

        The GP Engine alliance also involves MTU ( 22%) and Safran.

    • Well said. Overall agree @TW.

      Now… in 2000, AB certainly did not have the pull or credibility of BA yet. The engine guys may have played a ‘polite’ game then too. AB was perhaps more naive then. John L. was AB… hence the bitterness.

    • Yes, Airbus screwed up the engines on the A340, A380, and A400M.

      They were late to the ETOPS party.

      They need to hire some engine experts or they will keep making stupid mistakes.

      • Airbus and PWA has had issues thru history like the JT9D-59A, JT9D-7R4E1, PW4158, PW4168A, PW1100G. Usually a combination of SFC not meeting inintal promises and modifications needed.

        Douglas seems to be more lucky with the Twin Wasp and Double Wasp , JT4A, JT3D, (the US military used these first in volumes), JT8D’s Before using the JT9D-20, JT9D-59A, PW4460.

        Boeing aslo were lucky on the JT3D, JT8D but not so on the R4360, JT9D-3/-7, JT9D-70A, JT9D-7R4D, PW2037 and PW4060 until they got modifications incorporated.

  14. Very basic question — why can’t AB recycle the A330NEO engine onto the A380?

    Wiki level of analysis points to it being in the ballpark thrust wise plus it is 10plus years newer tech.

    Games getting played?

    • The T7000 is a tad smaller than the T900. Airbus I think are waiting for a ALPS version of the T7000 with the same or slightly bigger fan diameter or they have already commited to the Advance 3 or Ultrafan for the A380neo? I assume RR want the same or very similar engines to go onto the A350, 787 and the A380neo.
      The TXWB is 118″ fan, the T1000 is 112″ and the T900 is 116″. The TXWB is too heavy for the A380 so I bet RR is targeting the Advance to come in both 112″ and 116″ versions unless they can massage the T1000 nacelle to fit a 116″ fan diamter engine.
      I think the 777-9 nacelle o.d. did not change much for the GE9X. So RR and Airbus should be able to pull of the same trick for the T1000-Advance and maybe squeeze a 116″ diameter common Advance engine for the 787, A330neo and A380neo engine. If priced right even the A350-900RE could use it. With such common volume GE would probably jump onto it as well making a 116″ version of its 111″ GEnX.

  15. Regarding the interview Mr L seems to have been schooled in a French military college — always trying to prepare for the next war using the the lessons from the last.

    All the talk about the trials and tribulations of the past — the A380 and its inability to work its niche in the manner that the B747 managed not once but thrice.

    However no talk about the revolution taking place in plain sight — low cost, low investment long haul.

    Not B787 style hype / change but real market change.

    Currently you need to buy 125T OEW of expensive, low volume TA platform to do long haul.

    What happens if 4K NM real or 5K NM nominal becomes a reality at a cost of 55T OEW of affordable, higher volume SA platform?

    The A321 has been the runaway success of the past 3 years.
    And it is only a half cooked, half serious parts bin punt into the MoM gap.

    What happens if AB do it right and spend some money on the concept?

    • @Fat Bloke on Tour

      Warning: Off topic comment (but read it anyway). 😉

      The French, at least, have always been reluctant in getting involved in American military adventurism (i.e. Iraq War etc.). Perhaps experiences of wars and lessons learnt is what’s being taught in French military academies. If the opposite is the case at US military academies, it partly would explain why the US seems to have hard time winning wars.

      Most Americans believe that their military is the finest in the world, a belief well-founded by several measures. Yet if the U.S. military were a sports team, based on its record in war and when called upon to defend the nation since World War II, it would be ranked in the lowest divisions.

      Consider history. The United States won the “big one”: the Cold War. But every time Americans were sent to wars that it started or into combat for reasons that lacked just cause, we lost or failed. Korea was at best a draw, ended not by a peace treaty but a “temporary” truce. Our record in subsequent conflicts was too often no better, and too often worse. Vietnam was an outright and ignominious defeat in which over 58,000 Americans died. George H.W. Bush’s administration deserves great credit in the first Iraq War and in handling the collapse of the Soviet Union. But the Afghanistan intervention begun in 2001 is still going with no end in sight. The Second Iraq War, launched in 2003, was rightly termed a fiasco. Even far smaller interventions — Beirut and Grenada in 1983, Libya in 2011 — failed.


      • Ov-o99: Sadly you neglect European history.

        If not for French adventurism, the US Colonial war would have lingered and festered for who knows how long and maybe never have won.

        Also note that behind the scenes Spain lent a huge amount of material support (not much talked about)

        But Europe had a huge colonial expansion that had it taking over half the world.

        And, walla, the US comes to the French aid in WWI, II and Cold War.

        On the other hand, everyone was joggling for prominence and the only reason to help the colonies was to beat up on the brits who in turn beat up on the rest with various combinations. .

        And in the end, the borders were pretty much where they were when they started after 1000 years of all that.

        WWI started as a result of the power getting sucked into a maelstrom based on one assassination. 20 million dead?

        I guess we won the civil war, and did pretty well in WWII and held the line on the cold war for Europe.

        Not sure what you do about places like Afghanistan that supported the people who crashed aircraft into our cities.

        I do wish I had some answers.

        History does start in the far past and it affects on into the now and for the future.

        • The French military comment / cheap jibe was aimed at 1870, 1914, 1940.

          It has no post 1945 validity.

      • Most wars thet end without a strong administration with a stronga and fair legal system falls into a tribal/gang/powerful family warfare situation. Like we now see in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Afghanistan, East LA.
        It is “normal” human behaviour.

          • What I wanted to know all along: “East LA” as in “East Los Angeles” ?

            It is much easier to transform a stable society with a dictatorship into a middle class dominated democracy ( you can achieve that with hands in lap. just wait. )

            What never works is to lay waste to existing structures and expect a phoenix like rise in the form you want.

            Then I don’t think that those that form US politics ever expected that. A fairy tail for the gullible masses.

      • If AB is going to do a new wing for the the current A320 family then the challenge to the engineering community would be how much extra wing could they deliver for the same weight?

        Then ask Man Eng how much investment would be required to bring in the new wing at cost neutral — better build efficiency vs new higher cost materials.

        Then try to price in the efficiency gains into the new models to improve the margin.

        AB must have a bulging back catalogue of proposals to improve the current A320 family / architecture / platform so this should not be a punt into the unknown.

        New wing would just be the start.
        New HD wingbox and saddle to get to 52-55T OEW.
        New nose and tail units to improve space utilisation and help the A320 deal with the Max8 without it having to resort to stand up urinals.

        Best time to do this is when you have the luxury of full order books not when you are having your lunch eaten by others.

        • I think you have hit the nail on the head. The A321 has considerable potential as a base and the conundrum is how far to develop or evolve the existing platform and whether to launch prior to the NMA and head it off at the pass or as a response to the launch as a spoiler.

          Nice problems to have

        • Airbus is not Boeing and the A320 not the undead 737.
          My guess : Airbus would go for a new frame.
          Take all your knowledge about dos and don’t s and pack that into a new offer ( that does not carry the burden of the don’t s.:-).

          • Surely the time is right for some provident engineering.

            Engineer a wingbox and saddle that can be flexed between the current A32X fuselage profile and another that is 10” / 12” wider.

            The wider version can be stretched out — efficiently — to a fuselage length of 60plus metres for an OEW in the region of 75T plus.

            The Super Sixty made it to 57.5M approx on an internal diameter of 138”.

            Consequently a Super Duper Sixty with a 156” internal width should be able to go further.

            All the while providing more power to the elbow of the real P2P revolution.

          • Dont think it will work to have ‘common wing box and saddle’ for a narrow and widebody.

            remember the 757 and 767, they only had the same nose section/ cockpit as a last minute thing.
            If any pair of planes was to share more than that, they would have done it. I would think the issue is the wingbox itself.

            Back in the fifties when the B367-80 prototype was built at 132 in ( 5 a breast), the follow on KC-135 was widened to 144 in and the commercial 707 was 148 in.
            In that case the Dash 80 was a single prototype so any wing box would not be mass produced.

          • The issue is not commonality between a narrow and wide body.

            It is commonality / common design theme between a SA with and interior width of 146” and another SA with an interior width of 156”.

            Could a single basic wing box design be flexed to support both?

            Then what changes would be needed to support a longer fuselage?

            Consequently it might be a parts family of wingboxes to support a range of aircraft.

            Parametric design / variational geometry — how much of this design theme can this component support?

          • @Uwe

            I think you are correct, the single mistake AB could make here is to be too timid in any response to NMA. So you change out the wing and fiddle with the fuselage, needing new undercarriage, etc etc. All costing, mission creep in action.

            The relatively small additional outlay would allow a transformative large single aisle with a larger cabin width by 15-20cm to accommodate something approaching TA comfort in an A321+ length fuselage. This sort of offering would eat 80% of the NMA lunch being lower cost to buy, smaller and more efficient to operate.

            Further it would cement domination of the SA market
            Small SA – Cseries
            Medium SA – A320/1
            Large SA – A360

        • Silly question perhaps, but has anyone considered auxiliary fuel tanks in the crown thus leaving the belly free for cargo?
          There is a lot of empty space above the cabin.

          • Hello Andrew,

            Regarding: “has anyone considered auxiliary fuel tanks in the crown thus leaving the belly free for cargo?”

            In a low wing design this would be hard to do without passing fuel lines through the pressurized passenger compartment, which would probably not be looked upon favorably by certification authorities although it is not, as far as I know, absolutely forbidden. While a wing center section in a low wing design which is designed to withstand wing loads might not require much structural reinforcement to hold a fuel tank, the crown structure in a low wing design would probably require much reinforcement to accommodate the weight of a fuel tank. Below are some excerpts from an FAA advisory circular on auxiliary fuel tanks. See the link after the excerpt for the full AC.

            From page 14:
            “Auxiliary fuel tanks installed in a passenger or cargo and baggage compartment should be completely shrouded. This means that all fittings connected to and through the tank walls should also be provided with secondary barriers. Figures 2 and 3 show some acceptable designs for shrouding equipment items and fittings installed on or through the tank walls. Each tank penetration design should be reviewed to ensure a single failure (such as a seal failure) does not result in fuel or fuel vapors entering the compartment. A primary seal with a secondary shroud/seal provides the required protection if indication of a primary seal failure is also provided and the secondary seal is pressure tested periodically.”

            From page 15:
            “All secondary barrier spaces should be vented and drained. The
            spaces in some designs are manifolded for venting and drainage as shown in the figures in the previous section or are independently vented and drained. In Figures 2 and 3 the tank fitting cavities are ported into the tank shroud cavity proper. In Figure 4 the line fitting shroud vents to the tank fitting
            cavity; and this cavity. in turn, is vented to the tank shroud cavity.
            Eventually all cavities must vent and drain to an exit external to the airplane. The overboard exit should be located to prevent fluid reingestion into such areas as the wheelwell and other critical areas of the airplane. On many airplanes there are existing exit drain masts, which are used to vent and drain the secondary barrier cavities of the airplane main fuel tanks or shrouds. The
            use of these existing drain masts is recommended. The attachment of the auxiliary system drain to the existing airplane drain should ensure that backflow does not occur in either system.”


          • The FAA advisory circular that I referenced above applies to transport category airplanes. It is not uncommon for unpressurized light piston engine general aviation planes to have fuel cross-feed lines passing between the wings just under the floor panels (low wing designs) or just above the roof panels (high wing designs).

          • Underfloor auxiliary fuel tanks are not without crashworthiness issues of their own. From page 1 of the FAA advisory circular that I gave a link to above.

            “Survivable accidents have occurred at vertical descent velocities greater than the 5 feet per second (f.p.s.) referenced in§ 25.561. The energy from such descents is absorbed by the structure along the lower fuselage. As the limits of survivable accidents are approached, structure under the main cabin floor is crushed and deformed and the volume below the floor, where the auxiliary fuel tanks are frequently located, may be reduced and reshaped. For this reason the tank material chosen by the applicant should provide resilience and flexibility; or, in the absence of these characteristics, the tank installation should provide extra clearance from structure that can be crushed or be protected by primary structure not likely to be crushed. If lightweight composite structure with brittle failure characteristics is chosen, compliance with current regulations or special conditions may be required.”

  16. elk causes chopper to crash in Utah by jumping in to it tail rotor no one hurt but the elk sadly passed away.

    • If we are talking about the incident near Heber City, UT on 2-12-18, the crew is alive and well, and the helicopter looks like it might fly again if the rotor blades and driveshafts are replaced; however, I must sadly inform all that the Elk that was involved is indeed no longer with us. May it rest in peace.

      “WASATCH COUNTY, Utah (News4Utah) – Emergency crews responded to a helicopter crash in Wasatch County Monday evening.

      Wasatch County Sheriff’s Office says around 4:30 pm. it received a report of an aircraft distress signal and possible downed aircraft near Currant Creek Reservoir southeast of Heber City.

      Search and rescue teams responded and confirmed a helicopter crashed in the area. The crew was on a mission to capture elk for the State of Utah.

      Officials say the flight crew was in the process of netting a cow elk when the animal and the tail rotor collided. That’s when the aircraft went down.

      There were two people onboard at the time. Officials say they were checked out by medical personnel and are OK except for a few cuts and bruises.”

      Lest I be accused of being off topic, I will note that that the TV story about this incident, at the link below, does not indicate whether or not either the Wasatch County Sheriff’s Department or State of Utah Division of Wildlife Resources have any interest in purchasing A380’s in the future, whether re-engined or not.


        • Duct Tape – For the helicopter or the elk?

          This was not the first time an elk has brought down an aircraft. Apparently Lear Jet engines are not designed to withstand elk ingestion.

          ” Four men escaped unhurt when their twin-engined jet struck an elk and caught fire during takeoff at the Astoria Regional Airport early this morning.

          The pilot of the LearJet 36 was able to bring the plane to a stop in a marshy patch just off the end of the runway, and all four occupants climbed out of the aircraft before it was destroyed by fire.”

          “The jet was taking off eastbound at about 6:15 a.m. on the airport’s Runway 8 and was just approaching takeoff speed, close to 140 mph, when it apparently struck an elk that wandered onto the runway.

          The front end of the twin-engine jet suffered most of the fire damage. The crew believes a piece of the animal was apparently drawn into the left engine, causing it to catch fire. The pilot was able to keep control of the plane and bring it to a stop about 100 feet off the end of the runway.”


  17. Most wars thet end without a strong administration with a strong and fair legal system falls into a tribal/gang/powerful family warfare situation. Like we now see in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Afghanistan, East LA.
    It is “normal” human behaviour.

  18. Ok, so the trend going forward is for direct city pairs and not the hub and spoke method, but…..as mentioned here and elswhere, there can only be so many aircraft airborne at any one time due to many factors, landing and take off slots, safety etc etc, and with the projected growth in air travel globally expected to keep rising then saturation point will be hit. So the big question is…can airbus keep the project alive long enough to see that day dawn?

    • I sure think they can and they will.

      A possible scenario: During the next few year some additional orders for the A380 will come in and we will see an unchanged product for a couple years. In the meantime Airbus finishes all development for the NEO, which will be significant weight savings and some aero tweaks. Then in a couple years RR may have the UltraFan up and running. Compared to the Trent 900 it may save around 15% fuel. As no range increase in needed, the plane can be build quite a bit lighter in many parts. The biggest improvement besides the engines would be CFRP wings and I guess they have those already done in their CAD systems. So in addition to the 15% fuel savings of the engines there might be another 10-15% due to weight reduction and aerodynamic improvements.

      A premature NEO with Trent 7000 doesn’t make if you think big, right?

      • I agree, the A380 neo, the A321LR Plus or whatever its called, and the A350-1100 are ready to go. In the case of the A380, they must wait for engine and demand, in the others, just for the right time. If you paid attention to a previous post on this site, Boeing now says that the NMA plan will consist of two planes to replace the 767, A330, and the 777-200. The original 757 replacement plane is gone (unless of course it is a decoy). What this really means, is that they know the 787 cannot totally replace the 777-200 and that the A321 NeoLR or its easily built Plus derivative, will capture the 757 replacement market. It also means that they still see the A330 Neo as a threat for some time.

        Boeing’s main weapon is the 787-10. A lighter 767 replacement will also be important. Such combination will do significant harm to the A330. That’s what they should do – build a 767/A330-200 sized plane.

        As far as a 777-200 replacement, the A350 will dominate (in terms of payload/capacity and range) and to a lesser degree the 787-9.

        Just saying?

        • Dont believe Boeings hype, plenty of planes are ‘discussed’ or even offered that go nowhere.
          The reason for leaving the space empty above the current 737 line is tactical, they dont want to disrupt the current ‘haymaker’ orders.
          The focus on the space below the 787 is because they botched the development and ended up with the 787-8- which isnt viable for the future and still doesnt replace the 767.

          • With 418 orders the 787-8 was botched, but the A380 with far fewer orders is a success?

        • If Boeing make the 797 so flexible that it can take the beating of narrowbody operations it will capture lots of rush hour traffic that is flown by the 737-800 and A321 today and airlines will pay dearly for it. The A330 is not really made for this high frequency operations. It is very hard to design a super efficient 50k engine that also can stay on-wing for 15000-20000 cycles, never been done before.

    • More City pairs. ?

      That argument was lost in the late 60s when it was Douglas competing its DC-8s against the 747 juggernaut.

      • It’s NOT the 1960s anymore.
        The 787 is NOT the DC-8.
        Deregulation happened. A lot more people are flying now.
        Get a clue.

        • In the 70’s with the B747 as a significant driver — a certain National Airline became a capital city airline.

          Everything has now changed and point to point is the future.

  19. Another thing to also bare in mind is boeing. If the 748 keeps picking up freighter orders then they also may still keep the queen alive long enough to see that day!

  20. I can see airlines ordering new A380s in the coming year to expand and consolidate. BA, SQ, ANA maybe CX, LH, the Chinese. A normal organic extension of their networks and fleets.

    • The word is that BA will order 8-10 by the end of 2018. SQ highly doubtful, ANA might go for a few more in the next few years? Can’t see CX ordering, nor LH. Why do you think the last two?

  21. What would you expect him

    Takes very deep pockets and perseverance.

    Boeing hung in with the 737 in the dark days of the 70s, happy that small customers kept ordering a few at a time.

    Boeing had the pockets to continue 787 development despite its major botch of development, Bombardier did not.

    Forecasting the future is difficult. Boeing gained from the desire for point-point services but hasn’t sold many 747s for pax use lately?

    Car companies make the mistake of having too few products – for example, Ford lacked a small V-8 for pickemups when gas prices zoomed upwards, Toyota had one.

  22. Did Leahy consider the fact that airlines are using smaller and cheaper airports instead of selecting the A380 and flying out of huge and inconvenient airports?

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