Pontifications: Time for Odds and Ends

Sept. 24, 2018, © Leeham News: This week we catch up on Odds and Ends.

Boeing catching up on 737

By Scott Hamilton

Boeing has reversed the number of 737s piling up at Renton Airport and Boeing Field and is starting to burn off the “gliders” and other aircraft plagued by traveled work.

Although some aerospace analysts came away from the investors day this month skeptical that Boeing would clear the backlog by year end, barring another hiccup of size, it looks like the company will do so.

Spirit Aerosystems said it had caught up on the delivery of fuselages while Boeing told aerospace analysts at its investors’ day this month that delays were still causing issues.

How does this conflict of information converge?

It’s a matter of sequencing the fuselages back into the system, I’m told.

Boeing NMA

For as long as Boeing has been talking about the Middle of the Market aircraft, CEOs Jim McNerney and Dennis Muilenburg have said over and over the airplane (if launched) would come after the principal R&D funding for the 777X was done.

Muilenburg said it again at the Morgan Stanley Laguna Beach conference this month.

This keeps the R&D spending more or less on an even keel, protecting shareholder stock buybacks and dividends.

Although signs continue to point toward a program launch next year, I continue to hear that suppliers which should be involved by now aren’t.

And Boeing still hasn’t closed the business case.

United and the NMA

United Airlines officials made some very interesting comments to a column called The Points Guy about the NMA.

“We’re still a long way away from understanding exactly what the airplane is to a T and when it will actually enter service. It’s a bit foggy at this point from our perspective,” United said.

I find this a bit odd at this stage, where Boeing is awaiting the final proposals from engine makers, talking about an early 2019 Authority to Offer and a program launch by mid-year (Paris Air Show?).

At this point, I should think the airlines should have a pretty good idea what the airplane will look like.

Airbus’s latest personnel shift

The news 10 days ago that Eric Schulz was out as Airbus’ chief commercial office after nine months on the job and Christian Scherer was in was discussed in my column last week. Just a reminder: this won’t be the last. CEO Tom Enders and CFO Harald Wilhem leave the company in April. Airbus Commercial COO Tom Williams and Didier Evrard, EVP programs, were due to retire earlier this year but were each asked to stay on at least through the end of the year. Their departures have yet to come.

When Enders retires, Commercial president Guillaume Faury is believed to be the front-runner to succeed him.

Airlines’ bad service

United, American and Delta airlines each raised its fees for checked bags by $5 ($30 for the first, $40 for the second). It’s another blow against passenger service.

Even jetBlue, once the most passenger-friendly airline in the US skies, now charges for bags and it has reduced seat pitch.

This follows the progressive assault on passengers by the US legacy airlines by reducing seat pitch with thin line seats that make even the shortest trips akin to airborne torture.

Airline officials say they let the market place make the decisions. But when oligarchies rule and fortress hubs mean even less competition, there’s little passengers can do. No wonder air rage is becoming more common.

It’s all about money, of course, and this headline sums it up nicely: Airlines make big money by making you miserable.

66 Comments on “Pontifications: Time for Odds and Ends

  1. Thanks Scott. There are reports again of a merger between Emirates and Etihad.

    Wonder how a consolidation will impact the OEM’s. As far as I can make out Etihad has the following outstanding wide body orders;
    A359/K’s: 62,
    B789/10: 52 and,
    B778/9’s: 25.

    Will there be place for a short haul company or will those functions go over to Flydubai?

  2. Scott:

    “Even jetBlue, once the most passenger-friendly airline in the US skies, now charges for bags and REDUCED seat pitch.”

    Did you mean increased seat pitch?

    • Assume it goes from 34″ to 32″ pitch, seat width 17.8″ to 18″.

      To put it in perspective, AA 789’s for much longer sectors in main cabin (Economy). Seat pitch 31″, seat width 17.2″.

      And if you really look, most airlines on 77W’s now with 31″ pitch and 16.8″ seat width.

      …In short, airlines don’t give a syzt about pax flying economy, especially Legacy airlines. If you book on an LLC you know what you in for and its cheap from A-B.

      • Scott:

        Got it, odd way of putting it (to me) but I sort of see it.

        Usually you pay more for increased seat pitch from off the base price.

        In this case the candy bar thing, less candy, same price.

      • @Anton:
        “To put it in perspective, AA 789’s for much longer sectors in main cabin (Economy). Seat pitch 31″, seat width 17.2″.

        Not really relevant because JetBlue does not compete on routes/geog mkts where AA deploys 789.

        “And if you really look, most airlines on 77W’s now with 31″ pitch and 16.8″ seat width.”
        And if you really look FURTHER, NH configured Y in 34″ seat pitch also on their 789 (like what AA has as Uv’e mentioned) and 77W. Similar story re JL.

        “In short, airlines don’t give a syzt about pax flying economy”
        This statement I agree in general.

        “..especially Legacy airlines”
        Not exactly because e.g. NH and JL are clearly legacy carriers….

        “..If you book on an LLC you know what you in for and its cheap from A-B.”
        As demonstrated clearly to heaps of medium-haul(upto 8h35m block time) air traveler by AirAsiaX and its huge fleet of 333 all configured in 16.5″ Y seat width. Must be interesting to observe how typical Australian pax, not known for their slim girth, fit into an AirAsiaX Airbus enroute fm SYD to KUL….

        AirAsia only does shorthaul(like JetBlue) yet Y seat width is 18″ just like any other 320 operator.

        • If you want to compare short haul in the US, AA 737-8 (30″), UAL 737-9/900 (31-32″), Alaska is good with 32-34″ layouts in many of their aircraft.

          The list of airlines flying 77W’s with 3-4-3 will be much longer than airlines flying 3-3-3, also wonder how many airlines have a pitch of more than 32″ on their 787’s?

          AirAsiaX is a story of its own, you get what you pay for, and the peoples frames from that part of the world are typically very different from most of the Western countries.

          • @Anton:
            “If you want to compare short haul in the US”
            I currently live across the border to the north of the U.S. so I’m extremely familiar with Y seat specs across most U.S. carriers especially the Big3’s. Yet unlike U, I choose to “compare” in a much bigger picture than just the U.S. to get the whole worldwide view.

            “The list of airlines flying 77W’s with 3-4-3 will be much longer than airlines flying 3-3-3”
            Which has absolutely nothing to do with seat pitch.

            “..also wonder how many airlines have a pitch of more than 32″ on their 787’s?”
            I wonder do U “also wonder how many airlines have a pitch of more than 32″ on their…” 350 in Y or in fact, any other widebody types….

            Or is this simply a case of using an opportunity to target yr criticism on a type U don’t like?

            “AirAsiaX is a story of its own”
            A big story indeed and in fact, a pioneering story….even if some do not consider it a success story(usually those living outside Asia-Pcf region and unfamiliar with it).

            With the launch of the 8h25m KUL-OOL route, AirAsiaX commenced medium/longhaul ops 6yrs b4 Norwegian did with the 8h15m OSL-JFK.

            “…peoples frames from that part of the world are typically very different from most of the Western countries.”
            Which is not directly connected to the variety of pax which AirAsiaX has actually been serving.

            As I hv already expected this from U – pushing a myth typical among those unfamiliar about the physical size of AirAsiaX customers(or with anything about AirAsiaX in general).

            AirAsiaX serves the 5 largest city/greater metro mkt areas in Australia & New Zealand. Over 50% of pax on these AirAsiaX flights ORIGINATED from AU & NZ. AirAsiaX is especially popular among legions of AU & NZ budget leisure travelers who want an affordable vacation in E.Asia via connections with AirAsia flights @ their KUL fortress hub(complete with AirAsia group’s very own on-site airport hotel). I know this because I hv actually flown with AirAsia/AirAsiaX over 6 times within 1yr across 2017-18.

            Unless U are claiming typical Australians/Kiwis are sized “very different from most of the Western countries”, your statement is invalid /irrelevant to the typical pax size of AirAsiaX.

            There’re some truth if U claim the same re AirAsia pax(But no seat on its all-320 fleet has less than 18″ seat width). Not so for AirAsiaX pax.

        • Agree 32″ pitch has become the norm for Y in wide bodies, SAA have 34″ pitch on their 340-300/600’s, maybe one of the reasons they are bust but still enjoy flying with them.

          I am starting to make peace with the 787’s (except the EFI’s under the seats). Recently had a “pleasant” trip on an Ethiopian 788, Seatguru claims 33″ pitch”, fortunately both legs of the flight was only around 6 hours.

          The return trip was an ME airline, one leg with an 359 and the other on an 77W (3-4-3), say no more.

          • @Anton:
            “Agree 32″ pitch has become the norm for Y in wide bodies..”
            I think the “norm” is more like 31″ pitch these days purely based on my frequent flying on widebodies across various longthese days.

            “I am starting to make peace with the 787’s..”
            But why there was a war b4 “peace’ in the 1st place?

            “The return trip was an ME airline, one leg with an 359 and the other on an 77W (3-4-3)…
            And the ME airline can’t be anyone else except QR. QR is the only ME carrier currently operating both 359 and 77W in its fleet.

            “…say no more.”
            Why? I mean I’m pretty sure U knew QR would operate both 359 and 77W for your flights when U confirm your booking. If U were trying to avoid 1 or both types like avoiding the flu, U would hv chosen another carrier without 1 or both of these types unless QR was the only choice for your route. Yet U still bought QR tickets and actually flown on them…..so what is more important to U, as a consumer, than avoiding the flu? Pretty sure airlines hv mountains of data re what are the most important ticket purchasing factors when deciding on their fleet type investment.

          • You right FLX, I knew it was a high density 77W, but it saved me more than a day and US$400 in light costs and a couple 100 Euro’s in hotel costs. As they say, “no pain no gain”.

          • Just for info, the CRAIC JV’s proposed 929’s cabin width is 4″ wider than that of the 787’s.

  3. I think the Engine business merits a mention as well.

    With the virtual certainty that the RR engin issues extend into the Trent 10, 7000 and EWB.

    And CFM clearly had issues along with P&W group.

    Perhaps the most unnerving thing is that there is no mandate to tear down X number of engines that have seem on wing service and see how they are doing in the real world.

    • Transworld – well, so long as it’s only a virtual certainty and not a real one… How, er, certain are you that any issues on the T7000 occur where there is common architecture with other engines?

  4. A bit foggy?

    Small wonder, as up to now Boeing has obviously not been able to slash the Gordian knot that is woven between some far away posts:

    A ovoid small twin-aisle is feasible only in CFRP, which bring the production cost near the 787. Ate relatively small numbers produced it should sell at pretty much the same price as the 787, which is a lot more than airlines would be willing to spend on such a “small” plane, no matter how fuel efficient.

    You would need to develop a new technology to manufacture CFRP fuselages at much lower cost, but as far as I know such a system just doesn’t exist. It would take years to evolve.

    A mid size plane with a round aluminum fuselage would either be 767 or 330 size, both of which are not considered very competitive and probably not worth developing, as the price can easily be undercut by Airbus with the development cost of the 330 long since paid for.

    Still no offer from the engine makers. The RR Ultrafan is still in its early stages and has so far been developed for a larger format to replace the Trent. The required smaller size would obviously be a completely new development. Both CfM/GE and PW are crazy busy with the smaller engines currently and will be so for the next 2-3 years, especially if you look at the production rate hike that both Airbus and Boeing are pondering.

    Still, in case Boeing succeeds in talking an engine maker into developing such a mid size engine, it will be impossible to stop them from selling this to Airbus for their up-gauged A321.

    So maybe back to a larger single-aisles, like a true 757 replacement. Could it be made sufficiently better than the 321 that its development will be covered some day by a higher sales price than the Airbus?

    So if anyone here still believes the 797 will be launched next year, please let me know if I have missed something important or what kind of white rabbit Boeing will be pulling out of a hat.

    • I think every market segment has a MoM. Possibly optimized aircraft for the following,

      50-100 Seats, turbo prop or jet,
      100-200 Seats, 150 seats with 2000Nm range, maybe an A220-500 (CS500),
      300-400 Seats, 350 seats with 6000Nm range?

      And the ever present NMA, maybe 250 seats, 5000Nm.

      The first 3 have engine options, the NMA still nothing for many years.

      • Keep in mind Russia is making MC-21 with out of auto clave curing.

        So if a new approach comes along, does that mean you have to use the old stuff or just the CFRP in a new way?

        Not contending anything, but if you are making the study that would be part of it, what is the current lowest cost way to get there from here?

        • Why don’t we take a look at bicycle frames, for example, those beauties you can see at the Tour de France for example:

          In the 80s they were mostly made from plain CFRP tubes, bonded to aluminum lugs. Those frames were not even as good as welded aluminum frames. Then in the 90, the lugs were also made from CFRP, which improved performance significantly. That roughly the tech were we stand with the 787 and A350.

          Nowadays bike frames are made in a single piece. The best ones weigh a third of the 1. generation and half that of the 2. gen. while still a lot stronger and stiffer.

          The real potential of CFRP only shows when you manage to make entire products in one piece, which for me would be a wing and a fuselage. Once you get there all aluminum planes become obsolete, as such a plane weight maybe half of todays planes. Because it won’t stop there: Once you reduce the weight of the fuselage and wing you can also reduce all “secondary” elements, like the landing gear, and, of course, the size of the engines. Finally the fuel consumption will be dramatically reduced, which again boosts range.

          I firmly believe that no development of a large jet makes sense that won’t make this step towards “real” carbon tech.

          • a bike frame is a whole lot less complex and life safety critical than a wing or fuselage. also on a cost basis repairability is not a factor.

            will we see large weight savings as aircraft carbon structures mature and become more integrated/holistically engineered? yes.

            50% no.

          • Dear Bilbo,

            I assume you have never ridden a road bike down a steep descent with 100 km/h, otherwise you would hardly state that such a bicycle frame is less safety critical. In the past steel frames used to fail all the time, aluminum frames less so, but still occasionally, and the early generation carbon frames sometimes “exploded”, often resulting in bad injuries. Today’s one piece carbon frames are not only lighter and stiffer, but also extremely safe. They withstand most accidents aluminum frames would not and repairs are a rarity.

            If you look at the shape at such frames you will certainly refrain from your comment that it would be “simple”. Also take a look at mountain bike frames with suspension, for that matter. Smaller yes.

            You may also take a look at small and medium ships, sport planes, drones, racing cars or maybe even the BMW i3 chassis to get an idea of the evolution.

            What I’m saying is that there is still a huge potential in CFRP of which the 787 and 350 are using only a fraction. I’m not convinced the guys from Russia will utilize that potential with “out of autoclave”. Maybe it will reduce production cost a little, maybe not even that.

            Anyway, my guess is that there are some serious strategic discussions going on at Boeing and Airbus about this topic and about the question if the next generation CFRP manufacturing technology could be applied with the 797 and if this is the ideal application.

            By the way, the new wingbox that’s been developed for the A320 looks like it’s going in the right direction: A rather complex and large piece.

          • I am a cyclist, have been my whole life. (my bike is an older Italian chromo frame because I like it)

            what I meant by life safety critical is a bike is 1 life, taking known risks. a wing is 300 lives riding a bus.

            are they complex? yes compared to a tube frame bike. but they are also 3 feet by 2 feet and don’t require anywhere near the level or volume of engineering a wing or fuselage does, not to mention certification.

          • Bilbo:

            Considering certain parts of the body are at huge risk on a bicycle, I will take umbrage on one coming apart.

            And frankly, if I am the one that is killed, I take it more personally that if 300 strangers die.

            And I don’t know that in fact the stresses and analytics on a bike are any less than any given part of an aircraft (or maybe a big chunk)

            They are also a fine example of how the tech has advanced.

            Perfect comparison no, good one, yes.

      • @Anton:
        “I think every market segment has a MoM”
        What? MoM is a specific mkt segment defined by a specific range set and a specific seat count set regardless of from Airbus’ or Boeing’s perspective. It is not a specific type nor airplane program nor even a concept design.

        “Possibly optimized aircraft for the following,”
        U think current types are not optimized enough for their intended missions? I hope U are joking.

        “50-100 Seats, turbo prop or jet,”
        This is typically known as the RJ or regional turboprop mkt segment. Nothing to do with the MoM segment as defined by Boeing or Airbus….unless U are simply borrowing someone else’s label(i.e. MoM because that’s the ‘hot’ label people talk about now…) and apply it for your own wild imaginations unrelated to the real MoM segment.

        “100-200 Seats, 150 seats with 2000Nm range”
        Hv U noticed that nobody produces a RJ type with 2,000nm range or less anymore?….let alone a mainline narrowbody type(i.e. 100-200 seats). That size+range combo possibly still worked decades ago due to tech limits. It doesn’t anymore as operators want the FLEXIBILITY to cover a much wider geog area @ that investment level+risk for a 150 seater.

        “maybe an A220-500 (CS500)”
        That’s not even a paper airplane…..@ best only a concept design still undisclosed to the public.

        “300-400 Seats, 350 seats with 6000Nm range?”
        Similar mkt issue as the “100-200 Seats” segment. Such size+range combo debuted 4.5 decades ago in the form of the 742 classic jumbo. Today, the closest thing to this size+range combo is the 78J.

        “The first 3 have engine options, the NMA still nothing for many years.”
        Then by yr own definition, none of those options is anywhere near optimized because those pre-existing engine designs are spec’d for very diff payload/range(e.g. A220-300 is spec for 3,300nm+ range…a whopping 65% surplus to your spec of 2,000nm) except perhaps the 78J.

        Tweaking existing engine designs(i.e. “options”) won’t work toward your targeted ranges if the goal is optimization of size vs range(i.e. where classic paper/software de-rate is a no go) because the gaps are too big from your range targets. They’ll need entirely new engines just like the NMA.

        • That’s why I call it MoM (or Master-of-Many) for each market segment.

          The 50-75 seat market for me an interesting one, the ATR’s can do most of the “HOP” functions. But say an 50 seat “RJ” with 2000-2500Nm range and out out of “autoclave” fuselage and 30m high aspect ratio wing could be “fun” but also functional for business orientated travelers with short boarding times, quick de-planing, high cruising speeds, etc.

          Stretch this to 70 seats for an aircraft with 1500Nm range and you could have an “RJ-New” that honor the US scope clauses. Variants of the GE-Passport and RR-Pearl potential engine options.

        • MOM, Middle of Market depends on what is defined as the market.
          Boeing doesn’t look at the entire market. If they had the proposed B797 would not be in the middle of the market, but calling it SBTTTQOM (somewhere between two thirds and three quarters of the market) sounds bad.
          Boeing doesn’t regard regional jets and turboprops and anything smaller as their market.
          The way Boeing uses MOM has more to do with Boeing product range and marketing (which is fine, but Boeing doesn’t decide what the market is for other companies).

          Even Boeing is fluid/confused about what the market is, because when discussing MOM they see “the market” as between B737-700 and B747/A380 (VLA), but around the CSeries trade case they were arguing the B737 was in a market that includes the CS100 and CS300, but not the E-jet E2 (based on Boeing’s view of the market only including planes with a range of over 2900 nm).

          Years ago a company like Bombardier would have looked at the market (which from their perspective would not include long haul widebodies) and come to the conclusion there was a MOM gap they could fill with the CSeries.

          • Julian – of course, if one thinks back to the gospel according to Randy (Baseler not Tinseth), wasn’t the 787 going to be MoM? Perhaps the marketplace has moved…

          • @ Pundit

            Sure the B783 did just that at the top end at least. I seem to remember they were going to snap them together for pennies in 3 days and be able to offer a MOM without any need for a new design. Then they awoke to the nightmare which was the original B788 in all its goriness.

            So this time around they will have a further opportunity to define the market. It is the single most important segment of the market where Boeing is ‘failing’ and something must be done. Exactly what is the headache. I can foresee a Pyrrhic victory where Boeing achieve dominance over the MOM space and make both the A338 and A321 neos relatively obsolescent. Fine, but at the same stage they will be lucky to generate an acceptable ROI/ payback. And of course Airbus will have to retaliate somewhere down the line.

        • An 359 stretched by ~4.5m (7 panels) with the 359’s wing, possibly 6 wheel bogies if required (there was such a design for the 359R), 80 Klb engines, MTOW around 260T (?), 350-360 pax in typical 2-class could interest many airlines.

          Again if my “matchbox cals” are ball park you should reduce max fuel by 10T (increase in OEW to ~150T?) +4T (pax & cargo) + 8T (reduced MTOW) = 22T compared to the “standard” 268T variant.

          Now for even bigger assumptions, fuel burn rate of 6.3T/1000km thus reduced range of ~3500km, or ~1900NM. This should give an “A359+” a range of around 6300Nm. Airlines operating from Hot and/or high airports could opt for the 84Klb engines to maintain the MTOW/range.

          Believe such an aircraft could have very competitive seat mile costs (fuel burn and airport fees) and be useful for high density medium haul routes where 77-2/3/W’s are often being used. (Think this is the type of aircraft EK was after that costed AB an 70 A350 order), hopefully Mr. Scherer will see the wood from the trees in these type of situations.

          EK, QT, BA, AA, UAL and several Asian airlines uses above mentioned aircraft (777’s) on routes of less than 6000Nm. Six wheel bogies could have there place where higher cycle rates and MLW’s are involved.

          Lastly, such a simple stretch should be relatively low cost and quick to do (in aircraft terms). PIP’s to the XWB is expected in 3-4 years (?), maybe with the Advance 3 core (?) could be the ideal timing as engines to certify this aircraft.

          As you noticed, this has become another of my pet aircraft after the A320+ and 321+ (with 2nd access door). The 320+ and 359+ are relatively simple developments, with an 321+/322 wing and engine thrust requirements comes into play.

          • Why does this A350-950 you propose need to have a reduced MTOW of around 260 t?
            Why not keep the MTOW of the -900, or since you want to use 6 bogies the 280 t MTOW of the -900 ULR?

          • Reduced MTOW because you don’t need the extra fuel, have lower thrust engines and increased wetted area (drag) due to stretch, it will also reduce landing fees etc.

            Six wheel bogies due to possible higher MLW, higher cycles, and it will look good.

            If there are interest you could increase the MTOW to around 275T (+15T fuel) for a longer range version which should put range between 7000-7300Nm (?) with ~350 pax, most likely will need higher thrust engines, ~85-88 Klb?

            And if you go the full “hog” you can have and A359+XLR with the 359K’s wing, landing gear and engines, MTOW 325T-330T which will bring you to the 9000+NM range with around 300 pax?

            But the primary objective I see for an A359+ is to be engineered for routes of 4000-6000Nm but could also serve higher density routes with 3-6 hour flight times.

            See Air India is now going to deploy 747/s on domestic routes, an 359+ in higher density layout with say around 400 seats could could be deployed for such “occasions”? Six wheel bogies could be a requirement for such high density layouts.


          • If I understand correct you propose this stretch is a “regional”?
            At first I thought you mean to create a “simple” stretch like the B787-10.

            This -950 you propose makes me wonder if there is a market for a regional -1000.
            What kind of range would a A350K Regional that combines the -1000 body with the -900 wing and engines have?

    • Yes, Boeing simply needs to develop a new and improved single aisle. Fuselage diameter like MC-21 to be a little bigger than 320 series. Fuselage lengths eventually from A320 to somewhat larger than 752 (maybe even 753). Two wings to allow for wide range/mass options. First version is roughly 752/321 length then develop two or three lengths shorter and one longer. Slowly replaces all 737 max by 2030s. It would be great to see the 707 nose/windshield finally retired. Now if they would just listen to little old me.

      • With oil prices heading North airlines will have to phase out older sooner than planned? This might play in the hands of AB with the 321XLR’s and 321+.

        This still leaves BA with a king of monopoly with 788/9’s, the 330NEO’s just carries to much weight for routes of less than 5000Nm.

        If BA goes for a new smaller/lighter wing for the 788 (or 788+, 260-270 seats) with 4500-5000Nm range it could be what many airlines want? Such an aircraft could EIS in 5 years (?), GE could potentially re-work the GEnx with thrust around 60Klb and adapt it for shorter haul missions.

        • Nope, cost is WAY to high.

          Only place it works is Japan and they must be able to charge good to do it.

          747s were used on those routes at one time.

      • Dan F – how could/would BA justify a body wider even than an A320’s without adding another seat/row?

        • If my info correct for cabin widths; MC21-150″, A320’s-146.4″, B737’s-140.4″.

          With 18″ seats the 320’s aisle width is 19″, for larger single aisles of say 180-230 seats an MC21 fuselage will give you an ~3″ wider aisle (22-23″) with 18″ seats, for an 140-180 seat SA the B737 fuselage maybe aerodynamically better while the 320’s fuselage a “compromize” between the two.

          Don’t know what the C919’s cabin width is but suspect a fairly close copy and paste of the 320’s.

          • Anton – quite. Given BA’s seat-mile cost mantra, I can’t easily see them adopting anything wider without adding a seat/row. A is not a compromise, since it came before the MC-21.
            How does United/Irkut justify the aerodynamically ‘less better’ fuselage? I appreciate that St John had an argument to do with diagonal space between seat rows (that involved wider seats and perhaps same/reduced pitch…).

      • Don’t rule out a two fuselage, two wing FSA family from BA.

        Interesting will be if the larger (757 capacity) have a “standard” CAT-D wing or could it have folding wing tips.

  5. This one popped up, the chart is not correct for Qantas numbers on either the A380 or 787, fewer for each configuration they fly but the ratio is the same


    But Qantas also does not fly point to point, it flys the 787 to the same big cities they alwyas did.

    Extra crew for each would be biased to the A380 as they would only need one backup crew, a 787 would need two being in separate aircraft. No one mentions that.

    • That’s an odd comparison. Tony Webber seems to be contradicting himself. He’s quoted as saying:

      “You can fly two Boeing 787s between Sydney and Los Angeles with the same fuel consumption as the A380,”

      and then:

      “But jet fuel price hovers above $80 to $90, so it just becomes uneconomic and unsustainable.”

      Surely the fuel price rises for the 787 too?! And what about extra pilots, cabin crew, landing slots, etc? Plus there’s still 4 engines on 2 787s to maintain.

      I suspect that there’s more detail not covered in the article!

    • Thanks for the link, 20-25 years ago a flew in C90’s, B100 & 200’s often for work. Nice aircraft but often found that pilots are young and full of themselves or older and fresh out the pub with a first light take-off.

      • You are welcome. It was such an odd crash. He looks to have been way lax.

        Many years ago we had to helicopter into a survey site.

        The older guy was nice and careful and while I am not keen on helpicorpes, I was comforanle with him.

        He got assigned to another job and got replaced by a hot post Vietnam helicopter jock.

        The new guy tried to chop down trees one day, the last day he pushed into a whiteout across a body of water and the glass fogged up (wet surveyors, no heat in the chopper form sitting, suddenly phoof)

        Two things saved us, he swung back towards the departure shore as he lost the chopper and I got the window partially cleared so he had a horizon to work with.

        I was up front as I had flying experiencing and the survey crew wanted me upon there helicopter flying or not.

        I knew what he needed if we wern’t all going to die.

        Used up one of my lives on that one. I still get the shakes from it.

        We then landed on the departure shore and waited for the fog bank to clear.

  6. “Even jetBlue, once the most passenger-friendly airline in the US skies, now charges for bags and it has reduced seat pitch.”

    A bit odd that you neglect to mention that JetBlue was the one who started the $25 -> $30 bag fee change. United followed then Delta and American after the lack of backlash towards United over the issue.

  7. Just out of interest see how many destinations are in reach from hubs in the ME, Addis Abba, India, Central Asia, China, Western Europe and the US with an aircraft of ~5000Nm range.

    If the right engines are their an 250-275 seat “NMA” with around 5000Nm range could have a good future. Just keep OEW below 100T and seat mile costs 25% or so below the 787’s and 330NEO’s and you could have a winner?

    • ” 250-275 seat “NMA” – that description sounds very much like the existing 787-8. Uniteds premium heavy version seat 219 pax. Lower cost carriers higher.
      Realistically its more like 240 seats tops in mixed class.

      • The 788 (and 332) the right size I think, but they have to shave off 20-30T in OEW.

        End of the day a “clean sheet” 763’s and 300-600R’s is what needed. They came with OEW’s of ~90T, not shabby.

        What’s needed to make an NMA work is a new engine and simplicity.

        Not sure about ground clearance but often wondered if BA could test fly an B763 with a GEnx-2B (747-8) de-rated to 60Klb. Won’t be surprized if if gives the 788 a good run for its money on seat mile cost

  8. What if e.g. United / AA come to Airbus / Boeing with a requirement for a 4500NM aircraft that can use development versions of the existing CFM LEAP / PW1000 engines? Those probably max out at around 40-42k lbs and responding with a 70t twin aisle might be unhandy.

    • Both GE and PW are proposing just that, derivatives of the existing engines.

      RR has nothing there so it would be an all new engine.

      But you cna’t just push a LEAP of a GTF, its going to take a new engine even if its base3d on the existing.

      The big issue is the fuselage, wing and cost of those in that market segment.

      • I think what you mean is the Leap and GTF wont be just getting a
        ‘software’ thrust bump but there could be more substantial changes. Just as plane makers think about changes to existing designs to extend the ‘model family’ , engine makers would be considering the same. So maybe a small increase in fan diameter, some extra stages in turbines and compressors and maybe some new tech in places and there you have a ‘new’ engine at about 40,000lb .
        As I know you are a RR aficionado TW ! , the earlier RB211-524G used for the 747-400 didnt quite meet its contracted numbers when flying for Qantas, so RR added what was the then new ‘Trent core’ for later engines becoming the RB211-524GT.

    • I have done some quick matchbox calc’s. Assuming an OEW of 75T, 45T of fuel for an 10 hour flight (with reserves, etc), 30T pax (250) and “cargo” gives you an MTOW of ~150T?

      You might get away with 45Klb thrust engines but will need a very good wing.

      The 797-6X with 225 pax could work with 42Klb engines but the 797-7X with 265 pax will be a tough call.

  9. Since the topic of this blog is an Odds and Ends, I’d like to ask a question related to commercial aviation. Flightglobal recently reported that Cape Air will receive it’s first Tecnam P2012s in January 2019.

    What are the logistics of delivering an aircraft flying at a speed of 150 kn with a 907 nmi range from Capua, Italy to Barnstable, MA, USA? Seems like a whole different problem than taking possession of a new 737 with a cruise speed of 450 kn and a range of 3500 nmi.

    Is there any concern for doing a 4-6 hour flight over water with such an aircraft?

    Are two pilots required?

    • I am not an expert, but I have read the accounts of the reverse of a lot of airplanes going from US to Europe.

      Its always been a single pilot, they report as close to Ireland as they can (Newfoundland I believe) and carry enough fuel for the hop to Ireland.

      If not enough range they put in temporary fuel setup.

      Alternatives in Iceland and Greenland.

      Its common as a lot of aircraft move around the world, certainly not one for the faint of heart!

      • Thank you so much for the link. It answers all of my questions and some I had not considered. Ferry piloting is not a job for a rookie.

    • Looking over the plane it has a mtow of just over 12,000 lbs. The f404 engine will produce over 17,000 lbs. of thrust.
      That thing is going to leap off the runway!
      It’s going to be a rocket up there, very unusual for a trainer to have this level of performance. Oddly it has a listed top speed of 802 mph, I suppose that’s all the airframe can safely handle.

    • Perhaps no more so than any other aerospace OEM. When you board an airplane, who is taking the risk? Of course, a long flight is not much more likely to lead to catastrophe than a short one.

    • Don’t want to throw fuel on your burning passion for recent RR engines but read that a recently delivered Iberia 359 had do divert due to an overheat warning from the left engine.

      Hopefully not a bad sign, the 350’s are a real joy to fly in.

  10. Considering that A320NEO and 737MAX deliveries has only started in earnest this year replacement of the current wave of aircraft will only be in 15-20 years from now with an NSA/FSA. 2035 For EIS has often been mentioned, so launching by around 2028-2030?

    BA might launch the NMA but what will AB be doing up to then except “faffing” around with A320 updates?

    Hopefully they will be working on a new wide body (250-300 seats) to EIS around 2028-2030 by which time an FSA is launched? If an engine like RR’s ultrafan is the step improvement in fuel consumption that is claimed it will be the timing could be right. That will require the launch of such an aircraft by 2022 or so when the 321XLR and 321+ could be in the process of being certified?

  11. Looks like the squeeze on airlines are increasing due the rising oil prices.

    JetBlue will be launching a new stripped down fare;

    Also, AA to increase prices of drinks;

    This makes me wonder how the ME airlines manage their fuel for relatively short routes to destinations such as London (2800-3200Nm) with large long range aircraft. Do they take just enough fuel for the flight or do they fill up in the ME and just top-up if required for the return flight?

  12. Over the last year JetBlue’s ambitions of going Transatlantic seems to be gaining moment.

    Was wondering if they could become a launch customer for an A321XLR? Assuming this aircraft has an effective range (reserves, head winds, etc) of 4000Nm with ~180 pax it could reach basically all destinations in Europe from Boston/JFK. Their current Transcon layout has 159 seats.

    An interesting one will be Boston to Budapest (~3650Nm-Wizz Air Hub), all major destinations in South America is less than 4000Nm from Orlando the furthest being Buenos Aires, basically 4000Nm on the dot. Another destination from Orlando that’s 4000Nm is Barcelona.

    At this stage Boston seems to be where they will start longer haul if they do.


  13. The more I look at it an A321XLR is becoming a “no-brainer”. At some point AB will have to make decisions on the now almost as long as the NMA A321+/322/323 speculations. Guess the following could be some of the business/technical options they are weighing?

    A321XLR – Tweaked wing – 100T MTOW – 33 Klb’s – 4500NM.
    A321+ – Tweaked wing – 97MTOW – 33Klb’s – 3500Nm – 12 more seats.

    From an enthusiast point the following will be nice and long term investment. New CFRP wing (36m) that could potentially also increase cruising speeds and reaching cruising FL’s sooner, 4 wheel bogies, PW1100 engine PIP’s.

    A321XLR – New wing – Same specs as above but better performance.
    A322 – New wing – 4 + 12 more seats and 2nd access door – 100T MTOW – 35Klb engines – 3500 to 3800 NM range.

    Hopefully by June 2019 we will know more about this and the NMA?

  14. 70 of B737 or A32x per month is incredible.

    Repeating myself, I remember the lean days of the 70s when 70 per year would be cheered at.

    Air travel has expanded in the last half century. I suppose it did in the preceding half century too.)

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