June 24, 2019, © Leeham News: Heard around the Paris Air Show last week:
Reporters long used to the entertaining and sometimes acerbic tongue former super-salesman John Leahy wondered how Christian Scherer would compare.
Scherer’s own sharp tongue began to emerge at the Airbus Innovation Days pre-air show briefing last month and got sharper at the executive round table the Friday before and on Day 1 of the international event.
On Day 2, Boeing and International Airlines Group (British Airways, et al) stunned the world journalists and Airbus with the LOI for 200 737 MAXes. On Thursday, Scherer expressed his displeasure.
The deal wasn’t unprecedented. In the 1990s, Boeing blindsided Leahy with an exclusive deal with American Airlines, followed by Delta and Continental airlines. “I was…pissed,” Leahy told LNA years later.
It seems Scherer is following in Leahy’s shoes in more ways than one.
The launch of the A321XLR was totally expected. The top question: does this kill the Boeing NMA? (LNA’s answer: Nope.)
Boeing came to the air show between the proverbial rock and a hard place, and not the one Scherer described at the Airbus Innovation Day in reference to Airbus bracketing Boeing’s New Midmarket Airplane.
Pounded for its blame-the-pilots and corporate insensitivity following the October 29 Lion Air crash, Boeing’s opening press briefing at the began with corporate CFO Greg Smith expressing regrets and sympathies over the accident and the one five months later at Ethiopian. Kevin McAllister, CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, Leanne Caret, CEO of the defense unit, and Stan Deal, CEO of Global Services, each did the same.
Coupled with repetitive vows by each of the four to “return the MAX safely to service,” one reporter at the briefing remarked that Boeing had been at one extreme following then accidents and has gone to the other extreme now. Another called it the Boeing Funeral briefing. LNA noted how tightly scripted the briefing was.
Striking the right balance between the extremes is very difficult.
But Tuesday’s IAG deal stunned reporters, aerospace analysts and others. The second reaction: how big was the “giveaway”? We may never know. The third: What’s Michael O’Leary (Ryanair) going to get? He is notorious for buying planes on the cheap.
Even though Bombardier still is producing the CRJ commercial airliner, among the aviation press circles I run in, it’s already history.
Embraer Commercial Aviation CEO John Slattery and his executives can vow as much as they want the E175-E2 has a future, but without a change in the US Scope Clauses to allow this airplane’s higher take off weight, he doesn’t have many believers among aviation reporters, analysts or suppliers I talked to.
The slow sales of the E2 overall remain a cause for concern among analysts.
In many ways, the reveal of the SpaceJet, its new cabin and the airplane’s new capabilities was considered by some to be the most significant story (after the Boeing-IAG deal).
MITAC, as Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp. calls itself, for short, now has the only new generation Scope-compliant aircraft in the industry. (People dismiss the Sukhoi SuperJet for its engines and the fact that it’s Russian.)
The E175-E2 isn’t Scope-compliant and the E175-E1 is “old” technology.
MITAC announced an unexpected MOU for 15 M100s (the renamed, redesigned MRJ70) from an unidentified North American customer. Remember, North America included Mexico and Canada, but it’s assumed the customer is from the US.
Japanese are famous for their reserved nature. The president of MITAC, Hisakazu Mizutani, literally couldn’t contain his giddiness over the positive reception to the SpaceJet and the MOU. You didn’t have to understand his talk in Japanese to see this at MITAC’s closing press event Wednesday.
The reaction to the M100 SpaceJet was universally positive.
The reaction at the show to the name “SpaceJet” was pretty much the other direction. Most people don’t make the connection to the emphasis on space within the cabin that drives the name. SpaceJet doesn’t have the same panache as Dreamliner.
The new number branding confuses, too. MITAC abandoned the RJ practice of broadly tying the name to seat count and instead is sequencing the name to the sequence of the airplanes. Although the MRJ90 is now tagged the M90, the MRJ70, as second in sequence, becomes the M100 (it can seat a maximum of 88 passengers). The planned redesign of the MRJ90/M90 to follow the features of the M100 will become the M200. (It will seat up to 100 pax.)
There’s also skepticism, even among some customers, that the company will be able to execute on the 2023 EIS date for the M100.
MITAC hit a home run with the M100. Now it must not trip rounding the bases.
Overall, it was a slow, under-performing show. I even came home a day early.
The A321XLR looks like a nice useful niche aircraft, a 15-20 seat stretched A322 with 3500Nm range could also impact the lower end NMA/MoM market. The A338 is not a NMA/MoM, maybe they should make it really long range (~8500Nm) to sell in a niche market.
But its more apparent that airlines want an NMA, I still see it as 767-300ER “NEW”, time will tell. The AIG B737 LOI, also time will tell. Think by Paris 2021 there could be a lot of interesting things happening.
“The A321XLR looks like a nice useful niche aircraft . . .”
Yes it does, but it also looks rather more than that.
If you consider the LCCs such as Easyjet, Jetblue and others who are already operating very similar equipment this machine opens up a great number of new routes for relatively small investment; little new inventory, almost no additional crew or engineering training costs, flight simulators or a separate fleet management structure, fewer pilots on standby, greater operational flexibility.
Against a 767-300 sized aircraft it would have less purchase/lease cost, lower insurance cost, lower landing charges and lower navigational charges. More MROs would have capability to maintain it from the get go. More airports could handle it.
I do think that the NMA would have to be very, very good to justify the risk of going up against the LCCs armed with the A321XLR.
You are touching on something that I think isn’t getting enough airplay. the focus right now is on Airbus vs. Boeing but I think the REAL story will be how various LCC’s will use the 321-XLR to disrupt the highly lucrative transatlantic market and the impact this will have on legacy carriers.
Its all in play but the A321XLR is not an NMA and I think there is a solid place for 757/767 replacement.
Yes. If I were an LCC operating Airbus narrowbodies I’d be getting on Great Circle Mapper right now and licking my lips like the big bad wolf.
Not just what they could do to transatlantic legacy carriers but also what they could do to competitor LCCs that operate shorter range Boeing 737 variants.
Those operators will find themselves in a fork.
The Airbus XLR operators have access to market share that they won’t, giving those operators opportunities for growth and economies of scale that they cannot realise.
Unless they purchase Airbus XLR equipment, in which case they’re forced to abandon on of the tenets of LCC operations, a single fleet.
I wonder what the opportunities for a higher MTOW and fuel capacity 737s are, some big operators may want some of that in the near future.
FlightGlobal keep8ng saying that Airbus are using plural words, so I think they will stetch the A321XLR by 4 even 5 seat rows for 3500 nm.
I also think the NMA is too big. It does need to be 767-200/300 size not 767-300/400 size.
Here is a long term suggestion as to how Airbus will respond. A new A321, 180-240 seats, but the seats will be 6 abreast with a width of 19″ to address the issue of comfort. Range, up to 5500nm. The same seat width will apply to the next widebody
I also believe that Airbus will strech XLR to “A322”. Then A320 family will be very hard to beat only because of his commonality, regards of other factors.
If it will kill 797? I would be surprised if do.
And we need healthy competition, not like “737 scam” (I’m sorry for this word but this is what Boeing has done, imho, lied everyone).
you do realize Airbus is now aggressively pushing 10 across A350 with 16.0 inch seat widths, right?
the trend is densification in cattle class, Airbus is not going to do a fuselage update on the A320 until they have milked it at least as hard as Boeing has the 737. They won’t even do a major wing update for at least 10 years when the next generation of NB engines are ready.
I’d rather see an A338 as a downsized aircraft with small wings and 2,500nm real life range.
It would need a new, small wing, lighter structure and would be a formidable people mover for high density routes in Asia, Middle East and other regions.
Often thought that the A350 fuselage could be the base for such an aircraft? Will cut out a lot of development costs and share interior goodies. New centre section, wing, etc.
It will be killed by the 797 as it will be much lighter, have better optimized Engines and carbon body/wings that can take the beating.
Until the 797 is actually delivered the A330-900 in Cebu 460pax setup will maybe be popular for low cost domestic/trans continental and charter operations if its structures and RR T7000 engines can take the cycling.
An A310-800NG (same size as the A310-300) and a stretched A310-900NG (same size as the A300-600) — powered by 55,000 lb of thrust RR UltraFan engines (i.e. 25+ more efficient than the JT9D-7R4E1 / PW4000 / CF6-80C2 engines on the A310-300) — would be much lighter (i.e. OEW around 80 metric tonnes for the A310-300). In fact, the OEW of the A310-800 would “only” be some 20-25 percent higher than the OEW of the 797-6, while the range would be much higher. In contrast to the 797/NMA, the A310NG would be able to carry standard LD-3 containers — something that’s apparently an important factor for Asian operators (etc.).
Interestingly, the same type of UltraFan engines could be used on significantly re-designed (lighter) < 200 tonne MTOW versions of the current A330neo, as the much reduced MTOW would require much less max thrust at take off — i.e. A330-800SR (A330-500NG?) and A330-900SR (A330-600NG?).
An A310NG family would use the same cockpit, fuselage and empennage (minus horizontal tailplane) as the current in-production A330neo. What would be needed is new manufacturing facilities for a re-designed A310 wing — i.e identical centre wing to that of the A310-300, but a new re-lofted outer wing box, A320-type leading and trailing edges and a wing span extension to just short of 52m. In comparison, A310-300 wing span is 43.9 m
————– OEW*– MTOW*– Range**
A310-800 — 76 ——- 165 —— 7000
A310-900 — 85 ——- 165 —— 5800
A330-500 — 118 —— 198 ——- 6500
A330-600 — 122 —– 198 ——- 5300
** Nautical miles
My pick for a MoM will be the “A310-900”.
End of the day AB will have to get a new aircraft between the A321 and A359 in the next 10 years?!
Interesting, but still heavy. Taking the A330/A310 fuselage and switch to Al-Li give you some reduction in mass, new Composite wingbox and wing with new pylon/nacelle and RR ultrafans and maybe keep the A330 NLG, MLG and APU can speed up the design/certification. But you end up with a 777-8 vs A350-1000 or A330-900 vs 787-9 competition where the more modern “all composite” Aircraft will win in the end and we don’t know how the new 55k Engines from GE/RR will perform.
One can assume the simple CFMI 55k Engine with a proven core Engine will be cheaper and the complex RR Ultrafan more expensive but more fuel efficient. If it beats the LEAP-Y by 12-17% then it is game over, but if the difference is 2-3% it will be much tougher.
The point here is that the A310 has already got a type certificate. In order to keep costs down — and make use of all of the investments made in the A300/A310/A330/A330neo/A340/A340NG — the first super-critical wing ever made (i.e. A310 wing) should essentially be retained, but substantially modified with a span extension, A320-type single-slotted flaps and and a full A330neo-type FBW suite.
For sure, the aircraft family would be heavier than a 7 abreast 797 family, but it would be capable of transporting more passengers, further.
Now, the A310 can be stretched by an additional 5 frames (i.e 5 x 21 inches) between doors 2 and 3, while still maintaining the 60 ft. max distance between the doors. Hence, a 5 frame stretch aft of the wing and a 6 frame stretch ahead of the wing (i.e. 6 x 21 inches), would increase the overall length of the aircraft (A310-300/-800) from 46.66 m to 52.53 m (A310-900) — without having to add a fourth door. A further 10 frame stretched fuselage (A310-1000) would equal the A330-800 in fuselage length.
Now, the A321 has a 3.45m (134.25 inches) longer cabin the A310-300. In contrast, an A310-900 would have a 2.42m (95.3 inches) longer cabin than the A321, while an A310-1000 would have a 7.75 (305.1 inches) longer cabin than the A321 — and about the same range as the A321XLR. At 8 abreast (or 9 abreast in a LCC configuration), UltraFan-powered A310-900s/-1000s would have significantly lower CASM than the current A330neo and 787.
An A310NG family, therefore, would be very competitive to the 797 as long as it has lower CASM — and for Airbus, the investment costs would be much lower than what Boeing will have to pay for an all new aircraft.
BTW, I haven’t even mentioned the number of upgrades that’s feasible for the A321 (i.e. stretch, wing enhancements and an UltraFan re-engine undertaking).
Its main advantage is payload/range at low operating costs as its main systems are the same as on a A321neo. It can be used for shuttle routes during the morning then and do an Atlantic crossing and back for next days morning rush hour again. It will be a bit heavy and expensive compared to a regular A321neo but its greater utilization on profitable routes could make it into a money press.
Also wonder how many will order all economy A330-900’s with 460 seats as it is pax from 2ea A321neo’s and can be useful when your A321XLR is stuck somewhere and you need to catch up. Spirit might use it on the East Coast shuttles between MIA, MCO, ATL, CLT, BWI, JFK, BOS and LAX/SFO
Probably a silly question, but here goes: Switching fleets completely isn’t unheard of (Easyjet did that in the late 90s, going from 733s to A320s). Aside from a very good deal, I wonder whether
IAG signing for a few A-321XLRs for Aer Lingus and Iberia while taking plenty of MAXs for BA matches Brexit issues? In other words, look to politics rather than technology? No flaming, please; just curious whether one should look there, too.
Think politics/Brexit is part of the story, and there is also possible tariffs by the EU lurking on Boeing products, so these aircraft could land up with British airways?
Was just wondering if Ryanair is somewhere involved here in the bigger picture, both Mr Walsh and O’Leary are Irish?
You think that there’s a conspiracy between Ryanair and British Airways on the grounds that both their CEOs are Irish!
I doubt it, each man is the antidote to the other. Also Walsh is ex Aer Lingus who were repeated take-over targets for Mr O’Leary, saved only by the selective application of EU competition policy.
One can only imagine what O’Leary thinks of British Airways – something colourful that I’d enjoy hearing.
The MAXs are for Vueling and LEVEL, not BA. BA gets A32xneos.
Hmmm… it doesn’t compute with 200 MAX LoI by IAG in a few years time from now.
Vueling has ~90 older A319/A320, but also already has ~30 newer A320neo and ~40 more in order. So let’s say they “needing” around 50 new airplanes.
Level is really small and has only 6 planes of A320 category.
And they are not so very old to be needed to replace in a few years.
BA has ~ 125 planes of A320 family, of which only 22 are planed to retired by 2023, but from other hand already has 20 neos in order. And IAG “would start” receiving 200 MAX’s from ~2022.
It still doesn’t compute.
I hope Leeham News will make a proper analysis of this, and other factors, of this strange AIG “200 MAXs commitment”. For me seems now like a Boeing-AIG bluff, and it’s not about buying MAXs.
You have to look at the options:
First of all, it’s only an LOI. No money involved at this point, all IAG gave is their good name for a bunch of options.
In case the MAX can be fixed nicely, IAG can use the LOI and maybe sell some of these options on to other airlines and cut a nice little profit. Given the LOI allow this.
In case the MAX fix doesn’t work so well they simply walk away. In this case they have had some public attention for free.
Last not least IAG hopes to create some leverage with Airbus when they need more A320. Might just as well backfire…
Agree, something doesn’t add up here, there is mention of using the MAX as placeholder for an 797.
Or if you want to go funny, a new IAG (U)LCC partnership consisting of Vueling/LEVEL/Ryanair using 737’s?
Thats what I see too. With 300 plane S/A fleet they dont have the capital to buy and the passenger load forecasts to to support such a large order thats only 737s, on top of the existing A320s that have been ordered ( 180 or so?) Completely shifting to Boeing is possible but would it have been a normal commercial process to take a no competing bid from a single company if you were doing so. Maybe thats why the deal is LOI , the board hasnt backed it yet ?
Coming to think about it, IAG was very keen to get their hands on Norwegian. Maybe Mr. Walsh has BIG LCC ambitions?
If IAG will overtake Norwegian, also will overtake theirs MAXs in order. So it’s redundant to order plane for Norwegian, like “once again”.
Do you seriously think Level and Vueling will need 200 aircraft?
I think the 737s will also go on BA routes out of Gatwick, but not Heathrow because of luggage handling restrictions.
General comment. The timing of the British Airways announcement will have had a benefit to Boeing that can be measured in dollars. I would guess that dollar amount is very substantial – in billions possibly. Boeing can afford to be very generous to the airline. Not necessarily just on the purchase price of the 737s
Hello Scott, I completely agree with you that the XLR doesn’t kill the NMA because how could it kill it before it’s born and not even fathered. (for Anton: no it can’t be grandfathered from the 767)
Putting the joke by the side, are there any signs that any one of the engine makers is actually developing an engine for it or that Boeing has found a way to produce a CFRP fuselage and wing at the price of an alumium bird?
Hi Gundolf, I don’t suggest “NEO” the 767 but if you look at the 763 specs I believe its good start for an “all purpose” aircraft;
Comparable numbers for the A330-800 are;
If you can build an B763 spec like aircraft with with Al-Li fuselage, CFRP wing and new ~55Klb engines with range of ~5500Nm (260-280 pax) it could be a very useful and wanted aircraft.
One of these and and the A321XLR could be whats required for the NMA/Mom market?
Anton, there’s a reason, why Boeing wants to make the fuselage oval: Two aisles make sense only when you seat at least 8 abreast (2-4-2) like in the A330. Otherwise the efficiency will not be there. That’s one of the reasons why the A330 killed the 767 (2-3-2).
(btw, your count of 260:260 is incorrect)
To to fill that capacity you can either make a very long single-aisle or a rather short 2-4-2. Both solutions are not ideal for various reasons. Here comes the oval 2-4-2 NMA. The only problem is that because the floor is well below the center line you have rather high bending forces on the side walls/beams. Making this in aluminum would result in a rather heavy fuselage. Only when you make it from CFRP you have good durability and strength at a reasonable weight.
But here is where trouble starts, and what I think is the reason the business case can’t be closed: Production cost with existing technology (barrel or panel prepreg tape layer) for such an oval CFRP fuselage would bring the cost of such a plane close to a 787.
As such a fuselage has never been built, we can also expect some iterations in the development and production, which may stretch the entry into service quite a bit. At the same time you have no idea how many of these planes you can actually sell at which prices. And how would you ever recoup the cost of developing such a fuselage if you face stiff competition through a much cheaper A320XLR and a similar priced but more capable A330?
I think Boeing would be well advised to leave that potential niche alone and focus on a new single-aisle plane. A clever strategy could be to develop this in a way that you can make it in all-aluminum and alternatively CFRP wings and fuselage. This way they get out of the 737 dead end road and can explore and develop new production technologies for lower cost CFRP parts and implement them whenever ripe.
a hybrid CFRP/Al-Li oval fuselage with CFRP hoops, stringers and floor beams (to take the bending loads) and AL skin to keep costs down is a possibility.
additionally, a horizontal double bubble is a possibility that manages loads very well and using CFRP, the vertical tension members could be constructed to be very unobtrusive in the cabin.
Bilbo, combining aluminum and CFRP parts is a very delicate task. one of the big problems (besides contact corrosion) is thermal expansion. While aluminum has a lot of that, CFRP nothing. So if you combine a CFRP skeleton with an aluminum skin, it will result in a lot of extra stress, either cracking the skin or the rivets sooner or later.
Maybe it could be done, but would certainly need an extended development and testing.
A horizontal double bubble, made in aluminum, might fit the target price and production should be much less of an issue. But such beams would render the freight deck unsuitable for containers.
I am not a technical guy but the oval shape seems to have technical risks and won’t come cheap.
AB could possibly do an A322X carrying 240 pax with an effective range of around 4000Nm. Will need a new “higher speed” wing (40-45m-CFRP?), possible fuselage material changes (also nose section/cockpit) that also impacts pressurization. Will be costly (US$5+ Billion?), this could however be a gem of an aircraft that will be technically relatively low risk.
But end of the day AB needs a new widebody (2-4-2) with 250-300 seats at some stage that could compete with the upper end of the 797 and lower end of the 789.
If the Ultrafan turns out to be good an A359NEO could be very competitive.
You correct Gundolf, I messed up the pax numbers;
763: 3 Class-210 pax, 2 Class-261.
338: 3 Class-256 pax, 2 Class-?.
That is why both Airbus and Boeing are working hard with their robotic suppliers to make wings and fueslages in CFRP automated and at much lower cost. If they succeed I don’t know but the car industry has tried and taken some steps with their versions of carbon fiber and out of autclave baking. There is hardly any option than trying to increase speed and lowering cost for CFRP with better Tools and robots. What else is there GLARE or CMC structures?
Claes, what I’m saying is that 1) there is no way to build a cheap CFRP fuselage or wing and 2) Boeing has no other productions system available for fuselages than the barrelbuilding process of the 787.
The plan for the MoM (797) is obviously to price it significantly lower than the A330neo, but I doubt that is possible with production cost being close to the 787.
To make the MoM (797) project feasible they either have to sell the plane at a much higher price or find a way to reduce production cost for the CFRP wing and fuselage dramatically.
I’m really not sure, but maybe RTM will get us there eventually. (That’s by the way the method used for the fan blades of the 777X). But this would mean significant investments and a long period of research and development. That would not have gone unnoticed, so my conclusion is that Boeing is not on it.
Apart from the sales (nobody is really interested if they are conversions from the 6500 NEO backlog) I think seeing major established international airlines put their money on it is news.
Qantas, American, Jetblue, TAP & AIG aren’t ULCC’s..
Now their colleagues have to respond or experience..
Older folk may remember that before the arrival of the wide bodies in 1970 the gold standard was the 707. Its six abreast fuselage was continued through the 727,737 and 757. The A320 family fuselage is 7 in wider , giving 1 in on each seat and 1 in on the aisle. The A321XLR may well be considered as a new generation 707/DC-8 with about one third of the fuel burn. It is easy and informative to have a look at the basic data from Wikipedia . But there should be no concern about long flights on a narrow body, assuming proper concern given to galley and toilet installations.
Link below of what Lufthansa says on the matter. Hope AB realizes they need a “Game changer” in the 250 seat medium haul market.
I srongly desagree with Lufthansa CEO – I have no problem with flying a narrow body 6h and much more – it’s all about comfortable seats, leg space, noise level & entertainment – A321XLR has it all (if no airline will screw up seat configuration or functionality ;).
Doesn’t BA fly transcon with A318 in business class? Doesn’t it sell really well?
Agree, interesting what airline bosses think.
I flew on an ME airline from their hub to Nice (France), twice in an 787 and once on an “old” A319LR (no Wi-Fi, etc”), preferred the old single aisle.
“Not comfortable to spent more than 4 hrs on a single aisle flight”?
All passengers sit in much the same banks of seats near an aisle . Having a second aisle somewhere doesnt help for “comfort” in the seat and row you are sitting in. Is there extra space in Lufthansa center seat bank for their wide bodies ? Didnt think so
Crossing the US from coast to coast is already 5 1/2 to 6 hr flight, same goes internal Russia flights, 5 1/2 hrs from Moscow to Irkutsk, thats not even Russian Far East. Trans Canada is at least 5 hrs. . Lots asian regional flights are over 5 hrs.
A lot of frequencies in single aisle, using A321s for those routes
Perhaps hes thinking of first class and business class lie flat seats, which might be ‘unicorns’ in single aisle.
the US seems to have no problem putting a decent first class in regional jets, Lufthansa chief needs to open his eyes and get out of First class to see how the majority travel
I’d rather fly in a A320XLR than in some tightly squeezed widebody. I have had some really bad 777 and 747 trips in economy where my broad shoulders and extra long legs made it hardly bearable. Luckily for me it’s mostly premium economy nowadays and I see no reason why that should not be offered in a XLR. 2+3 should work really nice. Same for premium seating 2+2 etc.
So I think I have to disagree with Mr Spohr. My take is he’s already scared about lots of smaller airlines opening up plenty direct routes over the Atlantic with the XLR. Those Atlantic routes are probably the best business he has currently. Not a very pleasing outlook for Lufthansa, but I have to say I like the idea a lot.
I think Airbus are happy that the A321XLR isn’t a match for Boeing’s NMA. They don’t see the market the way Boeing does!
I don’t think Airbus will ever do a 200-270 seat airplane. They are likely to replace the A330 at some time. Circa 2030+. It will be a widebody, 7 abreast or 8 abreast seating, 19″ wide seats. But they will do a new narrowbody first, 180-240 seats. 19″ wide seats.
Competition works it’s magic Everytime. That’s why the A310 was exactly the plane you describe them not to do.
It was more than just few frames less in the fuselage, as it had a different wing in areas I can’t remember now and a new empennage design which was later used in the A300-600 variant.
The nearest to 200-270 seats is the A310. So perhaps I need to say they won’t do it again.
I think Airbus will view anything less than 240 seats as single aisle.
Equally, I think they will follow the A220 and go for wider seats
I agree . Simple economics means the single aisle will be superior in that size.
Boeing is big and rich enough to put it into production, but in light of recent events seem to put the nice to have ahead of the must have.
McDonnell Douglas all over again
No matter what Monsieur Scherer says, NOT sure the 16” wide seats found on super high-density Airbus 9-abreast A330s or a 10-abreast A350 will fly anywhere other than a handful of airlines.
Having flown super high density, 10-abreast, DC-10s of Capitol Air (anyone remember that airline?) a few times during its brief period offering nonstop scheduled service back in the 1980s, along with the World Airways DC-10 I chartered for a day trip out and back from Miami, FL to Tempe (Phoenix), AZ (for the 1987 Fiesta Bowl when Penn State narrowly defeated Miami Hurricanes) and their super narrow, 10-abreast, no legroom seats, I just don’t see how that goes mainstream no matter how hard M. Scherer tries to make that happen.
I just don’t – and I flew those planes when my weight was 150 lbs and wore W28 Levi’s jeans.
So, if those super high density, 10-abreast DC-10s has seats that were too narrow and uncomfortable when I was that skinny, no way I can see 16” wide seats in 9-abreast A330s or 10-abreast A350s gaining widespread acceptance.
If that happened, my guess is that would face a backlash so great it would likely be the straw that breaks the proverbial camel’s back, and triggers imposition of seat width and pitch regulations in most countries where the vast majority of flyers could not possible squeeze into such appallingly narrow seats.
Trust me, if you’ve ever flown a 10-abreast DC-10 on Capitol Air or World Airways, well, then you’d know how improbable that next level horribleness will happen at all but an handful of airlines that cater to specific markets where configurations THAT revolting, and indeed, intolerable for most passengers, exist for reasons that make sense only within those unique markets.
But going “prime time” – doubtful. Or at least I hope so, because those 10-abreast DC-10s were extremely unpleasant when they were flown.
No joke! 🤮
In fact, they make 9-abreast 787s & 10-abreast 777s look incredibly spacious by comparison – and that’s very hard to do given how awful most of us know those present day densified Boeing beasts actually are when flown! 😉
The top question: does this kill the Boeing NMA?
No it doesn’t kill the NMA, from a strategic point of view it would be in AB interest for BA to commit to the NMA, spend lots of money, and more importantly time on it.
I would expect AB to announce the A320NEO plus family just after BA commits to the NMA.
Why, well a few reasons; to create space for an A220-500, to better compete against the 737-8 with the A320, and to take a sightly larger chunk out of the bottom of the NMA market with an A321 with 12 to 18 more seats.
I would expect AB to continue with incremental updates to the A350, with a NEO at some point.
The NSA is where the real money is. AB want to be ready when the step change in engine technology becomes available. A NSA with semi-aeroelastic hinge folding wing tips, and natural laminar flow aerodynamic tweaks could well be the result.
The 737MAX again, FAA found new problem.
Why doesn’t Boeing bite the bullet and do the landing gear and other mods to properly mount the engines and make it the aircraft it could/should be? Then do it properly to take say an LEAP1-B-X engine with 73″ fan.
Could take 2-3 years (?) but how long will this drag on and how much does it cost Boeing in US$ and perception of the company and product?
So can the NMA and build an NSA/FSA or build the NMA and properly fix the 737MAX?