Pontifications: Qatar, United, Boom, Airbus and Aerion

By Scott Hamilton

June 7, 2021, © Leeham News: It’s been a busy couple of weeks in commercial aviation, with several reports last week alone.

  • Qatar Airways expresses interest in Boeing 777X-F and Airbus A350F.
  • United Airlines announces a “commercial agreement” with Boom Supersonic to purchase 15 Overture jets and option 35.
  • Boeing exploring reinventing the 757.
  • Airbus moves toward a new wing for A320 family.
  • Aerion Aviation terminates program, shuts down. May 21.

Some of these reports were new and interesting Others were over-hyped and fluff.

Let’s run them down.

Qatar’s interest in a Boeing freighter

Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker said last week in an interview that he’s interested in a Boeing 777-8F or Airbus A350F. The media outlet hyped this as an “Exclusive.”

Well, not so fast. Al Baker said the same thing in a Simple Flying webcast the week before.

The news report said Boeing was showing the 777-8F concept around. This isn’t new, either. Despite putting development of the 777-8 and -8F on hold as cash flow cratered during the MAX and COVID crises, salesmen continued to chat with the market about the 777-8F. Boeing better be doing so.

We reported way back on April 6 that Boeing’s dominance in freighters, dating to the 707 in the 1960s, is under real threat for the first time. Airbus produced an OK freighter in the A300-600RF and a mediocre Combi in the A310. It foul-tipped on the A330F, although the A330-based KC-330 MRTT is a winner. Airbus completely dropped the ball on an A380F. Airbus also is showing a concept of the A350F and industry reaction is this time, Airbus could actually get it right. It’s a real threat to Boeing.

Furthermore, the Boeing 767-300ERF and 777-200LRF don’t meet ICAO’s 2027 CO2 standards. These airplanes can’t be produced from 2028. With the production of the 747-8F ending next year, Boeing must bring the 777-8F to market.

United’s “Commercial Agreement” with Boom

The term “commercial agreement” in the context of an aircraft transaction is a new one.

Boeing and Airbus used to jab each other over announcing Letters of Intent or Memorandums of Understanding (except when it suited their own purposes) instead of a firm order.

Then, “Conditional Order” entered the lexicon. Bombardier and Porter Airlines made a big deal over the announced order, which was “conditioned” on Porter receiving government approval to operate jets out of its hub at Toronto City Airport. Approval never came. The “order,” now held by Airbus, never was firmed up.

Sources told Airfinance Journal and LNA Embraer’s firm order for 30 E-195 E2s, to an unidentified customer, are in fact heading for Porter. Porter denies it placed the order or signed a lease deal. But there are ways around that to enable deniability while the aircraft still are going to Porter in the end.

LNA outlined the scenario May 19. While Porter denied to AFJ and other media that it placed the order or signed for a lease deal, Porter issued a non-denial denial to LNA.

So, what has all this to do with the “commercial agreement” between United and Boom?

The agreement includes cooperation on a “sustainability initiative.” It also includes some big caveats.

“United will purchase 15 of Boom’s ‘Overture’ airliners, once Overture meets United’s demanding safety, operating and sustainability requirements, with an option for an additional 35 aircraft. The companies will work together on meeting those requirements before delivery,” the airline said in its press release. (Emphasis added.)

There seems to a lot less to this than meets the eye.

Boom has major technical details to work out and a lot of funding needed. LNA will do a 10 Minutes About podcast later this week to talk about these.

Boeing’s 757 reinvention

Reuters reported that Boeing has a $15bn dilemma in what to do about its next airplane. The article, written by ace reporters Eric Johnson and Tim Hepher, describes what amounts to the reinvention of the Boeing 757-200 and 757-300. The airplane would be 10% more economical than the Airbus A321neo, they write.

Well, if that’s the path Boeing is going to go down, good luck with that.

For $15bn, airlines get pitched an airplane with a $100m sales price that continues Boeing’s cramped single-aisle cross section and only 10% better fuel costs? And the entry into service isn’t until 2029 or 2030?

Even if Boeing widens the cross-section, it must surpass the roomier A321—perhaps matching the still-wider United Aircraft Corp. MC-21.

Which brings us to…

The Wing for Tomorrow

Airbus can respond to a reinvention of the 757 with its long-touted “A322,” also known with the code name A321 Plus Plus. This concept adds 12-24 seats, a new composite wing and engines to match anything Boeing selects.

All for maybe $4bn to $5bn vs $15bn Boeing must invest.

LNA looked in detail at the Wing for Tomorrow and Boeing’s product strategy dilemma May 31.

Aerion Aviation’s shutdown

Aerion’s decision May 21 to close up shop and cease development of a small SST that would have competed with Boom is sad news. This was the most realistic concept of the three small SST business cases.

At various points, Lockheed Martin, Airbus, Boeing and Spirit Aerosystems were key investors and R&D partners. The first three withdrew for various reasons and Spirit, at least publicly, hung in until the end. GE/CFM was working on the engine.

If Aerion with all this credibility couldn’t make a go of it, what does this say about the two other programs?

107 Comments on “Pontifications: Qatar, United, Boom, Airbus and Aerion

  1. Thanks for the concise summary regarding Airbus’ and Boeing’s freighter lineups, especially regarding the background to why there is now a real threat to Boeing. One question, though: Could you elaborate on the statement “[Airbus] foul-tipped on the A330F”? I know it didn’t sell particularly well with fewer than 40 ordered and all of them delivered – but why do you think that is, compared to e.g. the rather impressive sales of the 767F?

    • My same question on the A330F.

      They fixed the slope issue (nose lower, ergo, not level aircraft though ramp drainage needs can mean you have an issue with a level freighter depending on the ramp drainage layout )

      • Wasnt the nose gear the same but with lowered attachment points – hence the fairing- thus the nose is ‘higher’ to give a level floor when parked.

        • Something like that or exact.

          I was called out on an issue on the freighter and cans moving.

          The manager would not call in the question, I guessed there was a slope to the drains but not my field and could not prove it.

          I got the joy of being told to run a slope survey on the ramp and by myself. Fun. Another T shirt.

          After slopping 3 or 4 spots it was, that is too consistent on slope, finally found a plan that showed and noted it.

          In that case of that ramp, they would have been about level with a standard A330!

  2. Scott, what if Boeing has done it’s homework and customers are saying actually scrap that twin-aisle. We want a single aisle. The benefits that a twin aisle of the same seat count as an XLR that will most likely be heavier seems odd. I’d agree if it were a seat count where the the single aisle could not reach. But if we are saying a 5X that’s about the same as a 321XLR in size. I don’t quite understand it

    • I didn’t understand Scott to imply that Boeing should go twin-aisle – the MC-21 Scott mentions as a benchmark in terms of cabin width is single-aisle only. He was only implying Boeing would continue with more or less the same cabin width as the 707/720/727/737/757, which is indeed quite cramped for pax and cargo alike compared to e.g. the A320 (or MC-21). Even the A220 – although in a much smaller category than a 757 – only has 26cm less cabin width than a 757.

      That said – I don’t see in the article Scott linked to that Boeing would (if it does go a ahead with that MOM plane after all) yet again re-use the same fuselage cross section as they did on their previous single-aisles.

      Even with a bigger cross-section, though, I think Scott’s point is valid – “For $15bn, airlines get pitched an airplane with a $100m sales price […] and only 10% better fuel costs? And the entry into service isn’t until 2029 or 2030?”

      In short: Boeing is still facing the same dilemma as almost a decade ago when they found a new MOM plane was needed, which would however overlap with the upper end of the the just-announced 737 MAX. Going ahead with a new MOM plane would cut short the lifecycle of the larger 737 MAX variants, which would submit the MAX to a squeeze leaving pretty much only the 737-8 as a viable type, because the 737-7 is (like the A319NEO) not exactly the most optimised model in the lineup. Alternatively, they could position that MOM a bit higher (i.e. larger), in which case in would encroach on 787 territory. That said – a new family optimised around the 737-10 or (hypothetical) 737-11 size would make sense. It could cover down to about 737-8.5 size – but it would effectively a) leave Boeing with a 737-7/-8-sized gap in their lineup. And as I said, it would shorten the lifespan of the MAX programme. Airbus is a bit better positioned here, because they have the A220, which they could if necessary extend to cover not just A319 but also A320 size even if they basically redesign the A320 family to be an A321 family (with new wing etc. optimised around the A321 or an A321.5 and the potential to extend to an A322).

      So far, Boeing have really made their decisions by not deciding – they’ve been talking about that “757 replacement” for about a decade now and have been finding the business case incredibly hard to close, certainly taking the effects on the 787 and 737 MAX into account. Nothing has changed, except 10 years with loads of discussions have passed.

      • All very good points.

        One aspect that is not discussed is the common ref to the 757 routes flown (at least until Covd) were not taking advantage of the setup for range and pax and the relatively few that were.

        But the A321 is selling and that nips at the lower edges as each new variant gets more and more.

        And the A321 is selling about 50% of airbus A320 series production .

        I think its past time the 757 be dropped and the A321 variants be used as the bench mark.

        The one caveat would be the lower sales of the 757-300 and why (it seems the -200 was more flexible and overall economical but that is an opinion)

      • The MC-21’s large cabin width allows a passenger or flight attendant to get past a service trolley, something even a twin aisle can’t do. It would also alleviate the boarding and deboarding holdups caused by passengers accessing the overhead lockers because it would also be possible for a passenger to squeeze past.

        • William — “The MC-21’s large cabin width allows a passenger or flight attendant to get past a service trolley…” Does not the A320 share that virtue (at least for very many on board!)?

          • The MC21 has 3.81m cabin width the A320 3.70m therefore the MC21 has 11cm extra. Assuming a 19.5/48cm aisle on the A320 a 30cm service trolley leaves only 18cm. The MC 21 would have 29cm. Hence a flight attendant who needed to get a special item during meal service could get past to get to the other galley without backing up the trolley. A passenger who needed to get to the lavatory also could.

          • The Comac C919 supposedly has a cabin width of 3.9 and gives the centre passenger extra width to compensate for his lack of access to an aisle or window. It potentially has the same aisle width advantages as the MC-21.

  3. Boeing maybe did the numbers on the A322 and found it could be built cheaper and quicker (with major parts built by robots) to market than an 797-5? Airbus could use amended A320 TC while Boeing this time must certify its design as a brand new aircraft most likely with engines a tad bigger than the A322 engines of todays A321neo.

    • > (with major parts built by robots)

      Beating that poor line to death, IMO.

      show me

    • “assume a no-manufactured, no-maintenance,
      no-resource-needed Robot™:

      “..The only substitute for a skilled welder is another skilled welder, and while theory holds that there will be cheaper welders who can be brought in from elsewhere, this is also not true: due to deficiencies in education and a cultural bias against manual labor, there is a shortage of skilled welders virtually everywhere.

      But wait, can’t we just offshore the project? Globalization always lowers costs, right? So by all means, load your busted boat trailer on a container ship to China, find a welder in Shanghai to do the work, and then ship the boat trailer back. Weeks later, you discover the plan and the specs weren’t followed, so all the time and money was wasted. It would have been so much cheaper and faster if you’d just paid the welder in town a few extra bucks and had it done right in a few hours.

      But wait–we’ll just automate welding and have a robot do it all for next to nothing. OK, fine, pal–you manufacture the robot and program it to trundle out to the busted boat trailer, examine the breaks and do the welding so it actually works again. Go ahead and do that (at gargantuan expense), and then let’s see the robot do it right in dozens of different jobs in all sorts of situations, and then add up the cost of all that compared to the relatively low cost of an experienced welder..”

      https://www.oftwominds.com/blogjune21/inflation-sources6-21.html

      My assertion: no, “robots” do not make any near-or-medium-term case.

      We’ll do it with Robots!” is to the 2020s what “ship manufacturing to China!” was thirty years ago..

      genius ideas

      give it a rest

  4. Supersonic Airliners? Kerosene propelled? That’s not going to happen.

    More probably we’ll fly (ultra) long distance in a kind of spacecraft, hydrogen fueled at 100,000 feet like:
    https://www.nbcnews.com/mach/science/these-planes-could-jet-you-around-world-hypersonic-speed-ncna843386

    757/A321XLR/MC21 market: With a somewhat wider body, if made clever and possibly using proven systems (like for example the 787 cockpit), such a plane may not only recover the investment cost but most of all keep Boeing in the game and prevent further massive loss of market share. I’m not sure anything better than that is currently on the cards.

    • Run the numbers on a supersonic let alone a space launch and there is nothing more than some with mega bucks to do that stuff.

      Sub sonic has huge advantages that are not going away.

    • The German Government has just mandated a 200,000 ton/year requirement of aviation fuel to cover 1/3rd of German needs by 2030 so its plausible.

      https://www.euractiv.com/section/aviation/news/germany-charges-ahead-in-decarbonising-domestic-flights-with-new-e-fuel-roadmap/

      A source with knowledge of ReFuelEU told EURACTIV that the proposal will likely set a SAF mandate of 2% in 2025, moving to 5% in 2030, 20% in 2035, 32% in 2040, and 63% in 2050.

      A submandate for PtL is also being considered, potentially starting at 0.7% in 2030 and increasing to 25% by 2050.

      (Note the actual PtL mandate turned out to be is 0.5% by 2026 and 2% by 2030)
      https://www.reuters.com/business/sustainable-business/german-govt-aviation-sector-agree-green-aviation-fuel-plan-2021-05-06/

        • I have a sense of the numbers, 200,000 tons per year of combined SAF/PtL for Germany alone is tiny fraction of what will be required to eliminate fossil fuel in aviation (even if applied pro rata to every other country) but the purpose of the German Government is to provide certainty for investment. The targeted expansion of production from 2025 looks like a quadrupling every 5 years (1.3 every year) but what will really be needed is at least an annual doubling of PtL production eliminate fossil fuels.

          The reality is that renewable energy makes promises to the public that are a huge illusion. When you start adding in requirements such as carbon neutral metals smelting, cement, ammonia production, agricultural traction etc you are faced with more than a hike in electricity prices but with painful reductions in living standards, or reductions in population that will be quite quite cruel or alternatively supporting a nuclear resurgence. Hence I am in the nuclear camp.

          Assuming a 60% conversion efficiency a single Westinghouse AP1000 reactor with 1400MW electrical power could in theory produce about 100 tons/hour of PtL fuel or 2400 tons/day or 200,000 tons in 3 months.

          More advanced reactors such as HTGR or Molten Salt would used the high temperature to greatly reduce electrical requirements.

          The Nice thing about PtL fuels is that they could be produced in the endless sun of Ethiopia or Australia or the endless wind in some parts of the world.

          So I’m hoping that PtL fuels production will rapidly expand after experience is gained by 2030.

          Boom’s Overture will consume a tiny fraction of the PtL the worlds shipping, agricultural machinery and aviation will use so I’m not really worried about its impact.

  5. This is turning into a media / physiological campaign.
    Just as boeing finally found the last piece of their missing NMA business case puzzle (the NMA-5x) and putting it together, Airbus by revealing the wings of tomorrow has cast doubts on boeing’s NMA business case once again. Airbus is hinting that not only they could easily match the 10% efficiency gain of the clean sheet NMA using the new wings, but they could also introduce this cheaper, faster with high commonality and minimal recertification as an extension of the A320neo family.
    It will be extremely difficult for boeing to match airbus cost wise and this will put enormous pricing pressure as well as profitability and risk on boeing’s NMA program. This is basically aimed at giving the Boeing’s board of directors a cold feet about investing in the new NMA and hoping that they will procrastinate long and hard, gradually handing the market to the A321XLR.

    • Vince – it is to be hoped that the purported “media/physiological campaign” does not become too-o-o physiological…

    • The timing might be conspicuous, but an Airbus A320 plus program has been out in the open for years.

      Aren’t there posters who believe BA has everything work out/SWOT analysis/counter move in their plans??

      We’ll see how BA’s “new clothes” looks like hopefully soon.

      • Boeing is twitching in the throes of the Sapir Whorf Hypothesis. ( you can’t think what you don’t have words for )

        American culture has homesteaded the Klingon language :-))
        .. comes home to roost.

        • To me it looks like an IBG/YBG situation at mcBoeing;
          however, the looters can only escape with USD cash,
          and I’m not at all sure that’s gonna help (them) much.

    • Vince- thanks for this perceptive and thorough comment.

      > This is turning into a media / physiological campaign. <

      Like so much else, these days..

  6. Regarding the A321XLR and BA’s answer to it, Calhoun in this Bernstein interview:

    “He disputed the widespread view that Airbus’s A321XLR, a single-aisle plane with the range to cross the Atlantic Ocean, will give the European manufacturer an insurmountable lead over Boeing in the lucrative narrow-body sector.

    “It’s a good airplane,” Calhoun said of the long-range A321, acknowledging that Boeing doesn’t have an offering in the jet’s product niche. “The notion that the XLR somehow sweeps the market or garners some giant share that differentiates the portfolio shares of our two great companies? I don’t think so.”

    As for Boeing’s countermove, he said, “it won’t be all that long before we announce ours.” An all-new Boeing jet wouldn’t be targeted solely to the same midrange patch dominated by the Airbus aircraft.

    “If we believe it’s a select and niche market, we’re going to want to tackle something much bigger,” he said.”

    https://www.livemint.com/companies/news/boeing-warns-us-china-trade-impasse-may-threaten-company-s-global-sway-11622763990811.html

    • > As for Boeing’s countermove, he said, “it won’t be all that long before we announce ours.” <

      Emphasis should be on the word "announce", there. So Boeing
      might- wait for it!- "announce" a new plane, someday; to counter
      one that's in production (321LR), or has an EIS of 2023 (321XLR)?

      Neologism: #somedayware

      I'm sold / talking his book

      • Even more remarkable was the complete denialism on display in this fragment:
        “The notion that the XLR somehow sweeps the market or garners some giant share that differentiates the portfolio shares of our two great companies? I don’t think so.”

        AB has 80% of the orders in the large NB segment…but that evidently isn’t considered to be a “giant share” 😉

        • Your language translation issues come to the fore again.
          Calhoun said ‘XLR sweeps into market’ and you compare the entire market ? Oh dear..

          • It’s clear that you’re upset that the A320/A321 neo is wiping the floor with the MAX, but Calhoun’s quote really doesn’t contain the word “into” that you have placed in his quote…look again 😉

          • Substantively change a quote, then tell another commenter *they’ve* got it wrong?

            oh dear.

    • Bryce — So (as sentences must begin these days), acknowledging that Boeing has nothing in the A321LR product niche, Calhoun nevertheless denies that that “differentiates the portfolio shares of our two great companies.” Curious.

      • Yes, it is curious, isn’t it?
        It just shows you that “every old sock finds an old shoe” when it comes to finding someone to run a company 😉

  7. 757 replacement /321/322 competitor is merely the first model for the 737 replacement. Boeing has no choice, either do it or leave the market. Its no threat to the MAX either because the 8/9/10 replacements won’t be ramped up until the next decade. They are just going to have to swallow the investment costs (more likely uncle Sam will do it for them) and Airbus won’t be far behind anyway . I suspect that airbus is bluffing to try and force a decision.
    Is a special luxury brand A220/100 brand airline flying point to point such a bad idea? You would be getting most of the benefits of supersonic and if marketed properly most of the bragging rights.

    • Concur. Boeing should get going on the 757-200/300 replacement, or the 767; whichever the CUSTOMER wants and they can make more money on. I believe their hesitancy stems from milking the MAX for seed money. The A321XLR is not a perfect plane. I think it got orders because Boeing is run by, how can I say this delicately, m#$%^s or at the very least MBA types. And if Boeing can get corporate money from The Feds, more power to them. That printing press might run out of ink, but I think we’re OK on paper. Seriously, they need a new fuselage six inches wider than the 320. I’d actually fly more if they hadn’t turned it Greyhound.

    • “”Is a A220 airline flying point to point such a bad idea?

      Exactly Grubbie. Get smaller for point to point.
      Smaller planes would have no problem with the stupid 36m gate size too.
      Much easier to get higher MTOW for long range.

  8. One comment about “once Overture meets United’s demanding safety, operating and sustainability requirements”: There is a big discussion currently in the application of environmental standards in supersonic aircraft. EPA says ” Currently, civilian supersonic airplanes are not
    in operation. The international standard did not
    consider the inclusion of supersonic airplanes in
    the standard. More recently, there has been
    renewed interest in the development of civilian
    supersonic airplanes. This has caused ICAO to
    begin considering how existing emission standards
    should be revised for new supersonic airplanes. The
    US is involved in these discussions and at this
    point plans to work with ICAO to develop emission
    standards on the international stage prior to
    adopting them domestically.” In simple terms, We haven’t included SSTs because they don’t exist yet. If they do it will add them to the list. I can’t imagine a credible scenario at this point with the environmental sensitivity that exists for a credible argument to be made to exclude SSTs from the CO2 regulations. The above combined with noise regulations effectively kills the Overture until the variable cycle engine comes off the drawing board.

    • The argument would be that
      1 a 1st class lounge seat in a subsonic jet uses about the same fuel as a business class seat in a supersonic.
      2 SST will be a minuscule component of emissions easily covered by SAF fuels but provide enormous connectivity advantages to the planet.

      • Its not even ‘international business class’ as they say it wont have lie flat sleeper beds, which indicates a lot less room

        • The Boom Presskit has images of the Boom Interior. The seats are only 1 each side of the aisle and apart from providing a laptop table look like about 45 degree recline is possible which means one could sleep without ones neck collapsing ones head onto the shoulder without one of those inflatable neck pillow. The recline also won’t intrude into the passenger behind. Certainly not full recline but comfortable enough for a 4-5 hour flight.

  9. What’s the new plan? Boeing is going to build a new single aisle fuselage? Al-Li? What dimensions? Not CFRP I take it, back to 2010/2011, a decade later and just rerun the same press release, we can’t get CFRP fuselage to scale to 60/month.

    What’s the new aircraft? A single aisle 120t 752/3 capacity with 5,000nm range, to better the A321xlr and help eat the routes formerly of the 787 and A350 with a freight minimal single aisle.

    What’s the new wing? CFRP 42m folding wing, or a fixed 44m to 50m wing.

    And this is the market of most concern, not the mid-capacity market at ranges of 500nm to 3,000nm where they could build a more efficient and better aircraft than the 737-10 and A321/A322.

    The A320/738 of the future, is a twin aisle, 2-2-2 or 2-3-2, 100t, single axle main gear, CFRP 36m wing with split tips, for 500nm to 3,000nm range. That is the aircraft that Boeing needs to build next.

    • > 100t, single axle main gear

      I doubt this would get build as a single axle main gear. That leaves very little room for growth without running into to limits on pavement loading.

      • Its getting too complicated . CFRP isnt needed for fuselage in this class, but metal fibre laminates as was used in the upper fuselage of the A380 (GLARE) could be used for the ‘upper lobe’.
        I cant see either side triggering a new composite wing ‘race’ in the current financial situation and with fuel prices still below 2014 peaks.

        The A320 XLR is already over 100 tonnes, so a 1 axle undercarrigae is still OK, runway and taxiway weights are not a problem for most , but not all jet capable airports , especially if they are servicing larger planes

  10. Thanks Scott for LNA views on Boom and Aerion. I agree with your conclusion. If the highly technically feasible Aerion SST program (with a viable engine) folded, I don’t see how Boom program can succeed given the numerous technical obstacles still in its way. In any case, it is quite unlikely we will see any SSTs fly in our life times!

  11. Kant:

    I agree but I don’t see it as unfortunate.

    It just maintains the reality that supersonic commercial has always been a pipe dream.

    Like the wide body bubble, ala 787 going to 14 a month, you look at that and, there is no way it sustains. Run the numbers and it made no sense (unless you were selective on short periods).

    How often do we have to beat the dead supersonic commercial to death just to see it rise from the ashes like the Phoenix and then have to wacko mole it again? (electric aircraft anyone, open rotor?)

    • I put all my family savings into electric flying taxis. New discoveries make battery capacity boom and we could see the first examples getting into service in a few years. Big names are stepping in, revolution is around the corner and all climate neutral.

      • ‘make battery capacity boom’…..no they arent , its incremental and they are still heavy as.
        You are going to lose all your money

        • Well I can sell you guys a slightly used Bridge in Brooklyn!

          The one on I-40 is much cheaper but its good to go in a few months.

        • Just jooking. I think I’ve reached the age where I recognize hype, I hope.

        • Guessing what keesje wrote was satire; or I sure hope so.

          😉

      • AAL “pre-orders” eVTOLs and invests in the maker.

        No. Not a joke.

  12. If the new Boeing won’t have a one pilot cockpit, Boeing will fall behind further.

    • Leon – if, indeed, a future Boeing is to be single-pilot, who will treat him after he’s bitten by the dog…? (Relates to an old gag, I’m afraid.)

      • I guess Bjorn needs to jump that feature to the top of the Certification’s Corner!

        After all that beating Boeing takes on self cert (rightfully so) and now they are going to jump into the deep end of the pool, certify it and then tell EASA and the FAA its a done deal?

        I don’t think so.

    • The planes can already fly themselves since the era of autopilot. During cruise that is the case with one pilot monitoring. During pre takeoff and climb along with the landing phase its found that the workload requires 2 pilots, even though one only is ‘pilot flying’. You arent going to get rid of the monitoring pilot- who also handles the ATC and tower communications- while the other is flying.

      • No.
        In emergencies both pilots are needed to turn the manual trim wheel and nobody is flying the MAX.
        Even Boeing suggested that and FAA/EASA certified it SMH.

        • @ Leon
          Exactly!
          The MAX should technically have 3 pilots, so that there’s somebody to fly the plane while the other two pilots are laboring over the trim wheel.

          • > The MAX should technically have 3 pilots

            Not sure “technically” is the right word, though I generally agree with your claim.

            should be fine™

            “one pilot cockpit..” heh dreamland

        • In an emergency in an Airbus when the 3 sensors are having a ‘contested election’ the FBW envelope protection is to be turned off and pilots take charge just like when a pilot was
          learning to fly in a Cessna…..a simple process as we found for Airbus A330 in South Atlantic

  13. The ‘new single aisle’ to compete with the XLR will end up as a ‘Max 10B’.
    Its the most logical and cost effective approach.
    The extra range of A321 standard versions , still requires auxiliary tanks, but the lighter Max 10 has a small advantage there with its longer range. Adding extra tanks is no problem, but the takeoff distance/rotation is when the small change to the undercarriage leg adopted from the Muilenberg/malaise era is continued. Bolder thinking is required and a better design will achieve that without the $$$ investment.

      • Its nothing like the investment Airbus is doing to fit the fuselage contour fuel tank. Max 10 is already lighter for same passenger load and its existing main fuel tanks have 1 ACT extra volume anyway. So for 2 extra tanks worth they get the longer range of the XLR. The undercarriage is the choke point on the design and the Max 10 design mod just repositions the axle aft not lengthens the ground clearance [Which was to avoid extra pilot training for takeoff]
        This analysis is out of paywall
        https://leehamnews.com/2017/03/13/boeing-737-max-10-analyzed/
        And summarised in b737.org.uk
        Length 43.8m / 143 feet 8 inches, ie 66 inches (1.68m) or 2 seat rows longer than the MAX-9
        Passenger capacity 230 in single-class layout, 12 seats more than the MAX-9.
        Mid-exit doors to be 4 inches wider to improve exit limit rating
        Range 3215nm. Slightly less than MAX-8 and -9 (3,515nm) but 265nm more than -900ER
        Slightly higher MTOW, approx 92,000kg
        Engine LEAP-1B with possible thrust bump
        Levered MLG, that extends up to 24cm (9.5in) on take-off to prevent tail strike.
        An “improved flap design” that enables more approaches and landing at Flaps 40
        Maximum landing weight centre of gravity modified in a way that will avoid “tail tip” events.
        Improved body contour to reduce the risk of tail strikes.

      • “It’s difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”

        -Upton Sinclair

    • What about re-winging the B737 with a composite wing and an extended landing gear?

      • That would be an example of putting new lipstick on a crippled old pig.

      • “re-winging the B737 with a composite wing”
        The 737 is already lighter than the A320 this was a result of the NG series which was a re-wing in aluminium ( which also had the main fuel tanks larger volume) The like for like models are the Max 10 and A321.
        So its Airbus that have to lighten their plane not the other way round

        • Yep. That’s why no one’s buying the A320 series: it’s uncompetitive.

          problem solved for mcBoeing.. only betta PR needed to
          “get the message out” [as they say].

          heh

          • Thats clearly not the case, but it shows ‘lighter’ isnt the be all. And Boeing doesnt have to make a lighter plane to please the commentariat.

            Bjorn spelled it out in his analysis, poor market analysis by Boeing meant it didnt even have a one for one answer to the basic A321 in capacity till the Max 10.

          • The A321 neo can fly 21% further than B737 MAX 10. What if it gets a lighter, right-sized wing? Go figure.

            Lessors which bought B737 MAX would face losses if either AB launches A322/320 plus or BA shortens the production span of the MAX.

          • No. According to Bjorn the A321 neo needs extra ACT tanks to fly further
            “Both aircraft have about the same range when sensibly equipped. The A320 series wing holds about an ACT’s (Auxiliary Center Tank)-worth of less fuel. So Boeing justly equipped the A321neo with two ACTs and the MAX 10 with one. This means both aircraft are just passing 3,200nm without becoming limited by the fuel amount.”
            Clearly the XLR is a category of its own, but with much higher weights and new design of fuselage tank. Fix Max 10 undercarriage issues to a better result than previously and it can match that- on a lower weight

            Put the same number of ACT tanks in the Max 10 and it flies further. After 2 tanks the Airbus runs out of baggage space hence the ‘new fangled’ fuselage tank to create more hold baggage space on the XLR

          • @ Bill7
            That’s right! The MAX is actually an underappreciated masterpiece!! Once the world becomes aware of how “light” it is, the orders will surely pour in! After all, who needs FBW, reliable electrical systems, containerized cargo or even a good safety record when one can instead have a “light” airframe? A stellar future awaits this undiscovered gem 😉

          • Put down your rose-tinted glasses 🙂

            From LNA:

            “Development of the MAX 10 was a feeble attempt to finally have a plane directly competitive to the A321neo’s size. But range and field performance are inferior. And the market made it clear the A321neo family is the preferred choice.

            Boeing first discussed the MAX 10 in 2016. I remarked at the February 2017 conference of the Pacific Northwest Aerospace Alliance that *the MAX 10 was only a band-aid solution and a poor band-aid at that.* (For my straight-forward assessment, I was blackballed. I haven’t spoken at the conference since.)

            Sales of the MAX 10 were between 500-600 pre-grounding, pre-COVID. (Boeing doesn’t break sub-type sales out.) An estimated 200 of these were swaps from the MAX 8 and 9.”

            https://leehamnews.com/2021/02/22/pontifications-for-boeing-the-future-is-a-new-airplane-not-the-status-quo/

          • Duke,

            you don’t get it.
            The MAX-10 doesn’t have the MTOW to carry more fuel. If the MAX-10 would carry more fuel, it would need to reduce pax, or better use MAX-9 or MAX-7 instead.

          • Pedro , thats not what Bjorn says in ‘his’ analysis of the Max 10 – which is out of paywall
            ‘Both aircraft have about the same range when sensibly equipped. The A320 series wing holds about an ACT’s (Auxiliary Center Tank)-worth of less fuel..”
            As for the A321XXXXLR, its takeoff weight is upped by major changes, a complete redesign of the flap system, a novel method to increase the belly tankage to allow for the fact its main tanks have less than the Max and the required ACT would diminish the baggage capacity…. AND its MTOW is upped to 101 tonnes. |The 737 ‘heritage’ baggage stowage method not using containers can give more bags in the space , so thats ahead as well as lighter empty weight – from the NG wing redesign [but final weights havent been released before certification]

            Ive HAVENT said the current Max 10 could match that , it would have to be a Max 10ER version with higher weights and better undercarriage changes- or ‘extra’ pilot training for its takeoff characteristics.
            Why Scott calls the Max 10 ‘feeble’ and its size and range doesnt match the standard A321 neo is baffling as it doesnt match the facts from his colleague. Yes Boeing has left it far too long to offer a plane of the A321 passenger capacity and its not disputed the longest range claimed of the std A321 neo is with extra hold tanks…making a virtue of its smaller fuel tankage ? Where have we heard that before …its not a bug its a feature!

          • Duke,

            if you mention articles from Bjorn from many years ago, it doesn’t mean much.
            Years ago Bjorn wrote about the capabilities of the MAX vs the A320neoFamily. At that time when Bjorn wrote his article, there were no payload-range curves available from Airbus and Boeing. Bjorn’s results didn’t match the payload-range curves which were later available.
            Years later Bjorn did it different for the A330neo when his results were just the exact numbers Airbus already provided.

            The MAX-10 can’t do the same as the A321neo, because the NEO has more than 7t more MTOW.
            If the MAX-10 would have more MTOW, its fuselage would fall apart on a hard landing.

          • Bjorns analysis from 2017 was when the first details of Max 10 were released. His technical analysis would be based on what he does for paying customers and the greater data from Max 8 available.
            Leon, how much do your paying customers give for your information?

          • Duke,

            if Bjorn could calculate performance numbers without flight testing, he would not work for Leeham.

            Lets wait till Boeing is showing payload-range curves.
            But, you know, Boeing won’t do that. Boeing is hiding its performance in OEW PLUS PAYLOAD – range curves.
            Why is this hiding needed? It is needed that some people believe the assumptions of the Boeing marketing fools.

            The money Boeing is investing in the MAX-10 Boeing will never get back. Why is Calhoun still investing in the MAX-10 instead of investing the money into a NEW plane?

            When the MAX-10 has its EIS the gap to the A321 will be even bigger.

          • @Leon

            “Nothing a band aid can’t fix!”® in the imaginary world of a day dreamer.

          • “if Bjorn could calculate performance numbers without flight testing, he would not work for Leeham”

            hello , does Leon live in a world of ‘hand hand scientific calculators and graph paper’.
            Advanced aerodynamics courses at masters level do teach estimating performance numbers without flight testing. Theres various apps and software that assists the process which users add their own specialised information .
            Bjorn has been doing this for some time, and for the Max range its still just a new engine variation of the NG model when its in the air. The Gas Turbine app side is tweaked to allow for its better performance and we have the Max 8 certified and the Max 9 and Max 10 numbers can be estimated fairly accurately based on the known changes of longer fuselage and higher empty weight. Same would have happened for XLR with some tweaks for the computer model of the A321 .
            The cabin mix of premium & economy seats plus entertainment modules gives weights for these items, the passenger numbers give a baggage estimate which gives a hold volume and weights. Putting this all into a particular model of plane allows even a designated route to be modelled with fuel consumption etc. Theres been numerous comparisons comparing say A350-900 and B777-300 for example
            You claims are just wrong and show just how out of date you are . Take some advanced courses and you might be able to know what you are talking about

          • Duke,

            you said it yourself, “estimating performance numbers”. Estimated numbers are not real numbers.

            For the A330neo, Bjorn wrote himself that he doesn’t know where 1% improvements are coming from. So much for estimations.
            I know where Bjorn made a mistake. If Bjorn and Scott want to know it, I will teach them.

      • With added, free ponies, too!

        “MAX-10B” heh. How’s the “MAX10™” itself doing?

        talking their book

        “assume a can-opener, on a deserted desert-isle..”

        • Apart from Boeing dithering it hasnt happened clearly. The histories from the time of the 757 and 767 developments being done side by side had Boeing exec s saying they would never do that again. Thats why Im thinking a simpler clearer solution is just an undercarriage away. Perhaps they didnt do that before because a counter move from Airbus would be expected, well they checkmated first. Boeing needs to stop seeing its product plans only through the eyes of the big US carriers, especially Southwest- perhaps if they love Boeing so much that should buy some of it!

  14. One forgotten piece of history is that Airbus practically invented this mysitical “small twin wide body”. The A300 and A310. Perhaps, only perhaps, this will be reinvented with A330 neo technology and new engines and new wings of the future. A stretch, but you never know.

    • Joe – no ‘practically’, except in the literal sense, and no ‘perhaps.’ Airbus actually did invent the twin-aisle twin-jet.

  15. I think you guys are a bit too hard. Of course this is a United PR move only. They know it. We know it.

    It’s nice to dream a little though. It’s really engineering R&D done with taxpayer’s money. And 50 years later the tech (since the Concorde) has advanced including sonic boom management. So… what could we build?

    Now, like with the SonicCruiser, the market will speak. Too $$. But i’d pay double every time to cut the travel time by half travel-wise. So there is a ‘market’.

    Incidentally, watching (a little) Virgin Galactic, there could be a path to do Reagan’s NASP (for those who remember)… going up that high with a bit of hydrogen fuel, perhaps i could pay 10k$ for a NYC / Tokyo in 1-2 hours. 10 passengers? 100k$ revenue. Small plane. ‘Cheap’? ok, ok, i recollect vaguely NASP died as NASA could not get the contractor (Lockheed?) to manufacture the tank.

    Nice to dream a little. At least the Russian agent is gone and even better, gagged!

  16. More embarrassment / bad PR for Boeing with regard to the KC-46 “Flying Lemon”:

    “Boeing Spare-Part Pricing Faces Scrutiny by Lawmakers”

    “Boeing is facing scrutiny from lawmakers over the price of spare parts for its KC-46 tankers, with some government officials reportedly concerned that the defense giant is trying to recover some of the plane’s development costs by overcharging for spares.

    The KC-46 has long been an albatross for Boeing, with the company forced to swallow billions in cost overages during the development phase. But the plane is finally flying, and is scheduled to enter service with Japan later this year.

    In April, the Air Force awarded Boeing an $88 million contract to supply spare parts to Japan. Defense News reports the deal included about $10 million in costs that Air Force leaders investigated and could not determine if they were fair or reasonable.

    An unnamed government official expressed concerns to Defense News that Boeing is trying to use spare parts to recoup some of the development overages. And Rep. Rob Wittman, a Virginia Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, told the publication he intended to raise the issue during an Air Force budget hearing scheduled for today.”

    https://www.fool.com/investing/2021/06/08/boeing-spare-part-pricing-faces-scrutiny-from-lawm/

    • Today Bloomberg reports:

      “To attract orders for the Max, Boeing has been offering some customers steep discounts, reduced upfront payments and other inducements …”

      No wonder Boeing received large orders from the usual suspects.

  17. SF: “Airbus Reportedly Just Weeks Away From A350 Freighter Launch”

    “…Now, it seems the project could be moving ahead, as the planemaker is said to be in talks with more than a dozen airlines about the plane. Subject to board approval, the A350F could begin marketing at the end of this month, with a formal launch by the end of the year.

    According to an inside source, Bloomberg says that Airbus is in discussions with more than a dozen potential customers for the jet. The planemaker will need to seek approval from its board to begin formally marketing the aircraft in the coming weeks. Any further development will be dependent on being able to secure enough firm commitments from airlines.

    Although the 777F is a highly capable aircraft, its underlying technology is a generation behind the A350. Airbus states that the A350-900 is around 30% more fuel-efficient than the 777-200ER. Although the 777F is based on the -200LR, the savings are likely to be commensurate, more or less.”

    https://simpleflying.com/airbus-a350-freighter-launch-touted/

      • Yes, I recall that article from April.
        But it now seems that the A350F is close to being formally announced.
        After posting, I noticed that the LNA Twitter feed now also refers to a similar topic on Bloomberg Quint.

    • Bryce – alas, Simple Flying is mistaken in saying: “According to an inside source, Bloomberg says that Airbus is in discussions with more than a dozen potential customers…” In fact, it was that “inside source” which told had Bloomberg about the OEM’s discussions, rather than — as Simple Flying attributes — the source having told the latter about Bloomberg’s report of those talks.
      Since it is obviously so very easy to check what Bloomberg has published, Simple Flying should be more careful in presenting, er, alternative facts suggesting (however inadvertently) otherwise. Readers will not be certain what veracity to attach to the next Simple Flying story whose accuracy they are not able to ascertain so readily. (Forgive me: after almost a half-century of sub-editing copy I am perhaps more alert to possible ambiguities that should be fact-checked than would be the lay-reader. Sorry, but…)

      • (Forgive me: after almost a half-century of sub-editing copy I am perhaps more alert to possible ambiguities that should be fact-checked than would be the lay-reader. Sorry, but…)

        interesting, because there are a few in what was written above.

        • Bill7 – Quite. Of course, I spotted the told/had transposition only after having hit ‘Post comment…’ Still seeking a second error; no doubt it’ll hit me as quickly as the first!

  18. “Boeing seeks delay and higher price for future Air Force One”

    “Boeing warned the United States Air Force it would be a year late on delivery of the two future Air Force One presidential aircraft and asked to renegotiate the contract price.”

    “We thought this was maybe a program where the government got a good deal,” commented Joe Courtney, Democratic congressman from Connecticut. Former US President Donald Trump protested shortly after his arrival at the White House against the initial contract price of over $4 billion. Boeing managed to reduce the price by offering two 747-8s initially intended for the Russian airline Transaero, which had gone bankrupt.”

    https://www.aerotime.aero/28121-boeing-seeks-delay-and-higher-price-for-future-air-force-one

  19. Of general interest regarding CoViD bailouts: Ryanair is scoring a string of legal wins in its crusade against state aid to competitors:

    “Ryanair extends winning streak as court annuls German aid for Condor”

    “BRUSSELS (Reuters) -Ryanair on Wednesday won its challenge against state aid granted to German charter airline Condor, a third victory in its fight against billions of euros in pandemic support granted to its rivals.

    The Luxembourg-based General Court annulled regulators’ decision approving the measure but said Condor would not be required to repay the aid for now due to the COVID-19 pandemic and pending a new decision by the European Commission.

    “The General Court annuls the Commission decision approving the state aid granted by Germany to the airline Condor Flugdienst on the ground of an inadequate statement of reasons,” Europe’s second-top court said.”

    “If Europe is to emerge from this crisis with a functioning single market, the European Commission must stand up to national governments and stop rubberstamping discriminatory State aid to inefficient national airlines,” Europe’s biggest budget airline said in a statement.

    The Commission said it would study the judgment before taking the next steps.”

    https://www.metro.us/ryanair-extends-winning-streak/

  20. Why do you claim that Aerion was the most realistic of three small supersonic projects?

    What are those three?

    As for Boom, it is maturing, getting into aspects it needs to. Note it has long had a partnership with Japan Airlines which coaches it on usability factors. It also now has an expert on usability on contract.

    Boom’s eventual airliner envisions 2-abreast seating with first class seat widths, with recline if airline wants that at cost of fewer seats to sell, for long flights. (Speed is a bit above Concorde, just below a steep rise in drag/cost.) It’s plan is for airplane price enabled by technology to allow ticket price to be the same as current business class.

    BTW, fuselage capacity may not be as different as one might think, because seating density is different.

    • Aerion had an engine (GE). Boom does not. Aerion at various times had Lockheed Martin, Airbus, Boeing and Spirit Aerosystems as partners. Boom does not. Aerion made conservative operating claims, not pie-in-the-sky ones.

      Spike is even less credible than Boom.

  21. Boom has a technology demonstrator that should fly ‘any day now’ (Blake knows that term from his software background, I presume, which includes ‘cut and try and recut’ methodology that is not affordable in aviation, but needs to have it engraved inside his eyelids). The demonstrator has morphed, appears to now put pilots side-by-side instead of in tandem, and will probably have virtual vision on one side. (That’s flying now in a small airplane, you can find a photo of it on Boom’s mediocre website.)

    Aerion had nothing AFAIK. Reminds me of the outfit in the Puget Sound area that called me about doing work for them on a device to meet a new airliner system rule. They had great PR including substantial coverage in a prominent aviation industry magazine. But I figured out they had not made even a basic prototype, especially important for people from outside of the aviation industry – and did not have any money left to make one.

    An example of challenges discovered during even initial development is that both Aerion and Boom switched to three engines to reduce airport noise and to cover diversion if an engine resigned in remote/oceanic. Try to fly at the cutting edge and you need a lot of blood.

  22. As for investors, Scott should know of Tom Cable and Woody Howse, whose evaluation criteria if they were even interested in a venture started with:
    – can we trust these people?
    – can these people follow through?

    I’m reminded of the very light business jet venture out of Ames IA (which is near a big university). It flew an airplane, finding it needed aerodynamic refinement. And it needed money for production. None came. (The VLJ fad cooled, Cessna succeeded for a few years with the Mustang it was developing in secret alond with a secret engine project of P&WC, Eclipse did get its model into service but ran out of money – potential investors of more insisted the founder, a former Microsoft honcho, leave the company, but it eventually failed. One problem in the market was price was multiples of initial claims.)

  23. As for ‘reinvent the 757’, it seems you are merely talking of a range and capacity, not an evolution of the 757.

    It certainly had a proper nose, which SWA shunned for commonality – not one of its brightest moves for the future. The nose was much more aerodynamic than the old 707 nose on the 737 lines, and housed the main panels and pilot sets of the 767 for crew commonality. A winner IMJ.

    I understand its wing was a morph of the paper wing for the 727-300 that never proceeded into production. 757 concept morphed to low tail with two engines under the wing. (The 767 was the long-range airplane at the same time from Boeing, but SEA-LHR was nothing to snear at (which the HGW version of the 757 could do..)

    I suggest Boeing develop a roomy single aisle airplane (3-3), perhaps able to fit 2-2-2 as well.

    • Maybe a lesson in there:
      Boeing chose an expedient route – enlarging the wing of the 737 but keeping same wing box tooling parameters, fortunately SWA discovered it had given Boeing the wrong span limit for its terminals so the end design called NG was more efficient than first thought. Instead of using 757 nose to further enhance the 737 it just patched it at the last minute with bigger engines. That may have worked out adequately if it hadn’t botched the MCAS trim system, but it was not a long-term solution.

      And shorthaul shortfield Keith wanted to see a shrink of the 757-200, thus 767 crew commonality, good nose, and fully digital avionics. (The -200 was sized for initial customers, IIRC BA and a US major. PW wanted a wide body so chose the 767 to replace 707s.)

      Need pockets deep enough to do more than one thing at the same time, as indeed Boeing did by developing 757 and 767 at almost the same time, one starting as a derivative but morphing a long ways, the other a cleansheet design.

      Boeing better deliver a lot of 737MAX at a profitable price, soon. And 787s and 777s plus military aircraft.

      (Interesting aspect is that Boeing is still producing earlier versions of the 737, as military surveillance and utility aircraft. The US government wants to replace its 757 utility aircraft but deferred that spending. (Its utility 737 and 757 aircraft are transportation for officials and for priority cargo. Not including The Donald’s own 757 which he plans to refurb, I recommend missile warning system be added if not already on it. :-o)

  24. And Elon Musk is not the only person having difficulty with automation: https://mars.nasa.gov/technology/helicopter/status/305/surviving-an-in-flight-anomaly-what-happened-on-ingenuitys-sixth-flight/

    The vision mapping system of NASA’s Mars lander had difficulty. (A timing problem, likely someone did not think that a time shift could occur.)

    Musk’s magical autopilot and such are more complex, serious crashes have occurred. One because it was programmed to ignore large rectangular surfaces – like freeway signboards and trailers that veer in front of the car. (Serious drive performance problems involved in most fatal crashes.) Tesla is not trying to pull a ‘Boeing’ with a rash change of sensors, immediate result was the feds pulling agreement with its autopilot, on some modelst.

    (‘pull a ‘Boeing’ is my swipe at the rash morphing of MCAS into aggressiveness without revising safety analysis.)

  25. A couple of thoughts on recurrent themes throughout these posts.

    1. The wide-body short/medium range aircraft is never going to happen due to jet-bridge compatibility. No one wants to keep repositioning it for successive flights. When the gate is empty is when the new kid learns to drive. When a wide-body is substituted, it parks at a wide-body gate, inconveniencing the passengers rather than disrupting the operation. The folding wing is not going to happen in this category due to cost.

    2. Unless someone converts a fleet of them for exclusive use, the A380F isn’t going to happen due to floor height differences with the 747. No one wants to keep repositioning those platform loaders either.

    Not trying to offend anyone. Just one man’s opinion.

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