Pontifications: IAI moves to cement lead in 777 P2F conversions

  • IAI, Etihad ink Boeing 777-300ER P2F deal.
  • De Havilland union sniffs kerosene.

Aug. 30, 2021, ©Leeham News: The agreement last week between IAI and Etihad Airways to open a Boeing 777-300ER P2F conversion line in Abu Dhabi gives a major boost to the burgeoning program.

By Scott Hamilton

In addition to the history-making tie-up between an Israeli company and the United Arad Emirates, and a commitment by Etihad to convert 777s to freighters with IAI, the move is a major coup for IAI to win other Arab airline business.

IAI and the former GECAS, which was acquired by AerCap, launched the first 777 P2F program in 2019. GECAS ordered 15 conversions of the -300ER and optioned 15 more.

Middle East Airlines

The “Big Three” Middle East airlines, Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar, each have a large 777-300ER fleet. Each also has dedicated cargo operations, centered on new-build 777-200LRFs. With long-haul travel remaining depressed due to the COVID pandemic, the Big Three grounded Airbus A380s. Only Emirates is returning these to service. The Big Three also have surplus 777-300ERs. Emirates previously indicated it was planning to convert some to freighters.

With IAI and Etihad establishing a conversion line in Abu Dhabi, Emirates—also a United Arab Emirates carrier—is likely to convert its -300ERFs in its home country. If so, this would be a blow to other companies planning 777 P2F programs, Sequoia Aircraft Conversions-National Institute for Aviation Research at Wichita State University and Mammoth777. IAI and Etihad will establish two conversion lines, opening in 2023. Industry sources indicate this will bring IAI’s capacity for 777 conversions to 15/yr. Bloomberg reported that IAI sees a conversion market of 150 777-300ER P2Fs over five years. IAI may open additional conversion lines.

IAI and Etihad announced they will convert an undisclosed number of 777-300ERs to freighters.

Solidifying its lead

The IAI-GECAS deal called for first deliveries in 2023, four years after the program was launched. Adding two conversion lines and the head start over the newer programs means IAI can fulfill more orders before the other companies can develop and certify their conversions.

There is more than enough feedstock already. And Air New Zealand announced last week that it will retire all its -300ERs from service within this decade. (The -200ERs are already retired.)

Union rhetoric at De Havilland

Unions have their useful purpose, helping offset abusive and dumb management decisions. But unions aren’t above being dumb as well.

The latest case-in-point is the union that builds Bombardier and later De Havilland Dash 8s, including the most recent, the Dash 8-400.

The union seems to think there is a future for the Dash 8 if only the production is retained in the Ontario province. The reality is that there may be no future for the Dash 8 at all.

Even before the COVID pandemic, the -400 (nee Q400 under Bombardier) was hanging on only by its flaps. The program suffered under Bombardier’s neglect while resources—cash and people—were diverted to the development of the C Series and two corporate aircraft. Bombardier said publicly it lost money on every Q400 built (as well as CRJ). The backlog was on a steady decline. ATR, the only rival in the Western world, built up to an 85% share of the global backlog.

Losses had many causes, including low-rate production and a supply chain that charged for its costs but not for Bombardier’s profits. But decades of labor costs in expensive Toronto didn’t help.

Avoiding bankruptcy

To stave off bankruptcy, Bombardier sold the Q400 program to Longview Aviation Capital. Longview previously bought the old, old de Havilland programs from Bombardier: The Beaver and Otters and would later also buy the CL-series fire-fighting airplanes. Separately, Bombardier sold the CRJ program to Mitsubishi and, in a series of transactions, the C Series to Airbus. Longview renamed the Q400 the Dash 8-400, its original name, and resurrected the De Havilland name.

Bombardier also sold all its Downsview Airport facilities in Toronto, where the Q400 was assembled. The entire airport was sold to investors for real estate development, with the provision that BBD’s leased facilities would close in 2021.

So, production of the Q400 at Downsview was slated to close this year anyway. The pandemic accelerated production shut-down, which De Havilland (Longview) said it was merely “suspending.” Few believe production would resume, except, apparently, the union. Even if it does, it won’t be at Downsview. Where else in Toronto or Ontario Province might production resumes as the union demands is quixotic.

If De Havilland restarts production, it almost certainly will be in lower-cost Western Canada. Calgary would be the most likely location, we think.

But this is a big “if,” in LNA’s view. The Q400 has a large customer base, to be sure, but ATR’s gains can’t be overlooked or over-stated.

Turning “green”

Longview’s owner wants to pursue “green” aviation, but as LNA’s Bjorn Fehrm revealed in a long series, battery-powered aircraft don’t make technical, economic, or even environmental sense. Hydrogen-powered airplanes are well into the future. Retrofitting current airplanes with hydrogen power has limitations. Universal Hydrogen proposes loading hydrogen tanks into dedicated cabin space, with demonstration airplanes using the Q400 and ATR 72 forthcoming.

The big drawback to installing tanks in dedicated cabin space: the loss of revenue seats. Then there’s a shift in the center of gravity and wing-loading issues.

De Havilland’s union is sniffing kerosene when it demands Dash 8-400 production resume in Toronto or Ontario. To mix metaphors, that ship has sailed.

121 Comments on “Pontifications: IAI moves to cement lead in 777 P2F conversions

  1. Yes, as I’ve noted before, Calgary is a possible new location for the dash8 program, given that Longview/Viking already upgrade CL415s there and want to make new ones, assemble Twin Otter -400s there, and have training operations there.

    (Viking’s Victoria BC operation makes parts and maintains small aircraft.)

    You’ve talked about the need for earlier sizes of the dash8 but the tough economics of that business.

    I’ve noted before the loss of experienced people who would not want to leave Toronto, though younger workers with families might do better in Calgary – especially if they do not want to take jobs in Quebec which forces language on children.

    As for the boss of Longview, she has a history of eco-activism going back to college days. I’d hope Dave Curtis is smarter, but he is familiar with politics which drives green foolishness. (His father was a BC politician for a long time.)

    A BC commuter operator has a demonstration electric deHavilland Canada airplane on floats, with a Seattle company providing the technology. I don’t understand how short turn times can be achieved with the need for recharging that the project talked about. Short turns are necessary for good utilization, the founder of that operator succeeded by being smart. You might ask Kenmore Air, the other serious operator of dHC airplanes on floats, what they think of the scheme. (Kenmore and Harbour have large fleets, well-run companies, whereas most operators are small.)

    • ‘especially if they do not want to take jobs in Quebec which forces language on children.’

      Oh no – educating a child to speak a second language, which is an official language of the nation. What a terrible thing to do. With this kind of thinking, no wonder why children in North America are falling behind the rest of the world, in terms of education…smh.

      How did things ever get to a place where having additional knowledge is considered a bad thing?

    • “I don’t understand how short turn times can be achieved with the need for recharging that the project talked about.”

      Batteries can be designed to be swapped for quick turnaround.

    • “Quebec which forces language on children.”

      poor souls, being forced to learn another language, contact to a foreign culture. Dilution of closemindedness. terrible. Abomination! Bring them some Democracy, fast!

  2. IAI has also established a B767 P2F conversion facility with Ethiopian with the first 3 conversions being for Ethiopian itself. It suggest IAI has developed a strategy of supply kits and expertise so that their maintenance departments of largish airlines can do conversions themselves thereby saturating the market.

    I was delighted to find John Leahy on Universal Hydrogens strategic advisory board along with Tom Enders. Tom himself has been achieving miracles at Lilium with a billion dollar deal with David Needeman’s Azure that should attract further investors to Lilium.

    The technology is gaseous compressed hydrogen in polymer tanks, PEM fuel cells and electric motors. They will be fitted to DASH 8, ATR72 and Deutsche Aircraft D328. The tanks seem to take up 1/4 of the passenger space but this might be compensated by the efficiency of the fuel cells.

    The technology seems to be practical because the fuel is relatively easy to produce and supply and range much greater than electric aircraft.

    Hydrogen seem ideal for production by renewable energies and the technology will be shared with heavy trucks, forklifts and automobiles such as Toyotas Mrai.

      • I’d say the intention is electrolysis, a process used in Norway and Canada from the 1930s to provide hydrogen for the Haber-Bosch process for ammonia production due to cheap hydro. Tends to leave heavy water in the cells. Toyota, to get refuelling started for Mirai car, have built several photovoltaic powered electrolysers (83kW)

        Toyota also refer to a process that can convert biological materials into hydrogen i.e. manure, straw. Another source is H2 reformed from natural gas but with the CO2 sequestered.

        A rough calculation suggests that a 2.5MW wind turbine with a capacity factor of 40% should keep an ATR72 in the air for 6 hours/day.

        Assuming electricity at $0.07/kWHr from the turbine and 80% efficiency you end up with the energy cost of the fuel at $0.70/L equivalent which can be doubled to $1.40 to account for capital and running costs of the electrolyser etc.

        A 300 ton wind turbine with likely 250 tons of concrete and steel foundation to power a 25 tons aircraft gives you an idea what we are up against.

        • Thanks William.

          I am skeptical about electricity supply, can’t pave the planet with solar cells, wind doesn’t blow strong everywhere.

          Thus hydrogen would have to be transported from places with ample supply of low cost electricity to points of need.

          Petroleum based fuels are transported as producers want huge refineries, barges, tanker trucks, ships, and pipelines are used. (For example, from NW WA barges and trucks take fuel into the lower mainland of BC where YVR is, a pipeline takes fuels south to Seattle/Tacoma and Vancouver BC/Portland.)

          But as you know I think the whole hydrogen thing is a crock, since humans are not and cannot cause runaway global warming.

      • Just to be clear: I am estimating cost of gaseous compressed hydrogen produced from wind turbine powered electrolysis at about $1.40/Litre jet fuel equivalent. It’s about twice the cost of the electricity required.

      • There is a risk that Russian Natural Gas get converted to “Green Hydrogen” and get pumped into pipelines that get “boosted” with regular Natural Gas. Just like the car biogas gets boosted with Natural gas when biogas supply is low or too expensive. The H2 and NG pipe networks will cross each other at many places in Europe in the future increasing chances for illegal mixing for big profits.

        • This has wandered into the wilderness.

          Its about 777 Conversions PCF/P2F or the Union issue (not sure how far that can be taken)

          • Pontifications
            “Turning “green” final section.

          • Perhaps a little more devotion to accurate reading, and a little less devotion to running around trying to tell people that they’re wrong?

  3. BTW, the usefulness of unions to impede exploitation by company owners only exists in the absence of a free market supported by defense and justice systems.

    Otherwise the company will go the way of the dodo bird, as Sears finally did, and others will pick up the pieces and use them to produce with good employees.

    Instead the collective bails out Chrysler and General Motors for example. (Chrysler had many strengths but nepotism in top executives – the stupidity of a President panicking reduction in a car line when he lept to an assumption from overhearing a GM executive at a social do is legion in the business.)

    Boeing I won’t comment on herein, many pontificators have elsewhere in this forum.

    • Airbus, and countless other companies in the EU, are perfectly able to function despite being unionized.
      If unionization leads to better treatment of employees, then that usually leads to better output. That’s a lesson that BA might want to heed, in view of its constant stream of quality issues.

      • > Airbus, and countless other companies in the EU, are perfectly able to function despite being unionized.
        If unionization leads to better treatment of employees, then that usually leads to better output. <

        Hear, hear!

        • Bill7:

          At least for American Unions (I have been in 3) its a mixed bag.

          Two of the three were Dysfunctional, one was totally corrupt. I was not with the first one long enough to see where it went.

          The last one stabbed us in the back and the sub group I belonged to voted to dump it.

        • The US Unions is a bit behind the northwestern EU ones in working with management to make sure that also customers, banks and stock owners are satisfied and that the company makes good profits and do invest for new and improved products/services as competition gets close.
          EU companies trying in the US often get surprised misunderstood and stuck in conflicts like Volvo now in Virginia.

          • Agreed.

            I think the EU has far better results.

            I have long thought an open book process in reality rather than theory for US Unions would be a sea change.

            Also the ability of the Unions to look into corporate books with suitable protections that kept it proprietary (big fines, prison)

            I am dreaming of course.

        • 40 years ago union membership was 35% of the workforce and the middle-class was vibrant. Today, union membership is less than 10% of the workforce and the middle-class is shrinking. Obviously, they didn’t like unions. Hhm, how do we get @#$&s to vote for policies that don’t benefit them? Free Trade! Outsourcing! Gays, guns n’ God! Trickle down economics! That’s the best one. You coddle the ruling class, and they’ll let you wash their car. Believe it or not, but we all voted for the sick Boeing that we see today. Thanks for listening… Sorry but someone else started it…

          • The Unions were Brocken by a number of means. Immigration provided cheap labour that undercut its value, deindustrlisation, concerted anti union propaganda, and the stagflation which unions were unfairly blamed. The destruction of unions and the middle class was certainly planned and organised.

          • William:”The Unions were broken by a number of means”

            Right, by acting as a racket, not too far removed from organized crime.
            Mandatory union membership does that.
            Self destruction.
            Aggravate with dysfunctional management schools.

      • Bryce, you’d have to prove your assertions about Europe to me – are they really efficient? Some companies in Sweden for example were kept alive by devaluation of currency.

        As for Boeing, heads of it and unions do not do well, some union people are biased (for example, SPEA hosted showing of a video about the Marxist despot who ruined many lives in Venezuela.

        I’ve opined elsewhere in this thread about the need to let big companies and big unions fail so others can be productive with the assets and the good workers. (Some bad workers being protected by unions.)

        Turnarounds are possible, such as Roger Penske with Allison automotive operations, but in that case the union was staring at the spectre of massive job losses from bankruptcy. Though Penske was a leader, he talked to employees, the union appreciated that so did not fight with him much. But tough, he didn’t get rich enough to buy Allison by being stupid or weak.

        • Keith, that depends on the companies. Big european names like BMW, VW group. Mercedes, Siemens, BASF are heavily unionized. They are hugely successful despite paying high wages. Most german big companies are even having half of their board controlled by the unions (by law).
          Unions of the more successful companies negotiated solutions to keep staff on board in times of crisis which played out to be extremly useful for both sides.

          • The German unions are industry unions not craft unions. Thus the metal industry union IG Metal, the largest union in the world, will have electricians, engineers, office and store room workers, sales force. Even managers are welcomed: they pay their fees but are not required to strike. I’ve seen quite a few managers, hard nose types, that were in their union. IG Metal Covers Airbus in Germany.

            Unions negotiate with employers associations (ie effectively employers unions) . Strikes tend to be orderly in the sense of being scheduled but are nevertheless quite hard and damaging to productivity if they do occur.

            Nevertheless the negotiations at high levels leads to interesting results. Germany has effectively closed down its coal mining sector as renewables and Russian natural gas have come in.

            Not one coal miner lost their job.

            This is quite different to what happened when the UK shut down its coal industry in the 1970’s as nuclear and north sea oil & gas came in. That lead to bitter and tragic consequences as miners lost their jobs and communities became moribund. British miners, being underground miners, were highly skilled but its very expensive energy.

            There is some information here:


            It’s linked in to compulsory apprenticeships so a comprehensive system. If you leave school to get a job as a checkout operator in a supermarket you still have to attend college. The idea being to inculcate workers with systematic thinking and practices. Failure to attend is equivalent to truancy and can lead to a visit by the police to parents etc.

            It’ll probably be 100 years before a historian will be able to write about fascist and national socialist ideas on the harmonisation of capital and labour on European industrial relations.

            Last time I checked, and that was a long time ago, the Germans had the highest per hour productivity in the world but were less productive than US or Japan because their working hours were much less.

            France is different, I know little but I think that Holland, Belgium, Nordic countries etc tend to fall more to the German model.

            To an extent each country needs a system that suits its history and conditions.

            It should be pointed out that what is called social welfare such as compulsory retirement funds for employees, sickness protection and unemployment protection go back to Bismarck in the 18070s. This also avoided class conflict. Unemployment means the worker gets paid their wage for a while. This trails off according to a formulae based on years of service and income, it being effectively an insurance scheme.

    • BA’s single focus to rid itself of union (SC assembly) works so far so great. Not.

      A move back to 19th century working environment would be great only for capitalist.

      • Pedro:

        Sadly in the US at least, what Scott has quoted for the Canadian Union shooting itself and its members in the foot is more the norm.

        Unfortunate but both sides of the system are setup to be conflicted and not cooperative. Huge amount of politics involved on the Union side.

        We are worse off for the loss of Unions as they tended to raise the rest up, but the Unions are also their own worst enemy (two of the three I was with and worked around others that had those same issues)

        • I doubt the union is shooting itself per se.

          I’m not familiar with their situation, but according to what’s reported, 1) if the production ends indefinitely or 2) the production may be started but relocates to another site, what worse can it be for members of the union?? @TW how much have you read about De Havilland or Longview? Is production cost at Toronto or Montreal much higher than say Renton or Hamburg?? How much BA is saving thru’ lower labour cost at SC? If Everett didn’t have a pool of competent workers ready to rescue the 787 program, how much additional delay would be needed and how many billions would be wasted for SC to be ready???

      • Pilots Sue Southwest, Claiming Lack of Bargaining in Covid-19 Response

  4. Launching off of my mention of Pacific Coastal Airlines cannibalizing Saab 340s .. ..

    Boeing trivia:
    In WWII PCA’s hanger was a Boeing factory building Canso/Catalina amphibious patrol airplanes. An uncle worked in it for a while. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_Canada (but inaccurate in claiming nearby Burkeville was the location).

    I found some newsletters from that plant -in Calgary of all places, after offering them to my uncle I gave them to the MoF at BFI, who planned to give Boeing dibs on them to ensure its collection was complete.

    Years later I worked in that building for Pacific Western Airlines, before it took over the old facilities of Canadian Pacific Airlines. That facility is gone except for the much newer ‘DC8 hanger’, but last I drove by the old Boeing plant was still there.

    (Perhaps the housing area of Burkeville may have produced parts for Catalinas, perhaps the first small airplanes Boeing produced at YVR in the 1930s, but not likely the Catalinas.
    Fire fighting pioneer Dan McIvor lived there after his time organizing the renowned Martin Mars operation out of Port Alberni BC, happy to live near aviation noise.)

    The founding of Boeing has some connection to Vancouver BC and Victoria BC, in early small flying boats. There was a mail service from Seattle to Victoria BC, to save time getting mail to and from the trans-Pacific steamships compared to ship time from local cities, IIRC it was not sustainable.

  5. Indeed, the stupidity of that Chrysler executive in the 190s is an extreme illustration of rushing into chasing the competition.

    The fool overheard a GM executive saying something about GM’s new small car, and lept to the assumption that GM was downsizing its regular size Chevrolets.

    So the fool ordered staff into a panic program to downsize Chryslers main car in the Plymouth line, including using parts from the much smaller Valiant.

    That didn’t work well as its parts were too light for durability and the market rejected the new designs especially in the southern US. So Chrysler cobbled together some steps back by splicing the front end of a Dodge and tweaking tail lights, until it could fix its mistake (which takes a few years).

    Reality is that the GM executive was talking about what emerged as the Chevelle, sized between the Chevy II and the full-size Chevrolet.

    Chrysler already had the Valiant, which matured including into the Plymouth Barrcuda and Dodge Dart, it didn’t need and shouldn’t invest in another model.

  6. It makes you wonder if there is room for an A350F and or a 777X or they will do the A380 and 747 thing and burn the house down?

    If Boeing gets its act in gear and co releases a 777X-F at the same time they finally get the 777X certified, the can structure works heavily in Boeing favor with 777PFC fleet.

    • El Baker from Qatar thinks the B777-9 might be delivered in 2022. Lufthansa thinks its 2023, Etihaad 2024 and Sir Tim Clarke of Emirates thinks it could slip to 2025 (he’s usually right). Lufthansa probably the most technically qualified so 2023 is possible.

      Only 8 of the worlds airlines have ordered the B777-9 and not one of the CEO’s really knows. Me thinks Boeing and FAA have to review and redo a lot of documents , specifications and tests.

      The A350F and B777-XF

      Very specialised long range high payload freight aircraft. There is a niche market for them.

      Hi-Fly incidentally is operating an A380 as a makeshift freighter. They removed all of the seats from the main deck and upper deck and load with light weight cargo.

      There will be no problem operating an A380 once cargo doors floors and tie down points are added. The cargo lifting equipment already exists.

      • We’re now months further since the publication of that embarrassing letter from the FAA to BA…and yet the 777X *still* hasn’t secured a green light for TIA. In your list above, I suspect that Clark may be the “least wrong” about the EIS date.

        As another commenter here has pointed out: “now that self-cert is no longer on the table, BA seems to be unable to deal with normal certification processes”

        • William:

          Hi-Fly dropped the A380 lease and its been scrapped


          No the cargo lifting equipment to 2nd A380 deck does not exist. Having worked where the A380 was supposed to fly through (extra tall shop doors in a new shop) when the A380 got dropped by FedEx, they dumped the equipment order.

          A Catering lift is not a cargo lift.

          • The A350F was supposed to be in service in 2008 and suppliers had loaders ready by 2006. At least there are designs. I doubt its a high expense tp make them. They would be able to still load standard aircraft.

        • For some airlines it might work like KLM that have a history of large combies. Still operating an A380 is not cheap but if there is a large number of teardowns it will help getting low cost spares until that source dries up. Normally it is much more profitable to fly pax than cargo.
          The main problems for the A380 are old tech engines, low cargo volume after loading pax bags party due to 4ea MLG’s, heavy structure as designed for a stretch with too little carbon and the competition from the 777-300ER having a good combination of pax, cargo, durability, cost and flexibility for its time. Now the A350-900 and 787-9 rules the widebody skies.

  7. Having been in 3 Unions, its amazing how well they can shoot themselves in the foot.

    Hate to see a fine Turbo Prop go defunct.

  8. It should be noted that the 777PCF conversions are being done under a license from Boeing.

  9. Airbus has been really slow to action in the freighter segment. By the time the A350F is in service, it will have missed the cycle. This is the one segment where Boeing has really outmaneuvered the team in Toulouse.

    • When environmental restrictions come in place from 2028, this (321F, A350F) all seems pretty well timed. Maybe they add A33NEO F.

      If Boeing lobbyist are not able to have congress delay this in the US, it becomes an issue for US cargo operators too.

      Congress was exposed as being in Boeings pocket 2012-2018, on FAA streamlining and delegation. Maybe they became more PR careful, better informed.

      • I do not share your enthusiasm for the A321F. That is a mistake in my humble opinion. How many single-aisle production freighters have been sold in the past 20 years? I suspect it is zero or very close.

        • Things change!
          There is now far more parcel post than in the past, due to e-commerce.

        • Boeing has already started the process for a waiver to 2038.

          Right now it has nothing to do with congress and who has the authority to grant that (I believe they applied with FAA but they told them someone else was first in line)

          Much like the passengers car legal cheating in the EU, there are always holes to drive through on change over.

          As for single aisle PCF, as long as there is good newer feed stock, you won’t see a production conversion.

          There still is a stock of 757 out there that can be converted. Many of which will hit the market as the current operators divest themselves of a more heavy fuel use machine (United comes to mind).

          • I’m just wondering how that will sit with an increasingly climate change anxious public?

        • I doubt a A321neoF will be very expensive. Then expensive part, the development and certification of a cargo door has already been done for the P2F program between Airbus EFW and ST Technologies.

          They will presumably build a A321 neo on the production line but without windows, emergency exists, toilets, overhead bins, etc possibly installing the cargo door and then fly it to EFW to be finished.

          I imagine they will use the A321LR variant to get the higher MTOW/MZFW or perhaps they will wait till the A321XLR comes out. (I doubt it).

          Interestingly one Swedish supplier of underfloor cargo handling equipment has a system for P2F that increases underfloor Unit Load Containers from 10 to 11.

          There was already a A320 new build cargo variant based around the A320ceo back around 2000 with some of the finishing of conversions carried out in Russia. The A320 was in such high demand as a passenger aircraft the programme was ended.

    • And what freighter offering will Boeing have after the new ICAO emission rules come into play? The elusive 777XF? Some F-version of the 787?
      Or is Boeing banking on a future US administration declaring that the ICAO rules will be set aside by/for the US?

    • Anything that pushes Boeing towards reusing oldish tech is
      a longstanding boon for Airbus, isn’t it?

      Template : 737: every revamp is a bit further behind the curve.

      • Agreed. I just wish Airbus had not chosen to follow the McDonnell Douglas playblook with derivatives based on old technology like the A330 on the A330NEO.

        • Not really a valid comparison.
          ( Douglas were the people that tried to distract the competition with a plethora of small production lot subtypes, right? )

          All the Airbus FBW types are technology wise “recent”.
          And they did not have to bend over backwards to make the small changes in scope of fitting improved engines.
          currently engines are the design element that really makes steps forward.

          so: try again please!

        • Airbus’s initial response to the B787 was essentially a A330neo with a composite wing they called an A350 It might have been a nice practical aircraft. A metal fuselage allowing easy freighter conversions and variants and controlling costs while getting about 6% range advantage out of the wing. It was not to be and its said Udvar Hazy pressured Airbus into developing the A350-XWB and its 3/3/3 economy configuration instead.

          • William:

            I will argue that Airbus response to the 787 is the A330NEO, not the A350.

            A350 is more a 777 response.

            Hazy turned into an A330NEO cheerleader as well predicting 1000 sales. Has not worked out that way though there is plenty of time for the gold rush to begin.

          • IMHO Hazy had no real interest in endangering his investment in 787 frames !?
            Dissing the Airbus answer was natural.

            The A350XWB in a way was a stealth attack on the 777 market segment.
            Everybody in the press was endlessly busy making fun of the various A350 versions while solely comparing to the 787. ( The virtualness of 787 features made it impossible for Airbus to counter with a “hard” offer )

  10. Regarding the gulf carriers fleets, there is also an enormous stock of A380s against a background of a worldwide surplus of the type halfway through its economic life. Is there a strategic opportunity for an after market A380 P2F conversion as its aquisition costs dip ever lower? With the 747-8 ending production might the A380F have a place? I’d love to see Leeham run this through your a/c analysis model.

    • There is a niche market for an A380P2F: for example, 100 million cut flowers pass through Amsterdam airport every day, and that’s high-value cargo with low weight and relatively large volume. KLM currently uses 747s for cut flower transport, so they’re used to the costs of 4-engined aircraft.

      Someone just has to bite the bullet and try it.

      • A380F, Huge costs, small market, no flexibility.

        Whats not to like?

        • The Antonov An-225 successfully fills a tiny niche despite similar (and even greater) drawbacks.

          • Bryce:

            That would be totally incorrect.

            I gather you are not aware the AN-124 and the single An-225 were designed as Military Airlifters in the same vein as the C-5?

            Ergo, they have not only the heavy floor built in, they have systems to move heavy freight into the aircraft and carry ramp systems to mesh the ground to the floor for front loading.


            Heavy civilian machinery is a natural niche for the An/C5 types. Lockheed has long had a civilian version of the C-130. For the An, there was zero cost involved to shift to civilian missions, just person the aircraft with a crew.

            There is nothing like that period on , with or involving the A380.

            Equally the handling equipment for an A380F does not exist.

            So, other than aircraft, an An-124 or the single 224 have nothing in common with an A380F.

            Kind of like comparing hitting a speed bump at 30 mph to a 9.4 Earthquake.

          • TW:
            That would be totally incorrect.

            Your long, divergent ramble does nothing to refute my comment about the *size* of the niche filled by the An-225 — which is tiny (one plane).

            With more (and older) engines, more flight crew and fewer (no) spares, its operating costs are higher than an A380.

            Re-inforced cargo floors: irrelevant, since P2F conversion companies re-inforce the floors as a standard part of the conversion.

            Lack of handling equipment: just because something doesn’t exist now doesn’t mean that it can’t be developed. There are already catering loaders for the A380 upper deck (see link) — it’s not a major challenge to develop a cargo version of such a truck. EFW could easily delegate such a task to MAN/Siemens, for example.


          • Bryce:

            Your problem is you don’t understand the technical details.

            A An-124 (include the An-225 as its same mission set) has a capability that does not exist in any other available aircraft in the world. Its called heavy large equipment. You can pay a huge price to try to move missiles, big generators, pumps etc via water and ground, or in many cases an An-124 can fly it in.

            In some cases its simply drive on drive off (Fukushima response to equipment needs in that crisis).

            As they have an exclusives capability, they can charge accordingly on the An-124 and make money.

            Its plug and play. All the support aspects are in place.

            The A380 has none of that. Costs are major to turn into a freighter and its not an An-124 class anyway.

            Its competition is 747-8F and 747-400F (various types) and conversion that have been developed as well as ground infrastructure.

            An A380F would cost far too much and no return, its simply not going to happen.

          • TW, your problem is your inability to accurately read.

            You’re the only one talking about carrying heavy equipment: the rest of the discussion here is about low-density cargo — which is what’s driving the current P2F interest in larger-volume freighters. So, others are talking about parcel post, electronics, cut flowers, etc., while you’re ranting on about heavy equipment like generators.

            Missed that bit, did you?

          • Bryce:

            You missed it or continue the usual tactic of attack and deflect.

            You brought up the An 225 (sub set of 1). As that has no relevancy why did YOU bring it up? Spurious flip out stuff. Standard MO. I assume you learned that from Trump.

            Equally Hy Fly and its light cargo A380 went down in flames (well torn up for scrap).

            And no, the whole discussion is not on lite, its if P2F as well as dedicated F build freighters.

            And in fact, despite being a package operation, FedEx went with the full floor load 777F dedicated.

            What you do not get is there is a balance in the whole situation and one size does not fit all, even in package. UPS went with dedicated (all but 2) 747F.

            Two package ops that look at the same situation and come to different conclusions and both with full fledged F freighters.

          • I brought up the An-225 because it’s an example of a niche freighter program that is thriving despite the “death list” of “Huge costs, small market, no flexibility” in your message further up in this thread.

            Another example of such a niche program is the A330 Beluga.

            Once we know that your “death list” is survivable, it becomes possible for an A380 P2F to survive it also. Not all niches have to be the same.

            Less shouting, more thinking.

    • Quite a coup for Airbus.

      Boeing really needs to revamp it is whole dated Sales effort.

      They can’t become solely dependent on the US carriers.

      • Boeing can no longer sustain offering massive discounts across a broad spectrum…it’s financially on its knees and badly needs sizable margins on future sales.
        Airbus, on the other hand, is currently in a far more relaxed/sustainable position when it comes to offering attractive discounts.

      • Such major orders and contracts are often won by the bankers and finance people who may structure a deal, finance or lease that blows any technical issue out of the water. You may think youve got the best bid or tender but the CFO has his say. The A321 is clearly a highly capable aircraft in the LCC and ULCC market space Perhaps there are few impediments to jumping types.

    • One of those kids that could not color within the lines.

      Reality is Jet2 had started down the A321 path and its got some serious old iron in its group (737-300 for crying out loud) as well as 757-200s (more freighter stock!)

      Seeing as how a rowboat would be a step up, the A321 is a nice choice.

      • One of those kids that still can’t color within the lines.

        “Seeing as how a rowboat would be a step up”, the 737-10 would also have been a “nice choice”, wouldn’t it? After all, Jet2 has only ever had 11 Airbus narrowbodies in its fleet, but currently has 74 737 NGs.
        But it would appear that Jet2 just wasn’t too keen to continue with Boeing…I wonder why?

        • A noted, 737-300, 757-200.

          Old Iron, time to make a move, Airbus is a great choice and must have offered timelines they can live with delivery wise.

          If I needed the capacity and range of an A321 that is what I would go with.

          You have missed the aspect that the 737-10 is not an A321 capability, let alone A321NEO.

          The A321 is the closest successor to the 757-200 and far more economical which is very important.

          An observer would note the whole order is A321 not A320/321 mix.

          Ergo, nothing to do with FBW and modern whiz bang, all to do with what works and pricing for same.

          The conversion cost is going to be high for a smaller operation, so they must have gotten a good package. Nothing wrong with that and good for them.

          Often that is what it comes down to and the appeal of a near mfg weighs in just like it does with AK Airlines.

          • Seattle times also reports a killer deal.

            Airbus is getting competitive. Of course now all their customers will want that Jet2 deal.

            Next thing you know they will turn Ryanair!

          • @TWA

            The Seattle Times article was just a reposting of an Anthony Palazzo article from Bloomberg.

            Palazzo says ‘steep discounts’ while the Jet2 statement said ‘significant discounts’.

            What that means in actual % is pretty vague.

            It has been mentioned before (perhaps even by you) that the Airbus A320Neo backlog is so large, that getting a new jet out of them is a 5 year wait. I can’t see why Airbus would be forced into giving ‘steep discounts’ when it’s aircraft are in such great demand.

  11. One more guy from GE gets on board trying to resurrect the sinking Titanic.

    • Peanuts vs the money Muilenburg got, for setting up a goon system. Or how would you call it when engineers were threatened on a daily basis. It seems parts of this system are still in place, according to some recent comments here.
      How can relations be repaired when safety is still not a priority.
      Sure, Boeing lost much, especially the self-certs, but they repaired little. Even Dickson doesn’t trust them and who trusts Dickson. The whole system is garbage and how Boeing got away with it is a joke.

    • Yes, I saw that: not good news heading into fall/winter.
      Air travel in the EU doesn’t seem to be experiencing this effect (as yet).
      Meanwhile, the situation in Israel shows us what’s ahead for other countries.
      Qantas says it’s planning to (gradually) resume longhaul in November/December — though I’ll believe it when I see it.

  12. Continuing the huge interest in P2F conversions for low-density freight:
    “Eastern Airlines moves into cargo in a big way with plans for 35 Boeing 777Fs”

    “Eastern Airlines has announced that it is expanding into the cargo market. Eastern has secured the acquisition of 35 Boeing 777 aircraft as feedstock for the first-ever P2F (Passenger to Freighter) conversion of the Boeing 777 aircraft into a true, Class-E cargo aircraft.”


    • It’s interesting that the co. plans the freighters to carry a full load of volumetric express cargo non-stop between Asia and the US.

      From Aircargonews:

      Range: 5,165nm full payload
      Available Volume: 10,000-14,000 cu. ft.
      Available Payload: 65-75 tons

      Range: 7,665nm full payload
      Available Volume: 10,000-14,000 cu. ft.
      Available Payload: 65-75 tons

      Range: 6,005nm full payload
      Available Volume: 13,000-18,200 cu. ft.
      Available Payload: 57-67 tons


      • That’s a lot less than the 103t payload 777F and around the payload of the A330-200F. If the max payload is not needed the A330 gets much better, using payload for fuel. If range would be important, suddenly the small 777 wings are bad. Without checking in detail the 777 seems to be a poor conversion.

        • Initially, these Eastern Airlines freighters will just be stripped passenger models with added safety systems — there will be no cargo doors, reinforced floors or cargo tracks. So a “quickie” intermediate solution, prior to later “full conversion” to a proper freighter.

      • Calling those 777 a freighter is a stretch. They won’t have a main deck cargo door. That’s why the first will fly in 6 months, short certification. Nothing special.

        • It makes you wonder what they think they are up to.

          Clearly with the cheap F, strike while the going is good but this is way outside of their league ops wise.

          • @TW More about who is/are the customer(s) of these aircraft??

  13. Ethopian has finally settled its case with Boeing (out of court), though the details haven’t been published.
    It will be resuming MAX flights early next year.

    “(Bloomberg) — Ethiopian Airlines Group plans to resume flights with the Boeing Co. 737 Max jet by early next year after reaching an out-of-court settlement with the U.S. planemaker over a deadly crash in March 2019.”


    • From Seattle Times

      Ethiopian Airlines settled with Boeing for “$280 million in cash, discounts on future planes, free maintenance and parts for 3 years, and replacement of the aircraft that crashed.”

  14. Scott, Israel has been getting into business with several places in the Middle East and Africa.

    Probably they want its technology and expertise on getting things done, and connections to investors, Israel wants Allies at least to the level of squashing arms shipments and terrorist warrior bases.

    And countries in the Middle East are afraid of Iran which wants to control everyone, Nationalsozialistiche style.

    So you may see more cooperation in Aviation, (A certain POTUS you seem to dislike made a big point by flying directly from Saudi Arabia to Israel – a traditional no-no. Used to be that removable pages were used in passports so that checkers did not see stamp from a place they did not like.)

    (Saw a woman showing her passport pages to an acquaintance in a Canadian passport office, she must have had a metre long string of them folded out. I don’t know what she had been travelling for, perhaps adventure, perhaps business work.)

    • The new policy, it seems: do nothing and just hope that the problem will go away.
      Same with the 777X.

      • According to the WSJ, customers increasingly are able to use the delay to walk away or negotiate for concessions. Right now, there is more than $25 billion worth of 787 ready for delivery per WSJ, of which about half could be at risk by the end of Q3. Avolon has already cancel two and threatened to cancel another three. AAL is considering its contractual leverage. *Additional defects were identified after early summer.*

        • @Pedro

          $25 billion at list prices. There are ~100 Dreamliners sitting, that cost in the region of $140 million each.

          Each day that goes by, mind you, will cost Boeing in interest expense because they had to borrow money to make those jets.

          – 100 Dreamliners
          ~350 Max’s
          – 17 777X’s

          Boeing has over $40 billion in long term debt and is paying over $2 billion in annual interest expense.

          Banks & lawyers.

          • I was going to make the same comment about list prices: taking typical discounts into account, the value of the 787 inventory is closer to $12.5B than to $25B.

            And now let’s do a cost/benefit analysis:
            – How much was/is Boeing hoping to save by doing inspections on a 3% basis instead of a 100% basis? $1M per airframe? $5M? Anyone got any ideas? Let’s just sit in the middle for now and take $3M as a working value.
            – With a backlog of 400 units for the 787, that amounts to a total saving of $1.2B for the (current) remainder of the program.
            – Now, what has the delivery hiatus cost? In addition to the interest payments that @Frank alludes to, the cancellations that @Pedro alludes to cost somewhere in the region of $125M per unit. Moreover, the missed revenue stream impedes the ability to launch new programs. And, of course, there’s the huge reputational damage.

            Summarizing: Boeing would have been better off just sticking to 100% inspections.

          • @Bryce

            Jet sales prices (what they actually get) are a closely guarded secret, but evert once in awhile, you get a peek in the kitchen (remember the SWA 737 Max’s that they sold in a lease buyback for $41 million and had to declare a $7 million profit on, giving a purchase price in the neighborhood of $34 million?)

            $140 million is probably the most optimistic price, while Pedro’s $125 is probably closer to the bottom.

            If Boeing had the cash on hand (not borrowed funds) to pay for it’s inventory, they would be in a much better place. Daily interest expense is eating into the margins on each airframe. The ballpark figures of it’s borrowing costs puts it somewhere in the 5% range.

            If a 787 costs somewhere around $100 million to make and that jet has to sit at the plant for 6 months while they work out the kinks, they just decreased their margin on that one aircraft by $2.5 million.

            This lessens the chances that Boeing will be able to cover the 787 sunk costs of ~$18 billion still hanging over it.

          • “””How much was/is Boeing hoping to save by doing inspections on a 3% basis instead of a 100% basis? $1M per airframe? $5M? Anyone got any ideas?”””

            It’s not about saving inspections, Boeing will inspect as much as they need. But this is a way to disguise 787 which are out of specs.

            Boeing had many QC engineers 10 years ago and the specs were of course checked, they were not stupid. 10 years ago they noticed that the skin flatness was out of specs. They found the solution that bigger shims can compensate for the non skin flatness.

            With the years many QC engineers were fired. After Muilenburg left, the remaining QC staff complained, complained so much that it could not be kept secret anymore. Then the skin flatness was checked again and the remaining QC staff came to the same solution that bigger shims can compensate for the non skin flatness.

            In all these 10 years the non skin flatness was never repaired because Boeing CAN NOT repair it. Because it can’t be fixed, Boeing asked to change the inspection certification, because it’s a way to let “out of specs” 787 slip through.

            It’s the same when Boeing argued in court that the MAX was certified, but this didn’t work in court.
            The FAA should not certify a changed inspection too, because the 787 fuselage production and assembling is not a full automated process.

            Some weeks ago TW said that 787 fuselage didn’t break in the 150% static fuselage load test. If the safety is higher than 150%, then it’s not a good design because it might be heavier than needed.
            Who believes that Boeing would do more than needed LOL especially when the 787 had weight problems.
            The 787 fuselage didn’t break because the fuselage sections were glued together. No problem with non skin flatness then.

            The FAA is not good, we know that, they were satisfied with a not breaking 787. A real regulator would have checked why it didn’t break.
            A real regulator would not allow less than 100% inspections on a not full automated production and assembling process, but it seems the FAA will allow this garbage.

            The 787 will crash and then Boeing can indeed argue in court that the 10% inspection process is certified.

          • By the end of October, there would be well over 120 B787 ready for delivery.

    • That WSJ article is astounding.
      BA wanted to pretend that 3 airframes produced in quick succession were representative of a batch of 106 airframes produced over a much longer timeframe. Luckily for the flying public, a conscientious employee at BA blew a whistle and objected.
      Now it seems that 10 airframes will be considered instead of 3. Presumably there will be some horse-dealing done before a decision can be made as to *which* 10 frames.

      Meanwhile, Rome burns.

      • sample based QA works if your tolerances are well within the design limits. i.e. sample based QA triggers on process deviations and not on outliers.
        But Boeing processes seem to be spread widely beyond the acceptable tolerance field.
        Sample based QA is unacceptable in that context.

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