HOTR: United likely can cancel A350 order with little penalty

By the Leeham News Team

Dec. 5, 2022, © Leeham News: United Airlines appears on the cusp of ordering as many as 100 Boeing 787s, multiple news outlets report. Airbus hopes to sell more A350s to United to supplement the 45 already on order.

But these 45 A350-900s are an order that has been viewed as iffy since United merged with Continental Airlines. Although ostensibly United was the surviving carrier, in reality, Continental was the survivor. The latter’s management displaced United’s old management. The livery retained was Continental’s.

The A350 order was placed by the old United management. The new executives added to the United order, but Continental had been an exclusive buyer of Boeing aircraft and executives were predisposed toward Boeing. UAL now has 120 Airbus A321XLRs on order. But this came after Boeing couldn’t decide whether to launch the New Midmarket Airplane after years of dithering. With a large fleet of Boeing 757s aging and in need of eventual replacement, United could no longer wait for Boeing to make a decision.

United already has a large fleet of 787s. Adding the A350s will provide an extra range that the 787s don’t have. But how many routes need the extra range to justify another fleet type?

LNA believes that United can cancel the orders for 45 A350s at little cost. The deposits may easily be applied to orders for more A321s, but cancellation penalties are believed to be de minimis. Based on 2018 list prices—the last ones published by Airbus—United could get about 110 more A321s in exchange for the A350s. (The number is probably a little less since the XLRs are more expensive than the A321neo “standard;” the list price makes no distinction between the sub-types.)

LNA expects United to cancel the A350s sooner than later and add to the A321 order.

Where Calhoun’s 10% engine argument misses the mark

Boeing CEO David Calhoun has been clear: he doesn’t see a conventional engine achieving greater than 10% in fuel burn and emissions reduction.

Therefore, he says, Boeing won’t introduce a new airplane until the middle of the next decade. By then—2035—CFM thinks its new Open Fan RISE engine will be ready for service. This 35,000 lb thrust engine is for a single-aisle airplane, a concept assumed to replace the 737 MAX.

A 10% improvement over today’s current generation CFM LEAP and Pratt & Whitney Geared Turbo Fan may or may not be enough to prompt airlines to replace the MAX and A320neo families. (There are significant improvements to the airframe and wing that can add double-digit savings for a combined 20% or more economic gain, but LNA already wrote about this.)

The debate centers entirely around the perceived need by many that the 737-10 MAX is a poor competitor against the Airbus A321neo and its long-range subtypes, the A321LR and A321XLR. LNA has carefully analyzed these airplanes and it’s true the MAX 10 falls short vs the A321LR and A321XRL. But compared with the A321neo “standard,” the MAX 10 holds its own. Boeing’s argument that the LR and XLR account for only 5%-10% of the 200+ seat single-aisle market is spot on. The MAX 10 otherwise competes well with the standard A321.

But all this misses the point.

Compare a new airplane vs the 767-300ER and the 757. The latter is out of production and the former, as a freighter, must cease production at the end of 2027 under new emissions standards adopted by ICAO and in process of being adopted by the Federal Aviation Administration. LNA’s analysis of the NMA’s economics, based on what today’s NMA concept includes, concludes that the 767 replacement would be about 23% more fuel efficient than the 767 with about 15% lower cash operating costs. The NMA would about equal the operating costs of the 757-300. (Cargo revenue potential gives the NMA better economics than the 757-300.)

But Calhoun once again paused new airplane R&D spending. Work continues on the 777-8F and 787 Increased Gross Weight models. Work continues on the prospect of a 787F. But the focus now is on getting production rates of the 737 and 787 back to pre-pandemic levels. R&D spending is prioritized to advanced manufacturing, digital design, and related production efficiencies.

Going down the ecoAviation path

Boeing also continues to invest in ecoAviation technology. Officials are placing their bet on Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF). For big airplanes, hydrogen is the other feasible if challenging option. Boeing continues to spend R&D on hydrogen-related technology. But Calhoun dismisses hydrogen, noting that Boeing has tested this in the past.

But is Calhoun focused on hydrogen at Boeing’s peril?

Airbus can match Boeing on SAF, so there is no advantage Boeing can achieve using this technology. Hydrogen is where Airbus is focusing. Officials target 2035 for entry into service of a commercially viable hydrogen airplane. Hydrogen is also where Embraer is placing a lot of emphasis. Officials today expanded their thinking on Energia, a program of four alternative energy airplanes, including hydrogen. Although each is 50 seats or less, Embraer targets 2035 for a commercially viable airliner.

Embraer is well known for its creativity, forward-thinking, and efficiently taking a concept from development to EIS. Airbus surpassed Boeing in innovation and offering a broad product line. If these two companies see a path forward for hydrogen (though admittedly there are obstacles and challenges ahead), where is Boeing’s innovation? And when is Boeing’s innovation?

To be sure, Boeing has a long way to go to get its house in order. Officials are now content to push its current product line. And they are content with a 40% market share in the single-aisle market. But while Boeing is okay with its status quo, Airbus and even the much smaller Embraer are focused on the future.

Christmas shopping?

Christmas is just around the corner. Boeing is content with its status-quo product line. Airbus and Embraer are looking toward the future. How did Airbus overtake Boeing as the world’s No. 1 aircraft producer and innovator? Air Wars, the Global Combat Between Airbus and Boeing, by LNA editor Scott Hamilton, tells how. Air Wars looks at 35 years of sales and product strategy combat between the two companies.

Here’s what reviewers say about Air Wars.

Royal Aeronautical Society

Named to the Top 10 List of Aerospace Books for Christmas Choices, 2021

Puget Sound Business Journal

(Seattle area.) No. 1 on the Christmas list of aerospace books for 2021.


No. 1 on its list of Best New Aerospace eBooks to read in 2022.

Chris Sloan, The Airchive

“A worthy successor to ‘The Sporty Game,’” the 1982 book by John Newhouse, considered at the time to be the definitive book about the competition between Boeing, McDonnell Douglas and the emerging Airbus.

Jim Sheehan, Aviation Industry Consultant

There is so much model and OEM information that it is for sure going to become required reading for anyone who wants to understand the last fifty or so years of commercial aviation.

Loved all of the quotes and stories.

Dan Catchpole, Aviation Writer

Air Wars is a tour de force look behind the curtain of Boeing and Airbus’ global competition and, in part, a biography of Airbus’ head salesman, John Leahy, the man who forced Boeing’s hand to re-engine the 737. Longtime aerospace analyst and journalist Scott Hamilton takes readers through the twists and turns of the decades-long battle between the two companies.

Dan Reed, Aviation Writer

Using John Leahy’s long and monumental career as a vehicle for telling readers about the 51-year battle between Airbus and Boeing is both an interesting and inspired choice by the author.

Air Wars is available in paperback and eBook form at Amazon and in paperback at Barnes & Noble.


205 Comments on “HOTR: United likely can cancel A350 order with little penalty

  1. The IGW B787-9/10 could work for that extra distance United may need in those city pairs that are really not that plentiful. I would tend to think the Duopoly is still pretty strong.

  2. I challenge anyone to take a 35t (350 passenger) passenger load, a typical trans Pacific 6500NM city pair and evaluate the
    – 777-300ER
    – 777-200ER
    – 777-9
    – A350-1000
    – A350-900
    – 787-10ER
    in terms of cargo capability left to fill the belly, the empty weight to drag along those flights (for 25 years) and then: the amount of fuel required to do it and (expected) MRO costs.

    I guess some excel people in United are making sure the negotiated A350 orders aren’t going anywhere..

    United are probably looking for ways to compensate, uphold Boeing, publicly for long term strategy. Like they did when ordering A321XLR and A321NEO fleets.

    • That order is being cancelled and switched out for something else. Simply not needed.

    • Hello keesje,

      Re: “I challenge anyone to take a 35t (350 passenger) passenger load, a typical trans Pacific 6500NM city pair and evaluate …”.

      Will performance on United’s very longest routes be the only or primary criteria in United’s widebody selection, or will performance on widebody routes of average, typical or short lengths be equally important, especially since the NMA is now either gone or not coming anytime soon, the average age of United’s 40 or so 767-300ER’s is now 26.8 years, and the average age of it’s 777-200’s (including 19 non ER 777-200’s) is 23.6 years (according to planespotters)? Is United going to order dozens or 100 plus widebodies to fly only their longest and busiest routes, or it it looking for a single widebody variant or family that can work well both as a 767-300ER and 777-200 (non ER) replacement on US transcontinental and US east coast to Europe flights, and on longer flights? The excerpt below from the 12-2-22 Seattle times article at the link after the excerpt, suggests that now that there is no NMA on the horizon, United may be prioritizing efficiency as a 767 replacement, as well as efficiency on its longest and busiest routes.

      “The airline is expected to load up on Boeing’s smallest Dreamliner model, the 787-8, as a replacement for its 767 fleet, one of the people said. United has 54 of the aging midrange airliners, according to a Jeffries report.”

  3. Not sure AB will roll over on a 350 cancellation, given their new legal posture (see Qatar dispute) and there might be a pound of flesh and blood involved. At a minimum, nor favors on production slots!
    The true elephant in the room is the – dismal may be too positive a characterization – quality of 787 builds at the Boeing East Coast dysfunctional plant.
    Is even United/Continental management ready to assume this risk?

    • Qatar received delivery of two new 787s two weeks ago. One of them went straight into status “parked”, and is still there. Want to venture a guess as to why? 😏

      • Because it’s receiving a different kind of business class from what have been on the 787-9s. An upgraded version of the current Adient accent seat

        • Then why did the other, concurrently-delivered, Qatar 787 go straight into service?

          • Because it has the same business class as the current 7 other -9s. The first 8 delivered are getting the same and then from 9 onwards is an entirely different business class. What’s so hard to understand

          • Since Adient is a subsidiary of BA, it’s strange that the new seats can’t just be fitted by the OEM prior to delivery. One would imagine, in the current circumstances, that BA would be doing everything possible to pander to Qatar…

          • 1) Adient is not a Boeing subsidiary. Adient and Boeing have a 50:50 JV (Adient Aerospace) for aircraft seats though.

            2) The QR 787s were likely delivered for contractual reasons so QR avoided late penalties. If the contract for the seats is separate from the frame contract then QR must still abide by the rules of the contract, even if the seats are from a partial Boeing company.

          • @Bryce

            Don’t read too much about a 787 parked in Qatar. The other commenters are correct.
            Having worked both the airline side and then the Boeing delivery side I can tell you first hand when it comes to interiors it’s a complex web that’s weaved.

            Can Boeing install said interior at the build process? Sure but then there’s charges to the customer and IF the material is available and IF the engineering drawings have been updated and IF the manufacturing paperwork has been updated.
            Most airlines will save the money Boeing (and Airbus) charge to install customer supplied parts.
            Not only that but doing so can delay the delivery schedule.

            Lots of airline customers do this. Plus when a new airplane has delivered, the operator must have time to accomplish their prep for revenue service. The airline I worked at typically took ~4-5 days for a 737NG.

            BTW, my comment focuses on interiors, but there’s much much more when it comes to customer specific configuration requirements.

    • > The true elephant in the room is the – dismal may be too positive a characterization – quality of 787 builds at the Boeing East Coast dysfunctional plant. < That's one of them, anyway.

      I am interested to see if United cancels the A350s. Much of what has been written about a big 787 order feels like a PR push; on the other hand, maybe they can get said 787s for
      a very low price.

    • @Doubting: For sure, Airbus will want offsetting A321 orders. Another factor: UA is tying up production slots for an order that is unlikely to happen. Free up the slots for an airline that really wants them….

      • Scott, the A350 sales balance in 2022 will likely be negative. Is there any prospect of A350 sales improving in the short or medium term?

        • @Ricardo: I’m aware of a couple of widebody campaigns aside from UAL, but no action till next year.

        • Air India and JAL are looking for widebodies — though JAL is looking for 767 replacements, so is unlikely to choose A350s for that purpose.
          Also, Tim Clark recently said that Emirates may order more A350s.

          • I also think Air India will order the A350, Bryce.
            JAL has options for some A350-1000s. I hope they convert these options into firm orders, as JAL seems to be very happy with the A350.
            I read something about Emirates’ interest in the A350-1000, but I hope it’s not a simple conversion of the current order for the A350-900.

            I also heard a rumor that Delta would be interested in placing orders for the A350-1000. In fact, Delta would have already asked shareholders to approve these requests.

          • With the Boeing 777-X seemingly receding into NeverLand, more A350 orders from Emirates would make sense.

    • Doubting Thomas:

      Its not what Airbus would do, its what the United Contract says in regards to an A350 cancellation or rollover. The report says the terms are a very low down payment so worst case little impact.

      And Airbus is typically happy to roll over for other types which fits in with the A321. Qatar was different in that the issue was A350 AND A321 that Qatar was shifting to MAX.

      The reports were during the Covid downturn, Airbus was enforcing take them or else. That reflects their Number 1 status and not having to do all sots of things to make a deal.

      So its situational specific.

      FedEx cancelled the A380F and my understanding was they used the down payment for parts procurement for their A300/310 fleet. When FedEx cancelled they were still within the contract but it was clear Airbus was never going to build the A380F.

      UPS waited until Airbus had gone past the drop dead date and cancelled. FedEx needed aircraft worse than UPS (and had quite a major investment in facilitates that were for the A380)

      In our case they actually desperately needed a new ramp equipment shop so while it was a lot higher door than needed for even a 747, it just was a major help to ramp equipment people.

      Same with the A380 parking spots, those were used by the 777F. And in fact it was a trial for electronic ground power units that were for those gates up here and the major move was to those for all gates when I quit.

      The hourly savings of support on a GPU was huge using electronics vs the engine driven ones. Sadly it was a European design (grin) and had several failure points that I got good at repairing.

    • >” Not sure AB will roll over on a 350 cancellation, given their new legal posture (see Qatar dispute) and there might be a pound of flesh and blood involved.”

      All airlines have the right to cancel a contract- there just might be fees involved in doing so. If United exercises that right and pays Airbus all required penalties as outlined in contract Airbus has no legal ground to stop them and force them to take the planes.

      The Qatar situation is different- QR did not want to cancel the frames but refused to take delivery and is demanding compensation from Airbus.

  4. “But while Boeing is okay with its status quo, Airbus and even the much smaller Embraer are focused on the future.”

    When one is up to one’s teeth in debt, one is forced to forgo luxuries such as “focusing on the future”.

      • @ Scott
        Of course it’s not.
        But priorities at BA are “somewhat different” to those at other OEMs, aren’t they?
        More importantly, “returning shareholder value” is currently just a pipe dream, because revenue is consistently too low to return a meaningful profit.

      • Doubt they’ll end up doing that either. I appreciate that’s what they said at investor day. But what else would you tell investors I guess.

        Particularly when Calhoun will be gone by then.

        They should just get their house in order first. Then we can see what cards are on the table

  5. Seems to this old fuddy duddy tooling- manufacturing engineer involved in 767-777-B2 that an carbon composite 767 body section and ditto for similar- improved wings along with normal increases in engine efficiency would be a real winner- I’ll call it the MC767 ( for Mostly Composite ).

    Boeing already has the space, facility, similar sized tooling, autoclaves etc already in place to handle most of the major parts.

    Of course a major change in management would be needed, instead of those still getting dibs on the remaining lifeboats on the Boetanic.

    • Need to consider Thermoplastics and Additive Mfg. for next gen aircraft Boeing currently doesn’t have in the infrastructure or supply chain for either at this point

      • @Dave Pritchard

        Your wrong about this. Boeing has a huge investment in additive manufacturing with engineering facilities dedicated to it. I saw it first hand when I worked there in Everett.
        Scott wrote about this earlier this summer.

        The key risk tho is seeking regulatory approvals for using additive manufacturing in airplane builds. There are currently no certification CFARs on oversight.

  6. We are struggling to get governments to support scalability of SAF, good luck getting that on Hydrogen and airbus knows it. But in reality how much does it cost them to do this? They have a massive balance sheet, they too are more than happy with the status quo. Might as well use money to see what is possible but they know hydrogen is very very very expensive to implement at this scale but it makes good chat.

    As for the united order. They’ll cancel the 350. Order 100+ 787s as per Bloomberg this should come as no surprise.

      • I count 11 of them just on the last 3 pages of Planespotters.
        Interestingly, various frames before and after them in the list have been delivered…

      • David Pritchard:

        China did not ground the 787 and the hold off is due to the serious economic issues in China and the airlines (Government) do not want any aircraft.

        Xi is on a charm offensive to maybe he releases ops of the MAX they have in country (paid for and sitting on the ground). China won’t take any more aircraft than they can help right now though, the economics don’t allow for it.

        • > China won’t take any more aircraft than they can help right now though, the economics don’t allow for it. <

          Kidding, right? China is sitting on a boatload+ of USD..

          • Not only that: China’s economic growth in 2022 is projected to be 3%, whereas that of the US is expected to be 1.8%.
            But it’s easier to just keep assuming that China is intrinsically weak, right? 😏

          • Those drowning in debt enjoy their economic “boom”:

            The spending spree that has kept real spending growing at close to a 7% annualized rate, based on November data, increasingly seems to be coming at the expense of savings and credit card balances. Revolving credit card balances now exceed the pre-pandemic peak, and the savings rate has plummeted to 2.7% … suggesting that unless the labor market remains very strong in 2023, belt tightening might lead to further economic slowing.

        • Transworld
          Thanks I do have some insight on geopolitical issues in China I started going to China in the early 90’s when working in the commercial aircraft industry This was before the C919 and when Chinese companies were getting work packages from western aircraft companies (e.g. Trunkliner, 737, 757, A320 and Embraer) You are right about “China (Government) do not want any aircraft.” aka airlines

        • Strange that China is taking plenty of Airbus aircraft — including widebodies — despite your assertion that “the economics don’t allow for it”.

          Also, Chinese (and other) airlines can cancel sufficiently delayed deliveries without penalty: that applies to MAXs, and also to many 787s.

  7. What else to replace UA aging 777s on the long, heavy Pacific flights? Ask Delta, JAL, Qantas, SQ, Cathay..

    787-9s UA already flies & they are simply too small for 2025-2045. 787-10s don’t have the legs & 777-9s ….

    Boeing succesfully sold 77W’s rock bottom to push back the A350-1000s. Now it’s next phase.

    I think United needs A350s & Airbus doesn’t need more NEO orders.

      • Hello keesje,

        Boeing is probably offering United a 787-10ER with MTOW increased to match the range of its 777-200ER’s. Such a plane would be in about the same spot as the 777-200ER and A350-900 in the slide you posted a link to above, rather than at the ‘just barely enough range edge’ of the ‘just right box.

        See below for an excerpt from the free introduction to a 2-14-22 paywall post on this blog by Vincent Valery titled “Impact of 787-10 HGW on the large twin aisle aircraft market”.

        “The goal of the increased MTOW is to make the 787-10 more competitive against the A350-900, which currently has a significantly higher nominal range: 6,430 nm vs. 8,100 nm. The 787-10 HGW range should match that of the 777-200ER.”

        Mr Valery and Bjorn Fehrm also analyzed the competitiveness vs. the A350-900 of a 787-10ER with a MTOW increased to yield 900 nm more range (About 400 nm less than an A350-900 when using Leeham’s passenger weight, baggage weight, and fuel reserve rules, instead of those of the Airbus sales department) in a series of 3 paywall posts on this blog on 8-22-19, 8-29-19, and 9-5-19. See below for a link to the last post in this series, and some bullet points from it that were not behind the paywall. My reading of this series, is that the 787-10ER version proposed by Mr. Fehrm would have pretty similar performance as the A350-900, except for runway length required when fully loaded; however, airports that work OK for a 777-300ER would probably work OK for the 787-10ER version that Mr. Fehrm envisioned.


        A 787-10ER is a narrower aircraft with a smaller wing than an A350-900. This affects passenger comfort but it also gives a lighter aircraft with less wetted area.

        The later generation engines on the A350-900 closes the difference in operating costs depending on how the aircraft is operated.”

        • The 787-10 with new engines like RR Ultrafan with 5-7% better SFC installed (better in testcell) will make an impact if Boeing partners will take the certification cost.

    • Keesje:

      There is far more to airline support than selling the aircraft.

      There are the after warranty parts, updates to software (far more than most understand ) which is why China has more than a mfg challenge.

      So what United Needs or wants or coin flips for I am not going to begin to say what they need. I just follow what they order and see how that affects Airbus or Boeing.

      United is a Blue Chip and Airbus (and Boeing) always seem to find slots for Blue Chip companies.

    • I agree one hundred percent. The 787, even the -10 is no A350 and is not a good replacement for the 777’s. Then again, it is United, they will probably fly those 777’s (like the 757, 767) till the very end of their lives – nothing to be proud of). And as the article points out, Continental is a diehard Boeing fanatic. It is for United to lose. Having flown both the 787 and A350, I can tell you that the A350 and 777 are the best planes for these long heavy routes. Perhaps Delta will now go all out and take A350-
      1000 and give AA and UAL a lesson.

  8. Calhoun knows the reality he just does not care. If the 777X program gets back on track and he can declare dividends or share buy backs he will.

    Where the board is on this is a good question. Usually there are two or more factions and who is in majority vs minority is not known. But you can guess in this case Calhoun has most of the board on the pillage route side.

    CFM is self serving on the RISK program (yea I renamed it) because they don’t have a GTF and its their delaying tactic.

    Calhoun grabs that fig leaf and runs with it (which then blows said fig leaf aside because its blatancy obvious what is going on)

    The old Robber Barns were not any more cold blooded though they built empires not destroyed them.

    Calhoun will be gone and Boeing in distress or a death spiral (if not already) and as long as he gets his money he does not care.

  9. Good for UAL with commitment to the 787, makes sense (cents) to stay with an already in service fleet. Boeing needs this shot in the arm.

    Do I think they are making a mistake with regards to the A350, yes.

    But I certainly understand UAL decision. With this order, I believe, UAL will be the worlds largest 787 operator.

    • I agree in that UAL makes their decisions we don’t.

      The A350 is clearly a good aircraft, but telling UAL that they have to buy it? No.

      Should be tell Delta to drop the A350/A330NEO? I sure am not.

          • A very different UAL did it. As Scott said. UAL now is basically continental

            They only have Boeing widebodies and that’s what they want to keep

          • I think United is more business oriented than that these days. In terms of selecting the best for their network requirements.

          • “A very different UAL did it. As Scott said. UAL now is basically continental”

            And yet, that same UAL recently ordered a whole bunch of A321s…

          • @Bryce: UAL ordered the A321s because Boeing couldn’t make a decision to launch the NMA before everything went to s**t.

          • @ Scott
            Yes, I know that.
            But one would expect a resolutely pro-Boeing board to avoid the A321 “at all costs” — like Alaska did.
            A more nuanced board sees the advantages of one model compared to another, regardless of OEM.
            It seems that, despite being pro-Boeing, the Continental board nevertheless falls into the latter category (to some extent, at least)

          • @Bryce: Alaska doesn’t have a bunch of aging 757s that have to be replaced. United does. That’s the difference.

          • I have to laugh at the statement of a more Nuanced Board.

            That would be one that consults with Bryce!

            Alaska Airlines had a good chance to see how the A320 series fit in and particularly the A321.

            Alaska had long had the decision of a one type aircraft. That goes back to the MD era (and I believe the 727 before the MD)

            I thought it was well worth Alaska Airlines worthwhile to look at the A321 particularly and they did and decided otherwise.

            Sour Grapes comes to mind here.

          • @TW

            Alaska currently operates 10, A321neo’s. From my understanding they like the economics and the capacity of this jet.
            They are getting rid of the A320’s and yes, moving back understandably to a single fleet type.
            Depending on what happens with their mad max -10 order maybe they will stick with that awesome A321.

          • @Scott

            Why UA would order more A321? Didn’t it order hundreds of MAX 10?

            Maybe the A321 can do wonders that the MAX 10 can’t?? 🤔

  10. It makes sense for United. They are operating over 50 – 767’s and if they get a good price from BA (that magical $125 million a piece) they’ll get a lot more of an aircraft then the current 767’s.

    The way I read it – is that the A350 is too much aircraft as a 767 replacement, so maybe they are trying to keep it simple with only 787 widebodies. Their 777-200 fleet averages 23.5 years old (74 planes) and with no 777X orders to replace them – maybe they are going to go solely with the 787’s to replace the 767’s & the 777’s and cancel the A350. They do have 22 777-300ers in the fleet with an avg age of 5 years on them, so they’ll get another 20 years out of them.

    Here’s the other elephant in the room:

    United has an order for a whopping 250 Max 10’s with BA. Given the uncertainty with the certification, this order may be up for grabs again.

    One thing is for certain;

    Given that Airbus is in the driver’s seat 1) They aren’t letting United walk away Scot free from the order of A350’s and 2) Any replacement order isn’t going to get super special bargain basement pricing.

    Airbus already pushed back that A350 order for United in 2019, with the XLR order:

    “United’s order for the A350-900 was originally made almost a decade ago, in March 2010. It upgauged its order three years later from the -900 to the larger -1000 variant and added 10 more planes taking its total order with Airbus to 35 of the type.

    The airline’s first wobble came in 2017, when it decided that actually it didn’t need the bigger panes and would instead go back to the original idea of ordering the A350-900. SO confident was it that this was the right decision, it even added 10 more aircraft to the order, bringing the total now to 45.

    As well as wobbling about the variant it wanted, United has been dithering about exactly when it wants it too. Originally the aircraft should have starred delivering in 2016, according to Aerotime. In fact, by 2019, every one of the original order should have been delivered. But United didn’t want them then, so had slated deliveries to start in 2022 and finish in 2027.

    At the time, United said that the 2022 delivery date was more in line with the retirement plans for its 777-200s, as the oldest one would hit 25 years of age in 2023. Now, it seems that timescale is being pushed back yet again. Once again, United Chief Commercial Officer Andrew Nocella is reported in Business Insider to have said this brings it more in line with the retirement of the 777s.

    At the point at which the aircraft was ordered, United was eyeing expansion into China and other parts of Asia, as well as boosting ultra long haul flights to Oceania. It was looking to the A350 to replace some of its older 777s on long haul routes too. However, the airline has been busy cutting capacity to Hong Kong and most of its recent route announcements were to destinations in Europe.

    For routes further afield, all its Asian services are now catered to by Dreamliners, and even that ultra long haul route to Auckland will be using a 787-10. The 777-200s are disappearing from the long haul schedules, in favor of more 787 Dreamliners. The A350 was originally seen as the successor to the 777, but with the 787 seemingly filling the gap rather nicely, you have to wonder if United will ever need the A350 at all.”

    (Straight cut and paste, with spelling mistakes and all)

    • Any idea what the breakeven production costs are for the 787-8, 787-9 and 787-10, excluding past development costs / writeoffs?
      Whatever the figures are, I think we can assume that the pricing offered to UA won’t be much above them.
      If we’re lucky, a future SEC filing will allow us to derive some pricing info, just as with the SW MAX -7 order.

      • Frank:

        Back to the terms are good for UA to cancel so it matters not what Airbus does so that is not a factor.

        And Airbus is not going to kill a foot in the UA fleet regardless so they will get good pricing on A321s they order.

        Equally UA is a Blue Chip airline.

        I hope the MAX10/7 get the ok, not for Calhoun but for Boeing and its got a perfectly good working alert system.

        Having computer screen pop up with what someone thinks is the right order and having to cancel them also is a signification issue.

        I loved Red Lights that told me where stuff hurt so I could go to the problem and not have to sort through a dozen related alarms on a computer screen (see Qantas for hundreds of messages that were not relevant. QF-32 and lucky to get it on the ground before a wing fell off while they scrolled through all the alarms)

        And yes I read the book and its a hu8ge stretch as to stating how perfect the cockpit coordination was, it was not, some major errors were made and one thing was done very right and there was just enough right it was not a crash)

      • This remains speculation. You can’t use old facts to hope for a satisfactory answer that would lead to a somewhat “phantasmagorical” question, it’s pretty bisare

    • @Frank

      I wouldn’t be surprised if UA has forced BA for a fire sale (around, say, $100 million-ish + cost escalation). UA wants a “new” 767 (or its equivalent) at $65 – 75 million. Remember how BA “won” UA over by a low-ball 737-700 against Bombardier’s C-series?? Those 737-700 that were never built!!

  11. A 787-8 weighs empty 120t, a 767-300ER weighs empty 90t.

    That 30t delta basically equals the revenue passenger load+ their luggage..

    Replacing 767-300ER by heavy 787-8’s is far from efficient. 5 yrs ago.. :, and they don’t fit gates.

    8000NM range isn’t an advantage here, but a burden. United uses 787-9s for longer flights, to keep unit costs in hand.

    In my opinion replacing the 772ER Pacific and 767 domestic by a “one shoe fits all” only works if fuel & operating costs are mostly irrelevant.

    • The recent WSJ article on the coming order referred to “dozens”of 787s.
      The Reuters article on the same subject referred to “a major” 787 order.
      In neither case does the employed syntax exclude that there could also be a concurrent order for a number of A350s — so we’ll just have to wait and see, won’t we?

      Nevertheless, there are obvious fleet commonality arguments in favor of the 787, in addition to the Continental preference for BA aircraft. Also, very attractive price discounting will almost certainly have played a role.

        • Great!
          So WSJ and Reuters say “X”, and Bloomberg says “Y”.
          Golly, I guess that proves my point, i.e. that the opera won’t be over ’til the fat lady sings 😉

        • “Here’s a number for you.

          Bloomberg saying over 100 Dreamliners”

          Well for those machines that reads headline only …

          Buried in the second para:
          “The deal could include a mix of firm orders and commitments.”

          The devil is in the details … they say.

      • I think you better spell out the article you linked. There is tons of hope & anecdotical evidence in these 100 787s order expectations. We can easily select the sources that confirm what we want to hear.

        Regardless of what United decides, LAX, SFO and ORD will increasingly see A350-1000s, with different tails, also from Delta Airlines it seems..

        I think it will be a split United WB order.

        • @Keesje

          Agreed. I think it will be a split order as well. One thing is certain, UAL doesn’t want the 777X.
          And they were the original 777-200 launch customer way back in 1995.

          • keesje:

            Countering that is UA keeps putting back the A350 order, much like Delta did with the 787, writing is on the runway.

      • The most recent WSJ article pointed out:
        “Over the last year, United has experienced operational issues with its Boeing 767 fleet, accelerating the need to decide on a replacement for those planes”

        “The deal in the works is designed in part to replace those aircraft, some of these people said.”

    • It also depends on capital costs.

      The 767 is around $220 million list. The 787-8 is around the $250 mark.

      If United can get those Dreamliners for about the same price as they would have paid for the 767, it could be a good bit of business. They would, as Bryce pointed out, also save on commonality.

      Pilots are also cheaper on a 787 than on a 777. Had a friend who just did his final bid of his career and moved up to the left seat in a 777 and he got a 15% jump in pay, from the 787/330 rating.

      I’m guessing that those 787’s will be used mostly on TATL routes (and as a replacement for the older 777’s) and long domestic (flights to Hawaii).

      ‘Huge: United Airlines Plans A Record Transatlantic Offering’

      It could work…

      • “The 767 is around $220 million list. The 787-8 is around the $250 mark.
        If United can get those Dreamliners for about the same price as they would have paid for the 767, it could be a good bit of business”

        If we apply a “standard” industry discount of 55% to the 767 price, it works out at $99M. That same amount, when applied to a 787-8, then corresponds to a 60.4 % discount. That should be very doable — after all, SW seems to have gotten a 65% discount on its 737-7 order.

        But, a price of $99M on a 787 won’t leave much margin for BA (about $9M per plane, rough guess).

        • $100 million would be a price United couldn’t walk away from. Agree that there is not much of a margin, at that price. I had heard that the $135-140 range was the usual area it got priced in at and $125 was a good deal.

          If the deal happens, I expect BA to ask for a good chunk of change at signing – help out the cash flow.

    • Many UA’s 767-300 are approaching or above 30 years old (I count about 30 jets that are over 29 year old.)

      Recently a 767-300 was scrapped due to “severe” corrosion found. Surprise, surprise!!

      • An NMA or A322NEO would be the aircraft of choice, neither on the horizon however.. United have 370 737-10s / A321s on order already.

      • What UA need, it seems, is a 767neo, or the not-happening NMA. 787-8 = settling for a mediocre fit, it seems to me.

        • 1. According to Airbus: “… during a recent routine inspection, some corrosion was found in the landing gear bay on some aircraft”
          Wow. Big deal, Geek?!?

          2. It depends on how severe the corrosion is and where it is infected

          3. Is it material enough for the aircraft to be scrapped? Guess not!!!

          4. It’s funny how hard you tried to paint a picture as worse as the United aircraft had suffered. Nice try!

          • Pedro. First knock off the name calling. I made no references to you in an ungentlemanly manner and I would expect the same from you.
            I didn’t say AB had worse or lesser corrosion issues, I showed the fact that corrosion is a universal aircraft problem. Scrapping a 30 year old 767 for surface corrosion when it was beyond economic repair for a repaint is a far cry from the issues the A400 is going thru so early in its life cycle. The 767 has a very small residual value at 30 years of age and the rules of economics treat late stage of life birds far differently than very new aircraft. I took a moment to show everybody what you, and AB were downplaying. From the link I posted.

            LONDON – The Airbus A400M is creating issues for the Royal Air Force, with one member approaching AviationSource to discuss some of its issues. The service member, who commented on the condition of anonymity, said the following when asked about issues with the Airbus A400M: “[The aircraft are facing an array of corrosion issues]. It’s happening between the electrical connection unions, the hydraulic unions, bolts, brackets. It’s on a lot of it in the undercarriage”.
            Such an issue is not something that hasn’t been noticed yet, but this sort of issue has caused continued loyalty towards the Lockheed Martin Hercules C-130, which the RAF is retiring. When asked whether they prefer the C-130 to the A400M, they said the C-130 had been a reliable workhorse for the last 50 years. Allegedly, base commanders for the RAF have gone as far as nearly begging the Ministry of Defence to stop the retirement of the C-130s, which may offer more of a view on the A400M reliability.

          • Apparently UA doesn’t share your view, that’s why they suddenly realize the urgent need for 767 replacement. 🤣

            What I understand is the corrosion is severe and that’s why the aircraft was scrapped.

          • -> N646UA: configured “F6C26Y151” until Mar 2018 re-configured “C30Y184” Mar 2018

            I doubt UA is prepared to scrap the aircraft in a few short [four] years when it was refurbished for new seats back in 2018!!

            UA, being a capital miser, no doubt would love to fly the aircraft for a few more years to recoup what it spent!!!

          • There’s no ifs or buts!!!

            -> United planned to fly the types for a long time

            Speaking on the airline’s [2021] second-quarter earnings call, Andrew Nocella, United’s Chief Commercial Officer, discussed the carrier’s attention to the age of these jets:
            “We’re carefully looking at the lifespan – the economic lifespan of these widebody jets. I can tell you, prior to the pandemic, we were thinking many of them – *particularly the 777 and 767 fleet – could go 30 years or more*. I’ll give kudos to our maintenance team for keeping these aircraft in great shape, to allow us to have that option. So we do have optionality to fly these aircraft longer than I think people automatically assume.”

            -> “The interiors on all these aircraft, including the older ones we just been describing, have been recently retrofitted. We’ve completed our entire 777 fleet, and we’re close to completing the 767 fleet with brand new interiors, from nose to tail, to give a great, great customer experience on board.”

            -> United has hung onto its 38 Boeing 767-300ERs and 16 Boeing 767-400ERs. United has made excellent progress on the 767-300ER retrofits, though it has yet to debut the 767-400ER retrofits. Nevertheless, *the fact that United has invested in these fleets says a lot about the carrier’s intentions*.


            Fast forward to 2022, commentator pops up for excuses that corrosion is normal. Shocking!! Must be news to those higher-up at UA! 🤣

    • Keesje

      The 787-8 may however be the only choice despite its imperfections. You also have the A330-800 but is useless in a Boeing fleet such as United. I foresee some 787-8 can replace (default) their 767

      • 2018 FG: United eyes A330neo and NMA for fleet replacement

        Apparently UA did not consider B787 as a good candidate!!

    • Hello keesje,

      Re: “A 787-8 weighs empty 120t, a 767-300ER weighs empty 90t.”

      Which means that the 787-8’s empty weight is 49,500 lbs lighter than that of a A350-900, and 26,500 lbs lighter than an A330-800, and this makes it a less bad choice than either for an airline with 800 to 900 airplanes that is looking for of subfleet of several dozen airplanes to fly the types of 2,000 to 3,500 nm routes (transatlantic and US transcontinental) that account for a large chunk of United’s 767 and 777-200 flights, without having to waste profit flying around heavy structure and empty fuel tanks not needed for routes of these lengths.

      United’s current in service 767 models and Airbus and Boeing current generation in production widebodies are listed below in order of increasing operating empty weight (OEW). Higher empty weight = higher purchase price. OEW’s and range are according to Wikipedia.

      767-300 ER: 198,400 lbs, 5,980 nm.
      767-400ER: 229,000 lbs, 5,625 nm.
      787-8: 264,500 lbs, 7,355 nm.
      787-9: 284,000 lbs, 7,635 nm.
      A330-800: 291,000 lbs, 8,150 nm.
      A330-900: 298,000 lbs, 7,200 nm.
      A350-900: 314,000 lbs, 8,100 nm.
      A350-1000: 342,000 lbs, 8,700 nm.

      If you need an airplane to fly 360 passengers 8,000 nm, then you need the extra weight of the heavier aircraft on this list; however, if you are looking for an aircraft to fly 167 to 240 passengers (the seating capacity range for United’s 767’s) from New York to London or New York to Los Angeles, then if you buy any of the aircraft on the above list that are heavier than the 787-8, you are paying extra money to buy heavier aircraft structure and extra fuel tankage that is not needed for these routes. What about an A321-XLR? See below for real world international/premium seating capacities actually used or announced by United or its competitors for real aircraft in the real world, not to be confused with seating capacities published by aircraft manufacturer sales departments.

      American A321-200 premium: 102
      Delta A321 neo premium: 148
      Delta 767-300ER: 211, 216, or or 226
      United 767-300ER: 167, 199, or 214.
      Delta 767-400ER: 238
      United 767-400ER: 240
      American 787-8: 234
      United 787-8: 243
      Delta A330-900: 281
      Delta A350-900: 306 or 339

      If an airline is looking to down-gauge from 767 size aircraft, and operating into airports without slot constraints, an A321-XLR could be a good choice. If an airline is looking to up-gauge 40 or 100 passengers per flight from 767 size aircraft, or needs 8,000 nm range, then the 49,500 lb heavier empty weight of an A350 over a 787-8 makes sense and is worth the additional purchase price. If it is happy with the range and passenger capacities of 767-300ER’s that need to be replaced, then the 787-8 is the closest match, and least expensive to purchase, among the current generation widebodies

      United’s current in service 767 models and Airbus and Boeing current generation widebodies are listed below in order of increasing thrust per engine according to Wikipedia. Higher thrust = higher purchase and maintenance prices. Higher thrust is worth the money if you need it, and wasted money if you don’t need it for the routes you want to operate a subfleet on.

      767-300ER: 56,750 to 61,500 lbs
      767-400ER: 60,600 lbs
      787-8: 64,000 lbs
      787-9: 71,000 lbs
      A330-800 and A330-900: 72,834 lbs
      787-10: 76,000 lbs
      A350-900: 84,200 lbs (31.6%and $$$ higher than a 787-8!)
      A350-1000: 97,000 lbs (51.6% and $$$$$$ higher than a 787-8)

      Re: “… and they don’t fit gates.”

      Since United has 91 777’s of various models in their fleet, this is less of a problem for United than it would be for many airlines. A lot of United’s widebody gates are large enough to accommodate a 777, and thus a 787. If a 787-9 or 787-10 is used as a 777-200 or 777-200ER replacement, then this obviously isn’t a problem.

      • @Robert

        It’s an imperfect solution for United.

        They have those 767’s that need replacing, along with those older 777’s. They are going to save money on replacing the 777’s (300,000 lbs OEW and less range than a 787-8) and lose some on the 767 replacement.

        But at the end of the day, what choice do they have?

        There is no aircraft in the market to replace the 767. You can either go bigger with the 787/A330 or drop down and go smaller with the A321XLR. For them – they have probably made the right choice; wring concessions out of Boeing, who are desperate to improve their financial situation and will (most likely) offer extraordinary terms on a large wide body order.

        I suspect that none of the 3 parties will be very happy, with the terms of this deal;

        Airbus not happy about the A350 cancellations. United not having the right aircraft it needs and Boeing getting taking to the woodshed over pricing.

  12. Aircrafts are one part, RR engine contract is another to solve as you can select a RR engine onto the A321neo yet. Maybe UAL need to order 787’s with RR T1000TEN’s?

    • Why in the world would UA want an engine that cost more, maint higher and has a worse fuel burn than a GenX?

      Hopefully they are past the emissions waiver so its at least clean.

  13. “Boeing CEO David Calhoun has been clear: he doesn’t see a conventional engine achieving greater than 10% in fuel burn and emissions reduction.”

    I think it is a bit more nuanced than that. It kicker is propulsion concepts that MAY bring more than 10% gains (open rotor, hybrid, hydrogen etc) will probably not work with airframes optimized for traditional fans. So Boeing can’t build a new aircraft with perhaps 10% total improvements and bank on being able to create a “neo” down the road.

    They fear Airbus will respond to their new aircraft with a re-winged, “neo-neo” A32x followed up by an all new model optimized for those new propulsion concepts.

    • A bit like not getting out of bed to go to work because you might get into a car crash and die.

      Airbus can do a new wing, but then the old factor sets in per the A330NEO.

      And that assumes Boeing goes after the A321 and not a notch above it.

      Airbus might have to respond but that is the nature of mfg. You build new products or you die on the vine.

      Airbus never matched the 787 (the A350 is more 777 target).

      • The 787-9 and A330-900 share the same dimension, engines and economics. The 789 flies further the A339 is cheaper and has commonality with 1500 in operation / 100 operators. And has cargo conversion certified.

        • keejse:

          The A330NEO has different engine and that is a huge part of the cost of ops.

          And Boeing sells a 787 for lower cost than an A330NEO.

          • “And Boeing sells a 787 for lower cost than an A330NEO.”

            Tricks like that ensure that BA continues to generate insufficient revenue to climb out of its debt pit.
            A primary benefit of the A330neo is that it forces BA’s hand on pricing.

        • Hello keesje,

          Re: “The 787-9 and A330-900 share the same dimension, engines and economics .”

          I agree that the 787-9 and A330-900 have similar specs and performance; however, the 787-8 is smaller and has lower thrust engines, passenger capacity, and likely a lower purchase price than either. If United is looking to get as close to a 767-300ER and 767-400ER replacement as possible (some articles suggest this, I don’t personally know if this is true), then the 787-8 comes closer than the 787-9, A330-800, or A330-900 to the weight, engine thrust, and passenger capacity of 767’s, and likely has the lowest purchase price. The 787-9 has been generally more popular with customers than the 787-8; however, I think it is interesting to note that American Airlines, with a route and fleet structure that is somewhat similar to United’s (huge US based hub and spoke system), a few years ago did what United is rumored to be doing, i.e. retired it’s 767’s (and A330’s), canceled an A350 order, and placed a new order for 787-8’s and 787-9’s to enlarge an existing 787 fleet, leaving it with a widebody fleet of 777’s and 787’s.

          The 767 models currently in United’s fleet, and the A330-800, A330-900, 787-8 and 787-9 are listed below in order of increasing engine thrust (and thus in order of increasing engine purchase and maintenance costs).

          Type/Thrust Per Engine/ MTOW / Range (according to Wikipedia)
          767-300ER: 56,750 to 61,500 lbs, MTOW 412,000 lbs, 5,980 nm
          767-400ER: 60,600 lbs, MTOW 450,000 lbs, 5,625 nm
          787-8: 64,000 lbs, MTOW 502,500 lbs, 7,355 nm
          787-9: 71,000 lbs, MTOW 560,000 lbs, 7,635 nm
          A330-800: 72,834 lbs,MTOW 553,300 lbs, 8,150 nm
          A330-900: 72,834 lbs, MTOW 553,300 lbs, 7,200 nm

          Listed below are the seating capacities used by United and some of their US Big 3 competitors on these aircraft.

          Delta 767-300ER: 211, 216, or or 226
          United 767-300ER: 167, 199, or 214.
          Delta 767-400ER: 238
          United 767-400ER: 240
          American 787-8: 234
          United 787-8: 243
          American 787-9: 285
          United 787-9: 257
          Delta A330-900: 281

      • > And that assumes Boeing goes after the A321 and not a notch above it. Airbus might have to respond but that is the nature of mfg <

        Airbus is clearly quaking in their boots over that prospect.

        Which company continues to invest in R&D, and is building
        a $10 Billion warchest; while the other guys' talk is all about becoming a "gusher of cash" in 2025- 2026?

        • Not sure that makes sense that the A330 is putting pressure on prices. The A330 cannot offer rest areas to the standard standards of the 787, 777 and A350. I’m afraid they don’t really play in the same playground Imho. An airline cannot pressure a product that does not follow the standard…

          • LNA has explicitly discussed the price pressure effect of the A330 neo in past articles.

      • > A bit like not getting out of bed to go to work because you might get into a car crash and die

        Perhaps, but if you believe RISE +/- hydrogen is a viable engine play what should be the response?

        I think the original plant to:
        * use the Max to create cash flow at low cost to Boeing
        * launch a twin aisle NMM aircraft with new build technology
        * then bring that tech to a new single aisle with kinks worked out

        Was a reasonable plan. The debacle around the development of MCAS and later the COVID derailed all that.

        Boeing is still trying to figure out how to move forward.

        • A bit of background info:
          BA relentlessly ramped up production rate of 787/737 to chase financial engineered FCF and shares buy back, believing “globalization” of the market means no wholesale downfall. The house of cards crashed after the MAX is grounded/787 production debacle/covid.

          -> Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg repeated on the earnings call that taking 787 production to 14/mo remains under consideration.

          -> At the PNAA conference, consultant Michel Merluzeau sees a rate less than 12/mo and no possibility of a rate going to 14/mo. LNC previously forecast rate 10 after 2020.

          • There’s plenty worth re-reading in that 2017 article and its comments section. thanks.

  14. ‘The tough calculus of emissions and the future of EVs
    From materials and batteries to manufacturing, calculating the real carbon cost of EVs is just getting started’:

    “..Embodied emissions can be devilishly difficult to accurately quantify, and nowhere are there more complexities and uncertainties than with EVs. While an EV self-evidently emits nothing while driving, about 80% of its total lifetime emissions arise from the combination of the embodied energy in fabricating the battery and then in “fabricating” electricity to power the vehicle. The remaining comes from manufacturing the non-fuel parts of the car. That ratio is inverted for a conventional car where about 80% of lifecycle emissions come directly from fuel burned while driving, and the rest comes from the embodied energy to make the car and fabricate gasoline.

    Virtually every feature of the fuel cycle for conventional cars is well understood and narrowly bounded, significantly monitored if not tightly regulated and largely assumption-free. That’s not the case for EVs..”

      • As does (from the link):

        “..Airbus remains committed to delivering its financial guidance as provided at the Nine-Month 2022 results, meaning >>guidance for EBIT Adjusted and Free Cash Flow<< before M&A and Customer Financing remains unchanged."

        • Seems AB is pretty well-run when you compare it with its major competitor: BA repeatedly cut its delivery target this year, from 500 to current 375, a whopping 25% miss.

          • Yes, I noticed that too, Pedro. I won’t mention their respective financials; to do so would be unkind to the D.C.- based entity.

        • @ Bill7
          Yes, indeed: at the end of the day, income is more important than delivery tallies.
          The competitor is delivering many frames with very meager (or even zero/negative) margins: 112 deliveries in Q3 weren’t anywhere near enough to give BCA a profit.

      • @Bryce …sorry to burst your bubble ..I saw your excitement of AB delivering 13 aircraft in 1 day in the beginning of December..
        Obviously unattainable for the rest of the month ..
        Looks like they’ll fall about 70 short of their lofty goal of 700 for the year ..

        • We’ll see on Dec. 31.
          And it wasn’t “excitement”: just cold provision of data 😏

    • From that link:

      “..Airbus is currently delivering around 65 of its A320 family aircraft per month. Rival manufacturer Boeing, on the other hand, is currently averaging 31 deliveries per month of its narrowbody equivalent, the Boeing 737 MAX..”

      I wonder if Boeing is really getting 31 paid-for MAXes out the
      door on average, myself, and also what their net profit on them was.

  15. Here was Airbus’s official statement from late October 2022:

    “The company maintains its targets to achieve around 700 commercial aircraft deliveries and around €5.5 billion of EBIT Adjusted in 2022.”

    I sure do like well-sourced, verbatim quotes.

  16. In 2015 Boeing sold UA a batch of end of the line 777-300ER’s, to keep the line open until the 777x comes up, and block UA A350-1000s. At rock bottom prices.

    The first UA 77W was received a year later by UA Dec 2016. UA pushed out the A350-1000 and later converted them the -900s, because the 777-200ER fleet is getting real worn out.

    It seems everybody knows but loves to ignore this reality & conclude UA doesn’t like A350s. Wishful thinking if you ask me.

    • Keesje

      Let’s say the A350 doesn’t fit their business case. Do you believe that Delta’s judgment is the same after having canceled the 787s after merging with NWA? We absolutely don’t believe it…

    • > n 2015 Boeing sold UA a batch of end of the line 777-300ER’s, to keep the line open until the 777x comes up <

      Will there be a production Boeing 777-X? It's not impossible, I guess, but evidence in its favor is not obvious.

  17. Bryce,

    I don’t think airlines think like you. There is no pro Boeing or pro Airbus if they are really serious.

    Airlines are looking for yield and are in fierce competition with other airlines

    We are emerging from a period of Covid crisis to enter that of the war in Ukraine. Frankly what is this argument? This one just can’t work to our understanding…

    • Didn’t the article above say that the (Continental) board at UAL is staunchly pro-Boeing?

      • Brice

        A321neo’s and XLR’s orders ??

        Between giving your opinion and hearing people say, it’s different.
        I have the right to doubt it…

        • “…The new executives added to the United order, but Continental had been an exclusive buyer of Boeing aircraft ** and executives were predisposed toward Boeing **…”

  18. Scott,

    “@Bryce: UAL a commandé les A321 parce que Boeing n’a pas pu prendre la décision de lancer la NMA avant que tout ne se passe mal…”

    They also ordered a lot of 737MAX10s. Let’s remember that it was launched (only in 2018) and that it was in Boeing’s plans long after the NMA (from 2014).

    With nearly 1,000 orders already, the 737MAX10 seems to be a more concrete success than a costly and risky future investment for Boeing.

    They just realized it.


        • When an uncertified and unproduced aircraft is described
          as a “concrete success”, one is really in Humpty-Dumpty “a word means just what I say it means” territory.

          FWIW, that promulgator seems like a bot to me.

          • Bill7

            “one is really in Humpty-Dumpty “a word means just what I say it means” territory
            FWIW, that promulgator seems like a bot to me….”
            Please no wishful thinking
            There will be no NMA or other development before 2035, I’m sorry …

          • It certainly changes its commercial appeal for BA — assuming it ever gets certified.

  19. Bill7

    Yes, any new developments are a good direction, but the risks are sometimes colossal. Boeing could have launched something new in 2011. We know the story then.

    The two-year grounding and the slowness of the FAA to (re)certify are evident.
    Adding +40 billion USD in costs, can’t give the appetite to launch something that would still be a headache.

    It seems that the MAX-10 and the 787-8 could be an alternative to the NMA. I could be very wrong but it seems logical to me (Imho) to see United order a few as replacements for the aging 767s.

    Wait and see…

    • “…the slowness of the FAA…”

      The FAA wouldn’t be “slow” if it didn’t have to babysit BA.
      It’s still signing off on each individual MAX/787 — because BA seemingly can’t be trusted to do so.
      And it keeps asking for documentation that BA can’t or won’t produce on time.

      • it has become a general case since the FAA will be slow in certifying even the A321XLR to cite a development that is not Boeing. The latter has slipped for 2024. The FAA has become slow in my opinion…

        • The certification of the A321XLR has slipped because EASA wants more documentation / tests on crash resistance of the new RCT — the matter is nowhere near the FAA at present.

          The underlying cause of slow cert in BA’s case is that the company isn’t able to cope with the removal of the self-cert possibility.

          • Good point. But I’d be curious how soon FAA certification will follow after EASA…

      • “…the slowness of the FAA…”

        May be history would be different if BA had dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s instead of the well publicized haphazard half-baked self-certified exercise during the development of the MAX.

        Now it appears the back office has determined it’s all the fault of the regulator. FUNNY!!

    • After dithering for more than a decade or so, BA tries to sell that there’s no “middle of the market” because they’re not going ahead for the NMA! Genius?!?

  20. Still no joy on an EICAS extension for Boeing:

    “U.S. lawmakers decline to add Boeing 737 MAX exemption in defense bill”

    “WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. lawmakers late on Tuesday declined to add an extension to an annual defense bill of a looming deadline that would impose a new safety standard for modern cockpit alerts for two new versions of Boeing’s best-selling 737 MAX aircraft.

    “The U.S. planemaker has been lobbying for months to convince lawmakers to waive the deadline that affects its MAX 7 and MAX 10 airplanes and was imposed by Congress in 2020 after two fatal 737 MAX crashes killed 346 people in Indonesia and Ethiopia.

    “There is an slim chance the defense bill could be changed before final passage and Boeing is still attempting to convince lawmakers to attach the proposal to a bill that could be considered to fund U.S. government operations but sources briefed on the matter say the issue may slip into 2023.

    “That would be a significant setback for Boeing, which did not immediately comment but has argued previously it is better to have a common alerting system for all versions of the 737 MAX.”

    “Families of some MAX crash victims are opposed as is C.B. “Sully” Sullenberger, who rose to fame in 2009 as a commercial pilot who safely landed an Airbus A320 on New York’s Hudson River after hitting a flock of geese.

    “Nadia Milleron, whose daughter Samya Rose Stumo died in the 2019 Ethiopian Airlines crash, praised lawmakers for not including the extension in the defense. “It does not belong in a must-pass bill,” Milleron said. “It is something serious — it is public safety.””

    • @Bryce

      Thanks for sharing this! Very interesting indeed.
      The plot thickens. Calhoun has stated Boeing will xl the -7 & -10 if the exemption doesn’t come to fruition.
      Will he be true to his word?

      • @Scott

        Given that;

        1) Boeing will be on the hook for a sizeable break up penalty and lawyers are expensive

        2) They lost almost 2,000 key people in the past year

        3) Both companies are losing market share to those darn Euro/Canucks

        What chance do you give to Boeing going back to Embraer and saying, “Sorry we left you at the altar, Honey – but maybe you’re the one for me, after all…”?


        Is this retirement a one-off quirk, or is BA going to go through this again next year, when the next crop of ‘close to leaving’ guys have to make a choice between losing money or leaving?

        • Regarding the Embraer question: what could BA offer in return?
          – It has no money.
          – It has shrinking market share.
          – It’s more-or-less closed out of China.
          – It doesn’t have a particularly stellar product line-up.

          COMAC would be a far more interesting party for Embraer.

          • @Bryce

            If I was Embraer, I’d be very wary of getting into bed with them. Yes, there is a huge market there, but I’d be concerned that I’d be used and discarded once every bit of technical knowledge had been extracted from me.

            Boeing, with young Brasilian brain power, offers many long term solutions – including another path to certification.

            True about market share, but the same can be said for Embraer. They are both in the same boat…

            The enemy of my enemy is my friend.

          • @ Frank
            On the other hand, COMAC can offer lots of cash and a huge domestic market.
            It can also offer access to a sophisticated Chinese workforce and industrial base, and it’s domiciled in a fellow BRICS country.

          • @Bryce

            You’re not wrong.

            Thing is – if stuff goes sideways with the deal, where is their recourse? Chinese courts? Embraer can sue Boeing in US courts and win. I’m pretty sure that they would win every penny of the breakup money they are owed.

            But if ego’s get put aside and one looks unpassionately at things, from a pure business perspective – why didn’t the JV deal get done?

            Well, for one thing, the E2 line up isn’t worth the $4+ billion that Boeing was going to pay for it. The line up is on life support and is close to becoming an orphan. Too big for regionals and too small for mainline. It needs to move up or down, or both. It’s getting squashed in the middle of the road, like a grape.

            Secondly, as you pointed out; cashola.

            However, with all these engineers walking away, BA may be forced to turn elsewhere for talent. Thing is, jumping into a JV like this is a LONG TERM proposition. New aircraft need to be designed and launched. Money (and yes, I could see Lula kicking in some cash to help out his fellow union members) will need to be invested.

            This is something that the current crop of c-suite boys in Chicago/Virginia are loathe to do. There’s the real problem.

      • ‘Boeing’s white-collar union said more than 500 highly experienced U.S. engineers and more than 130 technical staff retired in November.

        For most of them, it was because a pending interest rate adjustment would otherwise have dramatically slashed their lump sum pension payouts by as much as an entire year’s salary.

        To try to retain the most critical expertise, Boeing identified 26 key engineers represented by its white-collar union, the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace, and offered them specific financial enticements to stay, SPEEA spokesperson Bill Dugovich said.

        Boeing offered each “about $400,000, mostly in Boeing stock” if they stayed two years. Only nine accepted the offer, he said.’

        Boeing stock.

        I guess that tells you all you need to know about how confident those guys are about the value of it.

        ‘SPEEA said 560 engineers and 135 technical staff chose to leave in November, the vast majority close to retirement age. For the year through November, SPEEA lost a total of 1,375 engineers at Boeing along with 471 technical staff.’

        Get out, when the gettings good.

        • Very interesting about the (failed) BA stock offer.
          Looks like the insiders have a better handle on the stock’s potential upside than the financial analysts do — but we already knew that, didn’t we? 😉

          Based on current delivery numbers / breakdown, BCA looks to be heading for another quarterly loss in Q4 — or, best case, a very meager profit. The analysts won’t like that.

          • @Bryce

            The realists amongst us, yes.

            I think they’re going to try and close the United deal before year end, get a bunch of cash they can throw on the b/s and call it a day.

            Let the next guy in the hot seat worry about aircraft sold with small margins.

            SIDE NOTE:

            On our conversation about the 767 replacement and what US might be paying for their 787’s; I could very much see the conversation going something like:

            “OK, you’ve jerked us around again and again on the 797/NMA as a replacement for our aging 767 fleet. Now you’re bailing on it. We could replace our 60 (or so) 767’s with the 787-8, but the numbers aren’t good – the thing is too heavy and over-powered for our needs. THEREFORE, on those ~60, we are going to need superlative pricing. You better sharpen your pencil…”

  21. Russia’s MC-21 news:


    “Landing-gear analysis rounds off MC-21 static testing”

    “Irkut has progressed with operational flight-testing with one of the prototype MC-21-300s – number 73054 – painted in the livery of initial operator Rossiya, and transferred to Moscow Zhukovsky.

    “It will be one of three aircraft to be painted in the airline’s colours for a programme of flight-instructor training, under a co-operative effort with the carrier which will include setting out a maintenance strategy for the twinjet on Aeroflot Group’s network.”


    PD-35 engine being delayed so as to prioritize the PD-14 (for the MC-21 and C919):

    • Lets see, the Russians sell China a PD-14 that goes on the MC-21 that competes in the market with the C919 (well what market there is without the International Certification).

      In the meantime the PD-35 gets delayed for the C929 that is cancelled in all but PR releases.

      A lot more to the story but that delves into areas not to be treaded in.

      Of course I am still waiting to see the production schedule for 1000 Russian Built commercial aircraft by 2030! (and the 2 to 3,000 engine needed for them)

      • “Lets see, the US sells the EU a PW GTF that goes on the A321 that competes in the market with the MAX-10 (well what market there is without any Certification).

        In the meantime the GE9X gets delayed for the 777-9 that is cancelled in all but PR releases.”

  22. Brice and Airdoc

    We don’t know what to think of that anymore. One shot is good, one shot no and then it continues. Adopting EICAS on other than MAX8 but not MAX8 remains for many an absurd and strange idea.
    Others still think there will be an exemption in January 2023 with the new congress.

    For me this looks like buzz orchestrated by Sully among others, certainly an action not to forget the hero he was.
    But no one is forever and people will eventually forget it,
    that’s what he understood
    This world is only made of ego and vanity and it’s well done on his part, we still think a little about him

    If he was sincere he would not have allowed the recertification of the MAX8. Then where was he all this time?


    • “Adopting EICAS on other than MAX8 but not MAX8 remains for many an absurd and strange idea.”

      Every rule has cutoffs.
      One day younger than 18 –> can’t vote.
      One day later –> can vote.
      Irrelevant whether it’s absurd or not.

      Sully is standing up for safety — you remember safety, don’t you?…the concept that was ditched at BA for the sake of some quick dollars.

      • According to that recent addition, Captain Sullenberger, at 71 years of age, is “orchestrating” a plan for personal gain n’ glory?

        Nice try, dude.. 😉

      • Bryce

        “Every rule has cutoffs.
        One day younger than 18 –> can’t vote.
        One day later –> can vote.
        Irrelevant whether it’s absurd or not”…

        This analogy under the guise of security is simply not correct. On the contrary, having two different cockpits could well confuse the pilots more and give them a different piloting load between the two models.
        United pilots have already sounded the alarm!
        Not sure Sully is sincere

        This is completely absurd…

        • “This is completely absurd…”

          Current 737s don’t have a cockpit alerting system — they have a cockpit startling system.
          AA pilots said that they would welcome a real, modern alerting system — one that actually helps rather than hinders in an emergency.
          There are plenty of pilots that fly multiple models of aircraft and manage just fine.
          Sully is used to flying aircraft with a modern, functional CAS: one can’t blame him for wanting that as a minimal requirement in all newly certified aircraft.

          Time caught up with the dinosaurs, and the same is happening with the 737.

        • “On the contrary, having two different cockpits could well confuse the pilots more and give them a different piloting load between the two models.”

          That’s why proper training is important. What exactly did you learn from the MAX’s dual crashes? Nothing??

  23. Bryce

    “Sully is standing up for safety — you remember safety, don’t you?…the concept that was ditched at BA for the sake of some quick dollars”…

    That’s a bit sarcastic

    Could you tell us about the difficult beginnings of the A320 crashes in 1988-1990 and 1992 with the BEA as support for the A320 program so that it does not become a financial abyss.
    Oh wait…
    But yes the pilots were all wrong is not it…?

    • Is it sarcastic?
      – An amateuristic piece of software that didn’t satisfy even the most basic tenets of control theory.
      – FAA deliberately given false data regarding that software’s characteristics.
      – Criminal actions, according to a recent ruling by a Texas judge.
      – FOD-ridden aircraft — multiple models.
      – Sub-spec manufacturing of 787s: long delivery hiatus.
      – Historic grounding of aircraft (eight 787s) due to manufacturing quality issues.
      – FAA refusal to restore sign-off authority on new frames.

      And all this in just the past 3 years.

  24. @Scott

    O/T but have we heard anything about the numbers on the boeing retirement paperwork deadline that was a potentially multi-hundredthousand dollar deadline for affected workers?

    did they basically lose all their senior technical people last week?

      • Good God, how is that survivable?
        I was expecting something more like 100-200 departures.
        Presumably many/most of these engineers had key roles in R&D, manufacturing, compliance, quality control, servicing, etc.

        As @keesje said above, BA will just have to hire back some of them as consultants — at a much higher hourly rate.

        • @Bryce

          Well, according to Gates – 9 key people stayed, taking a deal for $400k in BA stock, so there is that…

  25. I don`t know internals at United, but for me as an outsider the order book looks quiet sensefull.

    The B763ER fleet is pretty old and need replacement (37 aircrafts). Plus 16 B764ER.
    And then there`s a aging B772 fleet with 19 -200 and 55 -200ER, where 4 are in domestic config.

    So a new order for B787 would replace all B763ERs with -8 or -9, B764 with -9,
    and the B777-200 and the domestic config of the 777-200ERs and those -200ERS where they won`t need the range with B787-10.
    That would mean a order for around
    37 + 16 = 53 B787 – 8/-9
    and 19 + 4 + 6 = 29 B787- 10 ER

    That`s a huge order, but it also leaves space for the A359 order from 2027 on to replace the intercontinental B777-200ER where they need the range.

    It would cover Uniteds WB need for the rest of the decade with only 2 (3) WB models.
    B787, A350 and B77w, which goes well with B787.

    Airbus has no slots for another 100 A321neo order, and United just ordered 250 Max 10 and on top has 70 A321neo + 50 A321XLR ordered.
    Most of their NGs have plenty of live left.

    • “Airbus has no slots for another 100 A321neo order”

      Don’t forget the canceled Qatar A321s…

      • Long sold already.
        Qantas ordered, KLM ordered.

        And the engine manufactures don`t want to sell only to Airbus, so they block higher rate- every leap on an A321neo is one that`s not on a Max.

        Under no circumstances it`s benefical for Airbus to swap 45 A350s into any number of A321neos.
        They sell them anyway, while the A350 needs orders. Especially if Airbus follows its pre Covid plan of getting the rate up to 10.

        I think United will use the A359 to replace it`s international configurated B772ER. The fleet is 23 years old, 2027 fits well for a replacement.

        • Would it be wise to bet on one horse that is foreseen to lose marketshare?? 🙄

        • “Long sold already.”

          I’m afraid in reality it doesn’t work that way.

          -> “Aircraft planning operates in the same way as an airline selling tickets for its flights, with more customers booked in than will eventually appear, Airbus lawyer Karl Hennessee said in a witness statement. This means that removing the airline from the planning doesn’t free up more capacity.

          -> ‘Airbus has already provisionally added Qatar back into its plans, meaning that if the judge rules in the airline’s favor the A321 order could be accommodated “subject to delays following the termination of the contract,” Airbus said. It now estimates it could deliver the first aircraft around the fourth quarter of 2023, compared with an original delivery date of February 2023.

  26. How could the “A220-500” not cannibalize the A320neo? Does anyone have a logical explanation please?

    • @Pedro didn’t say that the A220-500 wouldn’t cannibalize A320neo sales — he said that such cannibalization would be of subordinate importance to the freeing up of more A321 slots.

      • 🙂

        The timing can’t be worst! Would Calhoun be forced to a humiliating public u-turn??

        Only this time, archrival Boeing Co. has no comeback option, leaving it unusually exposed in a duopoly that for decades thrived on one-upmanship. Saddled with $57 billion in debt and the lingering fallout from two crashes of its 737 Max model, the US plane maker recently conceded it won’t design a new aircraft this decade. That inability to respond will cede vital ground to Airbus as the European company sets out to squeeze its US competitor from above and below, in the market segment that makes most of the industry’s profits: single-aisle jetliners.

        • @Pedro

          The elephant in the room is the 25% still owned by Quebec. Airbus wants to clear that hurdle before a launch.

          The future line up in the Airbus NB segment would look something like:


          However, there is wiggle room in there and I’m guessing one of the issues is what happens with BA and their line up. Do Airbus even make a move if the Max 7 & 10 don’t get a waiver? Why change anything when the opposition is stepping all over it’s crank.

          Depending on what the airlines demand, AB can do a quick and dirty ~2m plug on the -300 fore and aft of the wing, add ~ 30 pax, lose some range and get it to market quick and cheap. They can also invest more, find some nooks and crannies to jam in more fuel and keep it around the 3500NM mark.

          There is also the ‘wings of tomorrow’ program sitting in a filing cabinet, where they can play around with the A321Neo, or a A320.5 Neo or an A322. The A321LR isn’t doing that great (like the A220-100) so there is some room for improvement, there.

          But IMO, the longer BA does nothing and the status quo remains, the more Airbus can worry more about production increases, production costs (A220 especially), garnering a larger percentage of market share and banking money for a rainy day.

          The aircraft OEM game is noted for incremental ‘tit for tat’ improvements in models; move and counter move.

          If Boeing doesn’t supply a ‘tit’…why would Airbus respond with a ‘tat’?

          (Absolutely no intended Freudian meaning in that last sentence)

  27. Airdoc

    …”Calhoun has stated Boeing will xl the -7 & -10 if the exemption doesn’t come to fruition.
    Will he be true to his word?…”


    If there’s no exemption for the MAX-10, then I don’t think Calhoun will change his position. As he said earlier this year, he will be satisfied with the MAX-8 and MAX-9.
    He shocked everyone recently by pushing the Next Development Effort to 2035.
    It has been very clear that they want to give money to shareholders…

    • You beat me to it… Great news. Let’s see if AB can trim some weight somewhere else to compensate.

      • “Analysts say design changes imposed by regulators could trim the plane’s range, one of its main selling points, but Airbus reiterated there were would be no significant impact”

        Evidently, AB has some maneuvering room up its sleeve.

    • I think the A321 XLR’s 102t MTOW, wings, flaps, engines, landing gear will provide a design base for a 102t MTOW A322 NEO. Offering 24-30 more seats, a “simple” stretch.

      But still offering sufficient range for most flights. E.g. 3500NM with 200 seats, or, more interestingly, 250 seats over 5-6 hour flights..

      And, AP_Robert, 30-35t lighter than a 767-300ER and optional with big, quiet geared turbofans.

      I can see this happening regardless of what Boeing does. Driven by airlines looking for fuel savings, low operating costs and adjusting to environmental restrictions.

      • keesge.
        Your thinking makes a lot of sense. There is a fly in the ointment, as always. The fuselage rotation angle will be a challenge. The Max 10 got around this with a telescoping main gear leg. Airbus will need to work around the patents so its not insurmountable, but it does add complexity to the exercise.

  28. “Shocking”!!

    AW confirms what many here have been talking for awhile about the B787: “it takes 5 months to incorporate the fixes for delivery”

  29. On what Boeing could gain from re-visiting the Embraer JV:

    American Airlines Is Bringing Back 50-Seater Airplanes

    (from Simple Flying)

    ‘American Airlines is set to bring back the 50-seater CRJ-200 following its agreement with regional airline Air Wisconsin.’

    IMO there is a market there, for an OEM to make scope complaint aircraft to replace all the older jets.

  30. “SPEEA said 560 engineers and 135 technical staff chose to leave in November, the vast majority close to retirement age. For the year through November, SPEEA lost a total of 1,375 engineers at Boeing along with 471 technical staff.”

    • I guess those who want [others] to believe airframer(s) deliver an equal number of aircraft each month have to learn a lesson.

  31. I share with you the interest for an A322 NEO nevertheless three subjects of concern :
    the prohibitive time of boarding / disembarking of passengers (see 757-300)
    Is there is a need of a little of powerthrust bump at T/O? (for A321 XLR CFM said already no change for the LEAP , PW might have different view due to more margin on their design)
    The performance issue at take-off due to the limited angle of rotation even if most of the airframe lengthening is done at the front of the central box. Airline network with high runway lenght may mitigate this issue.
    More important : is there a market for such 230-250 seats /2700 nm module with low freight

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