The A350, Part 7: The A350-900ULR versus 777-200LR/A340-500

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By Bjorn Fehrm

Introduction  

February 25, 2021, © Leeham News: Last week, we started analyzing the long rangers of the Airbus A350, Boeing 777, and Airbus A340 families.

The A340-500 and the 777-200LR are a generation older than the A350-900ULR. We compare their performance on the world’s most challenging route, Singapore to New York, to find out how much Singapore Airlines gains by changing from the A340-500 to the A350-900ULR.

Summary
  • The A350-900ULR is unique among the Ultra Long Range aircraft by being a lightly changed variant of the standard A350-900.
  • By adopting the A350-1000 tank filling levels, the aircraft has enough fuel to fly up to 20 hours with a long-range payload.
  • Should the airline change its mind, the A350-900ULR can convert back to a standard A350-900.
  • With modern technology, it outclasses the economics of the 777-200LR and A340-500.

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Pontifications: For Boeing, the future is a new airplane, not the status quo

By Scott Hamilton

 Feb. 22, 2021, © Leeham News: Tunnel-vision pundits, analysts, and even some experts say Boeing shouldn’t launch a new airplane program within the next few years.

Why? They say doing so will cannibalize the 737 MAX 9 and MAX 10. They say it will undermine sales of the entire MAX family.

I say, poppycock.

Boeing has a MAX problem. It’s not the grounding, although the issues from this are obvious. LNA has written about this ad nauseam, but it’s necessary to remind these new airplane-naysayers. The MAX 7 is a sales dud. The MAX 9 isn’t far behind. And the MAX 10 is uncompetitive with the Airbus A321neo family.

The only MAX that has a bright future is the MAX 8. Boeing can’t rely on the MAX 8 for its future in the 125-240 seat sector.

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Differentiation in the marketplace and the time for the open rotor

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By the Leeham News Team

Introduction

Feb. 22, 2021, © Leeham News: Airliners are now so efficient, one challenge facing Airbus and Boeing in competing is overcoming the laws of diminishing returns.

The time may finally have come for an Open Rotor airliner. Source: Safran.

LNA described this challenge Feb. 8. Additionally, airport infrastructure erects a vast number of design roadblocks.

We focused on the creation of the 737 replacement and how difficult it will be to make meaningful performance upgrades to the economics of the vehicle. We outlined the next battle in product differentiation most likely will occur in optimizing non-flying time operations, focusing on ground operations as the next efficiency battleground. Since then, it was reported that Boeing indicated that a new aircraft sized between the 737 and the 767/NMA was a front runner in their future planning.

Summary
  • NMA Lite needed for 737-9/10 to 787-8 sector.
  • Replacement for 737-7 and 737-8 best suited for Open Rotor design.
  • What an Open Rotor plane might look like

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Airbus 2020, prudent navigation of a challenging environment

February 18, 2021, © Leeham News: Airbus presented its results for 2020 today. The company reported a net loss of €0.5bn at revenues of €50bn (€70.5bn 2019). Airbus’ operations delivered a result of +€1.7bn; it was then reduced to a loss by charges of €2.2bn for the year.

Airliner deliveries reduced by 34% to 566 for the year (863), with net orders at 268 aircraft (768). A forecast for 2021 was given as same-level deliveries with operating profit at +€2bn and break-even Free Cash Flow.

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The A350, Part 6 A350-900ULR Intro

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By Vincent Valery

Introduction  

Feb. 18, 2021, © Leeham News: After comparing the Airbus A350-900 and the Boeing 777-200ER on a long haul route, we turn our attention to the A350-900 Ultra Long Range variant.

Summary
  • A history of Ultra Long Haul Flights;
  • Proliferation along with globalization;
  • Poor sales record of ULR variants;
  • The attractiveness of the A350-900ULR.

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Airbus’ production plans

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By Vincent Valery

Introduction  

Feb. 15, 2021, © Leeham News: LNA wrote last month an article about Boeing’s latest production plans for future years. Airbus announced updated production plans on Jan. 21.

Airbus’ latest production plans call for a shallower increase in A320 production rates than envisioned earlier due to the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The A220 production rate will go back to five per month, while twin-aisle rates will stay flat for the foreseeable future. Airbus postponed an envisioned A350 production rate hike while predicting a return to pre-COVID demand levels by 2023 to 2025.

These updated delivery rates reflect customer’s delivery preferences. Ahead of Airbus’ earnings release on Feb. 18, LNA analyses the revised delivery schedule for coming years on the four major commercial programs.

Summary
  • Some A220 delays;
  • Slight A320 adjustments;
  • Lower for longer on twin-aisle programs;
  • Near-term delivery concerns on one program.

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The A350, Part 5: The A350-900 versus 777-200ER

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By Bjorn Fehrm

Introduction  

February 11, 2021, © Leeham News: Last week, we started analyzing the main member of the Airbus A350 family, the A350-900. It’s the design center for the A350 family and has so far 747 orders, of which 354 are delivered.

Over 1,000 Boeing 777 airliners in the market need replacement, and the A350-900 targets about half of these, the 777-200 and -200ER. Delta is one airline that started the switch from 777-200ER to A350-900. How much does Delta stand to gain?

Summary
  • The 777-200ER broke the ground for oceanic twin-engine flights. It offered an improved economy on trans-oceanic routes.
  • Airliner technology advanced for the 18 years younger A350-900, spurred on by Boeing’s technical leaps with the 787 Dreamliner.
  • As the A350-900 employed these gains in the 777-200ER size class, it does to the 777-200ER what it did to Airbus A340-300, it wins the economy race hands down. Read more

Pontifications: Boeing’s right direction, but don’t get ahead of reality

By Scott Hamilton

Feb. 8, 2021, © Leeham News: Boeing appears to be heading in the right direction: launch a new airplane program to take care of its 737 MAX product weakness. And do something different by pursuing the “NMA Lite” concept: a twin-aisle, three-member family starting at ~185 seats through ~250 seat and up to 5,000nm in range.

But don’t get ahead of ourselves on the NMA Lite. There are a lot of Ts to cross and i’s to dot.

And anything can change between now and a concerted effort to survey customers, prepare the supply chain and ask the Boeing Board for Authority to Offer the NMA Lite for sale.

Importantly, a three member family dramatically expands the potential market. Publicly, Boeing said the market for the NMA is about 4,000. Internally, officials knew it was more like 2,100—with Airbus capturing perhaps half.

With a third member, demand increases by roughly 7,000.

It’s tough to make a business case for 1,050 airplanes. It’s much easier for 4,550.

Still, this is the best news I’ve seen come out of Boeing in years. Even pre-dating the MAX ground. And pre-dating the COVID pandemic.

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The world of diminishing returns: challenges Boeing faces

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By the Leeham News Team

Introduction

Feb. 8, 2021, © Leeham News: Boeing faces a dilemma of Solomonic proportion.

Which direction should it extend its product offerings?

With the suspension a year ago of the New Midmarket Airplane (NMA) project by incoming CEO David Calhoun, Boeing’s future airplane strategy was upended.

Some Internet pundits said Boeing needed a clean-sheet replacement for the 737. Others said it needs to be a 757/NMA sized vehicle.

Last week, Aviation Week reported Boeing appears to now be headed in the direction of a three-member “NMA Lite” family. LNA outlined this approach last June. Feb. 3’s LNA post has more detail.

While Boeing faces near-term decisions, the challenges go well beyond launching a new airplane and the new engines required to power it.

Summary
  • Advances of diminishing returns.
  • Staying within the ICAO box.
  • Taking the fight to the ground.

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Bjorn’s Corner: The challenges of hydrogen. Part 23. Hydrogen fuel cells

By Bjorn Fehrm

February 5, 2021, ©. Leeham News: Last week, we started the discussion around fuel cells as a source of electric energy in airliners. We went through the principle and asked some vital questions.

Now we look at different types of fuel cells and for what applications these are suited.

Figure 1. The principle of a hydrogen fuel cell. Source: Airbus.

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