A350-1000 or 777-9? Part 2

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By Bjorn Fehrm

April 10, 2024, © Leeham News: We are doing an article series comparing the capabilities of the Airbus A350-1000 and the Boeing 777-9. The A350-1000 has not been a hot seller, and a lot of analysts asked why. Is there a capability gap or what is the reason?

At the same time, the reworked Boeing 777X had reassuring initial sales at the November 2013 launch at the Dubai Air Show, where Emirates ordered 150 777-9 out of a total show orderbook of 259 aircraft for Emirates (150), Qatar (50), Lufthansa (34), and Ethiad (20). The orders have since grown to 481 as of late 2023.

The A350-1000 has had a recent resurgence in orders and switches from the A350-900 orders, whereas the 777–9 has seen several delays due to engine and certification problems and is now scheduled for 2025 delivery instead of 2020.

Does the 777-9 or the A350-1000 hold the upper hand in a long-term race between the largest widebodies after the Airbus A380 and Boeing 747-8i stopped deliveries? We use our Aircraft Performance and Cost model to compare the two to understand their present performance and potential for upgrades.

Summary:
  • The Boeing 777-9 is a larger and heavier aircraft with a 12% higher passenger capacity.
  • Does an advanced wing and later generation engines compensate for an older and heavier fuselage structure?

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Airbus charges and write-offs since 1999: more than €33bn

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By Scott Hamilton

April 8, 2024, © Leeham News: The A400M is Airbus’s biggest financial albatross when it comes to taking charges and write-offs, an analysis shows.

LNA last week reported Boeing’s long history of charges and write-offs that arguably hurt shareholder value in a company that’s placed this metric ahead of all others since the 1997 merger with McDonnell Douglas Corp. (MDC). Boeing has written off or taken charges of more than $73bn since 1996, the last year before the merger.

Airbus’ public records go back to 1999. Since then, the company wrote off more than €33bn (about $35bn using today’s exchange rate). This is about half of Boeing’s $70bn from 1999 through 2023.

The A400M military transport has been a financial thorn in Airbus’ side since inception. More than €10.5bn has been written off. Airbus’ other financial albatross, the A380, saw write-offs of €3.7bn.

Airbus’ infamous bribery scandal resulted in $4.2bn in European and US fines. Of this, $500m was paid to the US Justice Department for violating ITAR rules, which govern technology transfer to restricted governments such as China. (Notably, Boeing paid a criminal penalty fine of just $244m to Justice in connection with the two 737 MAX MCAS crashes in 2018 and 2019 in which 346 people died.)

The A350 program resulted in charges and write-offs totaling €2.57bn.

Airbus purchased Bombardier’s C Series for $1 for 50.1% control of the program. Airbus completed this purchase in 2018, taking a €2.6bn charge the same year for the purchase (and has invested billions of euros since then).

Below are two charts detailing the charges and write-offs. The first is by year and the second is by category.


Related Article

Boeing took +$73bn in charges since 1996


Airbus charges and write-offs by year

Airbus charges and write-offs by category

Airbus’ A350-1000 or Boeing’s 777-9?

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By Bjorn Fehrm

April 4, 2024, © Leeham News: Korean Air confirmed an order for 33 Airbus A350 in the week, 27 of which are the larger A350-1000. The order is significant on two accounts:

First, 27 A350-1000 and only 6 A350-900, where analysts have for years asked why the -1000 isn’t selling.

Secondly, for a carrier that has a rather 50-50 fleet of Airbus and Boeing planes, its large widebody was the Boeing 777-300ER, whereof it has 27 out of 37 Boeing 777 in total. Korean Air now chooses the A350-1000 to replace the 777-300ER. Why not the 777-9?

Was this a question of availability (the 777-9 should have been delivered in 2020 but has had several delays; the present plan says 2025), or was there a technical-economic reason for Korean Air’s decision? We examine the characteristics of the two planes to find the answers.

Summary:
  • The Boeing 777-300ER was an exceptionally successful stretch of the original 777-200. The 777-9 is the sequel to the 777-300ER.
  • The market did not like the original A350-1000. Therefore, the present -1000 is a reconfigured aircraft compared to the original variant.

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When does a larger airliner pay off? Part 4

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By Bjorn Fehrm

March 28, 2024, © Leeham News: We are doing an article series about what drove the cross-over from Airbus A319 to A320 and then to A321. We analyzed the change from A319/A320ceo to neo last week and discussed why the neo shift for the A319 meant if stopped selling.

Now, we study the change from A321ceo to A321neo and what caused the acceleration of growth of A321 sales and deliveries as it was upgraded to neo.

Summary:
  • The increase in sales and delivery of the A321 when it went from ceo to neo has less to do with improved operating economics than other factors.
  • One of these factors was it filled the MOM (Middle Of the Market) gap that Boeing identified 10 years ago.

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When does a larger airliner pay off? Part 3

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By Bjorn Fehrm

March 21, 2024, © Leeham News: We are doing an article series about what drove the cross-over from Airbus A319 to A320 and then to A321. We started with the ceo range last week. We could see why the A320 was a better choice than an A319, with only a few more passengers per departure required to close the operating cost difference for a route, whereas the A321, being a larger jump in capacity, did not have the same per seat mile economics until traffic increased substantially.

Now we study the change to the neo generation and try to understand why the A319, a popular model as a ceo variant, did not sell at all as a neo.

Summary:

  • The A319ceo had a suitable capacity for routes before 2015.  It also had a passenger mile cost advantage over the A320 for thinner routes.
  • After 2016, when the A320neo entered the market, the A319neo didn’t sell at all, despite the continued existence of thin routes. We explain why.

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When does a larger airliner pay off? Part 2

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By Bjorn Fehrm

March 14, 2024, © Leeham News: We are doing an article series about what drove the cross-over from Airbus A319 to A320 and then to A321. We start with the ceo range to understand at what passenger numbers did a route support the A319 versus the A320 and A321.

The same change in airliner size happened for the Boeing 737, but we will limit the investigation to the Airbus range as the modern variants, 737 MAX 7 and 10, are not yet in service.

We will use our Airliner Performance and Cost Model (APCM) to model typical sectors and see at what load factors the economics favor a switch.

Figure 1. The Airbus A320ceo with it’s characteristic wing fences. Source: Airbus.

Summary:
  • We develop the Passenger Mile Costs for the different A320ceo variants, A319, A320 and A321.
  • Then, we gradually lower the number of passengers transported on the A320 and A321 until we have the same Passenger Mile Costs for all variants. This shows how many more passengers a route must support to motivate a switch to a larger model.

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Airbus and Boeing need each other for healthy supply chain

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By Dan Catchpole

March 11, 2024, © Leeham News: In the public arena, Boeing is flailing. It’s the subject of public rebukes by government officials, a new criminal investigation by the US Department of Justice, and a seemingly endless stream of scathing headlines.

However, executives at its European counterpart, Airbus, are not celebrating Boeing’s struggles.

“Airbus needs Boeing,” said Joe Marcheschi, director of flying parts procurement services for Airbus Americas. “Disruption, and turmoil in the supply chain hurts Airbus, too.”

The industry’s supply chain depends in large part on the two aerospace giants—which means, indirectly, Boeing and Airbus need each other.

Instability at the airplane makers may in some sense have furthered this interdependence by prompting many suppliers dependent on one OEM to diversify by supplying both companies and by looking outside commercial aerospace.

Summary:
  • Suppliers’ efforts to diversify beyond one OEM have deepened interdependence.
  • Labor, materials are among biggest supply chain challenges.
  • Airbus supporting suppliers to solve bottlenecks.

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When does a larger airliner pay off

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By Bjorn Fehrm

March 7, 2024, © Leeham News: Over the last decades, the choice of domestic market airliners has gone from the typical 120-seater to today 200 seats or more. We will look into what drives these decisions and where the cross-over points are from, say, an Airbus A319 to A320 and then to A321. We will limit the investigation to the Airbus range as the Boeing 737 MAX range has still not their MAX 7 and MAX 10 in service.

We will use our Airliner Performance and Cost Model (APCM) to model typical sectors and investigate what load factors favor a switch.

Summary:
  • The typical domestic cabins have gone from 120 to 150 seats to now 200 seats or above.
  • As airliner types grow, their trip costs increase. At what load factors can you motivate an A321 instead of an A320?

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Bjorn’ s Corner: New aircraft technologies. Part 48. Maintenance Program for the A320/A321

By Bjorn Fehrm

March 1, 2024, ©. Leeham News: We are discussing the Operational phase of a new airliner family. For the operational phase, the airplane must pass scrutiny for Continued Airworthiness. The biggest item in a regulator’s Instructions for Continued Airworthiness is the required Maintenance program to keep an airliner airworthy. We discussed the modern MSG-3 maintenance program for an airliner last week, why it was created, and its main analysis principles.

Now we look at maintenance data designed to the MSG-3 standard, the Maintenance Planning Document (MPD) for the Airbus A318/A319/A320/A321.

Figure 1. The front page of the A318/A319/A320/A321 MPD no 45. Source: Airbus.

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Carrots and sticks needed to achieve sustainability goals, says Airbus

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By Tom Batchelor

February 22, 2024, © Leeham News:  The sustainability challenge is redefining the aerospace industry in all sorts of ways.

An Airbus A350-1000 is refuelled with a 35% blend of SAF prior to its participation at the 2024 Singapore Airshow’s flying display. Credit: Airbus

For Airbus, which spent €3.2bn on research and development last year, that comes in the form of clean-sheet designs for hydrogen-powered aircraft that promise to reduce in-flight carbon emissions to zero. The European planemaker’s ambition is to bring to market the world’s first such commercial aircraft by 2035.

But Airbus is also working on a successor to the A320 family, referred to as the “next-generation single-aisle” aircraft. At the company’s full-year briefing on February 15, more details were revealed about the aircraft, including confirmation that it would run entirely on Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF).

“We’re working on technology to develop the next short-to-medium range aircraft before the end of the next decade, which will be capable of flying up to 100% SAF,” Julie Kitcher, Airbus’ chief sustainability officer, told LNA in Toulouse. “It will be much more fuel efficient, but also feature a new wing design and new materials; we’re working on a lifecycle approach to this aircraft.” Read more