Airbus rolls out A350-900ULR

By Bjorn Fehrm

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March 5, 2018, © Leeham News: Airbus rolled out the first A350-900ULR the other day. The aircraft will be delivered to Singapore Airlines later this year. Singapore Airlines will use the aircraft to reopen the famous 20-hour flight, Singapore-New York. It will also fly to Los Angeles.

Airbus says the aircraft has a range of 9,700nm, but without saying under what conditions.  How many passengers can the aircraft take and in what type of seats are these sitting?

Figure 1. Airbus first A350-900ULR with modified wings, wing tanks and winglets. Source: Airbus.

We use our airliner performance model to bring clarity.

  • The A350-900ULR is touted as a 9,700nm range airliner. This is with restrictions on the number of seats and passengers, far from the nominal 325 seats capacity.
  • We use a method we learned from Qantas to evaluate the capacity of A350-900ULR.
  • With a Singapore decision to only offer Business and Premium economy seats for the ULR flights, the A350-900 will be space-limited for all flights except the Singapore-New York route.

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Norwegian’s creative accounting

By Bjorn Fehrm

March 07, 2018, ©. Leeham Co: In our February 14th article about Norwegian Air Shuttle’s operational losses, we used straightforward calculations to show the airline was losing around 2bn NOK or $300m in the fourth quarter, besides losses in 1H2107. When the airline presented the 2017 results the next day, creative accounting netted the year’s losses to 299m NOK or $32m.

This might change. The Financial Supervisory Authority of Norway (Finanstilsynet) is investigating Norwegian’s accounting methods for 2017.

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Hawaiian orders 787, cancels A330-800; Embraer ponder electric plane, not a jet

March 6, 23018 © Leeham Co.: It’s official: Boeing and Hawaiian Airlines announced an order for 10+10 787-9s. It’s a letter of intent and purchase rights.

The airline also confirmed it canceled an order for six Airbus A330-800s.


LNC was the first to report the transactions Feb. 20.

Separately, Embraer confirmed it’s looking at an airplane smaller than the E175, but denied a report originating in another media that it’s a small jet.

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Retirement wave coming that will boost A330neo sales, says Airbus

March 6, 2018: Airbus is ramping up the messaging for the slow-selling A330neo, reiterating its view that a wave of retirements is coming from current A330 operators that will support new sales.

LNC first reported the message Dec. 6.

Jeff Knittel, the new president of Airbus Americas, reinforced this message yesterday at an industry conference.

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Engine makers “inside the tent” on Boeing NMA, but airframer still ponders provider

March 5, 2018, © Leeham Co.: The three engine makers, CFM/GE, Pratt & Whitney and Rolls-Royce, are the only suppliers that have been brought “inside the tent” by Boeing for the New Midrange Aircraft, a company executive said today.

Launching the program is critical on the engine companies, says Randy Tinseth, VP marketing for Boeing. Boeing hasn’t decided—officially—whether it will have a

Randy Tinseth. Photo via Google images.

single-engine or dual-engine source for the aircraft because the program hasn’t been launched.

Market intelligence tells LNC that Boeing wants two engine choices. Intel also indicates all three engine OEMs view the market demand as sharply smaller than Boeing’s publicly-stated forecast of 4,000 Middle of the Market sector airplanes over the next 20 years.

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Pontifications: Measured comments and “useful” information

By Scott Hamilton

March 5, 2018, © Leeham Co.: Nothing is as frustrating to a journalist as interview a great subject who doesn’t offer up anything especially useful.

I had a brief sideline interview with one such person at the US Chamber of Commerce Aviation Summit 2018 last Thursday in Washington (DC). Great guy. Not much information.

Brad Tilden, CEO of Alaska Airlines, wasn’t going to be drawn into a discussion of two hot topics facing his carrier. Tilden had just come off an airline CEO panel, where he in his typical Boy Scout charm and enthusiasm opined about the state of the industry, praised the progress of the integration of Virgin America into Alaska and commented on a host of issues. But two topics didn’t come up.

I asked him about the competition vs Delta Air Lines in Seattle, where the two airlines are locked into a major market share battle. I also asked him about the fleet planning now that Alaska operates the Airbus A319, A320 and A321neo inherited from the acquisition of Virgin America. Alaska hitherto has been an all-Boeing 737 operator and recent, Ray Conner, former CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes and a good friend of Tilden, joined the Alaska board of directors.

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Bjorn’s Corner: Aircraft drag reduction, Part 19

February 23, 2018, ©. Leeham Co: In the last Corner we wrapped up the discussion on different drag types by discussing some less dominant drags.

To finish the series we will go through a typical mission for an airliner and study which drag is important when and why.

Figure 1. An aircraft’s drag profile as airspeed varies. The main part of Parasitic drag is air friction drag Source: Leeham Co.

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Professionals see two types for Middle of the Market sector

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March 1, 2018, © Leeham Co. Three industry professionals raised the question whether the Middle of the Market sector requires one aircraft type or two.

One raised the prospect Boeing might have to undertake concurrent aircraft development, as it did with the 757 and 767.

Richard Aboulafia, a consultant with The Teal Group, Ron Epstein, aerospace analyst for Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Kevin Michaels, president of AeroDynamic Advisory, made their remarks at the annual conference of the Pacific Northwest Aerospace Alliance last month in Lynnwood (WA).

  • Low-cost Embraer engineers may play a role in Boeing’s development of the NMA.
  • One consultant sees two distinct NMA aircraft.
  • Boeing’s vertical integration of the supply chain may make sense only with two concurrent of consecutive airplane programs.

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IAG’s LEVEL shopping for future fleet

By Bjorn Fehrm

February 28, 2018, ©. Leeham Co: IAG (parent of British Airways, IBERIA, Air Lingus, Vueling and LEVEL) presented the 2017 results Friday. The group’s airlines all had a good 2017 behind them.

LEVEL, the long-haul LCC started from Barcelona in June 2017 with two Airbus A330-200s, performed better than expected. With the market response to LEVEL, IAG’s CEO Willi Walsh sees the LEVEL business plan as confirmed.

The airline will now expand from today’s three A330-200s to at least 15 aircraft by 2022. The A330 is not a given, according to Walsh; the Boeing 787 could also be a good fit.

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Pontifications: OEMs hike list prices

By Scott Hamilton

Feb. 26, 2018, © Leeham Co.:  I’m tardy in getting around to this topic, which I do annually, because of an unusually heavy travel schedule this year.

The airframe manufacturers in January adjusted their list prices for airplanes. The prices generally went up 2%-4%, but turboprop maker ATR didn’t adjust this year.

The SADC 2018 conference includes speakers from Airbus, Bombardier, Oliver Wyman, NASA, four states in the Southeast and more. Click here for information and to register.

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