The all-important cabin. Part 3

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By Bjorn Fehrm

June 6, 2024, © Leeham News: We do an article series about the all-important cabin and its seating for an airliner. We have looked at different narrowbody cabins and how the seating differs widely depending on the market and customer segments the aircraft addresses.

This week, we focus on why widebody aircraft have relatively low seat counts compared with single-aisle aircraft, like the A321neo.

We use the cabin generator in our Aircraft Performance and Cost Model (APCM) to configure widebody cabins and compare these with the narrowbody equivalents.

Summary:
  • The widebody cabins are configured for longer flight times, resulting in them taking more space.
  • When a widebody is configured for domestic flights, its seating per cabin area is closer to that of a narrowbody.

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The all-important cabin. Part 2

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By Bjorn Fehrm

May 30, 2024, © Leeham News: We will do an article series about the all-important cabin and its seating for an airliner. The cabin layout and its comfort are the most important part of an airliner for the passenger. For an airline it’s its face to the customer.

We will look at the different types of cabins used and how these use the airliner’s real estate, what the cost is, and what the weight is. With the weight, we can also predict how different cabins affect the aircraft’s performance.

Summary:
  • The configuration of the cabin has a large influence on total seating, weight, and cost.
  • The relationships change up to 500%.

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Big hurdles for COMAC to become serious challenger to Airbus, Boeing

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By Scott Hamilton

May 27, 2024, © Leeham News: A flurry of orders by China’s Big Three airlines finally began to balance announced deals for the COMAC C-919 mainline jet.

Until the recent orders from Air China, China Eastern, and China Southern, the vast number of the announced transactions were concentrated among Chinese lessors. The imbalance was not a good thing.

Airbus and Boeing prefer speculative orders by lessors amounting to 25% to perhaps 35% of the order book. (Lessors in recent decades often accounted for 40% to 50% of the in-service fleet, but the differences were from sale/leasebacks of orders originally placed by airlines.)

Boeing and Airbus have different views toward lessors. Airbus, especially under then-Chief Commercial Officer John Leahy, viewed lessors as an extension of the Airbus marketing arm. Lessors broadened Airbus’ market penetration, especially during the early years of the A320’s entry into service.

On the other hand, Boeing viewed lessors as a necessary evil, preferring to deal with a select few rather than a large number. Both viewed lessors to some degree as competitors to direct sales.

Before the Big Three orders, COMAC’s tally was around 760+ for the C919. More than 70% of the announced orders were for Chinese lessors. No lessor outside China was a customer and only Indonesia’s Trans Nusa (partly owned by Chinese lessor CALC) was a customer outside China.

Following the Big Three orders, about 46% of the orders are from airlines—a much better mix than before but still overweighted with lessors.

With Airbus’ A320 family sold out into the 2030 decade and Boeing’s MAX production and delivery schedules in disarray, what alternatives do customers have to the Big Two OEMs? COMAC is the most likely, but the challenges are immense.

COMAC’s challenges

COMAC has big challenges ahead if it wants to become a major global player in commercial aviation.

  • Gaining credibility for the C919 inside and outside China.
  • Economic competitiveness to the A320neo and 737 MAX.
  • Ramping up production.
  • Global product support.
  • Geopolitical concerns.

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The all-important cabin. Part 1

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By Bjorn Fehrm

May 23, 2024, © Leeham News: We will do an article series about the all-important cabin and its seating for an airliner. The cabin layout and its comfort are the most important parts of an airliner for the passenger.

Most of the time, the traveler doesn’t know what type of aircraft he is flying on, but he will have a clear understanding of the cabin and whether it meets his expectations.

The cabin is where the airline can expose its branding and set the flight experience for the passenger. It’s thus an area that is updated to new cabin concepts for the fleet more often today than 10 years ago, especially for mainline carriers.

The cabin is also important in evaluating airliners, as the characteristics of the aircraft (fuel consumption, operational costs) are evaluated per seat. OEMs have become experts in maximizing the seating of their aircraft to gain an advantage during an evaluation. Sometimes, in a non-transparent way. We will explain the typical tricks and how to guarantee an apples-to-apples comparison when evaluating airliners.

Summary:
  • The cabin and its seats mean different things to a passenger, airline, and evaluation expert.
  • We go through the different priorities, and how they affect the end product.

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A350-1000 or 777-8? Part 2

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By Bjorn Fehrm

May 16, 2024, © Leeham News: We are doing an article series comparing the capabilities of the Airbus A350-1000 and the Boeing 777X. We have looked at the A350-1000 versus the 777-9 and started comparing the history and capabilities of the 777-8 versus the A350-1000 last week.

Now, we use our Aircraft Performance and Cost Model (APCM) to fly the aircraft on a typical route and compare their performance.

Summary:
  • The A350-1000 and the latest 777-8 definition is a closer payload-range match than the A350-1000 and 777-9.
  • Passenger and cargo capabilities are similar. The economic comparison will be determined by maintenance costs for the engines.

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Airbus’ A350-1000 or Boeing’s 777-8? Part 1

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By Bjorn Fehrm

May 9, 2024, © Leeham News: We are doing an article series comparing the capabilities of the Airbus A350-1000 and the Boeing 777X series. We started with the 777-9, the larger model. Now, we continue with the shorter 777-8, an aircraft closer in size to the A350-1000.

The 777-8 was originally launched in a shorter version together with the 777-9. Then, it went very quiet around the 777-8, with some analysts speculating that the passenger version would not be done. The 777X freighter, the 777-8F, was launched in January 2022. It became a bit longer than the 777-8. This now forms the final definition of the 777-8.

Summary:

  • The comparison of the A350-1000 and the 777-8 is comparing the longer-narrower versus the shorter-wider.
  • Which is the best? We use Leeham’s Aircraft Performance and Cost Model (APCM) to find out.

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Southwest could solve its MAX 7 woes … by buying Breeze?

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By Judson Rollins

Introduction 

May 6, 2024, © Leeham News: Southwest Airlines, still awaiting the certification and delivery of the Boeing 737 MAX 7 as a replacement for its aging 737-700s, might have an unorthodox alternative: acquire startup Breeze Airways for its Airbus A220 fleet – and, more importantly, its order book.

Source: Orlando International Airport via Simple Flying.

Launched in 2021 by serial airline entrepreneur David Neeleman, Breeze operates 23 A220-300s, 10 Embraer E190s, and six E195s to 47 airports across the US. It focuses on connecting larger airports to smaller cities, including a handful of transcontinental routes.

Ironically, the Utah-based airline achieved its first-ever monthly operating profit in March. It recently announced plans to operate the A220 exclusively by the end of this year.

According to a January update from database provider Cirium, Breeze has between 11 and 13 A220s scheduled for delivery each year through 2028. No options are listed.

Market intelligence says Airbus Commercial Aircraft CEO Christian Scherer visited with Southwest executives in Dallas and Breeze leadership near Salt Lake City in mid-April. This was well after Breeze’s February order for 10 additional A220s.

Summary
  • To deliver or not to deliver the MAX 7?
  • Southwest’s aging 737-700 fleet has few replacement options
  • How a Breeze acquisition might play out
  • Azorra Aviation is likely a key partner in helping Southwest get A220s

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A350-1000 or 777-9? Part 4

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By Bjorn Fehrm

May 2, 2024, © Leeham News: We are doing an article series comparing the capabilities of the Airbus A350-1000 and the Boeing 777-9. We looked at the development history of the aircraft and then their capability and fuel economics.

We could see that the 777-9 is trailing the A350-1000 in payload range, partly because we compare the base version of the 777-9 with a further developed A350-1000. Now, we investigate what the 777-9 performance would be should we include a typical future development of the Maximum TakeOff Weight (MTOW).

Summary:
  • The A350-1000 has a clear payload-range advantage over the standard 777-9.
  • With an in-service Maximum TakeOff Weight (MTOW) development like the A350-1000, the difference is reduced.

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Airbus 1Q2024 results: Airbus CEO: “A350 in-service experience drives positive reputation and orders”

By Bjorn Fehrm

April 25, 2023, © Leeham News: Airbus has presented its results for the first quarter of 2024. The strong order flow continues, with a pickup on the widebody side, especially for the A350.

Airbus has, therefore, canned the rate 10 target for 2026 and aims for rate 12 in 2028, with a stronger mix of A350-1000s.

The company has a net cash position of €8.7bn and €30bn liquidity. Guidance for 2024 is unchanged, with 800 commercial aircraft delivered, an EBIT adjusted of €6.5bn to 7 bn, and a Free cash flow of €4bn.

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A350-1000 or 777-9? Part 3

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By Bjorn Fehrm

April 25, 2024, © Leeham News: We are doing an article series comparing the capabilities of the Airbus A350-1000 and the Boeing 777-9. We looked at the development history of the aircraft and compared their size and payload capacity.

Now, we use our Aircraft Performance and Cost Model (APCM) to fly the aircraft on a typical route and compare their performance. We also look at their stage of development and the potential for future upgrades inherent in the design.

Summary:
  • The A350-1000 has got its Maximum TakeOff Weight (MTOW) increased four times since entry into service.
  • The latest MTOW hike to 322t gives the A350 a clear payload-range advantage over the 777-9. Any increase in the 777-9’s MTOW will have to come after type certification.

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