Will the A220 drive the trans-Atlantic fragmentation to smaller jets? Part 2.

By Bjorn Fehrm


August 15, 2019, ©. Leeham News: Airbus is increasing the Gross Weight of its A220 variants by 5,000lb from 2H2020. It is to increase the already long range of the aircraft according to Airbus.

We looked at the typical trans-Atlantic routes this longer-range capability enabled last week. Now we explore further route areas and compare the A220 economics to the Boeing 737-8 and Airbus A321LR.


  • Last week we saw the A220 could open trans-Atlantic routes from West Europe to East Canada and North-East US.
  • This week we explore further alternatives and explore the economics of the A220 as an aircraft for long and thin routes.

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Pontifications: Muilenburg reaffirms MAX hopes, NMA ambiguity and 777X delay

By Scott Hamilton

Aug. 12, 2019, © Leeham News: Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg so far is sticking to a previously timeline in which the company expects to turn over to the Federal Aviation Administration next month the software fixes for the 737 MAX.

He continues to hope that this results in the lifting of the FAA’s grounding order and return to service (RTS) in the early fourth quarter.

He also sticks to the long-offered entry-into-service timeline of 2025 (though previously indicated there could be some slippage) if Boeing proceeds with the New Midmarket Aircraft, for which the business case still hasn’t closed.

And finally, he reaffirmed that first flight of the 777X will slip to early next year.

He made the remarks Aug. 7 during an appearance of a Jeffries Co. investors conference.

None of this was news, actually. All had been discussed on the July 27 2Q2019 earnings call. But this all served as a reaffirmation for the MAX information, where things are so fluid that new information sometimes emerges day after day.

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Will the A220 drive the trans-Atlantic fragmentation to smaller jets?

By Bjorn Fehrm

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August 8, 2019, ©. Leeham News: Airbus announced a hike of the Gross Weight of the A220 by 5,000lb at the Paris Air Show in June. It will be available for aircraft delivered from 2H2020.

“It was at the request of Customers, they wanted more range” said Rob Dewar, Head of Engineering & Customer Support for the A220, when we talked after the announcement. Will these customers use the capability to cross the Atlantic, driving the long-range fragmentation to ever-smaller cabins? Does it make economic sense compared to an A321LR or a 737 MAX 8? We check with our performance model.


  • The A220s have enough range to cover interesting parts of East US and West Europe with the increased Maximum Takeoff Weights.
  • The key question is; how economical will they be compared to Boeing’s 737 MAX 8 and Airbus A321LR.

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Survey split on MAX return to service: December to March

Aug. 7, 2019, © Leeham News: It will take Boeing nearly a year to deliver the stored 737 MAXes if the airplane returns to service in November, according to a new analysis by Bernstein Research.

Boeing 737 MAX jets grounded. Seattle Times photo.

In an Aug. 5 research note, Bernstein reported the results of an investors’ survey and forecast the ramp-up of production next year to rate 57/mo, something Boeing had hoped to achieve last June before the MAX grounding upset all plans.

In the survey, Bernstein reported it expects the MAX return to service in November.

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Boeing faces weak sales, production gap for 777X

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Aug. 5, 2019, © Leeham News: Design issues with the giant General Electric Aviation GE9X are causing untimely headaches for the Boeing 777X program, at a time when the 737 MAX is consuming the company.

The MAX grounding and longer-than-expected fixes and Return to Service (RTS) is overshadowing challenges with the 787 skyline, where a production rate of 14/mo is burning through the backlog faster than new orders are coming in.

The 777X is facing skyline challenges as well. Sales have been slow. One major customer in the Middle East is undergoing a financial and fleet restructuring and another publicly said it will reduce 777X orders if it places a new order for 787-10s.

The 777X delivery schedule has slid to the right due to the engine issues and the 777-8 is a niche airplane that may have a greater future as a freighter than it does as a passenger model.

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Boeing MAX crisis overshadows other challenges

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July 29, 2019, © Leeham News: The 737 MAX crisis overshadows everything else right now at Boeing.

This includes forward orders, weak customers and production gaps on the 787 line, which right now is the cash flow cow at Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

Boeing’s production line for the 787 is filled through 2021, but after that, there are big gaps. Source: Leeham Co. Click on image for a crisp view.

Executives only briefly, and obliquely, touched on the 787 during the 2Q2019 earnings call last Wednesday.

This prompted LNA to examine the details of the backlog and production rates. The 787 is current being produced at a rate of 14/mo.

There are clear signs of challenges, both near- and medium-term for the 787.

  • Weak customers threaten to create deferred deliveries near-term.
  • There will be about 20 A330s and 777s coming off lease each year from 2021-2026 on top of retirements. Airbus and Boeing see these are replacement opportunities.
  • The production back delivery stream falls off the cliff in 2022.

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Pontifications: MAX market share holding steady, so far

By Scott Hamilton

July 29, 2019, Leeham News: Despite threats and fears of cancellations for the Boeing 737 MAX following two fatal accidents of virtually brand new -8 MAXes, few order cancellations directly attributable to the crashes have occurred.

So far, there isn’t a discernible shift to Airbus, either, data shows.

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Bjorn’s Corner: Fly by steel or electrical wire?

By Bjorn Fehrm

July 25, 2019, ©. Leeham News: Last week’s Corner which dealt with Airbus’ issue with an updated A321neo Fly By Wire (FBW) and how it was unrelated to the issue of the Boeing 737 MAX, gives a good segue to a Corner series about the possibilities of FBW versus classical flight controls when it comes to tuning an airliner’s flight characteristics.

The two different control principles present the designer with very different challenges and possibilities.

The Fly-By-Wire Airbus A321XLR. Source: Airbus.

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Analyst shrug off possible 737 production shut down

July 25, 2019, © Leeham News: Aerospace analysts brushed aside Boeing’s warning yesterday that the possibility exists the 737 MAX production line might be shut down in the airplane doesn’t return to service (RTS) in the fourth quarter.

Boeing’s statement, on its 2Q2019 earnings call, created headlines in the press coverage, including on LNA.

But analysts shrugged off the news.

Separately, Southwest Airlines today announced it has removed the MAX from its schedule to January.

Below is a synopsis of reactions in notes issued last night and this morning.

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Boeing warns of production reduction, complete shut down of MAX if return to service delayed beyond 4th quarter

Dennis Muilenburg, Boeing CEO. Source: Reuters.

July 24, 2019, © Leeham News: Boeing’s chief executive officer today warned that if the 737 MAX return to service is delayed much beyond the anticipated fourth quarter RTS, reducing production from the current 42/mo or a complete production shut down could happen.

Either scenario would have huge and disruptive impacts to the supply chain.

CEO Dennis Muilenburg made the remark on the second quarter earnings call.

Last week, Boeing said it hopes for RTS in November. Today, Muilenburg characterized the hoped-for return “early in the fourth quarter.”

But he called the recertification processes and global regulatory reviews “dynamic.” There is no guarantee the RTS will happen on the timeline Boeing hopes.

Updated: Additional comments from the Question and Answer portion of the earnings call.

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