The A350, Part 3: The A350-800 versus A330-900

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By Bjorn Fehrm

Introduction  

January 28, 2020, © Leeham News: Last week, we analyzed the smallest member of the Airbus A350 family, the A350-800. After Airbus changed the variant to a non-optimal “cut and shut” variant, it was no longer competitive.

Airbus froze the development of the A350-800 and then let it slip out of the program (it’s never officially canceled). The A330neo became the replacement for the A350-800. Was this the right decision? Is the A330neo the better airplane?

Summary
  • We saw the A350-800 in its final form had a problem competing with Boeing’s 787. This created a problem for the Airbus widebody program below 300 seats.
  • After a thorough investigation, Airbus found a way to update the A330 to take the place of the A350-800. We use our airliner performance model to find out how well the replacement performs.

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The A350, Part 2: Analyzing the A350-800

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By Bjorn Fehrm

Introduction  

January 21, 2020, © Leeham News: Before the holidays, we started a series to look into Airbus’ A350 family. We analyzed the development program and how the variants have sold.

Initially, the A350-800 won about 180 orders. But as the market received more information about the smaller variant, the more it realized it wasn’t an optimal airplane. It was never officially canceled. But orders was up-gauged to the A350-900. Airbus decided the variant wasn’t competitive and developed the A330neo instead. We now look into why.

Summary
  • The A350-800 was positioned as Airbus’ main defense against Boeing’s new 787-9, the most efficient variant of the Dreamliner.
  • As the A350 program was delayed, the A350-800 moved from an optimized variant to a “cut and shut” version. This compromised its efficiency.
  • Gradually Airbus changed its strategy how to compete with the 787.

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Enhancing the Dreamliner, Part 8: Wrap Up

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By Bjorn Ferhm and Vincent Valery

Introduction  

Nov. 26, 2020, © Leeham News: After analyzing the three members of the Dreamliner family on several routes out of San Francisco to Asian destinations, we conclude the series with a wrap- up of what we learned.

Summary
  • A guinea pig for new technologies and processes;
  • After a long slough against problems, a resounding commercial success;
  • Size-wise, ideally-positioned for the post-COVID world;
  • Future enhancements.

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Enhancing the Dreamliner, Part 7: The optimum range for the 787-10

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By Bjorn Fehrm

Introduction  

November 19, 2020, © Leeham News: Last week, we compared the economics of the 787-10 to the 787-9 on the San Francisco to Sydney route.

We could see this 6,500nm route does not suit the 787-10, even though it’s within the aircraft’s range capability. The 787-9 is the better alternative.

We now compare the aircraft on the 4,500nmm San Francisco to Tokyo route, a distance that should suit the 787-10 better.

Summary
  • The 787-10 can fly routes of up to 6,500nm, but its payload capability gets compromised.
  • You can fill the cabin to a reasonable load factor but must leave all cargo behind. In a high yield cargo market, this is not a profitable proposition.
  • When the routes are below 5,000nm, the 787-10 works better. Now the large capacity can be utilized both for passengers and cargo. If it can be filled it’s now the lowest cost Dreamliner.

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Enhancing the Dreamliner, Part 6: The 787-10 analyzed

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By Bjorn Fehrm

Introduction

November 12, 2020, © Leeham News: We look deeper at the 787-10, the stretched Dreamliner. The 787-10 was conceived as a “cut and stretch” of the 787-9, leaving as many parts untouched as possible. It carries 40 more passengers, but over a shorter distance.

It’s a high capacity complement to the other Dreamliners for airlines that needed more seats and could sacrifice about 1,500nm in payload-range performance. To check how well this works, we run the 787-10 against 787-9 on the San Francisco to Sydney route from last week and look at the data.

Summary
  • The 787-10, as a “cut and stretch” development from the 787-9 comes with compromises on long routes.
  • Our San Francisco to Sydney example shows these limitations in practice, even with the rumored Gross Weight stretch of the latest sales to Air New Zealand.
  • The 787-10 comes into its own on shorter routes. We look at this next week.

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Enhancing the Dreamliner, Part 5: 787-10

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By Vincent Valery

Introduction  

Nov. 5, 2020, © Leeham News: After analyzing the 787-9, we now turn our attention to the last Dreamliner variant that entered into service, the -10.

The 787-10 was developed as a minimum change stretch of the 787-9. Keeping it at the same gross weight as the 787-9 meant it could share the same wing and landing gear, yet offer a higher capacity. The longer fuselage meant higher empty weight and drag so the range of the -10 was cut compared with the other Dreamliners.

Summary
  • Maximizing commonality by trading range for volume;
  • Limited near-term replacement market;
  • A case for further enhancements;
  • Payload limitations on a long-haul route.

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Enhancing the Dreamliner, Part 4: the 787-9 analyzed.

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By Bjorn Fehrm

Introduction  

October 29, 2020, © Leeham News: We look deeper at the 787-9, the most successful member of the Dreamliner family. It’s 50 seats larger than the 787-8 but shares the same wing dimensions and engines.

The 787-9 quickly overtook the smaller 787-8 in sales and deliveries once its performance was clear to the airlines.

By following on the 787-8 it could benefit from many enhancements in design and production, becoming a very efficient aircraft in the process. To check its efficiency we run the 787-9 against its predecessor, the Boeing 777-200ER, on the San Francisco to Sydney route and look at the data.

Summary
  • The 787-9 enjoyed all the improvements that came to light when developing the 787-8. The result is one of the most efficient twin-aisle aircraft on the market.
  • Why it’s popular with the airlines becomes evident when we compare with the aircraft it replaces, the 777-200ER.

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Enhancing the Dreamliner, Part 3: 787-9

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By Vincent Valery

Introduction  

Oct. 22, 2020, © Leeham News: After analyzing the 787-8, we now turn our attention to the following Dreamliner variant that entered into service, the -9.

Summary
  • Lessons learned from 787-8 mishaps;
  • A resounding commercial success;
  • Some in-service drawbacks;
  • Competition limits pricing power;
  • An ultra-long-haul route.

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Enhancing the Dreamliner, Part 2: The 787-8 analyzed

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By Bjorn Fehrm

Introduction  

October 15, 2020, © Leeham News: We look deeper at the 787-8, the smallest member of the Dreamliner family. After selling well initially, it has fallen out of favor with the airlines.

We analyze why by comparing it with its more successful sister, the 787-9. The 787-8 and -9 were conceived together, with the -8 as the first birth to be quickly followed by a longer version, the 787-9.

With the troubles of the program, it took three years before the longer 787 was ready. By then it was in many ways a different aircraft than the 787-8.

Summary
  • The 787-8, as the first aircraft in the 787 Dreamliner series had to crack the brunt of the program’s many problems.
  • As a result, it ended up with first try solutions in many areas where the latter 787-9 could gain from the experience and use improved designs.
  • We analyze what this means for the economy for the 787-8, both from an operational and manufacturing standpoint.

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Enhancing the Dreamliner, Part 1: the 787-8

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By Vincent Valery

Introduction  

Oct. 8, 2020, © Leeham News: The Dreamliner program is approaching its 1000th delivery less than 10 years after entry into service. It is the fastest-ever delivery ramp-up for any twin-aisle program.

However, the milestone will feel bittersweet due to the upcoming production rate cuts (to six per month from 14) and the decision to close the Everett final assembly line and concentrate final assembly to South Carolina.

As outlined several times before, air travel recovery in the aftermath of the COVID-19 outbreak will take years. Long-haul markets, which the 787 serves, should be last to return to normal.

The above means Boeing will deliver far fewer 787s over the next five years than it envisioned at the beginning of the year. Any significant upgrade of the aircraft is off the table for the foreseeable future. To boost sales and profitability, the American OEM is looking at how to improve its product line at minimal costs.

LNA published an article last month about Boeing’s study into lowering 787-8 production costs.

By the end of August 2020, Boeing had 48, 333, and 145 outstanding orders for the -8, -9, and -10, respectively. LNA estimated the total to be 38, 299, and 145, respectively, after adjusting for orders at risk.

We will, in our series, go through the different models in the product line, their history, and potential for further improvements now that the product line approaches midlife.

Summary
  • Significant development problems and delays;
  • A compromise(d) design leads to initial limitations;
  • Deliveries slowed after post-EIS rush;
  • The problem Boeing did not want to address;
  • A long-haul route highlights potential enhancements.

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