LNC’s Top 10 stories in 2018

Jan. 2, 2019, © Leeham News: Boeing dominated the Top 10 news stories last year, as measured by views.

Displacing Airbus at Hawaiian Airlines, which ordered the 787-9 and canceled the A330-800, led the readership.

Boeing’s flip of the Hawaiian Airlines order for the A330-800 to the 787-9 was the most read story of 2018. Photo: Hawaiian Airlines.

Airbus’ launch of the A350-900ULR came in second.

Here are the Top 10 stories on Leeham News for 2018: Read more

2019 Outlook: Boeing’s decision on NMA is the headline to watch

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Introduction

Dec. 21, 2018, © Leeham News: It is a stretch to say 2019 is a pivotal year for Boeing.

There would have to be events of tsunami proportions to be pivotal for a company with revenues of more than $90bn.

But there is no doubt 2019 will be a very important year for Boeing.

Summary
  • The headline to watch will be the widely anticipated launch of the New Midmarket Aircraft, also called the 797.
  • The 777X begins flight testing next year. Sales are stalled for the newest airplane of the Boeing family.
  • The proposed new joint venture between Boeing and Embraer is expected to be consummated by the end of the year.

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2019 Outlook: leaving Airbus’ troubled year behind

By Bjorn Fehrm

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Introduction

December 19, 2018, © Leeham News.: Next year is a time when Airbus hopes to leave its troubled 2018 behind.

But 2018 was also when the company wanted to leave the troubles of 2017 behind it.

Not only did 2018 not improve. In a number of ways it turned worse.

Engineless A320neos at Toulouse Airport. Airbus hopes this is a thing of the past. Photo via Google images.

Turmoil in the management ranks brought back memories of the politically infested Airbus of 20 years ago. And there were other issues.

Production problems with the A320 continued. The A330neo was further delayed and the A380 order from Emirates to save the program took forever to materialize. The negotiations to fix the contracts for A400M couldn’t be brought to a close.

There were two bright lights in the year. The A350 was now out of its cabin supplier problems and delivering aircraft to plan. The other was the gift from Boeing’s suing Bombardier and its CSeries the year before. The top modern Bombardier CS100/300 became Airbus A220 on the first of July. Price tag; $1 for 50.01% of the program.

Summary
  • Changes in executives are almost over.
  • Pratt & Whitney’s engine delivery delays are caught up and CFM’s delays are diminishing.
  • Production ramp ups are peaking (for now) and deliveries should be at a record rate next year.
  • Airbus is waiting for Boeing to decide whether to launch the New Midmarket Aircraft.

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Is the A380 less economical than a 777-300ER?

By Bjorn Fehrm

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Introduction

December 06, 2018, © Leeham News.: Our Monday article “A380 suffers new blow, future remains bleak” describes how Air France hands back five of their 10 Airbus A380-800 to their lessor with start next year.

The article details the reasons behind the returns. Other media writes the A380 are notably more expensive to run than a Boeing 777-300ER. As so often, this is a serious case of apples and oranges.

Summary:

  • To compare aircraft like-for-like, they need to be compared with the same rules for cabins and operations.
  • When this is done, the A380 is not more expensive to operate than a 777-300ER.
  • The caveat is: if filled to the same load factor.
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A380 suffers new blow, future remains bleak

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Air France is returning five of 10 A380s to lessors. Photo via Google images.

Dec. 3, 2018, © Leeham News: Air France will return five leased Airbus A380s to lessors next year and in 2020, citing high operating and crew costs compared with the Boeing 777-300ER that is the principal long-haul airplane in its fleet.

This is another blow to the world’s largest passenger aircraft program.

It underscores something Airbus CEO Tom Enders said in 2017: “If you fill it 80% or more, it is a money-making machine.”

Air France’s A380 load factor is not a matter of public record, but the airline itself has a general passenger-avoidance problem due to repeated strikes and generally poor service. The airline’s A380 interiors are dated and the business class is not on a par with even its own Boeing airplanes—nor competitors’ A380s. Read more

How useful is an NMA, Part 4

By Bjorn Fehrm

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Introduction

November 1, 2018, © Leeham News.: Last week we looked at how a Boeing NMA would function as a medium range airliner in the Asia-Pacific.

We now continue with flying the two aircraft variants from Middle East locations, exploring how large an area in Asia, Europe and Africa the aircraft would cover.

Artists impression of the Boeing NMA. Source: The Air Current.

Summary:

  • The profile of an NMA fits well in a Middle East Carrier’s fleet. Dependent on location it covers all of Europe and most of Africa and Asia.
  • As the NMA is a lesser aircraft than the present long-range aircraft used on the routes it would have impressive economics for this type of operation.

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777F, 747-8F orders help former’s bridge, solidify Boeing as freighter king

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Introduction

Aug. 6, 2018, © Leeham News: The surge of orders at the Farnborough Air Show for Boeing 777 and 747-8 freighters is welcome news for Boeing, which still had production gaps to bridge between the 777 Classic and the 777X.

The 747-8F orders, for five, helps breathe life into this struggling program.

The orders also add to Boeing’s virtual monopoly in new-build cargo aircraft backlogs.

Summary
  • 777F orders and commitments now nearly double the remaining 777-300ER backlog.
  • Three new-build freighter models swamp Airbus offering of just the A330-200F.
  • Airbus pitching UPS for A330-800F.

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VLA era is over; are 777X, A350-1000 too large?

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Introduction

June 18, 2018, © Leeham News: The era of the Very Large Aircraft appears over.

The Boeing 747 passenger airliner, while nominally still offered for sale, is in reality dead.

The Airbus A380 limps along in what may prove to be a vain hope that airport congestion will spur sales next decade.

The next level down, however, doesn’t appear very strong.

Sales of the Airbus A350-1000 stalled at 200 or less for years.

Sales of the Boeing 777X likewise stalled following program launch in 2013-2014. Although the 777X has twice as many orders as the A350-1000, fully 72% of them come from three customers, one of which is in serious financial trouble and may cancel or defer some or all its orders.

Summary
  • Orders for the largest Large Twin-Aisle aircraft lag the Small and Medium Twin-Aisles.
  • Big 3 in the Middle East are major customers for the 777X, A350-1000. Iran Air also buyer of -1000.
  • While Big Twin languishes, small- and medium-twins remain in demand.
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Boeing 777-9 or Airbus A350-1000 for the Gulf carriers?

By Bjorn Fehrm

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Introduction

May 17, 2018, © Leeham News: The recent agreement between the US and the Gulf carriers limits the expansion of the carriers on the US market. As the premier long-range destination area from the Gulf is the US market, this will influence the lift needed by the three.

All three carriers, Emirates, Qatar Airways (Qatar) and Etihad, have decided on the 777-9 as the mainstay for their long-haul needs. With the change, the question arises, will Qatar increase the buy of the A350-1000 instead of taking the 777-9 and will any of the others reconsider?

To understand what’s involved we compare the capacity and the costs of the 777-9 and A350-1000. How large is the difference? Is the A350 the better choice if the extreme long-haul capacity needs decline?

 Summary:
  • The maximum range and per seat costs of the 777-9 and A350-1000 are close when compared apples to apples.
  • The advantage for the 777-9 at full aircraft disappears quickly as load factors decline.
  • If the needed capacity of the long-haul US routes declines, the 777-9 can be too much aircraft for the Gulf carriers.
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Wide-body production rates show mix of strength, weakness

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Introduction

May 14, 2018, © Leeham News: Wide-body production rates by Airbus and Boeing are expected to go up modestly during the next three year, with a jump in 2022—if Boeing 777X production rates head for 7/mo in late 2022, as the company projects.

The supply chain was asked last year by Boeing for a Rate Readiness Assessment that suggests a rate of 5/mo in late 2021 and rate 7/mo a year later.

Airbus is expected to boost production of the A350 to 13/mo as early as late next year. Meanwhile, the A330 production rate is coming down due to soft demand.

These rates omit impacts of the US withdrawing from the Iran Nuclear Deal, in which some 100 Airbus orders, mostly wide-body, and some three-score wide-body Boeing orders disappear with the action.

Summary
  • Production rate hikes driven by A350, 767, 787.
  • A380, A330, 747, 777 remain weak.
  • Is entire twin-aisle market continuing a down-gauging?

Scott Hamilton will discuss production rates at the Southeast Aerospace & Defence Conference next month in Mobile (AL). Click here for more information.

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