Bjorn’s Corner: Twins or quads?

By Bjorn Fehrm

By Bjorn Fehrm

11 December 2015, ©. Leeham Co: The debate over two or four engines for long range aircraft is as old as the jet airliner. A number of myths have been pedaled over the years over the virtues of the one over the other. The myths have even been presented by airline CEOs as “facts that are known in the industry.”

Having done several in-depth comparisons of two-vs-four engined long range aircraft, we can’t find the patterns that these myths propel: that a quad is less efficient than a twin and should have higher maintenance costs. What we see is that it is all dependent on what one compares and to what technology generation the one or the other aircraft belong.

When we didn’t get the same results as the myths on a number of areas, we started to wonder what could have created the myths in the first place. Looking at what four engined airliners could have been the source of the rumours, we started to see a pattern. It was a pattern of apple-and-oranges being compared and wide ranging conclusions being drawn.

Here is what we found. Read more

Engine Alliance undertakes PIPs, but not to level Emirates wants

June 17, 2015, Paris Air Show, c. Leeham Co. Engine Alliance, one of the two power plant suppliers for the Airbus A380, said today that it is undertaking Performance Improvement Package (PIP) upgrades to the GP7200 to lower maintenance and operating costs and to reduce fuel burn.

This contrasts with blunt remarks from Tim Clark, president and COO of Emirates Airlines (EK), that EA has “flat lined” and isn’t undertaking PIPs. Emirates is by far the largest operator of EA-powered A380s but recently ordered the competing Rolls-Royce Trent 900s for EK’s 50 A380s ordered late last year. Clark kept engine selection open at the time.

Dean Athans, Engine Alliance president, told LNC today that the A380 is a low-volume airplane and the

David Athans, president of Engine Alliance

business case for investing in the GP7200 to the level Clark want’s isn’t there.

“Tim is acting in the best interests of Emirates Airline, and he wants to most and the best of GP that he can get,” Athans said in an interview. “I’d do the same thing if I was in his place. He wants a brand new engine. He wants a large GTF or GE9X version for this A380s. I would, too. The position I’m in, looking at the volume and the business case for the A380, it doesn’t enable that level of investment.”

At the Annual General Meeting of the International Air Transport Assn. last week in Miami Beach (FL), Clark told LNC that EA wasn’t willing to invest in the PIPs Clark wanted, and RR is.

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We want engine choice, say airlines at IATA

Willie Walsh, CEO of British Airways, says sole-sourcing the engine on the 747-8 cost Boeing an order. BA bought the Airbus A380 instead. Photo source: via Google images.

June 9, 2015, c. Leeham Co. Airlines want engine choices, not sole-source on airplanes, airlines said at the International Air Transport Assn. (IATA) Annual General Meeting in Miami Beach (FL).

Sole-sourcing cost Boeing a major order for the slow-selling 747-8, said Willie Walsh, CEO of British Airways. Relations at the time between British and GE Aviation, the sole engine provider on the 747-8, were so poor BA decided instead to order the Airbus A380, where a choice between the Engine Alliance GP7200 and the Rolls-Royce Trent 900 was possible GE is a JV partner in Engine Alliance with Pratt & Whitney. BA bought Rolls.

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Emirates A350/787 bake-off remains wide open

Tim Clark, president of Emirates Airline. Photo: via Google images.

June 9, 2015, c. Leeham Co. Competition between Airbus and Boeing remains wide open between the A350-900 and the 787-10, says the president of Emirates Airline despite an Internet report that the carrier has tilted toward Boeing.

“No, I don’t know where that’s coming from,” Clark today told Leeham News and Comment on the sidelines of the International Air Transport Assn. Annual General Meeting in Miami Beach. “If anything, the 10 is not coming up with the thrust requirements that we need. We’re working with Boeing on that, whereas the A350-900 has got bags of thrust.

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Paris Air Show Preview: Airbus

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May 3, 2015, c. Leeham Co. The Paris Air Show is June 15-19 for the trade/industrial portion. Beginning this week, Leeham News and Comment will provide our Airbus_logo_3D_BlueMarket Assessment and insight about what to expect. We begin this weekly exercise by looking at Airbus. Future posts will look at Boeing, Bombardier, Embraer and other major players at the PAS.


  • First, an overarching look at what to expect;
  • What to expect for Airbus at the show;
  • The future of the A380neo;
  • Outlook for the A330ceo/neo; and
  • Outlook for the A321LR.

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Can PIPs bring the A380 what Emirates Airlines wants?

By Bjorn Fehrm

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26 April 2015, C. Leeham Co: With Emirates Airlines deciding for Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines for its 50 new A380s and admitting that it would accept that this could be for all of them if Airbus does not proceed with an A380neo, the time has come to look at how much incremental improvements can be brought on the present A380.

Our proprietary aircraft model is particularly suited for such studies as we can change any parameter and read the result off the efficiency scale. We can also play with the aircraft’s configuration and see what effect it will have. Based on Emirates’ new configuration of A380s equipped with the Trent 900 engine, we have checked what incremental improvements are doable and what would they bring.


  • Our deep analysis of 18 Dec. 2014 showed that the present A380 is the most economical aircraft one can operate if one can fill it to normal load factors.
  • Emirates COO Tim Clark complements this fact with the statement, “It is Emirates’ most profitable aircraft” in the press conference in London last week when announcing the Trent 900 deal with Rolls-Royce.
  • Clark’s statement also covers the fact the passengers prefer A380 over other aircraft if they have a choice, it operates with higher load-factors then Emirates other aircraft.
  • The A380 is a rather special design and its characteristics make Product Improvement Packages, PIPs, possible in a number of areas. We discuss which they would be and model their effect on overall performance.
  • While the sought-after 10%-13% improvement would not be in there, incremental changes can cover up to half of that with more or less plausible business cases. Airbus is right now deciding which of these they see as worthwhile and introducing them.

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Rolls-Royce displaces Engine Alliance for Emirates A380 order

Rolls-Royce, in a major upset, won the Emirates Airlines order to power 50 Airbus A380s ordered in November 2013. The win displaces Engine Alliance, which to now has been the sole-source provider for EK’s A380s.

Two sources confirmed the RR win. RR and Airbus did not comment on the win. EK and RR have not made any announcement. EA also did not comment.

According to one source, EK determined the RR Trent 900 was determined to be up to 4% more efficient than EA. But it’s unclear if there were other factors involved. Read more

This is a pivotal year for the A380 as Airbus considers neo, PIPs


March 15, 2015: This is a pivotal year for the future of the Airbus A380.

Tim Clark, the president of Emirates Airline, increased the pressure for development of an A380neo when he said he’d buy up to 200 of the prospective re-engined airplane, potentially doubling the number of neos he previously said he’d buy.

It was widely expected that if Airbus proceeds with a neo, Rolls-Royce will provide the engine. Market Intelligence, however, indicates development of the Advance engine may be running into challenges. Airbus is now talking with Engine Alliance about upgrades to the GP7200.


  • Customers take wait-and-see approach to prospect of a New Engine Option.
  • Mixing engine types a consideration for some.
  • Some at Boeing quietly rooting for Airbus to proceed.

Read more