By Judson Rollins & Bjorn Fehrm
Jan. 11, 2021, © Leeham News: COVID-19 may ultimately prove to be a net positive for turboprop manufacturers. Near-term orders will be pinched just as for jets, but a long-term loss of business travel and the resulting impact to airline yields will make turboprops’ superior unit costs appealing for shorter missions.
Turboprop engines create their thrust with a very high bypass ratio. The result is 30% better fuel economy than a jet. But it also means 30% lower speed. This limits turboprops to stage lengths to about half that of jets.
The market-dominating ATR and De Havilland Canada (DHC) turboprops use this base efficiency to compete against newer regional jets despite having designs which are 20 years older.
By Vincent Valery
Dec. 17, 2020, © Leeham News: After running a series on the Dreamliner, LNA will now start a series on Airbus’ latest-generation twin-aisle aircraft, the A350. Airbus should deliver its 400th A350 this month.
After a delayed ramp-up to 10 units per month, Airbus had to cut the A350 production rate to five per month after the COVID-19 pandemic. The European OEM might have to follow Boeing’s footsteps and reduce twin-aisle production rates further.
The A350 program has an official backlog of 532 orders: 415 for the -900 and 117 for -1000. Once passenger traffic recovers, Airbus should ramp production back up of its best-selling twin-aisle aircraft.
Despite its success, the A350 program wasn’t without hiccups. There were several and sizable iterations before Airbus finalized the A350 platform, and the -800 variant is non-existent but not officially canceled.
By Bjorn Ferhm and Vincent Valery
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.
By Bjorn Fehrm
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.
By Vincent Valery and Bjorn Fehrm
Oct. 1st, 2020, © Leeham News: Last week, we compared the economics of the A380 against the 747-8 and 777-9 on the Frankfurt to New York route. We now wrap-up our series on the significant passenger quad-jets of the last 30 years and how competitive they were against other quads and the twins that gradually took over the very large aircraft segment.
By Bjorn Fehrm
September 28, 2020, © Leeham News: The worldwide COVID-19 pandemic is shaking the air travel and airliner manufacturing industries like no crisis before.
More than 9/11, the oil crisis of 1973 or 2005 or the financial crisis of 2008. The problems for the airlines and the airframe OEMs are on the front pages of the world’s media.
The part of the airliner industry that is not so visible but is perhaps hardest hit, is the engine industry. Its weird business model amplifies the effects of the crisis.
By Judson Rollins, Bjorn Fehrm & Scott Hamilton
Sept. 21, 2020, © Leeham News: Commercial aviation is facing a lost decade due to COVID.
Yes, most forecasts target 2024-2025 as returning to 2019 passenger traffic and aircraft production levels.
However, LNA in July published its own analysis indicating full recovery may not occur until 2028. Breathless headlines notwithstanding, it will take years for vaccines to be widely available and considered safe by enough of the world’s population. Growing concern about vaccine production and distribution capacity through 2024 underscores this view. Even Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly said earlier this month that business travel might not fully return for a decade.
Indeed, the 2020s may well be a lost decade for aircraft manufacturers and their supply chains.
By Bjorn Fehrm
September 10, 2020, © Leeham News: The Airbus A340-600 was designed to challenge Boeing’s hold of the large, long-haul jets. With a capacity 60 seats above the previous largest Airbus jet, the A340-300, and a 7,500nm range, it should put Airbus firmly on the long-haul map.
The A340-600 would be flying its 350 passengers as long and for a lower cost than the 20 seats larger Boeing 747-400, the then-largest long-haul Boeing jet. It would have worked hadn’t Boeing upgraded the 777-300 to the 777-300ER and surpassed the spec. How much better did that make the 777-300ER when it arrived in 2004?
By Bjorn Fehrm
August 27, 2020, © Leeham News: After presenting Boeing’s and Airbus’ first 300 seater long-range widebodies, the 777-200ER and A340-300 in Part 3, we now fly them both on the route Paris to San Fransisco to understand their economics.
The A340-300 was first on the market, but when the 777-200ER arrived amid changed ETOPS rules, the four holer found the twin a difficult competitor. We use our airliner performance model to understand why.
By Bjorn Fehrm
August 12, 2020, © Leeham News: We deepen our look at the Queen of the Skies and it’s best selling version, the 747-400.
We go through what made it the great aircraft it was and why Qantas replaced it on its trunk routes to the US West coast.
We pick Los Angeles to Sydney as the benchmark route, a route on the range limit for the 747-400, and check how it stacks up economically versus the A380, its replacement.