Sunset of the Quads, Part 6. The A340-600 versus the 777-300ER.

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By Bjorn Fehrm

Introduction  

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?

Summary
  • The A340-600 could take almost as many passengers as the Boeing 747-400 and fly these to the same distance.
  • In addition, it loaded more LD3 cargo containers and burned only three-quarters of the fuel of a 747-400.
  • But the advantage of the A340-600 was shortlived. Only two years later Boeing responded with the 777-300ER which bettered the Airbus on almost all accounts.

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Sunset of the Quads, Part 4.

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By Bjorn Fehrm

Introduction  

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.

Summary
  • The A340-300 has about the same payload-range performance as the later introduced 777-200ER.
  • Its economics is competitive with the 777-200ER, yet sales dried up when the 777-200ER became available. We explain why.

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Sunset of the Quads, Part 2

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By Bjorn Fehrm

Introduction  

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.

Summary
  • The 747-400 reigned the skies for 15 years, combining a trans-Pacific range with a good passenger and cargo capacity.
  • Once Boeing introduced the 777-300ER and Airbus the A380, the 747-400’s ruling of the skies was over. It trailed in both capacity and efficiency.
  • It continued in operation until today with many airlines, still a useful aircraft for long and dense routes as long as the fuel prices stayed low.

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Looking ahead for 2020 and 2030 decades: Airbus

First in a series of reports.

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By Scott Hamilton and Vincent Valery

June 17, 2020, © Leeham News: Airbus was riding high in February.

The A321XLR was a clear winner. An important order was won from United Airlines, up to then an exclusive Boeing narrowbody customer. American Airlines selected the XLR. An order was expected from Delta Air Lines.

Each order was another that made it impossible for Boeing to launch the New Midmarket Airplane (NMA).

In one of his first actions, Boeing CEO David Calhoun, taking office Jan. 13, put the NMA on indefinite hold, pending a complete review of Boeing’s product strategy.

The Boeing 737 MAX remained grounded by regulators, with no return to service in sight.

The Airbus A321XLR. This 9-hour capable airplane helps fragment routes–and soften demand for widebody aircraft. Source: Airbus.

Things couldn’t be going better for Airbus.

And then in mid-March, the COVID crisis became a global pandemic. Air transportation fell up to 95%. Airlines required government bailouts. Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury said the very existence of Airbus was threatened.

Summary
  • COVID’s impact.
  • A320 family ‘s commanding lead over Boeing.
  • A220 commands low-end of single-aisle sector.
  • A330neo is the weak link.
  • Looking ahead in product strategy.

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Embraer’s Slattery named CEO of GE Aviation

By Scott Hamilton

June 15, 2020, © Leeham News: John Slattery, the CEO of Embraer Commercial Aviation, was named CEO of GE Aviation, it was announced today.

John Slattery

Arjan Meijer is the new President and CEO succeeding Slattery. Slattery succeeds David Joyce, who is retiring. Slattery’s appointment is effective July 13.

Slattery devoted much of the last year trying to win approval of the proposed Boeing-Embraer joint venture, Boeing Brasil-Commercial. Boeing terminated the agreement April 25, claiming Embraer failed to meet all required terms and conditions. Embraer claims it met the conditions. Both took the dispute to arbitration.

Slattery had been designated CEO of Boeing Brasil. After the deal’s collapse, his departure from Embraer was expected.

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Pontifications: bleak near- to mid-term future for Rolls-Royce engine unit

By Scott Hamilton

June 15, 2020, © Leeham News: The jet engine division of Rolls-Royce faces an uncertain future because of its own problems, exacerbated by the impact of COVID-19 on commercial airlines.

Beset by problems with its Trent 1000, Boeing 787 engine, hampered by a huge error in judgment to withdraw from a joint venture with Pratt & Whitney, beset by the premature termination of the Airbus A380 program and now facing a long-term impact of the coronavirus crisis, Rolls is an engine maker with few opportunities.

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Pontifications: Pratt & Whitney uses COVID crisis to catch up on GTF fixes

By Scott Hamilton

June 8, 2020, © Leeham News: Pratt & Whitney struggled since its new Geared Turbo Fan engine entered service in 2016 to fix technical, reliability and operational issues.

Plagued by premature engine removals as parts, other than the gear box, failed, Airbus A320neos stacked up in Toulouse and Hamburg while new engines were diverted to operators with aircraft out of service.

India’s regulator issued a grounding order of GTF-powered neos. Shop visits for repairs and modifications overwhelmed PW. The mess cost PW parent United Technologies (now Raytheon Technologies, following a merger) billions of dollars.

Working its way out of this mess was forecast to take into 2021.

Now, with COVID-19 impacts grounding airliners by the thousands, PW is using this as an opportunity to speed replacement and reworked engine deliveries.


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Performance Improvement Packages (PIPs) will be ready this summer.

“If there is any silver lining in the environment we’re in today, it is likely around the GTF and the retrofit,” Raytheon CFO Toby O’Brien said during a UBS webcast last week. “We are utilizing available shop capacity to fix the issues in the fleet. Our goal is to have GTF engines with enhancements by the end of the year as the recovery plays out.”

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Pontifications: New GE Aviation CEO will face big challenges

By Scott Hamilton

June 1, 2020, © Leeham News: The new chief executive officer for GE Aviation (GEA) will face huge challenges when he or she succeeds David Joyce when he retires this year, say industry sources. Joyce was named CEO in 2008.

Like other sectors of commercial aviation, the COVID-19 crisis hit GEA hard.

Initially, the workforce was cut by 10% in March. This was deepened to 25% in May. Non-essential spending was cut. A hiring freeze was implemented and other cost-cutting measures were put in place.

Summary
  • Demand for new airplanes tanked. The Boeing 737 MAX, powered by CFM LEAP engines, has been grounded since March 2019. No return to service is in sight. (GE is a 50% partner in CFM International, which makes the LEAP.)
  • LEAP engines on the 737 and the competing Airbus A320neo family fall way short of on-wing targets. Shop visits, under warranty, add to GE’s cost basis.
  • The Boeing 777-9, powered by the GE9X, is already a year late. A redesign of some critical parts of the engine was required.
  • COVID also decimates the engine aftermarket business, which is core to the OEM business model.

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Better to bring capacity back with a 777-9 or 787-10 if we fly 777-300ER today?

By Bjorn Fehrm

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Introduction

May 21, 2020, © Leeham News: We looked at the economics of extending the lease of a Boeing 777-300ER or taking an ordered 777-9 here.

If traffic post-COVID-19 on the routes we fly stays down for long, should we change the order to a 787-10? What are the trades between staying with the 777-300ER, taking the 777-9, or stepping down to a 787-10?

We use our airliner economic model to find out.

 

Summary:

  • The 787-10 is the safe choice if the fill level for our routes will stay below its passenger capacity for a longer period.
  • This choice is valid for a JFK to Heathrow route. The 787-10 has a shorter range than the 777-300ER and 777-9, so a 787-10 alternative is only possible for routes within its capacity.

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Better to bring capacity back with a 777X or 777-300ER? Part 2

By Bjorn Fehrm

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Introduction

May 7, 2020, © Leeham News: With the Covid-19 pandemic depressing passenger traffic for years to come, we started an analysis last week on the options the airlines have who wait for their Boeing 777-9. Hold on to their 777-300ER or upgrade to the newer and more efficient 777-9?

We deepen the analysis this week by comparing the economics of a 10 years old 777-300ER versus a new 777-9.

Figure 1. The 777X has 30% larger windows than standard in the class. Source: Boeing.

Summary:
  • The 777X is best seen as a cross between a Boeing 787 and a 777-300ER. It inherits the passenger comfort features the 787 brought to the market like lower cabin altitude, higher cabin humidity, larger windows, and a smoother ride.
  • If a 777-9, with it’s higher capital costs, can compete on operating cost with a used 777-300ER depends on the fuel price.

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