Here’s a visualization of events to look for in commercial aviation in 2015.
By Bjorn Fehrm
Dec. 21, 2014: Last week we did a deep analysis of A380 and its competition. It has been windy weeks for the aircraft since the Airbus Global Investor Forum and it was time to bring some needed facts on the table. These facts showed there is a clear difference between the hype being perpetuated in the media and the reality. As we cleared the situation around the A380, we also touched on the large twins that could fulfill at least parts of its missions.
There has been a lot of discussion around these aircraft as well as they form the battle of titans one level down from A380, the large, long-haul market today dominated by Boeing’s 777-300ER (the A380 does not have a real competitor–the 748i is clearly smaller, in fact so much smaller that it will be engulfed by the 777-9X).
By Bjorn Fehrm
Dec. 18, 2014: In our Monday article we go behind the scenes of the doubts that were spread over the A380 by Airbus last week. To complete the picture we now update our competitive analysis that we did in February this year. We then compared the A380 to Boeing’s 747-8i, the 777-300ER and the forthcoming 777-9X. We also included Airbus closest aircraft, the A350-1000.
A lot has happened since then. Airbus has done a lot of work on the passenger area of the A380 to offer increased passenger densities and the pictures of the emerging Boeing 777-9X and Airbus A350-1000 is now clearer.
Sales efforts of the A380 has also progressed, with meager results despite adding a leasing proposition what should make the hurdles of operating a small sub-fleet of A380s lower. To understand why, we interviewed Mark Lapidus, the CEO of Amedeo, the leasing company which specializes in financing and leasing of A380s. We wanted specifically to talk to Lapidus about the reactions of the airlines to the A380 and what problems he saw in selling an aircraft of this type.
In preparing the article we also gathered additional info from Airbus and Boeing, from the former around their work on the cabin configurations and densities, from the latter the maintenance costs for the up and coming 777-9X.
As we did this deeper study, a more nuanced and different picture emerged from the one seen in February. The results busts a number of deeply engraved myths, one being that four engines are more expensive to fly and maintain than two.
Dec. 16, 2014: There have been record aircraft orders year after year, swelling the backlogs of Airbus and Boeing to seven years on some product lines, Bombardier’s CSeries is sold out through 2016, Embraer has a good backlog and the engine makers are swamped with new development programs.
So it is with some irony that several Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) are warning of cash flow squeezes in the coming years.
By Scott Hamilton and Bjorn Fehrm
Dec, 8, 2014:The Boeing 737-8 MAX is the successor to the 737-800 and has largely been thought of in this context.
Our analysis, prompted by Norwegian Air Shuttle (NAS) plans to use Boeing 737-8 MAXes to begin trans-Atlantic service on long, thin routes, comes up with a conclusion that has gotten little understanding in the marketplace: the 8 MAX has enough range and seating to open a market niche below the larger, longer-legged 757, and the economics to support profitable operations for Low Cost Carriers interested in some trans-Atlantic routes or destinations beyond the range of the -800.
By Bjorn Fehrm
Dec. 2, 2015: The time has now come to cover descent and landing in our articles around airliner performance. As many aspects of descent are similar to climb we will repeat a bit what we learned in Part 4:
Lets now start to go through the steps that our 737 MAX 8 performs after leaving its cruise altitude.
Nov. 30, 2014: MTU Investors Day: MTU is a major participant in engine development and supplies, participating on the GEnx, GTF and GEnx program. It’s also a member of the joint venture in International Aero Engines and it’s a major player in the aftermarket Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) sector, providing a serious competitive alternative to the aftermarket contracts offered by the engine OEMs. Its held an investors day conference Nov. 25. Highlights included:
By Bjorn Fehrm
In our first article on how to understand the fundamentals that make up airliner performance we defined the main forces acting on an aircraft flying in steady state cruise. We used the ubiquitous Boeing 737 in its latest form, the 737 MAX 8, to illustrate the size of these forces.
Here a short recap of what we found and then some more fundamentals on aircraft’s performance, this time around the engines:
When flying steady state (Figure 1) we only need to find the aircraft’s drag force to have all important forces defined.
The lift force is given as equal to and opposite to the aircraft’s weight and the tail downforce that we need to add to this was small. We also presented the two classes of drag that we will talk about:
We could see that the aircraft’s flight through the air created a total drag force of 7900 lbf, Figure 2 ( lb with an f added as we prefer to write it as this is a force and not a measure of mass. Mass we denote with just lb or the metric units kg or tonne = 2205 lb).
We also learned that if the drag is 7900 lbf then the engine thrust is opposite and equal. It is then 3950 lbf per engine when cruising at our mean cruise weight of 65 tonnes or 143.000 lb on our 1000 nm mission. Drag due to size consumes 63% of our thrust and drag due to weight 37%. Read more
The 10th Chinese airshow at Zhuhai opened today. It was a day with fewer announcements than expected from the usual suspects (Airbus, Boeing…) but the Chinese industry did not disappoint. China is now showing more and more of its coming might as a player on the aeronautics arena.
The most prominent displays at this show were on the military side, where China has two stealth aircraft projects flying (the large Chengdu canard J-20 and the smaller Shenyang J-31) while their canard Chengdu J-10 was flying the display circuits overhead (Figure 1).
All aircraft are of latest structural and aerodynamic design if not in engines and systems. This is a big difference to previous shows where the Russian Sukhoi and MIG aircraft and their local copies did the flying display until 2008. Since then everything has changed and now China and USA are the only countries in the world with two different stealth designs flying. USA has one in operation (F-22) and one close to (F-35) whereas China still has many years to go until they have their new aircraft operational. But it is significant that the old aeronautical behemoths Europe and Russia have none respective one (PAK-50) stealth fighter in flight test.
By Bjorn Fehrm
Over the last weeks we have looked at Boeing’s 757 replacement possibilities on its long and thin network niche, including a ground breaking launch interview for the A321neoLR with Airbus Head of Strategy and Marketing, Kiran Rao. In the series we have seen that the A321neo has the potential to replace the 757-200 on long and thin international routes. Boeing’s equivalent single aisle entry, 737 MAX 9, has problems to extend its range over 3,600nm. It is too limited in the weight increase necessary to cover the longer range.
Many have asked how the less- restricted Boeing 737 MAX 8 would fare, suitably equipped with the necessary extra tanks. This is the subject of this week’s sequel on the theme long and thin. At the same time we look at Airbus entry in this segment, the A320neo, to see how it stacks up to the 737 MAX 8, both in their normal 1,000 to 2,000nm operation and then also in a long and thin scenario.
Let’s first summarize what we found so far in our four articles around the Boeing 757 and its alternatives: