A380 service life struggles

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By Vincent Valery

Introduction

Sep. 30, 2019, © Leeham News: It hasn’t been an easy year for the Airbus A380 program since the end of production was announced in February.

Lufthansa announced in March that Airbus would buy back six A380s in 2022/2023 as part of a follow up order for 20 A350-900s. Air France intends to retire its Superjumbo fleet by 2022. Emirates retired two aircraft that were less than seven years old.

A number of factors are leading airlines to prematurely retire their A380s.

Summary
  • Small MRO market increases maintenance costs;
  • (Prohibitively) expensive cabin refurbishments;
  • Operators struggling to operate profitably year-round;
  • A lack of secondary market;
  • No business case for engine PIPs.

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Opportunity and challenges of a 787-10ER, Part 3.

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By Bjorn Fehrm

Introduction

September 5, 2019, ©. Leeham News: Last week, we examined how a longer-range model of Boeing’s 787-10 would look like. We designed a 787-10ER version (ER for Extended Range) by increasing the Maximum TakeOff Weight of the aircraft. We also did some other adjustments to accommodate the increased weight.

We now compare the resulting aircraft with its nearest competitor, the Airbus A350-900. How would a 787-10ER stack up against an A350-900?

Summary:
  • A 787-10ER is a narrower aircraft with a smaller wing than an A350-900. This affects passenger comfort but it also gives a lighter aircraft with less wetted area.
  • The later generation engines on the A350-900 closes the difference in operating costs depending on how the aircraft is operated.

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How much of an NMA market will the Airbus A321XLR capture, Part 3?

By Bjorn Fehrm

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Introduction

August 1, 2019, © Leeham News: We wrap up our study of what part of an NMA market the Airbus A321XLR could capture with looking at the difference in available engine technology between the A231XLR and the NMA generation of airliners.

Summary:

  • The generational improvement in fuel efficiency of airliner turbofans has been over 10% in the last decades.
  • We examine if these improvements will still be the case for the NMA generation of aircraft.

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Embraer sees need for 10,550 airplanes in 50-150 sectors

May 29, 2019, © Leeham News: Embraer, in what will be its last 20-year market forecast as an independent company, sees a demand for 10,550 jet and turboprop aircraft from 50 to 150 seats through 2038.

The company, founded 50 years ago, growing to become the world’s third largest supplier of airliners, sees its Commercial Aviation unit disappear by the end of this year, barring a hiccup of some kind.

That’s when The Boeing Co. and Embraer expect approval of a joint venture that will be called Boeing Brasil-Commercial (BB-C). Boeing will own 80% of the JV and control governance. Embraer will own 20%. The CEO of the Commercial Aviation unit, John Slattery, will be president of the joint venture, but Boeing will be in charge.

Until then, Embraer is trying to carry on business as usual. And this means it issued its 20-year forecast Monday during its pre-Paris Air Show international media briefing at its headquarters in Sao Jose dos Campos, Brazil.

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No new turboprop from Embraer for now

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May 27, 2019, © Leeham News: Embraer is not going to launch a new 70-90 seat turboprop now or at the Paris Air Show next month, the CEO of its Commercial Aviation unit said today at the company’s pre-air show briefings in Brazil.

Speculation has been rising since word leaked last year that Embraer began showing a conceptual turboprop airliner to potential customers. But John Slattery, CEO of Embraer Commercial Aviation, said the business case has yet to be closed, information still needs to be gathered and analyzed, and studies of the engine technology—including hybrid electric—still must be done.

ATR and Bombardier are the leading global manufacturers of turboprop airliners today. ATR has an overwhelming majority of the backlog, between 80%-85%. Bombardier neglected sales of the Q400 during the development of the C Series. The company last year agreed to sell the program to Canada’s Viking Air. The transaction is expected to close this summer.

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Latest engine problem means NMA EIS slides

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Introduction

April 22, 2019, © Leeham News: If there remains any doubt that Boeing’s prospective New Midmarket Airplane (NMA) won’t be ready for entry into service (EIS) by 2025, it should be dispelled by now.

The grounding of the 737 MAX March 13, which is likely to continue well into the summer, will delay any launch of the program—should Boeing proceed.

The Board of Directors is unlikely to approve Authority to Offer (ATO) the NMA for sale as long as the cash flow for the MAX is outgoing and not in-coming.

Although this has its own impact on the NMA timing, it’s not the critical factor.

Last week, it was revealed that the CFM LEAP engine on the MAX (and the Airbus A321neo) has a problem called coking, which led to the contained engine failure of a Southwest Airlines MAX being ferried from Orlando (FL) to Victorville (CA) for the grounding of the Boeing airplane (see here and here). It’s the latest in a long line of engine maker problems with their current generation of powerplants.

This issue is unrelated to the MAX MCAS grounding. It also affects some engines on the A320neo family.

Summary
  • CFM is considered the favorite to power the NMA.
  • All four engine makers remain under stress and recover modes.
  • Rolls-Royce dropped out of NMA competition in December.
  • LNA reported in March 2018 the engines needed to be the focus for the NMA launch. See here and here.

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Boeing’s 777X analyzed, Part 4

By Bjorn Fehrm

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Introduction

March 07, 2019, © Leeham News: In our analysis series about the Boeing 777X, it’s time to look at the performance of the 777-9 and 777-8 and compared them to their main competitor, the Airbus A350-1000.

Figure 1. First flight test Boeing 777-9 with the GE9X engines mounted. Official roll-out is set for March 13th. Source: Boeing.

Summary:
  • The 777-9 is a larger and heavier aircraft than the A350-1000. Its wide wing and efficient engines compensate the added weight when compared with the A350-1000. Both have best-in-class fuel efficiencies.
  • The “cut and shut” 777-8 has the same capacity as the A350-1000. Here the wings, engines and empennage from the 777-9 give it Ultra Long Haul capabilities. In normal route use, this capability weighs on its fuel efficiency.

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Pontifications: Doubts continue over Boeing NMA launch

March 4, 2019, © Leeham News: Another week, another NMA story.

For an airplane that doesn’t exist, the prospective Boeing NMA continues to dominate much of the aerospace news.

By Scott Hamilton

Last week’s announcement by Rolls-Royce that it withdrew—in December, as it turns out—from the competition to power the NMA prompted a flurry of stories in aerospace media, including LNA.

Some stories suggested RR’s withdrawal meant Boeing was getting closer to launching the airplane.

Boeing, in January, said Authority to Offer might come this year and program launch had moved from 2019 to 2020.

Two prominent consultants predicted at the Pacific Northwest Aerospace Alliance conference last month the odds were 60-40 or 65-35 Boeing would proceed.

Maybe, but I have to tell you that conversations I had last week in the wake of the Rolls announcement are not encouraging.

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Boeing’s 777X analyzed, Part 3

By Bjorn Fehrm

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Introduction

February 07, 2019, © Leeham News: In our analysis series about the 777X, we have now come to the smaller member of the 777X, the 777-8.

It’s what’s called a “cut and shut” shrink of the main variant, the 777-9. A cut and shut derivative of a larger base aircraft gives the smaller aircraft some special characteristics. We look at what this entails.

Figure 1. First flight test Boeing 777-9 with the GE9X engines mounted. Source: Boeing.

Summary:
  • The 777-8 is a “cut and shut”variant of the 777-9. This means it keeps the wings, engines, landing gear and empennage of the larger 777-9.
  • A shorter fuselage with a reduced cabin size means the 777-8 filled with passenger and cargo has more weight margins for fuel within the same Maximum Takeoff Weight as the 777-9.
  • The end result is an Ultra Long-haul capable aircraft, available from 2022.

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Pontifications: 787-10 engines too small for Emirates

By Scott Hamilton

Feb. 4, 2019, © Leeham News: There is more to Emirates Airline’s renewed its interest in the Airbus A350 and the potential swap-out of Airbus A380 orders than meets the eye.

The Airfinance Journal Dublin conference is worth attending for the program, but the real news is often generated on the sidelines. This is where I picked up noise about the Emirates interest in swapping the A350 for the A380.

The renewed interest, and growing disaffection with the A380 (over the engine issues) was part of it.

But Emirates’ interest in the A350 stems more from a realization the Boeing 787-10 won’t do the job the airline wants, according to the sideline conversation at the conference.

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