Boeing 777-9 or Airbus A350-1000 for the Gulf carriers?

By Bjorn Fehrm

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Introduction

May 17, 2018, © Leeham News: The recent agreement between the US and the Gulf carriers limits the expansion of the carriers on the US market. As the premier long-range destination area from the Gulf is the US market, this will influence the lift needed by the three.

All three carriers, Emirates, Qatar Airways (Qatar) and Etihad, have decided on the 777-9 as the mainstay for their long-haul needs. With the change, the question arises, will Qatar increase the buy of the A350-1000 instead of taking the 777-9 and will any of the others reconsider?

To understand what’s involved we compare the capacity and the costs of the 777-9 and A350-1000. How large is the difference? Is the A350 the better choice if the extreme long-haul capacity needs decline?

 Summary:
  • The maximum range and per seat costs of the 777-9 and A350-1000 are close when compared apples to apples.
  • The advantage for the 777-9 at full aircraft disappears quickly as load factors decline.
  • If the needed capacity of the long-haul US routes declines, the 777-9 can be too much aircraft for the Gulf carriers.
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Pontifications: Engine problems are getting worse

By Scott Hamilton

May 14, 2018, © Leeham News: The engine problems are getting worse.

These have moved beyond the technical issues with the Rolls-Royce Trent 1000, GE Aviation GEnx, Pratt & Whitney GTF and CFM56.

The problems are trickling down to the maintenance, repair and overhaul shops.

LNC previously touched on the back-up in MRO shops due to the RR Trent 1000 problems, affecting even Trent 700 (Airbus A330) MRO scheduling. We’ve also reported the knock-on effect of the GTF MRO on other engine shop visits.

The mandated-inspections of CFM56 fan blades in the wake of the Southwest Airlines accident last month inundated MRO shops with unexpected visits.

Now, a European appraisal company forecasts that the “bow wave” of CFM56 shop visits will create a crisis for spare engines and parts.

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Bombardier refocuses the CRJ

By Bjorn Fehrm

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Introduction

May 10, 2018, © Leeham News: American Airlines last week ordered 30 additional regional jets.  Of these, 15 were the Embraer E175. No surprise there. It’s the traveler’s favourite and the market leader among US regional jets. But American Airlines also ordered the same number of Bombardier CRJ900. Why? Isn’t it a bit dated?

There are good reasons for this order and Bombardier sees a new spring for the trusted regional. We use our performance model to understand why.

Summary:
  • The CRJ900 is still a good choice for the US Scope Clause regulated regional jet market.
  • Is strong economics makes it a favourite with the airline’s bean counters.
  • In addition, it has the longest cabin, enabling large First-class and Premium economy sections.
  • With programmed updates, it will be competitive for years to come.

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Engine makers may face stiffer future ETOPS certification requirements

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Introduction

April 23, 2018, © Leeham News: Even before last week’s Southwest Airlines accident raised the focus on aircraft engines, industry officials were becoming worried that problems with engines powering the Boeing 747-8, 787, 737 MAX and Airbus A320neo may lead to stricter certification standards by regulatory authorities.

There is also emerging evidence that the issues with the Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 on the 787s may negatively impact Airbus’ sales efforts with the A350. The A350 is powered by an entirely different RR engine, the Trent XWB, which by all accounts has had a virtually trouble-free entry into service.

But it’s a Rolls-Royce engine and airlines affected by or watching RR’s response to the Trent 1000 problems are skeptical about the Trent XWB, LNC is told.

Summary
  • How long will it take for the FAA and EASE to restore full ETOPS for the 787?
  • Concerns emerge that regulators may be more restrictive of ETOPS for new engines powering new planes, with the Boeing 777X next up.
  • Impact seen on reception of Rolls-Royce engines on Airbus A330neo and A350.
  • What do the engine problems mean for the Boeing NMA?

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Pontifications: Uncontained engine failures are rare but not unknown

By Scott Hamilton

April 23, 2018, © Leeham News: Last week’s engine malfunction on a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-700 was another in a rare, but not unknown, uncontained engine anomaly in recent years.

All recent similar failures didn’t cause a loss of life or serious injuries if the passengers were evacuated. Unfortunately, this accident caused one fatality and seven injuries.

Let’s put the context to this issue.

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Narrowbody and Widebody engine developments, Part 2

By Bjorn Fehrm

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Introduction

April 19, 2018, © Leeham News: In an article last week, we discussed the reason the new narrow-body engines are catching up to the fuel consumption of the wide-body engines.

Today we dig a bit deeper into the efficiency changes of the different engines and discuss which parameter changes have caused what changes in engine efficiency.

We will use our engine modeling software GasTurb to analyze what happens in a Turbofan when we change certain parameters.

Summary:

  • The engine’s Core or Thermal efficiency changes with Turbine Entry Temperature (TET).
  • To fully utilize such an increase in efficiency we need to adapt the overall design of the engine.

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Déjà vu all over again

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Introduction

April 16, 2018, © Leeham News: There’s high turnover in the executive ranks. Major delivery delays cause disruption and unhappy customers. Airlines are cancelling and switching orders. Product strategy is challenged. Your competitor is taking advantage and making significant inroads.

If this sounds familiar, it is.

It’s déjà vu all over again.

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Narrowbody and Widebody engine developments

By Bjorn Fehrm

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Introduction

April 12, 2018, © Leeham News: In an article yesterday about Long-Haul LCC costs we observed how the new Narrowbody engines are catching up to the fuel efficiencies of the Widebody engines.

Traditionally the Widebody engines were the efficiency leaders. The Narrowbody companions were designed to be durable rather than efficient.

Figure 1. Cut through of the Narrowbody LEAP engine. Source: CFM

We use the engine modelling software GasTurb to understand why this catching up of the Narrowbody engines has happened.

Summary:
  • The new Narrowbody engines for Airbus’ A320 series and Boeing’s 737 MAX are close in specific fuel consumption to the new Widebody engines.
  • We use the GasTurb engine modelling software to find the root cause of this change.

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Is Long-Haul LCC viable? Part 3

By Bjorn Fehrm

April 11, 2018, © Leeham News: In the second article if Long-Haul LCC is a viable business, we described the cost items which have to be part of a Revenue versus Cost analysis.

In a subsequent article, we used our performance model to develop the typical costs for the aircraft types we study. We now look at these typical costs, discuss their background and relative importance. Read more

Is Airbus’ A330-800 the longest range widebody under 300 seats?

By Bjorn Fehrm

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Introduction

March 29, 2018, © Leeham News: Boeing’s 787-9 has opened new ultra-long routes such as Qantas’ first flight from Perth in Australia to London Heathrow last weekend (a 7,900nm, 17-hours flight). The 787-9 has been the undisputed long-haul star under 300 seats, with Airbus A350-900ULR underbidding the Boeing 777-200LR’s fuel burn for over 300 seats ultra-long haul flying.

But the competition for below 300 seat ULR alternatives will change in two years. Airbus A330-800 is then available in its 251t version. It will fly longer than the 787-9, according to Airbus.

The range of 7,635nm given by Boeing for the 787-9 and 8,150nm by Airbus for the A330-800 is not using the same seating and fuel reserve rules. We use our performance model to weed out the differences, to make an apples-to-apples comparison of the 787-9 and A330-800 as ULR aircraft.

Summary:

  • The choice between the 787-9 or A330-800 for Ultra Long-haul Routes (ULR) will depend on the passenger loads which can be expected.
  • For thin routes, the A330-800 will be the cheaper aircraft to operate.
  • It will also fly longer on thin routes, as its large tanks mean passenger capacity can be traded for more fuel further than for a 787-9.
  • When the 787-9 can be filled, it’s the choice with the better seat-mile cost, as it should; it’s the larger aircraft, spreading fixed costs over more paying passengers.

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