Evaluating airliner performance, part 1.

By Bjorn Fehrm

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Introduction

Sep. 21 2015, ©. Leeham Co: Comparing and evaluating operational and economic performance of competing airliners is a complex task that requires analysis of thousands of parameters.

It’s not unknown for smaller airlines to have limited capability to undertake these difficult analyses. Accordingly, they often rely on the Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) for their analysis on behalf of the potential customer.

Unfortunately, the OEM’s have little incentive to provide an unbiased view of either their products nor those of their competitors.

Thorough evaluations require quite some preparations. If these preparations are not carried out correctly, the result can be biased to the extent that the evaluation method dictates which’s the best aircraft and not the most suitability aircraft for the task. We will in a series of articles cover how aircraft evaluations are done and how evaluation pitfalls can be avoided.

Summary:

  • Aircraft evaluations are made for all direct operating costs that can be linked directly to the operation of the airliner.
  • The costs can be divided in Cash Operating Costs (COC), which covers the operation of the aircraft and capital costs. Combined these costs constitute the Direct Operating Costs, DOC.
  • The OEMs produce data for all COC cost items, but they do that in their own way. To make the costs comparable one need to know and understand their assumptions and neutralize these through independent modeling of the costs.
  • We describe what these assumptions are and how to neutralize them.

 

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Bjorn’s Corner: Engine efficiency

By Bjorn Fehrm18 September 2015, ©. Leeham Co: The debate around the market’s two single aisle combatants is quite heated, with fans of the one side saying “the limited space for a high bypass engine on the 737 MAX will cripple it forever” and the other side saying “the tighter design of the 737 will make it highly competitive against the A320neo, it is the A320 which has a weight and size problem”.

One of the arguments is that each inch of engine fan diameter brings 0.5% in increased propulsive efficiency. Therefore the A320 with up to 81 inches fans will win against the 737 MAX, which has a 69 inch fan. Having all the tools to check out if this is really the truth, I fed our airplane model with all the facts and looked at the result. It’s not so easy, guys…

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Rolls-Royce and Safran, major European engine OEMs with different fortunes.

By Bjorn Fehrm

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July 30, 2015 © Leeham Co. Rolls-Royce and Safran, the parent company of CFM partner Snecma, released their Q2 and first half 2015 earnings today. It is interesting to compare these companies as they are in different strategic situations in their dominant business segments, civil turbofan engines.

Civil turbofans constitute 52% of Rolls-Royce total business whereas it makes 54% of Safran’s turn over. Rolls-Royce’s focus has been widebody engines to the point where it exited its part of International Aero Engines, which makes the single aisle V2500 engine, three years ago. Safran on the other hand is heavily invested in the single aisle market through its 50% part in CFM through its Snecma subsidiary.

The present situation and the future outlook for these two companies are intimately aligned with this strategic difference. We look at why and how this will affect their immediate future.

Summary:

  • Rolls-Royce is experiencing migration problems in its widebody turbofan business. Its bread and butter Trent 700 engine is on its way out and it takes until 2018 for the replacement, Trent 7000, to kick in.
  • Other programs are only growing slowly: the Trent 1000 for Boeing’s 787 or Trent XWB for the Airbus A350.
  • Safran civil turbofan business Snecma is enjoying record sales and deliveries through its CFM joint venture with GE.
  • Despite sharing its revenue 50:50 with GE, the business turnover is the size of Rolls-Royce turbofan business today and larger tomorrow. Profit margins are three times higher.

 

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Bjorn’s Corner: hot summer, hot engines

By Bjorn Fehrm

By Bjorn Fehrm

17 July 2015, ©. Leeham Co: It is summer in south of Europe and we have had over 30°C/86°F for weeks. It makes one realize the conditions where the engines have to work over their flat rating point in the Middle East.

Aircraft engines are a bit fidgety. They don’t like temperature although they are made to sustain that their hottest parts, the nozzle and first turbine after the combustor, gets scalded to 1700°C/3,092°F or more.

Go down to the very back end of the engine and we come to where the key engine parameter, EGT (Exhaust Gas Temperature), is measured. It determines a lot of things, among them the time the engine stays on wing. Things are typically 700°C/1,832°F cooler here and this is where a reliable temperature measurement probe can be placed. Based on its values, the total health of the engine’s core is determined. It is also a key input whether the engine shall be throttled back in a hot take-off like in the Middle East.

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Bombardier CS300 analysis vs A319neo, 737-7

By Bjorn Fehrm

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Introduction

March 29, 2015, c. Leeham Co: Bombardier’s big bet in the aeronautics sector, CSeries, is well into flight testing, now more than half way toward the 2,400 hours required by Transport Canada before certification can be granted. The first aircraft to be certified will be the smaller 110 seat CS100 but the market is most interested in the larger 135 seat CS300, which has 63% of present orders and commitments, Figure 1.

CS300

Figure 1. Cseries largest model, CS300. Source: Bombardier.

Bombardier’s new CEO, Alan Bellemare, told reporters last week that the CS100 would be certified during 2015 with entry into service slipping into 2016. The CS300, which is a direct challenger to Airbus’ A319neo and Boeing’s 737-7, should follow six months after CS100. With the CS300 in flight testing and going into service next summer, we decided to have a deeper look at CS300 and its competitors.

Summary

  • A319 and 737-7 are shrinks of the market’s preferred models, A320 and 737-8, and as such not the most efficient models.
  • The CS300 is the series center-point and it shows. The modern design beats the Airbus and Boeing designs on most counts.
  • Part of the modern concepts in CSeries is the well-conceived Pratt & Whitney PW1000G geared turbofan.
  • PW’s 73 in fan version of the PW1000G for CSeries is slightly less efficient that the 81 in version for A319neo but CS300 lower weight makes sure this is more than compensated for.

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A380neo decision likely this year, triggering the next widebody engine project

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By Bjorn Fehrm

Introduction

Jan. 12, 2015: One of the subjects which is sure to come up on Airbus annual press conference on Tuesday the 13th in Toulouse will be when and how Airbus will re-engine the A380.

Airbus Commercial CEO Fabrice Bregier vowed during the Airbus Group Global Investors Day last month that an A380neo is coming.

There is much speculation around this subject as the business case of re-engineering an aircraft that is selling at such low numbers is difficult to get to close. The business case is difficult to make work for Airbus Leeham logo with Copyright message compact(such a project will cost in the order of $2 billion) but it will be equally hard for the engine manufacturers to offer engines that have enough efficiency gain to make the overall project feasible from an efficiency improvement perspective.

Summary

  • A380 Classic equals Boeing 777-300ER seat fuel costs.
  • Boeing 777-9 beats A380 on CASM, an A380neo regains the advantage.
  • Engine makers face hard choices to retain dominance or to broaden market penetration.

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MTU investors day: views of its engine programs, future airplane timelines; separately, Embraer COO interview

GTF Milestones Nov 2014

Figure 1. Technical milestones have been passed on PW GTF programs for the applications on Bombardier, Airbus, Mitsubishi and Irkut airplanes and are approaching for Embraer. Source: MTU Investors Day. Click to enlarge.

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:

  • Milestones have been passed on the Pratt & Whitney Geared Turbo Fanengine for the Bombardier CSeries, Airbus A320neo family, the Mitsubishi MRJ and Irkut MC-21; and are on schedule for the Embraer E-Jet E2.
  • The success of the GTF is requiring huge production commitments.
  • The large number of airplane/engine programs require a major ramp-up of production during the next few years.
  • The major investment in new engines is largely over for now, leading to the expectation of long-term revenue from MRO.

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