The 717 and A220, Part 2: Operational economics comparison

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By Bjorn Fehrm

Introduction  

December 10, 2020, © Leeham News: Last week, we introduced the Boeing 717 and its closest replacement size-wise, the Airbus A220-100. Delta, a major 717 customer, is accelerating the replacement of the 717 with the A220-100 under the pressure of the COVID19 pandemic.

We use our performance model to understand why. What are the gains when going from the 717 to an A220-100?

Delta Airlines Boeing 717-2BD landing at LaGuardia. Source: Wikipedia.

Summary
  • The 717 version of the DC-9 architecture produced a rugged and well-liked short-haul airliner. It’s five abreast cabin is preferred over the six-abreast Boeing 737 and Airbus A320.
  • It’s size-wise in the same 115 seat bracket as the 15 years younger Airbus A220-100. It’s 40 years old airframe architecture holds up well compared to the modern A220.
  • The engines of the two are also 15 years apart. But the Rolls-Royce BR715 of the 717 was originally designed to fly on fast business jets, necessitating a low by-pass ratio design. This is a handicap when used on lower speed airliners. It shows against the high bypass ratio Pratt & Whitney PW1500G of the A220.

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The engine manufacturers worst hit by the pandemic

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By Bjorn Fehrm

Introduction  

September 28, 2020, © Leeham News: The worldwide COVID-19 pandemic is shaking the air travel and airliner manufacturing industries like no crisis before.

More than 9/11, the oil crisis of 1973 or 2005 or the financial crisis of 2008. The problems for the airlines and the airframe OEMs are on the front pages of the world’s media.

The part of the airliner industry that is not so visible but is perhaps hardest hit, is the engine industry. Its weird business model amplifies the effects of the crisis.

Summary

  • Airframe OEMs lose money on the first hundreds of aircraft produced.
  • When they announce “black numbers”, it means the per aircraft losses stop. It doesn’t mean the aircraft program is positive.
  • For engine OEMs, it’s worse. They never reach ‘black numbers” on engine production. Their only money makers are old engine programs that fly a lot.

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A lost decade for aircraft manufacturers, suppliers

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By Judson Rollins, Bjorn Fehrm & Scott Hamilton

Sept. 21, 2020, © Leeham News: Commercial aviation is facing a lost decade due to COVID.

Yes, most forecasts target 2024-2025 as returning to 2019 passenger traffic and aircraft production levels.

However, LNA in July published its own analysis indicating full recovery may not occur until 2028. Breathless headlines notwithstanding, it will take years for vaccines to be widely available and considered safe by enough of the world’s population. Growing concern about vaccine production and distribution capacity through 2024 underscores this view. Even Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly said earlier this month that business travel might not fully return for a decade.

Indeed, the 2020s may well be a lost decade for aircraft manufacturers and their supply chains.

Summary

  • Debt-laden airlines will have little money to order new airplanes
  • Interest in re-engined 787, A350 likely nil this decade
  • Airbus, Boeing, Embraer have little interest in launching new programs
  • Engine makers too financially stretched to develop new designs
  • Engineering talent, knowledge will be decimated by inevitable job reductions
  • OEMs must “play the long game” at short-term cost to safeguard their futures

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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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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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Engine OEMs forecast big hit to aftermarket revenue

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By Scott Hamilton

May 5, 2020, © Leeham News: The COVID crisis will damage the aerospace aftermarket in ways that are only beginning to be understood.

As key companies report 1Q earnings, it’s clear that engine aftermarket revenue is going to take a major hit for years to come.

Engine companies like CFM, GE Aviation, Pratt & Whitney and Rolls-Royce, rely on aftermarket sales as the key component of their business plans.

The research and development money that goes into an engine consumes such huge amounts of cash that the OEMs don’t recoup their costs for 10-20 years. The aftermarket for parts, maintenance, repair and overhaul is where they make their profits in the meantime.

But this is seriously threatened by the virus crisis.

“The aftermarket for key programs took 4+ years to return to 2008 levels out of the Great Financial Crisis, and that was with traffic decline at a fraction of the declines today,” Bernstein Research wrote in a May 4 note to clients.

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Engine maker, lessor see Boeing’s next airplane as a single-aisle design

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By Scott Hamilton

“The NMA is gone. Long live the NMA.”–lessor CEO. Photo: Leeham Co.

April 2, 2020, © Leeham News: Boeing’s New Midmarket Airplane, or a new concept, is the last thing on the plate right now.

But Boeing’s future product strategy nevertheless requires long-term thinking even as the short- to medium-term is in chaos.

Interviews were conducted March 2 at a major aerospace conference in Austin (TX), just days before the coronavirus crisis exploded exponentially across the globe.

The CEO of the major lessor, Avolon, declared the NMA dead and predicted a new single-aisle airplane will be Boeing’s next project.

An executive of Pratt & Whitney offered a similar view.

Summary
  • “The NMA is gone. Long live the NMA. That moment has passed.
  • Back to the 757 replacement concept and, now, A321XLR competitor.
  • Single-aisle vs light twin-aisle is part of the challenge.
  • New airplane must be “dramatically” more efficient than MAX, neo.
  • 2030 decade is the quickest this dramatic improvement can be achieved.

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Pratt & Whitney committed to advanced GTF for Airbus

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By Scott Hamilton

March 30, 2020, © Leeham News: Pratt & Whitney is concurrently developing what might be termed the next generation GTF. This is an advancement over the current engine, but with more thrust and better fuel economics.

Deurloo eschews the usual Performance Improvement Package (PIP) moniker, however.

“We have been discussing with Airbus for some time, an improvement to the current configuration or our expected configuration,” Deurloo said. “I think that’s a testament to the geared architecture. It’s given us some runway to do a little bit more on that engine.

PW has been in conversation with Airbus for the last few years about an engine that will take  configuration at the end of this year, and put in an improvement.

Summary
  • New name, better economics, better durability.
  • Designed for the A321XLR, but greater flexibility.
  • Fixing current issues.

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