Airbus, Boeing pause on some production rate hikes

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Introduction

Feb. 21, 2019, © Leeham News: Airbus is boosting the A320 production to 60/mo this year and 63/mo next year.

But it’s put a pause on increasing the A350 rate from 10/mo to 13/mo.

Boeing was widely expected to follow its planned 737 rate hike of 57/mo, from this summer, to 63/mo next year to keep up with demand and with Airbus.

However, on the sidelines of the annual Pacific Northwest Aerospace Alliance conference last week, LNA learned that a 737 rate hike has been apparently put on a pause.

Summary

  • Airbus, Boeing backlog for single-aisle airplanes extends years.
  • Both have ramped up production to meet demand, create delivery positions.
  • Supply chain struggles to keep up.
  • Twin-aisle demand waits for replacement surge.

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A380 end opens opportunity for A350-2000

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Introduction

Feb. 18, 2019 © Leeham News: Airbus’ decision to end the A380 program clears the path, if chosen, for a plane that was studied three or four years ago: the stretch of the A350-1000 to the size of the 777-9.

Will the termination of the A380 open the way to stretch the A350-1000? Source: Airbus.

A 400+ passenger “A350-2000” would have encroached too closely on the A380’s 500+ passengers. Officials feared the A350-2000 would hurt the sales prospects of the A380.

With the A380’s last delivery now planned for 20xx, this becomes a moot point.

The prospect of a new, Rolls-Royce Ultra Fan engine for the A350 around 2025 will give the -2000 significantly superior economics to the 777-9 and a longer range, a preliminary analysis by LNA shows.

Summary

  • An A350-2000 with RR Ultra Fan engines is superior to the 777-9.
  • However, Boeing has a big head start with orders for 340 777Xs, most of which are for the -9.
  • The market demand for a 400-450 seat airplane is increasingly iffy.
  • But the A350-900/1000neo helps business case.
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A simple solution to congested skies

By Dan Catchpole

Danieljcatchpole[at]gmail[dot]com

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Introduction

Feb. 14, 2019, ©. Leeham News: Flight delays cost the airline industry

Traffic back ups are increasing–so much so that Airbus has invested in improving air traffic management to avoid congestion affecting aircraft sales.

billions of dollars each year. They cause travelers untold aggravation and inconvenience every day. And the main culprit—air traffic congestion—is only going to get worse as Boeing and Airbus deliver tens of thousands of jetliners over the next couple decades.

Regulators, lawmakers and the aviation industry in the United States have settled on spending billions of taxpayer dollars on NextGen—after having already spent billions—to implement complex technical solutions to keep the skies safe and cut down on flight delays.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) estimated in 2017 that implementing NextGen will cost roughly $35.7 billion by 2030–$20.6 billion from the FAA and another $15.1 billion from the aviation industry.

NextGen has moved with the swiftness of a sprawling, technocratic federal program—that is to say like an elephant at the ballet. It has endured delays and cost escalation, though these have not been crippling. However, it is years away from unclogging America’s congested air spaces.

Moreover, there are very real questions as to whether NextGen will be able to deliver all the FAA promises it can.

Summary
  • Air spaces are getting more crowded, leading to greater flight delays.
  • Airbus is concerned that congestion could hurt demand for jetliners, and is taking steps to improve air traffic flow.
  • Substantial questions exist as to NextGen’s ability to unclog air traffic congestion.
  • Taking a system-wide approach that taps into airlines’ desire to maximize profits could be implemented now, say proponents.

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With CSeries, Airbus commands 78% of 100-150 seat sector

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Introduction

Feb. 11, 2019, © Leeham News: Airbus acquired 50.01% of the Bombardier CSeries program last year.

Boeing and Embraer Commercial Aviation received Brazilian government approval last month and now await a nearly-year long regulatory approval process from around the globe.

Based on the announced orders at Jan. 1, Airbus has a 78% share of the 100-150 seat sector following the combinations.

Embraer sold more airplanes in this sector than Boeing: 95 E195-E2s to 70 737-7s.

The former CSeries has 526 orders to 55 for the A319neo.

Summary
  • 14% of the A220 orders are classified as “Red” in LNA’s judgment—orders that either should be removed from the backlog or, in one case, is highly questionable due to customer statements.
  • Another 11% of the A220 orders are classified as “Yellow,” primarily due to region risk.
  • Synergies between A220 and A320 are greater than E2 and 737.

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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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Countdown to NMA decision, Part 4: Time out

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Feb. 4, 2019, © Leeham News: It’s time for Airbus to launch the A321XLR.

Boeing last week announced a program launch for the New Midmarket Airplane won’t come until 2020 at the earliest.

Authority to Offer (ATO) may come as early as March or April. It had been widely expected a program launch would be announced at the Paris Air Show in June.

Airbus has been mulling the XLR launch since 2017. Inside information says a November 2017 launch was planned when all the distractions over the corruption scandals, coupled with key executive retirements, overwhelmed events.

Fifteen months later, Airbus dithers while Boeing vacillates.

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Boeing’s 777X analyzed, Part 2

By Bjorn Fehrm

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Introduction

January 30, 2019, © Leeham News: We started an analysis of the Boeing 777X last week as its rollout and first flight should happen this spring/summer. In the Figure below, the first flight test aircraft has its engine mounted, before roll out.

We will spend this article on the 777X engines, the GE9X from GE Aviation. Surprisingly, these are less powerful than the GE90 engines on the Boeing 777-300ER, the aircraft the 777X is derived from, despite the 777-9 being larger and heavier than the -300ER. This is with intent. The design of the 777X is to achieve more with less. We reveal how this is done below.

Figure 1.

Summary:
  • The Boeing 777-9 is larger and heavier than the 777 variant it replaces, the Boeing 777-300ER.
  • Despite this, the GE9X engines on the 777-9  are specified with 10,00lbf lower maximum thrust than the GE90-115 on the 777-300ER.
  • How does it all work? We reveal how below.

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UTC-Collins merger creates super-supplier

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By Bryan Corliss

Jan. 28, 2019, © Leeham News: You might have missed it over the holidays, but something happened about the time you polished off the last of your Thanksgiving leftovers that just might have changed the balance of power between the major players in our industry.

That something was the closing of the merger between United Technologies Corp. and Rockwell Collins.

The deal, which formally closed on Nov. 26, created a new super-supplier that rivals Boeing’s Commercial Airplane division in size, outstrips it in terms of profitability and has the potential to upset the multi-tiered supply chain pyramid the industry has grown used to over the past few decades.

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Boeing’s 777X analyzed

By Bjorn Fehrm

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Introduction

January 24, 2019, © Leeham News: Boeing will roll out the first 777X flight test aircraft mid-spring. The first aircraft, the static test airframe, was rolled out in September. Flight-testing should start in the early summer and first delivery is expected mid-2020.

With certification and delivery 18 months away it’s time to look at the project and understand where the 777X positions itself versus the competition.

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

Summary:
  • The 777X achieves better fuel consumption per seat despite a larger and heavier airframe thanks to more advanced wings and engines.
  • We compare its design to the 777-300ER and the Airbus A350-1000 competitor.

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Countdown to decision on Boeing’s NMA, Part 3: Engine selection

By Dan Catchpole

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Introduction

January 21 2019, © Leeham News: Boeing number crunchers are feverishly working through engine bids from Rolls-Royce, Pratt & Whitney and CFM International, the partnership of Safran and General Electric (GE), the three competitors vying to power Boeing’s New Midmarket Airplane (NMA). Boeing is expected to ask for a best and final offer by the end of January, with engine selection planned in February.

That gives Boeing enough time to get authority to offer from the board of directors, likely in March or April, and to launch the NMA (likely as the 797) at the Paris Air Show in June.

Boeing faces big challenges in closing the business case, though. The process has slogged on far longer than company leaders had expected. Even so, Boeing executives’ relentless optimism about the NMA business case stands in sharp contrast to the skepticism of many industry insiders. At least two of the engine makers, for example, think market demand is about half of Boeing’s public forecast.

Each of the three engine makers vying to get on the NMA have some significant liability. The industry insiders and analysts interviewed for this article say is the decision really comes down to Pratt and CFM. Given the pressures on NMA business case, many see a scaled-up CFM Leap as the front runner. It offers the least risk, even if it also has the least upside.

Summary:
  • CFM: The LEAP has performed well since going into service, but GE’s financial troubles could weigh down its bid.
  • Pratt & Whitney: PW’s GTF is a great fit for NMA requirements, but the engine maker has a full plate with the GTF on five new airplane programs.
  • Rolls-Royce: The NMA would be an opportunity to launch Rolls’ UltraFan, but does Boeing want to bet on a completely new engine?

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