Behind the latest Boeing CMO

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By Vincent Valery

Introduction  

Sept. 20, 2021, © Leeham News: Boeing Commercial Airplanes (BCA) released its latest Commercial Market Outlook (CMO) last week. While the latest total 20-year outlook for commercial aircraft remains below 2019 (43,610 vs. 44,040), it increased by 500 units compared to the previous year.

BCA highlights the headline number of aircraft deliveries to point out the bright long-term growth prospects for the commercial aviation market. The report states that the COVID-19 pandemic erased two years’ worth of growth but did not materially affect long-term prospects.

The delivery figures rely on a large number of assumptions, including market segment and region. LNA takes a deeper look at those assumptions, notably regarding delivery and production rates.

Summary
  • Converting to more understandable metrics;
  • Assessing the impact of slower 2021 deliveries;
  • Plausibility of twin-aisle prospects for the 2020s;
  • Can production follow?

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Is cargo capacity deciding passenger airliner choice?

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By Vincent Valery

Introduction  

Sep. 16, 2021, © Leeham News: LNA has so far compared the performance of both factory and converted freighter aircraft. We will continue the cargo-themed series by analyzing how cargo capacity might decide what passenger aircraft airlines buy.

LNA has extensively discussed Airbus and Boeing’s struggles in accumulating orders for their larger aircraft, the A350-1000, and 777X. However, as seen in a recent article, smaller twin-aisle airplanes face skinny order books as well.

One could think that the COVID-19 pandemic would lead airlines to down-gauge their twin-aisle orders to the smallest available variants, the Airbus A330-800 and Boeing 787-8. Such moves make sense at face value to accommodate a reduced demand in passenger traffic.

So far, only Singapore Airlines has converted two 787-10 orders to the 787-8. Instead of down-gauging, American Airlines converted a portion of its 787-8 order to the larger 787-9. Condor recently announced replacing its aging 767-300ER fleet with A330-900s instead of opting for smaller aircraft.

We now investigate whether airlines’ decision not to down-gauge their twin-aisle order books to the smallest variants has to do with a reduction in cargo capacity.

Summary
  • A drought of small twin-aisle orders;
  • Airline conundra on choosing best variant;
  • Comparing cargo capacity of in-production passenger aircraft;
  • Setting the analysis framework.

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C919 EIS target year end; production rate forecast is aggressive

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By Scott Hamilton

Introduction

Sept. 13, 2021, © Leeham News: The first COMAC C919 is supposed to be delivered to China Eastern Airlines before the end of the year.

If so, it will be the milestone of the program launched in 2008, 13 years ago, becoming one of the longest launch-to-EIS in aviation history. COMAC’s ARJ 21 took one year longer. This regional airliner program was launched in 2002. Entry-into-service was in 2016.

The C919 is China’s direct challenge to the Airbus A320 and the Boeing 737. Similar in appears to the A320, for which there is an assembly line in Tianjin, the C919 is powered by the CFM LEAP 1C and a domestically-produced engine. But the C919 only has an advertised range of 2,200-3,000nm. The A320 and 737-8 have ranges of 3,500 and 3,550nm, respectively.

COMAC forecasts producing 150 C919s a year by the middle of this decade. Achieving this rate in this period should be a major challenge. Based on normal learning curves, a more realistic ramp up to 150 a year will take until early 2031.

Summary
  • China forecasts a production rate of 150/yr by the middle of the decade.
  • History suggests a much lower rate by then.
  • LNA’s production rate forecast is detailed through 2030.

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Is the Bedek 777-300ERSF freighter a threat to the 777F?

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By Bjorn Fehrm

Introduction

September 9, 2021, © Leeham News: In our series on freighters, we now look at the new large conversion freighter from GECAS and IAI Bedek, the 777-300ERSF. How much of a threat will it be to Boeing’s largest freighter, the 777F, when it enters the market next year?

The 777F has the dimensions of the 777-200LR, whereas the 777-300ERSF is a P2F conversion from the larger 777-300ER. What does it mean for cargo payload and volume, and what are the differences in operational economics?

Summary
  • The 777-300ERSF freighter will be the volume leader among large freighters.
  • IAI Bedek has also worked hard to increase the weight capability. How close can it get to the heavy lifting 777F?

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777X demand grows ever less certain

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By the Leeham News Team

Introduction 

Sep. 6, 2021, © Leeham News: As Boeing slogs through an increasingly deep obstacle path to getting its beleaguered 777X into service, questions are growing around the airplane’s true demand and whether Boeing can ever break even on the program.

The manufacturer classifies 74 orders as questionable under the ASC 606 accounting standard. Boeing now counts only 246 777X orders as firm. It now expects entry into service to occur in late 2023, although key customer Emirates Airline believes this is more likely to be early 2024.

There are officially still eight identified customers for the passenger 777X: ANA, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Etihad, Lufthansa, Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines. But COVID-19 is forcing major network carriers like these to rethink their long-term growth plans. Increasing competition in Europe and Asia over a likely permanently smaller set of business travelers means even fewer of these orders are likely to remain intact.

Boeing’s first 777X departs on its maiden flight in January 2020. Source: CNN.

Boeing CEO David Calhoun recently said a freighter version of the 777X might replace today’s 777F. New ICAO noise and emission standards mean that the 777F and 767-300ERF, can’t be produced after 2027. But it’s unclear whether the 777-8F — a program that hasn’t been launched — will be ready by 2028.

Summary
  • Passenger 777X is troubled by permanent loss in premium traffic, poor financial risk profile.
  • 777X freighter demand is limited by 777F classic market size, P2F conversion feedstock.
  • The air cargo market will revert to historical norms.

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The single-aisle freighters, 737-800BCF versus A320P2F.

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By Bjorn Fehrm

Introduction  

September 2, 2021, © Leeham News: In our series about freighters, we now look at domestic single-aisle freighters based on the Boeing 737-800 and the Airbus A320. The 737-800BCF is the follow-on small Boeing freighter conversion from the 737-400, as more 737-800 passenger feed-stock becomes available.

There is also ample feed-stock of older A320-200 with market values that make these interesting as a P2F freighter.

Which one of the two offers the lowest costs per tonne-km? We use our performance model to find out.

Boeing’s 737-800BCF Source: Boeing.

Summary
  • Both the 737-800 and A320 older aircraft are available at prices that make freighter conversions attractive.
  • Which of these freighters has the best operating economics, and what is the difference in capacity?

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Rejuvenating the current in-service cargo fleet

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By Vincent Valery

Introduction  

Aug. 30, 2021, © Leeham News: The COVID-19 pandemic lingers on passenger airlines, delaying a full traffic recovery. At the same time, the freighter market is very active and shows no signs of abating.

Credit: Airbus

A surplus of passenger aircraft and record cargo demand means that passenger-to-freighter conversion lines are firing on all cylinders. On top of the existing Boeing 757 and 767 lines, new ones are coming online to convert Airbus A321s, A330s, and 777-300ERs.

Airbus launched the A350F program while Boeing is pondering a 777X-F program. Airbus is also discussing the launch of a factory A321F. The European OEM wants to increase its footprint in a Boeing stronghold.

Boeing also keeps accumulating new freighter orders at a healthy pace.

While some factory-built and converted freighters will be for growth, a significant portion will replace older in-service aircraft.

To complement the ongoing series comparing the economics of freighter aircraft and analysis of historical deliveries, LNA now examines the current in-service fleet. Analyzing aircraft in operation will help determine the most promising replacement opportunities for converted and factory freighters.

Summary
  • Overall jet freighter fleet view;
  • Significant single-aisle replacement opportunities;
  • One market concentrates most small dual-aisle fleet;
  • One large freighter fleet up for replacement;
  • A factor that could accelerate replacements.

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The factory freighters, Boeing’s 767-300F versus Airbus’ A330-200F

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By Bjorn Fehrm

Introduction  

August 26, 2021, © Leeham News: In our series about freighters, we try to understand why the Boeing 767 factory freighter, the 767-300F, has outsold the Airbus entry, the A330-200F, six to one. In the passenger variants, the Airbus A330 is the more popular model with a 30% delivery advantage.

We model the freighters to understand any technical and operating economics differences; then we complement with market observations.

UPS was the launch customer for the 767-300F, with first delivery in October 1995.

Summary
  • The Boeing 767 freighter is the market’s most successful widebody freighter after the Boeing 777F.
  • It has, over the years, trumped the Airbus entry, A330-200F six to one in sales and five to one in deliveries. We investigate why?

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Aircraft replacement conundra

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By Vincent Valery

Introduction  

Credit: Delta Air Lines

Aug. 23, 2021, © Leeham News: Boeing has been studying the launch of a clean-sheet aircraft design for more than a decade. In light of the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is unlikely the American OEM will launch such a program until a recovery is well underway.

At this point, no one, including LNA, knows for sure what the New Boeing Aircraft (NBA) will be and, most importantly, when it will likely enter service. Among the possible scenarios, Boeing could decide to wait until more innovative propulsive technology, such as an open rotor, is mature enough.

Should Boeing decide to take the latter path, the NBA would realistically enter into service in the middle of the next decade. Under such a scenario, airlines operating older-generation aircraft need to find replacements among the current type of in-service aircraft.

Most older-generation in-service aircraft seating 100 or more passengers have an immediate replacement in size, which usually comes with more payload-range capacity. However, some don’t, which creates a headache for fleet planners.

LNA will highlight in this article the current in-service aircraft that don’t have an immediate replacement and assess the options to replace those.

Summary

  • Lack of close replacements in two market segments;
  • One market isn’t a problem for passenger airlines
  • But another can be;
  • One variant concentrates most aircraft without replacements;
  • A carrier to watch.

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The P2F freighters, 757-200P2F versus A321P2F.

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By Bjorn Fehrm

Introduction  

August 19, 2021, © Leeham News: In our series about freighters, we now look at domestic freighters based on the Boeing 757-200 and the Airbus A321. The 757-200 is a popular Passenger to Freighter (P2F) conversion, but as production of the 757 stopped in 2004, there is a limit to the conversion feed-stock for the model.

At the same time, older A321s are reaching market values where their cost enables competitive P2F conversions.

We use our performance model to check if the A321P2F is a good alternative to the 757-200P2F.

The first EFW A321P2F was delivered to Qantas in October 2020. Source: Qantas.

Summary
  • The feed-stock for the Boeing 757-200 Passenger to Freighter conversions will diminish at some point in the future.
  • The alternative in the same freight volume class is a converted A321. We check how well it fits the bill as an alternative to the 757-200.

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