How useful is an NMA, Part 2

By Bjorn Fehrm

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Introduction

October 18, 2018, © Leeham News.: Last week we started an article series which analyzes how useful a Boeing NMA will be for medium to long-haul flights in different markets.

We first went through all the factors which will change the OEM’s nominal range to an operational range. Now we fly the NMA in one of its main markets and look how it fairs.

Artists impression of the Boeing NMA. Source: The Air Current.

Summary:

  • The NMA is designed to compete on operational economics with Single Aisle aircraft, yet offer the comfort and turn-around times of a Twin Aisle.
  • To get to Single Aisle economics, the NMA can’t be too much aircraft. This shows when analyzing how NMA fares on trans-Atlantic routes.

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Zunum Aero is betting on better batteries tomorrow and the day after

By Dan Catchpole

danieljcatchpole(at)gmail(dot)com

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Introduction

Oct. 15, 2018, © Leeham News: Battery technology today leaves a lot to be desired. The energy density of even the most advanced batteries are a sliver of the density in good, old jet fuel.

But batteries pack enough power to lift Zunum Aero’s business plan to develop a gas-electric hybrid airplane. The startup company is convinced battery technology will improve fast enough in coming decades to ensure its airplanes will just keep getting more competitive.

“We come up with an airplane that is pretty good now, and fantastic in 10 years, and just keeps getting better after that,” Zunum co-founder and CTO Matt Knapp told LNC.

Summary:

  • Zunum Aero’s business case rests on improvements in energy density and other elements of battery technology.
  • The results of a fundraising round in 2019 could affect whether the planned EIS holds at 2023 or slips further right.
  • Zunum Aero is confident that its ZA10 will be a success, and it has long-term plans for 50-seat and even 100-seat aircraft.

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How useful is an NMA?

By Bjorn Fehrm

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Introduction

October 11, 2018, © Leeham News.: The Boeing NMA is by now reasonably well defined. The passenger capacity is set at 225 seats for the smaller version and 265 seats for the larger. The nominal range is 5,000nm for the smaller version and 4,750nm for the larger NMA.

This is all nominal data. In practice, there will be different operational realities which will decrease these figures. How much and how useful will the final operational NMA be? What will be the economic advantage over the direct competition?

Artists impression of the Boeing NMA. Source: The Air Current.

To find out, we will pit the NMA against its direct competition in a series of articles.

Summary:

  • The NMA as defined is configured according to Boeing’s STANDARD rule set. Using these rules, the smaller variant is classified as a 225 seat airliner with a range of 5,000nm. The larger as a 265 seat aircraft with a 4,500nm range.
  • In practice, operational realities and cabins changes compared with the ones used in the STANDARD ruleset will decrease the seating capacity of the aircraft and its range. How much and why is discussed in this, the first article in the series.

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Boeing’s transition in supply chain management aims to save hundreds of millions of dollars

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Introduction

Oct. 8, 2018, © Leeham News: As Boeing moves toward more automation, digital twins and 3D printing to streamline manufacturing and reduce costs, behind the scenes another major initiative has been underway for more than a year.

It’s the shift from its decades-old Enterprise Resource Planning system to a new, expanded one called Systems Applications Projects.

ERP manages parts and inventory. SAP is an evolution of ERP, important as Boeing plans to up production of the 737 and 787 and nears a decision whether to launch the New Midmarket Aircraft (NMA).

The transition is complex and will take years to fully accomplish.

Synergizing scores of old processes covering a billion parts, requiring meticulous data entry, is a daunting task. In fact, after running into problems in June, Boeing Commercial Airplanes’ transition has been delayed, reports the aerospace analyst for Cowen & Co.

A glitch in the system can have ramifications that interrupt production and create traveled work that can delay airplane deliveries to customers.

A system that works as it should streamlines delivery of parts and reduces costs for Boeing—and, theoretically, also its suppliers.

It’s a delicate balance where one misidentified entry into the computer can create problems.

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Huge surge of A320 orders greatly exceed near-, mid-term A320 retirements

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Introduction

Oct. 4, 2018, © Leeham News: The huge surge of orders for the Airbus A320 family far outstrips the aging aircraft statistics, an analysis shows.

Airbus has a backlog of more than 6,000 A320 family members, with more than 1,700 sales potential just for retirements.

There is a backlog of more than 6,000 A320neo family members, with the near- and mid-term delivery schedule far exceeding A320 retirements. Photo credit: Airbus.

There are more than 4,300 A320s scheduled for delivery from 2019 through 2025.

There are just 765 A320s that hit 25 years old during the same period.

The surge in A320-family aging aircraft begins in 2030, just as the bulk of the current backlog ends, according to data bases maintained by Ascend and Airfinance Journal’s Fleet Tracker.

Summary
  • Useful lives of A320s in passenger service historically have been 25 years. Till now, no P2F programs existed to extend the useful lives.
  • But, some passenger airlines are returning A320s off lease in 12 years or less—accounting for some of the surge in orders vs aging aircraft.
  • Supply-demand imbalance in the secondary markets could emerge.

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How Boeing’s T-X and NMA are connected

By Bjorn Fehrm

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Introduction

October 1, 2018, © Leeham News.: Boeing and its partner SAAB Thursday won a $9.2bn U.S. Air Force T-X Pilot Training contract. It was a win for its Defense, Space & Security division, yet it will have major implications for Boeing’s Commercial Airplane (BCA) division and the NMA.

The NMA will change the way Boeing develops, produces and supports airliners. The T-X is the pilot for this change.

Loose concept of the Boeing NMA. Source: The Air Current.

Summary:
  • The focus of Boeing for the NMA is faster and lower cost development, cheaper production and an extended support offering.
  • The Military T-X program pilots the work practices needed to make this possible.

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What costs dominate an airliner’s operation? Part 4

By Bjorn Fehrm

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Introduction

September 27, 2018, © Leeham News.: Over the last week’s we have looked at the costs for a typical Mainline and LCC airline operating in the US, Europe and Asian markets. The costs have been Direct Operating Costs (DOC) for the average routes operated by these airlines.

Now we finish the series with a look at the seat-mile costs so the Narrowbody and Widebody aircraft economics can be compared on routes both can serve.

Summary:

  • When comparing seat-mile operating costs between Narrowbody and Widebody aircraft one must use the same cabin standards.
  • Doing so will show the apples to apples operating costs of the two types when operating on sectors out to the maximum practical range of the Narrowbodies.

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Assessing 737 production rate interest to 70/mo

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Introduction

Sept. 27, 2018, © Leeham News: Boeing hasn’t gone to a production rate of 57/mo for its 737 and studies have long been underway looking at a rate of not only 63/mo but also 70/mo, supply chain sources tell LNC.

Rate 57, up from 52, is scheduled for next July. Sixty-three has long been considered the maximum allowed for the current Renton (WA) factory, the sole location where commercial 737s are assembled.

But Boeing, in yet another step in its drive for more efficiencies, is analyzing how to push 70 airplanes a month through the same facility.

Summary
  • MAX 8 remains the staple of the 737 family.
  • MAX 10 helps family, stems bleeding, but A321 still outsells 737-9/10 by about 2:5:1.
  • 9/10 MAX represent 17% of MAX backlog. A321neo is 34% of neo backlog.
  • Boeing has more sales replacement potential than Airbus.

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What costs dominate an airliner’s operation? Part 3

By Bjorn Fehrm

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Introduction

September 13, 2018, © Leeham News.: Last week we looking at the costs for a typical Mainline airline in our series about the airliner cost equation. We discussed the operating costs of Mainline airlines and how these would be affected by the operating area.

Now we calculated the different costs for a Low-Cost Carrier (LCC) operating either in the US, West Europe or Asia.

Summary:

  • Fuel costs are the dominant costs for an LCC, regardless of geography.
  • Airport fees and crew costs are other costs which differ between LCCs, Legacy carriers and Geographies.

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Assessing A320 production rate interest in >70/mo

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Introduction

Sept. 17, 2018, © Leeham News: With the supply chain under major stress and Airbus and Boeing trying to recover from scores of “gliders” sidelined at airports without engines, each company nevertheless continues to study production rate increases for the A320 and 737 families.

Airbus publicly has said it’s looking at rate 70/mo. Boeing publicly acknowledges it’s looking at rate 63/mo.

Supply chain sources tell LNC Airbus is studying an even higher rate, into the “70s,” at early as 2020—a date that most consider out of the question.

Boeing is known to be considering a rate of 70/mo for its most profitable program.

Today, LNC looks at the A320 scenario. A future post will examine the 737.

Summary
  • Airbus is scheduled to deliver more A320 members in 2019 than production capacity. Some of these may be parked backlog airplanes.
  • 2020-2021 sold out at rate 60/mo, 2022-2023 nearly so.
  • Rate increase to 70/mo opens opportunities for Airbus, pressure on Boeing.

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