Engine OEMs pushing ahead for next airplane, even as Boeing pauses

Subscription Required

By Scott Hamilton

Nov. 1, 2021, © Leeham News: David Calhoun may not be anywhere near ready to launch the Next Boeing Airplane (NBA), but the engine makers are actively researching and developing engines to hang of whatever that NBA will be.

Calhoun, the CEO of Boeing, repeatedly said the NBA will be more about reducing production costs through advanced design and production methods. For some time, Calhoun said the next engines available on the assumed timeline—to about 2030—will have only 10% better economics than today’s engines.

And 10% isn’t enough for the airlines or the commensurate reduction in emissions.

CFM/GE Aviation/Safran are developing an “open fan” engine that will reduce fuel burn and emissions by 20%. A target date for entry into service is in the 2030 decade. The open fan builds on R&D of open rotors that have been underway since the era of the Boeing 727 and McDonnell Douglas MD-80.

Pratt & Whitney sees an evolution of its Geared Turbofan engine. The GTF was under development for 20 years before an operating engine made it onto the Bombardier C Series (now the Airbus 220), the Airbus A320, and United Aircraft MC-21. The GTF also was selected for the Mitsubishi MRJ90, which launched the GTF program. However, Mitsubishi pulled the plug on the MRJ/SpaceJet program last year. PW remains committed to the GTF for future engines.

Rolls-Royce is developing the Ultra Fan and Advanced engines. GE’s Open Fan and RR’s engines adopt geared turbofan technology pioneered by PW but add new technology.

LNA takes a look at the new engines for the NBA or any other competing airplane in a series of articles.

Read more

Pontifications: Engines drive timing of new Embraer TPNG

The first report appeared Oct. 18, 2021.

By Scott Hamilton

Oct. 25, 2021, © Leeham News: Embraer appears marching toward launching a new turboprop aircraft next year with a targeted 2027 entry into service.

The timing will be determined by the engine. Pratt & Whitney, GE Aviation and Rolls-Royce have development programs. PW and GE are farthest along. PW is thought to have the best chance of winning Embraer’s business. (Pratt & Whitney supplies the engines for the E2 jet. GE supplied the engines for the E1.)

In an interview at the IATA AGM Oct. 3-5 in Boston, Arjan Meijer, the president of Embraer Commercial Aviation, said the competition remains open today.

Read more

The P2F freighters, 757-200P2F versus A321P2F.

Subscription Required

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.

Read more

The Airbus A350F versus Boeing’s 777-XF.

Subscription Required

By Bjorn Fehrm

Introduction  

August 5, 2021, © Leeham News: Two weeks ago we compared the launched Airbus A350 freighter with Boeing’s in-service 777F. We found the 777F is a freighter with a very high payload capability, but it faces an ICAO emission and noise ax by 2028, should the present engines be kept.

Boeing’s CEO David Calhoun recently said a freighter version of the 777X might replace the 777F. With seven years to 2028, a development decision for a 777-XF is then imminent. We use our performance model to look at how an A350F and 777-XF would compare.

Summary
  • A new Boeing 777-XF freighter, based on the 777-8 (picture), has to equal or beat an Airbus A350 freighter both on payload and economics.
  • Beating an A350F on capacity and payload is straightforward, the 777-8 is the larger aircraft. On operating costs, it’s a tighter race.

Read more

How good is an Airbus A350 freighter?

Subscription Required

By Bjorn Fehrm

Introduction  

July 15, 2021, © Leeham News: Airbus is working on a freighter of the A350 to compete with Boeing’s larger freighters, such as the 777F.

The 777F is quite a different aircraft than the 777-200LR, which shares its external dimensions, and the 777-300ER that has donated a lot of the internal structure. So will the A350 freighter be based on the A350-900, as the rumors say, or A350-1000? And how good will it be compared to the 777F?

We use our performance model to find out.

Summary
  • The A350-900 is the rumored base for the new Airbus freighter that shall compete with the Boeing 777F.
  • Is it the correct assumption? When we look under the hood with our performance model, we see it isn’t.

Read more

The Ultrafan Project

Subscription Required

By Vincent Valery

Introduction  

June 21, 2021, © Leeham News: Rolls-Royce launched the Ultrafan in 2014, a project to develop next-generation geared turbofan engines. The engine OEM has been working on that project ever since.

The Ultrafan demonstrator started the final assembly this year at the OEM’s Derby facility, with a plan to start and complete ground testing in 2022. Rolls-Royce will await a new OEM program launch to finalize the development to a production engine after 2022.

While using a power gearbox has gathered most of the attention, the Ultrafan uses other new technologies to enable a leap in fuel efficiency. LNA analyzes the technologies used and what lies ahead for the program.

Summary
  • An evolving rationale for the Ultrafan business case;
  • Much more than the addition of a power gearbox;
  • A break with the Trent design
  • A significant infrastructure uplift;
  • Awaiting the next OEM move.

Read more

Bjorn’s Corner: The challenges of hydrogen. Part 31. Wrap-up: Where we stand

By Bjorn Fehrm

April 2, 2021, ©. Leeham News: It’s time to wrap up our series on the hydrogen airliner alternative for Sustainable Commercial Aviation.

We review the status for sustainable aviation as of today, then look at the future next week.

Figure 1. The first certified electric aircraft, the Pipistrel Velis Electro. Source: Pipistrel.

Read more

The A350, Part 9: The A350-1000 versus 777-300ER

Subscription Required

By Bjorn Fehrm

Introduction  

March 11, 2021, © Leeham News: Last week, we started analyzing the Airbus A350-1000 and compared it with the Boeing 777-300ER.

We now fly the airplanes on a demanding route, close to their maximum range, the LAX to Hong Kong sector. How much better is the 14 years younger A350-1000?

Summary
  • The A350-1000 is the logical replacement for a 777-300ER if a same capacity replacement is sought.
  • The carbon-fiber structure, a more advanced wing, and newer engines give the A350-1000 convincing arguments for the change.

Read more

The A350, Part 5: The A350-900 versus 777-200ER

Subscription Required

By Bjorn Fehrm

Introduction  

February 11, 2021, © Leeham News: Last week, we started analyzing the main member of the Airbus A350 family, the A350-900. It’s the design center for the A350 family and has so far 747 orders, of which 354 are delivered.

Over 1,000 Boeing 777 airliners in the market need replacement, and the A350-900 targets about half of these, the 777-200 and -200ER. Delta is one airline that started the switch from 777-200ER to A350-900. How much does Delta stand to gain?

Summary
  • The 777-200ER broke the ground for oceanic twin-engine flights. It offered an improved economy on trans-oceanic routes.
  • Airliner technology advanced for the 18 years younger A350-900, spurred on by Boeing’s technical leaps with the 787 Dreamliner.
  • As the A350-900 employed these gains in the 777-200ER size class, it does to the 777-200ER what it did to Airbus A340-300, it wins the economy race hands down. Read more

The A350, Part 3: The A350-800 versus A330-900

Subscription Required

By Bjorn Fehrm

Introduction  

January 28, 2020, © Leeham News: Last week, we analyzed the smallest member of the Airbus A350 family, the A350-800. After Airbus changed the variant to a non-optimal “cut and shut” variant, it was no longer competitive.

Airbus froze the development of the A350-800 and then let it slip out of the program (it’s never officially canceled). The A330neo became the replacement for the A350-800. Was this the right decision? Is the A330neo the better airplane?

Summary
  • We saw the A350-800 in its final form had a problem competing with Boeing’s 787. This created a problem for the Airbus widebody program below 300 seats.
  • After a thorough investigation, Airbus found a way to update the A330 to take the place of the A350-800. We use our airliner performance model to find out how well the replacement performs.

Read more