A350-1000 or 777-9? Part 2

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By Bjorn Fehrm

April 10, 2024, © Leeham News: We are doing an article series comparing the capabilities of the Airbus A350-1000 and the Boeing 777-9. The A350-1000 has not been a hot seller, and a lot of analysts asked why. Is there a capability gap or what is the reason?

At the same time, the reworked Boeing 777X had reassuring initial sales at the November 2013 launch at the Dubai Air Show, where Emirates ordered 150 777-9 out of a total show orderbook of 259 aircraft for Emirates (150), Qatar (50), Lufthansa (34), and Ethiad (20). The orders have since grown to 481 as of late 2023.

The A350-1000 has had a recent resurgence in orders and switches from the A350-900 orders, whereas the 777–9 has seen several delays due to engine and certification problems and is now scheduled for 2025 delivery instead of 2020.

Does the 777-9 or the A350-1000 hold the upper hand in a long-term race between the largest widebodies after the Airbus A380 and Boeing 747-8i stopped deliveries? We use our Aircraft Performance and Cost model to compare the two to understand their present performance and potential for upgrades.

Summary:
  • The Boeing 777-9 is a larger and heavier aircraft with a 12% higher passenger capacity.
  • Does an advanced wing and later generation engines compensate for an older and heavier fuselage structure?

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Bjorn’ s Corner: Engine development. Part 1. Introduction

March 29, 2024, ©. Leeham News: We finished our article series about New Aircraft Technologies last week. It dealt with the different new technologies that a next-generation airliner could use to increase efficiency and by it environmental emissions.

An area that we touched upon but didn’t dig deeper into was engine development. When airframe development historically decided how long a new generation of aircraft took to develop, it gradually changed to engine development being the more calendar-time-consuming and riskier development for the last generations. This article series will discuss why and what can be done about it.

Figure 1. CFM RISE, a new engine development for the next generation of airliners. Source: CFM.

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Bjorn’ s Corner: New aircraft technologies. Part 49. Engine Maintenance

By Bjorn Fehrm

March 8, 2024, ©. Leeham News: We are discussing the different phases of a new airliner program. After covering the Design and Production, we now look at the Operational phase of a new airliner family.

For the operational phase, the airplane must pass scrutiny for Continued Airworthiness. The biggest item in a regulator’s Instructions for Continued Airworthiness is the required Maintenance program to keep an airliner airworthy. We discussed airframe maintenance in the last article. Now, we look at engine maintenance.

Figure 1. The CFM56-7 engine for the Boeing 737NG. Source: CFM.

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Rolls Royce tackles Trent engine issues as profits take flight

By Tom Batchelor

February 23, 2024, © Leeham News:  The turnaround at Rolls Royce is well-underway as the company revealed a more than doubling of its annual profit – ahead of expectations – at its full year 2023 results announcement on Thursday.

Just a year after the incoming CEO Tufan Erginbilgic warned that the engine group was a “burning platform”, revenues climbed to £15.4bn ($19.4bn at current rates), up from £12.7bn ($16bn) in 2022, and profits soared by 143% to £1.6bn ($2bn), from £652m ($823m). Analysts had estimated profits closer to £1.3bn ($1.6bn) for 2023.

Rolls Royce key financial indicators for 2023. Click to enlarge. Credit: Rolls Royce

Key financial indicators for Rolls Royce in 2023. Click to enlarge. Credit: Rolls Royce

RR delivered a total of 458 engines last year, including 262 destined for large civil aircraft, alongside orders for around 700 powerplants.

Speaking during a briefing call, former BP executive Erginbilgic called it a “transformation” which had “delivered a record performance in 2023”.

Notably, progress is being made on improvements to the Trent XWB-97 and Trent 1000 engines, designed to address durability issues reported by customers operating widebodies in dry and dusty environments.

“We are creating momentum and a track record of significant delivery,” Erginbilgic said, though “bottlenecks” caused by both labor and parts shortages would continue to be a factor into 2026.

“We expect the supply chain to remain challenging for another 18-24 months,” he said. Read more

2024 Outlook: A Mixed Bag for Propulsion OEMs

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By Chris Sloan and Gordon Smith

January 11, 2033, © Leeham News: In 2023, a slew of problems plagued propulsion providers, with Pratt & Whitney’s GTF Engine and supply-chain shortcomings grabbing the bulk of negative headlines and customer complaints. There were bright spots for all the big three with a slew of significant orders, emerging technologies, and critical management shifts.

As the calendar turns to 2024, all eyes will be on a return to fulfilling enormous backlogs, supporting OEM production rate increases, and returning GTF-propelled planes to the skies – while edging towards new technologies, both incremental and revolutionary.

Summary
  • Pratt and its operators navigate massive AOGs (aircraft on ground) and unhappy customer claims for its GTF.
  • The GTF Advantage closes in on EIS.
  • GTF maladies open the door to a possible new platform, the long-mooted Airbus A220-500.
  • The X66A Tranonic-Truss-Braced Wing offers promise for both Pratt’s GTF and GE’s future RISE engines.
  • GEnx and GE-9X win blockbuster campaigns on the 787 and 777X as the 777X hurtles toward certification.
  • CFM’s LEAP goes from strength to strength on the heels of MAX orders and 737-7 and 737-10 certification and entry-into-service.
  • Fixing LEAP durability and delivery challenges.
  • Rolls-Royce Trent troubles continue to draw the ire of customers.
  • UltraFan testing moves forward in Roll’s quest to build a next-generation engine platform for the 2030s. Read more

Re-engining the Boeing 767, Part 2

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By Bjorn Fehrm

December 14, 2023, © Leeham News: We are looking at a re-engine of the 767, a move that Boeing is considering to avoid a production stop after 2027. The present 767 engines don’t pass emission regulations introduced by FAA, EASA, and other regulators for production and delivery beyond 2027.

We have described the history of the 767 and the key data of the different variants in last week’s article. Now, we look at what airframe modifications are necessary to house more efficient engines and what consequences these bring.

Summary:
  • New, more environmentally friendly engines for the 767 mean changes to the landing gear and structures to house larger and heavier engines.
  • For the payload capacity to stay the same a deeper grab in the 767-400 toolbox is necessary than just adopting the landing gear.

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Rolls-Royce sets out ambitious vision to future-proof its business

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By Gordon Smith

November 29, 2023, © Leeham News: Rolls-Royce’s (RR) capital markets day presented a business that has bookended 2023 with two very different narratives. The November 28 event heralded targets such as a quadrupling of operating profit within five years, delivered via a bullish new growth strategy and re-energized vision for the future. How different things felt just 11 months earlier. 

In January, new chief executive Tufan Erginbilgic adopted something of a shock-and awe approach, describing the company’s position in terms so blunt that it made even the most experienced market watchers blush.

Picking up the baton from Warren East – who had led the business for eight years – Erginbilgic’s comments went beyond the conventional candor of an incoming exec and spooked many. The new boss labeled the British firm a “burning platform” and described Rolls’ status quo as “unsustainable”. 

Despite efficiency drives instigated by his predecessor, Erginbilgic’s message was clear; 2023 represented a “last chance” to change. Needless to say, there was a particularly high degree of expectation behind Rolls’ flagship investor event, his first as CEO.

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Pontifications: Airbus ponders A330neo MRTT, Boeing ponders KC-46A re-engine

By Scott Hamilton

By Scott Hamilton

Nov. 28, 2023, © Leeham News: In a reversal of intent, the airplane that Airbus may submit to the US Air Force for the next round of aerial tanker procurement may be based on the A330neo instead of the current production A330-200ceo MRTT.

The Air Force, however, may forego competition between Airbus and Boeing and place a sole-source follow-on order with Boeing for the KC-46A tanker, based on the 767-200ER. Boeing already has a contract for 179 KC-46As, and the USAF appears to be leaning toward a sole-source award. Political pressure from Airbus partisans and others who favor competition may prevail.


Related articles


Airbus wants to discontinue production of the A330-200ceo-based MRTT. The neo-based version would be based on the A330-800. Sales of the -800 are poor—fewer than 20 have been ordered. An -800 based MRTT will breathe life into the nearly still-born model.


  • Boeing considers re-engining the 767-300ERF and the KC-46A.
  • KC-46A, 767-200, A330 MRTT exempt from 2027 ICAO standards.

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Preview of Rolls-Royce Capital Markets Day

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By Scott Hamilton

Nov. 27, 2023, © Leeham News: Rolls-Royce’s Capital Market Day is tomorrow. “Our multi-year transformation programme will deliver a high-performing, competitive, resilient, and growing business. Join us to find out how we are going to do it and what a stronger Rolls-Royce will mean for all our stakeholders,” the company says on its website.

“Our multi-year transformation programme has started well with progress already evident in our strong initial results and increased full-year guidance for 2023. There is much more to do to deliver better performance and to transform Rolls-Royce into a high-performing, competitive, resilient, and growing business. We will share the outcome of our strategy review along with medium-term goals for the Group in November,” said CEO Tufan Erginbilgic on its website.

It has some other questions to answer, too.

An order for Airbus A350-1000s was expected to be announced at the Dubai Air Show by Emirates Airline. Another order, for a combination of A350-900s, -1000s, and A320neo, was expected from Turkish Airlines. Neither materialized—and, LNA is told, issues with the Trent XWB 97 were one reason.

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Pontifications: “We’re sick and tired of new technologies:” Avolon CEO

By Scott Hamilton

Editor’s Note: As Airbus and Boeing consider new airplanes, their current generation aircraft are plagued with technical issues. The engines on the A320neo and 737 MAX families continue to have problems years after entry into service. The Boeing 787, which had ground-breaking technology when it was designed, has production issues. Flight testing early on revealed technical problems with the engine on the 777X, prompting the president of Emirates Airline to publicly suggest he won’t accept delivery until the engines are fully “mature.”

Aviation Week’s Check 6 podcast last week examined Boeing’s path toward a new airplane. Boeing CEO David Calhoun insists on waiting for new technology. But “new technology,” while in theory is a great idea, the phrase also scares people. LNA reported on this in March 2020. We’re reposting this article from then.


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Introduction

By Scott Hamilton

March 16, 2020, © Leeham News: “I can tell you from our perspective, we’re kind of sick and tired of new, new technology. It’s not proven to be the home run.”

This blunt assessment comes from the chief executive officer of the big aircraft lessor, Avolon.

Domhnal Slattery

Domhnal Slattery, the CEO, was giving his critique of whether Boeing should launch a new airplane once the 737 MAX crisis is over. (Update: Since this interview, Slattery retired from Avolon.)

Boeing was on a path to decide whether to launch the New Midmarket Airplane when the MAX was grounded one year ago this month.

Airbus was waiting for Boeing to move before deciding how to respond.

Summary
  • Airbus and Boeing should “stick to their knitting.”
  • Focus on incremental improvements for now.
  • 2030s to 2050s will be the next big advance in technologies.

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