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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The Airbus A350F versus Boeing’s 777-XF.

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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.

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How good is an Airbus A350 freighter?

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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.

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The Ultrafan Project

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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

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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.

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The A350, Part 2: Analyzing the A350-800

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By Bjorn Fehrm

Introduction  

January 21, 2020, © Leeham News: Before the holidays, we started a series to look into Airbus’ A350 family. We analyzed the development program and how the variants have sold.

Initially, the A350-800 won about 180 orders. But as the market received more information about the smaller variant, the more it realized it wasn’t an optimal airplane. It was never officially canceled. But orders was up-gauged to the A350-900. Airbus decided the variant wasn’t competitive and developed the A330neo instead. We now look into why.

Summary
  • The A350-800 was positioned as Airbus’ main defense against Boeing’s new 787-9, the most efficient variant of the Dreamliner.
  • As the A350 program was delayed, the A350-800 moved from an optimized variant to a “cut and shut” version. This compromised its efficiency.
  • Gradually Airbus changed its strategy how to compete with the 787.

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Outlook 2021: Turboprops challenged

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By Judson Rollins & Bjorn Fehrm

Introduction

Jan. 11, 2021, © Leeham News: COVID-19 may ultimately prove to be a net positive for turboprop manufacturers. Near-term orders will be pinched just as for jets, but a long-term loss of business travel and the resulting impact to airline yields will make turboprops’ superior unit costs appealing for shorter missions.

Turboprop engines create their thrust with a very high bypass ratio. The result is 30% better fuel economy than a jet. But it also means 30% lower speed. This limits turboprops to stage lengths to about half that of jets.

The market-dominating ATR and De Havilland Canada (DHC) turboprops use this base efficiency to compete against newer regional jets despite having designs which are 20 years older.

ATR-72-600 Source: Wikipedia.

Summary
  • Turboprops have attractive economics, making them a larger part of the market post-COVID.
  • ATR-72, DHC-8-400 turboprops are old designs.
  • The only new turboprops come from Russia (Ilyushin I-114) and China (Xian MA700), limiting their market reach.
  • Embraer is keen to enter the market with a new clean-sheet design.
  • Continued dominance by ATR, DHC depends on whether Embraer goes ahead.

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