Re-engining the Boeing 767

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By Bjorn Fehrm

December 7, 2023, © Leeham News: We wrote last week that Boeing is considering re-engining the 767 to avoid a production stop after 2027. The 767 is still an interesting aircraft for companies flying cargo and for the US Air Force, which is taking delivery of the tanker version KC-46A for years to come.

The problem is that all the 767 versions are using engines from the 1970s (GE CF6, PW4000, RB211), and as the FAA has accepted the ICAO emission rules from 2017, the production of the 767 with these engines has to stop after 2027. As reported last week, Beoing is looking at re-engining the 767 to avoid a production stop.

We use our Aircraft Performance and Cost Model (APCM) to look at the different possible configurations with new engines and model their performance data and operating economics.

Summary:
  • The Boeing 767 needs new engines if it shall be produced after 2027.
  • While the engine candidate is clear, the rest of a re-engined 767 can be configured in several ways. We look at what different configurations bring in operational performance.

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Bjorn’s Corner: New aircraft technologies. Part 40. The initial production crisis

By Bjorn Fehrm

December 01, 2023, ©. Leeham News: We are discussing the different phases of an airliner development program. After covering Conceptual, Preliminary, and Detailed design, the manufacturing of prototypes, and their roles in flight tests, we now look at Production.

Last week, we explained why the focus on the production phase has increased for recent and future projects. Now we go deeper into why the production phase and how it runs is so important.

Figure 1. The development plan for a new airliner. Source: Leeham Co.

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Further developments of the A321, Part 6

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By Bjorn Fehrm

November 23, 2023, © Leeham News: We do an article series about what can be the subsequent development for Airbus’ most popular aircraft, the A321neo. We looked at different changes to the aircraft in previous articles and the economics in short haul configuration. Now, we compare the capacity and economics of the different variants when configured for long-haul missions.

We use our Airliner Performance and Cost Model (APCM) to look at passenger capacity, seat-mile costs, and range.

Summary:

  • A stretched A321 is limited as a long-haul aircraft, as it needs additional fuel and additional takeoff weight to carry the fuel.
  • Long-haul variants of a stretched A321 will need the XLR center tank or the new, larger wing of an A32x to extend the range to long-haul values.

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Spirit Focused on Delivering On Time and At Quality

By Dan Catchpole

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Nov. 6, 2023, © Leeham News: Spirit Aerosystems’ new CEO Pat Shanahan’s focus right now is “to restore confidence in the company” with its biggest customers—Airbus and Boeing.

During a Nov. 1st conference call discussing the company’s third quarter earnings, Shanahan said,  “I recognize we have disappointed our stakeholders.”

Shanahan just came on as chief executive in October to help turn around Spirit, which has been flailing, along with much of the aerospace supply chain. Boeing and Airbus will be watching Shanahan’s progress. He gained a reputation as Mr. Fix-It during his time at Boeing.

Summary
  • Market responds favorably to latest earnings report and management’s promises.
  • Shanahan says Spirit is on track to deliver more than 50 737 MAX airframes in 2025.
  • Goal is zero-quality issues.

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Bjorn’s Corner: New aircraft technologies. Part 36. Prototype manufacturing and Testing

By Bjorn Fehrm

October 27, 2023, ©. Leeham News: We are discussing the different design phases of an airliner development program. After covering Conceptual, Preliminary, and Detailed design (Figure 1), we now discuss prototype manufacturing and testing, where we today go deeper into structural testing.

Figure 1. The development plan for a new airliner. Source: Leeham Co.

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Bjorn’s Corner: New aircraft technologies. Part 34. Design for Certification

October 13, 2023, ©. Leeham News: We are discussing the Detailed design phase of an airliner development program. We have discussed program management methods, development techniques, tools for Detailed design, that improved production methods are as important as improved technology, and that the interaction with the suppliers is key.

But another consideration that affects detail design is the influence of the Certification process. Certification has a major influence on the program work in every step of the aircraft program.

 

Figure 1. The online version of the FAA 14 CFR Part 25 Airliner Airworthiness regulations. Source: US CFR.

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Further developments of the A321, Part 2

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By Bjorn Fehrm

October 5, 2023, © Leeham News: We look at what can be the next development for Airbus’ most popular aircraft, the A321neo. We looked at the history of the A320/A321 last week and how the aircraft progressively were updated to take more passengers and fly longer sectors.

The series represents more than 50% of the revenue and margin for Airbus. With the latest development, the A321XLR, soon finished, what is next? We use our Airliner Performance and Cost Model (APCM) to look at base data and what changes are necessary to increase capacity and efficiency further.

A321XLR during cold weather testing in Canada. Source: Airbus.

Summary:
  • The A321 is reaching its weight and capacity limits.
  • There are ways to lift these limits, but the changes must not break its Airport gate classification.

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The Small Airliner Problem, Part 10. Cash costs for a battery-based airliner

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By Bjorn Fehrm

July 6, 2023, © Leeham News: In our series on costs factors that make up Cash Operating Cost for a battery-based airliner with range extenders, we now add Crew costs and Airport/Airway fees.

We then have all the components of the Cash Operating Cost (COC) for the ES-30 and can compare it to a normal propulsion 30-seat turboprop.

Figure 1. The Heart Aerospace ES-30 hybrid 30-seat airliner. Source: Heart Aerospace.

Summary:
  • The high operating weight and slow speed of a battery airliner increase the Airport/Airway fees and Crew costs for the ES-30.
  • In summary, only one Cash cost remains competitive, and the COC total exceeds the cost of a 30-seater turboprop.

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What’s the Green aviation news at Paris 2023?

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By Bjorn Fehrm

June 22, 2023, © Leeham News: Every announcement from aircraft deals, OEM updates, or supply chain news now has the words Sustainable/Sustainability injected in every second sentence. It doesn’t matter what the subject is; if it’s about a gas-guzzling way of transporting people at supersonic or even hypersonic speeds or at the other end in an eVTOL which is only as fast as your car on a US highway.

What is the real news about making our air transport system less polluting behind this misuse of the buzzwords? You have to search behind the headlines and the announcements that you know will not turn the dial. Let’s tour the Paris Air Show 2023 and look at the real developments in Sustainability.

Figure 1. First flight of Universal Hydrogen’s DH8-300 with a hydrogen propulsion system on the starboard side. Source: Universal Hydrogen.

Summary:
  • The waves of Green propulsion solutions with inflated claims have calmed down.
  • It’s replaced with operationally usable solutions that deliver tangible emission gains.

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Kawasaki joins VoltAero to present a sensible hybrid aircraft

June 18, 2023, © Leeham News at Paris Air Show: VoltAero showed its Cassio 330 electric-hybrid test aircraft today at the Pairs Air Show, as it announced Kawasaki as the partner in realizing its rather different hybrid propulsion system.

We have analyzed hybrid aircraft concepts for eight years and have not found any that would live up to the claims of better fuel economy and lower emissions compared to the aircraft they shall replace. The root of the problem lies in batteries that weigh too much for the job.

The VoltAero Cassio family takes a different approach. It uses a small battery to produce a hybrid that utilizes the advantages of electric propulsion around the airport and the thermal engine for the rest of the flight. The strategy creates a sensible aircraft with operational advantages.

Figure 1. The VoltAero Cassio 330 prototype as shown at Le Bourget today. Source: VoltAero.

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