Bjorn’s Corner: The challenges of airliner development. Part10. What aircraft to develop.

By Bjorn Fehrm, Henry Tam and Andrew Telesca.

July 2, 2021, ©. Leeham News: It’s time to start our aircraft project, where we discuss aircraft development from preliminary planning to fleet support and look at how the certification rules influence our work.

The first part of any aircraft project should focus on understanding the market your project will enter. Our project idea is to develop a Green aircraft for the 19 seat passenger market.

Figure 1. Beech 1900D 19 seat feeder airliner. Source: Wikipedia.

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Eviation announces firm configuration for battery-powered 9-seater

By Bryan Corliss
July 1, 2021, © Leeham News: Seattle-area electric aircraft builder Eviation revealed Thursday that it has reached firm design configuration for its battery-powered, nine-seater Alice aircraft.

The announcement – which typically would signify that Eviation designers have locked-in design features, so that suppliers can use their drawings to begin work on their components – is more of a formality, however.

Eviation Executive Chairman Roei Ganzarski said suppliers already have delivered shipsets for the first production Alice, and mechanics at the company’s Arlington, WA, plant have begun final assembly.

“The plane is being built as we speak,” Ganzarski said. The company is on track for a first flight before year’s end, he added.

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The true cost of Electric Aircraft

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By Bjorn Fehrm


July 1, 2021, © Leeham News: In our Friday Corners, we analyze the development challenges of aircraft. We will launch a concrete project Friday where we intend to develop a 19 seat airliner. To make it interesting, it will be a Green aircraft. We focus on the Certification issues in the Corner series.

To complement it, we here look at the operating cost of a battery-based electric airliner, as there are costs that are often not presented to the public in the marketing of these alternatives. The operational costs for the huge batteries are too often forgotten.

Figure 1. Heart Aerospace ES-19 battery based airliner. Source: Heart Aerospace.

  • Electric aircraft using batteries as energy stores are proposed for extreme short-range flights (below 200nm). The short flights shall make the weight of the batteries needed bearable.
  • One advantage of these aircraft compared to today’s turboprops shall be their lower energy and maintenance costs. While this is true as long as we don’t count the batteries, including those in the maintenance costs changes the equation.

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Podcast: 10 Minutes About Airbus’ Design and Production transformation

June 30, 2021 © Leeham News: Yesterday’s 10 Minutes About discussed Boeing’s drive toward a dramatic new way to design and produce new airplanes. Today’s 10 Minutes About looks at how Airbus is approaching the same challenge.

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United orders 200 Boeing 737 MAXes, 70 Airbus A321neos

By the Leeham News Team

June 29, 2021, © Leeham News: United Airlines today announced its order for 200 Boeing 737 MAXes and 70 Airbus A321neos.

The size and split of the order were first reported by Airfinance Journal.

Source: United Airlines

The deal is the carrier’s largest, as well as the industry’s largest “in a decade.”* The order is for 50 737 MAX 8s, 150 737 MAX 10s and 70 A321neos. “United will replace older, smaller mainline jets and at least 200 single-class regional jets with larger aircraft,” the airline said.

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Podcast: 10 Minutes About the Boeing Design and Production Moonshot

June 29, 2021, © Leeham News: “Most often when a new airplane is developed by either side, it is usually developed around a propulsion package that offers 15% to 20% improvement with respect to efficiency versus the one it’s displacing. That’s the way it’s happened over a long period of time,” Boeing CEO David Calhoun said on the most recent earnings call.

“I don’t believe the next generation of an engine can deliver that kind of performance. Therefore, whatever cost-efficiency ultimately and whatever performance advantages are derived from the next airplane in my view are going to come from the way it’s engineered and the way it’s manufactured. All [will be] with a focus on a lower cost per seat when we get it to the marketplace. And, yes, [it will have] a more sustainable package with respect to the environment.”

Just how practical is this approach? Today’s 10 Minutes About discusses Boeing’s moonshot in design and production for its next airplane, whatever it is.

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China distorts progress in Boeing 737 MAX return to service

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By Scott Hamilton


June 28, 2021, © Leeham News: There are now 265 Boeing 737 MAXes in airline service, according to data reviewed by LNA.

There are 263 MAXes in storage that appear to be previously delivered airplanes. This number is artificially inflated by the 95 MAXes that are grounded in China. China’s regulator hasn’t recertified the MAX, a move widely considered political due to the long-running trade war between the US and China initiated by the Trump Administration.

When the MAX was grounded in March 2019, there were 387 in service. The math indicates 147 MAXes were delivered from inventory or new production since the airplane was recertified by the Federal Aviation Administration in November 2020 and other regulators shortly afterward.

There were 400 MAXes in inventory at the end of the first quarter, down from 425 at the end of the year. Boeing resumed production in the single digits. Boeing does not reveal its rate, but it is believed to be about 10-14/mo going to 16/mo in the third quarter.

In contrast, there are 106 A320neos and 38 A321neos in storage as of last Friday.

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Pontifications: The WTO Airbus/Boeing standstill and pursuing China

June 28, 2021, © Leeham News: The US and European Union agreed on June 15 to a standstill in the 17-year old trade dispute over illegal subsidies to Airbus and Boeing.

The World Trade Organization (WTO) found each violated international rules. By the time all was said and done, the US was authorized to levy tariffs on $7.5bn worth of European goods. The EU received authorization to levy tariffs on $4bn of US goods.

Tariffs on goods went beyond Airbus and Boeing products. But it was 15% tariffs on Airbus planes imported into the US and Boeing planes imported into the EU that were the highest-profile and most costly.

Despite initial reports in some uninformed media that the long-running dispute was “resolved,” in fact, only a standstill was agreed. The US and EU now have five years to negotiate a permanent settlement to Airbus’ “reimbursable launch aid” and Boeing’s benefits from tax breaks and NASA.

The two sides also agreed to put China’s commercial aerospace industry in the crosshairs.

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Bjorn’s Corner: The challenges of airliner development. Part 9. Size of the airliner.

By Bjorn Fehrm, Henry Tam, and Andrew Telesca

June 25, 2021, ©. Leeham News: We are closing in on our aircraft project, where we will go through an aircraft development from A to Z and look at how certification rules govern our work.

Before we decide what aircraft to develop, let’s look at how the certification rules break the market into segments based on cabin seating.

Figure 1. An example of a 50 seat airliner, the ATR 42. Source: Wikipedia.

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Europe’s airline recovery: a tale of two continents

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By Judson Rollins


June 24, 2021, © Leeham News: The recovery in passenger air travel from COVID-19 has been wildly uneven. A dramatic recovery in passenger volume – although not yield – in many domestic markets has been offset by a continuing sharp slump in international traffic.

The latter has proven particularly crippling to European airlines, most of which have miniscule domestic markets. Intra-EU travel, although generally permitted by member countries, has been slow to recover as business travelers have failed to return in meaningful numbers.

Meanwhile, long-haul travel remains hampered, most recently by an ever-changing landscape of “red zone,” “orange zone,” and “green zone” labels, plus other restrictions placed on arriving travelers.

The bright spot is strong leisure travel demand, which is propelling the continent’s low-cost carriers much closer to recovery than their legacy counterparts. This LCC-versus-legacy split brings into sharp relief the state of European airline traffic.

Source: European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control


  • Vaccine rollout ahead of many developed markets; certificate program launching next week.
  • Legacy carrier recovery is dragging out, weighed down by business and long-haul travel woes.
  • LCCs performing relatively well, with some on track to fully recover next year.
  • Train service unlikely to displace airline demand.

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