Airbus, Boeing diverge on technology for next new airplane

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By Scott Hamilton


Feb. 1, 2021, © Leeham News: Airbus and Boeing are diverging on paths for a sustainable, reduced emissions strategy for the next new airplanes.

The stakes are high: billions of dollars in sales, dramatic shifts protecting the environment and which company will be dominate for decades to come.

Source: Boeing

Airbus committed to bringing to market a zero-emissions, hydrogen-powered aircraft by the middle of the next decade. A dramatic shift in supporting infrastructure is needed to support innovating new technology.

Boeing is taking a more conservative approach, but one that won’t require costly changes to the infrastructure or major changes to airplane design. Instead, Boeing is betting on delivering airliners by 2030 that can use 100% sustainable fuels.


  • Boeing believes hydrogen technology is farther away than Airbus thinks.
  • Airbus wants a hydrogen-fueled airplane in service by 2035.
  • Boeing committed to a 100% sustainably-fueled airplane by 2030.
  • Who’s right is a multi-billion dollar bet.

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Pontifications: Unraveling the numbers

By Scott Hamilton

Feb. 1, 2021, © Leeham News: Understanding the real market demand for an airplane sector is a complicated thing.

What Airbus and Boeing say the market is for an airplane sometimes is a matter of what they don’t say.

On the Jan. 27 earnings call, Boeing set the program accounting for the 777X at 350 airplanes. This number declined from 400. Simultaneously, Boeing took a whopping $6.5bn forward loss on the program. (Not all is attributed to the accounting block.)

Later in the same call, CEO David Calhoun said, “Across the total widebody market of more than 8,000 projected deliveries over the next two decades, we see replacement demand for over 1,500 large widebody airplanes which are well suited for the 777X.”

Some interpreted this to mean that Boeing expects to sell 1,500 777Xs.

Well, not really.

So, let’s unravel these numbers and what “market demand” or “replacement demand” means. Everything discussed below applies equally to Airbus or Boeing.

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Day of reckoning for the HNA Group

By Vincent Valery

Jan. 31, 2021, © Leeham News: After years of financial struggles, the HNA Group finally declared bankruptcy on Jan. 29. Despite a government-led attempt at restructuring the over-indebted group, the group couldn’t avoid such a fate due to the struggles of its numerous subsidiaries exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

LNA wrote an article in the fall of 2019 on the group’s complex structure and ongoing financial struggles.

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HOTR: Boeing continues to burn off deferred charges

By the Leeham News Team

Jan. 29, 2021, © Leeham News: With all the headlines about Boeing’s record-breaking 2020 loss and the $6.5bn forward loss for the 777X program, there was one item overlooked.

Boeing continues to reduce the deferred production costs for the 787. This is despite reducing production last year and suspending deliveries from October.

Deferred costs continued to come down quarter-over-quarter. Peaking at more than $32bn years ago, the total now is $16.6bn.

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Bjorn’s Corner: The challenges of hydrogen. Part 22. Hydrogen fuel cells

By Bjorn Fehrm

January 29, 2021, ©. Leeham News: Over the last weeks, we looked at Center of Gravity (CG) problems with rear fuselage liquid hydrogen tanks as used in Airbus’ ZEROe turbofan airliner concept. We can conclude that the CG shift is manageable for a short-range aircraft (range below 2,000nm).

Now we spend the next Corners diving into hydrogen fuel cell technology and how it can benefit a hydrogen-fueled airliner.

Figure 1, The principle of a hydrogen fuel cell. Source: Airbus.

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Podcast: 10 Minutes About Boeing’s 2020 Financial Results

Jan. 28, 2021, © Leeham News: Boeing on Jan. 27 reported its 2020 financial results. They were ugly, to nobody’s surprise. Beset by the 737 MAX grounding all year, delays in the 777X program, a suspension of deliveries from October of the 787, continued issues with the KC-46A tanker and problems with the space program, “ugly” financial results were expected.

LNA talks about the 777X, 737 MAX and 787 programs in today’s episode of 10 Minutes About.

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

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By Bjorn Fehrm


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?

  • 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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“I’m sure glad 2020 is in the rear view mirror.”–David Calhoun, Boeing CEO

By Scott Hamilton

David Calhoun, Boeing CEO. Source: CNBC.

Jan. 27, 2021, © Leeham News: “I’m sure glad 2020 is in the rear view mirror.”

This was Boeing CEO David Calhoun’s opening statement in his appearance today on CNBC’s Squawk Box.

Calhoun appeared on the financial news network following the release of its 2020 full year financial results.

“The one big charge was for the 777X program,” Calhoun said. Boeing took a forward pre-tax charge of $6.5bn for the program. Carter Copeland of Melius Research noted in a video this morning that this probably was related to an adjustment in the accounting block. Calhoun said on CNBC that Boeing adjusted the accounting block, which has not been publicly announced, as part of the charge.

“Based on everything we learned in the 737 MAX recertification effort, we put more time into the 777X effort. It’s going to be a little more costly and take more time to certify,” he said.

Calhoun expects the 777X will be a big money maker in the future.

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Update 1: Big loss for 2020 for Boeing; $6.5bn charge for 777X-delivery now late 2023; 737 MAX cleared by EASA


  • Europe’s aviation regulator EASA clears Boeing 737 MAX for return to service with minor, additional requirements. Information is here.
  • $6.5bn charge for 777X program. First delivery now late 2023, nearly 4 years late.

By Scott Hamilton

Jan. 27, 2021, © Leeham News: Boeing today announced a $11.941bn net loss for the full year 2020, as expected.

Boeing reported an operating loss of $12.767bn. The company’s cash flow was a negative $18.41bn last year. It ended the year with $25.6bn in cash and securities.

The press release is here. The webcast is at 10:30 Eastern time and may be accessed here. Calhoun message to employees is here. The earnings presentation is here.

Boeing took a $6.5bn forward loss on the 777X program. First delivery is now late 2023, nearly four years later than initially planned. Source: Boeing

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Podcast: 10 Minutes About the A321XLR and Why Boeing Can’t Compete

Jan. 26, 2021: © Leeham News: Today’s episode is 10 Minutes About the A321XLR and Why Boeing Can’t Compete. LNA’s Judson Rollins worked for Boeing when the MAX was created. He brings an airline background as well, having worked for Air New Zealand and Continental.

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