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Can Airbus Afford Not To Redesign The A350?  
User currently offlineBoomBoom From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Posted (8 years 4 months 2 weeks 5 days 18 hours ago) and read 8164 times:

A long (6 page) article by Scott Hamilton
http://www.leeham.net/filelib/ScottsColumn040406.pdf

Quote:
This is a good question. Airbus, rightly or wrongly, is perceived to have a long history of difficulty with its widebody program. The perception of those we talk to is that Airbus can’t get its widebody designs “right” the first time.

Airbus is already two-three years behind Boeing’s 787 with its A350. A further redesign could well delay Airbus another year or more. But is this fatal?

Not necessarily. The A320 entered service 20 years after the 737 and today outsells the aging Boeing product by almost 2:1. The A330 followed the 767 by about 10 years and the A330 beat the 767 hands down.

So the history is there; Airbus could be delayed but conceivably wind up with a better product than the 787 by coming up with a better design. Adding just nine inches to the fuselage width, for example, would allow the A350 to have wider coach seats than the 787 in nine abreast while preventing the airlines from going to 10 abreast—thus replicating the improved passenger comfort vis-à-vis the A320 compared with the 737.

If ILFC’s Hazy is right—and he usually is—Airbus may be better off biting the bullet and widening the fuselage. Better to get the plane “right” the first time than not.


47 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineDfwRevolution From United States of America, joined Jan 2010, 968 posts, RR: 51
Reply 1, posted (8 years 4 months 2 weeks 5 days 17 hours ago) and read 8089 times:

I will be so bold as to re-propose my hypothesis from the IFLC thread:

If Airbus can obtain about 30-40% market share, will their return on investement not be roughly equivalent to Boeing's?

The project cost of the A350 is currently about $5.5 billion, half that of the projected B787 cost of $10-12 billion. If Airbus sold half as many aircraft (1/3) of the market, they would theoretically obtain a proportional amount of return.

Remember that the A340 has obtained about 38% of the market. Is the current A350 as good against the B787 as the A340 is against the B777?

If the answer is yes, Airbus does not need to redesign the A350 at once.


User currently offlineKangar From Ireland, joined Feb 2000, 395 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (8 years 4 months 2 weeks 5 days 17 hours ago) and read 8086 times:

Well... that's the 6 million dollar question, will they, won't they? Whatever they decide, I'd like to see them set a real and definite path for this aircraft. Part of the problem with the A350 program is that it is seen as reactive in the sense that Airbus are content to just equal the 787 or thereabouts. If they had taken the point of view that guys, we'll be 3 o 4 years late, but our product will beat the socks off the 787, things could have been much rosier. That said, I think the A350 is unfairly getting saddled with a very negative perception.

User currently offline787engineer From United States of America, joined Dec 2005, 572 posts, RR: 15
Reply 3, posted (8 years 4 months 2 weeks 5 days 17 hours ago) and read 8020 times:

Personally I don't find too much credibility in this article. The guy doesn't take into account at all how difficult it would be for Airbus to re-negotiate their contracts to delay EIS for another year or two. Scott Hamilton also sees the fact that the A350 is using a "40 year old" design as a bad thing, which it isn't. It saves money, and is a good size cross section for the A350. Unless of course they stretch the A350 to replace the A346 in 5-10 years, very possible IMO. The A350 is a good plane and Airbus isn't investing nearly as much into it as Boeing is into the 787. He also mentions the design freeze happened in January? I thought it was delayed, can anyone give me a link/source? Anyone that considers the 737 "aging" especially with the NGs out there is not all that well informed or biased. The 737s are doing fine and had record sales last year.

BoomBoom, how much time do you spend looking for all these different anti-airbus articles? We all know (at least those of us that are objective) that the A340 is losing out to the 777 and the A320 is the preferred narrowbody of any new airlines. Both the 787 and A380 and impressive in their own respect and Airbus will be able to swallow the fact the A350 probably won't outsell the 787.


User currently offlineAtmx2000 From United States of America, joined Oct 2004, 4576 posts, RR: 38
Reply 4, posted (8 years 4 months 2 weeks 5 days 17 hours ago) and read 8011 times:

Quoting DfwRevolution (Reply 1):
The project cost of the A350 is currently about $5.5 billion, half that of the projected B787 cost of $10-12 billion. If Airbus sold half as many aircraft (1/3) of the market, they would theoretically obtain a proportional amount of return

You are assuming the same profit per aircraft. If the sales ratios are 2:1 then you can expect Boeing is receiving a sales premium over Airbus. That would reduce their ability to get equal per unit profits depending on Airbus' investment in the A350 and cost structure.

Quoting DfwRevolution (Reply 1):
Remember that the A340 has obtained about 38% of the market. Is the current A350 as good against the B787 as the A340 is against the B777?

The A343 had the advantage of coming to market several years sooner than the 772ER. The A350 does not have that advantage.

Quoting Kangar (Reply 2):
That said, I think the A350 is unfairly getting saddled with a very negative perception.

I don't think so. If Boeing meets its weight and performance targets, they will have a clear and significant advantage with their new design over the A350.



ConcordeBoy is a twin supremacist!! He supports quadicide!!
User currently offlineKaneporta1 From Greece, joined May 2005, 739 posts, RR: 12
Reply 5, posted (8 years 4 months 2 weeks 5 days 17 hours ago) and read 7960 times:

Quoting 787engineer (Reply 3):
It saves money, and is a good size cross section for the A350. Unless of course they stretch the A350 to replace the A346 in 5-10 years, very possible IMO.

I think what's going to happen is that as soon as most of on-going projects are 'finished' (A380, A380F, A400M and A350) then Airbus will first go for the 320 replacement and then a new design to replace the A340. The A340E is now indefinitely on hold, a good thing in my opinion.

Quoting 787engineer (Reply 3):
He also mentions the design freeze happened in January? I thought it was delayed, can anyone give me a link/source?

Design hasn't frozen yet, at least here in the UK, we're still working on various wing profiles and midbox, LE and TE configurations to save weight/money/assembly time.

Quoting 787engineer (Reply 3):
and Airbus will be able to swallow the fact the A350 probably won't outsell the 787.

I don't think the A350 was ever intended to outsell the 787, it was more of a quick (some may say paniced) reaction to keep the 330 line from being completely trashed.



I'd rather die peacefully in my sleep, like my grandfather, not terrified and screaming, like his passengers
User currently offlineDfwRevolution From United States of America, joined Jan 2010, 968 posts, RR: 51
Reply 6, posted (8 years 4 months 2 weeks 5 days 16 hours ago) and read 7882 times:

Quoting Atmx2000 (Reply 4):
You are assuming the same profit per aircraft

First, please keep in consideration that approximating!  Smile

Quoting Atmx2000 (Reply 4):
If the sales ratios are 2:1 then you can expect Boeing is receiving a sales premium over Airbus.

Second, as we saw with the B787, I would not be suprised to see Boeing charge more premium if they clearly pull away as the market leader, a la B777.

The point is, Airbus does not necessarily have to sell an aircraft with equal performance or economics as Boeing to still turn a profit.


User currently offline787engineer From United States of America, joined Dec 2005, 572 posts, RR: 15
Reply 7, posted (8 years 4 months 2 weeks 5 days 16 hours ago) and read 7853 times:

Quoting Kaneporta1 (Reply 5):
I think what's going to happen is that as soon as most of on-going projects are 'finished' (A380, A380F, A400M and A350) then Airbus will first go for the 320 replacement and then a new design to replace the A340. The A340E is now indefinitely on hold, a good thing in my opinion.

Great! I'd love to see what else those crazy guys on the other side of the pond in Toulouse will come up with given a clean sheet  Smile.

Quoting Kaneporta1 (Reply 5):

I don't think the A350 was ever intended to outsell the 787, it was more of a quick (some may say paniced) reaction to keep the 330 line from being completely trashed.

Exactly, IMO way too many people are over-reacting to the fact that the 787 will probably outsell the A350. B cheerleaders are overjoyed and constantly holding it over/sticking it to the A cheerleaders, while the A cheerleaders are trying to justify how the A350 is better than the 787 in many different ways and in the long run will outsell the 787. The 1.5% weight issue, problems with composites, etc. will all work out, and the A350 in operation won't be so much worse than the 787 that it won't sell at all.


User currently offlineAtmx2000 From United States of America, joined Oct 2004, 4576 posts, RR: 38
Reply 8, posted (8 years 4 months 2 weeks 5 days 15 hours ago) and read 7773 times:

Quoting DfwRevolution (Reply 6):
The point is, Airbus does not necessarily have to sell an aircraft with equal performance or economics as Boeing to still turn a profit.

No, but if there is a sharp performance disadvantage, they have to discount it enough so that airlines who do buy it won't be at a significant disadvantage to their customers who buy the 787. We are seeing that problem with the A340NG today, with Airbus being unable to sell the aircraft at even a 2:1 ratio, and seeing existing orders declined. While the A350 will have engine parity with the 787 unlike the A340NG compared to the 777LR, it will have a similar weight disadvantage in relation to size if Boeing hits their targets.



ConcordeBoy is a twin supremacist!! He supports quadicide!!
User currently offlineBoeingBus From United States of America, joined May 2004, 1596 posts, RR: 17
Reply 9, posted (8 years 4 months 2 weeks 5 days 15 hours ago) and read 7736 times:

I'm sure the A350 is a hot discussion in Toulouse. I believe the engineers continue to tweak/refine the capabilities and reporting it to management and airlines. Simply, Airbus needs more blue chip airlines other than Qatar to endorse the A350. So far mediocre airlines signed up for the A350... Qatar needs to sign on to the program, as well.

The only unexpected news for Airbus was the fact that they never thought Boeing would come out with a 787-10 this soon. So lets sit back and see what Emirates, Singapore, and Lufthansa do.

I always felt the A350 was an intermediate plan to counter the 787 until the next 'all new' Airbus jet. So maybe we will have an all new design sooner than later...



Airbus or Boeing - it's all good to me!
User currently offlineSteeler83 From United States of America, joined Feb 2006, 9191 posts, RR: 18
Reply 10, posted (8 years 4 months 2 weeks 5 days 15 hours ago) and read 7709 times:

Quoting DfwRevolution (Reply 6):
Second, as we saw with the B787, I would not be suprised to see Boeing charge more premium if they clearly pull away as the market leader, a la B777.

Neither would I. The B787 already has a ton of orders placed for it if I am not mistaken. Although The A350 has its share of orders as well, including the one from US Airways. I guess how each airline sees their B787/A350 performances (pax satisfaction, cost effective, etc...) will determine if any additional orders will be made for each aircraft. It does seem as though that the B787 might have the slight edge over the A350 for the time being, not to be biased or anything...



Do not bring stranger girt into your room. The stranger girt is dangerous, it will hurt your life.
User currently offlineAvObserver From United States of America, joined Apr 2002, 2470 posts, RR: 9
Reply 11, posted (8 years 4 months 2 weeks 5 days 15 hours ago) and read 7652 times:

Whether expedient or not, I don't see Airbus scrapping the existing A350 design, although they may well give it a few more significant "tweaks". Too late for that. To do so now would entirely abandon the market to the 787 for a few more years, something Airbus can't afford to do. While they could leapfrog the 787 technically by doing that, the Boeing customer base would be so well entrenched by that time, it would be difficult to dislodge, however good the new Airbus model would be. They're doing the only practical thing by shrugging off ILFC and GECAS criticism and proceeding with the current design. Even a 30% market share would be preferable to a further delay and the need to later recapture so many lost customers. Surely they'd considered the ramnifications of redesigning the A330 as opposed to an all-new model and decided the extra time needed to get a clean-sheet design to market was unacceptable. Besides, they've other priorities to address: the A340 deficiencies and the A320 revamp in response to the expected 737 replacement being the most important. If the A350 can be priced competitively, it will sell well enough to keep Airbus's foot in the door of this important market while it readies an all-new replacement for a later timeframe.

User currently offlineDfwRevolution From United States of America, joined Jan 2010, 968 posts, RR: 51
Reply 12, posted (8 years 4 months 2 weeks 5 days 14 hours ago) and read 7625 times:

Quoting DfwRevolution (Reply 6):
Second, as we saw with the B787, I would not be suprised to see Boeing charge more premium if they clearly pull away as the market leader, a la B777.

Let the record show: This should read:

Second, as we saw with the B777, I would not be suprised to see Boeing charge more premium if they clearly pull away as the market leader.

I incorrectly typed B787 instead of B777, making the "a la B777" reference an unnecessary redundancy.

Quoting Atmx2000 (Reply 8):
No, but if there is a sharp performance disadvantage, they have to discount it enough so that airlines who do buy it won't be at a significant disadvantage to their customers who buy the 787

Again, I think you are still looking way to literally into a thought experiment. I am the last person who must be explained the performance aspects of the two aircraft. The simple fact of the matter is that Airbus does not need to establish absolute parity with the B787 (per say)

The biggest logic flaw with my statement is the fact that, unlike the A340, the A350 is arriving to the market after its competitor. The best sales year of the A343 was 1989 while the A340NG was 2003, before thier Boeing competitor was introduced.

However, two points to the contrary must be considered:

1. Boeing does not have infinite line capacity. Sales will eventually default to Airbus on the basis of sheer availability or unwillingness to pay for the premium B787.

2. This market niche is projected at an unprecedented +3,000 aircraft over twenty years. Products will amortize well before this two-decade cycle is complete, so this story book is not finished just because Airbus firms the A350 at a sub-optimal design.

What I'm alluding toward is perhaps the A350 will morph (intentionally or not) into one of the most expensive stop-gaps in history. In the short run, an ROI parity is possible, but it could not be sustained for the life of the B787.

Like I've said before, I'm predicted "A350 Enhanced" come 2012...


User currently offlineLumberton From United States of America, joined Jul 2005, 4708 posts, RR: 20
Reply 13, posted (8 years 4 months 2 weeks 5 days 14 hours ago) and read 7567 times:

Quoting AvObserver (Reply 11):
While they could leapfrog the 787 technically

This seems to be an assumption shared by others. I've got to ask, how could Airbus "leapfrog", i.e., exceed the technology on the 787? They could most likely equal it technically, but there won't likely be new engines, avionics, or design improvements that would relegate the 787 to second place. Ten years hence, perhaps, but I don't see how Airbus can do this by starting from scratch at the present time and sliding the EIS to the right only a few years, but then again, I'm not an engineer.



"When all is said and done, more will be said than done".
User currently onlineStitch From United States of America, joined Jul 2005, 30877 posts, RR: 86
Reply 14, posted (8 years 4 months 2 weeks 5 days 14 hours ago) and read 7536 times:
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Can they afford not to update the plane?

Absolutely.

The A350 is hardly junk and even if the 787 ends up with better numbers (be it design, efficiency, capacity, or a combination), a lot of airlines fly A330s and A340s and the commonality advantages (crew, training, maintenance, financing, or a combination) will tilt the numbers back to the A350 in such cases - or make it close enough to be a wash.


User currently offlineER757 From Cayman Islands, joined May 2005, 2510 posts, RR: 7
Reply 15, posted (8 years 4 months 2 weeks 5 days 13 hours ago) and read 7498 times:

Quoting BoeingBus (Reply 9):
So lets sit back and see what Emirates, Singapore, and Lufthansa do.

Exactly right - if the A350 wins one or all of the above battles and QR finalizes their deal, then it's a whole different picture than the current one. If however, EK, SQ, LH all go 787, with perhaps SU joining in, then the A350 in its current form is pretty much DOA. If you look at the current orders, it is mostly longtime loyal Airbus customers and then there's US who placed the order as part of their BK re-financing. So yes, Airbus needs to win a couple major airline orders to validate the current design. This certainly could happen.


User currently offlineSupa7E7 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 16, posted (8 years 4 months 2 weeks 5 days 13 hours ago) and read 7464 times:

The A350 will be a nice plane and it will be a pleasure to see it fly.

User currently offlineSteeler83 From United States of America, joined Feb 2006, 9191 posts, RR: 18
Reply 17, posted (8 years 4 months 2 weeks 5 days 12 hours ago) and read 7390 times:

Quoting DfwRevolution (Reply 12):
Second, as we saw with the B777, I would not be suprised to see Boeing charge more premium if they clearly pull away as the market leader.

I incorrectly typed B787 instead of B777, making the "a la B777" reference an unnecessary redundancy.

I didn't even catch that little error. I knew what you meant though. It's all good...  Smile

Quoting ER757 (Reply 15):
Exactly right - if the A350 wins one or all of the above battles and QR finalizes their deal, then it's a whole different picture than the current one. If however, EK, SQ, LH all go 787, with perhaps SU joining in, then the A350 in its current form is pretty much DOA. If you look at the current orders, it is mostly longtime loyal Airbus customers and then there's US who placed the order as part of their BK re-financing. So yes, Airbus needs to win a couple major airline orders to validate the current design. This certainly could happen.



Quoting ER757 (Reply 15):
The A350 will be a nice plane and it will be a pleasure to see it fly.

I agree with these both, for one, I do like the look and design of the A350 after looking at pics of its exterior as well as the interior. This plane looks very roomy and very inviting, adding to the comfort of the aircraft.

For the other statement regarding the number of orders, yeah the A350 is part of US's plan to go all-airbus and retire its aging boeing fleet (as I have stated in numerous other threads). I am sure that many european airlines will make an order for this: LH (already mentioned), AF, of course, Aer Lingus maybe - I think they have a pretty sizeable airbus fleet... Singapore, Emirates, and ANA are a bit of a toss-up... Emirates has a massive fleet of 777s, I think more than any other airline if I read correctly in some of these other threads. BA might go with the A350, but I think they'll lean more so towards boeing. I think that BA has more boeing aircraft than they do airbus. Do they have any airbus?



Do not bring stranger girt into your room. The stranger girt is dangerous, it will hurt your life.
User currently offlineRedFlyer From United States of America, joined Feb 2005, 4316 posts, RR: 28
Reply 18, posted (8 years 4 months 2 weeks 5 days 12 hours ago) and read 7339 times:

Quoting Stitch (Reply 14):
Can they afford not to update the plane?

While you provided the answer to this question in the rest of your post, my take on it is this: They cannot afford to update the plane (again). They simply don't have the resources because of the 380 and A400. If they commit entirely to another iteration of the 350 then they will risk losing the next round in the narrow-body battle between the replacements for the 320 and 737 because you know once the 787 is in full production (and providing hefty profits) that Boeing will turn its attention to the narrow-body line.



I'm not a racist...I hate Biden, too.
User currently offlineSteeler83 From United States of America, joined Feb 2006, 9191 posts, RR: 18
Reply 19, posted (8 years 4 months 2 weeks 5 days 12 hours ago) and read 7324 times:

Quoting RedFlyer (Reply 18):
They simply don't have the resources because of the 380 and A400.

Forgive me, but what is the A400, is that a renaming of the A380-10 or a completely new airplane that I have completely ignored or did not realize...



Do not bring stranger girt into your room. The stranger girt is dangerous, it will hurt your life.
User currently offlineRedFlyer From United States of America, joined Feb 2005, 4316 posts, RR: 28
Reply 20, posted (8 years 4 months 2 weeks 5 days 11 hours ago) and read 7289 times:

Quoting Steeler83 (Reply 19):
but what is the A400

Military transport.



I'm not a racist...I hate Biden, too.
User currently offlineSteeler83 From United States of America, joined Feb 2006, 9191 posts, RR: 18
Reply 21, posted (8 years 4 months 2 weeks 5 days 11 hours ago) and read 7278 times:

Quoting RedFlyer (Reply 20):
Military transport.

Thanks, no wonder why I didn't know what the hell that was. I don't really pay attention to military operations...



Do not bring stranger girt into your room. The stranger girt is dangerous, it will hurt your life.
User currently onlineStitch From United States of America, joined Jul 2005, 30877 posts, RR: 86
Reply 22, posted (8 years 4 months 2 weeks 5 days 11 hours ago) and read 7255 times:
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Quoting Steeler83 (Reply 19):
Forgive me, but what is the A400...

Short answer - Airbus' answer to the C-130 Hercules (though more modern and capable).

Long answer - http://www.airbusmilitary.com/


User currently offlineSteeler83 From United States of America, joined Feb 2006, 9191 posts, RR: 18
Reply 23, posted (8 years 4 months 2 weeks 5 days 11 hours ago) and read 7242 times:

Thanks, both of yins guys. That really helped  Smile


Do not bring stranger girt into your room. The stranger girt is dangerous, it will hurt your life.
User currently offlineBaguy From Australia, joined Mar 2006, 546 posts, RR: 1
Reply 24, posted (8 years 4 months 2 weeks 5 days 6 hours ago) and read 7101 times:

I don't think Airbus will need to redesign the A350 yet, but maybe soon.

25 Ikramerica : This guy needs to get his facts straight, since they are indeed facts and can be easily checked should he care to. While the A320 outsells the 737NG,
26 Rigo : Disclaimer: what follows is pure speculation, not based on any concrete facts or internal Airbus information. Most of all, I realise that expressing s
27 Stitch : The problem becomes when the hub airports saturate with VLTs and narrowbodies. When the 777s/A340s/747s are all replaced with A380s, you still reach
28 Rigo : In the immediate future, undoubtedly yes. But in the longer run, most pax will be demanding low prices, sacrifying the comfort of nonstop service. La
29 787engineer : Wasn't there recently a discussion that the 787-10's CASM matches well or exceeds the A388s? If 787-10 comes close to the A389s CASM, then there will
30 Post contains images Johnny : @ Ikramerica Oh yes, check the figures of the combined sales of both B764ER / B777-200/ER and the A332,333,342 and 343... The B764ER has exactly the s
31 Mhgreen : This is my first ever post, so please excuse any errors of presentation. In today's Seattle Times there is an article by Dominic Gates, their regular
32 RedFlyer : Welcome. And it's a great first post! Yes, it is very pessimistic but it also is the first to encapsulate the potential dire straights Airbus could e
33 Post contains images Kappel : My humble opinion of the a350 is as follows: At first Airbus was confident that the a330 could still compete with the 787. The promised reduction in f
34 Steeler83 : Agreed fully, I think someone already posted on here that the 737 has reached 5,000 deliveries and counting. The A320 is not even close, I don't thin
35 Kangar : Dude, calm down, they're just claims. Airbus claim on the other hand that the A388 will have the lowest CASM of any aircraft ever built, but you're c
36 BoomBoom : Wasn't that before the 787-10?
37 Kangar : Does that matter? If you ask Airbus now, they would still say the same thing. The point I was making is that something Boeing says is not necessarily
38 BoeingBus : If Singapore decides... I dont think its going to be the A350... Airbus Should Redesign A350, Singapore Airlines Says April 7, 2006 11:18 EDT -- Airbu
39 N328KF : Boeing is marshalling their resources. The fact of the matter is that the 747-8 is not a primary focus for them. Its primary purpose is to keep the h
40 BoomBoom : It seems like you are disregarding BOTH their claims. They went for the mass market with a new 787 instead of the niche VLA. Looks like a smart move.
41 787engineer : I'm not disregarding their claims, and I was very calm when I posted that reply. No where in my post did I say the 787-10 definitely beat the A388 in
42 Poitin : You are quite right that Airbus is over extended with both the A380 and A400. That is the reason why they developed the A350 so "cheaply" by first ch
43 Parapente : This has been an interesting thread.I believe Airbus is doing the right thing.Yes Carbon is a little lighter than AlLi-but Airbus does not have the te
44 BoomBoom : You're a little confused. The A350 is a 'panic reaction' to the 787.
45 Poitin : Which is why they went out and bought the technology from a sail manufacturer? Okay. If you say so. Seems to me Airbus has been making large plastic
46 N328KF : Which bodily orifice did you pull this out of? I don't think all A300 tails were composite, were they? When did they start this? Boeing has been maki
47 Post contains images Stitch : Did the A300's tail become carbon-fibre with the -600 model, or has it always been so? As for Boeing, don't forget their long military experience with
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