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Boeing: Why Not Make Them ER's From The Beginning?  
User currently offlineRobK From United Kingdom, joined Sep 2004, 3946 posts, RR: 18
Posted (6 years 2 months 1 week 4 days 15 hours ago) and read 8318 times:

Good evening all,

A question asked of me by a non-internet friend today - why does Boeing not make their heavies ER variants right from the beginning as, with the exception of the 747-400, all the ER variants have sold better than the standard non-ER model?

An interesting question and one that I personally don't know the answer to.

 confused 

R

34 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineDeaphen From India, joined Jul 2005, 1425 posts, RR: 1
Reply 1, posted (6 years 2 months 1 week 4 days 15 hours ago) and read 8327 times:

I suppose times change and so does demand.

When they came out with the 777, there probably wasnt as much long stop or non stop demand in the market, now look at the 350 and the 787, both have alot more than even the longest range planes today.

So things are changing.

Regards
Nitin



I want every single airport and airplane in India to be on A.net!
User currently offlineA3xx900 From Germany, joined Jan 2004, 335 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (6 years 2 months 1 week 4 days 15 hours ago) and read 8263 times:

Maybe just a little marketing thing. When the first line of aircraft is sold they say "Hey if you like the aircraft you have, you willl love the ER version we just developed". That will keep customers from buying other types if you have a rabbit to pull out of your hat IF the customer needs change.


Why is 10 afraid of 7? Because 7 8 9.
User currently offlineDfwRevolution From United States of America, joined Jan 2010, 962 posts, RR: 51
Reply 3, posted (6 years 2 months 1 week 4 days 15 hours ago) and read 8250 times:

Historically, there is nothing unique about Boeing offering higher-performance models with time. In the past, an OEM and a group of airlines would come to agreement over a list of specifications and that model would enter production. As the design left the drafting room, engineers would find certain areas to improve performance and those specifications would trend upwards. It's considered sound engineering practice to work-out the kinks on base model, then add more performance with time.

What Boeing markets as "ER" models are simply increased gross weights made possible by better engines and other improvements made possible after EIS of the base variant. Some have followed Boeing's marketing, others haven't. The A340-300X and -300E for example are IGW or otherwise improved models.

Quoting Deaphen (Reply 1):
When they came out with the 777, there probably wasnt as much long stop or non stop demand in the market,

In the case of the 777, Boeing planned for the aircraft to meet three distinct markets in the early 1990s, before the first aircraft even flew.

A-market referred to a medium range aircraft, essentially a direct DC-10 replacement (became the 777-200)
B-market referred to a long-range intercontinental aircraft (became the 777-200ER)
C-market referred to an ultra-long range aircraft (became the 777-200LR)


User currently offlineLAXintl From United States of America, joined May 2000, 24857 posts, RR: 46
Reply 4, posted (6 years 2 months 1 week 4 days 15 hours ago) and read 8198 times:

Actually it would be rather foolish to make airplanes all the top of the line ERs models as you suggest.

For starters many airlines or routes do not require the added capabilities of the supped up versions. Its pretty wasteful to operate too much of an airplane as there are added cost involved from the purchase price, lease rates, maintenance accruals, to mundane things like overflight and landing fees which are based on aircraft weight with ER models being higher weights.

Secondly, ER versions in some types actually can have more restrictive capabilities in some areas such as cargo carriage. For instance often belly space is taken up by supplemental fuel tanks robbing the room for revenue cargo.

My comments are also applicable to engine selection, and smaller narrow bodies also. Hence why most airlines will procure the least capable version that fits their network. Its rather silly to over pay to purchase a plane that is way beyond your true needs.

As an example I took part in the evaluation of a narrow body fleet for an overseas carrier couple years back. The carrier opted for a rather basic 73.5ton version of the A320 as its near entire network was based on routes <2.5hrs and where the heavier and more costly 77.0ton A320 really would have zero benefits while costing more money to purchase and operate day to day.



From the desert to the sea, to all of Southern California
User currently offlineIkramerica From United States of America, joined May 2005, 21474 posts, RR: 60
Reply 5, posted (6 years 2 months 1 week 4 days 15 hours ago) and read 8123 times:

It's also about engine and technology development in most cases. Boeing offered the best plane possible with the engines they could get by the time of EIS, and then continued to offer greater ability as those engine families and technologies matured.

Look at the 777. Started with 777-200 with the base engines, then the 77E and 773 with the 90+ engines, then the 77L, 77W and 77F with the 110+ engines. They could not offer a 777-300ER until many years after EIS of the 777-300, until engines and technology improved to provide for enough power and for proper takeoff abilities.

The 744 can be seen as the "ER" version of the 747, and it took many, many, many years for the technology to work out. The 747SP was the interim attempt, but it wasn't really an ER version of the base 747, but a mid-sized version of the platform.



Of all the things to worry about... the Wookie has no pants.
User currently offlineLightsaber From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 12898 posts, RR: 100
Reply 6, posted (6 years 2 months 1 week 4 days 13 hours ago) and read 7799 times:
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As others have noted, its about technology development.

Let's do the case of the 777.
1. When it came out, the connections for the structure had to be rushed. This put in a bunch of extra weight into the airframe that was later removed (for the 772ER). I had the pleasure of having Boeing's structural connector weight reduction plan laid out to me over a dinner. (Its nice have that BSME even if I don't use it daily... The structural guys like an educated audience they too can teach...).

2. Aerodynamics: Boeing cut the 777 fuel burn by about 1.5% from the original 772A to the 772ER. Just as they did so with the 77W (no model change). Heck, with the 77W it was almost 2%!  bigthumbsup  Part of why first build 77W's had their range go from 7440nm to 7800nm (assuming they also rebuilt the engines to the new BOM).

3. Engine thrust. At launch, 84k of thrust was aggressive. So much so that UA avoided many of the teething issues by de-rating their 772A's down to 74k. Asking for a 90k or 94k engine at 777 launch would have been tough. It could have been done, but a much heavier engine than the launch engines (with more thrust growth) and with 2% or so worse fuel burn.  Sad

The technology at 777 launch did not allow for a 115k thrust engine.
The GE-90A fan pushed the boundaries of fan technology for the 1990's. They simply couldn't have made the 124" fan then. Heck, it turned out that for the first five years of the 777, the 118" fan was too aggressive. (GE never was able to automate 118" fan production as planned.) But technology moved on. Lessons were learned... and GE developed the means to make a 124" fan (so did RR).  bigthumbsup 

Technology is always progressing in aerospace. It does so in fits and starts. In many cases, its waiting for a material to get slightly better so that it can be used on engines. (e.g., casting quality, or blade layout).

Quoting DfwRevolution (Reply 3):
What Boeing markets as "ER" models are simply increased gross weights made possible by better engines and other improvements made possible after EIS of the base variant. Some have followed Boeing's marketing, others haven't. The A340-300X and -300E for example are IGW or otherwise improved models.

 checkmark  Its all about the improvements.

Also, ER'variants would be too risky for the launch airline. Hence why the A388 and 748 are being launched at one range... but every source I have in the know states both *will* get a MTOW/range boost. Its just far cheaper to launch a slightly lower MTOW/Max landing weight variant and increase it later certifying by analysis and in-service performance. (With brake and T/O testing, of course.) E.g., my sources are giddy at the GP7200 and Trent 900 fuel burn reductions coming down the pipelines. Not to mention the planned A380 weight reduction and normal aerodynamic tuning of the A380.

Why not do this at launch? The engineers are too busy just getting the plane out. After they come back from a vacation, they realize that the CFD/field aero shows that the wing root/flap/vortex generator could be optimized. So they go off and get money to do a study... study says it will reduce fuel burn 1/4 percent or so... so its implemented. And then another study finds another improvement of the same magnitude... and then another... and suddenly you have a 2% fuel burn drop for the airframe!  bigthumbsup  just as the engine vendor is introducing their 2% fuel burn reduction and is willing to sign up for 5k more thrust and the brake vendor just introduced a new carbon-carbon break that allows for...

You get the idea. Those carbon-carbon breaks really helped make the 77W the knock out airframe it is.  spin  A detail... that became a little game changer. (In terms of cargo lift.) Do not forget that the 77W required new main gear. That was a HUGE commitment by Boeing.

Lightsaber



Societies that achieve a critical mass of ideas achieve self sustaining growth; others stagnate.
User currently offlineMeta From United States of America, joined Aug 2005, 337 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (6 years 2 months 1 week 4 days 12 hours ago) and read 7663 times:



Quoting Deaphen (Reply 1):
now look at the 350 and the 787, both have alot more than even the longest range planes today.

Are you sure about that? The 787-9 is supposed to have 8000-8500nm and the A350 is supposed to have somewhere around 8300nm. The 77L has 9,380 nm range and the A340-500 has 9000nm. This means that new planes are not necessarily getting the most range possible, but instead they have more range than what they are replacing.


User currently offlinePrebennorholm From Denmark, joined Mar 2000, 6388 posts, RR: 54
Reply 8, posted (6 years 2 months 1 week 4 days 11 hours ago) and read 7515 times:

Very good roundup by Lightsabre, reply #6, me thinks.

In addition I think that airliner manufacturers tend to play "extra safe" when introducing an entirely new design. Then after a few years of service, and maybe a few careful inspections after heavy landings or other abuse, then lessons are learned about how structures performed.

Then for new versions they take advantage of structures which performed better than expected, and they improve structures which may have performed slightly inferior to expectations. And they have a knowledge base far better than any pre-service testing can give.

But with crude at $100+ (today $125) then tendensy will shift away from ultra long range. Ultra long range has already become somewhat "outdated". It is not fuel efficient. Too much energy is spent on transporting fuel. The tendensy will shift to higher payload and a fuel stop on the very longest routes since it will save a lot of fuel per ton/mile for the price of a two hours longer duration of your journey.

If fuel prices don't drop substantially and stabilize, then pretty soon 10+ hours flights will become a small luxury niche market only, and new derivative long distance planes will tend to be optimized for no more than 6 - 7,000nm range.



Always keep your number of landings equal to your number of take-offs, Preben Norholm
User currently offlineRobK From United Kingdom, joined Sep 2004, 3946 posts, RR: 18
Reply 9, posted (6 years 2 months 1 week 4 days 10 hours ago) and read 7396 times:

Interesting thoughts - thanks. Are we likely to see a 788ER and 789ER a few years after EIS on the base models?

R


User currently offlineIkramerica From United States of America, joined May 2005, 21474 posts, RR: 60
Reply 10, posted (6 years 2 months 1 week 4 days 10 hours ago) and read 7279 times:



Quoting Lightsaber (Reply 6):
Why not do this at launch? The engineers are too busy just getting the plane out. After they come back from a vacation, they realize that the CFD/field aero shows that the wing root/flap/vortex generator could be optimized.

Reminds me of a cartoon I just saw from an artist at the Fleischer studios back in the day. Shows an animator who wraps his show for distribution. Goes home smiling. Next panel he gets in bed. 3 panels, he can't sleep, finally he runs back to the studio in his pajamas, fixes what he realized he did wrong, then goes back home and sleeps like a baby.

I imagine in the pressure to get the plane in the air and into the hands of the customer, engineers have to make compromises and even miss things that could greatly improve the outcome, and only after the pressure is "off" do they realize what is possible and do it.

Quoting RobK (Reply 9):
Interesting thoughts - thanks. Are we likely to see a 788ER and 789ER a few years after EIS on the base models?

I think the 788ER and A358E are givens.

One thing the 77L and A345 have shown is that they may be too large for true ULR routes because the ULR market is for premium traffic, and it's cheaper to one-stop the discount Y pax.

What 788ER and A358E would allow would be an all premium configuration with a real "express" cargo payload in an economical way. I could see SQ replacing the NYC-SIN and LAX-SIN products with one of these two birds in the future, and a 10000nm all premium, ECONOMICAL plane would allow QF to do NYC, ORD and LHR from SYD as well.



Of all the things to worry about... the Wookie has no pants.
User currently offlineRoseFlyer From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 9503 posts, RR: 52
Reply 11, posted (6 years 2 months 1 week 4 days 9 hours ago) and read 7196 times:

Some airlines don't want the higher gross weight option. Lower maximum weight means lower landing fees, doesn't it? Also the non ER is lighter than the ER. If you are like Hawaiian for example, you don't need an ER on most routes since you don't hit MTOW. Maybe I'm wrong, but the lighter plane does burn fuel and can be advantageous for an airline with a route network not requiring range.


If you have never designed an airplane part before, let the real designers do the work!
User currently offlineLAXDESI From United States of America, joined May 2005, 5086 posts, RR: 48
Reply 12, posted (6 years 2 months 1 week 4 days 9 hours ago) and read 7169 times:



Quoting Ikramerica (Reply 10):
One thing the 77L and A345 have shown is that they may be too large for true ULR routes because the ULR market is for premium traffic, and it's cheaper to one-stop the discount Y pax.

I was curious to see the fares on JFK-BOM non-stops relative to one-stops; a mock search on Expedia for peak season came up with AI at $1,536(all inclusive), and the next cheapest airfare was $1,613 on Delta's non-stop flight. All one-stops were more expensive! Perhaps the fares from consolidators are more representative than Expedia fares.

I wonder if future non-stop flights on NYC-BOM/DEL will have less Y, more J, and perhaps a Y+. Then again, it seems that SQ didn't do too well with its Y+ class on SIN-LAX/JFK. I don't see the demand yet for an all J 772L flight on NYC-BOM/DEL sectors. Perhaps in another five years, with a 788/358.


User currently offlineIkramerica From United States of America, joined May 2005, 21474 posts, RR: 60
Reply 13, posted (6 years 2 months 1 week 4 days 9 hours ago) and read 7127 times:



Quoting LAXDESI (Reply 12):
All one-stops were more expensive! Perhaps the fares from consolidators are more representative than Expedia fares.

that points to poor yield/demand in ULH Y, something other carriers have seen. it also speaks to the "I wouldn't want to sit that long on a plane" mentality, which I would imagine is stronger in cramped y conditions that in lie flat J or F. When I've flown 12-15 hours in F and J, I was fine and would happily spend 3-7 more hours in that cabin as long as the food and movies didn't run out. But not so sure about it in Y.



Of all the things to worry about... the Wookie has no pants.
User currently offlineLAXDESI From United States of America, joined May 2005, 5086 posts, RR: 48
Reply 14, posted (6 years 2 months 1 week 4 days 8 hours ago) and read 7039 times:



Quoting Ikramerica (Reply 13):
Quoting LAXDESI (Reply 12):
All one-stops were more expensive! Perhaps the fares from consolidators are more representative than Expedia fares.

that points to poor yield/demand in ULH Y, something other carriers have seen. it also speaks to the "I wouldn't want to sit that long on a plane" mentality, which I would imagine is stronger in cramped y conditions that in lie flat J or F. When I've flown 12-15 hours in F and J, I was fine and would happily spend 3-7 more hours in that cabin as long as the food and movies didn't run out. But not so sure about it in Y.

It seems like even Y+ may not be comfortable enough for a 15+ hour flight. At least with Y, when the flight is not full, you can lift the armrest and stretch out. Not so in Y+.


User currently offlinePGNCS From United States of America, joined Apr 2007, 2821 posts, RR: 45
Reply 15, posted (6 years 2 months 1 week 4 days 8 hours ago) and read 7022 times:



Quoting DfwRevolution (Reply 3):
What Boeing markets as "ER" models are simply increased gross weights made possible by better engines and other improvements made possible after EIS of the base variant.

This is not strictly correct. There are several systems differences between the baseline and ER versions of the 767, for example.


User currently offlineDocLightning From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 19411 posts, RR: 58
Reply 16, posted (6 years 2 months 1 week 4 days 6 hours ago) and read 6859 times:



Quoting Lightsaber (Reply 6):
2. Aerodynamics: Boeing cut the 777 fuel burn by about 1.5% from the original 772A to the 772ER. Just as they did so with the 77W (no model change). Heck, with the 77W it was almost 2%!    Part of why first build 77W's had their range go from 7440nm to 7800nm (assuming they also rebuilt the engines to the new BOM).

What did they change about the aerodynamics? The aircraft are externally identical, are they not?


User currently offlineIkramerica From United States of America, joined May 2005, 21474 posts, RR: 60
Reply 17, posted (6 years 2 months 1 week 4 days 6 hours ago) and read 6852 times:



Quoting DocLightning (Reply 16):
What did they change about the aerodynamics? The aircraft are externally identical, are they not?

They are 98% identical, in terms of aerodynamic efficiency…  Wink



Of all the things to worry about... the Wookie has no pants.
User currently offlineCO787EWR From United States of America, joined Jul 2007, 222 posts, RR: 0
Reply 18, posted (6 years 2 months 1 week 4 days 5 hours ago) and read 6734 times:



Quoting DocLightning (Reply 16):
What did they change about the aerodynamics? The aircraft are externally identical, are they not?

Raked wingtips


User currently offlineDab920 From United Kingdom, joined Jul 2001, 108 posts, RR: 1
Reply 19, posted (6 years 2 months 1 week 3 days 22 hours ago) and read 6550 times:

Same reason mobile phone companies don't release all their new improvements at the same time. You would immediately destroy your market if everyone gets a phone they do not need to replace for 4-5 years!

Same with compact cameras. There is no reason why they cannot make a huge megapixel camera with all the goodies in an all in one pruduct. Instead you can buy this onw with more megapixels but a lesser lens, this one with a good lens but less MP, or one with image stabiliser but not a good lens etc.... They are protecting their own market. All the technology already exists for them to do that final camera you will never want to replace again but why would they want to do that?!


User currently offlineLightsaber From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 12898 posts, RR: 100
Reply 20, posted (6 years 2 months 1 week 3 days 22 hours ago) and read 6516 times:
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Quoting DocLightning (Reply 16):
What did they change about the aerodynamics? The aircraft are externally identical, are they not?

Mostly an intense study in vortex generators. Those little stubs that stick out around the airframe. They finally had a CFD package that could model them accurately. 2% improvement in aerodynamics by moving them! (Some areas needed fewer, some reduced drag by putting more in.) There were some other trivial changes. Mostly it was vortex generator locations.

I know Airbus is putting their wing root through intense aerodynamic studies. They've found that a small change could really help the fuel burn. Stuff that in a wind tunnel it was too subtle to do a parametric study. But once the CFD shows it... the wind tunnel data will back it up.

The above studies take years to perfect tiny details. Is it worth holding up an airframe launch?  no  But doing these improvements sell airframes... so they get done.

Lightsaber



Societies that achieve a critical mass of ideas achieve self sustaining growth; others stagnate.
User currently offlineSEPilot From United States of America, joined Dec 2006, 6832 posts, RR: 46
Reply 21, posted (6 years 2 months 1 week 3 days 21 hours ago) and read 6444 times:

The bottom line is that when an airliner is introduced work on it does not stop. As improvements are developed they get implemented, and if possible retrofitted (for a price, of course.) You might as well ask why Orville and Wilbur didn't just build the 747, or Henry Ford just start with the Mustang.


The problem with making things foolproof is that fools are so doggone ingenious...Dan Keebler
User currently offlineWhappeh From United States of America, joined Mar 2006, 1562 posts, RR: 2
Reply 22, posted (6 years 2 months 1 week 3 days 20 hours ago) and read 5768 times:

Some customers may not require the extra range, either. While I can't see that being a bad thing to have in any situation, it could play a factor.


-Travel now, journey infinitely.
User currently offlineFlyASAGuy2005 From United States of America, joined Sep 2007, 7004 posts, RR: 11
Reply 23, posted (6 years 2 months 1 week 3 days 19 hours ago) and read 4874 times:

The 764 was ER for the jump...althought the range wasn't much anyway...


What gets measured gets done.
User currently offlineLightsaber From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 12898 posts, RR: 100
Reply 24, posted (6 years 2 months 1 week 3 days 19 hours ago) and read 4846 times:
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Quoting SEPilot (Reply 21):
The bottom line is that when an airliner is introduced work on it does not stop. As improvements are developed they get implemented, and if possible retrofitted (for a price, of course.)

Nice summary. Much shorter than my version.  Wink

Lightsaber



Societies that achieve a critical mass of ideas achieve self sustaining growth; others stagnate.
25 EMA747 : How come there are no 757ERs? Surely they must have upgraded the engines etc over the life of the design? Same with the 737. There is a -900ER isn't t
26 Ikramerica : Fuel tankerage. Where do you put the extra fuel? The only way to stretch the legs of the 757 without more fuel is to increase efficiency with NG engi
27 Avek00 : Because not all customers need -ER equipment when the base variant fulfills mission requirements.
28 CJAContinental : I think the most obvious reasons why they do not make them ER's in the beginning is because there is always room for improvement, and the manufacturer
29 RobK : Thanks for all the replies chaps. My NIF asks me to thank you all. R
30 Stitch : There is the 737-700ER, which NH is using for flights to India, I believe. And the BBJ II is technically a 737-800ER in that it trades cargo volume f
31 ConcordeBoy : 9450nm Some would argue that they may actually be too small, in that some economies-of-scale cannot accumulate on their particular mission profiles.
32 Lightsaber : But there seems to be a market for those all premium cabins. Just not for all J airlines... Nothing like continuous improvement. I would concur. To p
33 Ikramerica : Well another major reason that is being neglected is that a plane is designed to replace an existing plane, because there is a known market for such a
34 ConcordeBoy : One might argue that that's because the market is growing/maturing away from such. Take the 737 for example: The 73S and 733 size had long ruled the
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