CHRISBA777ER From UK - England, joined Mar 2001, 5964 posts, RR: 62 Posted (5 years 9 months 2 weeks 5 hours ago) and read 1387 times:
With the current high oil prices, many airlines I have spoken to have had to look at bringing forward their retirement of their older, less fuel efficient types. I note CO and UA are getting rid of great swathes of their 737 classic fleets and I fully expect BA and maybe AF/KL or LH to do the same shortly.
Personally, I do not see the oil price coming down any time soon purely because the market is adapting to it (I would liken it to being like getting into an extremely hot bath - painful and uncomfortable initially but eventually you get used to the temperature) and the there seems to be little inclination on the part of OPEC to increase production enough to make prices fall. In some ways, this is probably being regarded by some as the first death rattle of fossil fuels and clearly the market will have to adapt.
I went to an excellent conference in 2006 in Brussels about biofuels in aviation and I am convinced that once the necessary economies of scale are in place, they can become viable alternatives. They arent at the moment because the infrastructure is not really in place. But I think that this is still some years away and that in the meantime, measures should be taken to mitigate the high oil prices by using more fuel efficient aircraft and the current crop of types in service can only help so much. Great strides have been and are continuing to be made in the widebody sector, where fuel efficiency is key.
My point is, with carriers dumping their less fuel efficient types like hot potatoes at the moment, and many airlines and commentators (myself included) thinking that this is probably a good thing as far as cuts in capacity are concerned, we may find that plans to design and offer a totally new narrowbody replacement? Probably 70% of the narrowbody fleet on the planet is 737 and A320 series, and more if you discount the regional jets. The latest iterations of both types are basically at their design limit and it is hard to envisage either OEM being able to add much more in terms of efficiency. This is perhaps more the case with the 737 with Airbus maybe having a little more room with the A320 platform but not much in my opinion. Thus, I cannot help but think that a totally new narrowbody family, with circa 15-20% operating cost savings over the existing norm cannot come soon enough in the current climate.
I appreciate Boeing have said that they are not looking to develop the 737's replacement for a few years yet as the 737 is still selling well, but if oil prices continue to increase, and we start seeing carriers who operate the more modern narrowbodies start to lose money, surely they will be compelled by market forces to act?
Love to hear your thoughts on this.
What do you mean you dont have any bourbon? Do you know how far it is to Houston? What kind of airline is this???
M404 From United States of America, joined Nov 2003, 2220 posts, RR: 5
Reply 1, posted (5 years 9 months 1 week 6 days 13 hours ago) and read 1322 times:
As for your last paragraph and the 737, from what I could gleam from a very recent AW&ST article where Boeing stated that the reason that they have, for the immediate future, dropped the long working plan to replace the 737 is that they cannot design something that gets the supposed 25% gains customers are asking for. The more recent increases in fuel prices would seem to make it even further out of reach.
Engineering shortages are a huge problem but only now at 150 bbl prices are we nearing the crisis mode that might spur emergency governmental, academic and industrial "war" footing to fight the needed battle. Only now are "they" getting the prices for oil that researchers and, not coincidentally, speculators in areas like tar sands and shale oil, bio-fuels, need to be profitable and therefore worth sinking money into. Crisis spurs answers as you've said but we have barely opened he door as yet and a lot of suffering will be done before a battle is won.
As a complete aside, it will be interesting to see who will be the biggest investors in this. Who has the most money now to invest and how was the money made in a dwindling petro product world? Yup, same people.
A tube and wings can only be made so many ways but savings of that magnitude must be made in fuels and engines and it's just not there yet. The investment needed by a manufacturer to get the possibly achievable 10-12% improvements are not affordable in product pricing to the customers who need it so desperately therefore Boeing and AB are shying away from yet another commitment they cannot keep.
Less sarcasm and more thought equal better understanding