|Quoting Zvezda (Reply 2):|
It would be surprising if the A350-1000 didn't decisively beat the B777-300ER in CASM. I think the only advantage the latter has is near-term availability.
I think it is way too early to write off the B777-300ER and send it to the desert. It's logical that the A350-1000 is more efficient being 10 years younger. Boeing (and GE
) have 6-7 years to work on the B777 and come up with improvements that will minimize the disadvantage vs. the A350-1000. I doubt that both will just sit there wainting for the A350-1000 to "wipe out" the B777-300ER.
At this moment all we know are some performance claims from Airbus, but no detailed technical specs have been published. Let's wait until real specs become available and Boeing has the chance to analyze them in detail. The advantages of the A350-1000 come from:
- new engines
- newer aerodynamics
- lower weight due to new(er) materials
From these three, the new engines are the ones that make the biggest difference. Aerodynamics may account for a couple percent, but if anything, it seems that it's Airbus who is now copying Boeing wing design concepts with the A350. As for new materials, again this will bring another few percent advantage, but Boeing has already started to put the B777 on diet. The recently announced 6 tons reduction for B777-200LR is a very significant efficiency improvement. Actually, from the structural efficiency point of view, the B777-300 L/D ratio is almost ideal. Being slightly narrower the A350-1000 will have a less favorable L/D. Also, the wider fuselage of the B777 gives more flexibility to the airlines with comfortable 9-wide sitting and 10-wide high density configuration. The B350 is too narrow to offer 10-abreats sitting. The highly efficient fuselage combined with higher usage of composites in the wings and higher percentage of laser welding could bring the B777 weight quite close to the A350-1000.
It's the engines that will make the difference.
So far GE
has said that they will not augment the GenEx to power the A350-1000. Instead, GE
could develop the next generation of larger engines that will, eventually, power the Y3. I believe that the future is "twins", and the Y3 will be powered by engines providing between 100 klb on the lower extreme, and maybe as much as 150 klb on the high end. If GE
can develop the first of such engines (the low end of the scale), it would be an ideal engine to power the B777NG, and could actually be as efficient or better than the A350-1000 engines.
I think we will start hearing something from Boeing in about 1 year, after they have analyzed the A350-1000 specifications. In a couple of years, with the B787 flying, they will be able to dedicate part of their engineering talent to work the necessary improvements, and still come with a B777NG within a year or so after the A350-1000 EIS date.
My impression is that actually the gap between the B777 and the A350 is less than the gap, for example, between the B777 and the A340 (engines aside). The A340 looses against the B777 due to some fundamental issues:
- quad vs. twin
- narrow fuselage that is structurally less efficient
The differences between the A350 and the B777 are much more subtle:
- materials - there is nothing that stops Boeing from increasing the use of composites in the wing structure, replace some of the aluminum with Al-Li, and increase the amount of laser-welded instead of riveted connections
- from the structural efficiency standpoint, the B777 fuselage width is actually closer to the "ideal" in the 350+ passenger range, for which the A350 will have to be stretched beyond most favorable L/D ratio.
and Boeing can re-engine the B777 it can be a formidable competitor for the A350-1000. Probably not a winer, but if it can do as well as the B737NG did vs. the A32x with approx. 47% of the market share, it may be enough to keep Boeing happy until the Y3 comes to life.