Gonzalo
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Why Is Airbus Failing To Sell Freighters?

Thu Aug 30, 2012 10:20 pm

It seems like this is the dark side of Airbus projects, both the A330F and A380F are apparently not a good option for the operators who constantly pick the 777F and 748F over the Airbus product.
Looking at the A and B models and comparing the different pros and cons, I can't find a reason good enough to explain the big difference in the operator's choice. One could expect a more balanced distribution of sales between A and B.

Can someone with a more informed view explain this ?

Thanks !!

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Bongodog1964
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RE: Why Is Airbus Failing To Sell Freighters?

Thu Aug 30, 2012 10:30 pm

At present there is no A380F. Airbus withdrew it from the market when the A380 project hit major delays, in order to concentrate resources on the passenger version. The outstanding orders were cancelled.
Any operator presently wanting a freighter larger than a A330 has no choice other than the B777F or 7a8F
 
B777LRF
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RE: Why Is Airbus Failing To Sell Freighters?

Thu Aug 30, 2012 10:34 pm

The A380F is not being offered, so let's forget that for a while.

Airbus' only new offering is the A332F, and while it is indeed a very capable freighter in its own right, it's fallen between the chairs of "dirt cheap" 767s and vastly more capable 777s. There is indeed a market for the A332F, but it lost it's most important chance of getting a firm grip on it when FedEx chose the 763ERF. The only other operator capable of generating a double-digit order for the aircraft is UPS, and I don't know how near or far they are to looking at something of that size. But they've got a large installed fleet of 76s already, and if they were to look at replacements or growth vehicles within the next 10 years, you can bet your bottom dollar Boeing's going to present them with a very nice offer indeed. If nothing else, to keep the unit costs down on the KC-45(?)

The 777F, on the other hand, is quite simply in a class all of its own and the A332F couldn't even being to compete with it. Complement, perhaps, but not compete.
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rotating14
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RE: Why Is Airbus Failing To Sell Freighters?

Thu Aug 30, 2012 11:21 pm

To piggy back on the comment of B777LRF, Boeing has the market cornered with the 748F, 767F and the 777F. I think its going to be a long road to stride, freighter wise for Airbus. While the A332F is great and does its job, the 3 Boeing models do it better as far as efficiency goes and travels farther. Why would it take QR's CEO kicking and screaming for them to finally go ahead with the A330 conversions??? Seems like a no brainer to me.
 
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Polot
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RE: Why Is Airbus Failing To Sell Freighters?

Fri Aug 31, 2012 12:00 am

Quoting rotating14 (Reply 3):
Why would it take QR's CEO kicking and screaming for them to finally go ahead with the A330 conversions??? Seems like a no brainer to me.

That is an entirely different issue unrelated to new builds. The reason why it took some kicking and screaming is that you need a number of suitable candidate aircraft to undergo conversion so that launching the program makes sense. With the passenger A330 still being in pretty high demand, it's resale value is still high enough that it is not worth it for many cargo operators to look into converting them yet, hence why Airbus (or whoever is doing the conversion) was dragging their feet some.
 
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RE: Why Is Airbus Failing To Sell Freighters?

Fri Aug 31, 2012 12:02 am

Quoting B777LRF (Reply 2):
The only other operator capable of generating a double-digit order for the aircraft is UPS

How about DHL ? They have a relatively older fleet with lots of A300 and 757's and signing a firm order for ( at least a few ) A332F could be a good way to have an offer from Airbus ( and Airbus could "boost" the sales of the model ).

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fpetrutiu
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RE: Why Is Airbus Failing To Sell Freighters?

Fri Aug 31, 2012 1:11 am

Quoting Gonzalo (Reply 5):
How about DHL?

DHL loves conversions. I don't know of any aircraft in their fleet that was bought new. I think as the others were saying, Boeing has a really good grip on the market. It is that the A332F cannot compete with Boeing's freighter lines.
 
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RE: Why Is Airbus Failing To Sell Freighters?

Fri Aug 31, 2012 5:32 am

Quoting Gonzalo (Thread starter):
Looking at the A and B models and comparing the different pros and cons, I can't find a reason good enough to explain the big difference in the operator's choice.

The 747 was purpose-built to be a freighter, the A380 wasn't. As a result, the 747 is a far better freighter than the A380.

The 777F payload is significantly larger than the A330F payload, because of the different original missions for the two aircraft. You need to have a very specific mission profile for the A330F to make more sense than the 777F. For those that the A330F makes sense, it's a great aircraft...there just aren't as many that fit that niche.

The 767 is cheap...Airbus doesn't have anything to offer at that price.

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RE: Why Is Airbus Failing To Sell Freighters?

Fri Aug 31, 2012 6:37 am

Quoting Gonzalo (Reply 5):
How about DHL ? They have a relatively older fleet with lots of A300 and 757's and signing a firm order for ( at least a few ) A332F co

DHL has a number of new 767F I think some even haven't been delivered yet. They have, through Aerologic, 8 777F, also bought new.

There seems to be no place for 330Fs unless maybe conversions of cheap, older frames come on the market to replace fairly new converted 300Fs.

As said, Boeing has cornered the market with the 3 models, the 767 is really cheap to manufacture and they make money at least on the 2 smaller aircraft and eventually will on the 748F as well.

My prediction is, there will never be a A380F, not only because the 748F will be available for a long time but also because the double decker is too large to fill so there would hardly be a market, plus, it is not ideal for outsize loads because the upper deck cannot be removed plus loading the upper deck would be an awkward task plus loading equipment would not be available off-line. Meaning, you can take a 747f anywhere but an A380F only where you have the very specialised equipment AND the people knowing how to use it.

The business case for an A380F is too weak. Simple as that. Meaning, A has one aircraft in the ring, B has 3. The winner is B.
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RE: Why Is Airbus Failing To Sell Freighters?

Fri Aug 31, 2012 10:07 am

Quoting Gonzalo (Reply 5):
How about DHL ? They have a relatively older fleet with lots of A300 and 757's and signing a firm order for ( at least a few ) A332F could be a good way to have an offer from Airbus ( and Airbus could "boost" the sales of the model ).

DHL are replacing the A300B4-200F with ex. JAL A300-600RF, converted at EFW Dresden. While DHL could, eventually, order the A332F it would be in small numbers only. But I don't think that's going to happen; if there is to be a yellow A330 freighter, it's going to be a converted -300.

Quoting fpetrutiu (Reply 6):
DHL loves conversions. I don't know of any aircraft in their fleet that was bought new. I think as the others were saying, Boeing has a really good grip on the market. It is that the A332F cannot compete with Boeing's freighter lines.

They do indeed, and in terms of dollars and cents it's the right choice. Keeping in mind the very low daily utilisation integrators are experiencing, and it becomes difficult justifying having a 150M asset sitting on the ramp for 15 hours a day. DHL did, however, buy 6 x B763ERF for one of their European based airlines, to be used mainly for transatlantic and African flights. 3 have been delivered, 3 more to come this year. DHL also funded half of AeroLogic, which bought 8 x 777F. And finally there's the Air Hong Kong joint venture, which saw AHK purchase 8 x brand new A306F a few years ago. So it's not that DHL won't buy new, it's just that you need a business case to justify it.

The next major acquisition for DHL will probably be the European 757 fleet replacement program.
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RE: Why Is Airbus Failing To Sell Freighters?

Fri Aug 31, 2012 10:16 am

Quoting Gonzalo (Thread starter):
It seems like this is the dark side of Airbus projects, both the A330F and A380F are apparently not a good option for the operators who constantly pick the 777F and 748F over the Airbus product.

I am not sure if Airbus is all that fussed, a lot more money in PAX airframes, dedicated freighters only make up a small number of total number of airlines produced every year.
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RE: Why Is Airbus Failing To Sell Freighters?

Fri Aug 31, 2012 10:27 am

Doesn't it make sense that Airbus would have sized up the competition before launching the A330 freighter? Might Airbus have mis-judged the available market?
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RE: Why Is Airbus Failing To Sell Freighters?

Fri Aug 31, 2012 11:11 am

Airbus's last successsful new build freighter was the A-300-600F. IIRC the last 38, or so A-306Fs were canceled/converted by UPS to 10. or so, A-380-800Fs, which eventualy were canceled after Airbus decided to 'delay' the A-380F to fix the initial production problems of the pax model. That left Airbus without a new build freighter for a few years until the A-330-200F came along. The UPS order ended up to eventually be 8 B-747-400Fs, which I am sure Boeing gave preferred pricing to help fill the production gap between the B-744F and the B-748F.

The B-777-200LRF took off because it filled the gap between the B-767-300ERF and the B-747-8F, and before the A-332F could get started. Boeing is also able to price the B-763F very low, and both UPS and FedEx took them up on it.

IMHO Airbus did not really market the A-332F to FedEx well enough to get that order. They should have worked harder. Even today, it seems that Airbus prefers to sell pax airplanes to keep their production lines full. Boeing, OTOH, has been selling about 100, or so freighters per year (averaged) for well over a decade now, plus their pax line-up.
 
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RE: Why Is Airbus Failing To Sell Freighters?

Fri Aug 31, 2012 11:25 am

Quoting B777LRF (Reply 2):
There is indeed a market for the A332F,

No there isn't. There is no market for the A332F. Airbus would build it if there were. I would think that if Airbus were serious about building a freighter aircraft they would put their resources into an A350F and market it against the B777ERF to try to capture that market.

Quoting fpetrutiu (Reply 6):
Boeing has a really good grip on the market. It is that the A332F cannot compete with Boeing's freighter lines.

     
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RE: Why Is Airbus Failing To Sell Freighters?

Fri Aug 31, 2012 11:27 am

Quoting tdscanuck (Reply 7):
The 747 was purpose-built to be a freighter, the A380 wasn't. As a result, the 747 is a far better freighter than the A380.

I think all you have to do is look at the current order books. The B748i has not sold well in any sense of the word but the B748F seems to be doing ok although orders have slown down considerably. The A380 on the other hand is quite clearly a brilliant piece of equipment for moving passengers but no one knows how well it will do as a dedicated cargo aircraft. Going by the order figures when there was an A380F on offer, one can only conclude that many cargo operators did not seem all that keen on a full double decker freighter aircraft that lacked one of the key features that they love about the B747 which is its ability to be loaded through the nose door. The numbers reflect the pedigree of each aircraft really. The B747 was originally intended to be a cargo aircraft that ended up almost by chance operating as a passenger aircraft whereas the A380 was concieved primarily as a passenger aircraft that maybe could be adapted for cargo. I am not saying the A380 will never be a successful cargo aircraft but it will be a while before we see any dedicated A380 cargo aircraft.

As for the other Airbus products, clearly the passenger aircraft market is more lucrative and they have chosen to target that market first and thus far it seems to have worked for them. I think that probably the biggest competitor to new build cargo aircraft from both company's perspectives is not each other's dedicated cargo planes but the ready availability of cheap second hand passenger frames that can be converted at a fraction of the cost of a new build. That said, with the massive increases in fuel prices over the past few years, cargo airlines seem to be a bit more keen to fork out for new build aircraft, probably partly due their better fuel efficency.
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RE: Why Is Airbus Failing To Sell Freighters?

Fri Aug 31, 2012 11:32 am

Quoting brilondon (Reply 13):
No there isn't. There is no market for the A332F. Airbus would build it if there were.

They do build them, they are in service today.

Quoting brilondon (Reply 13):
I would think that if Airbus were serious about building a freighter aircraft they would put their resources into an A350F and market it against the B777ERF to try to capture that market.

They will, however their resources are focused on pax aircraft. The ROI is much better on pax aircraft, they might sell 1000+ pax A350s, and then only have the sales record of the 77F. the ROI for so few frames in not what the investors would want. Freighters normally are the last thing OEMs develop, the market is much smaller, so is the return.
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RE: Why Is Airbus Failing To Sell Freighters?

Fri Aug 31, 2012 11:39 am

I'm sure this has been asked at some point but is there/was there any thought of making some sort of a380 combi type AC? People up top cargo down low? Obviously easier said than done but that seems like it could be useful, sort of killing 11/2 birds with one stone. Limited cargo and pax but together possibly profitable?
 
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RE: Why Is Airbus Failing To Sell Freighters?

Fri Aug 31, 2012 11:56 am

A lot of A332F sales / leases have been to customers that alrerady operate A330 PAX (TK, MS, HX, AV). Presumably crew and maintenance commonality trump the extra initial price in these cases, whereas for the likes of Fedex seeking a raft of dedicated freighters, that does not apply.
 
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RE: Why Is Airbus Failing To Sell Freighters?

Fri Aug 31, 2012 12:04 pm

Quoting tonymctigue (Reply 14):
Going by the order figures when there was an A380F on offer, one can only conclude that many cargo operators did not seem all that keen on a full double decker freighter

There was an order by FEDEX which is an integrator, not a cargo operator. Not a single cargo operator had placed an order, closest came CV, IIRC who thought about placing an order but favored the 748F instead. Just have a look at the diversified network of CV, equipping all these stations with 380F loading requipment and training operators would have killed that airline.

Quoting tonymctigue (Reply 14):
clearly the passenger aircraft market is more lucrative and they have chosen to target that market first and thus far it seems to have worked for them. I think that probably the biggest competitor to new

Airbus had no choice, except getting a grip on conversions which they have in Dresden.
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RE: Why Is Airbus Failing To Sell Freighters?

Fri Aug 31, 2012 4:37 pm

Quoting tonymctigue (Reply 14):
he B747 was originally intended to be a cargo aircraft that ended up almost by chance operating as a passenger aircraft

Not true.

The 747 was designed as a passenger aircraft, but able to be converted to a freighter when the supersonic B2707 put the passenger 747 out of service.

There was a Boeing bid for the C-5, but it had high wings - like many dedicated cargo haulers.
 
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RE: Why Is Airbus Failing To Sell Freighters?

Fri Aug 31, 2012 4:59 pm

Quoting kpitrrat (Reply 16):
I'm sure this has been asked at some point but is there/was there any thought of making some sort of a380 combi type AC?

With modern regulations, the cost to design it, buy it and operate it would be astronomical. Far better to run a dedicated passenger and freighter aircraft.


The real problem for Airbus in the new-build freighter market is that they only have one offering - the A330-200F - while Boeing offers a complete line of new-build models: 737-700C, 767-300F, 777 Freighter and 747-8 Freighter. Airbus also has only recently been able to find the feed stock to launch a converted freighter option for the A320 and A330 families, whereas Boeing has had them in place for some time for the 737, 757, 767 and 747.

Boeing's been stalled on launching the 777BCF program for much the same reason as Airbus on the A320P2F and A330P2F programs - lack of feed stock. There is also the very high conversion cost of the 777 (removing the CFRP floor beams to stronger Al ones), which probably tends to make the 777 Freighter a better option (just as some cargo carriers are retiring 747-400BCFs in favor of new 747-8Fs).
 
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RE: Why Is Airbus Failing To Sell Freighters?

Fri Aug 31, 2012 9:22 pm

Quoting KC135TopBoom (Reply 12):
Boeing, OTOH, has been selling about 100, or so freighters per year (averaged) for well over a decade now, plus their pax line-up.

What? 100 freighters per year? A thousand freighters in ten years? Do you check your "facts", or do you just make this stuff up?

Boeing sales of dedicated freighters since January 2002 (ten and a half years):
767 - 84
777 - 127
747 (all versions) - 135

A very long way short of 100 per year.
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RE: Why Is Airbus Failing To Sell Freighters?

Fri Aug 31, 2012 9:54 pm

Quoting brilondon (Reply 13):
No there isn't. There is no market for the A332F. Airbus would build it if there were. I would think that if Airbus were serious about building a freighter aircraft they would put their resources into an A350F and market it against the B777ERF to try to capture that market.

One the first point, you are doing yourself a disservice by being casual with the facts. And the fact is that Airbus has sold nearly 80 of the things, but has of course also suffered a number of cancellations. But those cancellations were not because the aircraft failed to deliver as promised, but rather because leasing companies found they could off-load passenger 330s faster and at more favourable rates, and because a certain Indian start-up never left the ground. There is a market for the kite. It might not be very big or dynamic, but it does exist.

On the second point I will wait on passing judgement until we know more about the nuts and bolts of the A350. Let us not forget the 777F requires a totally different floor, since the composite one used on pax models won't carry the loads required. The design and engineering work may thus be of such a magnitude Airbus would risk seriously delaying the pax A350, if they were to pursue an accelerated EIS for an A350F. Given that Airbus haven't even talked of such a beast yet, I doubt it's on the cards until will after the -1000 and a PIP'd -900.

The deeper questions, as has been allured to earlier, is whether Airbus really understands freighters and to what extend they can be bothered making them. It is rather telling how many false starts something as "simple" as a A320P2F has suffered, and how long it took Airbus to finally engineer a freighter out of the A330. I've had some dealings with Airbus staff, engineers and management, and it's pretty obvious freighters is not something that's very high on their agenda. They've presented us with some rather daft ideas in the past, ideas that showed they hadn't fully grasped the concept of flying boxes rather than humans. Flying non-SLF does present a couple of unique challenges.
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RE: Why Is Airbus Failing To Sell Freighters?

Fri Aug 31, 2012 10:09 pm

Quoting Stitch (Reply 20):
Boeing's been stalled on launching the 777BCF program for much the same reason as Airbus on the A320P2F and A330P2F programs - lack of feed stock.

I am not quite sure the "lack of feed-stock" presents the full story. Being the cynical b@stard that I am, it does strike me as a rather convenient excuse when you're knee deep in delays in every single development you're engaged, with your engineering resources already over-stretched. I'm not saying the market is flooded with either 320s or 777s, but if it pays to send early models to the scrapper, it might sometimes pay better to chop it up a bit less and make a freighter of it. Provided someone had done the STC, that is.
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Stitch
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RE: Why Is Airbus Failing To Sell Freighters?

Fri Aug 31, 2012 10:18 pm

Quoting B777LRF (Reply 23):
I'm not saying the market is flooded with either 320s or 777s, but if it pays to send early models to the scrapper, it might sometimes pay better to chop it up a bit less and make a freighter of it.

Still, almost every 777-200 and 777-200ER produced remains in passenger service. Until a score or two of them become available, the STC is probably not worth the effort.

I've also heard the conversion cost alone can buy you a new A330-200F at market rates.
 
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RE: Why Is Airbus Failing To Sell Freighters?

Fri Aug 31, 2012 10:28 pm

Quoting B777LRF (Reply 23):
I am not quite sure the "lack of feed-stock" presents the full story. Being the cynical b@stard that I am, it does strike me as a rather convenient excuse when you're knee deep in delays in every single development you're engaged, with your engineering resources already over-stretched.

That does nothing to explain why no third party companies are not doing it either.
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RE: Why Is Airbus Failing To Sell Freighters?

Fri Aug 31, 2012 10:38 pm

Quoting BMI727 (Reply 25):
That does nothing to explain why no third party companies are not doing it either.

There is the not insignificant matter of certifying a STC for the conversion to take into account. No trivial matter, and not a burden many companies around the world can lift, and then only with OEM support.
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RE: Why Is Airbus Failing To Sell Freighters?

Fri Aug 31, 2012 11:02 pm

Quoting B777LRF (Reply 23):
I am not quite sure the "lack of feed-stock" presents the full story. Being the cynical b@stard that I am, it does strike me as a rather convenient excuse when you're knee deep in delays in every single development you're engaged, with your engineering resources already over-stretched. I'm not saying the market is flooded with either 320s or 777s, but if it pays to send early models to the scrapper, it might sometimes pay better to chop it up a bit less and make a freighter of it. Provided someone had done the STC, that is.

With the cost to develop an STC anyone considering doing so has to be convinced that they will sell enough conversions to be able to not only pay the development costs, but make a profit as well. This means that there must be an adequate number of airframes available at a cost that makes it worthwhile. There must also be enough life left in the airframes when the price gets low enough to also make it worthwhile. If nobody is developing a P2F conversion for a given plane, the 777 and A330 being the current subjects of inquisition, it means that a) there are not enough frames available for conversion (and seeing that all of the suitable examples of both models are still happily ferrying passengers from hither to yon, that is pretty obvious) and b) freight operators are not willing to pay the price to pry enough of these from the grasping hands of their respective airline owners AND pay the cost of conversion (including the development costs.) Be assured that the market still works; if there is more freight to be flown than there is capacity, the price for air freight will rise. This will have two effects; some shippers will decide that their stuff really does not need to go by air, and as air freight companies have more money they will look for more expensive planes. This may result in more new-builds, and it may result in more conversions being developed. The fact that other planes are not being converted, and 748F's, 777F's, and A330F's are not flying off the shelves, means that the air freight companies are able to fill their needs with existing planes and conversions.
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kc135topboom
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RE: Why Is Airbus Failing To Sell Freighters?

Sat Sep 01, 2012 9:49 am

Quoting brilondon (Reply 13):
I would think that if Airbus were serious about building a freighter aircraft they would put their resources into an A350F and market it against the B777ERF to try to capture that market.

There is an A-359F planned for the A-350 family.

Quoting tonymctigue (Reply 14):
I think all you have to do is look at the current order books. The B748i has not sold well in any sense of the word but the B748F seems to be doing ok although orders have slown down considerably. The A380 on the other hand is quite clearly a brilliant piece of equipment for moving passengers but no one knows how well it will do as a dedicated cargo aircraft. Going by the order figures when there was an A380F on offer, one can only conclude that many cargo operators did not seem all that keen on a full double decker freighter aircraft that lacked one of the key features that they love about the B747 which is its ability to be loaded through the nose door. The numbers reflect the pedigree of each aircraft really. The B747 was originally intended to be a cargo aircraft that ended up almost by chance operating as a passenger aircraft whereas the A380 was concieved primarily as a passenger aircraft that maybe could be adapted for cargo. I am not saying the A380 will never be a successful cargo aircraft but it will be a while before we see any dedicated A380 cargo aircraft.
Quoting ADent (Reply 19):
Not true.

The 747 was designed as a passenger aircraft, but able to be converted to a freighter when the supersonic B2707 put the passenger 747 out of service.

There was a Boeing bid for the C-5, but it had high wings - like many dedicated cargo haulers.

           

Quoting scbriml (Reply 21):
Quoting KC135TopBoom (Reply 12):Boeing, OTOH, has been selling about 100, or so freighters per year (averaged) for well over a decade now, plus their pax line-up.
What? 100 freighters per year? A thousand freighters in ten years? Do you check your "facts", or do you just make this stuff up?

Boeing sales of dedicated freighters since January 2002 (ten and a half years):
767 - 84
777 - 127
747 (all versions) - 135

A very long way short of 100 per year.

Perhaps I wasn't clear? I was also counting all the BCFs, and the B-767Fs as well as the MD-11F (and BCF). I was counting the B-737C, of which only the USN has ordered, and the C-17s (perhps I should not count military?) and C-130 AMP. But you are right, even with all of these, it is not 1000 airplanes, but it is over 500.
 
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RE: Why Is Airbus Failing To Sell Freighters?

Sat Sep 01, 2012 9:59 am

Quoting B777LRF (Reply 23):
I am not quite sure the "lack of feed-stock" presents the full story.

Well, it's certainly true that there are not large numbers of A330s or 777s sat doing nothing, just waiting to be turned into freighters.

Plus, the cargo market is still pretty soft.
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