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Airbus vs Boeing Strategy

Thu Mar 01, 2018 10:37 am

The debate between the A380 vs the B787 was often framed as a debate between strategies where Boeing expected demand to come from increasing point-to-point flights versus Airbus which expected more demand to rise from the hub and spoke model.

As I have read more about this is it possible that you could re-frame this debate as one between twin jets versus quad jets where Boeing perhaps bet on the improvements in Jet engines to overcome the redundancy and other benefits of quad jets whilst Airbus did not expect these improvements in jet engines to arrive so quickly and thus expected quad jets to be the mainstay for long haul flights.

This then leads me onto another point - will we ever see any quad jets again?

First time poster so hello to all.
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Re: Airbus vs Boeing Strategy

Thu Mar 01, 2018 3:51 pm

I'll just quickly add that it's my understanding the 787 was not an attempt to answer the same (perceived) market demands as the A380. The 380 was a long-term approach to a changing market, airport congestion etc - a better version of current VLA options (their own admittedly-obsolete 340, and B's 747s) to a new extreme. Maximized pax-carying ability with a singly landing/gate slot.

The 787 was simply the way of the future - everything from tri-jets to A300s, Boeings own 767s, plus almost everything else on the market had the potential to be upgraded and streamlined with a 787-type aircraft. Many of those older types were going to be retired in the very near future during the program - of course huge delays threw a wrench into the entire retirement/replacement idea.

That aircraft really didn't have much to do with the A380 at all. The bulk of future designs and sales will follow the basic formula of the 787 moving forward. I think AB knew this, they just waited a little bit (which probably saved them hundreds of millions ironically) and EIS of the A350 (in the grand scheme of things) was similar. I don't think this hurt at all however, on the contrary - the largest variant of these types, the A350-1000, is about to fly in revenue service before the largest 787.

As for future 4-holers. No.

You'll see legacy cargo 747's forever, a few old A340s, charters, etc.. EK's 380s have a strong future, at least with them. As far as a NEW quad is concerned, I believe the only hope for this concept still remains solely with an updated A380. I'm about 50/50 right now. If you look at population density, air travel increases, etc - it simply doesn't add up, eventually you're going to NEED more VLA-type aircraft, and there's a lot of additional flexibility with the 380 design (it was, after all, DESIGNED to be bigger).

If someone held a gun to my head and made me choose, I'd say low-rate production 380 for the next decade, then a (fairly) quick EIS of a new NEO/stretch/wing/etc 380. But no, I don't see Boeing being in a position to launch a program with that risk level. It would need to be a full-length double-decker. If there's a future for the VLA, it'll be all-Airbus, but we won't really know till population levels become overbearing - sounds like fun huh? :)

Just my $.02
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Re: Airbus vs Boeing Strategy

Thu Mar 01, 2018 5:51 pm

The future will be defined by money, specifically the difference between what the airlines will pay to provide a specific flight and what the airline's customers are willing to pay for that flight. This has defined the move to a la carte pricing (particularly in economy), 10-abreast seating on a machine designed initially for 9-abreast, twin-engine VLA v. tri-engine v. quad-engine, etc.

As to the future of a quad, you have to find a business case that says that the overall profit from operating a quad is greater than the profit from a twin. Some shots at such a business plan include all-economy a380 Hajj flights, but the overall aircraft utilization tends to be too low. Slot-restricted hub-to-hub flying, which was/is expected to drive the need for BFAs (the next step up from Very Large Aircaft/VLA), has been proposed as a candidate & was the underpinning of Airbus' A380 strategy. The market hasn't really developed here yet.

In fact, the trends in the market have been almost the opposite: 4 engine widebodies giving ways to twins; widebodies themselves giving way to 757/321/737 narrow-body dominance. Interestingly, at the low end of the size range, the trend has been the opposite: growing airplane sizes, with 37-pass RJ --> 75-pass RJ --> 100-pass RJ. Scope clauses are causing some hiccups there in some markets, but there's a reason for multiple-thousand backlogs on 737 and A320 aircraft.

Ya just gotta follow the money! And currently flying 100-200 pax to their destinations maximizes ticket revenue with the lowest cost.
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Re: Airbus vs Boeing Strategy

Thu Mar 01, 2018 8:50 pm

"BFA"... :lol: Is that a derivative of a BUFF?

IMO... the next gen pax VLA will be a blended wing twin. ULH? No problem.

For cargo, the 747F variants will have the product lifetime of a BUFF.... as in 100 years with PIPs. B-52 EIS was 1955.
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Re: Airbus vs Boeing Strategy

Thu Mar 01, 2018 10:19 pm

WPvsMW wrote:
IMO... the next gen pax VLA will be a blended wing twin.

That will remain the domain of RC model airplanes. ( afaics )
Murphy is an optimist
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Re: Airbus vs Boeing Strategy

Fri Mar 02, 2018 12:14 am

and of the B-21.

Payload is payload, SFC is SFC, matching C/G to C/L, ULH fuel capacity ... blended wing has many technical advantages over traditional designs. The only remaining problem [humour] is whether pax will accept a hi res diplay of the earth and sky rather than a window. [/humour]
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Re: Airbus vs Boeing Strategy

Fri Mar 02, 2018 2:01 am

WPvsMW wrote:
blended wing has many technical advantages over traditional designs.

Drawbacks as well though. The basic advantages are (1) higher baseline L/D than tube/wing and (2) structural weight efficiency from "weight where the lift is."

Re (1) the advantage declines as the AR of wings increases. A BWB will be hard-pressed to achieve 6 AR while a tube with strut-braced wings could see 30 AR.

Re (2), strut-braced wings will also greatly reduce the drawback of lift/mass mismatch.

The BWB's biggest disadvantage, aside from Pax-Ex, would be cabin pressurization. Given SBW's structural efficiency, I'd guess the BWB loses in overall weight/pax, especially for a larger plane with a double-deck fuselage. SWB should see L/D in the 30's; BWB will max out around 25.
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Re: Airbus vs Boeing Strategy

Fri Mar 02, 2018 11:12 am

Matt6461 wrote:
.. structural weight efficiency from "weight where the lift is."

Either you introduce a caterpillar like gear arrangement a la AN-225
or you have to accommodate structural path from "mass" to gears ( just for ops on the ground, takeoff, landing ).
( contrast with wing and tube. All forces ( on ground, flying ) go via the same path: ~~(Center) Wing box.)
Murphy is an optimist

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