Airbus will make an easy profit, in my opinion, on the xLR. The question is, will NMA sales be impacted? Not much in my opinion. This is a market expanding option.
I tend to disagree. The A321XLR will be able to capture the remaining part of the small part of 757-200 still operating as pax carrier - there are just about 320 left, with United, American and Delta - all three large A32X operator - operating more than half of that fleet. For all of them adding the A321XLR is much easier than introducing a somewhat small subtye. Whatever Airbus brings forward in terms of an upgraded A321 will reduce the NMA´s market potential even further. The NMA market segment "replace 757-200" is all but gone already I think.
Considering the pricing Airbus can manage on an A321 I fail to see how Boeing will be able to ever bring costs of an NMA down enough to make it an attractive A321[neo, LR or XLR] competitor.
Whilest one cope with sales being eaten away on the lower end, the upper end is of worry for them as well. They tried to kick out the A330neo from the market and - at the end of the day - apparently failed. Latest with Emirates A330neo order it is clear that this model is here to stay. It will bring pricing pressure on both the 787 as well as a "larger NMA" - plus there is no replacement market left for a 767-200 sized plane. And the 767-300ER replacement is called 787-8.
What - from my point of view - raises the question: is there actually a need for a NMA-sized plane with every improving narrowbodies (the 737-10 won´t stand still either) and widebodies with family production volumes in excess of 1,000 units? Neither Airbus nor Boeing will currently profit from a NMA-sized plane but stand to loose billions in terms of failed investment. Same goes for the engine guys - only laughing ones would be the airlines.
Need? Economics rules. Everything I've been privy to has the NMA cost per passenger low enough to create a market. Was there a need for the A350? Doesn't matter, economics drive the solution.
I love the A321. But there are limits. Engines are optimized for a 2 hour mission. The wing is, with Sharklets, optimized for a 90 minute mission.
I agree most TATL 752s could be replaced by the A321xLR. I am of the opinion more will be sold as growth.
Now, it has literally been decades since I did engine/aircraft design optimization. Last time we figured how to take a million dollars of cost out and quite a bit of weight in 2 weeks of work. On an Airbus similar to the NMA, but TPAC range. When I look at aircraft, I look to see if I could engineer a successful competitor with a large enough market.
For the NMA:
1. CFRP wings (saves tons, more durable).
2. Optimize engines for a 4-6 hour mission (always ootimize for a mission shorter than the maximum. T1000 at 8 hours, GEnx at 10, for example).
3. Folding wingtips for underside laminar flow.
4. No wasted space for 7 or 8 across.
5. Design for the long version, 4,000nm+ range at EIS, with a plan to get to 5,000nm. Plus is there is always a management reserve for overweight or missing performance.
6. Modern subsystems. Save 3% in fuel over a NEO. Plus less maintenance.
7. First commercial aircraft designed for 3D printed parts from day 1. There is a long enough lead time to buy larger machines for more monolithic parts.
I believe I could design a 7 or 8 across aircraft that would sell vs. The A321/A339. Both are heavy for TATL or India-EU length missions. The xLR is not a high density aircraft at range. I am one of the bigger advocates of the A321LR, but it only flies far with a 16t payload.
The xLR will save weight (tankage weights less than 3 ACT and less unusable fuel) and have more fuel capacity. But it is getting improved engines, not new engines.
I see, with the xLR, the potential for the NMA to have 600+ launch orders and 1,200+ sold by EIS. So obviously we have different opinions on market size.
Oh, I see a thousand+ xLRs selling. With all those hubs maxing out, it is time to make way for BOS, DUB, PHL, MAD, new Mumbai, new IST, CLT, MCO, DEN, Daxing, PVG, 2nd Delhi, ADD, WAW, SVO, CGK (assume 3rd Runway), and KLIA to grow.
I've worked re-engine studies. The risk is half of aircraft efficiency improvements require Airframe changes you often cannot do without getting the prior design (777x is one example where that was done). The NEO chose to keep commonality. That costs efficiency.
IMHO folding wingtips are a game changer. I haven't been able to adequately explain why they save enough fuel at very low cost (by aerospace standards) here. I believe over the next 20 years, everything larger than the A220 will progressively be either replaced or redesigned to have them.
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