Revelation wrote:JayinKitsap wrote:Revelation wrote:Of course they can, they did so with the A380F.
Of course not.
Airbus launched the 338 program with only the Hawaiian order, I recall it was for 8. Later, they cancelled and ordered the 787. So it is possible, but I think not prudent, for Airbus to go from this ATO, Authority to Offer, to an actual program launch. Typically, a launch is coupled with announcement of the initial orders.
Airbus projections of possible orders may affect the actual freighter configuration, if lower quantities anticipated it pretty much dictates a freighter the same size as either the 359 or 35X, shrinking the 35X to a new length would add substantial certification time over a program that does not affect the wetted surface. It's a dilemma, as it would be best to optimize the freighter, but adds millions to the price for all of the added certification work. The market size is good but not huge, the 777F has slightly more than 200 in service, 45 in backlog, so 20 per year production.
A lot of my answer was based on context, and some times that is missed.
When asked if Airbus can cancel a program even after "launching" it, of course Airbus can cancel programs (even ones with firm orders), they've done it before. Presumably any order they sign will have termination clauses, and usually orders taken before EIS are easier to cancel than ones for a going concern, for obvious reasons.
When asked if we thought Airbus would launch a program with no commitments at all, of course I think they won't, yet they are a rich corporation and we have no way of knowing how important the program is to their leadership. We have some enthusiastic comments to the media but we're all adults and know there is this thing known as dissembling.
If asked if I think Airbus will launch the program, my answer is as before, I don't know. It's clear they feel the market is supportive of freighters, their A350 is a great baseline model and its production line has more slack in it than desired, and Boeing clearly is in a weakened state. It's still not clear who needs new freighters in the A350F size category any time soon in large enough volume to support a new market entrant, especially if that new market entrant is going to spend a lot to get into the market. Yet Airbus leadership may feel it is a "strategic imperative" to launch a freighter regardless of how strong or weak the business case is. Perhaps this is kind of thinking that led to A330F?
It's interesting to see Boeing's Calhoun publicly warm to the idea of a 777XF. Presumably this is a reaction to the QR statements and the Airbus moves, as well as IMO his reluctance to commit Boeing to a clean sheet airplane program any time soon. He can use the freighter concept as something for the engineers to do after 779, fill some future production slots, and take the heat off him to develop a clean sheet.
Seems we have a risk of a "mutually assured destruction" scenario where both companies launch products because they don't want to yield market to the other and they split the market with neither making enough business to make either program a success. In theory the reason why corporate executives get fat pay packages is because they have the wisdom to see such a scenario emerging in advance and avoid it. That is the theory at least.
Good post! I might still dispute the degree to which this event merits "launch" or not, but let's put that down as semantics with no value!
I am not an aeronautical engineer, just a retired software man who has followed this thread from the start and read - sometimes not understanding some - every post. It seems quite evident seen through my lenses that 2 aircraft competing to do a more-or-less similar task of flying 90+tons of freight circa5000km should be largely similar. But if one is already 20 or 30tons heavier than the other when empty, how is this even a competition? If this premise is close to correct, then this Airbus launch surely cuts the 777F off at its knees!
All the big fleets of A300/B767/B747/MD-11/20-year old P2F will time out/cycle out in a future where the current A350/B777X are just becoming mature, and the competition will become much sharper as there will be limited alternative choice. Will the 20-30ton advantage work in Airbus' favour?