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747400sp
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Did Boeing Let Airbus Beat Them To The VLA?

Wed Jul 18, 2012 10:34 pm

In the early 90's, around the time that Airbus was working on the design for the A3XX (A380), Boeing had a design called the NLA. The NLA was supposed to be larger than the A3XX or McDonnell Douglas MD-12, but they shelve the project in the early 90's.
Almost 20 years later, the A380, has had a little bit of a success, and Boeing is losing it heritage, as an ultra large airliner builder, to Airbus. Now on the other hand, Boeing is making money hand over fist, with the sales of their large twin jets.
So did Boeing let the chance at keeping the title, as the builder of the worlds largest airliner, slip though their fingers, and if so, do you think they regret it?
 
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N328KF
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RE: Did Boeing Let Airbus Beat Them To The VLA?

Wed Jul 18, 2012 10:36 pm

Quoting 747400sp (Thread starter):
Almost 20 years later, the A380, has had a little bit of a success, and Boeing is losing it heritage, as an ultra large airliner builder, to Airbus. Now on the other hand, Boeing is making money hand over fist, with the sales of their large twin jets.
So did Boeing let the chance at keeping the title, as the builder of the worlds largest airliner, slip though their fingers, and if so, do you think they regret it?

In a roundabout way, I think you have answered your own question.

Look at it another way. Do you think Apple regretted losing the netbook market? Do you think they even regret losing the low end of the mobile phone market? Their quarterly reports tell you the answer.
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micstatic
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RE: Did Boeing Let Airbus Beat Them To The VLA?

Wed Jul 18, 2012 10:45 pm

Quoting 747400sp (Thread starter):

In the early 90's, around the time that Airbus was working on the design for the A3XX (A380), Boeing had a design called the NLA. The NLA was supposed to be larger than the A3XX or McDonnell Douglas MD-12, but they shelve the project in the early 90's.
Almost 20 years later, the A380, has had a little bit of a success, and Boeing is losing it heritage, as an ultra large airliner builder, to Airbus. Now on the other hand, Boeing is making money hand over fist, with the sales of their large twin jets.
So did Boeing let the chance at keeping the title, as the builder of the worlds largest airliner, slip though their fingers, and if so, do you think they regret it?

Don't forget Boeing is building the 747-8. So it's still making some very large new machines. Don't think that plane or the A380 have been selling that well however. But so much time left before we will actually know that market. To answer your question they did market research and analysis then decided which sectors they would put the R&D into. To me it was best not to pursue a clean sheet ultra large jet.
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RE: Did Boeing Let Airbus Beat Them To The VLA?

Wed Jul 18, 2012 10:51 pm

In what way was Boeing beat to the VLA party? They started it 40 years ago, and continue to make a nice dollar there with their 77W. It's reasonable to predict they'll do well there again with the 779/X too.
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Stitch
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RE: Did Boeing Let Airbus Beat Them To The VLA?

Wed Jul 18, 2012 11:05 pm

Quoting 747400sp (Thread starter):
The NLA was supposed to be larger than the A3XX or McDonnell Douglas MD-12, but they shelve the project in the early 90's.

I am not sure the NLA was larger than the MD-12 and the MD-12 was smaller than the A3XX / A380.

We should also not forget that Boeing had a number of high-capacity 747 studies:

747-500X at 456-seats (1996)
747-600X at 550 seats (1996)
747-700X at 650 seats (1996 - proposal)
747X Stretch at 505 seats (2001)

[Edited 2012-07-18 16:07:04]
 
Asiaflyer
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RE: Did Boeing Let Airbus Beat Them To The VLA?

Thu Jul 19, 2012 1:30 am

Nor Airbus or Boeing is in the market for making the largest, fastest or coolest airliner. It is all about maximizing profit and return for their shareholders. Airbus decided to build the A380 because they expected a good return at that point. Same goes for the business decisions Boeing has taken. Demand and supply changes depending on how economies performes and competitors behaves so what was the right decision at one point can be proven wrong 5 years later. That's the charm with running a company.  
 
tdscanuck
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RE: Did Boeing Let Airbus Beat Them To The VLA?

Thu Jul 19, 2012 2:20 am

Quoting 747400sp (Thread starter):
So did Boeing let the chance at keeping the title, as the builder of the worlds largest airliner, slip though their fingers, and if so, do you think they regret it?

I think they let it go on purpose.

The business case for one OEM to launch a new VLA was (is) kind of shaky; the A380 will probably be a financial success in the long run but it's going to be a long run. There was zero chance of either OEM coming out ahead if they both came out with new VLA's. Boeing stayed competitive, and kept their lock on the freighter market, with the 747-8.

Tom.
 
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RE: Did Boeing Let Airbus Beat Them To The VLA?

Thu Jul 19, 2012 3:00 am

Quoting 747400sp (Thread starter):
So did Boeing let the chance at keeping the title, as the builder of the worlds largest airliner, slip though their fingers, and if so, do you think they regret it?

I think their management is ecstatic that they made the business decision to build a twin that has about a thousand orders rather than having to make payments on a 10 billion dollar program with marginal sales that may or may not pay back the development costs.
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LH707330
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RE: Did Boeing Let Airbus Beat Them To The VLA?

Thu Jul 19, 2012 5:42 am

Quoting Roseflyer (Reply 7):
I think their management is ecstatic that they made the business decision to build a twin that has about a thousand orders rather than having to make payments on a 10 billion dollar program with marginal sales that may or may not pay back the development costs.

Boeing is probably looking at >$20 billion for the 787, so they have to make that pay off too....
 
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RE: Did Boeing Let Airbus Beat Them To The VLA?

Thu Jul 19, 2012 6:20 am

Quoting Stitch (Reply 4):
We should also not forget that Boeing had a number of high-capacity 747 studies:

None of which generated any interest in the marketplace..... which is a pretty good reason not to launch

Quoting tdscanuck (Reply 6):
The business case for one OEM to launch a new VLA was (is) kind of shaky

Do we know that this was a fact when the A380 was launched? Airbus might well have made it reality in the execution..

Quoting Roseflyer (Reply 7):
I think their management is ecstatic that they made the business decision to build a twin that has about a thousand orders rather than having to make payments on a 10 billion dollar program with marginal sales that may or may not pay back the development costs

Cos it's that simple isn't it?   

Quoting LH707330 (Reply 8):
Boeing is probably looking at >$20 billion for the 787, so they have to make that pay off too....

And it will. But that's going to take quite a long time too.
Does that make the business case "iffy" in hindsight?

Rgds
 
BMI727
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RE: Did Boeing Let Airbus Beat Them To The VLA?

Thu Jul 19, 2012 6:25 am

Quoting 747400sp (Thread starter):
Almost 20 years later, the A380, has had a little bit of a success,

The A380 will make money, but probably not a ton and certainly not for a while. For Boeing or anyone else to try and compete directly with the A380 would have had the effect of causing both companies losing boatloads of money. Think L-1011 vs. DC-10 only with more money and fewer orders.
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RE: Did Boeing Let Airbus Beat Them To The VLA?

Thu Jul 19, 2012 8:24 am

Quoting DarkSnowyNight (Reply 3):
In what way was Boeing beat to the VLA party? They started it 40 years ago, and continue to make a nice dollar there with their 77W.

The 77W is a big twin.



But It's not a VLA, not by any stretch of the imagination.
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astuteman
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RE: Did Boeing Let Airbus Beat Them To The VLA?

Thu Jul 19, 2012 8:58 am

Quoting Max Q (Reply 11):
But It's not a VLA, not by any stretch of the imagination

The 77W is about the same cabin size/passenger capacity as a 747 classic (nominally 365 seats 3-class for the 777W, 366 for the 747 -100/200), with much greater freight capacity and way, way more capable. (not to mention being longer, and having a greater wingspan)

Much as the propsed 777-9X will be about the same passenger capacity/cabin size as a 747-400 (nominally 407 seats 3-class for the 777-9X, 416 for the 747-400), with much greater freight capacity, and way, way more capable.....
(Not to mention being much longer and having a much greater wingspan)

In what way do they not classify as VLA's?
I don't need to engage my imagination, much less stretch it....

Rgds
 
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RE: Did Boeing Let Airbus Beat Them To The VLA?

Thu Jul 19, 2012 8:59 am

I seem to recall seeing a few years ago, a mock up of the 747 with the upper deck stretched to the tail. I can't remember the capacity but believe it was in the region of 1,000 pax.

Maybe this is Boeings answer to Airbus once the market picks up and as airport capacity restraints with regards to slots begin to become a real problem (if they aren't already)?
 
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RE: Did Boeing Let Airbus Beat Them To The VLA?

Thu Jul 19, 2012 9:04 am

Quoting luganopirate (Reply 13):
I seem to recall seeing a few years ago, a mock up of the 747 with the upper deck stretched to the tail. I can't remember the capacity but believe it was in the region of 1,000 pax.

747-8i upperdeck have the same widht of the 737, unlikely they can squeeze in 1000 pax

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RE: Did Boeing Let Airbus Beat Them To The VLA?

Thu Jul 19, 2012 9:09 am

I'm not sure when Boeing started planning and doing AutoCAD to start the 777 families but with the success it has had maybe the think tanks at Boeing saw the tree's past the forest and knew the future in the large twin market (which now is dominated by Boeing) and decided to divert resources and personnel to that venture. One could say the did let their foot off the gas on developing the larger 747 models but what is Boeing really losing? Compared to the A380, the 748 is smaller and less efficient is most avenues but it was brought to market to steal market share from Airbus. Its not like the 777x program where Boeing is digesting ideas and having open dialogue with potential buyers.
 
ghifty
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RE: Did Boeing Let Airbus Beat Them To The VLA?

Thu Jul 19, 2012 9:31 am

Is the A380 a "VLA"? If it is, yes. Boeing predicted that the market for such an aircraft was small, suitable for maybe one VLA option. So far that seems to be somewhat true. The A380 is doing fine by most metrics, but by no means has it been a "runaway hit."

Quoting BMI727 (Reply 10):
For Boeing or anyone else to try and compete directly with the A380 would have had the effect of causing both companies losing boatloads of money. Think L-1011 vs. DC-10 only with more money and fewer orders.

   Over-saturated market if Boeing made an A380-sized 7X7. Already with one VLA (A380) the market appears to be somewhat saturated.. this is not to say the A380 isn't great for the people flying them because it certainly is, just doesn't se
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DrColenzo
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RE: Did Boeing Let Airbus Beat Them To The VLA?

Thu Jul 19, 2012 10:22 am

Quoting 747400sp (Thread starter):
Almost 20 years later, the A380, has had a little bit of a success,

Erm, are you sure?

Quoting Asiaflyer (Reply 5):
Nor Airbus or Boeing is in the market for making the largest, fastest or coolest airliner. It is all about maximizing profit and return for their shareholders.

Now that's the best way to look at the great VLA debate!

There are 257 firm A380 orders, at a list price of $389.9 million works out at around $10 billion in confirmed sales. The development costs for the A380 were around $15 billion and remember that even if Airbus sell $15 billion worth of A380s, only a small proportion of each aircraft is profit after costs and can go towards paying off the development costs.

In short, it will take a while, if ever, for the A380 to see a profit.

(http://www.airbus.com/presscentre/pressreleases/press-release-detail/detail/new-airbus-aircraft-list-prices-for-2012/)

Now lets look at the 747-8:

Orders for 787-8i at $332.9 million are at 36 and orders for the freighter, at $333.5 million are 70, which works out as a revenue of approximately $3.5 billion. Development costs were much lower than the A380, being based on an existing aircraft (747) and using components from a developed aircraft (787) and stand at around $4 billion (I'm rounding up here).

So, using a cost vs. revenue ratio based on aircraft sold, the A380 is at .66 and for the 747-8, .875.

My ten cents worth:

1) The A380 will only make a profit if enough are sold in the long term, assuming there will be a demand for this product over the next 40 - 50 years, analogous to the lifespan of the 747.

2) The 747-8 will make a profit sooner rather than later, but it will do so based upon the freighter model where at present it has no competition from A380. I believe, however, there will be an upsurge based upon the passenger model solely based upon the logic that it can carry the same number of high added value premium passengers as an A380, without the addition large number of profit draining economy passengers in the rear.

However, this is all mute in my view because....

Quoting astuteman (Reply 12):
The 77W is about the same cabin size/passenger capacity as a 747 classic (nominally 365 seats 3-class for the 777W, 366 for the 747 -100/200), with much greater freight capacity and way, way more capable. (not to mention being longer, and having a greater wingspan)

In what way do they not classify as VLA's?
I don't need to engage my imagination, much less stretch it....

The future will be a very long, ten abreast twin engine aircraft that will doing thousands of hours with little maintenance, use very little fuel and will be easy to fly! Which means, I believe, the long run forecast for the A380 won't be that great unless they relaunch the freight version.

Hey, we also discuss on A-Net whether Airbus will make a Concorde Mk2; they already have done with the A380, although in the commercial, as opposed to the supersonic, sense
  
 
DrColenzo
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RE: Did Boeing Let Airbus Beat Them To The VLA?

Thu Jul 19, 2012 10:27 am

Here is a very good business analysis of the A380 and 747-8:

http://www.aspireaviation.com/2011/0...-challenges-on-a380-profitability/

I find it fascinating that the 747-8 passenger version can carry more revenue earning freight in the hold than the A380, which potentially makes it very attractive for Asian carriers.
 
sweair
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RE: Did Boeing Let Airbus Beat Them To The VLA?

Thu Jul 19, 2012 10:31 am

Both A and B will make a healthy profit from parts and services over the aircraft's 20 year or longer life.

Boeing has the 748-F as the most important model, the passenger frame was just an extra, not really needed as the 777-X is coming.

The 748-F will longer than the passenger model for sure, it has no real competitor now nor looking 10 years forward. The 77F is more efficient but it cant haul all items that the nose door on the 748 will make possible. Bulkier cargo and 30t more cargo.

The VLA market is tiny, I am not sure EADS would make the same decision now that they made back then. I still think political input was heavy on that decision.
 
DrColenzo
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RE: Did Boeing Let Airbus Beat Them To The VLA?

Thu Jul 19, 2012 10:43 am

Quoting sweair (Reply 19):
The VLA market is tiny, I am not sure EADS would make the same decision now that they made back then. I still think political input was heavy on that decision.

Very true, the need for a European equivalent to anything the US does has been an issue for European industry since the late 1960s and whilst there have been a few (very few) success stories, in my opinion it has drained resources from other areas that could have been much more productive and profitable.

There were two 'High Priests' of this view, Christopher Layton and Jean-Jacques Servan Schreiber, who in the 1960s exerted a wide influence over industrial policy making. Look their work up, it makes little commercial sense but appeals to a European politician with low self esteem, jealously looking over the Atlantic at what America does. Shame, I do wonder what some European companies could have done outside these constraints?
 
sweair
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RE: Did Boeing Let Airbus Beat Them To The VLA?

Thu Jul 19, 2012 11:13 am

Quoting DrColenzo (Reply 20):
Shame, I do wonder what some European companies could have done outside these constraints?

Sad to think how a few messed up this continent and we all live with a mess now, the united states of Europe was a very bad idea as we now see daily.

The need to be equal to others is very wrong, its better to do what you are good at and excel at that instead of trying to be something you were not aimed to be.
 
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RE: Did Boeing Let Airbus Beat Them To The VLA?

Thu Jul 19, 2012 12:21 pm

Quoting Stitch (Reply 4):
I am not sure the NLA was larger than the MD-12 and the MD-12 was smaller than the A3XX / A380.

Searching around on the Internet I found to sources for the sizes of the NLA and MD-12. According to these sources the NLA was to be a bit larger than the MD-12, but still smaller than the A380.

The MD-12 was supposed to have the following configuration:

Length: 63.4 meters
Wingspan: 65 meters

Boeing NLA:

Size of almost 70 meters
Wingspan 79.2Meters

MD-12 - Sources: http://md-eleven.net/MD11-MD12-undeveloped-models
NLA http://www.flightglobal.com/pdfarchi...94/1994%20-%203048.html?search=NLA

Quoting sweair (Reply 21):
Sad to think how a few messed up this continent and we all live with a mess now, the united states of Europe was a very bad idea as we now see daily.

I would turn this the other way around. The reason for the Euro-zone problems is that we do not have the United States of Europe. They share a common currency, but each euro zone member state are too free. I believe the only way to save Europe from its current crisis is to form the USE (United States of Europe) in a lighter version still than the USA.
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RE: Did Boeing Let Airbus Beat Them To The VLA?

Thu Jul 19, 2012 12:26 pm

Quoting luganopirate (Reply 13):
Maybe this is Boeings answer to Airbus once the market picks up and as airport capacity restraints with regards to slots begin to become a real problem (if they aren't already)?

I'm not sure Boeing will try to stretch the 747 design one more time. I love the 748 in both of its versions but believe the next step should be a clean sheet design.
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Stitch
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RE: Did Boeing Let Airbus Beat Them To The VLA?

Thu Jul 19, 2012 1:30 pm

Quoting Stitch (Reply 4):
We should also not forget that Boeing had a number of high-capacity 747 studies:
Quoting astuteman (Reply 9):
None of which generated any interest in the marketplace..... which is a pretty good reason not to launch

Not exactly true, sir. Per reports in the aviation press, the 747-500X and 747-600X secured LoIs from MH, TG and BA.

However, the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis crippled air travel to Asia and that was the reason these larger planes were to be developed. So while Boeing did a "soft launch" at Farnborough in 1996, the Board of Directors never approved a formal launch and once BA cancelled their LoI in December of 1996, Boeing cancelled the program as the financial risks were too high without sufficient launch orders.

And LH publicly pushed Boeing to launch the 747X (while simultaneously supporting the A3XX).
 
bigjku
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RE: Did Boeing Let Airbus Beat Them To The VLA?

Thu Jul 19, 2012 1:42 pm

Quoting luganopirate (Reply 13):
I seem to recall seeing a few years ago, a mock up of the 747 with the upper deck stretched to the tail. I can't remember the capacity but believe it was in the region of 1,000 pax.

Maybe this is Boeings answer to Airbus once the market picks up and as airport capacity restraints with regards to slots begin to become a real problem (if they aren't already)?

Excepting a narrow band of business models, namely the Middle East carriers using their central location as a sort of global hub, and a very few airport pairs in the world I just don't see the capacity restraints developing. When they do the best way to solve much of that will be to bypass the hubs with passengers that don't actually want to go there and simply fly them direct to their location in a 787 or A350.

Were I an airline it just would not make sense for me to invest in a VLA in most cases because as you said I am counting on airport restrictions to keep prices up for me. But the airport(s) at the destination and originating points often have competing agendas and will expand to drive prices down as they are offering a public utility and are under political pressure to supply affordable flights. The capital risk of VLA's just is not going to make sense to a lot of airlines, at least not in large numbers.

Quoting astuteman (Reply 9):
Quoting tdscanuck (Reply 6):
The business case for one OEM to launch a new VLA was (is) kind of shaky

Do we know that this was a fact when the A380 was launched? Airbus might well have made it reality in the execution..

Here is my main issue with VLA's. It strikes me that aircraft development cost for a new airplane (using proven technology) are fairly consistent. The 777 was around $10-12 billion. The A380 was around 15 million Euros (not going to bother to convert it to dollars since it was such a long program). Given the similar development cost it is telling to compare the 77W to the A380 in terms of sales as both launched in 2000. In 12 years the 77W has racked up 603 sales. In the same 12 years Airbus has put together 257 sales of the A380.

The 77W sells for aprox. 75% of the price of the A380 and has sold 2.34 times as many models. There is a ton more inherent risk in a VLA program than in a large twin in my view. You don't have as many airframes to make your money back and they can't command the price they really should as the buyers know they have you over the barrel a bit due to limited demand.

Beyond that what I really don't like about doing a VLA development is that the technology is not all that transferable. The things you need to do specifically for the A380 just don't apply to the smaller airplanes you are building all that much.
 
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neutrino
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RE: Did Boeing Let Airbus Beat Them To The VLA?

Thu Jul 19, 2012 2:26 pm

Quoting solnabo (Reply 14):
Quoting luganopirate (Reply 13):
I seem to recall seeing a few years ago, a mock up of the 747 with the upper deck stretched to the tail. I can't remember the capacity but believe it was in the region of 1,000 pax.

747-8i upperdeck have the same widht of the 737, unlikely they can squeeze in 1000 pax

Cheers

A 747 is still holding the record for the most passengers ever carried in a single flight; the registered number being 1,087 but ending up with 1,122 after accounting for scores of hidden children and a few born in midair. Yeah I know, that was an extraordinary case.      

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DrColenzo
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RE: Did Boeing Let Airbus Beat Them To The VLA?

Thu Jul 19, 2012 2:29 pm

Quoting BigJKU (Reply 25):
Excepting a narrow band of business models, namely the Middle East carriers using their central location as a sort of global hub, and a very few airport pairs in the world I just don't see the capacity restraints developing.

Quite true. I remember reading on some post on A-Net in the last week that there are only a small number of airports with strictly defined, time limited slots (I think LHR, LGA and JFK were mentioned) that are sold on the open market and that for the majority of large exports the contraint is based on turnaround time and everything else is just scheduling.

(Correct me on this if I remembered the thread incorrectly)

I think in terms of cost per passenger, ease of construction, ease of use, flexibility and overall Total Factor Productivity (TFP) a large twin, or even Very Large Twin (VLT - you read it here   ) will mostly come out on top compared to a VLA concept. Indeed, the smartest programme Boeing every came up with in my view is the 777, which now has over 1000 deliveries and has become their main profit earner after the 737NG and Airbus (after a heavily flawed initial launch and fracas with potential customers) has come up with the A350 along the same lines.

A big, long, 10 a breast twin is the way to go and as for multideck VLA type aircraft, I believe that a single deck 12 - 14 abreast twin with three aisles, (3-3-3-3 or 3-4-4-3, or some such) that has an ovoid cross section not much wider than a 777 will be the way to go just because it will have all the ease of design, construction, use and cost benefits found in an aircraft like a 777/A350 without the limited market and large development costs of the A380.
 
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Stitch
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RE: Did Boeing Let Airbus Beat Them To The VLA?

Thu Jul 19, 2012 2:33 pm

Quoting BigJKU (Reply 25):
Excepting a narrow band of business models, namely the Middle East carriers using their central location as a sort of global hub, and a very few airport pairs in the world I just don't see the capacity restraints developing.

Runway / Gate slot restrictions are not the only reason a large aircraft can be advantageous for a route. A number of airports have curfews on operations and the distance between some city pairs limits departures and arrivals to narrow bands. In such cases, frequency is not an option even if runway slots and gates are available.




Quoting BigJKU (Reply 25):
Beyond that what I really don't like about doing a VLA development is that the technology is not all that transferable. The things you need to do specifically for the A380 just don't apply to the smaller airplanes you are building all that much.

A fair bit of technologies and systems from the A380 transferred to the A350.
 
rheinwaldner
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RE: Did Boeing Let Airbus Beat Them To The VLA?

Thu Jul 19, 2012 2:40 pm

Quoting 747400sp (Thread starter):
Almost 20 years later, the A380, has had a little bit of a success, and Boeing is losing it heritage

We will require another 20 years to determine, whether these two assertions are true...

The A380 can become a success and Boeing possibly keep their heritage. Or Boeing will bring a composite Y3 in 10 years and render the A380 obsolete prematurely.

Quoting astuteman (Reply 12):
The 77W is about the same cabin size/passenger capacity as a 747 classic (nominally 365 seats 3-class for the 777W, 366 for the 747 -100/200), with much greater freight capacity and way, way more capable. (not to mention being longer, and having a greater wingspan)

  
The 77W is the first twin VLA IMO!
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goosebayguy
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RE: Did Boeing Let Airbus Beat Them To The VLA?

Thu Jul 19, 2012 3:01 pm

I'm certain that at the time Airbus began talking about the A380 Boeing began talking supersonic or trans sonic. They insisted that the future was in speed. Then that plan fell apart and they said the future was in a point to point aircraft hence the B787. Boeing tried to point airlines away from the larger aircraft probably mostly because they knew the market was only large enough for one type.
 
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Stitch
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RE: Did Boeing Let Airbus Beat Them To The VLA?

Thu Jul 19, 2012 3:08 pm

Quoting goosebayguy (Reply 30):
I'm certain that at the time Airbus began talking about the A380 Boeing began talking supersonic or trans sonic.

Yes, the Sonic Cruiser proposal was floated once the Airbus A380 formally was launched. The Sonic Cruiser leveraged the strong premium cabin demand generated by the Tech Boom to justify the operating costs and ticket prices, but once the Tech Boom became the Tech *BOOM* and fuel prices started to rise consistently, the program was shelved and the 7E7 / 787 were launched.
 
bigjku
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RE: Did Boeing Let Airbus Beat Them To The VLA?

Thu Jul 19, 2012 3:09 pm

Quoting Stitch (Reply 28):
Runway / Gate slot restrictions are not the only reason a large aircraft can be advantageous for a route. A number of airports have curfews on operations and the distance between some city pairs limits departures and arrivals to narrow bands. In such cases, frequency is not an option even if runway slots and gates are available.

I agree, there are any number of reasons that issues could exist. But if these were normal circumstances you would see more orders for the aircraft I would think. These situations seem to be the exception rather than the rule. I also think that aircraft like the A350 and 787 put huge pressure on this business model as well by skimming of thousands of passengers for more direct flights.

Quoting Stitch (Reply 28):
A fair bit of technologies and systems from the A380 transferred to the A350.

I am sure a fair bit did but I can't imagine that Airbus will extract the same ongoing value from the A380 in future aircraft that Boeing will from the 787.
 
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Stitch
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RE: Did Boeing Let Airbus Beat Them To The VLA?

Thu Jul 19, 2012 3:12 pm

Quoting BigJKU (Reply 32):
These situations seem to be the exception rather than the rule.

Indeed they are, but there is also just the CASM advantage of operating a larger type if you have the demand. And that CASM advantage can help stimulate demand through lower fares.
 
MountainFlyer
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RE: Did Boeing Let Airbus Beat Them To The VLA?

Thu Jul 19, 2012 3:15 pm

Quoting 747400sp (Thread starter):
Almost 20 years later, the A380, has had a little bit of a success, and Boeing is losing it heritage, as an ultra large airliner builder, to Airbus.

Boeing is not "losing" their "heritage." They pioneered the VLA (747) in an age where the largest passenger aircraft was approximately the size of a 757 (the 707). In fact, they essentially pioneered the jet age with the 707.

As was already mentioned, while bragging rights are certainly a nice bonus, neither Boeing nor Airbus are in the game to build the "largest" or the "fastest" purely for the thrill of it. Either one of them could build the "largest" or the "fastest" or maybe even the largest and fastest in the form of a supersonic VLA at the expense of the entire company. There is a lot of thought and careful market research involved in the decision to build a new airliner, and profit is more important than records.

Looking at mostly the last 10-15 years, Boeing hit it out of the park with the 777, as did Airbus with the A330, and both of them with the A320/737.

As for the A380 or 747-8, they will both likely be profitable in nominal terms at some point, although in real terms the A380 will likely never earn a ROI, although even that is very difficult to say for certain as it is very difficult to place a value on the lessons learned and technology gained from the A380. The same can be said for the 787/A350.

I doubt the original designers of the 747 thought their designs would be used in a "new" aircraft (747-8) in 2012. The costs associated with the original 747 design are still benefiting them today even though they were likely expensed many years ago.
SA-227; B1900; Q200; Q400; CRJ-2,7,9; 717; 727-2; 737-3,4,5,7,8,9; 747-2; 757-2,3; 767-3,4; MD-90; A319, 320; DC-9; DC-1
 
NYC777
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RE: Did Boeing Let Airbus Beat Them To The VLA?

Thu Jul 19, 2012 3:19 pm

Looks like Boeing is making a comeback with the 747-8I. A major new customer is going ti sign on according to the following:

http://www.strategicaeroresearch.com/2012/07/19/777x-747-8i/
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sweair
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RE: Did Boeing Let Airbus Beat Them To The VLA?

Thu Jul 19, 2012 3:19 pm

People tend to forget that Boeing had plenty of ideas for a larger 747 and airlines constantly said no thank you. Why should they have gone forward with a new VLA if there was no interest by airlines?

Forcing the market is a very stupid idea, maybe in a dictatorship..
 
bigjku
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RE: Did Boeing Let Airbus Beat Them To The VLA?

Thu Jul 19, 2012 3:27 pm

Quoting Stitch (Reply 33):
Indeed they are, but there is also just the CASM advantage of operating a larger type if you have the demand. And that CASM advantage can help stimulate demand through lower fares.

Yeah, that is where I think the business case hits the most snags though. Except in those cases we discussed above you run a huge risk of having your highest paying passengers stripped off by smaller planes flying direct or more frequently to where and when premium passengers want to be. Many of those are business passengers who are time sensitive rather than price sensitive. But without them it gets much harder to leverage your CASM advantage as much as you might like.

I think there is a decent business case for VLA's but I do think it is significantly riskier for both the Airline and the OEM. There is just a lot of things that can get you in trouble when you buy something that big.
 
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EPA001
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RE: Did Boeing Let Airbus Beat Them To The VLA?

Thu Jul 19, 2012 3:39 pm

Quoting MountainFlyer (Reply 34):
Looking at mostly the last 10-15 years, Boeing hit it out of the park with the 777, as did Airbus with the A330, and both of them with the A320/737.

As for the A380 or 747-8, they will both likely be profitable in nominal terms at some point, although in real terms the A380 will likely never earn a ROI, although even that is very difficult to say for certain as it is very difficult to place a value on the lessons learned and technology gained from the A380. The same can be said for the 787/A350.

I can totally agree with this.

As to the question this thread is about: Airbus needed something above the A340-600 to compete with the B747. Boeing did not really needed that since they already had the B747.

So Airbus was always more poised then Boeing to bring their own VLA to the market. Due to the unforeseen production issues they took a big hit on the total program development costs, but also learned a lot out of the program. And they already have sold the original envisioned number of copies on which they based their business case. So they did make the correct decision, but never anticipated the expensive production issues and delays on delivery.

Still the A380 is a magnificent piece of aviation technology and is a fantastic plane to fly on.   And in the longer term there are quite a few development possibilities for stretched and improved versions and even the freighter might get a second chance. This since the A380 program will continue to run for a very long time, just as the B747 family is still going pretty strong since the early 1970's.  .
 
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kanban
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RE: Did Boeing Let Airbus Beat Them To The VLA?

Thu Jul 19, 2012 3:42 pm

Seems to me that the internal discussions around the A380 were that while certain markets were suited for a plane that size, most passengers and airlines wanted slightly smaller a/c that could support a more flexible route structure. There were some back then that feared the A380 would devastate the mid size market as well as the 747 market. There were fears (now shown to be unfounded) that a plane that size would operate at 50-70% capacity. I would be interesting to see how many A380's are close to the max design seating and their load factors.
 
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Stitch
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RE: Did Boeing Let Airbus Beat Them To The VLA?

Thu Jul 19, 2012 3:43 pm

Quoting BigJKU (Reply 37):
Except in those cases we discussed above you run a huge risk of having your highest paying passengers stripped off by smaller planes flying direct or more frequently to where and when premium passengers want to be.

That is true in a meta sense, but you need a really captive market to exploit that and I can think of only All Nippon Airways having that advantage - hence why they can afford to operate a 158-seat 787-8 or a 215-seat 777-300ER.

For pretty much everyone else, even the smallest widebodies need over 200 seats and therefore you can't rely on just your "high value" customers to pay the freight, so to speak. And even with the advent of long-range narrowbodies like the A319-100LR and 737-700ER, we're only seeing them used on very select city-pairs.

As a huge fan I am of the A380-800 as a passenger plane, I do admit that I don't see a market for them in the deep hundreds, to say nothing of the thousands. But as with the 787 (and, perhaps, the A350) - if the plane had reached market on time and on budget, we would not be having these constant discussions about the market viability of the plane as it would already have enough orders to cover the costs.  
Quoting EPA001 (Reply 38):
Airbus needed something above the A340-600 to compete with the B747.

The A340-600 was quite capable at knee-capping the 747-400 in terms of fuel burn, usable range and payload lift. The only area it fell short was raw passenger capacity.

[Edited 2012-07-19 08:49:49]
 
airfrnt
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RE: Did Boeing Let Airbus Beat Them To The VLA?

Thu Jul 19, 2012 4:17 pm

Quoting 747400sp (Thread starter):

Almost 20 years later, the A380, has had a little bit of a success, and Boeing is losing it heritage, as an ultra large airliner builder, to Airbus. Now on the other hand, Boeing is making money hand over fist, with the sales of their large twin jets.

Boeing listened to their customers, and appears to have made the right decision. Even if there was a real VLA market (which I am not convinced of), it certainly is not large enough for two carriers.
 
frmrCapCadet
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RE: Did Boeing Let Airbus Beat Them To The VLA?

Thu Jul 19, 2012 4:22 pm

Quoting MountainFlyer (Reply 34):
I doubt the original designers of the 747 thought their designs would be used in a "new" aircraft (747-8) in 2012

Actually Joe Sutter, lead 747 engineer, was not surprised at the 748-8. I had the priviledge to be at a lecture on aviation where he was in the audience, and introduced. His autobiography tells a great story of the commercial jet age.

And the lesson from above may be that as the 787/350 eat into to 380 market by changing the hub/P2P ratio, Airbus will build the larger model. Costs are sunk, and the new model will justify its costs, even if not a great profit maker.

[Edited 2012-07-19 09:27:43]
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PW100
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RE: Did Boeing Let Airbus Beat Them To The VLA?

Thu Jul 19, 2012 4:41 pm

Quoting DrColenzo (Reply 17):
There are 257 firm A380 orders, at a list price of $389.9 million works out at around $10 billion in confirmed sales. The development costs for the A380 were around $15 billion and remember that even if Airbus sell $15 billion worth of A380s, only a small proportion of each aircraft is profit after costs and can go towards paying off the development costs

Always difficult, maths. Let's correct that shall we . . . ?

There are 257 firm A380 orders, at a list price of $389.9 million works out at around $100 billion in confirmed sales. The development costs for the A380 were around $15 billion and . . . the rest of your conlcusions do not make sense anymore . . .

It will take until 2015 before the A380 program starts to pay back it's investment. Airbus said themselves said that it will take until 2015 before a delivered A380 will be cash-flow positive, i.e. generate more income than cost to build the frame.

PW100
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airmagnac
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RE: Did Boeing Let Airbus Beat Them To The VLA?

Thu Jul 19, 2012 4:47 pm

Quoting BigJKU (Reply 32):
I am sure a fair bit did but I can't imagine that Airbus will extract the same ongoing value from the A380 in future aircraft that Boeing will from the 787.



I often read this or similar remarks here, I guess it is mainly due to Boeing making more marketing noise about its new toy than Airbus did back in the 2000s. But just off the top of my head, here are some stuff introduced with the A380 and carried over to other Airbus products :

Aircraft networking : Integrated Modular Avionics, AFDX network, NSS and seperated avionics/open world architecture, data loading, on-board information system (performance calulations, paperless cockpit), on-board maintenance system (easier access to data for predictive maintenance, to BITE, integrated AMM/TSM documentation)

Electric : solid-state circuit breakers, remote CB control

Hydraulics : EBHA (actuators), LHEGS (ldg gear/brakes), 5000psi, 2H/2E architecture

Cockpit layout : more & larger screens, better info display, KCCU (keyboard and mouse), new FMS interface

LED lights (Nav, strobe...)

Aluminum wiring

Sideslip vanes, new air data sensor architecture

Lower cabin altitude, more humid cabin air (yes, that was before the 787   )

Structures : GLARE, handling of huge composite parts

Aerodynamics : methinks the shape of those wings, and the fact that the A350 forehead is somewhat similar to the A380 one, indicates some advances here

Acoustics : as we all know, the A380 is quite a leap beyond previous designs when it comes to internal & external noise. The A400M is also quite impressive in this domain BTW.

Off plane :
Design & test methods, including the introduction of lots of simulation tools (model based engineering methods, digital mock-up management, system simulation models management)
Build methods : lots of stuff to do with composite materials, welding, drilling methods like putting the wings horizontal (Ferpe is the expert here ! see the A350 prototype thread)

Also : do not give too much cabin customization freedom to airlines !!   
And don’t move to the next step if you haven’t confidently finished the present step !!      


As I said, those are just a few of the lessons learned (as you might have noticed, I am a systems guy so I know more about the systems aspect) ; I'm sure there is enough to write a book. So even if direct ROI measured in cash may not be in the red for some time (I believe that it will, the A380 will be on sale for another 30 years at least), there is already much ROI through other means.

Anyway, to get back to the topic, both companies make great planes, that do the job we need them to do, and do it well. And that's what matters. At least, IMO it matters a lot more than being able to shout that "I have the biggest [enter any word of your choice designating airplane or anatomical part]"  

And yes, I think the A380 and VLAs in general do have a job, especially in markets that are constrained by regulations such as curfews, slots, etc... and also simply due to demographical growth, and the growth of middle-classes around the globe.
From memory, in 1950 there were about 80 "million-people cities" and only 1 of more than 10 million ; those numbers are now something like 400 and 30 respectively, with more coming (most of these huge cities are/will be in Asia and Africa). There should be enough traffic between such cities to fill 500 seater airplanes ; it makes no sense to always use multiple smaller planes.
Of course the market will never be as large, the sales numbers never as high, as for smaller planes, but sales volume does not directly indicate profitability (otherwise any luxury brand, for example, would have disappeared long ago)

And I actually think that Europeans (Airbus decision-makers) may be more sensitive to both regulations and demography than Americans (Boeing decision-makers), as the US are less regulated and have a population both more homogeneous and living in centers spread across the continent, than the "Old World". Which favors a dense network of frequent point to point services. Hence a cultural reason for A to go VLA while B favored the "more direct/more frequent" approach. And maybe why most Europeans here have less trouble with the A380 business case than our American friends  

  
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neutrino
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RE: Did Boeing Let Airbus Beat Them To The VLA?

Thu Jul 19, 2012 4:58 pm

Quoting astuteman (Reply 12):
Quoting Max Q (Reply 11):
But It's not a VLA, not by any stretch of the imagination

In what way do they not classify as VLA's?
I don't need to engage my imagination, much less stretch it....

Great answer!

The 77W is a large twin at the crossover into VLA territory.
Much like Australia is a large island and a small continent.
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flyingcello
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RE: Did Boeing Let Airbus Beat Them To The VLA?

Thu Jul 19, 2012 5:39 pm

I think it was Richard Branson who said that the A380 would make a lot of money for the airlines, but not for Airbus.

It's a fantastic machine, and an amazing engineering achievement, but is there a market to get it to the magic break-even figure, whatever that is.

I can't help but think that Airbus built the A380 simply to better Boeing...a statement of how far they had come. Big companies don't generally do things like that, but that is where the subsidies come in. I wonder if those subsidies had not been available, would Airbus have been able to justify such an investment?

As for the Euro...there has never been such an ill-concieved and ridiculous proposition as the single currency. One size clearly doesn't fit all...and as for a United States of Europe (which technically might work)...why would the Germans, who have worked hard for their own success, prop up the rest of Europe?
 
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EPA001
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RE: Did Boeing Let Airbus Beat Them To The VLA?

Thu Jul 19, 2012 6:06 pm

Quoting flyingcello (Reply 46):
Big companies don't generally do things like that, but that is where the subsidies come in. I wonder if those subsidies had not been available, would Airbus have been able to justify such an investment?

There are NO SUBSIDIES!!! There is only, for a maximum of 1/3 of the initial program costs, RLI which is Repayable Launch Incentive which is NOT a subsidy!   

And yes, Airbus could have funded the development by loaning from commercial banks. This is especially the case since there is no RLI for the cost overruns. So most likely the RLI part of funding the A380 development is at around 15-16.5% of the current total program costs.
 
DrColenzo
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RE: Did Boeing Let Airbus Beat Them To The VLA?

Thu Jul 19, 2012 6:39 pm

Quoting PW100 (Reply 43):
Always difficult, maths. Let's correct that shall we . . . ?

I guess typing was also my also my issue at school, as the $10 billion was supposed to confirmed profits based on sales from the approximately 8-11% mark up depending on price (see Airbus link), but your are right that perhaps I explained that a little poorly.

Still makes the point that the A380 will not make a profit for a very long time!!
 
DrColenzo
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RE: Did Boeing Let Airbus Beat Them To The VLA?

Thu Jul 19, 2012 6:44 pm

Quoting airmagnac (Reply 44):
here are some stuff introduced with the A380 and carried over to other Airbus products :

This post and the list on it is fundamentally one of the smartest things I have read here; the question is how does a company like Airbus calculate the benefits of this technology in other aircraft types?

If the company can do that, it will be able to recoup its spending on the A380 tenfold.

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