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kitplane01
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Re: Is innovation declining?

Sun Oct 10, 2021 4:27 am

M564038 wrote:
Well,
Percentage-wise, safety has improved greatly. There were few people dying 10 years ago, so a hard number to improve upon, but is has significantly improved.

And yes, 15% gains are A LOT, not going to save-the-planet-great, but the 15% promised by the NEO, was enough to force Boeings hand completely. A 15% gain without a similar reaction from the competition would turn the market into a near monopoly! It increases the margin for a given ticket price greatly!
Launching a radically new technology, say to give a 30% improvement, won’t give you any more guarantees you will beat the competition than the 15%! But it gives you a pretty good chance you’ll burn enormous amounts of R&D-money to give your competitior going for the simple 15% a long term victory!


Maybe 15% is a huge deal to Delta and Boeing (it is) but 15% per 15 years is not that impressive to the consumer, where we should be focusing out our concerns.
 
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kitplane01
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Re: Is innovation declining?

Sun Oct 10, 2021 4:33 am

M564038 wrote:
Well,
Percentage-wise, safety has improved greatly. There were few people dying 10 years ago, so a hard number to improve upon, but is has significantly improved.


Ya know, I thought this was false. So I looked it up. In 1995, there were about 600 deaths per trillion rpk. Now it's about 60. So yep, that's pretty good. Who knew?

It's now 60x safer per car on a per miles basis, and 4.5x safer than walking on a per hour basis, so I'd be OK if they called that job solved. Not where I would put future investment if I wanted to make the world a better place.

Image
Last edited by kitplane01 on Sun Oct 10, 2021 4:47 am, edited 1 time in total.
 
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kitplane01
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Re: Is innovation declining?

Sun Oct 10, 2021 4:44 am

Quick question: Suppose I wanted a number for how much more cost efficient airlines have improved per year. Can anyone provide a good argument for some number based on data and math? Because right now I'm thinking it's 1.2% per year over the period 1995-2019 (with some safety and noise improvements in addition).
 
SteelChair
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Re: Is innovation declining?

Sun Oct 10, 2021 11:04 am

kitplane01 wrote:
M564038 wrote:
Well,
Percentage-wise, safety has improved greatly. There were few people dying 10 years ago, so a hard number to improve upon, but is has significantly improved.


Ya know, I thought this was false. So I looked it up. In 1995, there were about 600 deaths per trillion rpk. Now it's about 60. So yep, that's pretty good. Who knew?

It's now 60x safer per car on a per miles basis, and 4.5x safer than walking on a per hour basis, so I'd be OK if they called that job solved. Not where I would put future investment if I wanted to make the world a better place.

Image


Lots of people knew. What's also impressive is the average airfare in constant dollars looks somewhat similar over the same time period.
 
mxaxai
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Re: Is innovation declining?

Sun Oct 10, 2021 11:13 am

kitplane01 wrote:
I don't even know what "up to 50% cheaper" means, because "up to" seems to mean ....

Up to, because fares are defined by what the passenger is willing to pay, not by the cost of a flight. So mature markets with little or no competition saw less improvement than others. Some examples can be found here: https://www.economist.com/graphic-detai ... -plummeted
Btw, the fact that fares in the US dropped by 28% while fuel prices doubled should give you a hint that a big chunk of the cost reduction came from fuel efficiency improvements.

Sure, first class getting better is not going to help you, but along the same lines you could argue that a new Tesla is not going to help you if you can only afford a used Toyota. New technologies usually get introduced first in higher-paying markets.

Even so, newer aircraft feature improvements for Y as well, like reduced cabin altitude, increased humidity, quieter cabins, improved lighting, larger windows, better IFE or free wifi. New point-to-point routes also reduce the hassle of connecting for all passengers.

kitplane01 wrote:
Quick question: Suppose I wanted a number for how much more cost efficient airlines have improved per year. Can anyone provide a good argument for some number based on data and math? Because right now I'm thinking it's 1.2% per year over the period 1995-2019 (with some safety and noise improvements in addition).

Difficult to put number on because there are so many variables. Fuel price, world economy effects, demand shifts, competition, wage increases, tax changes, ...
Aircraft technology improvements are just one factor that influences overall profitability. Though most US airlines have been fairly profitable over the past decade, until Covid hit. They achieved a ROIC of 9.9% in 2019, on average.

On a worldwide level, the real inflation-adjusted transport cost per revenue tonne kilometer has dropped from $2.40 to $0.80 between 1995 and 2019, as indicated by IATA in their latest reports. https://www.iata.org/en/publications/ec ... searchForm
 
CowAnon
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Re: Is innovation declining?

Tue Oct 12, 2021 5:59 am

I think your observation of the decelerating pace of new designs (however we define that) is a reflection of the fact that the lower-hanging fruit have been picked, and now the OEMs need to reach farther up to grab the next set.

To me open rotor is more low-hanging fruit than major innovation, and yet it probably won't show up on commercial airplanes until 2035. That's over 4 decades since propfans almost went into production in the early 1990s, when the 7J7 and MD-91/92 were supposed to debut. That amount of delay is similar to folding wingtips -- if they were proven safe on military aircraft decades ago, why did we have to wait for the 777X to get it on an airliner? Boeing was also successfully testing laminar flow on a 757 in 1990, and we haven't seen that unveiled commercially either. The pace of advances just seems too slow. If there is a lot of innovation "under the hood", maybe the allocation of resources are in the wrong places.

It does seem like things are going to pick up now, especially on the fuel front (battery/hydrogen/SAF).
 
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Starlionblue
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Re: Is innovation declining?

Tue Oct 12, 2021 6:25 am

CowAnon wrote:
I think your observation of the decelerating pace of new designs (however we define that) is a reflection of the fact that the lower-hanging fruit have been picked, and now the OEMs need to reach farther up to grab the next set.

To me open rotor is more low-hanging fruit than major innovation, and yet it probably won't show up on commercial airplanes until 2035. That's over 4 decades since propfans almost went into production in the early 1990s, when the 7J7 and MD-91/92 were supposed to debut. That amount of delay is similar to folding wingtips -- if they were proven safe on military aircraft decades ago, why did we have to wait for the 777X to get it on an airliner? Boeing was also successfully testing laminar flow on a 757 in 1990, and we haven't seen that unveiled commercially either. The pace of advances just seems too slow. If there is a lot of innovation "under the hood", maybe the allocation of resources are in the wrong places.

It does seem like things are going to pick up now, especially on the fuel front (battery/hydrogen/SAF).


The reason we haven't seen folding wingtips isn't to do with safety. The cost of implementing them has been higher than the benefit until the 777X.

The 777 Classic was initially offered with folding wingtips, but no customer wanted them. IIRC those were much more complex than the current implementation, because the low speed ailerons were outboard of the fold.
 
T54A
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Re: Is innovation declining?

Tue Oct 12, 2021 8:35 pm

Let me give you a small example of how advanced the A350 is. SAA used to lift about 135t of fuel and flew at M0.82/83 in the 317 seat A346 on the JNB-JFK route. Obviously this was dependent on conditions of the day. The 330 seat A359 lifted about 95t of fuel and flew at M0.85/86. Work out those savings on a there and back sector 365 days a year. It’s massive.

Edit: SAA used to often lift 176t on their B744 flight ATL-JNB.
 
SteelChair
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Re: Is innovation declining?

Tue Oct 12, 2021 9:50 pm

T54A wrote:
Let me give you a small example of how advanced the A350 is. SAA used to lift about 135t of fuel and flew at M0.82/83 in the 317 seat A346 on the JNB-JFK route. Obviously this was dependent on conditions of the day. The 330 seat A359 lifted about 95t of fuel and flew at M0.85/86. Work out those savings on a there and back sector 365 days a year. It’s massive.

Edit: SAA used to often lift 176t on their B744 flight ATL-JNB.


The A350 is staggeringly efficient, as is the A220 and B787. But I've read countless articles that 90+% of that efficiency is attributable to the engines. Aerodynamics seems dead.
 
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Starlionblue
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Re: Is innovation declining?

Wed Oct 13, 2021 1:25 am

SteelChair wrote:
T54A wrote:
Let me give you a small example of how advanced the A350 is. SAA used to lift about 135t of fuel and flew at M0.82/83 in the 317 seat A346 on the JNB-JFK route. Obviously this was dependent on conditions of the day. The 330 seat A359 lifted about 95t of fuel and flew at M0.85/86. Work out those savings on a there and back sector 365 days a year. It’s massive.

Edit: SAA used to often lift 176t on their B744 flight ATL-JNB.


The A350 is staggeringly efficient, as is the A220 and B787. But I've read countless articles that 90+% of that efficiency is attributable to the engines. Aerodynamics seems dead.


It really isn't all engine. The A350 wing is much more efficient than the A330/A340. The cruising altitude and speed of the A350 are quite different compared to the A340. Several thousand feet higher initial altitude. M0.85 compared to M0.81-0.82 doesn't sound like much but over medium and long haul it makes a very big difference. You can't just brute force the higher mach number with the engines.
 
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kitplane01
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Re: Is innovation declining?

Wed Oct 13, 2021 3:23 am

Starlionblue wrote:
SteelChair wrote:
T54A wrote:
Let me give you a small example of how advanced the A350 is. SAA used to lift about 135t of fuel and flew at M0.82/83 in the 317 seat A346 on the JNB-JFK route. Obviously this was dependent on conditions of the day. The 330 seat A359 lifted about 95t of fuel and flew at M0.85/86. Work out those savings on a there and back sector 365 days a year. It’s massive.

Edit: SAA used to often lift 176t on their B744 flight ATL-JNB.


The A350 is staggeringly efficient, as is the A220 and B787. But I've read countless articles that 90+% of that efficiency is attributable to the engines. Aerodynamics seems dead.


It really isn't all engine. The A350 wing is much more efficient than the A330/A340. The cruising altitude and speed of the A350 are quite different compared to the A340. Several thousand feet higher initial altitude. M0.85 compared to M0.81-0.82 doesn't sound like much but over medium and long haul it makes a very big difference. You can't just brute force the higher mach number with the engines.


I'd be curious how much of the efficiency of the A350 over the A330 (and over the B747) comes from a lighter structure.
 
hitower3
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Re: Is innovation declining?

Wed Oct 13, 2021 2:19 pm

kitplane01 wrote:
Starlionblue wrote:
SteelChair wrote:

I'd be curious how much of the efficiency of the A350 over the A330 (and over the B747) comes from a lighter structure.


The A350-900 has an OEW of 115,7t, whereas the A330-300 has 122t (Wikipedia). However, the A350 carries about 10% more people at similar layout.
The OEW difference itself will result in fuel savings between 1/35 to 1/40 of that OEW difference per flight hour, so this would be at least 160kg per flight hour.

Repeating the same exercise on the B744 with its 183t of OEW (Wikipedia) would result in about 1'600kg in fuel burn advantage per hour through the OEW difference. However, given the much bigger pax capacity of the Jumbo, this is not an apples-to-apples comparison.

Kind regards,
Hendric
 
hitower3
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Re: Is innovation declining?

Wed Oct 13, 2021 2:25 pm

Starlionblue wrote:
It really isn't all engine. The A350 wing is much more efficient than the A330/A340. The cruising altitude and speed of the A350 are quite different compared to the A340. Several thousand feet higher initial altitude. M0.85 compared to M0.81-0.82 doesn't sound like much but over medium and long haul it makes a very big difference. You can't just brute force the higher mach number with the engines.


Dear SB,
There has indeed been a big progress in wing design over the years. If we look only at supercritical wings, we can find that long range aircraft have seen their optimum cruise speed steadily increasing from M0,80 (757, 767, A300, A310) to M0,82 (A330, A340) and M0,825 (A340-600), then M0,835 (B777), then 0,84 (B787, A380, A350). This speed increase is of course only one aspect of the total progress, perhaps not even the most significant.

We will see what the future will bring us!
Hendric
 
M564038
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Re: Is innovation declining?

Wed Oct 13, 2021 4:15 pm

Aircraft of today and yesterday are surprisingly similar in weight when looking at aircraft with comparable capabilities. Heavier engines, more safety structures and more …stuff in the cabin, are my guesses.

kitplane01 wrote:
Starlionblue wrote:
SteelChair wrote:

The A350 is staggeringly efficient, as is the A220 and B787. But I've read countless articles that 90+% of that efficiency is attributable to the engines. Aerodynamics seems dead.


It really isn't all engine. The A350 wing is much more efficient than the A330/A340. The cruising altitude and speed of the A350 are quite different compared to the A340. Several thousand feet higher initial altitude. M0.85 compared to M0.81-0.82 doesn't sound like much but over medium and long haul it makes a very big difference. You can't just brute force the higher mach number with the engines.


I'd be curious how much of the efficiency of the A350 over the A330 (and over the B747) comes from a lighter structure.
 
SteelChair
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Re: Is innovation declining?

Wed Oct 13, 2021 6:07 pm

M564038 wrote:
Aircraft of today and yesterday are surprisingly similar in weight when looking at aircraft with comparable capabilities. Heavier engines, more safety structures and more …stuff in the cabin, are my guesses.

kitplane01 wrote:
Starlionblue wrote:

It really isn't all engine. The A350 wing is much more efficient than the A330/A340. The cruising altitude and speed of the A350 are quite different compared to the A340. Several thousand feet higher initial altitude. M0.85 compared to M0.81-0.82 doesn't sound like much but over medium and long haul it makes a very big difference. You can't just brute force the higher mach number with the engines.


I'd be curious how much of the efficiency of the A350 over the A330 (and over the B747) comes from a lighter structure.


There been tons of information over the last 20-30 years that weight and aerodynamic benefits of newer airplanes are marginal, most of the fuel savings comes from engines.

Comparing a twin to a quad is a whole 'nother can of worms, but I believe I've read (no link sorry) that comparing a similar sized quad to a twin, with similar generation engines and structures, the twin saves about 5% in fuel. Thus the justification for ETOPS. Sorry no link.
 
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kitplane01
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Re: Is innovation declining?

Thu Oct 14, 2021 12:37 am

hitower3 wrote:
kitplane01 wrote:
Starlionblue wrote:


The A350-900 has an OEW of 115,7t, whereas the A330-300 has 122t (Wikipedia). However, the A350 carries about 10% more people at similar layout.
The OEW difference itself will result in fuel savings between 1/35 to 1/40 of that OEW difference per flight hour, so this would be at least 160kg per flight hour.

Repeating the same exercise on the B744 with its 183t of OEW (Wikipedia) would result in about 1'600kg in fuel burn advantage per hour through the OEW difference. However, given the much bigger pax capacity of the Jumbo, this is not an apples-to-apples comparison.

Kind regards,
Hendric


Love data thanks.

Doing some math ....
The A350 has 115.7/122/1.1 = 86% of the structural weight per person as an A330. And that's including carrying a higher aspect ratio wing and more efficient (heavier) engines and enough fuel to fly further.

That's a nice improvement .. too bad we had to wait 20-some years for a 14% improvement!

SteelChair wrote:
There been tons of information over the last 20-30 years that weight and aerodynamic benefits of newer airplanes are marginal, most of the fuel savings comes from engines.


I've read that too but I don't understand it, unless a 14% reduction in empty weight is "marginal"
 
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kitplane01
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Re: Is innovation declining?

Thu Oct 14, 2021 12:41 am

hitower3 wrote:
Starlionblue wrote:
It really isn't all engine. The A350 wing is much more efficient than the A330/A340. The cruising altitude and speed of the A350 are quite different compared to the A340. Several thousand feet higher initial altitude. M0.85 compared to M0.81-0.82 doesn't sound like much but over medium and long haul it makes a very big difference. You can't just brute force the higher mach number with the engines.


Dear SB,
There has indeed been a big progress in wing design over the years. If we look only at supercritical wings, we can find that long range aircraft have seen their optimum cruise speed steadily increasing from M0,80 (757, 767, A300, A310) to M0,82 (A330, A340) and M0,825 (A340-600), then M0,835 (B777), then 0,84 (B787, A380, A350). This speed increase is of course only one aspect of the total progress, perhaps not even the most significant.

We will see what the future will bring us!
Hendric


That's a 6% increase in cruise speed over 40 years.
I feel .. not impressed
 
SteelChair
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Re: Is innovation declining?

Thu Oct 14, 2021 1:53 am

kitplane01 wrote:
hitower3 wrote:
kitplane01 wrote:


The A350-900 has an OEW of 115,7t, whereas the A330-300 has 122t (Wikipedia). However, the A350 carries about 10% more people at similar layout.
The OEW difference itself will result in fuel savings between 1/35 to 1/40 of that OEW difference per flight hour, so this would be at least 160kg per flight hour.

Repeating the same exercise on the B744 with its 183t of OEW (Wikipedia) would result in about 1'600kg in fuel burn advantage per hour through the OEW difference. However, given the much bigger pax capacity of the Jumbo, this is not an apples-to-apples comparison.

Kind regards,
Hendric


Love data thanks.

Doing some math ....
The A350 has 115.7/122/1.1 = 86% of the structural weight per person as an A330. And that's including carrying a higher aspect ratio wing and more efficient (heavier) engines and enough fuel to fly further.

That's a nice improvement .. too bad we had to wait 20-some years for a 14% improvement!

SteelChair wrote:
There been tons of information over the last 20-30 years that weight and aerodynamic benefits of newer airplanes are marginal, most of the fuel savings comes from engines.


I've read that too but I don't understand it, unless a 14% reduction in empty weight is "marginal"


My guess (I don't have the data) is that that 14% of OEW saves only a few percent in fuel burn, whereas newer generation engines often save 10-20%.

And, I would be much more inclined to believe an OEW from an airline that uses similar cabin equipment (seat types and density, same galleys, same lavs, same IFE) than wiki weights. There are also multiple MTOW versions of the A330, and now the NEO. Which shall we use? The NEO is heavier but burns less gas.
 
GalaxyFlyer
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Re: Is innovation declining?

Thu Oct 14, 2021 2:54 am

kitplane01 wrote:
hitower3 wrote:
Starlionblue wrote:
It really isn't all engine. The A350 wing is much more efficient than the A330/A340. The cruising altitude and speed of the A350 are quite different compared to the A340. Several thousand feet higher initial altitude. M0.85 compared to M0.81-0.82 doesn't sound like much but over medium and long haul it makes a very big difference. You can't just brute force the higher mach number with the engines.


Dear SB,
There has indeed been a big progress in wing design over the years. If we look only at supercritical wings, we can find that long range aircraft have seen their optimum cruise speed steadily increasing from M0,80 (757, 767, A300, A310) to M0,82 (A330, A340) and M0,825 (A340-600), then M0,835 (B777), then 0,84 (B787, A380, A350). This speed increase is of course only one aspect of the total progress, perhaps not even the most significant.

We will see what the future will bring us!
Hendric


That's a 6% increase in cruise speed over 40 years.
I feel .. not impressed


Yeah, physics sucks, almost as bad as economics. The speed of sound and its effects on the costs of operating a jet transport are pretty close to immutable.
 
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Starlionblue
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Re: Is innovation declining?

Thu Oct 14, 2021 6:09 am

kitplane01 wrote:
hitower3 wrote:
Starlionblue wrote:
It really isn't all engine. The A350 wing is much more efficient than the A330/A340. The cruising altitude and speed of the A350 are quite different compared to the A340. Several thousand feet higher initial altitude. M0.85 compared to M0.81-0.82 doesn't sound like much but over medium and long haul it makes a very big difference. You can't just brute force the higher mach number with the engines.


Dear SB,
There has indeed been a big progress in wing design over the years. If we look only at supercritical wings, we can find that long range aircraft have seen their optimum cruise speed steadily increasing from M0,80 (757, 767, A300, A310) to M0,82 (A330, A340) and M0,825 (A340-600), then M0,835 (B777), then 0,84 (B787, A380, A350). This speed increase is of course only one aspect of the total progress, perhaps not even the most significant.

We will see what the future will bring us!
Hendric


That's a 6% increase in cruise speed over 40 years.
I feel .. not impressed


As you get closer to the speed of sound it takes more and more to improve. The amount of research and development to bump optimal cruise speed from Mach 0.80 to 0.85 is probably several times more than it took to bump it from 0.75 to 0.80. Hence, the same amount of "innovation" leads to smaller real world improvements.

As GalaxyFlyer says, physics sucks.


hitower3 wrote:
Starlionblue wrote:
It really isn't all engine. The A350 wing is much more efficient than the A330/A340. The cruising altitude and speed of the A350 are quite different compared to the A340. Several thousand feet higher initial altitude. M0.85 compared to M0.81-0.82 doesn't sound like much but over medium and long haul it makes a very big difference. You can't just brute force the higher mach number with the engines.


Dear SB,
There has indeed been a big progress in wing design over the years. If we look only at supercritical wings, we can find that long range aircraft have seen their optimum cruise speed steadily increasing from M0,80 (757, 767, A300, A310) to M0,82 (A330, A340) and M0,825 (A340-600), then M0,835 (B777), then 0,84 (B787, A380, A350). This speed increase is of course only one aspect of the total progress, perhaps not even the most significant.

We will see what the future will bring us!
Hendric


Nitpick. A350 optimal cruise is M0.85.
 
QAT
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Re: Is innovation declining?

Thu Oct 14, 2021 10:56 pm

Longtime lurker, first-time poster.

How can it be that with billions spent on R&D, and undoubted technical breakthroughs, there is a perception that innovation is declining?

It is simple. Travelers pay for tickets and would like the profits generated from those tickets to enable them to travel faster and in greater comfort. What the profits actually get spent on is lower fuel burn, lower emissions and lower noise, which may be good but are far down the list from speed and comfort.

Speeds haven't improved in 60 years and comfort...well, the airlines seem to be very good at calculating exactly how much punishment a traveler is willing to tolerate, and giving it to them.

I wonder whether the stats on ticket prices account for bag fees, having to bring your own food, increased likelihood of having to eat a ticket because your plans changed...
 
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kitplane01
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Re: Is innovation declining?

Fri Oct 15, 2021 2:17 am

SteelChair wrote:
kitplane01 wrote:
hitower3 wrote:

The A350-900 has an OEW of 115,7t, whereas the A330-300 has 122t (Wikipedia). However, the A350 carries about 10% more people at similar layout.
The OEW difference itself will result in fuel savings between 1/35 to 1/40 of that OEW difference per flight hour, so this would be at least 160kg per flight hour.

Repeating the same exercise on the B744 with its 183t of OEW (Wikipedia) would result in about 1'600kg in fuel burn advantage per hour through the OEW difference. However, given the much bigger pax capacity of the Jumbo, this is not an apples-to-apples comparison.

Kind regards,
Hendric


Love data thanks.

Doing some math ....
The A350 has 115.7/122/1.1 = 86% of the structural weight per person as an A330. And that's including carrying a higher aspect ratio wing and more efficient (heavier) engines and enough fuel to fly further.

That's a nice improvement .. too bad we had to wait 20-some years for a 14% improvement!

SteelChair wrote:
There been tons of information over the last 20-30 years that weight and aerodynamic benefits of newer airplanes are marginal, most of the fuel savings comes from engines.


I've read that too but I don't understand it, unless a 14% reduction in empty weight is "marginal"


My guess (I don't have the data) is that that 14% of OEW saves only a few percent in fuel burn, whereas newer generation engines often save 10-20%.

And, I would be much more inclined to believe an OEW from an airline that uses similar cabin equipment (seat types and density, same galleys, same lavs, same IFE) than wiki weights. There are also multiple MTOW versions of the A330, and now the NEO. Which shall we use? The NEO is heavier but burns less gas.


(These assumptions are not perfect, but they're not terrible either.)
Lift drag ratio stays about constant for a single flight of a single aircraft
The flight starts out at max takeoff weight, and ends at oew
The max takeoff weight is 2x the oew (true for an A350)

Then a reduction of 14% in OEW results in a reduction in 10.5% in fuel burn.
(Of course that's not a number accurate to three digits. Just a rough guess)
 
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kitplane01
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Re: Is innovation declining?

Fri Oct 15, 2021 2:20 am

QAT wrote:
Longtime lurker, first-time poster.

How can it be that with billions spent on R&D, and undoubted technical breakthroughs, there is a perception that innovation is declining?

It is simple. Travelers pay for tickets and would like the profits generated from those tickets to enable them to travel faster and in greater comfort. What the profits actually get spent on is lower fuel burn, lower emissions and lower noise, which may be good but are far down the list from speed and comfort.

Speeds haven't improved in 60 years and comfort...well, the airlines seem to be very good at calculating exactly how much punishment a traveler is willing to tolerate, and giving it to them.

I wonder whether the stats on ticket prices account for bag fees, having to bring your own food, increased likelihood of having to eat a ticket because your plans changed...


Travelers do not want increased comfort as much as they want low cost. If in fact they wanted increased comfort, people would buy EconomyPlus/Business/FirstClass tickets. They would avoid JetBlue and fly Singapore airlines. But instead, they buy the cheapest seat available on travelocity.com. If in fact you're one of the few who will pay more for more comfort, you have many options.
 
SteelChair
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Re: Is innovation declining?

Fri Oct 15, 2021 9:37 am

QAT wrote:
Longtime lurker, first-time poster.

How can it be that with billions spent on R&D, and undoubted technical breakthroughs, there is a perception that innovation is declining?

It is simple. Travelers pay for tickets and would like the profits generated from those tickets to enable them to travel faster and in greater comfort. What the profits actually get spent on is lower fuel burn, lower emissions and lower noise, which may be good but are far down the list from speed and comfort.

Speeds haven't improved in 60 years and comfort...well, the airlines seem to be very good at calculating exactly how much punishment a traveler is willing to tolerate, and giving it to them.

I wonder whether the stats on ticket prices account for bag fees, having to bring your own food, increased likelihood of having to eat a ticket because your plans changed...


Congratulations on your first post!

I would question your "billions spent" assertion. 20 is years ago NASA shut down one of the main offices that did subsonic aerodynamic research.....the area is a known commodity...no sense I doing more research. Sorry I don't have a link.

Most who follow the industry would agree, I think, that research is way down in terms of finding in real dollars, and in results. The areas that do continue to evolve are engines and electronics.
 
mxaxai
Posts: 2811
Joined: Sat Jun 18, 2016 7:29 am

Re: Is innovation declining?

Fri Oct 15, 2021 5:12 pm

SteelChair wrote:
I would question your "billions spent" assertion. 20 is years ago NASA shut down one of the main offices that did subsonic aerodynamic research.....the area is a known commodity...no sense I doing more research. Sorry I don't have a link.

Looking purely at public funding, the EU has their Clean Sky project with a total budget of € 5.4 bn. since 2008. That's in addition to any national R&D funding through institutions like ONERA or DLR, whose annual budgets dedicated to aircraft research are around € 300 million each. NASA has an annual aeronautics budget of $ 700-900 million.

So yeah, "billions" is the right amount when looking at the past 20 years combined.

It hasn't been entirely wasted; a major beneficiary of the EU research has been RR's UltraFan project. The 777X would not have happened without CFRP manufacturing improvements, as well as better aerofoils and high lift devices. Airbus had their laminar wing A340 testbed. E-VTOL has become a thing, even if serial production is still some time away.
 
QAT
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Re: Is innovation declining?

Fri Oct 15, 2021 10:04 pm

mxaxai wrote:
It hasn't been entirely wasted; a major beneficiary of the EU research has been RR's UltraFan project. The 777X would not have happened without CFRP manufacturing improvements, as well as better aerofoils and high lift devices. Airbus had their laminar wing A340 testbed. E-VTOL has become a thing, even if serial production is still some time away.


I don't mean to imply that the billions have been wasted; I'm just saying they were spent on things travelers don't prioritize and therefore don't see as innovative. They might as well have invested that money on a new shade of paint as far as most travelers are concerned.

Depending on who you believe, it cost Boeing something like $3 billion to develop the 737 MAX but the customer experience was improved not one whit over the NG. If customers had the $3 billion to spend they would spend $10 million to design bigger and more comfortable seats, and use the remaining $2.99 billion to compensate for the lower profit margins.

The root cause of the apparent death of innovation is that airliners are not designed for the benefit of paying customers, but according to regulations that are supposed to express the ever-evolving will of "stakeholders" which in the case of emissions standards evidently means every single human being, because we all breathe air.

It's probably clear from my tone where I come down on the issue, but many will disagree with me. I only claim that innovation is far from dead, it's just directed at things most people don't care about.
 
mxaxai
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Re: Is innovation declining?

Sat Oct 16, 2021 8:34 am

On the contrary, I think money is one thing most people deeply care about. Fare prices are part of the customer experience.

It may not be as evident in the US because the US3 hold enough pricing power to guarantee high profit margins. Their margins are significantly above the industry average.
The number of passengers and RPKs was growing at a rate of 3-7% each year pre-Covid, with the largest growth being in the Asia-Pacific region.
 
QAT
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Re: Is innovation declining?

Sat Oct 16, 2021 1:55 pm

mxaxai wrote:
On the contrary, I think money is one thing most people deeply care about. Fare prices are part of the customer experience.

It may not be as evident in the US because the US3 hold enough pricing power to guarantee high profit margins. Their margins are significantly above the industry average.
The number of passengers and RPKs was growing at a rate of 3-7% each year pre-Covid, with the largest growth being in the Asia-Pacific region.


To clarify, I do agree that people care about cost. So if a new plane could really provide the same service at 10% lower cost, people would call that innovation.

It's claimed that fares have gone down, and maybe they have gone down on paper, but if you compare apples to apples the picture is a lot less convincing. For example, if I lived in Youngstown, Ohio, at one time I could get a 737 from YNG to MCO with a couple of bags. I'd get a meal and enjoy probably half the seats empty so I could stretch out and chat up a FA as she brought around coffee. Today, there is no commercial service out of YNG, so I have to drive an hour to CAK or CLE, pay a bag fee, buy my own meal and sit in an 80%-full cabin which means no stretching out. And I won't get there any faster. Maybe my raw ticket cost in constant $ is lower, but if you add up the total expense and try to value the degradation in convenience and comfort, I highly doubt it is actually cheaper. It probably costs $50 in gas and depreciation on my car just because of the extra drive.

You may argue that innovation has nothing to do with why YNG dried up, but that is not true. Building an airplane that could profitably operate out of YNG would be innovative, wouldn't it?

Some people will read this and think, "Here you go, some old codger who wants the good old days, when we all know they're never coming back," as if that's some kind of counterargument. Ask yourself, why do we accept that things have to get less convenient as time goes on? We haven't run out of any raw materials, and we're as smart as ever, so why do we get the same or worse results? It doesn't make any sense. It's as if we passed a law saying you can't have a MacBook, you have to live with a Kaypro, for the greater good.

The commercial airplane business is ripe for disruption. There are no physical constraints, only political ones. CFM is talking about open rotor and decarbonization on a roadmap going out to 2050 as if the current regime of international regulations is going to hold for 30 more years. Given the direction of international affairs, I really don't see that happening. A competitor is going to show up with a supersonic, comfortable, low-cost plane and fly it in a region that for local economic reasons decides to permit it, and the whole world is going to beat a path to their door.

Or, things don't change and in 2050 we're flying around on the 737-FGWRMITT (Final Generation We Really Mean it This Time) and going home to our shipping containers to eat bugs for dinner.
 
mxaxai
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Re: Is innovation declining?

Sat Oct 16, 2021 2:56 pm

YNG in particular is probably a bad example because the city lost well over 60% of its population in the past 60 years, and has experienced a major economic decline. It losing service is more likely due to overall socio-economic reasons rather than (a lack of) technological innovations in aviation.

Rural areas and smaller cities have, on average, lost population as well over the past 10 years, while large cities and metropolises have significantly gained population. This shift favors larger airports and aircraft and limits the business case for all-new small RJs. See the discussion in CivAv regarding the difficulties faced by that market.

People's willingness to accept risks has decreased. 'Puddle Jumpers' used to be responsible for many accidents in the US, which contributed to the poor image of turboprops (even though typical aircraft like the Embraer 120, Beech 1900 and Jetstream 31 have become rare, this belief persists). New regulations have greatly improved safety, while increasing certification and operation costs.

Those who can afford it - many more than in the past - simply take private jets instead. NetJets, for example, has massively grown their fleet in the past decade. Just last week, they placed an order for 100 new Embraer Phenom 300.
 
FGITD
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Re: Is innovation declining?

Sat Oct 16, 2021 6:50 pm

mxaxai wrote:
YNG in particular is probably a bad example because the city lost well over 60% of its population in the past 60 years, and has experienced a major economic decline. It losing service is more likely due to overall socio-economic reasons rather than (a lack of) technological innovations in aviation.


That whole argument is nonsense. The only restraint is political? Is everyone forgetting that aircraft are designed and built by companies who would like to make money, and then sold to airlines/operators who would also like to make money?

Sure, they can build a Mach 3 capable aircraft with the performance required to fly YNG to LHR, and carries 24 pax, each in their own suite for maximum comfort. Each aircraft sells for a little over a billion, and each seat cost tens of thousands of dollars. But…innovation!

Like I said earlier in this thread, everyone’s got their own idea of what innovation is, and for some reason dismisses every other notion. You’ve got those of us who actually work on or fly the airplanes saying that modern aircraft are a totally different breed, and then many others saying that they’re the same as in 1961.

I will say though, my own opinion on where I’d like to see innovation is speed. We’re getting the efficiency done well, now let’s fly faster. It shouldn’t take as long (in many cases longer) to fly across the Atlantic as it did 40 years ago
 
chimborazo
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Re: Is innovation declining?

Sat Oct 16, 2021 7:56 pm

This thread is a fabulous read. Thanks to all who have contributed.

The biggest innovation that we passengers see is the cramming in of more and more people to the same space.

Sculptured seats, thinned in structure to give maximum density. Toilets jammed into the space next to the tiny galley (I’m 6’4” and broad and it makes me chuckle every time I use one. Having said that, the front loo on a 737 has always been a challenge: safer to sit down for a number 1 :-) ).

The insulation on the sides of the fuselage optimised and thinned to allow 10 abreast seating where 9 abreast was more reasonable (777. Yes, it was happening anyway but this innovation has/will lead to the norm being ten abreast).

This type of innovation will continue because, as noted above, it all comes down to £/$/€ etc.

We have seen threads on staggered seating, at some point this will happen because when someone can undercut on price, someone else will seek a way to undercut more.

I foresee an innovation in future of an even tighter class than current short-haul economy (both in width and actual pitch - real terms space, not the distance between two similar seat points- sold at a discount). The people that can will take this up because it will be cheaper.
 
chimborazo
Posts: 446
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Re: Is innovation declining?

Sat Oct 16, 2021 8:09 pm

FGITD wrote:
mxaxai wrote:
YNG in particular is probably a bad example because the city lost well over 60% of its population in the past 60 years, and has experienced a major economic decline. It losing service is more likely due to overall socio-economic reasons rather than (a lack of) technological innovations in aviation.


That whole argument is nonsense. The only restraint is political? Is everyone forgetting that aircraft are designed and built by companies who would like to make money, and then sold to airlines/operators who would also like to make money?

Sure, they can build a Mach 3 capable aircraft with the performance required to fly YNG to LHR, and carries 24 pax, each in their own suite for maximum comfort. Each aircraft sells for a little over a billion, and each seat cost tens of thousands of dollars. But…innovation!

Like I said earlier in this thread, everyone’s got their own idea of what innovation is, and for some reason dismisses every other notion. You’ve got those of us who actually work on or fly the airplanes saying that modern aircraft are a totally different breed, and then many others saying that they’re the same as in 1961.

I will say though, my own opinion on where I’d like to see innovation is speed. We’re getting the efficiency done well, now let’s fly faster. It shouldn’t take as long (in many cases longer) to fly across the Atlantic as it did 40 years ago


Your last paragraph: this would require a significant reduction in flying time to make it worth it. And that will cost: in development and in the absolute costs of the fuel.

That then feeds into operations and scheduling: there isn’t much point of a leg reducing from say 10h to 8h unless the aircraft can get extra utilisation. Unless it is a significant reduction in flying time, the aircraft will just be sat on the tarmac for longer. That’s fine if the absolute costs are less, but that’s unlikely. Unless an aeroplane is designed that can for example do an Atlantic crossing in 3.5 hours rather than 7h… oh… we had that. But sadly it’s gone.
 
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kitplane01
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Re: Is innovation declining?

Sun Oct 17, 2021 4:44 am

I really think you people are missing the point!!!

Aircraft are clearly better than before. They are safer and the cost less to operate. That’s really quite clear.

Also, airlines have discovered that most people would rather have a cheap ticket than a comfortable ride. . They are actually offering many price points and comfort levels, including levels below what was historically available. This is a business process IMPROVEMENT, because many consumers would like the cheapest seat available and it’s now being offered.

Airlines can be as comfortable as you’re willing to pay, and they are safer and quieter than ever before.


Let’s imagine an airline in 2020 operating all dc-10s. How much does a comfortable seat on that cost compared to the other airline flying 787s? How does safety and noise compare.
 
QAT
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Re: Is innovation declining?

Sun Oct 17, 2021 1:33 pm

FGITD wrote:
Like I said earlier in this thread, everyone’s got their own idea of what innovation is, and for some reason dismisses every other notion. You’ve got those of us who actually work on or fly the airplanes saying that modern aircraft are a totally different breed, and then many others saying that they’re the same as in 1961.


This is the crux of the issue. I am an aerospace research engineer, a teacher of future engineers, a pilot and a passenger. So, I know all the time and $ that are going into new designs. The SFC reduction is spectacular; I do not dismiss that at all.

I'm just pointing out that if you asked the traveling public to list priorities for the next generation of aircraft, you'd get a starkly different list than the one we're currently working to. We talk a lot about changing the world for the better, but are we? We tell travelers that customer satisfaction is number one. Then, we tell each other that we have to balance customer wants with regulatory imperatives. But the reality is that there is no balance. The regulators design the airplanes. If current trends continue you'll put on a diaper, take a strong sedative and be loaded into the plane stacked like lumber on a truck.

If the media were run this way, there would only be two channels and they'd both be public TV. I like me some This Old House but a lot of people want to watch sports or America's Got Talent. Why shouldn't they be allowed to?

It's an unstable situation. Ultimately the people's will will prevail. It's just a question of how much longer it can be held off.
 
SteelChair
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Re: Is innovation declining?

Sun Oct 17, 2021 3:13 pm

QAT wrote:
FGITD wrote:
Like I said earlier in this thread, everyone’s got their own idea of what innovation is, and for some reason dismisses every other notion. You’ve got those of us who actually work on or fly the airplanes saying that modern aircraft are a totally different breed, and then many others saying that they’re the same as in 1961.


This is the crux of the issue. I am an aerospace research engineer, a teacher of future engineers, a pilot and a passenger. So, I know all the time and $ that are going into new designs. The SFC reduction is spectacular; I do not dismiss that at all.

I'm just pointing out that if you asked the traveling public to list priorities for the next generation of aircraft, you'd get a starkly different list than the one we're currently working to. We talk a lot about changing the world for the better, but are we? We tell travelers that customer satisfaction is number one. Then, we tell each other that we have to balance customer wants with regulatory imperatives. But the reality is that there is no balance. The regulators design the airplanes. If current trends continue you'll put on a diaper, take a strong sedative and be loaded into the plane stacked like lumber on a truck.

If the media were run this way, there would only be two channels and they'd both be public TV. I like me some This Old House but a lot of people want to watch sports or America's Got Talent. Why shouldn't they be allowed to?

It's an unstable situation. Ultimately the people's will will prevail. It's just a question of how much longer it can be held off.


I couldn't disagree more.

The market has evolved to serve what customers are willing to pay for. Airlines would dearly love to have all first class cabins. No way that would survive in the marketplace....its been tried. Your argument is a lot like complaining about the government, when the majority got what they want. People vote with dollars in the marketplace.

Regulators do not design airplanes. Designers design airplanes which must meet or exceed certain safety requirements set by regulators. Regulators aren't requiring 30 inch seat pitch, the marketplace is.
 
IADFCO
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Re: Is innovation declining?

Sun Oct 17, 2021 4:32 pm

The comments above remind me of a funny quip by US late night comedian Jay Leno, about the technological improvements in airliners, how the same airliner could now carry 30% more payload. He said that that was just perfect, because the posterior of the average US passenger had become 30% heavier. :rotfl:

We know how much blood, sweat and tears it takes to make technical advances. If those advances are negated by an equal and opposite amount of carbohydrates, did innovation take place? For me, as an engineer, absolutely. As a passenger, I'm not so sure.
 
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kitplane01
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Re: Is innovation declining?

Mon Oct 18, 2021 2:55 am

QAT wrote:
FGITD wrote:

I'm just pointing out that if you asked the traveling public to list priorities for the next generation of aircraft, you'd get a starkly different list than the one we're currently working to. We talk a lot about changing the world for the better, but are we? We tell travelers that customer satisfaction is number one. Then, we tell each other that we have to balance customer wants with regulatory imperatives. But the reality is that there is no balance. The regulators design the airplanes. If current trends continue you'll put on a diaper, take a strong sedative and be loaded into the plane stacked like lumber on a truck.

It's an unstable situation. Ultimately the people's will will prevail. It's just a question of how much longer it can be held off.



Dude, this is so easy!

If you *ask* the flying public they will tell you they want a quick, easy, comfortable trip without fees. And then they will buy the very cheapest ticket available. What they say is different from what they do when the credit card is in their hand.

The "people's will" is what people *do*, not what they *say*. And the people's will *has* prevailed. (It's also an early Marxist movement in the Russian Empire that staged a failed coup.)

Airlines are providing the experience people choose with their walet.
 
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kitplane01
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Re: Is innovation declining?

Mon Oct 18, 2021 3:00 am

SteelChair wrote:
T54A wrote:
Let me give you a small example of how advanced the A350 is. SAA used to lift about 135t of fuel and flew at M0.82/83 in the 317 seat A346 on the JNB-JFK route. Obviously this was dependent on conditions of the day. The 330 seat A359 lifted about 95t of fuel and flew at M0.85/86. Work out those savings on a there and back sector 365 days a year. It’s massive.

Edit: SAA used to often lift 176t on their B744 flight ATL-JNB.


The A350 is staggeringly efficient, as is the A220 and B787. But I've read countless articles that 90+% of that efficiency is attributable to the engines. Aerodynamics seems dead.


Question about this: If an A350 has 86% the structural weight per person of an A330, and if aerodynamics is dead so 0% improvement in lift/drag ratio, and if half the weight lifted is the aircraft structure (the rest being fuel or people) they the A350 saves about 10% fuel compared to the A330 just by a reduction in weight to be lifted.

Why do articles very often say the improvements are almost entirely due to engines? Is that an A.net myth?
 
GalaxyFlyer
Posts: 8587
Joined: Fri Jan 01, 2016 4:44 am

Re: Is innovation declining?

Mon Oct 18, 2021 2:14 pm

Aerodynamics isn’t dead. Comparing the 20-year old Global 6000 to the new, larger
Global 7500. The 7500’s wing looks half the thickness at the root as the older plane’s. It cruises at M.88 with the fuel burn of older plane’s burn at M.85 while being 10,000# heavier with a larger cabin/fuselage. And has the same field performance. Stopping half way down a 4600’ runway is easy. Departing from there and flying 5,000nm is also easy. Engines? Aerodynamics, yes and without the aero improvements, the engines would have been wasted on drag and fuel burn.
 
flipdewaf
Posts: 4289
Joined: Thu Jul 20, 2006 6:28 am

Re: Is innovation declining?

Mon Oct 18, 2021 3:39 pm

kitplane01 wrote:
QAT wrote:
FGITD wrote:

I'm just pointing out that if you asked the traveling public to list priorities for the next generation of aircraft, you'd get a starkly different list than the one we're currently working to. We talk a lot about changing the world for the better, but are we? We tell travelers that customer satisfaction is number one. Then, we tell each other that we have to balance customer wants with regulatory imperatives. But the reality is that there is no balance. The regulators design the airplanes. If current trends continue you'll put on a diaper, take a strong sedative and be loaded into the plane stacked like lumber on a truck.

It's an unstable situation. Ultimately the people's will will prevail. It's just a question of how much longer it can be held off.



Dude, this is so easy!

If you *ask* the flying public they will tell you they want a quick, easy, comfortable trip without fees. And then they will buy the very cheapest ticket available. What they say is different from what they do when the credit card is in their hand.

The "people's will" is what people *do*, not what they *say*. And the people's will *has* prevailed. (It's also an early Marxist movement in the Russian Empire that staged a failed coup.)

Airlines are providing the experience people choose with their walet.


This is sooooooo true!

It's the same the world over. Here in the UK people loved to blame the EU for mandating that cucumbers had to be a certain straightness (isn't true BTW) and that they don't mind if they are a bit bent and then time after time give people the choice and they pick up straight one over the bendy one and even go so far as to not have a cucumber rather than a bent one.

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