4/02/2014

Everyone's a winner, baby...

Boeing‘s Randy Tinseth can’t resist to screw every statistics in his (i.e. Boeing’s ) favour. This makes him of course no different from John Leahy, head of sales at Airbus. Now, after Air Canada firmed up their order for 61 B737MAX yesterday, Tinseth claimed that the B737MAX gained more than 50% of the market since it’s first order. Granted – Boeing has now 1908 firm orders for the B737MAX in the books and Airbus sold “just” 1521 A320neo since the first order for the B737MAX from Southwest Airlines. But does that really matter? Boeing’s first firm order for the B737MAX from Southwest Airlines in December 2011 came more than one year after the launch of the A320neo on Dec. 1st, 2010 and Airbus booked the first order for the A320eo from Virgin America in late December that year. By the time of the first B737MAX order Airbus already had 1,176 firm orders for the A320neo family and so they had 89.55% of the market (“Neo vs. MAX”).
In 2012, the first full year where the B737MAX was available, Boeing had the upper hand: 949 firm order for the B737MAX meant a 66.5% market share for that year with Airbus being in the overall lead with 61.6% (1,764 vs. 1,099 orders).
In 2013 the picture reversed in favor of Airbus –they sold another 937 A320neo aircraft where Boeing gained “only” 703. Overall Airbus held a market share of 59.7%.
Until today in 2014 Boeing sold 117 B737MAX – Airbus sold 57 A320neo. So one could conclude that the market lead for Airbus dwindles away. But there are a few large already won campaigns for Airbus  to be firmed up: Tigerair (37 A/C), China Eastern (70 A/C), ANA (30 A/C) and a few others – like Monarch – are waiting for their winner. So I guess Airbus’s John Leahy will soon have an answer for Tinseth’s anaylsis with his own statistics.
The better choice than throwing  with statistics would maybe be that both gentlemen would unite to sing the Hot Chocolate song "Everyone's a winner" - although I cannot imagine them singing together the line "Making love to you is such a thrill..."...
In retrospective, the decision by Airbus to launch the A320neo brought record full order books for both and helped both to fend off Bombardier's CSeries. And there is some truth of course in the claim that SVP Andy Shankland from Airbus made at the ISTAT America this year, that it would be fair to say that the B737MAX was launched in Toulouse. So Randy could bring a bottle of wine to the party to celebrate their appearance in front of the aviation audience. I would give a fortune to see and hear them...

3/28/2014

Three in a row, two in a week..

There is some movement in the A320neo engine market right now, it seems. P&W scored three "wins" in a row recently. After BOCA announced an order for 15 A320neo to be powered with the PW1100G-JM, this week both Tigerair and ANA selected the Geared Turbo Fan for 37 and 30 aircraft.
I would expect that we will see more decisions about A320neo engine options being taken this year as EIS is now less than 20 months away. The PW1100G-JM should gain certification this summer so that it will maybe have an advantage in customer confidence (and this is badly needed by P&W after the PW6000 disaster).
Right now the GTF has a slightly larger market share with 896 aircraft (866 shown here by pdxlight plus 30 by ANA) to be powered versus 827 to be powered by the LEAP-1A. But there are large campaigns waiting for a winner, like Lion Air (174 aircraft), American Airlines (130 aircraft) and easyjet (100 aircraft), so the picture can turn by any of these campaigns decided.

2/27/2014

Who needs Qantas?

Sorry for this rhethorical question!  And of course it would be bad if another iconic name in aviation history would disappear. But reading the news from "down under" today, I am coming to the conclusion that the best solution would be to drop the Qantas brand altogether and just to continue with Jetstar. To "save" the Qantas brand name Jetstar could then be renamed Qantas and join oneworld (again).
At least with the alliance with Emirates the international operations of Qantas itself became irrelevant. It looks more like a feeder for Emirates. And now that Emirates will start codesharing with the Qantas LCC offshoot Jetstar, there is no real need for a domestic Qantas. Concentrate all domestic efforts on Jetstar and act as a feeder for Emirates in markets like Singapore, Ho Chi Minh and elsewhere in south east and north asia.

Rolls Royce looking ahead...

Yesterday Rolls Royce surprised the aero engine world at a briefing about it's strategic roadmap by looking ten and more years ahead and revealing, what the company plans as their next steps in engine development.

In the 2020 timeframe we could see a further evolution of the Trent 3-spool engine family for now called "Advance" (I am sure the name will change once it should evolve from being a technology project and becomes a real program). This engine should deliver an SFC that is 5% better than the Trent XWB. As aspire aviation pointed out, the GE9X for the B777X should be about 5% better than the Trent XWB, so it is clear who is the "enemy" here.
The time frame and the SFC goal puts this engine concept  in the position to be a good candidate to power the A380neo, if the project goes ahead. But Airbus could also ask for a version with more thrust than the roughly 70klbf needed for a re-engined A380 to power a A350-1100 and then have a formidable competitor to the Boeing B777-9.
A first test engine based on the Trent XWB, but with a new core with a higher OPR - up to 60 and thus being on the same level as the GE9X - should run as early as next year.

The second engine does not necessarily build on the Trent 3-spool architecture as it - potentially - could use a gear as we currently have on the PW1000G family from Pratt&Whitney. Of course also a 3-spool GTF is possible, but I doubt that makes real sense, so I would guess it would have 2 spools. This engine should then be another 5% better than the "Advance" engine.
This engine concept should not only target the widebody market but also future narrowbodies. In the light of recent discussions about a possible B757 replacement and a successor to the B737MAX family with an EIS around 2025 this is an interesting move of course. After selling their stage in the IAE to P&W, both companies announced  a partnerhip for future narrowbody programs. This partnership was later canceled. But for any future narrowbody we should expect a choice of two engines, not three. And CFM seems to be the frontrunner in any case (unless the LEAP engines will fail completely, what I doubt), so either RR or P&W would be out of the game. So is this move aimed at P&W begging for a new try of the partnership? Who knows...
Anyway, the above SFC comparisons are true for widebody engines in the GE9X class - for narrowbody engines we have to scale the SFC values, as for example the tip clearances are not scaling with the physical smaller components of the engines. Relative clearances are larger and so are areodynamic and parasitic losses. Therefore all engine components have lower efficiency levels. And as the core components (high pressure compressor and turbine) get smaller and smaller with increasing bypass ratio (BPR) and overall pressure ratio (OPR) for a given thrust, it gets harder and harder to maintain a decent efficiency level. Also surge capability of the compressor might not be easy to control. In the end, to achieve an OPR of 70(!) for this engine I predict this will only be achievable with a radial compressor stage at the back and of the compressor. And at temperatures that will be reached at such a high OPR this wheel has  to be out of a material that can only be found in turbines today. Maybe CMC? Then good luck producing such a complex piece out of that material? The other possibility would be to have an intercooler between the low and high pressure compressors. But that would add weight and complexity, counterproductive for a narrowbody engine. This is why I see that concept better suited for a long range application, where (engine) weight does not have such an immediate effect on fuel burn, The same argument could be, but must not be necessarily true for the envisioned variable pitch fan system. This idea goes back to the ADP concept from P&W from the 1980's. The variable pitch system has two great advantages versus non-pitch fans: there is no need for a thrust reverser (which save weight) and the whole nacelle can be shortened, also saving weight. On the other hand, the pitch system itself is complex and needs additional maintenance. As these maintenance cost are mainly cycle driven, I also see this technology better suited for long-range, low cycle operations.
But who knows what "white rabbits" Rolls Royce will pull out of their hat by then - it is a great company and I would not be surprised if they find ways to handle all these challenges.

2/20/2014

„Premature“ engine upgrades

In the context of my last post I wondered why MTU now starts talking about an upgraded GTF to be delivered in 2019. We are one and a half years away from EIS of the PW1100G on the A320neo and the engine is  - well – not selling bad. Why announcing an upgrade now? To enhance SFC by 3% does not sound cheap - GE and RR needed two improvement packages to bring the engines for the B787 to SFC spevc level.
Furthermore MTU COO Rainer Martens told the press that these enhancements could also be implemented into the other PW1000G family members (PW1200G/PW1700G for MRJ/E175E2 and PW1500G/PW1900G for CSeries/E190E2&E195E2). So we can be sure that all aircraft OEM’s will sooner or later ask for the upgrades, just a couple of years after EIS of their respective aircraft – remember that the E175E2 should have an EIS in 2020, AFTER the PW1100G is available with the upgrade. Sounds like all the development engineers will have secure jobs at P&W, MTU, JAEC and the other PW1000G partners for the years to come. Good for them, bad for the "bean counters" in the companies and the financial breakeven of the engine programs.
For Airbus, the revelation has probably a good and a bad side. The good side is that the A320neo will enhance the competitive position against the B737MAX (and maybe later a CS500), but also the A319neo could be in a better position against the CS300. On the other side, remaining delivery positions for the A320neo in 2018 will be not that easy to fill without giving another discount for not getting the upgrade.