A330neo vs. B737MAX and A320neo first flight

As always, yesterdays "Large Aircraft Panel" at the ISTAT Europe conference was very amusing. Unfortunately I can not attend in person this year, but what you can read via twitter and in the press is almost as good as being there. Here you can read what Boeing's VP Marketing Randy Tinseth thinks about the A330neo:
"It is a 1970 fuselage which is heavy and was abandoned for the A350 family. The wing was built in the 1980s while the Boeing 787 engine is not optimised for the A330neo."
Well, maybe he should have had a chat with his own folks at Boeing - what is the B737MAX?
In Tinseth's words I would say:

A 1960s fuselage with a 1990s wing with an 2010s engine compromised by a 1960s engine fan diameter.

In other news, Airbus COO John Leahy told the audience that we will (weather permitting) see the first flight of the A320neo with PW1100G-JM engines on Thursday - a 1980s fuselage and wing (with 2010s "sharklets") and a 2010s engine by the way...


Airbus converting ceo to neo, Boeing looking for NG sales

This is an update to an entry I wrote earlier about Airbus overbooking A320ceo slots.

Apparently Airbus now can easily convert A320ceo orders to the A320neo, as previously Airbus overbooked the remaining A320ceo slots. At the end of July 1503 orders for the A320ceo were in the backlog (3251 for the A320neo).
I expect a few more cancellations and conversions from A320ceo to A320neo:
  • Kingfisher     67 A/C
  • Alphastream 15 A/C
  • Sri Lankan      6 A/C
  • Mexicana        4 A/C
  • Croatia            4 A/C
  • Hamburg Int.  2 A/C
  • AirAsia           3 A/C (conversion to neo)
  • Wizz             10 A/C (conversion to neo)
On the other hand, there are a few more announced orders which are not yet shown in the Airbus order book:
  • Qingdao Airlines    5 A/C
  • Zhejiang Loong    11 A/C
  • Spring                   30 A/C
  • Juneyao Airlines   20 A/C
This would lead us to net reduction of 48 orders, leaving 1455 orders for the A320ceo lines. I counted 1804 on July 31, 2013, so we have a reduction of 349 aircraft in the backlog with 494 build in these 12 months, thus having 145 net orders between July 31, 2013 and July 31, 2014 including the now-in-the-orderbook A319ceo/A321ceo for AA (and including some speculation about new orders, cancellations and conversions). Not bad for an aircraft that is going to be superseeded by a version that is 15% more fuel efficient...

With the same calculation I did last year (42 aircraft per month and 11.5 months of production per year) I get 638 deliveries until the end of October 2015, when the A320neo should go into airline service, leaving 817 A320ceo in the backlog.
At the end of December 2016 the backlog would be down by another 464 aircraft (I just saw that I made a mistake here last year), leaving 353 A320ceo in the backlog.
Building another 194 A320ceo in 2017 leaves Airbus with 159 A320ceo family aircraft in the backlog in 2018, where production of the A320ceo should end.

The situation is (still) very much different at Boeing - although Boeing always states that the B737NG is sold out.
There are 1755 open orders for the B737NG production line at the end of July 2014. I do not expect any cancellations (but there could be coming more conversions from the NG to the MAX). There are a few announced but not yet finalised NG sales:
  • Xiamen      40 A/C
  • Air China   20 A/C
  • Ruili           14 A/C
  • Yakutia      12 A/C
  • Oman Air     5 A/C
This would sum up to 1846 open orders.Considering a rate of 42 aircraft per month there will be around 1500 deliveries until August 2017, which I choose as EIS for the B737MAX, leaving around 350 B737NG's in the backlog, around 280 less than Airbus will have at EIS of the A320neo. So there are still open slots for the B737NG. How many exactly is not clear, as Boeing will change to a build rate of 47 per months in 2017 and Boeing did not indicate if some of these "extra aircraft" will be NG's.

So while Airbus can now make (some) customers happy by letting them convert A320ceo's to A320neo's, Boeing has to look hard for some more B737NG customers, while Boeing did let customers convert from NG to MAX very much earlier.

As I wrote this BOC Aviation ordered 30 B737NG (along with 50 B737MAX)...


Farnborough Preview

There are already some previews out there, for example from Leeham and airchive, so I won’t repeat all that is said there…but:

Of course the BIG question is if Airbus will launch the A330neo at the show – and not, if they will launch it or not. Even if Airbus officials always state that  a final decision has not been made – that may be true from a formal perspective, but the decision has already been made by the potential customers who would otherwise turn to Boeing, at least some of them. This would not be an option for Airbus, of course.

My guess is that Airbus will at least make an “ATO launch”, but recent stories from reuters and Bloomberg suggest that Airbus is looking for last-minute commitments from the likes of AirAsia and ALC to make a launch like we have seen it from Boeing for the B777X at the Dubai Air Show last year.

Indigo will likely go ahead with an order for another 200 A320neo’s, Bloomberg reports today. This has to be seen in the context of the forthcoming IPO and a possible future shareholder stake from Qatar Airways. Indigo would then not only grow further in the indian domestic market, but also become the feeder from the whole indian subcontinent for the Qatar Airways longhaul fleet out of Doha.
Monarch reportedly switches to Boeing – a blow to Airbus of course, but this deal is probably driven by commercial terms which do not leave a big margin for both aircraft and engine manufacturers.
There could be a number of additional orders in the narrowbody market as usual, especially on the Airbus side. Boeing could announce a number of undisclosed customers for the B737MAX.
Not sure if Bombardier can announce something. Monarch adding the CSeries to the larger B737MAX (I expect only the -8 and -9 here) would make sense, but Scott Hamilton is not very optimistic on that one.

I refer to Leeham and airchive here…

I expect Embraer to announce one or more orders for the E2 family, maybe a second lessor. Maybe also some E1 sales…
ATR will for sure have some sales for the ATR72-600. Bombardier always finds it hard to be able to announce during a show due to strict disclosure rules in Canada.
I do not expect anything from Mitsubishi for the MRJ…

Narrowbody engines
This is where we can expect large deals to be announced. American Airlines choosing the LEAP-1A already leaked. A logical choice as GE, CFM and GECAS have great leverage to sweeten the deal with non-neo issues.

Also we can expect that easyjet announced their choice of engines for the A320neo fleet. Any other choice than CFM would be a surprise, for the same reasons as for the AA decision. The same could be said for Lion Air, although there were rumours earlier they would opt for the PW1100G-JM. There are a number of other open A320neo decisions where the direction is not so clear (VivaAerobus, Philippine Airlines, Interjet, Transaero, China Eastern, China Southern, …)

Widebody Engines
The RR Trent1000 to be the choice for the A330neo  now seems to be a given. GE could make some deals with the GE9X of course, RR with the A350 if orders materialize for the respective aircraft. Other than that nothing to exciting here.
The devil is in the detail - it does not look too boring neither too exciting as yet. But there could be "unknown unknowns"...


B757 successor discussion - again!

Again, there is an interesting story about the much-talked-about B757 successor in the press. Now, as I wrote earlier I do not see a business case for that aircraft. As Addison Schonland from airinsight pointed out here, just about 50 B757 are currently flying routes the A321neo and B737MAX-9 will not be able to serve.

So what could be behind the story? I see two possible scenarios:

1.    Absolutely nothing! Maybe Mr. Foster, President of Air Astana, just wants to test the waters and hopes that other airline CEO’s and influential people join the discussion, raising the pressure for Boeing – and for Airbus, which would have to react once Boeing would announce to do something.

2.    Boeing sees that the B737MAX-9 is inferior to the A321neo and uses Mr. Foster to tell airlines around the world not to buy anymore A321neo as a better aircraft could be “just around the corner”.

I think it is more likely that it it something like scenario 1. Investing billions of dollars in such a small niche and, as Air Astana’s CEO suggested, to announce the development now with an EIS that could not be before the middle of the next decade (see Scott Hamiltons comments here) just would not make sense. Sales for the B737MAX-9 would probably suffer more than for the A321neo, as Boeing’s customer base will be more willing to wait as the customer base of Airbus, which is easier for Airbus to keep in their camp.

Also, as Scott pointed out, it would be a family of aircraft, replacing the B737MAX-8, -9 and the B757-200 (for sure not the B737MAX-7). With the 2000+ sales of the B737MAX one can calculate that the production horizon reaches until almost 2023 now. So why prevent further sales of the B737MAX now by announcing a successor too soon? It just won’t happen! Not now!


Transition times...

The next years it is all about transitioning! Well, I could divagate into what "transitioning" means for every one of us and if the whole world and the whole universe is transitioning from one state into the next every second...
No, it's only about aircraft programs this time. But there will be so much transitioning that one has to keep the real overview about what is happening.
First, there is the transition from the A320ceo to the A320neo. Aside from a recent hiccup in engine testing with an engine (PW1500G) very similar to the launch engine (PW1100G) for the A320neo there is no real threat for a smooth transition in production. The A320ceo is effectively sold out. At the end of April there were 1555 A320ceo family aircraft in the backlog. That should be enough to cover the outgoing production until 2018.
It is a little bit different for the B737NG and the transition to the B737MAX. Although officials from Boeing keep saying that the B737NG is sold out as well. But at the end of April there were 1791 copies in the books and Boeing's B737MAX comes almost two years later than the A320neo. But the difference of 240 aircraft in the backlog does not provide almost two additional years of production. So Boeing must have sold an additional 650 or so B737NG to cover production until full transition to the B737MAX.
Next is the B777: there were 286 open orders in the books at the end of April, covering 35 months of production at the current rate of 8.3 aircraft/month. This gets Being into 2017, but the B777X has an EIS of late 2019. A two year gap, so a rate cut is very likely, as Scott Hamilton reported.
Then there is the widely expected launch of the A330neo. There were 260 A330 series aircraft in the backlog at the end of April, lasting 26 months at the current rate of 10/month until mid 2016. The A330neo is expected to enter airline service in late 2017 or early 2018, so a rate cut is also almost a given here.
To be clear: both the B777 and the A330 will have a few further sales, but it won't be enough to bridge production with the current output rates.
Did I forget something? Yes - Embraer!
At the end of Q1 2014 there were 264 EJets in the backlog. Subtract 24 from Jetblue which will not be taken (at least not in the E1 version) and 7 for Nasair (they recently got rid of all their EJets and "transition" to an all Airbus fleet), so that is 233. Production is about 90 aircraft per year - that gets Embraer into the last quarter of 2016. I expect some options drawn for additional E175's for the three big american airlines (AA, DL and UA). But will these get them to a smooth transition to the E2 series jets, which should have an EIS in 2018 (E190E2), 2019 (E195) and 2020 (E175). I doubt that - Embraer should hurry up...