11/12/2013

A350 overweight?

Airbus quietly unveiled new payload-range data for the three A350 models on it's website.
The A350-900 now seats 315 (was 314), but flies 350nm less: 7,750nm.
The A350-800 now seats 276 (was 270), but flies 250nm less: 8,250nm
The A350-1000 now seats 369 (was 350), but flies 400nm less: 8,000nm

As this comes about 5 months after first flight I guess it has something to do with the initial performance of the aircraft. What it is exactly we cannot know. It could be:
  • higher than anticipated SFC of the Trent XWB engines
  • higher aircraft weight which now became clear cannot be brought down
  • aerodynamic inefficiencies
What strikes my eyes that the one more passenger in the A350-900 (for whom we suggest a generous extra weight of 300lbs including seat etc.) costs more range than the six passengers more in the -800. And the 19 extra passengers cost only 50nm more than the one passenger in the -900. Although the -1000 is structural different than the -800 and the -900 and the engines are different too, this is not really conclusive.

I guess we can expect some argueing duels between John Leahy and Randy Tinseth over these new numbers in Dubai next week. Randy will not miss out to bash the A350 for ranges that are (nominally) again not meeting Emirates range expectations (DXB-LAX) whereas "his" B777-9 will do so (although I would expect Emirates to fly these long routes with a 3 class layout with less than 350 passengers in a A350-1000). And John Leahy will try and find a way to spin something positive around these numbers...

UPDATE: in fact these numbrs are NOT NEW and where already shown in 2011, long before the first flight and probably also the SFC of the certificated Trent XWB became clear.

7 comments:

  1. The A350-900 3-class is advertised as 314 seats with 8,100nm - why only 1 seat difference, and why the big range difference for only 1 seat?

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  2. To Anonymous

    People are discussing it on another blog http://wp.me/piMZI-3m1

    VV

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  3. Is Rolls Royce missing the specs on one of its engines again?

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  4. I would assume that aircraft weight is the biggest driver. Airbus could recover if they increase the MTOW. That is standard practice for most aircraft programs. However, if no customer so far needs the 8000nm range (and I guess they didn't put the customer with most challenging requirements to the top of the delivery schedule), then why bother? A miss of the performance target is no bad news, if the garantueed performance isn't met, then Airbus has a problem.

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    Replies
    1. Well...first customer is Qatar. No further comment on how challenging especially the "top management" is!

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  5. The key is the 19 additional seats on the -1000. This will be done by adding one very narrow economy seat to each row. This will not be a problem because the mkt, including LH, has said they don't buy A's ridiculous attempt to create 18" width as industry standard. 369 seats will make the -1000 far more competitive with the 777-9X. The CASM will likely be the same. This development, and the failure of B to win the Machinist vote mean that airlines who wary of A's ability to get the -9X out on time now have an option and B's hopes of a big Dubai just evaporated.

    Chjristopher Dye aka CubJ3

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  6. Per Aspire Aviation, the first A350 is overweight by around 3 tonnes. Marketing slides from 2011 already show these range figures, Airbus knew about the overweight after the first components went into production (2009/2010 I believe).

    The Trent XWB engine fuel burn is reported to be 0.5% better than expected.

    Most important is that Airbus delivers what they have promised to their customers. For example, ANA said all their 787s are meeting the contractual performance numbers, despite those models being overweight and the engine not meeting original, catalog fuel burn.

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