Emirates asking for A380 engine enhancements

Emirates obviously wants some enhancements for their A380 engines - at least for the aircraft that should one day replace the first ninety. The last of these aircraft will be delivered in 2017 and by that time Airbus will have delivered around 240 A380 if all production slots are filled until that time. Well, obviously some of the ordered aircraft will be either delivered later as their deliveries are deferred (like for Virgin Atlantic) of won't be delivered at all (read: Kingfisher and probably Hong Kong Airlines as well as Air Austral).
Two engine manufactures share the A380 market: Rolls Royce and the Engine Alliance (50:50 JV between GE and P&W). Let's say both have around 50% of the market (actually, thanks to the large Emirates orderbook EA has a slight lead), then both manufacturers will have delivered 480 engines plus spares.
Now Emirates asks for a "propulsion technology crossover into the A380, in terms of what they’re doing on the 777X, the A320neo and the 737MAX”, says Emirates president Clark and claims that one of the EA partners will produce "wonders in propulsion technology" by 2020, when the A380 still should have GP7200 engines (and the Trent 900 of course as well). So he asks what the plans from GE and P&W are to improve propulsion efficiency of the GP7200.
my first question would be who of the two EA partners will produce these "wonders"?
  • Does he refer to the GE9X? He should have a good knowledge about what GE is planning for this engine, although some questions arose around his comment that the engine would need water injection to be able to lift the B777X from Dubai year-round: read the first reaction from GE here, another one here. Clearly, the GE9X will be the state-of-the-art engine in it's class, encompassing the Trent XWB-97, as overall pressure ratio and bypass ratio will be higher and the use of CMC should save some cooling air, further elevating the core efficiency compared to the latest Trent engine.
  • Or does he refer to the Geared Turbo Fan from P&W. From all what we know this engine defines the segment of the regional and  narrowbody engines for the years to come (closely followed by the LEAP engine family, of course).
Nevertheless which engine concept Clark has in mind, I wonder if the two partners in the EA are ready for a big improvement programme for the GP7200. Small improvements have already been made: today's GP7200 are better by 2% than original spec values. To improve the engine by any big (SFC percentage) number should be at least very costly, if not impossible without a change in architecture. But with only about 500 engines of the GP7200 sold by then there would be no hope for the engine program to ever produce a profit. So EA (as well as RR) will do whatever they can to avoid another large development investment in the engine. RR could on the other hand also offer a downrated Trent XWB, although this engine might be too heavy for the wing as it is today.
Last week , there was speculation in a german newspaper about what might be the A380 going forward plan from Airbus. Günter Butschek, Airbus COO speculated about "modifications" for the aircraft, Heinrich Großbongardt, a german aviation consultant, speculated about an A380neo. I guess in Hartford, Cincinnati and Derby this was not a fun-to-read...


Lufthansa Widebody Order

Not surprisingly, Lufthansa gave a "soft launch" (as the aicraft is not officially launched by Boeing) for the B777X today by announcing to order 34 of the B777-9(X). Including 7 options and purchase rights the order could be for up to 64 aircraft of the type.
Also, Lufthansa ordered 25 A350-900 with 15 more options and 20 purchase rights.
One thing that was mentioned during the press conference is that the A350-900 was considered the right aircraft in it's class due to it's range. This is a little but surprising as Lufthansa often argued that today's aircraft often offer too much range and therefore carry to much wing (and therefore weight), unnecessary loosing efficiency. The B787-10 with it's "limited" range of "only" around 7000nm range therefore was tipped to be Lufthansa's favourite for the A340-300 replacement. But Lufthansa decided in favor of the A350-900 and thus more flexibility.
The B777-9 order is of course a huge endorsement for Boeing. I guess we will see a raft of orders now following until the end of the year (mainly during the Dubai Air Show together with an official launch I guess) and I would not be surprised if the new B777 would break the record and sell even faster than the B787.

The B777-9 in LH colours (copyright by Lufthansa)
The A350-900 in LH colours (copyright by Lufthansa)


Lufthansa "launches" another aircraft

Remember? It was Lufthansa who launched the Bombardier CSeries with it's "Letter of Interest" on the eve of the Farnborough Air Show 2008. Now, just days after the CSeries conducted the first flight, it looks like Lufthansa will launch the B777-9 with it's long awaited widebody order due this week (Supervisory Board meets on Wednesday).
Lufthansa has a long history of being the launch customer for new aircraft. Most notably probably for the B737 (-100 and -300), but also for the B747-400, B747-8I, the A310, A340 and the A321.
Not all of these aircraft were (or are) as successful as the B737 and the A321, but from the sales of the current B777-300ER one can expect that the B777-9 (and -8) will eventually be best-sellers.
This week will not just be a first flight week, but also a first order week...

First Flight Days

Yesterday finally the first flight of the Bombardier CSeries CS100 happened, about nine months late. JUST nine months late, one has to say these days. Comparing to the delays of the latest aircraft from Airbus and Boeing nine months is not so bad...
Now we have to watch how quickly Bombardier can bring the following test aircraft up in the air. FTV2 should follow within a month, Bombardier previously said. If that really holds true, we might see a first delivery in 2014, otherwise I expect a slip into 2015.

Today another, considerably larger aircraft, will have it's first flight: the B787-9. Originally scheduled to enter airline service in 2010, the first delivery to Air New Zealand should now happen mid-2014. Of course, much of the delay is due to the delay of the original B787-8, but approximately another half year of delay came after the B787-8 flight test program was finished.
I expect the B787-9 to get more sales than the B787-8. And probably also the B787-10 will surpass the -8.


CSeries doing further taxi tests...

The CSeries FTV1 is just doing further taxi tests and reached 120mph during the third run of the day. Watch it live here:


CSeries makes progress to first flight

Finally, the CSeries FTV1 just makes high speed taxi tests. For best up-to-the-minute coverage, please follow Sylvain Faust on Twitter (@sylvainfaust).
If these tests today are not showing any snags, the first flight will follow soon. Weather for Sunday is not too promising, but better for Monday, so whatch out for a first flight early next week...


Airbus overbooking A320ceo slots

With Delta Air Lines today announcing the plan to purchase 30 A321ceo (along with 10 A330-300) it becomes clear that all the remaining A320ceo slots are booked now and that it is very likely that Airbus overbooks the slots.
As of July31 there were 1.787 open orders for the A320ceo family in the orderbook. Now let us consider the following orders to get cancelled:
  • Kinfisher/Kingfisher Red 67 aircraft
  • United Airlines                 30 aircraft
  • Alphastream                     15 aircraft
  • Northwest Airlines             7 aircraft
  • Croatia                                4 aircraft
  • Hamburg International       2 aircraft
There are now some announced orders which are not yet in the Airbus O&D table:
  • Delta Airlines                       30 aircraft
  • Vueling                                30 aircraft
  • CASC                                   42 aircraft
  • Air China / Shenzen             40 aircraft
This is a net of 17 orders, so we get 1804 open orders as of July 31st.
With a production rate of 42 and 11.5 months of production per year another 1092 aircraft will have been delivered until the end of October, when the A320neo will enter airline service, leaving .
A320ceo production will ramp down from that point in time. Assume Airbus can hold the rate of 42 aircraft per month steady.
I read somewhere that 12 A320neo should leave the factories in 2015 and 100 in 2016. So from the 564 aircraft produced from November 2015 until December 2016 464 will be ceo's, leaving the ceo backlog at 374. For 2017 I guess that around 60% of all produced A320 will be neo's (289 from 483), so the ceo number delivered in 2017 would be 194 and the remaining backlog at the beginning of 2018 would be 180. Airbus said before that the A320neo should reach 100% share in early 2018, so it is clear that the A320ceo are overbooked at the moment. Maybe this is not unwise as one of the two neo engine suppliers could be late - who knows...

UPDATE: I forgot to mention the American Airlines order: the order for a combined 130 A319ceo and A321ceo is not part of the orderbook. The first two aircraft were delivered in July, then three in August and another one in early September. Airbus leases these aircraft directly to American and then sells them with the lease attached. Not all deliveries will follow that procedure: ILFC ordered 15 A321 recently to lease to AA, so these 15 A321 are part of the orderbook and we do not know how many aircraft from the recent order for 3 A319 and 5 A321 from CIT are destined for AA and how many aircraft will come from other already existing orders fom leasing companies. But Airbus already said that around 30 aircraft will follow the procedure of the first four A319, which were sold to Avolon. So we have another expansion of the orderbook and further overbooking of the A320ceo slots.

Race to First Flight

In early June the aviation world still wondered which aircraft would fly first: the Bombardier CSeries CS100 or the A350-900. Then, in the week before the Paris Air Show Airbus managed to get the A350 up in the air. During the Air Show Bombardier officials still stated that the CS100 would fly until the end of June, aka in the last week of June. Then First Flight was delayed until "by the end of July", due to an upgrade of the software. The end of July came and Bombardier once again delayed the first flight, now only saying that it would happen "in the coming weeks".
During that time Low Speed Taxi tests happened and Transport Canada recently awarded the Flight Test Permit.
During the Moscow Air Show two airlines announced that they would take five CS300 each from Ilyushin Finance Lease (VIM and UTAir Ukraine).
But we are still waiting for first flight and we haven't heard of any high speed taxi test and the RTO (rejected take off). And now we hear that Boeing is not too far away from getting the B787-9 in the air. So which aircraft will be first to get the landing gear up from the ground? Once again the (virtual) race is on. Of course none of the two manufacturer will rush just to be first - safety is always first! But it's time for Bombardier to prove that the CSeries is not a paper aircraft!