20 September 2014

How Airbus is supposed to compete with Boeing in the widebody market (1/2)

In the mentioned article published by Cranky Flier, there is a good analysis and comparison between Airbus and Boeing´s strategy in their portfolios for the long haul, widebody market.

Both companies have created 3 aircraft families that are expected to serve every airline’s needs. But from a capacity perspective, it looks like Boeing has the more comprehensive option. Airbus might still need some work.

Let’s take a look at how these are supposed to compete with each other.

Source: © Airbus

787 vs A330neo
At the smallest end of the widebody market, we have both the 787 and the A330neo. Originally, Airbus was going to try to use the A350-800 to compete with the smaller 787, but it became very clear that Airbus wasn’t getting a lot of orders and had no interest in making that airplane.

To Cranky Flier, this move makes sense for Airbus, because now it can go ahead and kill the A350-800. It’s still not perfectly competitive, however. The tradeoff has to be that an A330neo will cost less than the 787 –a brand new, slightly more efficient airplane-  to make it more attractive.

Source: © Airbus

But there’s one other issue for Airbus. The A330-900neo is just about the same capacity as the A350-900. Why have that kind of overlap? The tradeoff here is between price and range. The A330-900neo costs less than the A350-900 but its range is also a short 6,200nm (nautical miles) versus the A350’s 7,750nm. If range matters, you’ll buy the A350. If price matters, you’ll buy the A330. And of course, it also depends on what other needs you have, whether going bigger or smaller, to see which family fits best.

Source: © Airbus

787 vs A350
When the A350 launched, the -900 was bigger than Boeing’s biggest planned 787 (the -9). And then Airbus had the A350-1000 which was going to push into the 350+ seat range. Boeing had a gap, but it wanted to protect sales of the 777, so it wouldn’t grow the 787. Boeing has finally given into pressure and last year committed to the 787-10. At 323 seats, it’s still smaller than the A350, but that’s because Boeing has a bigger airplane that can compete with the A350 on the upper end.

This does hurt Boeing’s chances of selling the smaller 777-200s that exist today, but let’s face it. Those are pretty much dead anyway. Both Airbus and Boeing have good families here, but Airbus serves a slightly larger market.

Based on the article “Airbus and Boeing Finalize Their Future Widebody Plans and One Looks Better Than the Other” published in Cranky Flier

19 September 2014

The Prince of Wales visits Airbus-Broughton site where A350 wings are assembled.

The Prince of Wales joined staff at the Airbus plant in Broughton, North Wales, to mark the 75th anniversary of the first aerospace factory opening on the site in 1939.

His Royal Highness opened a visitor centre which charts the history of the site from the first Vickers Wellington aircraft being manufactured to the pivotal role Broughton currently plays in construction of the new Airbus A350XWB aircraft.

The Prince also visited the hi-tech North Factory where the A350’s wings are manufactured and presented Airbus with the Queen’s Award for Enterprise, which the company won in the International Trade category earlier this year.

The Prince of Wales presented the award to Tom Williams, director of Airbus Operations Ltd, and EVP of Programs in front of some of the 6.000 employees working at the Broughton plant.

He also viewed some wings destined for A350 customer Finnair.

Mr Williams said: “There is an enormous sense of pride amongst the people working here and at our sister site in Filton, who know that everyone travelling on an Airbus aircraft, all around the world, are likely to be flying on wings that have been designed and manufactured in the United Kingdom. This award recognizes all of our team and a further 100.000 in the extended supply chain who support our operations across the country.”

Based on the article “HRH The Prince of Wales marks 75 years of aerospace at Airbus in Broughton” published in Wales Online

18 September 2014

Qatar Airways may order more A350s soon.

Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar Al Baker has suggested that the carrier may increase its order for 80 Airbus A350s, after taking delivery of its 1st of the type before the end of the year.

"We may well have some additional surprises," he said at a press conference in Hamburg on 16/September, where he was taking delivery of his carrier's first A380.

Al Baker also reiterated that he expects Qatar Airways' first A350-900, which will be flown on the Doha-New York route, to be delivered on schedule by December. "Qatar has been working on this very proactively with Airbus," he said.

Based on the article "Al Baker expects A350s to be on schedule" published in FlightGlobal 

17 September 2014

A350-800 development cancelled.

Airbus chief executive Fabrice Bregier confirmed at the press conference in Hamburg that development of the A350-800 has been "cancelled."

Source: © Airbus

The death warrant for the smallest variant of the widebody, which had been losing orders as customers switched to the -900 and -1000, was as good as signed when the A330neo was launched.

Source: © Airbus

Based on the article "Al Baker expects A350s to be on schedule" published in FlightGlobal 

16 September 2014

Portable orbital drilling system for A350 pylon assembly.

Novator AB has been awarded a contract for advanced portable Orbital DrillingTM systems from Airbus A350 XWB program.

The systems will be used in the 2nd production line of the engine pylons which is currently being set up in the St. Eloi plant in Toulouse, France.

By using Orbital Drilling, Airbus will be able to drill and install fasteners on the Airbus A350 XWB pylons without having to disassemble the structure for deburring and cleaning operations. Avoiding the disassembly and reassembly, significantly increases the efficiency and productivity in the assembly process.

“We are very proud and happy that Airbus chooses our equipment for the 2nd engine pylon production line in St. Eloi. This shows that they see great value in using our systems and in the Orbital DrillingTM technology.” says Hans-Petter Andersson, Novator's CEO.

Orbital DrillingTM can make the hole in one single step. The Orbital technology is very versatile, as the same tool can be used for several operations. Novator's solution reduces the feeding force into the material, leading to minimal burring in metals, minimized risk for delamination in composites and prolonged tool life.

Novator is a high-tech engineering company focused on providing efficient drilling solutions based on, but not limited to, the patented Orbital Drilling™ technology. Novator (headquarter in Stockholm, Sweden) holds a number of patents around the world that are directly related to Orbital Drilling and hole production. Last April, Novator was recognized as "Supplier of the Year" in the Technology category by Boeing.  

Based on the press release “Novator awarded portable Orbital Drilling systems contract for Airbus A350XWB”

15 September 2014

Low probability of a severe supply chain disruption of Russian Titanium for the A350 XWB

With reports of Russian military personnel all but formally invading eastern Ukraine in recent weeks, concerns are mounting in the aerospace and defense industry over titanium, and there seems no relief is in sight.

The issue is price, or more accurately, the question as to whether prices for titanium could climb if Russian supply to the West’s Aerospace sector is restricted—which nonetheless has not happened yet. But with the Obama administration and European leaders promising new sanctions on the heels of the NATO summit in Wales earlier this month, the possibility continues to haunt industry.

RBC Capital Markets analysts recently told investor clients that in the aerospace supply chain, the major focus continues to be on VSMPO-Avisma, Russia’s largest titanium producer and a major supplier to Western original equipment manufacturers (OEM) such as Airbus and Boeing.

VSMPO supplies about 60% of the titanium for Airbus and 35-40% for Boeing, with total output at nearly 29.000 tons/year, according to analysts. The Boeing 787 and Airbus A350 in particular are “titanium-hungry”.

But by all accounts, corporate leaders are not perturbed. “Airbus and Boeing have both remained calm over the potential for supply disruption, and VSMPO is vocally keen in its desire to keep shipping,” RBC analysts said in late August.

For starters, Airbus’s $4 billion supply contract with VSMPO runs until 2020, and Russian management has stated that if the European OEM were to cancel the contract, it would be held liable for penalties, RBC points out. VSMPO and the Russian government likely are not eager to curtail a steady source of hard currency, especially if sanctions result in a permanent loss of market share against the likes of Western providers such as Titanium Metals (Timet), RTI International Metals and Allegheny Technologies, RBC analysts say.

In the meantime, Airbus and Boeing, at least, have been stockpiling titanium supplies—a point of fact they neither promote nor avoid in public conversations. Indeed, Airbus and Boeing have amassed around 6 months of specialized, forged titanium reserves. VSMPO apparently also has stockpiled 8 months’ worth of raw materials from Ukraine.

“With Russian, American and European officials all engaged in active contingency planning, as well as downplaying the possibility that the flow of titanium will be completely cut off, we view the probability of a severe supply chain disruption to be low,” RBC states.

The West’s aerospace sector, in the meantime, continues not to see immediate major fallout from the Russia-Ukraine situation, RBC analysts note. “The supply of titanium is probably the largest concern, but as Airbus’s CEO puts it, the supplies are likely to continue in conditions of up to ‘all-out war,’” they say. “Put from the other perspective, Russia probably does not want to further jeopardize its already difficult economic situation.” 

Based on the article “Heavy Metal” published in Aviation Week.

14 September 2014

Beluga´s 20th anniversary thinking in the A350 ramp up: 44 flight hours per aircraft.

With its maiden flight on September 13, 1994, the popular Beluga cargo aircraft is celebrating this week 20 years of transporting Airbus component parts between Airbus’ European manufacturing sites.

Since 1995, the fleet of 5 Beluga aircraft replaced the ageing Super Guppy transporters in order to supply the Airbus final assembly lines in Toulouse and Hamburg. Today, more than sixty flights are performed each week between eleven sites, carrying crucial parts for all of the Airbus programmes, including the A350 XWB.

Source: Airbus

The Beluga activities will substantially increase over the next 5 years.

Source: Airbus

It takes 44 Beluga flight hours to assemble one A350 XWB. Additionally to the main subassemblies flying from the pre-FALs in Germany, France and Spain to Toulouse, there are several flights to transport big elementary parts as for example the wing covers that are manufactured in Germany (Stade) and Spain (Illescas) and assembled in UK (Broughton).

Source: Airbus

In order to accompany this challenge, Airbus launched in 2011 the Fly 10.000 project. Flight crew numbers and flight hours have grown and loading procedures have been further optimized, with the opening of new integrated loading facilities in Hamburg and Bremen in Germany and Saint-Nazaire in France. Broughton, UK and Getafe, Spain will follow soon. Fly 10.000 should allow the Beluga fleet to double its activities by 2017 (from 5,000 to 10,000 flight hours).

Source: Airbus

Based on the press release “Beluga celebrates the 20th anniversary of its first flight”