Re: A3XX vs B747-600 (was: Airbus lawsuit coming?)

From: (H Andrew Chuang)
Organization: Concentric Internet Services
Date:         18 Aug 96 20:13:40 
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In article <airliners.1996.1650@ohare.Chicago.COM> Jennings Heilig ( wrote:

> I've got articles from the 1966-1970 period which use virtually the
> exact same wording you've used in arguing the future of the 747.
> Hardly anyone thought the 747 would be built in anything like the
> numbers it has, and I'll wager that no one would have guessed it would
> still be in production at the turn of the century and beyond.

Indeed.  In its first decade, the B747 sales were lackluster.  Also
before the first revenue B747 flight, Japan Airlines was the lone Asian
carrier which had ordered the Jumbo jet.  No one would have guessed that
quite a number of Asian carriers would become some of the largest B747
operators.  BTW, a few days ago, I read that that there were 124 B747s
still on Boeing's backlog, but only ten of 124 are ordered by US carriers.

> I know there are vast differences in the arguments, and that the
> situation in the world has changed dramatically since 1966, but my
> guess is that you'll see Boeing forge ahead with the stretched 747s in
> the not too distant future.  Not so sure about Airbus, as I don't
> think they're in the position Boeing is to launch another product
> right now.  While the new 747 variants are certainly going to be
> different airplanes from current versions, the Airbus proposal for the
> A3XX will be a new airplane from the ground up (if I understand
> correctly).  While the guts may be different in the Boeing design, a
> fair amount of the nuts and bolt engineering is already done and paid
> for.

I don't think there is any doubt that Boeing will launch the B747-500X/
-600X.  (Supposedly, most airports can handle the B747X without any major
updates.)  It's most likely that Boeing will officially announce the
launch during the Farnborough Air Show in September.  I don't think Airbus
will let Boeing have the monopoly and the A3XX will most likely be built,
too.  However, Airbus does not seem to have secure all the funding and
potential partners.  Airbus will be at least three years behind.  However,
if they can convince a few credible airlines, such as Lufthansa, British,
Singapore, etc., then the A3XX program can potentially be competitive, but
still unlikely to be profitable.

What we have been discussing earlier was whether there would be a future
for the over-600-passenger planes.  *If* there is a market for the ultra
high capacity planes, the A3XX can probably be strectched with a little
additional development cost because it is designed for the potential
growth.  OTOH, Boeing may have to spend a lot of money if they want to
compete with the stretched A3XX-200.  If both decide to compete in the
high-end market, I think it will be financially disastrous for both

P.S.  Will Boeing also launch the B757-200X and/or -300X at Farnborough?
      Last year, airlines seemed to be very interested in the B777-100X.
      Now, it seems airlines are not too keen on this plane.  Even Airbus
      can no longer keep Air Canada interested in the A340-8000.  Thus, I
      think the B777-100X and the A340-8000 are unlikely to take off any
      time soon.  Nevertheless, Boeing may need either the B777-100X and/
      or the B767-400X to fill the gap between the B767-300 and the
      B777-200.  Pratt has the PW4098 with one customer (Korean Air), GE
      has the 100,000lb-thrust GE90 without a customer.  Is the ultra-
      long-range B777-200X imminent?

      Airbus will not let Boeing steal the show.  Both will probably
      announce some major orders.  For example, the Asiana order, in which
      Airbus appears to be the winner, will likely be officially announced
      during the show.  I wonder what new model(s) will Airbus launch, if
      any?  Some potential ones include the A340-400, A340-500, A340-600,
      A330-400, and A3XX.  Interestingly, other than the A340-400, none
      of the planes listed will likely be powered by existing engines.

      Comments, anyone?