Re: A340-500/600 and B777-200X/-300X

Date:         21 Dec 97 02:32:33 
From:         Marc Schaeffer <>
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H Andrew Chuang wrote:
> This has not been a good year for Boeing: EU's objection of the Boeing/MD
> merger, production delays due to parts shortage, negative publicity due
> to the on-going TW800 investigation and hearings, etc.  Now, Boeing is
> falling behind Airbus in launching the ultra-long-range aircraft.

You may add the still ongoing investigation of the B737-rudder problems
(crash of USAir Flight 427 on Sept. 8, 1994 and United Flight 585 at
Colorado Springs on March 3, 1991). Even if those incidents are 3 and 6
years old, Boeing admitted for the first time in '97 that there is a
problem with the 737 rudder.

> (SNIP) only
> EVA Air (BR) and Air Canada (AC) have made commitments for the -500 with
> a total of 8 firm oders (6 for BR and 2 for AC).

And even those are not firm orders but LOI's. AC will decide in Mar-98
to convert the LOI to a firm order.

> Where is the huge
> interest in ultra-long-range planes that Boeing has once suggested?

A major key to the freezing of the 777X program was the high operating
costs of such an a/c.
- To perform the long trips the cargo volume (= weight) has to be
reduced, providing room for beds, fitness rooms and similar stuff. So
you get a smaller income since you have less cargo onboard.
- Additional fuel tanks reduce the cargo volume. Same as above.
- On such long trips you would need three crews. Lots of expensive meat
<g> not paying to be onboard but wanting to get payd ...
- In the SQ config there were 200 seats, this is 92 seats less than for
the normal three class config for the 772. Less seats means less income,
and even if those remaining seats are more expensive you would have to
increase tickets-pricing by 50% to compensate. If the seats are too
expensive the loading factor would drop, giving you less income ...
- Are the passengers ready to stay that long in an a/c ?

To conclude I would say that the freezing of the 777X is more an
economical than a technical problem. The A345 isn't that extreme
(rangewise) so the problems are not that big even if they are similar.
Besides the 345 is cheaper than the 777X.

> (SNIP) For the B747-100/-200-replacement market, I can't
> really see the four-engine A340-600 be competitive with the twin-engine
> B777-300/-300X in the long run.

I disagree :
- for the last two years there wasn't a single order for the 773 (there
was even one order changed from 773 to 772 in the first half of 97)
- the 346 has captured lots of LOI's since it was launched. However most
are existing 343 customers. Only SR switched from the B11 (former MD11)
to the 346, with LOI's for 9 a/c plus 9 options. 346 orders in asia
would be very important.
- the 346 is cheaper than the 773/773X

The other key factor will be operating costs of both birds, as I write
those lines nobody can compare them yet.

> A note on engines for the new aircraft: Pratt & Whitney has decided to
> compete with Rolls-Royce for powering the new A340 derivatives.  This
> should made the A340 a more competitive product.  P&W will also offer
> a 102K engine for the proposed B777-200X/-300X.

Didn't read this anywhere, where did you get this from ??

> My understanding is that American Airlines is very interested in the
> B777-300X for routes like Dallas-Tokyo and the -200X for routes like
> Dallas-Hong Kong.  Thus, I think the -200X/-300X will eventually be
> launched; it's just a matter of time.

I agree but if Boeing has to wait for AA or DL they won't launch the
777X before 2000. My opinion.

>  After all, -200X/-300X will
> still have a two-year lead over the Airbus's new duo if Boeing can
> launch them before next summer.

Right, if ...

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all of you!
Marc Schaeffer, Luxembourg //
De Havilland COMET and aircraft orders homepage