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

Date:         15 Apr 97 03:22:39 
From:         Chuanga@cris.com (H Andrew Chuang)
Organization: Concentric Internet Services
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In article <airliners.1997.916@ohare.Chicago.COM>, M Carling  <m@ml.com> wrote:
>
>I'm not sure why Andrew thinks that "the A340-600X will compete directly
>with the B747-400 rather than the B777-300X." The Airbus will be between
>the two Boeings in size and perhaps about the same range as the
>747-400X. I think the A340-600X, if launched, will compete will both the
>747-400 and the 777-300X.

The A340-600X is practically the same size as the 777-300.  The A340-600
is a long-range aircraft, while the baseline 777-300 is a medium-haul
aircraft.  The range of the 777-300X will probably be 1,000nm shorter than
that of the A340-600 (not insignificant).  Thus, the A340-600 will compete
more directly with the B747-400 than with the B777-300X.  As Karl pointed
out, A340 is a four-engine plane, and the B777-300 is a twin.  For regional
operations, twins are a far superior choice; four-engine planes are
overkill, irrepective if it's a Boeing or it's an Airbus.

>The operating cost of the A340 at any given cruise speed is difficult to
>reliably determine prior to development of its wing, which Andrew
>indicates below will be developed.

They should be ready to finalize the design any time now.  Thus, they
should have a good idea of the performance of the new wing.  At first
I thought they would optimize the wing at a speed comparable to that of
the B777.  Based on AW&ST's report, I doubt this is true.  That's why
they try to emphasize the speed difference will result in a "few"
minutes' differnce in time.  Hmmm....  I seem to recall Airbus made a
big fuss about the A320's faster speed than B737's.

>> Furthermore, with dedicated regional aircraft like the
>> B777-300, operators can configure their aircraft accordingly.
>
>Operators are similarly free to configure their 747-400s as they see
>fit.

However, most don't.  The few that I'm more familiar with, (e.g.,
Singapore, Malaysia, Cathay, China Airlines, EVA Air) don't have
-400s in regional configuration.  Some of them do have older versions
(such as the -200 and -300) in regional configuration.

>That's comparing apples and oranges. A 747-400 with regional seating
>e.g. TG's seating configuration, has more seats than a 777-300 with a
>regional (nine across) seating configuration. At slot limited airports
>such as NRT, the 747-400 will remain attractive relative to the 777-300.

Not really.  In tri-class configuration, the 777-300 is about 30 seats
smaller than the 747-400.  NRT will see plenty 777-300s.  You seem to
have a misconception that the 777-300 is significantly smaller than the
747.  Right from the start, Boeing targeted the 747-100/200 replacement
market with the B777-300.

>> If the B777-300X is launched, the new aircraft can be used to
>> replace the B747 on routes like London-San Francisco,
>> Tokyo-Sydney, etc.
>
>UA are already operating the 777-200IGW LHR-SFO.

The 777-200 is significantly smaller than the B747-400; it's about 100
seats less.

>> More importantly, even with the -600X, Airbus still doesn't
>> have an answer for the baseline B777-300 and the proposed -300X.
>
>I'm not sure why you disqualify the A340-600X as an answer to the
>777-300X. If you just don't think the airlines will buy it, let's let
>the airlines decide. If you think it can't serve the same market, then
>please let us know why.

As I have said earlier, a four-engine, long-range aircraft will not be
able to compete effectively with a two-engine, medium-range aircraft.
Boeing has finally given airlines an efficient, large-capcity aircraft
for regional operations.  The A340-600 is simply not an ideal aircraft
for regional flights, just like the B747-400 is not.  Airbus was aware of
the B747-100/200 replacement market as early as in 1990.  They pitched
stretched A330-400/A340-400 to airlines like Cathay Pacific.  Unfortunatly
for Airbus, they didn't have the right design.  Cathay chose the B777-300,
and the rest is history.  It won't be cheap for Airbus to come up with
a competitive A330-400.