Home' Asian Aviation : AAV Dec Jan 2010 Contents Manufacturers
Boeing's preference for an all-new design. A major
challenge is the timing.
" ere will be a moment for a new airplane, a new
production programme, and we're working very hard
to gure out when that might be," Nicole Piasecki,
Boeing Commercial Airplanes' vice-president for
business development and strategic integration, said
Boeing's largest 737 customer, Southwest Airlines,
agrees with ELF's Sharp: increasing fuel costs mean
that retention of the current eet is not an option.
e carrier said it wants to know the schedule for a
replacement design. "One single thing that [will]
improve [airline] economics is to introduce a new
airplane," said Southwest Chief Operating O cer
Michael Van de Ven.
Meanwhile, Malaysia-based low-cost carrier AirAsia
wants a re- engined A320, saying that Airbus should
decide this year: "We need a decision," says AirAsia
Chief Executive Tony Fernandes. "Both Airbus and
Boeing have taken a long time deciding." Others in
favour of re-engining include Delta Air Lines and
Ryanair, although Albaugh says Boeing will continue
incremental 737 development unless a clear consensus
emerges in favour of new engines.
e US manufacturer claims major 737 operators
are not requesting new engines. " ere are virtually
no customers pushing us to re-engine, [but] if airlines
want re-engining we will look very seriously at doing
it," says Piasecki.
Still, that does not mean Boeing will decide quickly,
according to marketing vice-president Randy Tinseth:
"It's a very dynamic situation. We said we'll make the
decision this year, but we are going to take time, all the
time for us to make the right decision," which could be
pushed back to 2011.
Bernstein Research says Airbus customer feedback
has been positive and the A320NEO business case is
attractive. e manufacturer has established initial
agreements with CFM International and Pratt &
Whitney. Bernstein analysts think nal decisions will
depend on senior Airbus management's "tolerance for
risk, [although] with A320 sales likely to continue
for some time there is very little downside" to not re-
Lessor AerCap Holdings believes that recently
announced performance improvements and the
CFM56's "superb" on-wing performance make
the 737 a formidable competitor to "any re-engine
alternative". Albaugh acknowledges that in the short
term an A320NEO could take signi cant numbers of
737 sales before Boeing introduced a new single-aisle
design in, say, 2020.
Reluctance to launch
Bernstein has perceived a creeping reluctance by
Airbus to launch the A320NEO, stimulated by
three considerations; cost, constrained resources,
and commitment to the introduction of "sharklets"
in 2012. Airbus will use the forthcoming "sharklet"
wingtipped A320 variant as the benchmark for
comparing A320NEO performance.
A320NEO impressions shown to EADS investors
in mid-November suggested Airbus expects a fuel-
burn reduction of 15 percent, a bypass ratio of 9:1-
12:1, and a fan-diameter increase from 64 inches to
In evaluating future single-aisle options, Boeing
identi ed three possibilities : a re-engined 737, an
all-new design, or no change. It has also said it might
make no decision. In November, a Boeing 737-800
began ve months' certi cation testing of proposed
performance improvements that will be phased
in from mid-2011, including aerodynamic and
powerplant changes expected to reduce fuel burn by
While Albaugh believes an A320NEO would
yield a 3-4 percent improvement in direct operating
costs, he says this would only bring the variant in line
with current 737s. Perhaps teasing his competitor,
the o cial claimed in a September internal Boeing
webcast that there is a further option: a "737NG+"
that would perform well against an A320NEO and
provide a stepping stone to a 2020 737 replacement.
With modifications beyond those already
announced, the NG+ could provide incremental
737 improvements without Boeing's incursion of
signi cant expenditure on a new engine.
Bernstein Research said an Airbus "no-go" decision
would be the best outcome for Boeing -- and possibly
for the European company a s well. While the
A320NEO could o er Airbus a US$7-8 million price
premium per aircra , the analysts think this might
only yield short-term gains against the 737NG.
Powerplant manufacturers are expected to share
the risk in any A320NEO, with the P&W PW1000G
lined up to replace the International Aero Engines
(IAE) partnership's V2500 engine, giving the US
company all the revenue from sales instead of the
share it now receives as an IAE partner.
Rival CFM is, of course, already well placed on the
current A320 series, but requires a western airframe
application for its new Leap-X engine, which has so
far been chosen only for China's new Comac C919
e fully developed Leap-X 2C variant may not
become available until 2018, two years later than
previously planned. An initial 1C model is expected
to o er 10-12 percent fuel savings, compared with
the later variant's 15-16 percent, which would be
available until any all-new Airbus design replaces the
A320 a er 2025.
P&W Chief Executive David Hess pointed out
that it is not de nite that Airbus and Boeing will
follow the same tack on re-engining. "It's conceivable
they could go di erent ways," he said.
In the end, Boeing's Tinseth said, airlines and
leasing companies will both play a key role in market
"We're looking for our customers to lead us in
that decision," he said. "Some airlines are saying a
15-percent improvement in fuel burn is a 'no-brainer'
and at the other end of the scale are leasing companies,
[which want] nothing to change -- ever." ●
Airbus expects a re-engined A320 to burn
15 percent less fuel than current aircraft.
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