Home' Asian Aviation : AAV July-Aug 2014 Contents 24 AsianAviation | JULY-AUG 2014
a slam-dunk decision." Two-to-three hour missions
could be performed by the regional variant of the
Tom Williams, executive vice president -
programmes, also emphasised that while the
A330neo would be a relatively simple thing to do, it's
far from an easy decision. The main tasks for Airbus
would be to reinforce the wing, new nacelles and
new pylons, he explained.
While he said the A330 has been a "great
product" and he would" love it to continue," he
emphasised that Airbus has "got to be convinced
in our own minds that we can bring a significantly
better performance from a customer point of view."
He added, "Clearly from my point of view, it would
be on the basis that we would do something for
the long term -- I certainly wouldn't be interested in
doing a short term programme, four-to-five years.
It's got to be an aircraft that would be powerful
enough for the market place to get to the end of
the next decade."
As far as the engine choice for an A330neo goes,
Williams said: "We're open to suggestions -- people
like choice. But a lot of decisions have to be made
before we get to this point."
Boeing, unsurprisingly, has a slightly different
take on the issue. "Putting engines optimized for the
787 on a 1980s wing connected to a 1970s cross
section simply cannot produce an airplane that offers
anywhere near the efficiency on any mission that is
available today on the 787."
In contrast to the difficult decisions on the
A330neo, the regional variant of the A330 is more
straightforward. Indeed, there are already regional
A330s either in service or on order with the likes of
AirAsia X, Cebu Pacific and Jetstar. "They haven't
benefitted from some of the innovations we've put in,
but going forward they will benefit," said Rao.
"The difference, going forward, is that we'll give
them a more optimised maintenance programme,
give them a more optimised engine maintenance
programmes, and we'll work with seat manufacturers
to optimise nine abreast seating."
The regional variant has an operational weight of
199 tonnes and can seat up 400 passengers (in a
two class layout) with a range of around 3,000nm.
Airbus says the fuel burn and MRO cost savings
will see overall cost reduction of 15% compared
to current long-range A330-300s. Leahy said the
regional variant would have 12% lower total cost
per seat versus the equivalent 787-9.
The manufacturer sees particular scope for
the regional variant in China, where the domestic
growth rates (around double the worldwide average
of 4%-to-5%) are and will put severe constraints on
infrastructure, Rao said.
"The A330 regional will be an aircraft for the next
5-10 years -- it has the right price category, comfort
and capability for these missions," he said -- even
more so than the A350 or 787, where the engines are
"too sophisticated" for these short-range missions.
Budget carriers will be among the beneficiaries. If
airlines ignore cargo and keep tight turnaround times,
the aircraft economics will be 10%-to-15% better
than single aisle aircraft, he added.
In the meantime, the 'A330ceo' is still an attractive
product, Rao said. Comparing it to the 787 -- Rao
said it burns a bit more fuel, but is "much simpler to
look after." He said the 787 engines weigh about 5
tonnes more per shipset than those on the A330. Rao
added that the A330ceo can "easily demonstrate
greater than 10% lower operating costs than today's
generation of 787."
"So you have slightly higher fuel burn, but
significantly lower MRO costs, and significantly
lower navigation and landing charges - especially
with the regional [variant] with lower take off
weight," he added.
"So the A330ceo is still a strong economic
proposition," he said, adding that the A330neo is
"not a decision we need to rush into -- the A330ceo
still selling well."
In the meantime, the A350-900 is on track to
enter service before the end of the year with Qatar
Airways. Over 70% of the certification documents
had been delivered to EASA by the time of the
Innovation Days in mid-June, with the rest to follow
by the end of summer.
The A350-1000 is on track for an entry into service
in 2017 - at the Innovation Days, the first engine run
was "imminent", with first carbon fibre lay-up and first
metal cut "in the coming weeks." Sub-assemblies will
start in the fourth quarter of this year.
The A350-1000 design is benefiting from the
A350-900 experience, with static tests on the latter
being used to optimise the A350-1000 structure.
Innovations on the A350-1000 from this experience
include the CFRP doors surrounding and pylon
Leahy said the A350-900 is a worthy competitor
to the 787-10. "It could go 1,600nm more or you
could add 16 tonnes of cargo -- it gives you a lot of
flexibility. Or you could derate the engine and that
gives you a lower weight version that sits exactly
in the range payload chart on top of 787-10."
The slide Leahy was referring to had the 787-10
carrying 331 passengers and their bags, compared
to 315 passengers and bags for the A350-900. It
also estimated the 16 tonnes of cargo as being
worth US$5 million per year.
Leahy also said that the 35 extra seats on the
777-9X compared to the A350-1000 come with a
cost. "The plane is 35 tonnes heavier -- more thrust,
more fuel, and more MRO cost."
Rao also said that the A350-1000 can hold its
own against the 777-9X, despite latter's extra 30-
40 seats. "The fact is, it's a bigger airplane, but it's a
heavier airplane and it burns more fuel. You need 15-
20 more seats just to break even between the A350-
1000 and 777-9X. So you've got to fly 20 seats just
to cover the cost. So what you're left with is ten seats
for profitability. Most airlines will say, those ten seats,
I'm going to use them 50% of the time, maybe even
less. With yields for the lowest class, that will not
cover the risk to reward ratio." ✈
AIRBUS INNOVATION DAYS
Kiran Rao, executive vice president
-- strategy and marketing, Airbus.
"The A330 regional will be an aircraft
for the next 5-10 years -- it has the right
price category, comfort and capability
for these missions..."
executive vice president -- strategy and marketing, Airbus
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