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Airbus A380: from European dream to white elephant

FordGT90Concept

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https://www.reuters.com/article/us-airbus-a380-history-analysis/airbus-a380-from-european-dream-to-white-elephant-idUSKCN1Q30K4
2007-2021
“It’s an aircraft that frightens airline CFOs; the risk of failing to sell so many seats is just too high,” said a senior aerospace industry source familiar with the program.
Airbus boasted it would sell 700-750 A380s, which nowadays cost $446 million at list prices, and render the 747 obsolete.

In fact, A380 orders barely crossed the 300 threshold and the 747 has outlived its rival, after reaching the age of 50 this week.
 

btarunr

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I think the real symbol of European success is the humble A320. It owns the skies here in India and most parts of Asia and Europe, torments Boeing to no end, and its latest sibling, the A321-LR, will disrupt the medium-haul point-to-point market by killing 250-seat widebodies like the 787-8 and A332.

Much of Airbus's gamble of the A380 hedged not on its success with hub-spoke carriers, but sales to airlines in China. Airbus gambled that Chinese airlines would buy a heap of A380s, kit them out with high-density 28-inch seating, and fly them between their busiest domestic routes such as Guangzhou-Beijing, Beijing-Pudong, Pudong-Hong Kong, etc., which never happened. The Chinese instead bought thousands of small planes and fly them at the frequency of a metro system.
 

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A380 was supposed to reduce air congestion by packing more people on to fewer flights but then passengers would have to catch connecting flights on smaller aircraft. What actually happened was 777, 787, and A350 orders boomed: aircraft that can fly passengers directly from source to destination without any connecting flights.

737 MAX = ~200 passengers, ~3500 nmi
A320neo = ~190 passengers, ~3750 nmi
787 = ~290 passengers, ~7000 nmi
777 = ~350 passengers, 5000~8500 nmi
A350 = ~350 passengers, ~8300 nmi

"As of December 2018, Boeing had 5,005 firm orders from 78 identified customers for the 737 MAX."
"Airbus has delivered 8,605 A320 series aircraft since their certification/first delivery in early 1988, with another 6,056 on firm order (as of 31 December 2018)."

A320neo had a 1.5 year head start on 737 MAX, hence more orders and more deliveries.
 
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btarunr

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A380 was supposed to reduce air congestion by packing more people on to fewer flights but then passengers would have to catch connecting flights on smaller aircraft. What actually happened was 777, 787, and A350 orders boomed: aircraft that can fly passengers directly from source to destination without any connecting flights.

737 MAX = ~200 passengers, ~3500 nmi
A320neo = ~190 passengers, ~3750 nmi
787 = ~290 passengers, ~7000 nmi
777 = ~350 passengers, 5000~8500 nmi
A350 = ~350 passengers, ~8300 nmi

"As of December 2018, Boeing had 5,005 firm orders from 78 identified customers for the 737 MAX."
"Airbus has delivered 8,605 A320 series aircraft since their certification/first delivery in early 1988, with another 6,056 on firm order (as of 31 December 2018)."

A320neo had a 1.5 year head start on 737 MAX, hence more orders and more deliveries.
A321-LR is 4000 nmi, which makes it Transatlantic capable. Airbus flew a test flight filled with dummies and near-MTOW cargo load between Paris and New York. So now there will be a ton of point-to-point traffic between Northeast/New England US and the UK and much of Western Europe. In Asia that plane will throw widebodies out of business because it's >2x economical to fly a 220-seat A321LR than a 250-seat 787-8.
 

FordGT90Concept

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Which is why Boeing is working on a 797 which falls between 737 MAX and 787:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_New_Midsize_Airplane
"The new aircraft, likely to be known as the Boeing 797, would be available in two versions: a 225-seater with 5,000 nmi (9,300 km) range and a 275-seater with a range of 4,500 nmi (8,300 km)."

797 may have an elliptical body with two aisles--perhaps inspired by the NASA/MIT Aurora D8 concept. Boeing has expressed interest in geared engines (turbine provides thrust at a different rate from the turbo fan) which would be very useful in that kind of engine layout.

Boeing has had the 757 out of production for a long time now which used to cover that number/distance.
 
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Very informative gentlemen, great!
 

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Which is why Boeing is working on a 797 which falls between 737 MAX and 787:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_New_Midsize_Airplane
"The new aircraft, likely to be known as the Boeing 797, would be available in two versions: a 225-seater with 5,000 nmi (9,300 km) range and a 275-seater with a range of 4,500 nmi (8,300 km)."

797 may have an elliptical body with two aisles--perhaps inspired by the NASA/MIT Aurora D8 concept. Boeing has expressed interest in geared engines (turbine provides thrust at a different rate from the turbo fan) which would be very useful in that kind of engine layout.

Boeing has had the 757 out of production for a long time now which used to cover that number/distance.
797 is a middle-of-the-market plane. It will at best speed up demise of not just 787-8 and A330-200/800, but also the 290-seat 787-9 and A330-300/900 in medium-haul. Both Pratt-Whitney and CFM engine options of the A321neo/LR put out ~150 kN thrust, while a 787-8 puts out 280 kN thrust on both its GE and Rolls-Royce options (86% more thrust). So a proportionately more amount of fuel is burned hauling those 30 extra passengers vs. an A321neoLR. I have a hunch that 797's fuel burn per seat won't match A321. More fuel burned = more money spent flying the thing.

What Boeing needs is to kill 737 and build a new-generation compact narrowbody like the Russians did with the clean-slate Irkut MC-21. The MC-21 will fail due to geopolitics, but it's a very well-designed plane with more carbon-composite content percent than even the A350-XWB.
 

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Such a shame. I like aeroplanes and was hoping to see ever bigger ones. Clearly won't happen now.
 

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Oh and A321LR isn't the only disruptive plane Airbus has ready. There's a little known plane called the A350-900ULR. Airbus chooses its customers for that plane, and not just anyone can buy it. That's because it will bury hub-spoke for good. You can fly from anywhere in Australia to anywhere in Europe non-stop with that plane (think Sydney to Dublin). If BA or Qantas bought enough of those, it will bankrupt Singapore Airlines, cut Middle-Eastern carriers revenues by nearly half, and finally connect South America properly with Asia. But that plane is too good for its own good. Right now Singapore Airlines does a Singapore-Newark non-stopper with it.
 

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Such a shame. I like aeroplanes and was hoping to see ever bigger ones. Clearly won't happen now.
I liked them too but since i work at the Airport and see them everywhere it's not funny anymore:laugh:

20171019_172725.jpg

20171019_172749.jpg
 
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FordGT90Concept

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797 is a middle-of-the-market plane. It will at best speed up demise of not just 787-8 and A330-200/800, but also the 290-seat 787-9 and A330-300/900 in medium-haul. Both Pratt-Whitney and CFM engine options of the A321neo/LR put out ~150 kN thrust, while a 787-8 puts out 280 kN thrust on both its GE and Rolls-Royce options (86% more thrust). So a proportionately more amount of fuel is burned hauling those 30 extra passengers vs. an A321neoLR. I have a hunch that 797's fuel burn per seat won't match A321. More fuel burned = more money spent flying the thing.

What Boeing needs is to kill 737 and build a new-generation compact narrowbody like the Russians did with the clean-slate Irkut MC-21. The MC-21 will fail due to geopolitics, but it's a very well-designed plane with more carbon-composite content percent than even the A350-XWB.
787-8 is a much, much larger aircraft than A321neo having a MTOW of 502,500 lb versus 213,800 lb. You don't put a 787 on a route that a smaller aircraft like A321neo can handle.

787 has huge engines not because it necessarily needs them but because bigger = more efficient (run at lower RPM). Quad-engine aircraft like the 747 have fallen out of favor because it can't fit huge, efficient engines like the Trent-1000 (260+ cm versus ~200 cm). It's also really difficult to fill 400+ seats to make the flight profitable.

If you looked at that Aurora D8 link, the wings are small because the body of the aircraft itself generates an enormous amount of lift. The design ends up being much more efficient than a narrow body.

Oh and A321LR isn't the only disruptive plane Airbus has ready. There's a little known plane called the A350-900ULR. Airbus chooses its customers for that plane, and not just anyone can buy it. That's because it will bury hub-spoke for good. You can fly from anywhere in Australia to anywhere in Europe non-stop with that plane (think Sydney to Dublin). If BA or Qantas bought enough of those, it will bankrupt Singapore Airlines, cut Middle-Eastern carriers revenues by nearly half, and finally connect South America properly with Asia. But that plane is too good for its own good. Right now Singapore Airlines does a Singapore-Newark non-stopper with it.
A350-900ULR exchanged passengers (315 -> 173) for 17% more fuel capacity. It's similar to the 777-8 (~365 passenger, 8,690 nmi)...obviously without the gutting they did to turn it into ULR. Aircraft in the ultra long range class don't have many buyers because each seat needs to sell for a lot more money.
 
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The thing is, Airbus created the A380 to fit a market need and perceived future. The air travel market changed on them just after they released the aircraft. This doesn't change the fact that it is a marvel of aerospace engineering, only that the world changed on them. Boeing has had the same problem with the 747.
 

FordGT90Concept

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Yup, Boeing went smaller and more fuel efficient while Airbus went bigger--so big that terminals and runways had to be upgraded to accommodate it. Other than Emirates, airlines agreed with Boeing over Airbus.

Yeah, 747 is declining in use as a passenger aircraft (replaced by 777/787) too. It is rising in popularity as a transport--something A380 can't be modified to do for structural reasons.
 
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