Sunday, December 30, 2012

The 777X Project Is Going Underground Call It Project X

Why is the 777-X going underground and hiding in Boeing's Phantom Works? Answer: Because they are ready to spring its trap on Airbus! Also, Airbus' cement hasn't set yet on the A-350. Boeing will wait this out until Airbus money is spent and the factory's dies are cast. The 777 project can afford to sit on its winning hand until all Airbus cards are played, they blinked, not Boeing.  Where Boeing will proceed to throw out its trump card on Airbus, called the "X".  In the meantime, Airbus is stressing on meeting the A-350 deadlines in time for the Paris "show and tell". Boeing is happy to wait for the air show to unload the X reveal!

 Highlighted in green below, are the benchmarks Boeing will address on its X project for Paris'
Model        EISEngine #MTOW 
Metric Tons
Inside Diameter Passengers
Outside Diameter Passenger    
Passenger Seating and (Room)

A350-9 and-10 Straddles the 787 and 777 world.
Airbus A3502013  2      298.0 tons[67]
192.0 Emtpy-9

221 inches (5.61 m) [68]235 inches (5.97 m) [68][69]8 across (19.0" wide) in 2-4-2 proposed[70][71]
9 across (17.7" wide) in 3-3-3 proposed[70][72]
10 across (16.38" wide) in 3-4-3 proposed [73]
A working general comparison of current information" 

Airbus 350 In Tons MTOW   Empty       Boeing In Tons    MTOW       Empty
-800*                       259.0      181           787-10X*           265(guess)  188 (Bigger guess)
-900*                       298.0      192           777-200              298             138
-1000*                     308.0      220           777-300-ER        351             168
* A Paper weight, is not an official lift-off weight from working prototypes.

The current 777-'s, are Boeing's starting weight points, considering Airbus's proposed weight advantages on its new A-350- line. Flying smarter can only squeeze so much efficiency out of the designs. But Tons are still tons when you are airborne.  Engineering Efficiency Maximizes best, when working with the least amount of weight. Boeing will strip tons off with introduction of various light weight technologies that are brought forward from the 787 project. However, it will not be an all composite skin, and will have some extra weight or disadvantages that could be made up with various system changes, materials, and wing advancements efficiency. Bottom line, how far can you fly with the most passengers and the least amount of fuel?
Boeing 777-300ER19952351.5 tons[91]231 inches (5.87 m) [92]244 inches (6.20 m) [92][93]9 across (18.5" wide) in 2-5-2 on American Airlines [94]
10 across (17.5" wide) in 3-4-3 on Emirates Airlines[95
777-200ER             2003   2        MTW 
                                               261 tons         
Boeing 787 20112245.0 tons    215 inches (5.46 m)     227 inches (5.77 m)          
8 across (18.5" wide) in 2-4-2 on ANA[99]
9 across (17.3" wide) on United Airlines 3-3-3 [100]
Below are bullet points addressing what the green highlighted area above, means to engineer sensibilities?  Top Ten list for engineering to do's. Since Boeing is going into four corner delay game to win the basketball final four, like NC State used to do back in the 70's, they may as well go big on the last shot.
  • The Boeing Company will address the outcome of "The Biggest Loser" by losing (maybe) some large amounts of metric tons, from the Maximum Take-off weight (MTW), for the X-factor. Or are those charts above, smoke and mirrors playing weight tricks on the mind. Maybe that's the A-350-9 weight, where the X-8 fits into that grouping is from its 777-200 position currently held by old technology weight.
  • New Technology Aluminum that is lighter than the current model.
  • A marriage of composite wing box with metal frame.
  • High Probability of Composite wing assemblies.
  • Increased use of composites in non-essential body integration. Such as front nose assembly, Bay doors, in many areas as possible, that doesn't affect the metal frame integrity.
  • The body width is about right. Why go bigger, unless you want more seats.
  • Don't go ten across in seating. The A-350 looks like a downtown commuter bus with 10 across having 16.4" wide seats. Do you want to haul your good customers around the world like sardines?
  • Plan B, Go the Airbus route and call it 2XWB because you can, by adding 9" inches to the inside width and make all 9 across, 18" seats. That half inch difference from the A-350 18.5" seat, is the width of my pinky finger. Or the width of a pack of lifesavers which you can put in your shirt pocket anyway.
  • The wing is where the magic starts. This is where Boeing went to school and is now schooling the aviation world on wing design. Whether it’s a folding wing, or not, this wing will turn heads.
  • Finally, bullet #10 for green box highlights above, under observations.  Internal efficiency factor has not been addressed by Boeing or any rumor. Is Boeing going to a 787 game plan with all electric architecture? Will they use a core technology to run the aircraft operations, and depart from hydraulic systems to all electric? If the answer is yes. Then Boeing continues to pack pounds out of the body with 787 like precision and infuse 787 commonalities, as a salve to customer's airline teams.

The competition, A-350

Here Comes The X Plane

This Rendering does not take into account Engineering goals.

GE is burning the midnight oil on what it can do with a GEnx-90's.  Another X-factor to consider in this unraveling airplane soap opera. I imagine that the GEnx-90 will borrow significantly from the 787 project, currently dubbed GEnx-2B, incorporating everything it has accomplished during that project. They will hang some big but lighter weight cans on those wings.  

The jury is not out on what is proposed. The next six months will tell if the players will agree and for presentations to be installed by Paris Air Show. Timing is perfect for Boeing to counter punch the A-350 wonders of flight, which it is going through the same swamp the 787 has the last 5 years. The X is ready for a shorter turn around with a bigger bang for the buck.  Take a metric ton or two off the engine area. Take another bunch of tons with the use of both CFR and High Tech Aluminum formulations.

The X-9 needs to reduce by 11 tons to meet the A-350-10 weight area. The X-8(777-200 replacement) will be a push on the A-350-9 weights.  The 787-10 will be the Jr. Mini Jumbo. It will straddle all the Mini Jumbo parameters not covered in the lower end of the mini Jumbo performance. The A-350-8 is dead on arrival. 

It then comes back to how efficient are those flying tons?
How handy, comfortable and pleasant is the customer area?
Most important, how many seats with miles traveled?
How consistent is the X project compares to Boeing's family of Aircraft from 737 through 787?

The X project leaves room in its numbering/naming convention for the next baby, a 797 series, not to be confused with this 777-X project. The 777-200 is 294 tons, one would expect the 777-8 in the same weight range.

The 787-10 and how it fits in the Aviation Renaissance:

On the 787-10:
                                         my insert

"The stealthy aspect (X projects) of the ATO remains equally intriguing, though it is believed

 to be more closely linked to a desire to firm up a batch of initial launch customers than any 

last-minute uncertainty over the final configuration. Boeing says clearance to start discussing 

the 787-10X is “conditioned upon our obtaining final board approval to launch the program at 

a yet-to-be-determined date.”

The company adds, “The timing of a decision to launch the program will depend on market response during the next phase of our discussions about the airplane.” Given the current schedule, unidentified potential customers say a firm launch decision is not expected from the Boeing board until early next year.

The 787-10X is a 787-9 stretched by 18 ft. to 224 ft. to seat an additional 43 passengers. Although jutting up against the Airbus A350-900 in capacity, the stretch is targeted as an A330 “killer” with exceptionally low seat-mile costs. The 320-seater is expected to be a 6,700-6,750-nm-range aircraft with a maximum takeoff weight slightly less than 7,000 lb. heavier than the 787-9 now in initial assembly.

Boeing adds that it has been “working closely with airline and leasing customers to define the key capabilities and features of the 787-10X, and we anticipate strong market demand for this third and largest member of the 787 family.”

Seating around 320 in a three-class arrangement, the 787-10X will be a stablemate of both the 787-8/9 and 777 families.

Primary markets are expected to be trunk routes from the Middle East to Europe and Asia, as well as transatlantic services for carriers including British Airways and Singapore Airlines, which are among the early launch contenders. Assuming a firm launch decision in early 2013, entry into service is widely expected around 2018-19.

As the 787-10X forms part of Boeing's stated strategy to bracket the A350 between the double-stretch derivative and the 777X, the launch of one of the new aircraft will ultimately determine the go-ahead for the other. For Boeing, the key question on the 777X remains timing, and although the A350-1000 launch continues to show signs of sliding further into the second half of the decade, the main driver appears to be getting the technology decisions correct on its new, big twin derivative.

Compared to the relatively straightforward double-stretch of the 787-10X, the development of a pair of larger re-winged, re-engined successors to its 777-200LR/300ER for possible entry into service in 2019 is a far greater gamble in terms of cost, technology, and marketing tactics. As well as major choices concerning the use of composites in the wing and major system innovations, Boeing's arguably biggest single decision is whether to make the engine dual- or sole-source.

General Electric, in the pole position to supply the engines for the new derivative, is sticking to a technology test plan for the GE9X for the 777X, despite continuing uncertainty over Boeing's development timetable. The engine maker is running a raft of technology demonstration efforts to support FAR33 engine certification in 2018, and entry-into-service in 2019.

“Even though Boeing is still figuring out what they want to do, we're doing the technology,” says GE90 general manager William Millhaem. “It's the right thing to do for the industry.”
Although GE is also reluctant to give specific timetable details, it is expected to run the first version of a new core for the GE9X as early as 2014. A final “Toll Gate 6” decision on freezing the design will likely take place around 2015, with the first engine going to test in the 2016 timeframe. Given this timing, the engine would be tested on GE's Boeing 747-400 flying testbed in 2017 with certification the following year.

Key technology maturation tests in the run-up to the design of the new core include the planned evaluation of a 27:1 pressure-ratio high-pressure compressor (HPC). The initial version of an 11-stage unit will be tested at GE's oil and gas facility in Massa, Italy, in mid-2013, and will be the highest pressure-ratio compressor of its type yet developed for a GE commercial engine.

Testing of the advanced compressor rig will check the configuration “to look if anything unexpected happens at 27:1 and see what happens when we bleed air off and if we get the right clearances,” says Millhaem, who adds that the lessons will be used to improve the baseline design before the first core is built. The advanced “E3” (Energy Efficient Engine) 19:1 compressor developed with NASA was key to the success of the original GE90, while the evolved HPC of the GEnx has a pressure ratio of 23:1. Overall pressure ratio for the entire GE9X is similarly targeted at an ambitious 60:1, compared to 50:1 for the GEnx and 40:1 for the GE90.

“With the GE9X, we're continuing that strategy, but we are reaching into the technology cupboard to pull out new things from the 9X technology pool,” says Millhaem. “If we start with a scaled GEnx-1B, we get about halfway to what Boeing is asking us to do for the 777X,” he says. The 777X is targeting fuel burn around 10% lower than the current GE90-115B-powered 777 while maintaining existing maintenance costs.
Other work is focused on a fourth-generation fan that will operate at a higher speed than the one in the current engine."

A well-presented position on how the 787-10 fits into the scheme of killing the A-330, and the X killing the A350. This is an insight into Boeing's strategy of a point to point travel competing with the Super Hubs (SH) like London Heathrow, Frankfurt, GER, and others that are A-380 friendly.  Now the Salt Lake City's, and  San Diego airport types get you on and off the slopes skiing and the beach tanning, as they become a personal sized point to point hub around the world competing with the SHs.

This brings me to a comment on the A-380, formerly known as the Flying White Elephant, having all its eggs in one basket. Airbus has done a nice job building to the concept, but the concept itself may be flawed. The 747 reached the outer limits of filling seats every day of the year on any given day. The A-380 is tasked with filling 450 to 500 seats every day to the same places. When that train leaves the station on A-380 there won't be another one until tomorrow.  

However, with Mini Jumbo's and Jr. mini-jumbos (787-10), an airline can offer multiples of departures times from the same airport to anywhere in the world on the same day. The A-380 does not achieve that same flexibility day to day. Once the traveling public has traveled the A-380 enough to settle-in at its convenience, then the mini Jumbo will reemerge as the preferred way to get anywhere, anytime.  That is Boeing's strategy from 1995, and it is today's strategy forward.  

Airbus did not make Boeing "blink" by not trying to emulate the A-350. They upgraded what works very well, with the 747-8, and will get another 15 years out of it before any formal launch of a replacement, going forward with design and technology advances, plus new materials and markets. With the A-380, it has yet to achieve an important entrance into partnering with bigger and better airports (SH's), strutting the same theme of Airbus.

Boeing is trying revolutionary measures, referred by me as the "Renaissance in Aviation".  

They are building airplanes beyond the horizon, but where they can land on a postage stamp airport. 

Saint Martin Beach, Caribbean.... runway fence lines up with the nose of this 747, and lands just off the Sand, next to the guy in the red shirt.

“Maho Beach is a beach on the Dutch side of the Caribbean island of Saint Martin, in the country of Sint Maarten. It is famous for the Princess Juliana International Airport adjacent to the beach. Arriving aircraft must touch down as close as possible to the beginning of Runway 10 due to the short runway length of 2,180 metres (7,150 ft), resulting in aircraft on their final approach flying over the beach at minimal altitude”. – Wikipedia
My Note: The 747 wheels touch down across the street 500 feet from the guy in the red shirt, with yellow lettering (Bottom center-right, not the girl in the bottom left corner) on the Saint Martin's land-based Aircraft Carrier. Note also, the wind Sock is immediate to the Life Guard/Red Guy's right elbow. He must be one of three lifeguards working hard on that day.

Does the A-380 land here from taking off from fog-bound San Francisco! No and No! The rest of world cannot build or afford to build, airports for the A-380. Hence the Boeing X will have a long shelf life.  The Slots for A-380 are destined for desert-based airports that can expand into the "endless" desert, but not on Manhattan Island or Saint Martin where they are needed. The Arab nations have a strategy of being a world hub not because everyone wants to go there on holiday.  It's the Arab Nation's geographic positioning on the globe for implementations of Super Hubs (SH). If you can get to that region of hubs, then you can go anywhere in the world from its SH sandy deserts and not beaches.  I often wondered why the Emirates, Qatar, and others, order super quantities of A-380 going to and fro in 120 degrees of temperatures.  Then I came to learn it’s not the A-380 so much, buts the Arab regions collective strategy of becoming the world's foremost SH.  Where they (collectively) now need long legged jets from both Boeing and Airbus to move people to specific parts of the world after getting there and off the A-380 by the desert. This Arab strategy demands the A-380. However, the rest of the world's strategy does not, it needs flexibly to go to the beach!

Therefore, it’s not so much a victory for Airbus to retire the 747, or that they had a superior feat in airline development.  It is more of a right time niche for the handful few airlines and airports pursuing SH status because they have resources to do so. That niche is filling up fast in the next ten years and will be stopped by numbers of airports and airlines with that kind of strategy. The A380 will soon meet the 747-4 and -8's in 10 years after filling the SH niche need. SH's will have served its purpose by then, as the Point to Point strategy of Boeing evolves into the free market. The X plane will literally go from foggy San Francisco to Saint Martin Beach, on a Jr. Mini Jumbo 787-10 or 7-X-8.

Whose strategy is best, and whose airplane is best, depends on what an Airline wants to do to make money?