Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Hobbit Arrives In New Zealand

The Hobbit Arrives

Enjoy The Moment!

Monday, November 26, 2012

787-9, Behind The Cut And Paste News

The 787-9 is rapidly coming into fruition as reported by the Puget Sound Business Journal. Rather than paste this article here, go review it at its site.  Puget Sound Business Journal . Most press clippings on anything, write a one paragraph/sentence intro, and paste the news wire into its news page with a different headline. However,

Puget Sound Business Journal by Steve Wilhelm, Staff Writer Date: Monday, November 26, 2012, 2:47pm PST

provides some nuggets for consideration.

1. Boeing's lessons learned department is going forth with new efficiency not experienced in the program.

2.  Boeing is eager to move forward with the -9, because they have retired risks and originally... spoke out of both sides of its collective mouths, when selling a Dream. Because they did not have a clue on how long, long was, when talking to a consulting Geologist about epic periods of time.

3. Now Boeing is playing smug and cautious when comes to the -9. They have a winning poker hand, alluded to the Journal link above, and Boeing is showing its poker face.

4. Its really late into 2015 before Boeing moves the last of the sub 66 unit#'s, out of Everett. Behind the scenes a new unannounced strategy is going on there, where you have to talk to the Boeing customers affected, about what's the real story? Regarding  customers parked aircraft (for four years, 2011-2015), at Everett that is 60,000 dollar question.

5. Ahead of schedule means either its a typo or ahead of the latest schedule, not the first schedule!

Having, played the 787 saga to its inventive conclusion, Boeing is taking a long inhale followed by a great exhale of meeting its promise. Inhale the humility and exhale the brag and sales announcements.  Breathing clearly helps the company not choke to death over the large chunk of its trying to swallow early on bravado pie.  The burping is almost over and its time to party with the deserts.

That being said, 2013 will be Boeing's year, as Airbus fights for relevancy.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Almost In With The Ten

Boeing's 787-10 is on track for a Christmas announcement of a commitment to launch. There are several significant suitors chasing the -10 dream.  So far, I have seen BA, Singapore Airlines and Qatar express keen interest in a 300 passenger 6700 mile aircraft.  BA expresses an interest for 60 and are in close talks for a delivery commitment in that range. Qatar wants to be Launch customer for Boeing on the -10. Singapore has geographic and business opportunity positioning in South East Asia.  A perfect fit for Singapore's location and market.

In a earlier post I mention a low end break-even number for the Boeing 787 program over-all, is about 150 orders for the -10 added to what is already booked for the 787 -8-9's. A Launch number would be in that range.  I have a feeling that Boeing wants a big splash number above 300 units committed by airlines, before Boeing will use the advantage of strong sales announcement in duo with an official production announcement. Call me crazy, but Boeing already has the 150 to meet break-even point and will announce launch, adding to the total 787 project. The -10 will push 787's over to profitability.  A 300 unit bang in the market would give Boeing a panache in sales, if it gets closer to 300 MOU's for the -10 at Christmas. Where will the additional 150 come from by Christmas?  There are some dark horses everyone has forgotten about.  Here is my short list, (Checked Twice) of Crazy sales for the second group of 150 units from nice customers.

Qantas -(off the naughty list) canceled 35 units earlier, when they really wanted 10's to begin with.  35 is its new order

New Zealand- will by "In with 10", units.

In Japan- the original launch customers will go for about:

ANA 20 units, They are airline Juggernauts

JAL   15 units

LAN for 5 units

United, likes a Hawaiian Christmas and the Caribbean for 15 units to haul these location for Christmas.

Air Canada for 6 units for a Coast to Coast Canada, and a Caribbean Christmas.

Air France for 5, just because, you know Carnival....

UAE 5-10 because they can...

Ethiopian 5 because they need to....

Air India    (not yet) Organized is a big word and India is not hooked on phonics.

LOT 5 Game planning for success, and is the ultimate European dark horse.

The trend here is customers already flying the -8 want the capacity of the -10. Those not flying yet, because of Boeing's late deliver schedules, are anxiously pacing the Boeing halls near the Big Factory doors with cigars in-hand, will start expanding their respective family's upon delivery.

Those who have not received its -8 or -9 yet want to evaluate first, after receiving its first load of 787-8's.

But you see, it wouldn't take very long for Boeing to get to 300, which is not the magic number. That number is when Boeing receives the first 150 batch of MOU's, from that group of three, the ones first mentioned at the top of the post.  Then Boeing will formally announce the 787-10 program for production and its Launch Customer, along with other premier customers. Pride is on the line for that honor of being the launch customer. Watch for BA, Singapore, and Qatar near the end of the year to be in the Christmas Package under Everett's Pine Trees.  Merry Christmas, Everyone and have a Happy New Year.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

To Be Or Not To Be! The 787 Question

"To be, or not to be: that is the 787 question:

Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come"

William H Shakespeare: Speaking About 9 Across Seating In Economy

Is this the theme that Boeing travails over, when selling its Aircraft to airlines, who in return "sardines" its passengers in economy?  United has done that on its first 787-8 and the passengers have a say! "Its not any different than what we are flying on now, because it lacks space." Nine across is too tight, and windows are too high", and so forth. It is sad to hear Boeing hand over its aircraft to any airline, and not take advantage of billions of dollars of Boeing's technological advances that were invested, while airlines cram customers together with a dream and a promise, using a similar line Boeing uses, but then those same airlines do not deliver on it, for the sake extra revenue. They should buy a -9 and go 9 across adding more leg room. A dash 8 should have a 8 across in a plus section for discerning travelers, and then go nine in the cattle call economy section, with a warning on the overhead display, Warning: all passengers beyond this point sit like a 737 and fly like a 787 good luck".  Passengers will have a way getting what they pay for, and then complaints are no way!  Check your cheap ticket price and decide if you want to pay a little more for 787 style points.  After all, its your choice no complaints please.

ANA's Domestic Configuration Nine Across
Note: narrower seats with 3-3-3, than eight across(2-4-2) shown below for the ANA International Configuration.  ANA tries to balance according to purpose. United Airlines maintains 3-3-3 in Economy Plus. However, stretching the legs and crimping the shoulders. I hope leg room moves forward on the -9 for all passengers.

Link to passengers unhappy with what United did to a Dream  

The "To Be" Part 
Boeing has a grand dream and airlines have a business model. Both need the dream and the business model to get on the same page, otherwise passengers will blame Boeing for what the Airlines did to the aircraft as far as the intrinsic value, and reputation of the 787. "Its just not a great plane when packing it like a commuter plane on a milk run." To those who sit in back, upgrade to plus section for a better seat, Don't expect a premium experience in economy on a premium aircraft. Expectations by Boeing are set at the Business class level, they used it on potential airline customer during its sales pitch.  In reality you are going for a ride on a great airplane in a cramped seat, while struggling to get your chin to the window, unless the plane goes into a steep bank after take-off. That is the "To Be Part" until carriers get it right, and use the aircraft as intended.

United Airlines' pleasure craft bridges sensibilities by a plus the legs theme, and not the shoulders. Pay a little more for stretching out better on long flights. Customers really need an understanding and gain better expectations before buying a ticket. Not every seat is first class just because its a Dream liner.

United's Play Book Below
The Not To Be Part

The unseen stuff such as breathing,  lower cost maintenance cost, and  fuel economy is the feel good psychological real element read in the brochure, where it makes you feel better emotionally, but that vision is blotted out of view in your cramp quarters of economy. Because you are stuffed in, then the "so what" attitude perks up, and you miss out on all the advantages, Boeing has worked so hard on, for so many years. That Dream becomes a Not To Be, a human sacrifice pitched on the corporate bottom line of more revenue seats.

ANA's Eight Across
No To Be Out West, But a Leader Showing The Way

As the poet says, "Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come"

WHS: footnote:
Nine Across is a missed opportunity on making customers dream, but stock holders pleased with their own wit.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

787's 20 % Fuel Savings

The makers of the 787-8 proclaims a 20% fuel savings and on some operations as high as 21%+. I have no reason to doubt ANA or other Airlines numbers, and most of all Boeing's conservative estimates, it provides to its potential customers.

Not only has the number 20% savings been floated out for consumption, but so has a 30% savings on maintenance cost. However, for anyone to figure out what derives a maintenance number is harder to come by, unless you have statistical data from many operations, and over many years under various conditions of operation. It is a nebulous number to corner, and define coming from an outside analysts point of view, without having inside data from a broad scoping operation.

So one must trust Boeing's research number of 30% maintenance savings for the 787, over its other conventional suite of aircraft in operation. Compare operations costs with today's fleets in the airlines when buying a 787.

Now fuel costs are a more direct number one should consider when viewing the scope of advantages for the new 787 design. Flying from Japan to Germany is a substantial distance. It is 5,880 miles one way. A conventional Jet will burn x gallons to get to Frankfurt from Haneda Airport, Japan and then returning with using approximately the same amount of fuel. A 20% savings means not loading the airplane with not so many gallons for its weight,fuel and weather conditions it faces. The Airline will calculate passenger weight, and fuel weight when determining exactly how many gallons needed to safely carry the aircraft to its destination. As of November 2, 2012, jet fuel cost around $2.96.9 a gallon.  Even though the price per gallon has decreased a little, it still is a major cost risk for airlines. The 787 mitigates that risk over its competition with the 787. If older aircraft raises its ticket prices from needing to burn more expensive fuel, and compounds it further by carrying additional fuel weight on long hauls, then the 787 is a windfall for those airlines having the 787 fleet.

That very concept is not even noticed by passengers as they sleep on a long haul flight. But attention will be made by a passenger when buying a ticket for $75.00 dollars less and seated on a newer aircraft.

The total fuel capacity for the 787-8 is 33,528 U.S.
gallons (126,917 liters). At 33,528 gallons a full load will cost $99, 544.00 at current fuel prices. However, ANA will not fill the 787 with a full load of fuel on this flight. Even when even loading the 787 with a full load of passengers, crew and luggage.

A-330 Maximum Range Fully Loaded is 10,830 km (5,850 nmi) fuel capacity is 97,530 L (25,760 US gal).

A-330 Maximum Range fully fueled is 12,040 km (6,500 nmi) with a light load.

What this means is that a fully loaded A-330 will not make the 5880 miles safely, even with a guarantee that no head winds will occur. They would have to lighten the load further with a carry-on luggage only configuration. The A-330 will have to segment the journey rather than non stop it. 

A 787-9 would do do just fine with 280 passengers. The 787-10 still needs further program refinements before actual numbers on fuel economy are factored. 

A final thought on this example would take the 25,760 gallons used on a full tank from the A-330, and place it into the 787 and see if would get there on the same fuel.  Even though Boeing claims increased performance over the 767 as a 20% improvement, it would also becomes an  over achiever against the A-330. Since it has the fuel capacity available to go even further for its destinations.

I will use a burn comparison between the 767 and the 787.
A fully loaded 767-300 travels a maximum of 4,260 nmi
(7,900 km). With a 20 % improvement for the 787 over the 767 performance, would mean the 767-300 full load of 16,700 gallons would push it only about 4,260 miles. Those same gallons in the 787-8 would take it almost to Frankfurt from Tokyo going 5,325 miles, just 550 miles short of the runway on the same fuel.  This means ANA only has to load an additional 2,000 gallons on the 787, to bring it up to about 18,700 gallon load on the 787 for this route.  The A-330 would need all of its 25,760 and then some to make the journey.  The difference in cost is now a  difference between (25,760 gals., for the A-330)- (19,000 gals, for the B-787) equaling 6760 gallons in fuel savings flying the Boeing aircraft.  6760 (gal) X $2.969 a gallon cost provides the airline with savings on one-way of about $20,000, and $40,000 round trip. 

There you have it from the 787 20% fuels savings advantage Boeing has over its own 767 model. You apply the fuel capacities an distances for the A-330 to the capabilities of the 787 has over its 767, which is causing Airbus to look at those gallons lost to the Boeing 787, and wondering how to bridge this problem.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Its Time For Airlines To Shine 787 Style

Move over Boeing, its our party now as Qatar loads its first passengers on a complimentary adventure and delivery flight from Seattle to Doha.

Eight Airlines have taken deliveries and are experiencing, the fun- end of the business, Qatar is putting on a party while making some money. The passengers are the ultimate benefactors of the 787.  The experience is like having the perfect bed to sleep in, while on the road. You enter the 787, sit down, and fly for 16 hours.  You get off in the same condition you got on, and remark, "that was no big deal of a flight, I didn't see many differences".  At that point you've been "had" without knowing it. You paid a ticket, arrive rested, and no big deal. Some new toys to play with on your Journey, so who cares. What did Boeing do to pull the wool over a travelers eyes?

787 News Update 11-16-12 Qatar's Stars Shines

However, it is the biggest deal going for a multitude of reasons. The airlines sold you a ticket on an Aircraft that flies smoother, quieter and gives your mind a psychological break by messaging your thoughts with a plethora of mood enhancing light shows.  No big deal, right? Not only that, you breath better without altitude sickness symptoms. "Okay if I haven't convinced you yet, just go ahead and stare out the window and keep staring until you land, and have a nice day without knowing why. Oh, I guess I mentioned windows once, never mind! If having a conversation without upping  your voice volume, so my seatmate can hear, then sleeping should be better with those quiet engines lulling you asleep."

In the old days, I took a flight on a DC-3 and listen to every pop, crackle and wing stretch coming from the engine area. I watched the wing flex in fear, rather than in admiration, as on the 787. The light show came from the engines as sparks flew off the engine cowling. You would think the engine was on fire, but it wasn't, it was doing what piston aircraft engines do, they pretend to be on fire. I chewed my gum the flight attendant gave me, to clear my ears from pressure build up. The aircraft had a cabin pressure of about 15,000 feet, coincidentally we were flying 15,000 feet. I counted the minutes we stayed aloft, since I was  a teenager going to football game, flying four hundred miles enabled time to work on math skills counting minutes through the new found fear method. Upon landing you really, really thank the airline crew from the bottom of your heart, because you are walking off the flight! This current generation does not even know the meaning of the thrill flying until you fly over the Rocky Mountains during a winter storm in a twin prop. I look out the port hole and see up close the rock formations as we clear the Rockies.  However, The 787, is no big deal!  Did we even cross the Rocky Mountains? I was too busy with the touch screen in front of me to notice. The flight attendants are oblige to say thank you for flying (whatever airline name insert here), and have a nice day.  No prayer of thanks needed, departing the 787, unlike the DC-3, just a brief mental acknowledgement of that was different than metal A-330 aircraft, once again no big deal.

No Jetway just a few steps up and in. I love the 787.

I was sitting near the curtain watching sparks and hearing all kinds on noises back in 1969. Notice no push button shades and no silent wing flex and check out the luggage bins overhead.  Note the cargo net separating the passenger area from the captain and co-pilot. My first flight was entertaining and more death-deflying than the circus.

I want everyone to pay attention to your ticket price for the airlines sake.  This same ticket purchased for a ride on the 787 goes to support these cost items, (sarcasm added below).

Fuel, 20% savings, no matter the price of fuel.
Maintenance 30% savings no matter where the hanger.
All Electric Architecture gives the 787 premium efficiencies.
Core Technology central throughout the aircraft manages operations.

Just ask ANA for those numbers.

Yet your ticket price didn't go down, and you shouldn't mind that at all. If it cost you the same to ride in an old Taxi cab compared to a luxury automobile. I would jump into a new Rolls Royce over an old Checker cab at the same price.  Value is something hard for most travelers to grasp at times. The 787 is the best value flying. Its all about the ride not airlines savings. Cheap tickets will align after the down payment is paid up through fuel and maintenance savings.

No, the 787, is not just another airplane, classifying it as no different than what you've been on before is just raw ignorance. It is the biggest change in travel since the Wright Brothers. If you think otherwise then your sensibilities need a review.

Closing this blog with this thought, If you didn't notice a difference on the 787, then Boeing did its job of eliminating the things people do notice when they travel.

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Next Big Wing

Something is cooking at Boeing/NASA, and is flying in the background, which may become the next big wing.

It is Boeing's X-48C Blended Wing Body (BWB).   A good link to the concept can be found at...  X-48C  through Aviation Week's online journal.  However, I will not repeat the article but will add wistful thoughts on this concept.

X-48C Video First Flight 

The scaled down model has flown about a hundred times by NASA, and does not currently have funding to upscale to a 737 sized model as of yet.  The main thing one can surmise from this, is that it works, and aligns with computer projections of how an all composite blended wing with two engines would behave.  A lot of concept tweaking is ongoing at this time before any attempt for additional funding is garnered.

The stage of this project places it right into  "Winging It" greedy arms, as my speculations and conceptualizations cuts from the keyboard.  This is going to be the next big winged aircraft from Boeing!  I also believe this could also be that next game changer; long after the platitudes have died down for the 787 program, during a period, where it starts cranking out 200 787 units a year for all of its sizes and configurations.  The Blended Wing Body aircraft is for cargo, passengers, and military. It also would be the second Sea Change from Boeing in the 21st century in the air-framer category.

Here is a short list of details Boeing will have on its plate, before offering such an aircraft as a formal production commitment in the Future.  The future maybe 25 years off before a freighter comes to the forefront via the military, or cargo companies.  At that time these entities would swoop up this concept for there own purposes. Here are some primary details to pound out for engineering minds in the meantime.

1. Determine how big a wing should go so it may land with today's airport layout.
2. Determine a commercial aircraft windowing for the air frame.
3. Determine what capacity and size for freight or passengers.
4. Define Military configurations that would go windowless for troop and cargo movement, and have various sizes for various mission's (i.e.paratroopers).  A dreaming example: Having drone escorts as a defensive shield controlled by on-board mission teams. The first Flying Military Operations and Deployment Center (FMODC)of its type.  Kind of like a flying flag battleship, controlling drones, troops, and  missiles during incursions and operational engagements. Providing a battalion sized unit delivered to the drop zone and then provide air-cover with drones and missiles.  
5. A commercial aircraft model would have to address the visual amenities during flying. Or have an auditorium type seating like a flying theater.
6. Military stealth configurations.

Looking at Boeing' s dance card for current new models takes on its devotion for the 777-X and the 787-10 for the following ten years of time. Then onto another series of upgrades for those future 777X and 787's models models that are sent through the engineering hopper of lessons learned one more time of next generation CRP aircraft.  Applying newest technology and engines leap to that family of aircraft for an additional 10 years, taking the Boeing journey until 2035 and beyond.  I would see a full production attempt for the BWB concept by 2040, with an initial offering for military, freight, and passenger types all dialed in during that time. It would only come sooner if some external events push the project. But Boeing is laying in the weeds, could pounce sooner than later, if the military needs arise. Boeing's flying large scale X-48C, now in testing is a proof of concept for a large military or cargo aircraft or offensive tactics.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Break Even Decision For The 787-10

The 787-10 finalization mode is going forth.  The BA Board does not want to see a presentation document until final checklist items are met.  Mainly, who will buy it, how many units, and when will ROI be met, or more clearly, by what point will production of a 787-10 start making a share holder money. The 787-8 is a sunk cost retiring tremendous risk. However, the road has been cleared, but not yet paved, which enables an investor a calculation of when and how much should be made with a successful air frame.

The 787-9 has not finished testing or started production, those stages would enable a follow on  analysis from production, and a financial snapshot of how this will position Boeing, against its rivals.  The age old accounting formula of break even analysis must make its way through a forest of cost , even though many cost have now become retired in the 787-8  garbage bin of production, short-falls, and mishaps. The 787- 9 should reap a strong and clear path to production bliss with a clearly identified financial methodology for Return On Investment.  Even though sales numbers for 787- 9 are slightly lower than the "eights" numbers,  a generally tepid market awaits to see what the other airlines are going to do, and what the "other" air-framer is going to do relating to the wide bodies. The market won't expand on the 787-9 any further until all the wrinkles are out of Boeing's "Suits".

However, this brings us to the 787-10. The plane everyone would like to have, but, aren't ready to show its hand towards a purchase.  Boeing's board is asking the folks in the Boeing trenches, how  many units do airlines want with initial orders, how fast can that be delivered, and what do customers want in a 787-10?

Its a fixed cost and variable cost balance sheet math question by unit produced. Basic formulation would require these components.

Fixed cost are the investments made as a percentage of total production cost, whether one produces an aircraft or not. it is a summarizing plant, facilities and engineering type investments/cost, whether or not a plane is sold.  However, each airplane sold makes an amount which contributes towards exceeding the fixed cost and that margin is weighed down by Variable cost factor of each unit produced, that are a sum of item costs associated with purchasing inventory items and providing labor when making one airplane reported as  as a factored variable unit cost.  How much does it cost to make, assemble and fly one aircraft out the door to a customer? A 200 million aircraft has all these component costs wrapped under its wing. The break even occurs when Boeing sells and makes enough 787-10's meeting the total fixed cost of the 787-10 project and factors in a production to delivery cost for each airplane. So here is my crude Winging It without regard to actual numbers, but as an illustration for breakeven analysis.


-#300 787-10 aircraft sold and delivered at 220 million each = Total Revenue of  66 Billion.

*   Formula : FC+ VC = BE

-   (Fixed Cost + Variable Unit  Cost) = Breakeven point.  Theoretical Question? How many units in sales to equal break even?

In this example If your Fixed cost equal  equals 20 Billion for the 787-10 program and variable cost equals 150 million per unit, you have a 70 million contribution margin for each aircraft delivered from its 220 million sales price.  The BE point in this example, equals 133 units delivered for the 787-10. To have exact numbers from a (Reality Accounting Firm), is a chore. However, a guesstimations can be used as a guide for a determination when Boeing will blink and go for the the 787-10. If they line up a prospectus for 150 units, then they will announce the 787-10 project.
Additional notes:

Allocations being applied during the 787-8 project will not look  the same for the 787-10. Many R&D items disappear before considering cost on the 10.  The Board is really interested in bottom line numbers derived from the 787-10's Break Even Cost numbers.  You need to know a very strong presales number, otherwise Boeing needs confirmed MOU's in unit numbers from customers. To say "Okay" and let's move on it. With a limit on time, the folks in the trenches need to hit on a presales number by this year's end. Break-even goal is much shorter on the 787-10 than both the Eight and Nines, and many risks have long been retired. I'm just saying, a case for selling 300 units 787-10's, to customers with proven serious consideration, is enough to launch it. 100 units is possibly a pause until a broader scope is established. If Boeing announces soon, it means they have tangible numbers to support the 787-10 beyond the Break Even point, and more opportunity in contributing to project pay-off as a whole.

787-10 News Update 11-16-12

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


Boeing is calling all hands on deck for a preliminary rendering, specifications, and application of its parts bin to create a new 777X that will bridge Boeing offering of a Mini Jumbo, which will exceed the Airbus 350-900/1000 models coming up in the next 2 to 3 years. What has been oozing out of Boeing's press reports are the considerations for composing an Aircraft, from state of the art working features, as examples on the list below of possibilities:

1. Composite wings on all flight surfaces and wing box, excluding core hull.
2. Core technology found in place on the 787 installed on 777. An all electric architecture.
3. Performance improvements for 777-X engine types.
4. New aluminum types on the hull. Increase use of titanium.
5. Extended stretch composite wings folding out  prior to take-offs so the 777 fits current airport configuration.

These items would use weight reduction technology and fuel economy engineering found on the 787.  Not having an all composite hull is offset by a composite, stretch, and folding wing; extending its range, payload, and economy.  The secret is in the sauce, and that will be an opus on wing building. Making it very saucy.

Does this compare to an all composite 787 in performance and economy? That is the tricky question.  It may not have to depending on the A350's family, roll out, and performance numbers.

It may come in at a 10-15 % increase of performance over the current model. 12% would get Boeing notice in a big way.  Knowing what the 787 did with computer modeling vs. reality is a big technological advance. Boeing has confidence to configure a 777-X on the shop computer and fly it out the door knowing they hit the mark. Plus they could do this quickly which is more critical than dreaming over an eight year cycle. A three year cycle would use the engineering and technical parts bin from the 787 investment, and added value from that former project.  That is why a one year wait is not a problem, because what is already moving forward with its surrogate 787 program  benchmarks which can roll onto the 777X program.  Its not as simple as I make it sound, but lessons learned don't have to be learned over again, and that alone makes a huge difference in the program cycle.

A lot can be done in the meantime before the go ahead trigger is squeezed.  The 777X has a few surprises in its bag as Airbus goes its way cloning the 787 project, since they deemed that undo-able in the first place, now they find themselves spending a fortune to do the undo-able.  A bridge is being built from the 777-300 to the 777-X, where that bridge can handle a lot of traffic.