Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A-350-1000, Say Good Bye At Dubai

Boeing is collecting extreme interest during the run up for the Dubai Air Show this November 17-21.. A Break out performance is in the offing for the 777-8, and 777-9 announcments. Giving a coronation of this type as being a mini Jumbo King. Already there is talk that the 777-8 or -09 will eclipse the A-350-1000 numbers in one fell swoop with an order  book exceeding 250 for the 777X. The sudden shock and awe has already hit Airbus as they await the sentencing from a collection of customers playing jurors in this case. Will it be a life sentence of being second fiddle, or an ultimate death penalty seeking many appeals from its customers?

The answer awaits in Dubai soon. All Things 787, may want to expand its Blog title to All Things Not Airbus. Here is Uresh short list of prime customers.

"Lufthansa - 34 (already announced)
Cathay Pacific - 40 according to Saj Ahmad
Etihad - 30 plus another 30 787-9s
Qatar - 50 according to Saj
Emirates - 100 - 150"

This short list could go higher with a few more surprises. The count is at 254 realistic orders with maybe a few more. At this time it threatens and exceeds the A-350-1000 three years old + order book.

Boeing is carefully working with its customer which pleases the "launch customers" base. They have engineered a platform where customers can add configuration contributions as a launch customers. That is the reward for being that premier customer. Japan Airlines  has missed an opportunity with Boeing. Feeling slighted they choose 31, A-350's, over its long standing partnership with Boeing. Sometimes a guy has to do what guy has to do. JAL went rogue and will wake up in a different world. A no Guts no Glory scenario for JAL was a big blow for Boeing, but its hay- maker at Dubai is coming back this November 17th. An exciting Airshow for all the hype that is building for the event.  I look forward to this airshow for its particular marketing strategy from Boeing, as if it will send a strong signal to Airbus. The is the capstone of these last ten years. Does Boeing really have Airbus right where they want them? An Airbus that is stuck with its under technological A-350's competing inside the Boeing sandwich of 787 and 777's? Two hundred and fifty 777-X orders with 30 more 787 orders would suggest the deed is done, as in, Airbus is trapped with billions invested on a lost leader family of aircraft.

Harsh as it may sound, that is Boeing's true Dream, An A-350 catastrophe in the Market. The door is swinging shut on Airbus. Airbus committed and went deep into its play book and may have to change strategy mid-stream losing another 5 years in the market place. I don't think they will because the "industrial momentum"  for building an "Edsel" is too strong.  Airbus is on track for late 2014 for the A-350. Boeing delivered the 787 late 2011 and should have two hundred copies flying by late 2014. Airbus' softer technological approach promises to be error free at first delivery. They took a strategy of staying within the envelope of proven technology with plastic and electronics. It backed off from all electrical architecture. It back off from Lithium Ion batteries. Those where the key 787 problematic areas. Airbus included expansive use of old and heavier hydraulics instead of Boeing's penchant for saving weight with electrical. Boeing's wing design is advanced of Airbus. The 777 is getting a really advanced wing beyond the Airbus A-350-1000 wing. It is a composite wing that folds up and fits well in the Jet Way area. The 777  is a blended technology aircraft offering the lightest weight aluminium body of new technological metallic blends. All flight surfaces will be a plastic wing having a performance envelope similar to the 787 wings. The side stick A-350 will fly like an easy ride in the park. Thumbs up for Airbus. Boeing completes the 787 like commonality circuitry with the 777. All Boeing Aircraft will fly like the 777. Or better stated, the 777 will fly like the 787, vice/verse.

The Dubai crowd have been waiting too long for this moment. Many design issues are already retired from both the the prior 777 and 787 models. Engines continue to advance every day. By the time the first 777 will fly, more GE engine types will have been upgraded through PIP programs. The final GE engine placed on the first wing of a 777 will just be the first engine placed on the wing. Several more improved types will be in the process before first delivery. The end game is Quality Management 101, "Always improving".  The 777 GE-X Engine is always improving. Any bragging right from both makers is under scored with improvement.. Therefore, a claim for efficiency is a horse race with neck and neck outcomes. The real prize is the the best airplane from an operational and service point of view. JAL lost its nerve with the 787 in this category. A 95% -97% service record was too low for JAL, and eroded all the benefits of flying efficiently by sitting on ground refusing passengers when it was fixing 787 glitches.

The price to pay of new technology quantum leap when it expected a perfect flight record. The great expectation was traded in for a dumb down 787 knock-off having a A-350 name. The no pain no gain saying flies by the window at JAL Now back to the 777 case at Dubai.. JAL won't be there as a principal, but a spectator. They will enjoy the event, but will miss out on a back stage pass. There are some many check list items to discuss at this point, but it is import to know the big picture. The outcome of this show will signal the Boeing success or failure in its Airbus strategy. If they succeed by surpassing Airbus in orders at this event.  Especially surpassing the A-350-1000, then it wins.