Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Game Of Chicken After The Max/Neo

Who will go first Boeing or Airbus when it comes to single aisle aspiration. The risk identified is on the table is "a stagnation for single aisle ordering" as the market matures by 2024. A clear risk is hanging on today's technology with today's frame could make added value advances not enough when those advances are plugged in for buying a competitive airframes. Boeing is probably considering a possibility for the Max follow-on model, but it must be a significant change, and exciting for the market place. The real game of chicken starts with the secret places each frame maker in storing. If Airbus goes first or tries to extend the NEO theme beyond ten years they may give Boeing a window of opportunity for its next market buster after the Max's market consolidates. The current Boeing consensus is "Dreamlining" the MAX will not be an efficient use of plastic on a single aisle form. Airbus stole the march on Boeing introducing the NEO when Boeing thought NG was good enough for another 8-10 years, but the Neo changed the single aisle market dynamics, for Boeing as it had to react quickly with the Max advances.

Everything has now settled in on norming with this current NEO/Max standards after the last four years of Corporate storming over the single aisle market. This sets the stage for the next game of "Airplane Chicken", who will go first and who should go first on the next evolution? Before we get into that, some bullet point considerations will guide the General Decision Making (GDM) before the Strategic Decision Making (SDM). These points will evolve and develop soon or if it has already been developed for the GDM realm.

GDM "The What" Phase 2014- 2024

  • What the Market wants most?
  • What the market needs most?
  • What are the competition's capabilities?
  • What are this corporation's capabilities?
  • What Engineering aspects can't or won't be duplicated?
  • What changes aviation or shifts the paradigm most to this Corporate advantage?
Then comes the game of Chicken phase from the SDM Bucket.

SDM "The When" Phase

  • When going forward for next single aisle go first, identify this risk and reward?
  • When going forward go second, identify this risk and reward?
  • When will the aviation paradigm shift, and if so is will this corporation be the catalyst for the shift?
  • When are all development options on the table?
  • When going second with the MAX how did that work out in the long run?
  • When going first with 787 how did that work against the competition?

The game of chicken is complicated and corporate heads will roll if they get the next game wrong. Going first on the next single aisle reinvention will have the risk of copycat issues coming from competitors. The corporation could also be a central item in press for another slew of wrong reasons (ie. 787 project). Going second makes no new friends and catching up is high risk too. Either way having no guts gives you no glory, and playing it safe is just second place. Boeing must steal the march on Airbus in this game of chicken after the Max run reaches its completeness, and then it must go first with an all new single aisle remake.

The argument against just adding on new advances on a base concept is a risk in itself at many levels. An all new single aisle is a matter of when not if for each maker. Airbus has a good position of leveraging its technology into a revolutionary single aisle but does not have the risk neve in its nature. Explained another way. Airbus doesn't do anything within its design inspiration that can be incorporated into any new new airplane model unless its an older retired risk advancement.

Boeing has developed a maturation process for retiring risks for completely new technology where it will take its new technology off of its shelf (its wing) from R&D and make it work in all new designs. It has positioned itself going further on each succeeding generation. The Max program is an anomaly out of forced play from Airbus Neo program. The Max program needed to match the Neo and many cases exceeded it through the 787 program spin-offs. The Next Boeing single aisle is on track to astound the market and stump Airbus. The question is what will Boeing develop that Airbus can't copy without years of effort and billions spent?

The next Boeing single aisle will need three areas of attention they are as follows:

  • Weight Breakthrough
  • Power Breakthrough
  • Aero Design Breakthrough
Boeing will be looking for a single aisle "Moon shot". Starting with weight is an interesting proposition. Every part on the aircraft has weight. Including the dirt in the upholstery and carpet. Airlines have to compensate with what a passenger puts in its luggage or the diet a passenger isn't on. I am surprised airlines don't put a passenger on a scale when buying a travel ticket. 

"Stand here on this square with your carry-on, purse-backpack and luggage. You weigh 110 kilos. Our rate is $3.89 per Kilo for this 3,000 mile trip, your ticket price. is..." message received, go on a diet wear light shoes  and brush your teeth. Also buy cheap clothing at your destination. That is if you weigh about an overall 242 lbs of travel weight. You have 60 lbs travel accessories! Actually passengers become, is flying weight.

This means airlines who can strip the most weight off from the airframe and its customers are a leg up on the competition. My leg weighs about 34 lbs or 15 kilos or having a portion cost of $58.35USD for this flight. The airline who builds the lightest airplane will save its customers an arm and a leg buying a ticket. Boeing will come out using a new composite material before committing to an all new single aisle plastic body project.

Power Breakthrough is happening now, and will continue forward as new innovations parts materials and and engineered solutions for optimization of an engine performance. Currently GE is testing a ceramic material that can withstand extreme temperatures.

Dayton Daily News:

"Specifically, GE is developing jet engine components made from ceramic matrix composites containing silicon carbide ceramic fibers and ceramic resin that are lighter weight, more durable and can withstand hotter temperatures than their metal substitutes, said Jon Blank, chief of engineering for GE Aviation’s CMC laboratory in Evendale."

In fact the MAX engine, a CFM will be a direct beneficiary from GE mastery of its advancements. This engine will go beyond the CFM Leap horizon. The power is fluxing towards a better engine for a lighter airplane fully loaded. The When strategic deadline is about ten years from now. with a remarkable 10% over today's latest engines. The Quality Management model of "Always Improving" has lit the eternal flame in the engine world. Not only will  it incorporate less weight, but more tolerant parts with heat and stress. The jet engine is far from done improving. It's about halfway there from the first applied German engine in 1944 to the last GE or Rolls in the year 2100. By then a new power may emerge which could be neither rocket or jet. I look

Aero design is Boeing's strong suite. Airbus has figured out pop sickle stick wings can be improved. Japan is on the same page with Boeing and is an exciting partner building special wings. How deep has wing building gone? Try reading about laminar flow technology and you find very little. Boeing has most of the data on these physics. Its the birds natural secrets found within its flight feathers. Long ago, in the middle ages, science pictured a flapping wing frame driven by a man. The human race has learned it doesn't need to flap to fly. It needs to glide as if weightless. Airplanes fly like the albatross who are adverse to any kind of flapping. An Albatross glides for days on wind currents. Science has also exposed laminar flow dynamics. Boeing has scoped this science and technology and it is expanding laminar flow onto its next bird and during 777X testing or 787-9 operations. The next single aisle will out with some laminar flow technology on the frame which is not currently found on the Max.

Body, nose and tail doctors are in the house. Boeing is known for doing CAD magic on body efficiency. The 747 iconic nose is a part of history books. The new 787 tail is raw raw draft of what's next, and is receiving step changes in the lab. Coming to the body I will insert this question and I have mentioned this before,  somewhere last year. What about golf balls? I mean all those little tiny dimples on golf balls? Why can't Boeing test using micro dimples on one side of the wing or all sides of the body, making a single aisle slip through the air by 5% better with dimples? It comes down to these kind of questions. I am sure Boeing has tested this physics eccentricity, and knows what it will do with this application. One paint job could mess up dimple effectiveness. The answer might be in the paint gun itself giving the aircraft an aerodynamic texture with dimples? Who Knows anyway? The answers are being added onto a single aisle "Best Generation" aircraft. One that will be hard to copy by others.