Monday, May 25, 2015

Keeping Up: Airbus has 3 WB's Delivered, Boeing has 279 WB's Delivered

Airbus has delivered 3, A350-900 since December 22, 2015. All to Qatar. Boeing has hit full stride with 279-787's, since its first delivery in late September 2011. Boeing spun out three 787 in its first three months. Airbus has done the same feat in five months.  It has predicted 12 more in 2015. Comparing the two programs indicates a separate strategy. The Boeing 787 effort jumped over Airbus, and has left the Euro company a no rush approach. Boeing rushed its charge forward regardless the obstacles it encountered for its more complex made aircraft.

Had Boeing not had the battery issue, it would have probably gained more sales in the early production years. However, things being what they where, Boeing gave up some precious ground over Airbus during 2012-2013. Risk averting airlines, may have opted for the Airbus during the bad days Boeing had encountered. All things considered, the market is settling into an orderly two camp market for wide bodies. Each having its own talking points for salesmanship.

The Airbus approach is going very carefully forward, and celebrating its three deliveries in five months without the press hounding them over any internal calamities from program mishaps. As it was experienced in  Boeing's fast start. Airbus is simply laying low in the weeds and relishing its second place position without all the Boeing "hub-bub"  concerning its: forming, storming and norming and performing of the 787.

  1. "The Forming – Storming – Norming – Performing model of group development was first proposed by Bruce Tuckman in 1965, who maintained that these phases are all necessary and inevitable in order for the team to grow, to face up to challenges, to tackle problems, to find solutions, to plan work, and to deliver results."
Wiki reference:

Tuckman's stages of group development



These are factors of team building. Airbus has done its storming in privacy with no unreasonable goal setting the pace. It quietly keeps announcing certainties long after that "certainty" is achieved within the program. Where it is long past tense rather than ,Boeing's approach of announcing a "certainty", before all problems are worked out. Hence Boeing ran the risk of a program mishap during the early history of the aircraft.

It is not to say Airbus did not have its share of mishaps within the program. However, it is to say being second, allowed them the position for the A-350 of laying low in the weeds, of never having publicity over those types mishaps. Airbus couched its airplane development, and not often reported any problems within the framework of A-350 lower tech development. Boeing came out naked into the press stirring up interest for its "All New 787", which superseded the Wright Brothers Historical effort back-in-the-day.  Boeing needed the limelight to launch its program for the 787 to succeed. It needed the press to quantum jump Airbus who was left sanding flat footed back in 2007.

The Boeing risk was shadowed by battery failure, adding shims, and drill holes and fastener making wing cracks. Airbus for sure had its shakedown period for its own million part aircraft assembly during  the early A-350 start-up. Except they were in second place, and mitigated its news under the developmental umbrella of press protection. Boeing marched out with its chest laid bare. Oops, there were some nasty scars exposed after if flew commercially during 2012. Boeing pressed into gaining separation from Airbus' slow slog to delivery.

The market has settled. The bean counting has started comparing both programs. Airbus claims its better than the 787. That is to be expected even if the A-350 is considered nothing more than a plastic kite. They will always say they are better, no matter the circumstance! It's their job that's what they do.

Boeing has passed the mishap curve in full display of the press ramblings. The aircraft is actually remarkable, imagine that! The added value 787 has secrets within its frame, and its not 5 inches wider which is Airbus' only difference maker over the 787. The all electric scheme has flown in almost four years, where in a few months it will celebrate its fourth years in service. Over 330-787 will be delivered by end of October 2015. The added value of the 787 is becoming realized through those same systems diagnostics. Maintenance cost are now hard numbers and very pleasing to Boeing's customers. A second wave of orders should reflect the pleasing performance of the 787, sans glitches. The brochure given the customers back in 2011 rings true finally.

The A-350 has only three in commercial aircraft flying at this time, and will soon have more. By the time the A-350 has delivered 15 of its type at years end, Boeing will have delivered about 120 during 2015 and totaling 348-787 for the over-all program delivered. (See Chart Below)

*2015 Delivery Projected for Year End

Winging It Chart adjusted for Year end production projections . 

Laying in the weeds during development for Airbus has paid off for its WB order book. Baring any major mishap in commercial service, the A-350-9 will be a steady program forward, which keeps Boeing hopping for years to come. At the end of 2016, Boeing will have an over 400 units delivered lead over A-350 delivered making a significant foot print in the WB  Market. Airbus is betting on additional passenger space and its follow-on optics for the passengers. Boeing has played both to the Airline customer and its passengers with top to bottom advancements. Airlines choose the seat configuration and numbers in passengers for the space available.
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Both makers have a comparable backlog of around 800 units. However, Boeing is at a 10-12 unit per month rate where Airbus has not achieved even a 1 a month rate since first delivery. Boeing may go under Airbus' Backlog by year's end, depending on any new orders taken in for the makers in the next six months.

This leads into the next topic, the customer reflexes towards having a quicker delivery date from the airplane maker's backlog availability. Boeing certainly has the high ground, since it has devoured backlog from its peak order book number of 1,104-787, and it could it go significantly under the 800 backlog units mark by year's end from a robust production program. Otherwise, the Paris Air Show could change the backlog metric with new order announcements, as Airbus uses this event for its own self-promotion. The Paris Airshow becomes a signal, whether Airbus has anything going on at-all for the year. Boeing may come in with a few 787 surprises (orders), as I am suspecting. The first three months Boeing showed a normal progression of orders each month.. The pace of announcement has lessened, as customers may be waiting for this year's next event for its big bang, and attention generation during the Paris Airshow event. It looks as if both manufacturers will hover around 800 WB's to be delivered from its backlog by end of 2015. I would not be surprised if Boeing's Backlog goes back up to, and over 850 787's after the Paris Announcements.

Reference Credit: All Things 787