Monthly Archives: July 2013

A380 sales compared to 747 sales at program start

Some weeks ago, in a discussion with a colleague we tried to put into context whether the A380 sales were such a dismal or not.

My colleague first plotted A380 orders since the program launch (2001) in comparison to those of the 747 (1966). I show below the result:

A380 and 747 orders referenced to the year of launch of each program.

A380 and 747 orders referenced to the year of launch of each program.

Both programs show an initial sales rush at the time of program launch. In both cases the rhythm of sales slowed down after the second year. In the first 11 years of program, each had managed:

  • A380: 262 orders.
  • 747: 357 orders.

Thus, we can see that the Boeing 747 was selling better already from the beginning of the program.

However, I wanted to make yet another comparison: aircraft orders taking as reference the year of first delivery, having heard so often the industry mantra that some potential customers would want to wait to see the aircraft in operation before placing orders. See below this second comparison:

A380 and 747 orders referenced to the year the 1st aircraft delivery of each program.

A380 and 747 orders referenced to the year the 1st aircraft delivery of each program.

In this case, and due to the shorter time to develop the Boeing 747 since program launch (1966), the difference in sales is narrowed:

  •  A380: 262 orders.
  • 747: 281 orders.

You can see that still, 5 years after the 1st delivery of each aircraft (2007 for the A380 and 1969 for the 747) Boeing had sold more aircraft, but with this reference the margin is lower, 19 aircraft.

Boeing 747. The Boeing 747 was the first wide-body in commercial aircraft history and still is the twin-aisle with the highest amount of aircraft sold (1,528 a/c as of today, probably to be soon overtaken by the 777) and delivered (1,464 a/c as of today). However, it has taken over 40 years to reach those numbers. The 1,000th unit sold was reached after 25 years of sales in 1990. The 1,000th unit delivered was also reached after 25 years of aircraft deliveries, in 1993.

Thus, in my opinion, when we want to measure the success of the A380 we cannot be distracted by the figures of other commercial aviation segments (single-aisle and small / intermediate twin-aisle) but we have to check what the 20-year forecasts for the Very Large Aircraft say:

  • ~1,300 aircraft according to Airbus GMF,
  • ~600 aircraft according to Boeing CMO,

and then see what could be expected market share for the A380 against those forecasts and whether it is getting the orders to reach it or not.

You can find orders and deliveries figures in both manufacturers websites or summarized here: A380 and 747.


Filed under Aerospace & Defence

Twin-aisle aircraft deliveries 20-year forecast

I read in the following article “Airbus seeks to increase Washington State supply business; aims for 13 A350s/mo” (from Leeham News) how from a presentation of a A350 supplier (ElectroImpact) at an aerospace suppliers event in Washington State, it was concluded that the Airbus aimed at building 13 A350s per month, as the mentioned supplier had built its factory with capacity to extend production rates up to those 13 aircraft.

This would be news because in its presentations Airbus talks about a production ramp-up up to 10 a/c per month (as does Boeing for the 787, which 10 aircraft/month should be reached by the end of 2013).

Having analyzed several times Airbus’ Global Market Forecast (GMF) and Boeing’s Current Market Outlook (CMO), I believe that those production rates of above 10 aircraft per month should be expected by industry followers just by seeing the numbers included in those forecasts.

In 2012, the GMF forecasted about 6,500 twin-aisle to be delivered in the next 20 years. The CMO indicated 7,210 aircraft. In 2013, Boeing CMO slightly reduced the figure to 7,130 a/c.

Comparison of Airbus GMF and Boeing CMO 2012-2031.

Thus, both companies expect between 6,500 to 7,200 twin-aisle passenger aircraft to be delivered in the following 20 years (excluding freighters, 747 and A380 – these 2 considered as Very Large Aircraft in the studies).

1st approach. If we were to take the mid-point of both forecasts, about 6,850 a/c, and simply divided by 20 years, we would reach to an average figure of 343 twin-aisle aircraft to be delivered per year between the 2 manufacturers, or 28 a/c per month. If Airbus wanted to maintain the long-term 50% market share, it would have to aim at delivering 14 a/c per month between all its twin-aisle products, which soon will be A330 and A350.

2nd approach. However, current twin-aisle production levels are in no way close to those 343 a/c per year. In 2012 there were 258 deliveries thanks to the introduction of 787s, but in the previous decade the average was about ~165 a/c per year. Thus, manufacturers must have a deliveries’ ramp up to accommodate those 6,850 in the next 20 years. Not knowing what that ramp-up is, I just linearized from where we are today and what is to be delivered.

I plotted in the graphic below all the deliveries of twin-aisle (excluding Very Large Aircraft) from the 1970s to 2012, and then what a forecast could be departing from 2012 deliveries’ figure to accommodate ~6,850 a/c in the next 20 years.

Taking a look at the graphic, one can already understand that if we take the GMF and CMO forecasts as good ones, the manufacturing rhythm will have to accelerate in the following years, especially in the second decade. In the late 2020s, over 400 twin-aisle would have to be delivered per year (over 33 per month), thus manufacturers will have to churn above 16 a/c per month each, that is the double of what they produced during the last decade.

Twin-aisle deliveries: historic series (1970s-2012) and forecast (excludes VLA -A380  & 747).

Twin-aisle deliveries: historic series (1970s-2012) and forecast (excludes VLA -A380 & 747).

Market shares. One could wonder whether this growth will favour more one company or the other. I compared market shares (excluding VLA):

  • in 2012: Boeing delivered 155 twin-aisle (26 767s, 83 777s, 46 787s) vs. Airbus 103 a/c (101 A330s, 2 A340s)… 60% / 40%.
  • in 2003-2012: Boeing delivered 839 twin aisle (148 767s, 642 777s, 49 787s) vs. Airbus 880 a/c (44 A300s, 687 A330s, 149 A340s)… 48% / 51%.
  • in 1993-2012: Boeing delivered 1,687 twin aisle (572 767s, 1,066 777s, 49 787s) vs. Airbus 1,521 a/c (175 A300s, 31 A310s, 938 A330s, 377 A340s)… 50% / 45%.

[The shares in the past decades include marginal deliveries from Ilyushin models and McDonnell Douglas models, which share I kept out of Boeing even after the merger in august 1997, these are ~30 a/c to be added to the 1,687]

Seeing that market shares have been fluctuating but always around 40-60% for each company, they could expect to have to at least deliver 40% of those 6,850 a/c in 20 years, or of those above 400 a/c in the late 2020s.

Backlog. Finally, just to see how the twin-aisle mix for each company is going to be, let’s look at the aircraft on order (backlog) that each company has as of today (end June 2013):

  • Airbus (43%):
    • A330: 260 a/c to be delivered.
    • A350: 678 a/c to be delivered.
  • Boeing (57%):
    • 767: 56 a/c to be delivered.
    • 777: 339 a/c to be delivered.
    • 787: 864 a/c to be delivered.

Thus, of the 6,850 twin-aisle to be delivered in the next 20 years, about 2,200 are already contracted as of today (plus the above 130 a/c delivered within the first half of 2013), thus 33% of those 6,850 a/c is more or less secured and among those the split is 57 / 43 for Boeing.


Filed under Aerospace & Defence

Bay to Breakers

While reading the tourist guide about California in preparation of our honeymoon, Luca discovered the race “Bay to Breakers” in San Francisco. We checked the website, the dates, we saw it was going to take place during our stay and so I subscribed to it.

For those who haven’t heard about it, Bay to Breakers is more than just a race. It is a city event. A party that has been going in San Francisco since it was first celebrated in the year 1912, partly to boost the city’s morale after 1906 earthquake. This year they celebrated 102nd edition. Bay to Breakers obtained the Guinness World Record as the largest footrace in 1986 with over 110,000 runners, while today they count with between 60 to 80 thousands. Another fun fact: it is the longest consecutively race in the world (not having changed length nor course along these 100 years).

The race is a kind of carnival, very much like the San Silvestre Vallecana in Madrid in New Year’s Eve. It goes from one side of San Francisco, Embarcadero (in Howard street), to the other by the Pacific Ocean, after 12 kilometres (see the map here, PDF).

The atmosphere was great, despite of the bombing in the Boston marathon having taken place just a month beforehand, for which we observed a minute of silence prior to the race in memory of the victims.

Most of the participants were wearing some costumes, perhaps more than in the San Silvestre in Madrid, as the weather is milder at this time of the year.

Not knowing the circuit nor the streets, my intention was just to run the 12 kilometres in less than 1 hour, that was the time I had indicated in order to start from one of the front corrals. In the end, I felt quite good running, even during the climb up in Hayes Street Hill I kept up running (I only needed to make a quick stop by some urinary at the 4 km :-)).

Bay to Breakers circuit.

Bay to Breakers circuit.

The views of the race were especially good at the beginning while running along the civic center area, where most of the cheering crowd was, and then at the Golden Gate Park, which was also the longest part of the race. However, in the final kilometres there weren’t many people cheering, which is the only weak point that I see of this race in the comparison to the San Silvestre Vallecana in Madrid.

Having pushed hard in the last 4 kilometres where the profile was descending to the sea-shore, finishing with a sprint after a turn by the Dutch mills of the park, I finished in 58 minutes, two minutes below my initial target. A very good experience for my first race in the USA.



One final fun fact: at some points in the race I encountered groups of runners that were somehow chained to one another. I found it strange but not so much, as I have seen runners pulling a chariot, dressing in all kinds of costumes in coordination with other runners, etc. Only after having finished, I learnt that these were centipedes!

There is a special classification for centipedes, which are teams of 13 runners attached to one another. In fact the record of the Centipedes category (LinkedIn 2012) is 36’44”, which is over 1 minute faster than the best ever women time and way faster than I would ever dream to accomplish!

P.S.: For the San Silvestre team: shall we go for centipede team next time?


Filed under Sports, Travelling

Boeing 787s parked in Paine Field

During our visit to Boeing wide-bodies final assembly lines in Everett, one thing was striking to the eye: the amount of Boeing 787s that were parked all around Paine Field. This is a view I was expecting to see since (a) at the time we travelled there (May 2013) the final fix to the 787’s batteries problem had not yet been approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) nor implemented in the already built aircraft, and (b) Boeing had kept churning 787s out of the assembly line thus provoking the mounting of them around the place.

See some of the pictures I took of them (not many pictures, nor very good ones as within the factory limits photo cameras were prohibited):

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

A collector’s gallery of a (luckily) rare event.

Leave a comment

Filed under Aerospace & Defence, Travelling

Santa Monica Track Club

To some of you the initials SMTC or the name Santa Monica Track Club won’t ring any bell. Some others will immediately recognize the name of the athletics or “track and field” club in which some of the all time best athletes ran, such as Carl Lewis, Leroy Burrell, Michael Marsh, and many others.

When preparing the planning of our honeymoon, and since I was going to be running some days throughout it due to the preparation for San Diego marathon, I thought it would be nice to go and check SMTC and see where did they train and do a training session there myself.

I checked the website of the club but it did not help much. However, searching in different forums in the web, I found out that the club is not going through the best of the times struggling to find sponsors. The coach, Joe Douglas, is still the same one who prepared Carl Lewis. They normally trained in either in the Santa Monica College track (in the “Corsair Stadium”) and in Ocean Avenue, at a park by the beach, and they seemed to keep training in those places.

Then, I contacted the Santa Monica College faculty members in charge of the sports installations to see if I could use the track for training. Given the hours in which I planned to train (between 6 and 8 am) I obtained permission.

On May 15, Luca and I set out early in the morning for the track, where I did a 10 kilometre training surrounded by several other people running, walking or warming up to practice other sports.

Training session at SMC.

Training session at SMC.

It was a good experience and I am happy to have checked it out. However, it was a bit disappointing to see no memory, no sign, no trace of what glory that place lived not so long ago (ok, between 25 to 30 years ago). When I think of the legend that Carl Lewis is in athletics, I am puzzled that they do not show any pride of him.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Another thing that I missed was finding a t-shirt of the SMTC. I searched in various local shops but I didn’t find any. I learnt in some of them that Nike is selling a cotton replica (not a technical t-shirt) to commemorate it, however I didn’t find it in the stores, only in the online shop. I may buy it at some point as my personal and private homage to the SMTC of the ’80s.

Carl Lewis with SMTC t'shirt.

Carl Lewis with SMTC t-shirt.


Filed under Sports, Travelling

West of here

Some years ago, I watched a TED talk in which the case of the topic of how language influenced the way we think was discussed. In particular I remembered that it was given as an example how the Guugu Yimithirr people, Australian aborigines, had a very developed sense of orientation because in their language there were not such words as “left”, “right”, “in front of” or “behind”, but they have to give relative positions or directions with words like “North”, “South”, “East” and “West”. That example was kept deep in my mind.

I would comfortably reckon myself as someone who has a good sense of orientation, and when visiting Seattle about 2 months ago I was quickly reminded of the example described above when seeing this kind of signs:

"Parking prohibited West of here".

“Parking prohibited West of here”.

We saw several of such signs, either giving instructions in relation to North/South or East/West. As in Seattle you have the Ocean coast mainly at the West, I would say that is easy for everyone to interprete these signs, but then again, not using that kind of language priming in English, I guess that some people will be mistaken from time to time.

P.S.: In the picture above, I knew where the West was and where my car was, I just won’t tell…

Leave a comment

Filed under Travelling

Dear Congressman, send the C-27Js to The Boneyard

I read yesterday the following article from Aviation Week & Space Technology: “U.S. Coast Guard Patrol Aircraft May Fall To Cuts“. Part of the article stated the obvious, that the Coast Guard modernization programs may fall also victims of the budgetary pressures faced elsewhere in the Department of Defense or Department of Homeland Security. However, the following passage caught my attention:

“While the results of the portfolio review, started in April, remain to be seen, the Coast Guard has not given up on gaining new equipment. Obama administration officials are looking at transferring at least 14 newly built Finmeccanica C-27J transports from the Air Force, which has controversially declared them “excess” to its needs. As CRS reported, if the Coast Guard were to receive 14 or more C-27s, it could stop procurement of EADS HC-144A maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) at the halfway point, with 18 aircraft, saving $887 million.”

I was amazed, since:

The rationale behind was the potential saving of up to 800M$ in acquisition costs (not buying the remaining 18 out of 36 aircraft which originally made up the Deepwater program) and getting some 14 C-27J instead…

If I were an US Congressman looking for savings across the US Armed Services, I would have it clear: instead of interfering with sound acquisition programs, I would simply get those C-27Js already acquired, send a couple of them to museums and the rest to The Boneyard in Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, to lay there forever close to their older brothers the C-27As and avoid any cost-ineffective operating and maintenance expenses on them…

The only cost-effective C-27s are in the desert (or already scrapped).

The only cost-effective C-27s are in the desert (or already scrapped).


Filed under Aerospace & Defence

Manzanar War Relocation Center

During our honeymoon, on the way back from visiting Edwards AF Base, we decided on the spot not to take again highways 58 and 5 to San Francisco, but to go North by the Eastern part of Sierra Nevada and cross the whole of Yosemite National Park the following morning. With this new route we would drive more miles, give away a hotel reservation in Fresno but we were able to see the Red Rock Canyon State Park (famous for scenic rocky formations, featured in several films), Mount Whitney (with 4,421m the highest point of the Lower 48), Mono Lake (a terminal lake famous for its alkaline water) and Manzanar…

Manzanar War Relocation Center

Manzanar is the site where one of the concentration camps where thousands of Japanese and Americans with a Japanese origin were imprisoned during World War II. Manzanar is one black spot in the US history, let me quote from the Wikipedia:

Dr. James Hirabayashi, Professor Emeritus and former Dean of Ethnic Studies at San Francisco State University, wrote an article in 1994 in which he stated that he wonders why euphemistic terms used to describe camps such as Manzanar are still being used.

Let us review the main points of the debate. Over 120,000 residents of the U.S.A., two thirds of whom were American citizens, were incarcerated under armed guard. There were no crimes committed, no trials, and no convictions: the Japanese Americans were political incarcerees. To detain American citizens in a site under armed guard surely constitutes a “concentration camp.” But what were the terms used by the government officials who were involved in the process and who had to justify these actions? Raymond Okamura provides us with a detailed list of terms. Let’s consider three such euphemisms: “evacuation,” “relocation,” and “non-aliens.” Earthquake and flood victims are evacuated and relocated. The words refer to moving people in order to rescue and protect them from danger. The official government policy makers consistently used “evacuation” to refer to the forced removal of the Japanese Americans and the sites were called “relocation centers.” These are euphemisms (Webster: “the substitution of an inoffensive term for one considered offensively explicit”) as the terms do not imply forced removal nor incarceration in enclosures patrolled by armed guards. The masking was intentional.

I didn’t know about the imprisonment of Japanese Americans in American soil during the war until I came to Manzanar. During the same trip, we also had the chance to learn more about that topic in those times in Seattle at Pike Place Market, from where many Japanese Americans were first dispossessed from their shops and assets and then sent to concentration camps like Manzanar. 

After learning about this, I guess that the months after the bombing of Pearl Harbor (December 7, 1941) surely must have been very dramatic in the USA, and that political upheaval felt in DC must have been tremendous. Not only how to respond to that attack but to which extent were they safe in American soil, the suspicions or paranoia that people must have felt, the man haunts that must have happened, the incomprehension felt by those Americans…

On February 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which authorized the Secretary of War to designate military commanders to prescribe military areas and to exclude “any or all persons” from such areas. The order also authorized the construction of what would later be called “relocation centers” by the War Relocation Authority (WRA) to house those who were to be excluded. This order resulted in the forced relocation of over 120,000 Japanese Americans, two-thirds of whom were native-born American citizens. 

Today is a National Historic Site that can be visited from dawn to sunset, on foot or by car, following a defined route which guides you through where the different parts of the camp were located, of which only a handful are standing or have been re-constructed.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

See also some pictures from the other spots that I mentioned we saw during that day:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

1 Comment

Filed under Travelling

Sequoia National Park

When planning our honeymoon, with main destination California, it early became clear that other national parks were optional but the must visit would be the Sequoia National Park.

The schedule of the trip was tight and we were not up to long walks or hiking routes, however, with a good map and a car we could reach many of the sights in the west part of the park (be aware that within the park there are no gas stations, so you better fill up the tank beforehand).

We slept over at Montecito Sequoia Lodge and before breakfast I took the opportunity to run in the forest. It wasn’t a long run, just 8km, but it was wonderful though the climbing part was tough as I went up until Big Baldy (2,503m) where the 360º sights of snow-covered mountains and valleys were superb (it’s a pity that I did not take the photo camera for that morning run).

Run from Montecito Lodge to Big Baldy.

Run from Montecito Lodge to Big Baldy.

After breakfast, we spent the day driving through the park seeing most of the highlights of the park and dozens if not hundreds of sequoia trees. The biggest one is the General Sherman Tree, if not the oldest nor the tallest nor the widest (as there are other trees claiming those records).

General Sherman Tree.

General Sherman Tree.

It is the biggest by volume, with 1,487 cubic metres, with an estimated age between 2,300-2,700 years and about 1,900 metric tones of estimated mass (that is 10 times the weight of a blue whale or almost 200 times that of an elephant). You can see some explanation about the tree in the sign post from the park pictured below:

Sherman tree explanation.

General Sherman tree explanation.

There are many other stunning sequoia trees living or fallen, that make the visit to the park special, even if at the end of the day you end up not deviating the sight from the road to see one more sequoia.

Apart from the trees, there are many other worthy things to do or to see, including the stunning views from Moro Rock, or the different meadows you could walk by.

Enjoy some other pictures we took at the park:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


P.S.: By the way, Luca had just learn before this trip that you need not to go to California to see sequoia trees, but that in the region of Cantabria (Spain) you can see them as well! At the Monte Cabezón.

Leave a comment

Filed under Sports, Travelling

Bubba Gump Shrimp Company

If in a previous post I described the feast of garlic we had in The Stinking Rose, now I will tell you about the shrimp feast we had in Bubba Gump Shrimp Company restaurant.

The restaurant is part of a franchise with about 40 restaurants in the world, half of them in the USA and the other half overseas (for the readers of the blog living close to one of them, this post will be nothing surprising).

If you were wondering: yes, the restaurants are named after the movie Forrest Gump. We learnt from the Wikipedia that just one year after the release of the movie, the idea came up and the licensing and setting up such a restaurant chain began.

When I saw the movie I didn’t particularly like it very much. I thought it was too much of it. But then after some years I caught some sympathy for the character of Forrest because of being yelled “Run Forrest” at some times by someone thinking very funny of himself when you passed-by running and he was drinking some beer with his friends.

So, during the last trip to California I didn’t hesitate in trying out one of these restaurants, and we visited the one at Pier 39 in San Francisco. I loved the experience! (No need to say that I have always loved shrimps…)

Before entering the restaurant the chances are that you may take some picture as the one below (this one is from the Universal Studios restaurant, though):

Bench alike the bus stop of the movie Forrest Gump.

Bench alike the bus stop of the movie Forrest Gump.

The restaurant is fully decorated with images and memorabilia from the movie. I had not watched the movie in years, but it was nice to be reminded of it in that way. Catching up passages when seeing pictures, reading catchy sentences…

Some of those catchy phrases have turned into very useful things. E.g., in some restaurants it’s hard to catch the eye of an elusive waiter, no matter whether you want to order, to pay, or to ask anything. If they want to, the waiters will manage to avoid making eye-contact with you. In Bubba Gump restaurants this stress is eliminated by the introduction of two signs with the texts “Stop Forrest Sop”, to call for the waiter, and “Run Forrest Run”, to let him know you are OK.

"Stop Forrest Stop" signpost to call for a waiter.

“Stop Forrest Stop” signpost to call for a waiter.

Shrimp feast at Bubba Gump restaurant.

Shrimp feast at Bubba Gump restaurant.

Another thing that we kind of liked was the small quiz presented to us by the restaurant manager: she asked some 5 questions about the movie for us to earn the already ordered meal! (I think we failed the test, but they allowed us to eat anyway :-)).

Finally, I admire the fact of having built up a whole franchise based just in a passage from a movie. You may think of the many movies with which you could try that (e.g. a “007 Martini Bar” where all cocktails from James Bond movies are prepared and the place is decorated with memorabilia from the movies) but then I cannot recall having seen such opportunities being chased.

1 Comment

Filed under Travelling