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.

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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.

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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.

Finishing.

Finishing. 

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?

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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):

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

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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.

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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.

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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…

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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).

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