Monthly Archives: January 2018

A380 vs. 747: orders and production rates

After the recent announcement by Airbus and Emirates of the signature of an MoU for up to 36 A380 (press release), my friend and colleague Jose and I quickly wondered how would that leave a series of comparisons in which we set out years ago to compare how quickly or not sales of the 747 piled up back in its heyday.

See below the update of those couple of graphics.

First see in the graphic below A380 orders since the programme launch (2001) in comparison to those of the 747 (1966):

A380 vs 747 - Launch 2017

A380 and 747 orders referenced to the year of launch of each programme (up to 2017).

Both programmes show an initial sales rush at the time of programme launch. In both cases the rhythm of sales slowed down after the second year. In the first 18 years of program, each had managed:

  • 747: 615 orders.
  • A380: 337 orders (55% of 747’s). With a caveat being that we are now in January 2018 and through the end of the year the A380 could pile up some more orders.

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

I include again 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 wait to see the aircraft in operation before placing orders. See below this second comparison:

A380 vs 747 - Delivery 2017

A380 and 747 orders referenced to the year the 1st aircraft delivery of each programme (up to 2017).

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

  • 747: 554 orders.
  • A380: 337 orders.

You can see that, 11 years after the 1st delivery of each aircraft (2007 for the A380 and 1969 for the 747) the 747 had sold about 50% more aircraft and that is due to the pick up of sales it went through from its 8th year of operation.

Finally, I include below an update of yet another graphic in which we compared the Boeing 747 and Airbus A380 production rates throughout history. The bars show Boeing 747 yearly deliveries. The lines the monthly production rate for both aircraft and its 3-year rolling average. I took this average to smooth the curve even if it is very similar to the year-by-year data.

A380 vs 747 - rate 2017

Some comments on the 747 production rates (taken from its yearly deliveries):

  • The average monthly production rate since its first delivery back in 1969 has been: 2.6 airplanes per month (1.7 for A380).
  • During the first about 30-35 years (till ~2002-3) the rate fluctuated between 2 and 5 deliveries per month.
  • Since 2003 the rate has averaged 1.2.
  • For the first 11 years of the 747 programme (as the A380 just completed those first eleven years of deliveries), its production rate averaged 3.1 aircraft per month.

Time will tell if the market for the A380 picks up.

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Turboprop market vs. oil price (ATR figures 2017 update)

Few days ago, the Toulouse-based aircraft manufacturer ATR (Avions de Transport Régional) published a press release [PDF, 139 kB] reporting some of its numbers for the year 2017 (being a private company, owned by Airbus and Leonardo, it does not publish a complete financial annual report). Some of the key figures were:

  • Revenues: 1.8bn$.
  • 80 deliveries (including 2 second hand aircraft).
  • Orders: 113 firm plus 40 options (112 of the orders for its ATR-72).

With this post I just wanted to log the latest data and update the graphic in which I compare ATR yearly deliveries profile with World GPD growth and most importantly oil price.

ATR figures 2017

ATR deliveries vs. GDP growth and oil price (2017 update).

It is interesting to note the drop of the oil price from around 90$ to below 50$ since 2015. ATR deliveries correlated well with oil price with a lag of a few years time. The correlation up to date continues to be quite high.

So far, through 2017 aircraft production has kept up around 80 deliveries a year. In 2017, the book-to-bill was 1.45 (with the above-mentioned 113 firm orders), so ATR should be able to cope with high production for another couple of years.

We will see later on whether the oil price raises again, whether the correlation deliveries/oil price holds or breaks, and whether ATR manages to keep up production in response to the market.

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Château de Chenonceau

During our last Christmas road trip, we made a stop by the Château de Chenonceau, one of those castles of the Loire valley that stands out among the rest and which we had wanted to visit it on ground since we flew over it in 2015.


As the brochure of the visit tells, and the different panels along the rooms and corridors let you grasp, the Château de Chenonceau is a Ladies’ castle, due to the several women that left a mark in its configuration and history.

The first castle did not cross the river Cher, and was located at the small island between the gardens, where today stands alone the Marques tower (see the aerial view below), built after the castle was burnt down to punish the Marques family, the first proprietors of the castle.

The Marques family facing problems, the chamberlain of the king, Thomas Bohier and his wife Katherine Briçonnet, maneuvered to get in possession of the castle, which they started to rebuild to their taste, used if to host French nobility and to project an image of themselves.


They adopted common initials (TBK) that they displayed around the castle.


They created an aspirational personal motto while building the castle: “S’il vient à point, me souviendra” (i.e. if I get to the end of this construction, I will be remembered).

IMG_20171228_115416510 - Copy

Years later, in 1535, being the castle in possession of Bohier’s son, it was taken by the king Francis I (to cancel out unpaid debts). After his death, his son, king Henri II gave it as a present to his mistress Diane de Poitiers in 1547. It was Diane who built the bridge to join the castle with the opposite river bank, and it was that move that started to make it unique.

At the death of Henri II, her widow, Catherine de Medici, forced Diane to exchange Chenonceau for another castle, the Château Chaumont, and made Chenonceau her favourite residence and a place full of intrigues for the years to come. She closed the bridge into a gallery (multi-storied), she added several rooms and bedrooms, made gardens more magnificent, gathered art collections and hosted parties.



Ever since, the castle was to be linked to French royal family and later French nobility. There is a telling name of the power of the running family, that of the “Five Queens’ Bedroom“, named after Catherine de Medici’s two daughters and three daughters-in-law:

  • Daughters: Queen Margot (wife of Henri IV), Elizabeth of France (wife of Philippe II of Spain),
  • Daughters-in-law: Mary Stuart (wife of Francois II), Elisabeth of Austria (wife of Charles IX) and Louise of Lorraine (wife of Henri III).


Once a widow, after her husband was assassinated, Louise of Lorraine, would retire herself to pray at the castle. A room would be decorated in black, being that another of the landmarks of the castle, under restoration at the time of our visit, though.

Further women would contribute to the enlightenment of the castle in the following centuries, renovating it, bringing in artists and writers such as Montesquieu, Voltaire or Rousseau. It even played the role of hospital where over 2,000 injured were attended during Second World War.


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My forecast of Boeing Commercial Airplanes 2017 revenues

Next January 31st, Boeing will hold an earnings conference where it will announce its Q4 and full 2017 year financial results, including the revenues of each of its units.

Three weeks ago, on January 9th, Boeing already issued a press release where it announced its deliveries and orders for 2017, mainly:

  • 763 commercial aircraft delivered (including 529 of the 737 family, or 136 787).
  • 912 net orders (after cancellations) (including 745 of the 737 family).

The release mentions “912 net orders, valued at $134.8 billion at list prices“, however those list prices are discounted, nothing new, and with an estimate of that discount I’ll try to guess the figure of revenues for the Boeing Commercial Airplanes division, not so much trying to be accurate in itself, but to point in advance to the increasing of the discounts as we will see below.

Where can we find Boeing list prices? Boeing host them in their site, these have just bee raised 10 days ago about 4% (see this comment about it). The previous prices dated from March 2017, when Boeing raised them again, that time by about 2% from its 2015 prices (untouched in 2016). To compute 2017 revenues and estimate of discount I use 2017 prices, not the latest ones.

If Boeing didn’t apply those discounts, the value of the 763 aircraft delivered in 2017 would yield revenues of above 118 bn$. To come to a ballpark figure, I will take the latest figure of discounts that I had calculated with 2016 and earlier figures, being the latest ~46%.

Discount evolution_2016

If I plug that discount into the 2017 list prices of the fleet mix of the 763 commercial aircraft that Boeing delivered we would come to a figure of revenues of 62.1 bn$. However, see below what was Boeing’s own guidance in their Q3 earnings release:

2017 Q3 Financial Outlook

Boeing’s 2017 Financial Outlook at Q3 2017 earnings press release.

At three months to the year end (Q3), they forecast between 760 and 765 deliveries, which turned in 763. At the same time they pointed to revenues between 55.5 – 56.5 bn$… and not above 62 bn$. I believe they will exceed their own estimate, but not by 5 bn$, that is why I see that their discounts have been greatly increased in the last 2017. They must have had a bad time in escalating prices of aircraft sold years ago, delivered in 2017 but with escalation conditions much lower than ongoing list prices.

With all these ingredients… my forecast is: 57.0 bn$.

Some comments to it:

  • My forecast is a bit more optimistic than their upper bracket (56.5) which may be slightly conservative.
  • The implied discount of my revenues forecast would be in the ~ 50% range.

(1) See here a couple of such forecasting revenues exercises that I did for Boeing’s 2014 and 2015 revenues.

(2) See here the latest detailed calculation of discounts that I posted in 2015.



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El tráfico aéreo en Cataluña desde el 1 de Octubre

En los últimos 3 meses hemos visto muchas noticias al respecto de las empresas que están cambiando de sede de Cataluña a otras regiones como Madrid, Valencia, Baleares… Estas noticias suelen ir acompañadas de calurosos debates sobre lo grande que será el impacto, o si será nulo, si pagan sus impuestos aquí o allá, etc.

También hemos visto varias noticias sobre la desaceleración del crecimiento del empleo. Sobre el desempleo. La publicación de esos datos también conlleva animados debates.

Otros tantos debates surgen con motivo de si las reservas hoteleras en Barcelona bajan, suben o siguen igual que en otros años.

Cada vez que veo estos datos y los debates relacionados me cuesta ver negro sobre blanco el posible impacto de los resultados del 1-O, de la declaración unilateral de independencia del 27-O, etc.

Por otro lado, y sin dudar de la fiabilidad de la EPA (“Encuesta de Población Activa” aquí su metodología), o de los datos sobre capacidades hoteleras, el hecho de que se traten de encuestas me hizo plantearme el buscar un posible indicador basado en datos crudos más que en estimaciones. Datos fiables. Y eso me llevó, obviamente, a buscar datos publicados por ingenieros aeronáuticos. 😉

… Los datos sobre tráfico aéreo que publica AENA (Aeropuertos Españoles y Navegación Aérea) cada mes sobre los aeropuertos que gestiona en España.

El portal de estadísticas de AENA se puede encontrar en el siguiente enlace. En él AENA publica datos mensuales absolutos y relativos sobre el tráfico de cada aeropuerto medido en pasajeros, operaciones (despegues y aterrizajes) y en carga transportada (medido en su peso).

Para ver el posible impacto de los últimos eventos en Cataluña, compilé los datos de tráfico aéreo de los últimos tres años (2015, 2016 y 2017) en el aeropuerto de Barcelona El Prat y Gerona. Su evolución la comparo con aeropuertos con un tráfico similar: Madrid Barajas, Palma de Mallorca, Zaragoza (para el caso de carga) y Murcia (para comparar con Gerona). A continuación dejo aquí cuatro gráficas y una tabla resumen con algunos comentarios.

Tablas comparativas

Tabla comparativa con los crecimientos mensuales de Madrid Barajas y Barcelona El Prat.

Pax MAD - BCN - Palma

Pasajeros. El volumen de pasajeros en Barcelona disminuyó en los meses de octubre y noviembre con respecto a los meses de verano, como lo hace todos los años. La disminución es más acusada que en Madrid y menos que en Palma. En diciembre, de hecho, en 2017 el tráfico prácticamente ha sido el mismo que en noviembre y no descendido como en otros años. En el global del año El Prat ha crecido un 7.1%, más que Barajas (5.9%). En el último trimestre ha crecido menos. En el último mes, más.

En 2017 El Prat ha crecido menos (7.1%) que en 2016 (11.2%), pero también Barajas ha crecido menos (5.9% vs 7.7%). Se podría decir que la desaceleración es mayor, pero también lo es el crecimiento absoluto, y la mayor desaceleración también se dio en los meses anteriores al 1-O. Se hace difícil sacar una conclusión clara.

Veamos el tráfico medido en operaciones.

Ops MAD - BCN - Palma

Operaciones. En este caso el los perfiles de las curvas en 2017 vuelven a ser similares a los de los años precedentes. Hay crecimiento en prácticamente todos los meses en los 3 aeropuertos, y desde luego en los tres últimos meses. ¿Se desacelera el crecimiento en El Prat a partir del 1-O? No. En octubre, noviembre y diciembre el crecimiento es del 7.0% cada mes respecto a los mismos meses de 2016. Se podría decir que Barajas crece más en esos meses, pero el crecimiento en el último trimestre en El Prat es superior al crecimiento anual en El Prat (5.1%), por tanto, se acelera.

Sin embargo, el crecimiento en esos meses en 2016 respecto a 2015 fue mayor, y en Madrid el crecimiento en 2017 respecto a 2016 fue mayor que en 2016 respecto a 2015… pero en todos esos meses y en el global del año el crecimiento en El Prat fue mayor que en Barajas. De nuevo se hace difícil sacar una conclusión clara.

Veamos el tráfico medido en carga.


Carga / Mercancía. En este caso los perfiles de las curvas son más complicados. Si acaso se distingue que no hay un mayor volumen en verano respecto a los meses de otoño e invierno. El pico en los tres aeropuertos (aquí Zaragoza sustituye a Palma como tercer aeropuerto en cuanto a carga) se produce en octubre y desciende en noviembre y diciembre. En carga, de nuevo El Prat crece más en el global del año (14.9% vs 13.1%) y en los últimos meses que Barajas.

Sin embargo, la desaceleración de ese crecimiento es mayor en El Prat en los tres meses del último cuarto (16.4%) con respecto a los tres anteriores (25.5%), aunque los crecimientos en absoluto sean mayores (16.4% en media en El Prat vs 12.2% en Barajas).

En 2016, sin embargo, el crecimiento se aceleró en el último cuarto del año (14.6% vs 11.4%) y en 2017 se desacelera, pero lo mismo sucede en Barajas. De nuevo se hace difícil sacar una conclusión clara y diferenciada para el aeropuerto de Barcelona El Prat.


Si comparamos el tráfico de Gerona con Murcia, vemos el mismo pico en los meses de verano, y en el caso de Gerona vemos que en noviembre y diciembre el tráfico es menor que en los mismos meses de 2015 y 2016. Sin embargo, eso ya ocurrió en los tres primeros meses de 2017, con lo cual se hace difícil ligar ese descenso al 1-O y acontecimientos siguientes.

Como conclusión final a este post, solo puedo decir que sacar una conclusión clara de que hasta diciembre el 1-O o el 27-O hayan tenido un impacto en el tráfico aéreo de los aeropuertos en Cataluña se hace más difícil que leer los posos del café.


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Belén Monumental de San Lorenzo del Escorial

La semana pasada aprovechamos nuestra estancia en Madrid para acercarnos a San Lorenzo del Escorial para pasear con los niños.

En fechas navideñas el Escorial cuenta no sólo con el impresionante monasterio y su lonja como atractivos para dar un paseo, sino con el tradicional Belén Monumental realizado por los voluntarios de Mariano Pardo, “Pardito”, que llevan 21 años realizando dicho Belén, y que forma ya parte del folclore cultural de la Sierra en estas fechas.

En esta entrada quería dejar una serie de fotos de la visita.


Fachada oeste del monasterio.







Soldados romanos.







Río, molino, patos…




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Maratona de Lisboa 2017

On Sunday October 15th, together with my friend Juan and brother Jaime, I took part in the Maratona de Lisboa.


Retrieving the bibs at the marathon expo.

Since some years ago, I always follow the same 16-week training plan to prepare for the marathons. That lead to a start of the plan at the end of June 2017. However, I suffered an otitis in July which took over a month to recover from and forced me more or less to stop. I took again the training plan in mid-August, when there were only 10 weeks left. I then had a clear objective: to get a level of fitness to finish comfortably the race, no more.


During the 16 weeks of the nominal training plan, I completed:

  • 520 km of running, thanks to a streak of 7 weeks between mid-August and end September in which I averaged 56 km per week.
  • 14 series / intervals training sessions, out of the 28 included in the plan, a mere 50% and not with the fastest paces of the last years.
  • 8 long runs of over 20 km, with 2 of them of 31 and 32 km, and another two days of 28 km split in morning and afternoon double session trainings.

Another good thing of the training season is sharing the progress of it with my brother Jaime and Juan, which helped in overcoming the inertia to stay quiet and to go out to train. See how Jaime explained his own experience in his blog here.


At the departure area before the race.

The circuit of the marathon would take us from Cascais to the West for about 6 km and then back to Lisboa passing again through Cascais and Estoril, along the road that follows the coast line running through the Forte de São Bruno de Caxias or along the Torre de Belém to finish at the Praça do Comércio.


The circuit was rather flat except some ups and downs in the first half. The main inconvenient of the race would be the heat. Even if the organization advanced the race departure time in a good last minute decision, at 8 am the temperature was already above 17° C, which at the end must have been around 30° C.


My race strategy was clear: to complete the marathon comfortably at a pace I was used to; for that purpose I would try to run a 3h45′ marathon, a time around which I had already finished 6 marathons. At the beginning I tried to catch the 3h45′ pacers but I found it impossible after having departed a bit behind them. I kept clocking kilometres at a higher pace than I should till km. 15 and still I passed the half marathon mark in 1’30” faster than the pace for 3h45′, however the pacers were running still faster, much faster than required for a 3h45′ though.


From the km 30 I felt that I was not able to run at the target pace (5’20” per km), and decided to soften the pace to a more comfortable one, around 5’40” which from 37 to 41 became more of a 6’00” with some more time lost in the water stations.


During the last kilometres I wondered whether I would still make a time below 3h50′, which I did not for a matter of seconds. But I still ran at a comfortable pace. This one was a marathon to run for the pleasure of running, now that I can. I had not particular objective. I crossed the finish line at the Praça do Comércio with a great feeling of accomplishment in 3h50’12”, my 17th marathon.


With the 3h50’12”, I finished in the 1,289th place, that is about the upper 28% of the 4,670 finishers. See the diploma from the race below.


I then waited for my brother Jaime and Juan to see them finishing and to cheer them for one last effort.



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Baarle-Hertog and Baarle-Nassau

A few days ago, we visited the villages of Baarle-Hertog (Belgium) and Baarle-Nassau (The Netherlands). I tweeted a short thread about it that you can see below:


  • The village is divided between Belgian and Dutch exclaves in a very intricate border, including several exclaves which are no more than a few houses or a farm. The Belgian part of the village itself is an exclave in The Netherlands, a few kilometres from the border (such as Llivia from Spain within France, or Treviño of Castile within the Basque country in Spain).
  • The borders were defined in the Maastricht Treaty in 1843. In 1995 a commission clarified the borders.
  • There are marks in the ground that show where the border goes, indicating which side belongs to which country. The panels of the streets or the numbering of the houses also help you to locate where you are.
  • There is a bike route which takes you through the different border lines.






Once I tweeted that thread, the beauty of Twitter made it that a friend, Miguel, referred me to a series of posts about that village written by the blogger Diego González who hosts a blog about borders.

On top of that, I had taken the idea to visit that village from yet another retweet from another friend, Pablo.

You can see in that tweet below the different posts (in Spanish).



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San Silvestre 2017

Last December 31st again, we bid our farewell to the year 2017 by running with friends the San Silvestre Vallecana (in Madrid).

Long ago is the day since I first ran it in 1998, this year being my 17th participation in it. This time we were only four in the group: Nacho, Juan, my brother Jaime and me. We missed as well the good quality pictures we had taken in 2016 by Sara or the video prepared by Nacho.


Nonetheless, it was a great experience, even if run at a very soft pace we had a few sprints, plenty of jokes and we crossed the finish line together. All in all, 1h07’23” net time according to the chip, the fastest time I have managed in the last four years.

Above all, it is always a pleasure to close the year in such a healthy way running along the colorful streets of Madrid.


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2017, the safest year in aviation history

In the last days, I have seen a wave of news and headlines mentioning that 2017 was the safest year in aviation history. The source of the information is the release of 2017 accidents figures made by the Aviation Safety Network a private initiative from the Flight Safety Foundation which curates an extensive database with aviation incidents, hijackings and accidents, from 1946 to nowadays.

The release of the figures can be found here: “ASN data show 2017 was safest year in aviation history“.

The tweet with which they made the announcement is below:

Following that publication, several specialized and generalist media echoed the information. Many of them went to say that there had not been any deaths in commercial aviation in 2017, which is not accurate. A few correctly reported the figures, e.g. Jon Ostrower from CNN. Some headlines reported that there had not been any death in “commercial passenger jet flights”, which is accurate, but misses the accidents and deaths of commercial aviation based on other aircraft than jets. Most of the headlines in the media that I have see in Spanish quickly copied the message but failed to note the word “jet”, and simply stated that there had not been any death in commercial aviation (the opposite would be private or military) or commercial passenger flights (this category would exclude cargo flights but not flights on turbo propellers for instance).


If we take a look at the source of the information, we can have a quick look at the accidents:

  • there were 10 accidents in commercial aviation: 5 on passenger flights and 5 on cargo flights.
  • 44 occupants died as a consequence of those accidents. Moreover, 35 people died on ground as a consequence of those accidents.
  • there was 1 accident that involved what would be referred to as a “jet” aircraft, a Boeing 747, but this was on a cargo service. Involving four deaths.
  • there were several accidents involving commercial passenger aircraft, in this case turbo propellers, e.g. 4 Cessna 208 Caravan and Grand Caravan, or an ATR-42.

It is true that most of us rarely fly on those Cessnas, but about 2,500 have been built and they are operated by dozens of operators, including passenger commercial aviation (or FedEx, which flies over 200 of them), especially in regional aviation and inter-island flights.

ATR aircraft are also very successful in regional aviation, with over 400 ATR-42 built, and operated for example by the Air France subsidiary HOP! In this case, the ATR-42 that crashed, was operated by West Wind Aviation in Canada. After the crash investigation, Transport Canada removed the licence to the operator.

To conclude, yes, 2017 was the safest year in aviation history, but unfortunately there were 44 plus 35 fatal victims of commercial aviation.

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