Tag Archives: 737

The Museum of Flight (Seattle)

The Museum of Flight, in Seattle, is yet another great aerospace museum. It reminded me very much to the National Air and Space Museum in DC both because of the wealth of aircraft and artifacts in display and the variety of explanations provided (videos, sounds, readings, gadgets to play with…).

The museum is divided in the following areas:

  • Boeing Model 1.

    Boeing Model 1.

    T. A. Wilson Great Gallery (named after Boeing CEO from 1969-1986): this is the first gallery you face when you enter the museum. It hosts:

    • a replica of Boeing Model 1 (first Boeing airplane),
    • a Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird plus a cockpit for visitors to enter in it,
    • a 737 converted into a theater with movies being played inside,
    • an exhibition of the bush pilots of Alaska and the development of air mail,
    • some flight simulators,
    • a DC-3, a Bell “Huey” UH-1H Iroquois, etc.
  • Bill & Moya Lear Gallery (Space Exhibit, named after the founder of Lear Jet Corporation): located at the side of the Great Gallery it has a diorama of the Apollo 17 landing site, with rover included, a replica of the International Space Station Destiny Research Laboratory, etc.
  • The Tower: with direct view over the runway.
  • William E. Boeing Red Barn (named after Boeing founder): in my point of view this is “the” highlight of the museum (allow yourself over an hour for this part alone). It explains both:
    • the birth of aviation: with models and panels explaining the contributions of many of the aviation pioneers (see this blog post in which I went through some of them), and,
    • the history of Boeing: from the moment in which the timber businessman, Bill Boeing founds the company, the first Boeing Model 1 (see replica in the picture above), the tools, materials and processes used at the time, how did the factory look, the great aircraft programmes which meant different breakthroughs for the company and the great engineers behind them…
  • Charles Simonyi Space Gallery (named after the Microsoft executive who became in 2007 the 5th space tourist and who in 2009 travelled to the International Space Station): which highlight is the Space Shuttle Trainer used to train Space Shuttle astronauts at Johnson Space Center in Houston.
  • Airpark: with the Boeing 747 “City of Everett” (first ever 747, first ever wide-body aircraft), a Boeing 707 Air Force One, a Concorde, a Lockheed Constellation…
  • J. Elroy McCaw WWI and WWII galleries (named after a broadcasting magnate): unfortunately I did not have time to properly visit these galleries before the closing of the museum… a reason to come back again.

See some of the pictures I took at the museum:

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I definitely recommend to visit this museum if you happen to be in Seattle. It is located in the South of Seattle at Boeing Field / King County airport. I would suggest to take no less than 5 hours to visit the museum and to arrive before noon, otherwise there will be some parts that you will not be able to visit properly (as it happened to me with the WWI and WWII galleries).

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Boeing forecast for A380

The last two issues of Boeing’s Current Market Outlook, included a slide in which Boeing wanted to prove that their forecasts have been more accurate in the last 10 years. They compare actual aircraft demand versus both Airbus and Boeing forecasts in the year 2000.

Boeing Current Market Outlook, different views.

I find it interesting that all segments are described as such, segments: “Single-aisle”, “Twin-aisle”, “Large”… except for Airbus forecast in which Boeing introduces the model “A380”. As if wanting to point that Airbus was wrong in its A380 forecast… as if wanting to steer demand.

Let’s see the numbers:

  • Actual demand (2000-09): ~300 aircraft.
  • Boeing forecast (2000-19): ~700 aircraft, assuming equal split (among the 2 decades): ~350 a/c in 2000-09.
  • Airbus forecast (2000-19): ~1,300 aircraft, assuming equal split: ~650 a/c in 2000-09 (although A380 first flight took place only in April 2005).

As of today, Airbus has sold 234 A380s, including the latest 32 from Emirates. The prospects for the aircraft seem brighter as operators started operating it, on the other hand Boeing 747-8 orders have stalled since 2007.

A bit of history.

Yesterday, I was digging into back materials and I found two interesting pieces. Both from Boeing’s website in the year 1996 (using the way back machine). The first one is from a webpage about delivering value it could be read:

“In an industry defined by continual change, customers expect Boeing to help them prepare for the challenges ahead. That’s why we work closely with customers to understand their long-term requirements.

Customers have expressed interest in many potential airplanes, including:

  • An airplane smaller than the 737-600, seating 80 to 100 passengers.
  • An airplane larger than today’s 747-400.
  • A capable and cost-effective supersonic jetliner.
  • Derivatives of current models.”

Of those potential airplanes: we have seen the Embraer 190, the Airbus A380, derivatives and the only one that never came true was the supersonic jetliner

Artist image of Boeing Sonic Cruiser.

The other piece is from a news release on the occasion of the Farnborough air show of 1996 (2010 edition is taking place right now). There, Boeing stated:

Most major aerospace companies agree that airlines will require 500 to 700 airplanes capable of carrying more than 500 passengers. Boeing forecasts 500 airplanes will be needed by the year 2015.

Much of the demand for these very large airplanes will be generated by steady growth in air travel to and from Asia, and by capacity constraints at some of the world’s largest airports.

The 747-600X, with its ability to carry 548 passengers on routes up to 7,750 nautical miles (8,900 statute miles or 14,350 km), is designed to fill this market need. It will allow airlines to accommodate traffic growth without increasing the number of departures scheduled for busy airports.

During the next 20 years, airlines also will need approximately 600 airplanes capable of carrying between 400 and 500 passengers.

The Boeing 747-400 and 747-500X are designed to fill this market need.”

At this point it is useful to remember that in 1993 Boeing together with Airbus consortium companies started the feasibility study for the Very Large Commercial Transport (VLCT). Boeing left the joint study two years later. Nevertheless, still in 1996 it stated in its website that demand of aircraft carrying above 400 seats (747 and A380 of today) in the following 20 years would be between 1,100-1,300 planes, very close to Airbus forecast of the year 2000. The reasons behind that demand were the same Airbus argues nowadays: growth in Asia, constrains in largest hubs…

Later on, Boeing changed its forecast down to 700 aircraft.

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Aircraft discounts and new entrants

Boeing has recently unveiled its latest Current Market Outlook (CMO): a commercial aviation market forecast for the next 20 years. It calls for 30,900 new aircraft deliveries worth 3.6 trillion dollars. Today, I wanted to write about aircraft discounts and the possibility of having new entrants.

Boeing Current Market Outlook.

Both Boeing and Airbus give their market forecast and backlog figures in what they call as list prices. If you take figures from CMO, you will reach average list prices for regional jets (31M$), single-aisle (79M$), twin-aisle (230M$) and large aircraft (306M$). These figures are in accordance to the prices published in their website (dating from 2008).

However, if you take their published numbers of deliveries each year and use the same prices, you would come to much higher revenues figures than the ones they publish in the year-end results: this is because aircraft makers actually sell the planes at a much lower price. How much lower?

Discounts

I took the figures of revenues, orders and deliveries of the last three years and tried to reach what would be the corresponding discount Boeing’s customers manage to get on average.

I assumed that new orders come with a 3% down payment in the year of the booking, while the remaining cost I assumed that was paid on the year of delivery (for simplicity I didn’t consider more intermediate payments, the 3% figure was taken from the AIAA paper “A Hierarchical Aircraft Life Cycle Cost Analysis Model” by William J. Marx et al.). I also used estimated figures for Boeing Commercial Aviation Services ranging from 2.2bn$ to 3.3bn$.

With these assumptions, I concluded that the average discount that would best replicate revenues figures for Boeing Commercial Airplanes with a minimum error was: 38%! (being the errors in revenues of: 0.05% for 2009, 3.2% for 2008 and 0.5% for 2007).

Thus, when figuring out the value of those 30,900 aircraft we could rather estimate it at 2.2 trillion dollars (instead of 3.6 trn$).

New entrants?

Randy Tinseth, BCA’s VP Marketing, was quoted in Flight Global saying that he expected at least one more competitor in the single-aisle segment. If there are more competitors, competition is going to be tight.

Today Boeing Commercial Airplanes and Airbus Commercial yearly revenues together approximately account for 70bn$. If their revenues are to grow with Boeing’s forecasted world airplane fleet growth of 3.3%, along the next 20 years the revenues of both companies combined would amount to 1.94 trillion dollars.

Considering that the whole market, factoring in discounted prices, was going to be 2.2 trn$, this leaves the rest of competitors a share of the pie of about 250bn$ for the next 20 years (excluding regional jets), this is just 11.4% of the market.

If we look at it on a per year basis: 12.5bn$ a year for all new entrants (CSeries, Embraer, MS-21, SSJ, C919, Koreans, Japanese…) would mean about 250 aircraft a year (compared to the ~380-400 single-aisle that each Boeing and Airbus are delivering per year).

There is room for one commercial success comparable to the 737 or A320 family, but there is not room for two… maybe this is why Randy says “one or two of those guys into the mix” (despite of the many more new possible players).

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The real comfort starts from 300 kg seats

In a previous post we introduced some comparisons of aircraft by its price per kilogram. There, we could see a trend in bigger aircraft being cheaper in this per kg basis. This raises the question: do bigger aircraft require less weight per seat? Are they lighter in a kg per seat basis?      

This is what intuition seems to tell us; after all, once you have put in place the engines, wing, tail… what can be the difference between a larger or smaller fuselage…     

Let’s use the same sources we used in the previous post and take the typical seat configuration that the OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturer) indicate for each aircraft model. We get the following table:     

Aircraft OEW (kg) per seat.

 

Our intuition wasn’t very successful again. In the upper part of the table we find the A320 family and 737s aircraft (those used by e.g. Easyjet and Ryanair in short-haul routes). In the bottom of the list we find the A380, A340, A330, 787, 777…, the biggest aircraft.     

We see that the average is about 400 kg per seat. Let’s compare this figure again with cars, with the same cars as we did in the previous post. We now get following table:     

Cars empty weight (kg) per seat.

 

It turns out that cars also need around 300-500 kg of structure per seat (an average for these ones of 360 kg). Since most cars carry 5 passengers, here it’s easy to see the trend: bigger cars employ more kilograms per seat.     

Let’s go for a closer comparison:     

  • Small for small: take the A321 with 253 kg/seat, it is quite similar to the Renault Megane with 230 kg/seat.
  • Large for large: take the A380 with 527 kg/seat, it is almost identical to the Audi Q7 with 527 kg/seat.

One step further: The A380 used so far is the 3-class configuration with 525 passengers, but wasn’t there a high density configuration with 853 passengers in a single class? (This matches well with the jargon: cattle-class…). This configuration gives us 325 kg/seat… this is again almost identical to the 329 kg/seat given for the Audi Q7 in “high density” configuration, obtained with the optional 3rd row of seats, which only adds 35 kg to the weight of the car. Aren’t these remarkable coincidences? Is it a constant of the universe? 🙂     

Let’s compare these results with buses, city buses and minibuses:     

Buses empty weight (kg) per passenger.

 

When we compare the figures of touring and city buses in an all-seated configuration we get again similar figures than planes and cars (~290 kg/seat ~ A320 family). If we take a fully loaded city bus we descend to the crude reality of mass transportation and complete lack of comfort (100 kg/seat; that is cattle-class…). We may notice as well that a minibus weighs less than a Q7 and carries twice or three times as many people.     

Let’s now see the train and subway. For this purpose, we’ll check the coaches R-142A and B of the subway of New York which are built by Kawasaki Heavy Industries (which a supplier for the Boeing787 as well). The train we’ll use is the AVE Series 100 of RENFE, built by Alstom, which was the first high-speed train ever used in Spain in 1992. See them in the following table:       

Subway and high-speed train weight (kg) per passenger.

 

The subway is below the levels of aircraft, but not that low as city buses. As far as the train is concerned: that’s another story, a luxurious experience (achieved with ~1,200 kg/seat) that can only be improved by Singapore Airlines Suites.     

Below we can see again a graphic with all modes of transportation compared, there we may spot some trends.     

Modes of transportation weight (kg) per passenger/seat.

 

We could say that comfort starts above 300 kg/seat… How heavy is your car?     

Different modes of transportation.

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