A few more from Zhuhai...
As far as I could understand the articles, that means the hares have decided to take a nap under the tree because they believe that the tortoise would never catch up to them.The news about 300 COMAC orders is all nonsensical. Lessors can order as many as they want, but they still need to find airlines to fly them and that's the harder part.
Anyway, the bigger news that I've missed and that is great for COMAC and AECC
The problem with corporate America is Wall Street. It emphasizes return and cash flow and takes away incentive to innovate and compete. Why do the hard work required for advanced fabs when the higher margined business of chip design is around the corner.
That's also the issue here. Due to cash flow concerns, Boeing decided not to launch all new airplane program. With that, it is content to getting 25 to 30% market share in the profitable narrow body segment. Airbus is happy to getting 60% market share with A220 and A320NEO. They will probably launch A220-500 to completely cover the narrow body market, but that's it. Airbus will not innovate if Boeing does not want to innovate.
Similarly, CFM and Pratt don't want to do anything, so the next engine break through won't happen until 2030s.
All this means COMAC C919 will have time to improve its product and buildup local supply chain (especially engine side of things) while its much stronger competitors just do absolutely nothing. No, NMA to worry about. If COMAC is daring, they should launch something like NMA rather than continue C929. It's a bad idea to compete head-on with established competition in wide body (because the markets are much smaller).
TBF I don’t think we were going to see a new narrow body project from Airbus or Boeing for a decade anyways regardless of the pandemic effects or geopolitics, since the market has only just started fleet turnover from older A321s and 737-8/900s to 737 MAXes and A320neos, and commercial turbofan product cycles follows rather than leads commercial plan development. Pratt, CFM, and RR might frankly also need the extra decade to accumulate new gas turbine R&D before they can post a meaningful performance improvement in another product iteration. This is why I keep emphasizing that it’s the component R&D development and not the current state of the CJ-1000 that matters for assessing how big or small the gap in jet engine development is.
More on this front. This is a huge sea change. Boeing posted a $2.8 billion loss for the quarter. It's a huge loss. They have been struggling since max8 crash. Covid was terrible for them. Chinese airlines are not taking their max or 787 orders. They can thank Biden for this tech war. As a result of this, Boeing needs several years to repair their balance sheet before attempting another clean sheet design. As with everything in airlines industry, the winning side (Airbus) doesn't need to do anything as long as it is winning. As such, Airbus is happy to generate higher profit and do stock buybacks until Boeing launches a new project. After several new engine launches in the past 10 years, cfm, Pratt and rr are all out of desire to launch new revolutionary engines. Pratt has had enough headache with gtf. Rr had so much issues with 787 engine. Cfm just wants to make sure leap can be competitive with rr. Everyone is still suffering from covid downturn. No one is in a rush to do serious investment into all new project.
As such, new major engine and airliner project won't enter service until mid 2030s. That's such a long time from now! While Airbus generally does a great job of incremental progress, we are talking about 2 or 3 percent fuel economy improvement every 5 years. As long as c919 can stay with 5% in operating cost to a320neo, it will have a place. In order to do that, it will need significant work with airlines to improve availability and lower day to day maintenance cost and fuel efficiency. I feel like c919 will be quite uncompetitive to neo in the beginning, but will make huge progress as it's availability and maintainability improve to comparable levels to neo. Even if it's fuel cost doesn't improve, achieving same level of availability as neo will get it's operating cost down. Worse fuel efficiency can be made up by lower purchasing costs and desire to purchase local to get around possible future sanctions. I think the first few years of operation will be really crucial for that. Until we can see c919 doing 10 hours of flight operation a day, it is simply not competitive. Domestication of parts can be worked in as c919 continues to improve availability.
This is where the Boeing program delays help comac. It gives comac a good 10 years to work on catching up to Boeing and Airbus in availability, maintainability and serviceability. That is unusual amount of time given to a new competition in this industry. For example, Airbus killed the c series immediately with the launching of a320neo program. C919 don't need to worry about that.
Similarly, aecc is getting the break of its lifetime by getting in at a time when Pratt and cfm are content to just do pip. That means, it can be competitive as long as it's fuel economy is at the same level as current generation leap 1c engines. A normal new engine program can improve fuel economy by 15%. Pips are much smaller. For example, gtf just had a couple of % after 5 or 6 years of service. Slightly worse fuel efficiency is no problem as long as your purchase and servicing cost is lower. As long as cj1000a can have comparable service life, up time and maintenance cost as gtf or leap.
Western airliners and engine makers resting on their laurels is the greatest thing to happen to Chinese airline program. I was always concerned that c919 will just get overwhelmed by new programs from Boeing and Airbus. But as they continue to follow wall Street demand to conserve cash and stay away from risky moon shots, comac can use govt support to build up competency. During this time, comac engineers will have to work extra hard and be setup for future widebody projects. Airbus and Boeing engineering team will atrophy due to lack of new projects. @latenlazy and I have debated this several times in the past and I think I am finally hopeful about both c919 and cj1000a.
I don't necessarily agree with that. Good discussion on this topic.TBF I don’t think we were going to see a new narrow body project from Airbus or Boeing for a decade anyways regardless of the pandemic effects or geopolitics, since the market has only just started fleet turnover from older A321s and 737-8/900s to 737 MAXes and A320neos, and commercial turbofan product cycles follows rather than leads commercial plan development. Pratt, CFM, and RR might frankly also need the extra decade to accumulate new gas turbine R&D before they can post a meaningful performance improvement in another product iteration. This is why I keep emphasizing that it’s the component R&D development and not the current state of the CJ-1000 that matters for assessing how big or small the gap in jet engine development is.
I see NMA like I see any other early Boeing project announcement. The lead time between when they announce these ideas and when they actually commit to a project is always at least 5 years. Until you see them commit to a project timeline it’s vaporware, and that’s pretty in line with the product cycle for a new Boeing design being at least a decade away even without the pandemic.I don't necessarily agree with that. Good discussion on this topic.
For much of late 2010s and even during COVID time, the discussion was about NMA or NSA from Boeing. Airbus had such an advantage in this critical narrowbody sector (where all the demand is) that it seemed inevitable for Boeing to take the plunge of developing an aircraft just to keep its market share. COVID and MAX issues kind of killed that, but people always kept the hope that NMA would happen.
As things stand, Boeing still has to certify MAX10, MAX7 and 77X. I would not be surprised if they develop a more optimized version of 787-8 to capture that 250 seat market for 12 hour flights. Regardless, the pressure Boeing faces is still there. It was a huge surprise that Boeing didn't go for NMA. If Boeing had gone for NMA or NSA, Airbus would've had to plan its own single aisle or develop a new wing for A320 series, upgraded fuselage and a possible A322. But since Boeing is clearly doing anything for a while, Airbus is just going to stagnate. At best case scenario for Boeing supporters, they launch new project in 2026 timeframe for 2033 entry. More likely, I think 2035 entry is realistic.
If you see what has happened, it will likely be 25 years between new program entry (787 was 2011). As such, that's a lot of expertise lost during that time. Having engineers that have worked on an all new program is very important when tasked with new project (for example, CAC with J-10 followed by J-20). You lose a lot of expertise with these long layoffs. Not only that, there is also a lot of expertise in raising production level for a new aircraft that gets lost over time.
There is a reason that C919 took this long from launch to achieving certification (14 years). That is twice what 787 took. The reason for that is their lack of expertise in developing new aircraft. Now that COMAC has had experience with C919, the next projects will be easier. So, it's good for them if Airbus/Boeing stay lazy for a while.
RISE is an innovation on fan design, not components, and only just launched as a project with no clear product pipeline. Ultrafan is a tech demonstrator for R&D purposes, not something intended for production. Neither of these projects are ready for adoption, hence the point about needing time to accumulate new gas turbine R&D.And if you look at that article, engine makers do have some huge improvements coming up. CFM with RISE, RR with Ultrafan and Pratt has more moon shots in the pipeline. But if Boeing/Airbus themselves are not pushing the engine makers, the engine makers will also be content just collecting cash. COVID almost killed large portion of the supply chain. A lot of people left the industry. Bringing back up production has been a struggle. Boeing says it will take until 2025 to get back to 10 787s a month. That's how long it gets the supply chain ramped up again and train the people who are going to keep working for you.
Extremely unlikely.People also raised the possibility that Boeing exits the commercial business and just stick with the lucrative military contracts. I think that's unlikely, but stagnation kills companies. That's what wall street does to American businesses.
Realistically you don’t really need an *all* new design for the C919 to be competitive in the narrow body space. You just need to iterate on the C919 the way the A320neo iterated. It’s not even entirely clear that a long range narrow body the way you’re defining it would be what the market wants in the 2030s.This means, COMAC has 15 years to get ready for a new narrow body project. Now that C919 is certified, it can spend next few years improving C919 while planning for the next generation single aisle aircraft. I assume that they will try to complete C929. Realistically, the only market that really matters is the single aisle market. The next single aisle aircraft will need to be able to fly 10 to 12 hours and to intercontinental flights while still fitting in 737/320 gate sizes. If I were COMAC, I'd get ready for a new single aisle aircraft program launch in 2030 for entry in late 30s. COMAC has so much work to do in the next few years that will build a whole generation of new engineers and supply chain in China.
Almost all Chinese airlines are run by state owned companies, as well as banks. Theoretically they can replace all 737s and 320s with C919 in one night. In fact I predict they will stop buying 737 in 2030s if US-China relationship keeps on current track.The news about 300 COMAC orders is all nonsensical. Lessors can order as many as they want, but they still need to find airlines to fly them and that's the harder part