Two Hundred For MAX200

When VietJet announced the order for 100 MAX200, the news was considered as a surprise by many observers, journalists, bloggers and alike. As you know, VietJet has a 100% Airbus fleet so far. So when the first 737 MAX200 will be delivered to the airline in 2019, the 100% Airbus fleet will be no more.

Two Hundred

As you know, Ryanair became the launch customer for the 737 MAX200 when it ordered one hundred of them. Now, VietJet has just put the total orders of the 737 MAX200 to two hundred units.

I hope you have noticed that Ryanair is in Europe and VietJet is in Asia and more specifically in ASEAN. Less than two weeks ago I posted something about the opensky in ASEAN (click here).

Basically we witness a very interesting situation where two airlines in two very different geographical regions order the same high density narrowbody aircraft. It is then legitimate to ask the question whether there would be a north American airline that will order 737 MAX200 too. In a more general term you can ask if the contagion will propagate further.

Should we speculate on which airlines would buy the 737 MAX200 in the future?

Transition Cost

VietJet decided to change it A320 fleet to 737 MAX. The good thing for VietJet is the fact almost all (if not all) of its A320 and A321 are leased. In other words, they will not renew the lease when the term comes to an end.

This being said, VietJet will need to roll-over the different documentations, the operational data and many other things. Yes, there will be a transition with the associated costs. It seems the transition cost is largely compensated by the efficiency gain they would get from the new generation aircraft.

In this blog, we already discussed several times about transition cost (click here and here).

 

MH370

Although the title of this post is obvious, I do not really want to comment on the ill fated flight. I just want to mention that coincidentally several people told me things about the MH370 accident.

As you know, I do not like coincidences, and the fact several people separated by thousands of nautical miles said something about this flight to me in less than 24 hours makes me wonder. What the heck is happening about this accident.

Is There Something That I Do Not Know?

I might be looking too much into it, but it looks like people suddenly remember the accident. Is there something paranormal about this? I do not know.

A few debris of the MH370 have been discovered in several places and confirmed that the airplane went down in the Indian Ocean, way off the planned flight path. Does the discovery of the MH370 debris help to determine the exact location of any big chunks of the aircraft?

Although we think it is not normal to lose track of an aircraft in this very modern era, I am one of those who think real-time data streaming is not necessarily the right idea. By the way you can read again a past post about this topic (click here). I do hope the industry will keep the focus on things that are essential to the traveling public’s safety and less on futile efforts.

So, what will happen now? I don’t know. Perhaps the search will finally come to fruition and we will at last understand what happened to the aircraft.

Seven Up

I hope you know the title has nothing to do with the beverage. And since this blog discusses a lot about aircraft, you may have guessed this entry is about the 737 MAX 7.

Upping The Ante

Since several weeks, there have been a lot of discussion about the 737-7’s “new” definition. It seems the 737-7’s “new” configuration will have slightly bigger capacity than the “current” definition.

The 737-7 was initially scheduled to enter into service only in 2019 at the very end of 737 MAX development cycle. At program , the firing order was 737-8, 737-9 and finally 737-7. However, an article mentioned, “Kelly said he would prefer the larger version of the MAX 9 to be done first, but Boeing seems poised to move first on the smaller plane, dubbed the 737 MAX 7X” (VV: Angus Kelly – AerCap).

There is now a kind of doubt about the firing order of the 737 MAX family. Has it changed to 737-8, 737-7 and finally 737-9? If indeed the “new” 737-7 becomes the second version to come after the 737-8 then the situation radically changes. Many analysts, journalists, bloggers and alike initially think the 737-7 would be dropped because it has not attracted more than 60 orders so far.

If they do proceed with the “new” 737-7 then the competitive landscape around the A319neo will also change. As you know the first A319neo prototype is already built and the second one is being completed. Time to time I am wondering whether the timing for this 737-7 rumors is synchronized with the A319neo prototypes being built.

Business Jet

The other rumored characteristic of the “new” 737-7 is that it would be a simple shrink of the 737-8 and thus potentially it could keep the same MTOW as the latter and so it will have longer range.

This blog already discussed about the benefits of having the 737-7 as a simple shrink of the 737-8, like much greater part commonality. Basically Boeing can have a standardized part across the family and consequently reduces the production cost.

But, it looks like there are other interesting benefit of this new definition, if launched. The Boeing Business Jet division is very interested by this “New” version because it would allow to offer a very-long-range 737 BBJ (click here). According to one press article, the 737-7 with the “new” definition would offer a good platform for a 7,000 nmi business aircraft.

Obviously, the reduced cost on per seat basis and an increased revenue generation potential may help the sales of the 737-7 to airlines. If the business jet version is offered, including the auxiliary fuel tanks, then the “new” 737-7’s business case looks a little bit brighter than the “current” 737-7.

In other words, the 737-7 could get more orders and will not be dropped. I even suspect there are already sizeable orders in the pipeline to be announced in the coming weeks (or months).

Entry Into Service Date: 777-9

Yesterday, I posted a blog entry about the Boeing’s big investment for the 777-9 and 777-8 (click here). In the comment section, one reader mentioned the comments in another past blog entry titled “Twenty Percent” (click here).

The comments subsequent to the post “Twenty Percent” are very interesting and I invite you to read them all. It was well before I decided to moderate this blog severely. Many people who commented to the “Twenty Percent” post were banned from this site because obviously their comments were only to provoke reactions. Since my objective is not to make as many hits as possible for this blog, but to maintain a sane discussion, I prefer to moderate it and to throw provocative comments to the trash bin immediately.

I am quite happy with the result because I can now read consistent and coherent comments. Just read how incoherent some comments are in the post “Twenty Percent”. Some of them are really science fiction or simply rubbish.

Entry Into Service

I was reading all kind of posts in this blog concerning the 777-9 and 777-8 when I stumbled upon another interesting post that is titled “Another 777” (click here). It was posted well before the 777-9’s launch, in May 2013.

In that very specific post, I wrote the following.

One of the important events that determines the 777-9’s targeted EIS is the next wave of 747-400 retirement. If my memory serves me well it will happen in 2018 or 2019. It is therefore very likely that the targeted 777-9 EIS is in 2019, give and take 1 year.

The aircraft was not even launched at that time and yet I ventured to speculate that the EIS would be in 2019 plus or minus one year.

A very interesting article in FLightGlobal published in March 2016 (click here) confirms my speculated 777-9’s EIS. That’s very interesting.

Which Production Gap?

Many people out there say that the targeted service entry date is due to the “production gap” of the 777. Well, we know it is rubbish, right? The reality is that even an observer like this blog knows that you need a “vacuum period” when yo introduce a new product that is way better than the product it replaces. Secondly, 2019 is simply the second wave of 747-400 replacement cycle. It is written in the blog entry titled “Another 777” published many years ago. It was so obvious and people don’t even need to invent all kind of other reasons.

Anyhow, time to time I am a little bit surprised by what I wrote in the past myself. How could I wrote those things? Those things that prove to be correct years later. I am certainly not a clairvoyant and I didn’t attend any divination class at Hogwarts  school of witchcraft and wizardry. I think it is more about rationality than about magic.

By he way, as of today, the 777-300ER, 777-200LR and 777F program has more than 1,000 (one thousand) orders.

Model Series Orders Deliveries Unfilled
777-300ER 800 642 158
777-200LR 59 59
777F 161 121 40
Total 1,020 822 198

Seriously, what’s the problem?

Big Investment For Big Aircraft

This blog has been discussing about the 777-9 and 777-8 since many years. I have to admit that this 777 evolution has been one of my centers of interest since very long time ago. Basically, my interest started in early 2002 when Boeing started the 7E7 discussions. At that time, people also talked a lot about the Yellowstone long-term project.

Step Improvement In Technology

When Boeing started to talk openly about the 7E7, I had the feeling the time to roll-over Boeing’s products was started. At that time I got interested by all kind of development studies done in the US, like the one presented in this paper (click here). I would really like to invite you to read it, or at least go to the end of the Section 2 and the beginning of the section 3.

Today, very efficient engines are available and new generation aircraft with a step change in efficiency are coming into the market or being developed. One aircraft that is in development is the 777-9.

the 777X Composite Wing Center – image courtesy of Boeing

Until recently, in my mind the 777-9 remained as a “conceptual” aircraft, but today I have to accept that it is becoming a reality. Indeed, Boeing announced it has just opened the composite wing manufacturing facilities in Seattle area (click here).

Interesting Aircraft

This blog already mentioned several times that the 777-9 is one rare “growth” aircraft with a reduced MTOW compared to the aircraft from which it is derived. The reason is very simple. Considering the amount of fuel efficiency gain, the required takeoff weight to do the mission at maximum passenger load is lower than the required takeoff weight of the 777-300ER despite the fact the 777-9 is stretched and has more passengers than the 777-300ER.

In addition, since the new wings have much better aspect ratio and aerodynamics, the required takeoff thrust is lower than the 777-300ER. I would like to invite you to revisit the post titled “Twenty Percent” (click here) and maybe other posts related to 777-300ER evolution.

So, Boeing already  started to burn some capital (Capital Expenditure – Capex) for the 777-9 and 777-8. In other words, a huge sum of money has already been spent or incurred. The good thing is that most of the billion dollar for this wing factory spending has been spent in Washington state, increasing local economic activity.

New Engines

The efficient engine for the 777-9 started it full scale tests in April 2016 (click here). In reality, component tests of the GE9X started in 2011 or about five years ago.

Compared to other engine programs, the GE9X FETT happened earlier in the development process, just a mere six months after the engine design was finalized. This timing assures all learnings from FETT will be captured in the certification engines. Next year will be a busy year for the GE9X program with the start of certification testing and flight testing on GE Aviation’s flying test bed. Engine certification is anticipated in 2018.” (VV: FETT = first full engine to test)

As a conclusion, I would say that the 777-9 and 777-8 development is progressing according to schedule (… so far…). We need to follow the development closely because Boeing cannot afford to have delays in this program.

Considering the progress made so far, I have the feeling the targeted entry into service in 2020 has some buffer built in. I sincerely think the buffer is around 9 months, leaving some leeway for unexpected hiccups in the future.

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