Saturday, April 16, 2011

The A320neo strategy and the 767NG that will never be

The A320neo strategy and the 767NG that will never be: "767-787-frame_560.jpg

"In terms of the adaptation of the [A320neo], one of the things we're trying to do to de-risk this program is very much focus on minimum change. And we are conscious because we've lots and lots of creative engineers. Our engineers love developing new ideas and developing new things, that's what engineers want to do. Clearly if we're not careful we could end up with a situation where this becomes an all new airplane, very, very easily, and so part of my job along with [Airbus A320 chief engineer Wolfgang Engler] and the team is to say that we have to have certain amount of realism into how we do this. We're doing that because we want to keep a high degree of commonality, from a customer point of view, and because we want to have a de-risking in terms of the technical challenge of the program and a very fast ramp up." - Tom Williams, Airbus executive vice president programmes
It's rare that I open a post solely with a quote, but the one above, from Airbus's Tom Williams A320neo briefing, should offer - not a glimpse - but shines a spotlight into how the European airframer thinks about new products. The incremental DNA of Airbus - rooted in the same principles of Piepenbrock's Red-Blue and those that brought the 737 Next Generation into existence - identifies the ingredients for bringing a product rapidly to market in a way that seeks to be non-disruptive to its production system and to its customer base.

It is in this same vein that we see Air Insight introduce its justification for a Next Generation 767, fitted with winglets, new engines, a KC-46A/787-style avionics and flight deck along with a new interior would provide a new commercial lease on life to Boeing's high margin jet and a product for airlines that don't need the 787-8's 7,755nm design range.
With the 767 already a major player in the transatlantic market, a 767NG would enable customers to maintain a great deal of fleet commonality and upgrade their medium range fleets with the NG while adding the 787 for their long-range operations. A fleet change is a traumatic event for an airline, with ramifications throughout the organization, including spares, MRO, and crew training. Upgrading a fleet maintains commonality and enables smoother, lower cost fleet transitions.
Air Insight suggests such a product that is complimentary to the 787 with a theoretical 12% fuel burn improvement from new engines, plus a further 4.4% reduction from winglets boosts the range of a 767-300ER to nearly 7,000nm with the 23,980gal of fuel already in the tanks. The 787's 33,528gal delivers an 11% boost beyond the performance over a hypothetical 767NG, but does so with 40% more fuel.

This 767NG appears highly unlikely to come to fruition as the 767's industrial footprint is now sized smaller for steady low rate output for the US Air Force. More importantly an upgraded 767 would be poised to cannibalize a signficant portion of the 787 business case. Though, if an aircraft derived in the same incremental spirit as Airbus is approaching the A320neo - and Boeing approached the 737NG - and is able to cannibalize the investment of its very expensive all-new majority-composite jetliner, then the 767NG is not a bad idea, just one whose idea has come far too late.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...