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Another A380 Woe?

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Another A380 Woe?

Old 10th Oct 2018, 16:07
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Another A380 Woe?

Airbus has struggled for years to sell more A380s. But in January the A380 program was tossed a lifeline when Emirates agreed to buy another 36. But wait. The purchase of those 36 new Super Jumbos was contingent on significant fuel burn and performance improvements on the engines. While not an NEO (New Engine Option) the "old" engines needed to show a marked improvement in both fuel burn and overall performance. There's been lots of advances in turbo fan technology the past decade, so no big deal, right? Not to so fast. A380 has two engine options offered by two engine manufacturers: the Engine Alliance GP7000 and the Rolls-Royce Trent 900. The Engine Alliance (GE and P&W) have stated flatly they are not interested in making the investment to upgrade the GP7000. GP7000 powers about 60% of A380s. And R-R has just announced that 36 shipsets (about 150 engines including spares) is not nearly enough to cover the costs to upgrade the Trent 900, so they are unlikely to invest in the upgrade either. So to get the upgraded engines Airbus needs to sell more A380s. But to sell more A380s, Airbus needs to guarantee enough engine sales to make the investment worthwhile to R-R. And so far they have not been able to get anywhere close to doing that. The upshot is that there is currently no path for Airbus to obtain engines with the mandatory fuel burn and performance improvements Airbus has contracted for with Emirates. So, is this the final nail in the coffin for A380? Or will Emirates relent and accept A380s with engines that don't meet their performance spec?
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Old 10th Oct 2018, 16:30
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Originally Posted by KenV View Post
Or will Emirates relent and accept A380s with engines that don't meet their performance spec?
That depends on how much they need the aircraft. So probably yes.
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Old 10th Oct 2018, 17:17
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Now is not the time to agonise over a trade-off.

I can't believe they planned their routes around pie-in-the-sky
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Old 11th Oct 2018, 00:39
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Yup - further evidence of the 30+ year move (stagnation) in commercial aviation around widebody twins for long haul and C20 narrowbody twins for the short haul.

Oh, for something INTERESTING....! Yawn.
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Old 12th Oct 2018, 06:43
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Originally Posted by er340790 View Post
Yup - further evidence of the 30+ year move (stagnation) in commercial aviation around widebody twins for long haul and C20 narrowbody twins for the short haul.

Oh, for something INTERESTING....! Yawn.


There's some moves towards building small supersonics. That would be more interesting, but possibly still twins
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Old 12th Oct 2018, 11:02
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Originally Posted by DaveReidUK View Post
That depends on how much they need the aircraft. So probably yes.
Need? It's pretty unlikely they planned their entire operation around a single aircraft that is not even on the design boards yet, much less in production. It'll be interesting to see if Airbus cannot deliver the upgrades, will Emirates go with the non upgraded A380, or with the new 777X?
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Old 12th Oct 2018, 14:31
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Originally Posted by KenV View Post
Need? It's pretty unlikely they planned their entire operation around a single aircraft that is not even on the design boards yet, much less in production?
You misunderstand my post, it wasn't about the enhanced aircraft, but about the likelihood of Emirates taking more of the current A380 if push comes to shove.

Originally Posted by KenV View Post
It'll be interesting to see if Airbus cannot deliver the upgrades, will Emirates go with the non upgraded A380.
Exactly.
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Old 13th Oct 2018, 12:39
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Originally Posted by KenV View Post
Airbus has struggled for years to sell more A380s. But in January the A380 program was tossed a lifeline when Emirates agreed to buy another 36. But wait. The purchase of those 36 new Super Jumbos was contingent on significant fuel burn and performance improvements on the engines. While not an NEO (New Engine Option) the "old" engines needed to show a marked improvement in both fuel burn and overall performance. There's been lots of advances in turbo fan technology the past decade, so no big deal, right? Not to so fast. A380 has two engine options offered by two engine manufacturers: the Engine Alliance GP7000 and the Rolls-Royce Trent 900. The Engine Alliance (GE and P&W) have stated flatly they are not interested in making the investment to upgrade the GP7000. GP7000 powers about 60% of A380s. And R-R has just announced that 36 shipsets (about 150 engines including spares) is not nearly enough to cover the costs to upgrade the Trent 900, so they are unlikely to invest in the upgrade either. So to get the upgraded engines Airbus needs to sell more A380s. But to sell more A380s, Airbus needs to guarantee enough engine sales to make the investment worthwhile to R-R. And so far they have not been able to get anywhere close to doing that. The upshot is that there is currently no path for Airbus to obtain engines with the mandatory fuel burn and performance improvements Airbus has contracted for with Emirates. So, is this the final nail in the coffin for A380? Or will Emirates relent and accept A380s with engines that don't meet their performance spec?
What is the typical length of usage for an aircraft engine ?
First, RR will take some time (dozens of months, or years) to upgrade their engine.
Then, Airbus will produce 12 A380 per year, this gives up another three years.
By then, maybe the oldest A380s will need engine replacement ?

Or it could be profitable to replace existing A380' engines with new ones that burn less fuel ?
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Old 13th Oct 2018, 13:13
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Jet engines usually get overhauled not replaced.
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Old 13th Oct 2018, 14:31
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Originally Posted by JayMatlock View Post
Or it could be profitable to replace existing A380' engines with new ones that burn less fuel ?
Retrofitting newer engines to airframes that have been flying for several years (which is presumably what you mean) rarely makes economic sense and it's hard to see that it would for the A380 either.
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Old 13th Oct 2018, 14:44
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The Douglas DC-8 Super 70 Series was an exception. The DC-8-71, DC-8-72 and DC-8-73 were straightforward conversions of the -61, -62 and -63 primarily involving replacement of the JT3D engines with more fuel-efficient 22,000 lb (98.5 kN) CFM56-2 high-bypass turbofans with new nacelles and pylons. A total of 110 60-Series DC-8s were converted by the time the program ended in 1988.
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Old 13th Oct 2018, 14:56
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Originally Posted by evansb View Post
The Douglas DC-8 Super 70 Series was an exception. The DC-8-71, DC-8-72 and DC-8-73 were straightforward conversions of the -61, -62 and -63 primarily involving replacement of the JT3D engines with more fuel-efficient 22,000 lb (98.5 kN) CFM56-2 high-bypass turbofans with new nacelles and pylons. A total of 110 60-Series DC-8s were converted by the time the program ended in 1988.

What major commercial operators flew these conversions?
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Old 13th Oct 2018, 15:16
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Air Canada, Delta, FedEx, Flying Tiger, United, UPS, VASP, LAP, Condor, and Lufthansa Cargo, come to mind.

Cammacorp contracted MDC Long Beach for engineering support while conversion work was completed by MDC’s Tulsa plant, Delta, Air Canada and UTA Industries. The Super 70s were about 70% quieter than the Super 60 Series and between 18% and 25% more fuel efficient than the JT3D, depending on the model.

Last edited by evansb; 13th Oct 2018 at 15:31.
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Old 13th Oct 2018, 15:30
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Quite a lot of the early generation jets were re-engined soon after introduction, as the technology was advanced. DC8s and (particularly) 707s were done. I believe American Airlines had about 50 turbojet 707s within a few years of introduction, and re-engined them all with turbofans.
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Old 13th Oct 2018, 15:36
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Indeed. American Airlines also converted its 720s to 720B standard. (Improved variant with four Pratt & Whitney JT3D turbofan engines).
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Old 13th Oct 2018, 19:10
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Yes, all valid examples (as was the 727RE, come to that), but with the A380 we're not talking about the kind of step-change that replacing turbojets with turbofans represented, or replacing first-generation turbofans with second-generation ones.

And not forgetting that all of those engine programs had other applications as well, which can't be said for an upgraded Trent 900.
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Old 13th Oct 2018, 22:18
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Originally Posted by Sailvi767 View Post
Jet engines usually get overhauled not replaced.
It's quite common for the engines on a high time aircraft to actually have more operational time (since new) than the airframe - I've seen engines that were approaching 100k hours (obviously overhauled several times).
New run engines are typically good for between 10,000 and 20,000 hours before overhaul - short haul, high cycle engines tend to the low end, long haul/low cycle engines toward the high end - sometimes north of 25k hours before the first overhaul.
Overhaul doesn't return the engine to 'like new' - so after the first overhaul, subsequent overhauls come more frequently, roughly half the time between overhaul of new production engines.
As DR noted, retrofit re-engine programs need a huge improvement before they become cost effective. What are common are incremental improvements - things that show up in new production engines become available for retrofit into older engines during overhaul. Such improvements are generally small - a quarter percent here, a tenth percent there, but add up. The CFM56-7 engines being produced now have several percent better fuel burn than the ones produced 20 years ago - made up a dozen or more small improvements. But it's hard (and usually expensive) to squeeze those improvements out of an existing engine. Rolls will be hard pressed to provide the rumored 2% improvement promised - more so since they're only looking at a market of a few hundred engines to spread the costs (CFM had the luxury of spreading the improvement costs over thousands of engines)
But if you want a big improvement, you need a new engine design - and that's a lot of money.
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Old 14th Oct 2018, 06:03
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Rolls will be hard pressed to provide the rumoured 2% improvement promised - more so since they're only looking at a market of a few hundred engines to spread the costs (CFM had the luxury of spreading the improvement costs over thousands of engines)
I guess it depends on how much commonality there is across their range of engines. RR once found that bits of some Trent or other were easily put into the (then) venerable RB211? (though I think that was for 757s, of which there were a substantial number...)

One thing I think we can be certain of, at least at present. Given the problems RR have had recently, they're going to be quite conservative in what they'll take on. Or at least their shareholders will be hoping so. Who knows.
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Old 14th Oct 2018, 08:29
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So do Emirates have enough pilots for the A380 fleet?
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Old 14th Oct 2018, 18:21
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It depends on how you define “enough”
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