Following Airbus decision on A330neo, speculation is now on next steps for A380 with A380neo (see post on May 21st and recent J. Leahy quotes).
To understand A380 situation and potential, we have decided to go back to B747 days and compare both programs.
Hereunder a cumulative sales comparison of A380 and B747 (including all its major versions).
First of all, A380 sales profile is similar to B747 sales profile in its first years (delta of between 50 to 100 aircraft in favor of B747, around 20%).
Secondly, after period of stagnation, B747 sales increased significantly (« second breath ») with launch of B747-400.
Thirdly, B777 launch affected and canibalized some B747-400 sales: B747-400 sales did not reach 10 units in one year after B777 launch.
In summary, if we base our analysis on B747 experience, A380neo development is an imperative to get a new « sales impulse » for the program. However, depending on B777X success, this upgrade could very well not be enough to significantly increase sales…
On June 16, Airbus and SAFRAN announced the creation of JV to produce new family of launchers (see wide array of articles in the net, for example this one from Aviation Week).
Overall, the effects of the Airbus and SAFRAN JV could be dramatic for European space sector
-Arianespace integration in JV structure
-Consolidation of launcher design teams in ESA, CNES and the JV
-Consolidation of production facilities around « JV site »
So what next? First, Airbus and SAFRAN need to integrate their launcher activities. Secondly, Arianespace future needs to be decided. In the same timeframe, there needs to be a discussion on CNES/ESA and Industry launcher design teams roles and responsibilities. Finally, wider asset consolidation (production facilities) should not start after ESA European Council decisions in December, i.e in 2015.
In addition, to June 16th Launcher JV announcement, Airbus and SAFRAN are proposing an alternative design to current A6 baseline (see post on May 5th). This new design introduces 2 Ariane 6 versions
Ariane 6.1 with a performance of ~4.5T in GTO and a projected cost of ~70 M€
-First stage : Cryogenic propulsion
-Boosters : 2 composite solid propulsion strap-ons (P145)
-Upper stage : « Aestus » type stage (storable propellant stage propulsion like Ariane 5 first versions)
Ariane 6.2 with a performance of ~8.5 T in GTO and a projected cost of ~85 M€
-First stage and boosters : same as Ariane 6.1
-Upper stage : Cryogenic upper stage based on « Vinci » engine
Hereunder a rendering of these 2 configurations
This configuration is very different from CNES / ESA agreed Ariane 6 baseline (again, see post of May 5th ). In a nutshell, it is more flexible and maintains large cryogenic propulsion industry but it is around 20% more expensive.
So what next? Well, the defining moment for Ariane 6 configuration choice (and planning by the way) will be next ESA Council Meeting in December. Till then, lots of discussions between CNES, ESA and Industry…
So, it did happen : Airbus launched the A330neo as wildely expected : see Airbus press release
Characteristics are similar to what was discussed in this blog on June 1st.
In summary :
– A330-200neo renamed A330-800 and A330-300neo renamed A330-900 have both been launched
-A330neo has 14% fuel consumption advantage vs CEO
-A330neo has 5% airframe maintenance advantage vs CEO (updated maintenance program and new Bleed System).
-A330neo will feature winglets and larger wingspan (around 3m)
-First delivery is expected in Q4 2017
-Farnborough commitments amount to 121 aircraft (interestingly mainly lessors)
To close, a little rendering…