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Old 02-15-2006, 07:29 PM   #1  
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Default Fedex and UPS A380 Freighter

A380F Readies as Airbus, Boeing Sharpen Battle Axes
By Robert Wall
02/12/2006 05:31:18 PM

THE NEXT BIG THING

Airbus is putting the finishing touches on its A380F freighter design in anticipation of a first flight next year.

But even before major components come together, one thing is clear: The aircraft will feature even more heavily in the perpetual Airbus-Boeing sparing match than its A380-800 passenger cousin.

The A380-800F is an integral element of Airbus's A380 strategy, in large part because the beefed-up structure opens the door to future derivatives. Charles Champion, Airbus COO and manager of the A380 program, notes the freighter will most probably be very similar to the so-called A380-900, a stretched, nearly 80-meter-long passenger aircraft that would nominally seat 650. Detailed design work on the -900 hasn't been done and a program launch is still years away.

A successful freighter program also is important to the company because the A380 is the first project where Airbus has launched cargo and passenger versions of an aircraft at the same time.

Additionally, there are economic incentives for Airbus to want to see the A380F trounce Boeing's cargo offerings, including the latest element in that product line, the 747-8F. The margins on freighter aircraft are generally higher than for passenger models, so success with the freighter could help Airbus at a time its higher-margin wide-body business is lagging compared with that of narrowbodies. Airbus also has had a relatively smaller cargo offering than Boeing and is mulling other initiatives in this segment in an attempt to level the playing field.

Moreover, while there are airlines that have suggested they might accommodate both passenger A380s and 747-8s in their fleets, in the cargo world the situation is much more stark--a freight hauler is likely to select just one platform. Even Airbus CEO Gustav Humbert, who largely shrugs off the 747-8 as a serious passenger rival, acknowledges that in the cargo realm the situation isn't as clear-cut and that the Boeing offering represents more formidable competition.

A sign of the competitiveness within the freighter market is that the already acrimonious verbal interchange between Airbus and Boeing is taking an even more rancorous tone.

AIRBUS EXPECTS A MARKET for about 400 new freighters to be sold through 2023 in the very-large aircraft size. So far, the order book shows Airbus has more customers, with freighter orders from FedEx, UPS, Emirates and International Lease Finance Corp., while Boeing has launched its 747-8F on the back of orders from Cargolux and Nippon Cargo. In terms of numbers, Airbus has 27 A380Fs in its firm backlog to Boeing's 18.

Airbus also projects an approximately equally sized market for conversions, with 747s likely to dominate in the near-term. A380 passenger-to-freight conversions are likely to emerge in 2018-20.

While passenger and freighter A380s are outwardly the same, the material composition has had to change to provide extra strength for the increased gross take-off weight. Moreover, engines will run at higher power levels, 76,500 lb. versus 70,000 lb. on the passenger model, although that involves only a software change.

Overall, the freighter version is slated to feature a higher content of advanced materials, largely through the replacement of aluminum with aluminum lithium (Al-Li). The latter is largely being used for wing box. Moreover, in the forward and aft sections of the fuselage, Glare, laminated composite, is being replaced with a high-static-strength version, which, although stronger, requires fewer plies, says Keith Stonestreet, A380F product marketing director. Advanced aluminum alloys will replace some Glare. Overall, Airbus expects to use 9% Al-Li, 10% titanium and steel alloys, 3% Glare, and 22% carbon fibers.

Another major design difference is the location of the main deck ceiling, which is being raised 4 in. to 102 in. on the cargo version to better accommodate freight. A converted A380 would not feature the extra space on the main deck.

Airbus says the passenger and freighter versions will have about 80% systems commonality. Among the differences are a 20-brake landing gear system for the freighter, with the lighter A380-800 able to make do with 16. Actuators and landing gear also have had to be strengthened to accommodate the higher loads. New wiring paths and air conditioning system are planned. Stonestreet notes that the seven-zone A380F air conditioning system allows the hauler to accommodate different types of cargo or, in some cases, throttle back to generate up to 3% improvement in fuel burn. Because freighters need less electric power, one auxiliary power unit can be dropped.

CHAMPION SAYS THE A380F design is "pretty much frozen" but a few important decisions remain, such as customers FedEx and UPS haven't yet determined who will furnish the cargo-handling equipment. Moreover, some decisions about materials are still pending. For instance, floor beams are composites-based on the passenger version, but earmarked to be made of Al-Li on the freighter. Engineers are still assessing whether the lighter composite beams can also be used on the freighter.

Airbus is still meeting with airlines to hammer out design details. Recently, such a gathering led to a decision to make the front freighter doors identical to the passenger version, allowing both aircraft types to use the same escape slide, says Stonestreet. This way, if a slide is mistakenly activated on the ground, it can be replaced more easily since there's a greater chance of spares availability. Stonestreet notes that cargo haulers like FedEx "effectively carry 10,000 'passengers'," so dispatch reliability is as critical as with the A380-800.

The structural and other changes are largely intended to boost maximum take-off weight to 592 metric tons from 562 for the passenger model. While the aircraft is designed to carry a 150-metric-ton gross payload up to 5,600 naut. mi., customers have expressed interest in a shorter-range, 3,000-naut.-mi. configuration with 158-metric-ton gross payload capacity. Airbus is talking up an 8,000-naut.-mi.-range configuration that would still carry 100 metric tons, but this was met with scant interest.

Although the A380F carries a greater payload, and carries it farther, Boeing officials argue that the economics of their aircraft is better, noting that because the 747-8F is lighter, it delivers 25%-lower-per-ton fuel burn, 20%-lower trip costs and 23%-lower ton-mile costs.

BUT THOSE NUMBERS are based on grossly inflated weight and fuel-burn figures for the A380, counters Richard Carcaillet, director of A380 product marketing, who believes that the deviations are so extreme they go beyond the traditional Airbus-versus-Boeing fudge-factor. Airbus says the A380F has 10% lower cost per ton versus the older 747-400F and is comparable to the 747-8F.

Moreover, Airbus posits that the extra range the A380F provides also brings a real economic benefit that Boeing ignores. By being able to fly from, for instance, Shanghai to the U.S. West Coast nonstop, cargo haulers can eliminate the approximately $12,000 fuel stop in Anchorage, Alaska, that is necessary with the rival's aircraft, Stonestreet says.

One of the advantages the 747-8F has over the Airbus aircraft is the nose-loading capability that the A380F lacks. Airbus, instead, provides a large main cargo door measuring 168-in. wide X 103-in. high. The size of the cargo door was actually increased, in part, on the advice of Cargolux, which was a member of the A380F potential customer definition group, although, ultimately, the company went with Boeing.

THE UPPER DECK DOOR measures 145 X 88 in., with full-scale development underway at FMC Technologies and TLD to provide competing loader designs.

But the decision on whether Airbus or Boeing has come to the freighter market with the right product is more likely to come down to how payload density develops for cargo haulers. With a lower density, the A380F can promote its size advantage to carry significantly more cargo than its rival. If payload density is higher, around 9.75 lb. per cubic feet, the aircraft runs out of payload capacity before volume, closing the gap between the A380 and 747-8F.

Airbus officials say the trend is to lower payload density. However, they aren't willing to concede the ground on higher payload density, and argue that one advantage of the A380F is the capability to adjust the layout for standard or high-density operations. A high-volume flight might feature 25 upper deck/33 main deck pallets, with a high-density configuration of 17 upper deck/29 main deck.

As for the status for the program, first metal was cut last April, and composites have been in build since July. Parts will come together during the course of the year with final assembly to commence next year--the assembly tooling will be shared between the freighter and passenger A380s. First flight also is set for 2007, with initial customer delivery to FedEx in late 2008. The FedEx freighters will be powered by Engine Alliance GP7200s. Airbus officials expect an accelerated flight-test program utilizing work done during A380-800 trials. For instance, engines now are already being run at 77,000 lb. above the freighter's thrust rating.

In the long-run, Airbus officials aren't ruling out that once the stretched A380-900 is birthed, on the heels of the freighter, they could decide to convert the larger aircraft to a freighter as well. Both engine suppliers Rolls-Royce and the General Electric/Pratt & Whitney joint venture powerplants have growth margin. However, an Airbus official says a -900F would require additional structural enhancements. Nothing is expected to move in that realm for at least another 10 years.
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Old 02-15-2006, 08:19 PM   #2  
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I heard FDX was going to greatly improve the crew rest facility in the A380: they're putting in TWO futons...
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Old 02-16-2006, 08:45 AM   #3  
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Default Government Intervention

Until the WTO steps in, Airbus will continue to have a competitive advantage in the commercial jet market. Period. Something has got to be done about government subsidies in Europe, or the U.S. needs to start "subsidizing" Boeing.

I am not proposing socialism here, just a little "government help" to restore capitalism. Wouldn't be the first time in history...

When I think of the Boeing fleet VS. the Airbus fleet
737NG VS. A320
767 VS. A330
777 VS. A340
787 VS. A350
747F VS. A380

I see Boeing aircraft downright dominating except in the 737NG VS. A320 and maybe the A380. Why is it that Airbus continues to receive so many orders. The U.S. government needs to step to the plate on this one.
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Old 02-16-2006, 10:01 AM   #4  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ryane946

I see Boeing aircraft downright dominating .
How have you come to this conclusion? Just curious.
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Old 02-16-2006, 10:19 AM   #5  
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Default Randy's Journal

Go to Randy's Journal web site for some insight as to why Boeing has the right formula for the future http://www.boeing.com/randy/
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Old 02-16-2006, 10:24 AM   #6  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Freightpuppy
How have you come to this conclusion? Just curious.
It's from his years of experience flying a vast number of large aircraft. Here is a quote from one of his earlier posts.

Quote:
I am 22, a CFII, and I have over 700TT and I intend on hiring on at a regional in the next several months.
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Old 02-16-2006, 10:37 AM   #7  
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Default Boeing is downright dominating

Downright dominating.
I consistently look at Boeing numbers VS. airbus, and the facts are unmistakable.

Boeing dominates the long haul market. While Airbus barely squeeked by Boeing in orders last year, Boeing's sales were almost twice as high. Why? Because a 777 costs a lot more than an A320. Airbus got creamed on the A340 and A350 while Boeing's business was booming for the 777 and 787.
A340 has 4 engines --> More maintenence, more fuel burn... Not as good of a jet as the 777

The 787 is an amazing aircraft that takes commercial jets into the 21st century with a SUBSTANTIAL reduction in fuel burn, noise, operating cost, etc... The A350 is like any other jet built in the 80's and 90's. Plus the 787 is due to be delivered in 2008, VS. 2010 for the A350.

As far as the A380 and 747F, Airbus has more orders than Boeing, but this is not very important. Why? Boeing took an existing aircraft and made improvements ---> Low research and development costs!!
Airbus started from scratch and made and expensive new jet. Lots of R&D costs. Have they even sold enough aircraft yet to recover those costs. I have my doubts about mamouth jets being sold in the future. It seems almost as economic to have 2 smaller jets. My opinion.

Now I know that the A320 may be beating the 737NG recently, but I want to point out one IMPORTANT FACT:
Over 6,000 Boeing 737's have been order, and they represent over 25% of the WORLD's commercial jet fleet. Just this one aircraft.
Now don't tell me Airbus dominates this market!

Boeing has lost ground over the past 5 years, but it still dominates the market. If EADS was not subsidized by European countries, Boeing would further dominate the market. The playing field is not level, and yet Boeing is still doing fine.

I bought Boeing stock about 2 1/2 years ago and it shot up from $32 a share to about $72 a share. And business is still booming.

Last edited by ryane946; 02-16-2006 at 10:42 AM.
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Old 02-16-2006, 10:52 AM   #8  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Packer Backer
It's from his years of experience flying a vast number of large aircraft. Here is a quote from one of his earlier posts.
LoL, that was low blow. Funny though.
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Old 02-16-2006, 10:57 AM   #9  
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Experience isn't everything! Education counts for something. You guys just can't stand that a younger kid knows more about Boeing and Airbus than you.
Why do I know it??? Because I have over $7,000 dollars invested in Boeing and I take money seriously (Being a student).

If you think I am wrong, prove it with facts. Don't just give me the "I'm older, I'm right!" response. Do you honestly think Airbus is doing better than Boeing? Than PROVE IT! And be sure to read my response on the bottom of the first page first.
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Old 02-16-2006, 01:03 PM   #10  
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Hmmmmm...

It sounds like that 22 year old has done his homework...
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