Boeing cleaned up their class-structure, configurations, seat-counts, and assumed weight per passenger on their brochures, hence requiring a write-down of range on their entire product line. But there’s a catch.
Boeing’s Previous consisted of:
- Integrated Airplane Configuration (IAC); over 20 years old, with set standardized seat-width and seat pitch, standardized give/take of reduced width/pitch, assumed weight of passengers, and lower assumed weight per LD3 (with fewer bags) within the belly cargo hold.
- Pre-dated yard-stick elements are seen in regards to economy class densities and requirements, evolving business class space requirements, new premium economy developments, removal of first class from cabins and airline portfolios, higher average weights of LD3 and belly cargo hold (thanks to growing belly-hold capacity especially on newer aircraft, and receding dedicated freighter businesses).
- The old standard configurations adopted all parameters of the pre-dated IAC (but with removal of first class and replacement with premium economy to match economics of competitors), resulting in creeping densities, and weaker pax-oriented product development/standardization. This resulted in majority of airlines adopting cabins with lower seat counts as advertised (hence facing the brunt of higher cost per available seat flown, and lower passenger comfort)
- The internal detachment of the old IAC created unreliable parameters and non-reflective cabin requirements, often dubbed by competitors as the “Boeing Standard Rules”. This is especially seen and used by Airbus (eg A330neo launch presentation) into exfoliating Boeing’s failure to develop and configure aircraft for comparisons, around the flying public. IAC highly criticized, namely from competitors like Airbus, research on cabin comfort, and development of the 18” standard.
- New parameters configure aircraft with higher seat-pitch and fewer rows in economy and business, fewer seats abreast on premium economy, and smaller alternative-placed lavatories, crew-rests and galleys. The configuration density is also variable on basis of average stage lengths (good for the 737NG/MAX programs). The number of seats abreast remains in order to stay competitive on the market. The new parameters also increase average weight per LD3, more bags per LD3, and higher capacity for more freight capacity. The standard weight calculation and extrapolation to payload-range charts internally, are crunched, and displayed.
- The new calculations today are 2-class @ 210lb/pax on narrowbodies like the 737, while 3-class @ 250lb/pax on 747, 777 and 787 widebodies.
If they retain/densify configurations, and stay consistent with payload increases, they can
1. Increase Capabilities of their aircraft with higher take-off weights, structural alteration, higher thrust requirements and place passenger-facilitative infrastructure possibility at the expanse of large sums of money, program alterations and possibly higher fuel burn.
2. Keep capabilities and cut range through paper-changes of the aircraft consistent, narrowing gaps to FAA-approved to capabilities.
Boeing for current programs like the 737NGs, 787-8/9/10, 777-300er and 747-8, have resided to paper-changes, while decisions on future programs like the 777-8/9, the 737MAX program and Middle-of-market NSA/NTA propositions, are yet to be made.
So what’s the bottom line for airlines, lessors and operators? Surely, there’s been positive feedback on it so far, but these entities get exposed to so much more than what’s publicly displayed on brochure, and associated “showroom” configurations, ranges, capabilities and efficiencies. Individual operators look for aircraft benefitting their niche and focus, comparing densities, cargo capability, future feasibility, technology, and its contribution to trimming costs and catalysing higher cash flows and investor ROI. This is done through independent calculations, analysis and configurations/products set (mostly around pax-aircraft empty weights (premium airlines usually have this few tonnes higher, and LCC vice-versa), capacity and facilitations, economics on routes, cargo hauling capability on variety/specificity of routes, and operating behaviors in various environments.