Will The Airbus A350F Encourage Boeing To Launch The 777XF?

Speaking at a recent earnings call, Airbus Chief Guillaume Faury said that his company hopes to offer an A350…

Will The Airbus A350F Encourage Boeing To Launch The 777XF?

Speaking at a recent earnings call, Airbus Chief Guillaume Faury said that his company hopes to offer an A350 freighter, pending board approval. The decision is the result of customer feedback for increased competition and follows months of speculation and public ‘encouragement’ from one particular airline CEO. So, now that a next-generation Airbus freighter is on the way, will Boeing follow suit?

For quite some time now, Boeing has dominated the freighter market with its 777F and 747-8F. Photo: Altair78 via Wikimedia Commons 

777X freighter “in the near term”

During its own earnings call on Wednesday, Boeing had much to report on while also facing many questions from the media and investors. Among the flurry of inquiries were two questions regarding the 777X and the development of a freighter variant.

The first came in the form of a question regarding a return to R&D (research and development) investment. To that point, Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun offered the following tidbit on the development of a 777X freighter:

“…and I hope in the near relatively near term a freighter version of that airplane. We are going to be very busy and have been very busy on the development front and spending a fair amount of money on it.”

777X
When launching the 777X program, Boeing began its efforts on a passenger variant with a focus on a longer -9. The -8 has taken a backseat in the development process. Photo: Dan Nevill via Wikimedia Commons 

The second freighter-related question was more direct, inquiring about how Boeing plans to address the threat of an Airbus A350 freighter. To that, Calhoun said:

“We need to develop a new ICAO-compliant freighter version opportunity. I circled the 777X as the logical place for that, and the smart place to do that. So, as I said, without suggesting that we’ve already launched it or that we have one planned by the day, we’re confident, and I’m confident that might be the next of our work programs, and it’ll be an incredible freighter with incredible long term advantages for our major customers.”

Building on 777F success

While Airbus’ recent news may be generating a greater sense of urgency for Boeing, the US planemaker shouldn’t have too much of a challenge developing a freighter variant of its 777X. Indeed, the company has had a long history of producing OEM freighters.

According to Boeing’s website, the company has logged orders for 278 777Fs. Since first placing an order in 2006, FedEx appears to be the largest customer for the type, having ordered 47 of these freighters.

Qatar Airways and its cargo division is also a major customer for the type, taking three in a simultaneous delivery at the start of the year. The airline’s CEO has been vocal about wanting a new freighter from either Airbus or Boeing. In fact, in June, we reported on rumors that Qatar’s chief had actually been offered a 777X freighter option. To this news, a Boeing spokesperson simply acknowledged that the company continues to engage with its customers on its product development programs and long-term fleet needs.

Airbus_Industrie,_F-WLXV,_Airbus_A350-1000
Sources indicate that the A350 freighter will be based on the stretched -1000. This makes sense as the jet offers greater capacity at a cost to range. Photo: Pedro Aragāo via Wikimedia Commons 

At the end of the day, it sounds all but certain that a 777X freighter is on the way. News of Airbus’ A350F launch makes it all the more important for Boeing to overcome its certification challenges in getting its passenger variant to market. With Boeing’s CEO saying that the company is “subjecting the airplane to a comprehensive test program designed to demonstrate its safety and reliability as well as meet all applicable requirements.”

Once these hurdles are overcome, Boeing, with its solid history of freighter production, should be able to get a next-generation widebody cargo jet to market without more complications.

Which freighter variant do you think would be more popular? An A350 cargo aircraft or one based on the 777X? Let us know in the comments.

Source : Simple Flying More   

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easyJet CEO: UK Needs To Remove Expensive And Unneccessary PCR Testing

During a recent Simple Flying webinar featuring easyJet CEO Johan Lundgren, the airline chief called for the removal…

easyJet CEO: UK Needs To Remove Expensive And Unneccessary PCR Testing

During a recent Simple Flying webinar featuring easyJet CEO Johan Lundgren, the airline chief called for the removal of preflight PCR test requirements, which he summed up as expensive and unnecessary. Considering the fact that the cost of two PCR tests costs more than most roundtrip airfares with the airline, Lundgren sees this as a huge factor in suppressing travel- particularly for his airline and its low fares.

Lundgren is vocal about the need to remove PCR testing in favor of cheaper forms of testing when necessary. Photo: Getty Images

During the July 29th conversation between Simple Flying’s Joanna Bailey and easyJet CEO Johan Lundgren, the airline chief repeatedly criticized the requirement for PCR testing. On the topic of customer confidence to make reservations, Lundgren noted that “expensive and unnecessary PCR testing” was one factor present in suppressing demand.

An expensive test

Criticizing the requirement for PCR testing, Lundgren said, “decision-makers don’t understand that [PCR testing] adds on a very, very expensive cost to the journey to which a lot of people say, ‘look, it’s out of reach for me, I can’t do that.'”

The airline CEO notes that the average fare of an easyJet return ticket from UK to an international destination is, on average, £130 (equivalent to $180). PCR tests, on average, he says, cost £100.

“You don’t need to have a PhD in price elasticity to recognize that this is going to have a big impact. So, key thing now is that they remove PCR testing…They should do like everyone else is doing, have the lateral flow test”

It should be noted that lateral flow tests cost significantly less than PCR testing- about 1/2 or 1/3 of the price.

Lateral flow tests can be about 30% of the cost of a PCR test. Photo: Getty Images

An unnecessary test?

On the topic of these types of tests being unnecessary, Lundgren said that PCR tests being used for green and amber list travelers were only being subjected to genomic sequencing 2% of the time. More simply put, Lundgren asserts that one of the main purposes of conducting the more accurate (and more time-consuming) test- ‘genomic sequencing’ – is only taking place a fraction of time time.

This is how the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describes genomic sequencing:

“Genomic sequencing allows scientists to identify SARS-CoV-2 and monitor how it changes over time into new variants, understand how these changes affect the characteristics of the virus, and use this information to better understand how it might impact health.”

As a satisfactory stand-in to PCR testing, Mr Lundgren advocates for the use of “Lateral Flow Testing” instead, saying that this form of screening is much more available and much more affordable, “which evidently is just as effective.” But is this really the case?

easyJet
PCR tests are more expensive than most airfares with easyJet. Photo: easyJet

Lateral flow testing appears to be far less accurate

The UK’s NHS points out that rapid lateral flow tests are for people “who do not have symptoms of COVID-19” and “give a quick result using a device similar to a pregnancy test.”

Of course, this quick result has its drawbacks. According to Gavi, a recent study concluded that the average sensitivity of lateral flow tests (LFT) was 72% among people with COVID-19 symptoms and 58% for people without symptoms. “This would mean that for every 100 people infected with COVID-19 who had symptoms, only 72 of them would test positive on an LFT.” The website adds that because of this relatively low sensitivity, “a negative test result cannot guarantee that you aren’t infected – false negatives are reasonably common.”

Therefore, if this is truly the case, then Mr Lundgren’s assertions that LFTs are “just as effective” would be false. While we can agree that PCR testing is onerous, expensive, and a massive barrier to travel, the alternative rapid test appears to be too unreliable as a stand-in. If countries want to maintain some control over arrivals, PCR testing, sadly, might be the most reliable method in addition to vaccination requirements. Ultimately, however, as we’ve seen with the Tokyo Olympics, vaccinations and testing can only do so much, and, even with the tightest controls, COVID-19 still manages to sneak past borders.

What are your thoughts on PCR testing as a travel requirement for certain countries?  Do you agree that it’s expensive and unnecessary? Let us know in the comments.

Source : Simple Flying More   

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