The Ultimate series ~:~ Boeing DreamLiner(versus A380)

Posted: April 21, 2008 by ralliart12 in Technopia
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I wanted to write about this sooner, but a lot of reading have to be done before a proper “full-length comment” can be made about the DreamLiner & its competitor, the Airbus A380, since neither companies are willing to sponsor me for a free flight to review their aircraft. Furthermore, the issue is complicated by my apparent bias towards the DreamLiner & I have to search far & wide to find some things to compliment the A380 on(& I still can’t find any).

With that said, I guess we have to be objective & declare that both aircraft are destined for different “greatness/frontiers” and it isn’t fair to pit them directly against one another. The A380 is, in fact, a direct competitor to the Boeing 747, while the Boeing 787 is targeting the A350; it is also meant to be a successor to the younger 767. Oh, yah, DreamLiner = 787. Okie, before we hit it in-depth, a visual summary for those who wanna see the low-down of the technical specifications:

And this:

Of course, we have the wordy technical details (I have highlighted key points that I want you to pay attention to):

Airbus A380

  • Operating Weight – 277,000 kg (610,200 lb)
  • MTOW – 540,000 kg (1,235,000 lb)
  • No. of Engines – 4 turbofans
  • Max Engine Thrust – 374 kN (84,000 lb)
  • Cruising Speed – 902 km/h
  • Max Speed – 945 km/h
  • Range – 14,800 km
  • Ceiling – 43,000 ft
  • Max Fuel Capacity – 81,890 gal (310,000 L)
  • Flightcrew – 2
  • Seating (Typical) – 555
  • Seating (Max) – 840

Airline (number of planes ordered)

Air France (12)
China Southern Airlines (5)
Emirates (55 – including two freighters)
Etihad Airways (4)
Int Lease Finance Corp (10 – including five freighters)
Kingfisher Airlines (5)
Korean Airlines (5)
Lufthansa (15)
Malaysia Airlines (6)
Qantas Airways (5)
Singapore Airlines (19)

Thai Airways International (6)
Virgin Atlantic Airways (6)

Total on order 178

Boeing 787 Dreamliner

  • Flightcrew – 2
  • Seating – 290-330
  • MTOW – 165,100 kg (364,000 lb)
  • Cruise Speed – .89 Mach (587 mph, 510 knots, 945 km/h at 40,000 ft)
  • Range – 4,650 – 5,650 km (2,500 – 3,050 nm)
  • Max Fuel Capacity – 33, 528 US Gal (126,903 L)
  • Service Ceiling – 43,000 ft
  • Max Thrust – 236 kN (53,000 lbf)

Airline (number of planes ordered)

Air Berlin (25)
Air Canada (23)
Air New Zealand (4)
ALAFCO (leasing company – 16)
Arik Air (3)
Aviation Capital Group (leasing company – 5)
Azerbaijan Airlines (3)
Boeing Business Jet (3)
C.I.T Leasing Corp (5)
Continental Airlines (5)
First Choice (4)
Int Lease Finance Corp (52)
JAL Int (5)
LOT Polish Airlines (1)
Royal Jordanian (2)
S7 Group (15)
Travel Service (1)
Unidentified (46)
Uzbekistan Airways (2)
Virgin Atlantic (15)

Total on order 235

Vital statistics

Number of passengers

Airbus A380 – up to 474 in test cabin
Boeing 787 Dreamliner – 210-250


Airbus A380 – 8,000 nautical miles
Boeing 787 Dreamliner – 8,200 nautical miles

When does it enter service?

Airbus A380 – October 2007
Boeing 787 Dreamliner – summer 2008

Launch airline

Airbus A380 – Singapore Airlines
Boeing 787 Dreamliner – ANA All Nippon Airways

Innovations and efficiency

Fuel efficiency
Both claim much better fuel efficiency than the industry norm, with an improvement of between 20% and 40%, depending on conditions and number of passengers on board.

Which is Greener?
This is very hard to call until both are in full service. The important thing is that both manufacturers are striving to improve fuel efficiency.

Main Innovations
Airbus A380 – very quiet on takeoff and landing. The twin aisle and double-deck cabin layout will provide much more space than that found in conventional planes.

Boeing 787 Dreamliner – the claim is one of unmatched fuel efficiency compared with similar sized current planes, brought about by increased use of composite materials and better engine efficiency. The layout will be one of twin aisle cabins.

From the facts presented above, the hard cold fact is that the 787 is way smaller than the A380. No doubt about that, but note the range of both, which is almost similar. Previously the catalyst for building bigger planes is their capability for longer ranges, but with lighter materials & better fuel-engine efficiency, Boeing’s 787 managed to achieve that with a much smaller aircraft (note: the 787 is still significantly bigger than Airbus’s A320)

So the key question here is: is bigger, better? My sentiments, as shared with many other netizens, are, as a passenger, I do not care if 800, or even 500 more fellows fly together with me if I’m unable to get directly from where I set off, to specifically where I wanna go, without transiting domestic flights.

A380 needs more runway to clear the ground, more taxiway for the sweep of its enormous 79m wingspan, and boarding gates need rejigging to deal with the logistics of deplaning 800 people from a towering double-decker. Airbus represents a bet-the-house wager on one of the most disliked same-old models of air travel: the hub-and-spoke. The A380 is built around the assumption that airlines will continue to fly smaller planes on shorter routes (spokes) into a few large hubs, then onward to the next hub on giant air-planes. It also presumes that passengers will want to put up with the hassles of changing planes in exchange for the privilege of travelling in a jet-powered cruise liner.

But quoting from

In assessing demand, perhaps analysts from both companies should have simply asked passengers on what kind of plane they’d prefer to fly. It turns out that Harris Interactive, a worldwide market research and consulting firm, did just that and the results swing strongly in Boeing’s favor.

The group conducted a survey of 913 international air travelers in the United Kingdom, Tokyo, and Hong Kong, who had recently taken a flight that was eight hours or longer, to assess whether travelers prefer smaller planes (250-seaters like the 787) or larger planes (550-plus-seaters like the A380) for long-haul flights. Those surveyed overwhelmingly favored smaller planes.

The poll revealed that 80%, 81%, and 78% percent of Economy Leisure Travelers surveyed in the U.K., Hong Kong, and Tokyo, respectively, preferred a non-stop flight on the 250-seater, rather than having a one-stop connection with the larger aircraft. For non-stop flights, more than 60% of those surveyed said that they would prefer a single-deck, 250-passenger plane, to a double-deck, 550-passenger plane.

In addition to “convenience” and “flexibility,” passengers in all of the regions surveyed said that a smaller plane would make life less chaotic when it comes to check-in, boarding, disembarking, baggage claim, and customs/immigration, compared to a 550-seater.

Rather than seek economies through scale, the 787 will deliver economy through technological innovation, making the most of newly designed, fuel-efficient twin engines and lightweight composite materials. The 787 offers a very different take on the flying experience, too, focusing on comfort rather than perks that could be eliminated by airlines: more standing headroom, larger windows and bathrooms, and higher humidity–all features that will benefit passengers regardless of seat configuration.

An elaboration of the above features: The Boeing 787 cabin will offer a visually relaxing “sweeping archways” design, window shades whose opacity can be altered at the flick of a button, greater humidification of cabin air, and a sky simulation effect through the use of colour changing light-emitting diodes in the aircraft ceiling. Aisles will be wider as will the seats.

And for those who still insists that the capacity of the A380 is a huge innovation, eat this: The 787 serves its airline customers in several ways. Firstly, the wings and body will be made of new composite material, which is lighter and stronger than aluminium – essentially, super-strong plastic. Fuel efficiency will be increased because it weighs less, and the wings will be smooth flat surfaces without rivets which will reduce drag, further increasing efficiency. In addition, the composite material does not corrode like metals do and will last twice as long. The electrical and entertainment systems will be built into the floor, rather than into the seat, so the airline can change the configuration of the seats for each flight. With this innovation, airlines can switch out first-class seats for coach, or vice versa, depending on the load.

Taking a break from the innovations, some side issues include the 2 big companies pointing fingers that the other has “UNFAIR” government/union support in order to ply their orders through the respective markets. Which I think is kinda stupid, since we know European Aeronautic Defense and Space(EADS), the parent company if Airbus, practically has a stranglehold on European airline industry. On the other hand, let us immediately dispel the myth that Boeing goes it alone, operating in a “survival-of-the-fittest” economy that doesn’t hand out free money for R&D. Boeing’s history—and success—is intimately intertwined with Federal and State dollars and aid, even to this day. Several of Boeing’s most successful aircraft grew almost directly out of federally funded military projects: the 707 (and its closely related narrow body successors, the 727 and 737) drew on the KC 135 tanker program, and the 747 borrowed heavily from the C-5 military transporter design. More recently, the State of Washington, home to most of Boeing’s commercial airliner assembly plants, agreed to a generous $3.5 Billion incentive program to ensure that Boeing wouldn’t build its new 787 elsewhere. It has been estimated that for each $65,000-a-year job associated with the assembly of the new plane, Boeing will receive $160,000 a year in incentives. Hardly a company weaned off subsidies (and hardly a sweet deal for the people of Washington.) So, both manufacturers are simply pointing at mirror accusations of each other, in this aspect of government subsidies and support.

Furthermore, for those not-in-the-know about the assembly and technical complications that caused the delay in delivery for the initial batch of A380, it turns out in addition to the complicated kilometers of wiring that traverses the behemoth beast, even though it’s an European company, the French and German design teams of Airbus are using incompatible software for the A380’s wiring framework! Wow! Bummer! That’s precisely the kind of “innovation” Boeing wishes to avoid. It is somewhat ironic that Boeing could have launched the very first double-decker aircraft over three decades ago. Pressed by visionary Pan Am founder Juan Trippe for large double decker aircraft, Boeing responded by designing the wide-body B747, arguing that a two-storey aircraft would be plagued by far too many limitations. Conservatism versus innovation that can’t work? Conservatism wins.

So a quick check, as an airline, to support the A380, I’ll have to:

  • clock almost an average of 600 passengers per take-off to enjoy seat economies
  • rebuilt my airport infrastructure to support the weight and wingspan (SG’s Terminal 3 & even London’s Heathrow have to revamp; Heathrow’s Terminal Three will need to undergo expensive redesign to accommodate the Airbus A380 and Emirates has already begun using oversized ground equipment in Dubai to be in readiness for its own delivery)
  • amass flights full of passengers who are willing to endure huh-to-hub indirect flights between major airports and then hop onto transit/domestic flights

And should I wanna enjoy the seat economies, fuel efficiencies and in-flight comfort comparable to the A380, I can also adopt the 787 and do….NOTHING except buy the aircraft!

So unless like Tokyo’s Narita and London’s Heathrow airports which need to squeeze more passenger per flight since they can’t squeeze in anymore flights(over-saturated take-off & landing frequencies), I simply can’t see how the A380 can succeed.

  1. Valentijn says:

    First of all, don’t make an article if you don’t have an objective point of view on the subject.

    Second, like you said, it is actually not fair to compare de A380 with te B787 due to the fact that they do not compete in the same market; its like comparing a bus with a small city car.

    Even though I agree with the fact that most people would rather have a non-stop flight in a 250 seat aircraft than a one or two-stop flight in a 850 seater aircraft, it is a fact that most passengers buy the CHEAPEST ticket there is. Also, both the sky and the airports are already over loaded with aircraft. In high season, any large airport has multiple airliners waiting in line to take off, causing mayor delays and as most of us know, delays are an airlines worst enemie.For every hour an aircraft is on the ground instead of in the air, the airline looses thousands of dollars.

    As you might know, currently there is a mayor shortage of aircraft, both boeing and airbus can’t make enough aircraft to satisfy the demand of the airliners, that is why airbus is working on a project to extend the life of its A320 family fleet, from 60000 take-offs to 90000, (Boeings 737 family has already gotten their 90000 flights FAA certification a long time ago). To get this extended life, every single aircraft needs an upgrade that cost more or less 1/3 of the value of a brand new aircraft. Therefore, probably boeing will not be able to satisfy the demand of 787s, so instead, larger aircraft will be needed.

    You also mentioned that composites do not corrode, if you are refering to fatigue this is true, but composites suffer from enviromental corrosion, which causes the yield strength of the material to drop dramatically. (by the way, this is a disadvantage both have, because both aircraft are made in a large part out of composites, the 787 considerably more than the A380, but still…).

    To summarize, comparing these two aircraft just because they are made by two competing aircraft manufactures ir just naive, if the 787 were the competitor of the A380 Boeing wouldn’t have made the 747-8i, and there are airlines that have placed orders of both aircraft.


  2. ralliart12 says:

    Thank you for your response. I appreciate your feedback. Please allow me to defend my stand:

    1st of all, my post is NOT an article/analysis/report/journal of any kind. It is MY comment/feeling/response regarding the subject matter at hand. Therefore, I feel that I deserve to be completely biased towards whichever model I like better. To paraphrase, I’m NOT telling any readers which model they should prefer, or buy, for that matter. I’m SIMPLY & SOLELY saying which model I like PERSONALLY, as an aircraft on its own, less any carrier infrastructure.

    Secondly, as I’ve said, AND YOU have pointed out, I ALREADY mentioned it is UNfair to compare both models in their entirety when u consider their target market. Since I’ve already declared this as a BIASED post from the on-start; how much clearer may I make it for you?

    Thirdly, for an amateur like me, corrode = rust. So that’s all there is to it. Don’t interpret it any further beyond that, please. We all know ALL materials fail; it’s only a matter of when & how.

    I apologize if you find my post naive, but I am, after all, not involved in the airline or aircraft manufacturing industry. Once again, I do appreciate you taking the time to review my post so thoroughly.

  3. […] two airlines have taken completely different approaches to solving the problems of fuel efficiency and passenger capacity that have plagued airline […]

  4. […] delays, and the Dreamliner is optimistically scheduled for release in third quarter 2009.The two airlines have taken completely different approaches to solving the problems of fuel efficiency and passenger capacity that have plagued airline […]

  5. Abas says:

    Thanks for the info. Maybe there is a mistake regarding both planes similar range. How can the super sized A380 have similar range to the smaller 787? One is a long range aircraft & the other is medium range.

    Nonetheless, interesting blog post! The 787 looks sleek, ya! Classyyyyy…

  6. gkccj says:

    Hello friends!

    Great and detailed studied reference subject on A380 and B787.Could you help me build the latest feeds and comments on the webpage mentioned.

    Thanks and B’Regards
    Good Day!

  7. ralliart12 says:

    Hi Abas, no, both models do NOT have the same range, i.e. the range of the A380 is 14,800 km, while that of the B787 is 4,650 – 5,650 km. But yah, the B787 is a lot more sleek, whereas the A380 looks like a blundering giant that has only brute force.

    Hi gkccj, unfortunately, due to my current academic commitments, I’m unable to assist you in gathering the feeds. I do sincerely hope you will find some help from other sources. In addition, basically, most of the study was simply a compilation of efforts from various sources, so kudos to them!

  8. […] 787 Dreamliner vs. Airbus A380 The two airlines have taken completely different approaches to solving the problems of fuel efficiency and passenger capacity that have plagued airline […]

  9. Charlie says:

    Nice work mate, 2 different aircrafts with 2 different ideas. Let just wait and see Boeing 787 in service before making any conclusion. Just too early to say Boeing 787 is more in favour than Airbus A380.

    Check your spelling mistakes too buddy 🙂


  10. MichaellaS says:

    tks for the effort you put in here I appreciate it!

  11. ralliart12 says:

    @d. bern,

    May I know on what basis are you justifying your comment on? If you are unable to substantiate your claim (within 2 weeks), I shall consider your comment as spam.

  12. IMO Steve Keen is kind of a crank. He makes major, elementary logical errors which go unrefuted because nobody pays any attention to him.

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