Thursday, February 14, 2019

And now we are Officially Starting to Slide Down the Seneca Cliff: The A380 Goes the way the Concorde Went



And there goes the A380, too. You would think that the European aerospace industry wouldn't repeat the mistake they made with the Concorde, would they? But they managed not only to repeat it, but too make it bigger.

At the time of the Concorde, everyone said that the future was with supersonic passenger planes. At the time of the A380, everyone said that the future was with large wide-body planes. Now, I wonder what else they could concoct if someone doesn't stop them, and I can easily think of them doing something even worse. Fortunately, with the EU in the sad state it is, maybe they won't have that chance.

In any case, a just punishment for those who think they can predict the future by extrapolating the past.



19 comments:

  1. This actually follows quickly the recent demise of the Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet. I started a thread on the Diner to track this stuff called "The Death of Aviation". It does mark the beginning of the end for the air travel industry.

    RE

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  2. While there are some efficiency gains to be had in commercial aviation I don't think that is the trend for the future as they are too small to warrant a transition. I think that it will just start shrinking and getting more expensive to fly but even that will happen slower than we think.

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  3. This is a European Commission publication March 2017, Final Report, Annual Analysis for 2016.
    https://ec.europa.eu/transport/sites/transport/files/2016_eu_air_transport_industry_analyses_report.pdf

    I have not been able to find the Report for 2017 in the same series.

    The Report for 2016 is upbeat and quotes an average growth in air traffic over decades of 5% annually, and describes the industry as “resilient”, through “shocks, recessions”.

    The report says “Amongst the drivers of air traffic demand, economic growth is the primary driver of demand, both as it largely explains past performance and it forms the basis of forecast continued growth.”

    See how it goes, I suppose, in the next few years, but Airbus must now know something it presumably did not know even two or three years ago? See below.
    best
    Phil

    Extract from p108
    New Generation Aircraft
    The aviation industry is entering an era of new technology that will bring a new generation of intelligent aircraft in the market. The new generation of airliners will allow longer maintenance intervals and repair changes as well as better health monitoring and prognostics of maintenance needs.
    The entry into service of the A350, with its first commercial flight in January 2015 by Qatar Airways, has been the latest milestone of the arrivals of new generation aircraft. Together with the A380, B747-8, B787-9, and soon the A320neo and the B737max, these new aircraft types will replace a ageing and maintenance intensive aircraft types.

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    Replies
    1. Yes, in terms of number of passengers, the situation could be see in bullish terms. With the demise of long-distance trains, people seem to be willing to endure the abuse they receive from TSA people and the personnel of low cost airlines -- in both cases, I am sure, hired from veteran wardens of the Abu Ghirab prison. So, the system can still pull ranks and survive, even though ominous signs of collapse are clear.

      Delete
    2. My point really was that something seems to have changed since 2016, and I just note for now the perceived link in the past with 'global economic growth'.
      Airbus e.g. Airbus 380, is supposed to be very long term with the resources to ride cyclical downturns in traffic and to depend on average growth over decades. So what has changed Airbus decisions?
      google 'airline receivership 2019'

      best
      Phil H

      Delete
  4. Eh, when the number of 777s and A350s in service starts falling (without an equivalent replacement) ... that would be a real sign of going over the cliff.

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  5. Well the true test is whether they made profit out of the whole endeavor. If they still did despite the write off and huge R&D then I would say it wasn't a mistake and it is prudent to shut it down after its 'useful' life.

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    Replies
    1. Come on, Ian, they may be able to cook the books in such a way to show that they didn't lose too much money -- or maybe they even gained some. But it is a disaster nevertheless. It reminds me of when Napoleon came back from Russia, saying, "so, I lost an army. So what? I'll raise another)

      Delete
    2. The airline industry has NEVER made a real profit. Like the automotive industry, it was debt financed from the beginning and depended on cheap oil to last basically in perpetuity. Unfortunately, cheap oil did not last forever, and the debt financing is running up against the "Minsky Moment".

      It is noteworthy that in none of the many articles I have read so far, neither Peak Oil or Debt Financing are mentioned.

      RE

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    3. RE, indeed.

      How is this a "mistake"??

      Delete
  6. I wonder if anyone has worked out how many people are off the ground at any one time?

    the air travel industry has only existed in its present form since the 1950s. It was based on the premise that metal and oil would lift us all off the ground, and no one would have to suffer the inconvenience of gravity.
    (remember when everyone was going to have a flying car?)

    And then we have the certainty of now, where wheels deliver prosperity.

    Could it be that RE (above) is right when he says this is the beginning of the end for air travel?

    Air travel was the direct result of cheap surplus oil, and planes became like buses in wealthy countries.

    We don't have any more cheap surplus oil. so air travel must contract. Slowly at first, but the business model of air travel depends on mass movements of people.

    If those people are not moving, then the sircraft industry will nosedive, in every sense of the word

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Between 0.5M and 1.25M , depending upon time and season.

      https://www.travelandleisure.com/airlines-airports/number-of-planes-in-air

      Until my childhood in the 1970s flight was the preserve of the rich. I expect that constraint to return in my lifetime.

      Delete
  7. It is great! If flying increased much, it would bring the global warming to an extremely dangerous level probably above the 'high risk for food production on Earth'. So we'd be caught between famines and hurricanes. We now need governement planned, sustainable jobs. They could offer free sport, yoga, music classes to everybody, education could really be improved a lot, with small classes, personalized counseling, and so on, pay a salary to parents with children at home, create small classes or working groups, plant trees, create jobs in recycling and building insulation, and disaster emergency services.

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  8. Very interesting article.

    Well, I'm not still sure, that the stopping production of A380 it could be clear and indicative decline sign of air transportation of people and stuffs.
    https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concorrenza_tra_Airbus_e_Boeing#/media/File:Airbus_and_Boeing_Passengers_vs_Range.png

    The Airbus A380 direct competitor are

    Boeing 747-8 and it is not in stopping production, there are 150 airplane in order
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_747-8#Operators

    Boeing 777 orders are skyrocketing: 2013 airplanes are in order
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_777#Orders_and_deliveries

    The reason of closing A380 production line is a matter of little share of market for Airbus, not enought for having good economy scales of line production


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  9. Interesting comments, all.The complexity of the plane with its expensive components and self governing software all pointing at diminishing returns comes to mind. I also see other situations going over Ugo's cliff like massive conventions and now that it is almost March Madness all the dozens of basketball teams with their entourages flying to places distant from their home arenas based upon their "seeding". A rather ridiculous waste of energy.A lot of dodo birds will bite the dust.

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  10. a scotish airline has just gone out of business too, moaning about rising fuel costs or something. bit cheeky i thought, seeing as aviation does not pay any tax on fuel. anyway, who says there is no good climate news. maybe people are not flying to benidorm so much due to concerns about the global warming. yeah right. end sarcasm.

    the planet will not mourn the death of the wandering death birds. what a lone drone pilot could not accomplish at christmas, peak oil certainly will.

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  11. And yet the number of passenger miles keeps increasing...

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  12. Lots of bankruptcies

    https://wolfstreet.com/2019/02/17/bankruptcy-reorganization-european-and-asian-airlines/

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  13. Another piece of news from italian financial newspaper "Il Sole 24 ore".
    Same story: the list of failed airline companies is growing bigger and bigger.

    https://www.ilsole24ore.com/art/notizie/2019-02-17/fallita-l-inglese-flybmi-e-decima-compagnia-aerea-che-salta-europa-210217.shtml?uuid=ABYanKVB

    ReplyDelete

Who

Ugo Bardi is a member of the Club of Rome and the author of "Extracted: how the quest for mineral resources is plundering the Planet" (Chelsea Green 2014). His most recent book is "The Seneca Effect" (Springer 2017)