Rolls-Royce and the leasing market

By Bjorn Fehrm

22 Jan. 2015: When talking to leasing companies at the annual Growth Frontiers 2015 conference in Dublin, Rolls-Royce is the engine manufacturer that is perceived as the least desirable on their airplanes.

This has no reliability or performance background, Rolls-Royce has a good reputation for producing solid and reliable engines which serves their operators well. It is rather the success of Rolls-Royce’s after market program, TotalCare, which is the at the root of the Leasing companies problems with Rolls-Royce.

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Odds and Ends: AirAsia; Philippine Air, Russia defers

AirAsia: Group CEO Tony Fernandes made appearances on international news programs, providing his first interviews away from the direct events surrounding Flight 8501’s crash. Here is a transcript of his interview on Bloomberg News.

The interviews come as the first read-outs of the cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder have been undertaken. Indonesian officials are quoted as saying the alarms overheard on the CVR were “screaming,” a description which has been criticized by some, who point out correctly that alarms don’t “scream.” This is certainly true, but we take a more charitable view about the term. This could be a reflection of English being a second language to the government officials and merely a translation issue.

Regardless, the data seems to confirm early reports that the flight was caught in massive up- and downdrafts that threw the airplane into a stall and out of control. Former NTSB crash investigator told us he believes the airplane went into a tight descending spiral and broke apart when it hit the water.

Philippine Air, Russia deferrals: PAL deferred 38 Airbus narrow- and widebody aircraft, according to this news report. Boeing is in talks to defer deliveries to Russian airlines, according to Bloomberg.

Muilenburg remains an enigma for unions, commercial development

Jan. 21, 2015. c. Leeham Co. Dennis Muilenburg, vice chairman, president and chief operating officer of The

Dennis Muilenburg, vice chairman, president and chief operating officer of The Boeing Co. Reuters photo via Google.

Boeing Co., remains an enigma to Boeing’s largest unions a year after he was elevated to this position from his slot as CEO of Boeing’s defense unit.

Muilenburg assumed his current position Dec. 13, 2013. Boeing’s “touch labor” union, the IAM 751 here in the Seattle area, didn’t know much about Muilenburg then. It still doesn’t.

Neither does Boeing’s second largest union, SPEEA, which represents engineers.

Nor is there any understanding what Muilenburg’s view of future commercial airplane development is.

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Odds and Ends: BBD’s Sheridan to Nordic; United and 777s

BBD’s Sheridan: Rod Sheridan, who retired last year after 20 years at Bombardier, has been named vice chairman of Nordic Aviation Capital, the world’s largest lessor of turboprop aircraft. Nordic owns more ATR turboprops and has more on backlog than any other company.

Sheridan was vice president of sales and asset management at Bombardier. His retirement last year was considered by many in the industry to be a major loss to BBD’s ailing aerospace division, coming as it did on the heels of major personnel changes as BBD restructured the unit. Turmoil continued with the departure last month of Ray Jones, the head of sales, within weeks of Sheridan’s departure.

Sheridan was responsible for Bombardier’s commercial entry into Russia. He was key to opening the CSeries market to lessors.

United and 777-300ERs: United Airlines is set to place an order for 10+10 Boeing 777-300ERs, reports Bloomberg. An announcement could come as early as this week. These would be UAL’s first -300ERs. Legacy United was launch customer of the 777-200 and legacy Continental Airlines ordered the -200ER. Only American Airlines in the US operates the -300ER and this became reality only in recent years.

The UAL order will be an important step in Boeing bridging the production gap for its 777 line until entry-into-service of the 777X in 2020. But it will come at a cost. Two market sources familiar with the deal say United will get the airplanes for around $130m, a sharp discount to the normal discounted price of around $150m.

Ryanair: from 17 clicks to 5, we are changing

By Bjorn Fehrm 

20 Jan 2015: On the second day of Growth Frontiers 2015 conference in Dublin, Ryanair former CFO, now Board Member Howard Millar, told us about a changed company.

“Ryanair is today the largest airline in Europe with 82 million passengers carried during Fiscal Year 2014 (April 2013 to March 2014). Growth is at record level and RyanAir is planning to grow to more than 100 million passengers during the ongoing Fiscal Year 2015. Read more

Fundamentals of airliner performance, Part 6; The engine

By Bjorn Fehrm

19 Jan 2015: There is a lot written about the fundamentals of how aircraft fly. It is something that fascinates people and it generates a high level of understanding of these fundamentals. The same is not true for the airline turbofan engines in use today; their detailed function remains a bit of black art.

leehamlogo copyright 2015 small 210_87 pixelsTo some extent this might be because what is exiting in the engines (the thrust) is generated behind closed doors. The only visible part of the process is a rotating fan face and sometimes a slight miss-colored exhaust out the other way. There is also at takeoff a funny buzzing sound interspersed with the general engine noise. Apart from that, the most that one sees is a round nacelle and that is it.

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Odds and Ends: BBD management; AirAsia 8501; MH370 update; Holy cow

BBD management: Bombardier’s management gets a scathing review following last week’s announcement that it will “pause” the LearJet 85 program and it will miss free cash flow guidance. This follows the unexpected resignation of Ray Jones, the head of sales, and a 10-year veteran of the company. Aviation Week has a separate article refuting the “poor business climate” excuse BBD gave for business jets.

Our own conversations paint a picture of a management structure that has inhibited CSeries sales from the start.

AirAsia 8501: Preliminary analysis of the AirAsia flight 8501 Cockpit Voice Recorder indicates no sign of terrorism or pilot suicide, according to several press reports. More likely is a high altitude stall or aircraft upset, the reports say.

In our conversations with a former NTSB crash investigator, he believes the flight spiraled down, hit the water and broke up upon impact.

MH370 Update: Flight Global has a good piece updating the search for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

Holy cow: Readers know we follow the Seattle Seahawks closely. Sunday’s game against the Green Bay Packers was a heart-stopper. Seattle trailed for 57 minutes of the 60 minute game and then exploded to come from a 19-7 deficit to win 28-22 in Overtime. What a thriller. Now the Seahawks will meet the New England Patriots in Arizona February 1 for the Super Bowl. The Pats crushed the Indianapolis Colts Sunday.

We’re negotiating our bet with an exec at Pratt & Whitney this week….

Unfortunately, Boeing won’t be repeating its 747-8F-painted Seahawks airplane this year, according to the USA Today. What a shame.

Growth Frontiers 2015 conference: Fuel prices and the order bubble

By Bjorn Fehrm 

18 Jan 2015: The subject of the first day at the Growth Frontiers 2015 in Dublin has been very much “what will happen with lower fuel prices”. The conference is the yearly gathering of the aircraft financing community with investors, banks and lessors gathering to learn how key factors in the market affect their industry. With the first day behind us, it is clear the top subject is the low fuel prices and how these will affect aircraft orders and prices going forward.

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Interview with Airbus CEO Fabrice Brégier: Airbus and innovation

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By Bjorn Fehrm


18 Jan 2015: When visiting Toulouse last week we got the opportunity to talk to Airbus CEO, Fabrice Bregiér, on one of his pet subjects: the need for Airbus to be more innovative.

Leeham logo with Copyright message compactBackground to the discussion was that we had observed that Airbus, after decades of a high innovation level, higher than its main competitor Boeing, had slipped behind in the last decade. We wanted to discuss this with Brégier, who has during his tenure, elevated the innovation theme to one of his top priorities. We wanted to see if we had consensus on the past and understood Airbus way forward.


  • A380 problems undercut subsequent innovation; but
  • Airbus still maintains innovative lead, Bregier says;
  • A350, A320neo, A330neo examples of innovation; and
  • Don’t need to overreach when benefits aren’t there.

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A321neo configurations and A320 production

By Bjorn Fehrm

18 Jan 2015: As part of the preparations for the Airbus A321LR article 15 Jan. we saw a need to clarify with Airbus the production configurations for A321neo. There had been several iterations of what will be produced come mid-2018 when the A321neo variant is scheduled to roll off the FALs at Airbus in an enhanced Airbus Cabin-Flex (ACF) variant.

This variant features a three-door pairs layout that allows a raised max passenger limit by virtue of displaced door three and an addition of a second overwing exit. Recent media articles have suggested that both the initial four-door variant as well as the three-door variant would be available.

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