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Introduction

July 28, 2015: © Leeham Co. Trying to decipher what the airframe Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) are going to do is a sporty game that is often analogous to Kremlin watching, especially when it comes to Airbus and Boeing.

The OEMs are naturally circumspect about most everything they do: product development, aircraft pricing, sales campaigns, etc.

They also often are like lawyers when it comes to promoting their products in the public domain: cherry-pick the data that supports your product and which puts your competitor’s product in the worst possible light.

Aerospace analysts, consultants and media (as well as the enthusiast) look anywhere and everywhere for information to discern what the OEMs are up to or how the airplanes are performing or whatever the soup de jour is.

There is more information in the public domain than you would think.

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Rockwell Collins sector sales below expectations because Boeing 787 doing so well

June 28, 2015: Rockwell Collins, a major supplier of aircraft systems, said in its FY3Q2015 earnings call Friday that aftermarket parts and provisioning sales were below expectations in part because the Boeing 787 and the Rockwell parts are proving so reliable in service.

Fewer airlines introduced the 787 into service in the third quarter, also driving down provisioning, Rockwell said.

Although Rockwell’s emphasis was on its own products, the news from a third party such as Rockwell must be sweet music to Boeing’s ears after all the program difficulties and a three-and-a-half month grounding of the 50 787s then in service beginning in January 2013 after two battery fire and smoke incidents. It is, after all, Boeing’s name on the side of the airplane, not Rockwell’s. There are now about 300 787s in service.

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Options for Singapore Airlines to operate direct flights to the US, part 3.

By Bjorn Fehrm

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July 22, 2015 © Leeham Co. We will now finish our series around Singapore Airlines (SQ) need for an Ultra Long Haul (ULH) airliner by looking at what would be the technology and performance of the A350R that Airbus talked about as a possible future model at the launch of A350XWB in 2007.

The A350R as presented was quite different to the A350-900LR that we presented in the first analysis articles. Whereas the A350-900LR is essentially a new Weight Variant (VW) the A350R was an aircraft combining the wing, engines and main landing gear from A350-1000 with the fuselage of A350-900 to create an Ultra Long Haul aircraft (and a freighter variant).

Such an A350 variant could be an interesting aircraft for Singapore or other airlines with a need for a ULH aircraft. We will use our proprietary aircraft model to create the A350R and check its performance against the A350-900LR and Boeing’s 777-8X. This will give an understanding if it could be worth the development effort for Airbus.

Summary:

  • A350R would have very high range and payload weight performance.
  • It would be a true ULH aircraft with which Airbus could pick a fight with Boeing’s 777-8X on the routes that requires an ULH.
  • Its capacity would be volume constrained on a lower level than the 777-8X with better economics per seat and aircraft mile.
  • The question remains, given its lower seat count, would it find a market besides the -8X?

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Pontifications: Steady as she goes at Boeing–for now

By Scott Hamiltn

By Scott Hamilton

July 27, 2015, © Leeham Co. Dennis Muilenburg, who became the chief executive officer at The Boeing Co. the Tuesday after the Paris Air Show ended (and at which Jim McNerney was front-and-center in his role as CEO), was on the company earnings call for the first time in this role last Wednesday.

If anyone was expecting, or hoping for, dramatic announcements or policy changes, they were disappointed.

With this Muilenburg’s first earning call, it was McNerney’s last. Predictably, it was a love fest between the out-going and the incoming. Muilenburg and McNerney swooned over how well they worked together and praised each other’s work, accomplishments and vision. The discussion wouldn’t be any other way, absent a scandal of some kind (remember Phil Condit resigning over the air force tanker lease deal, Harry Stonecipher over zippergate). Despite the buzz on Wall Street and elsewhere of the relationship strains between the two men, those days really don’t matter now. What does matter is what comes next under Muilenburg.

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Qantas 32: cockpit resource management at work

July 25, 2015: This is a 45 minute Air Crash Investigation episode about the Qantas Airway Flight 32 Airbus A380 engine failure and the subsequent events. Aside from the interesting circumstances, this demonstrates Cockpit Resource Management. What especially caught our eye was at the end, when the Captain made comment of automation vs human crews. With discussion from time-to-time about having one pilot, no pilots or someone on the ground controlling the airplane (as with a drone), this is why we like having real people in the cockpit. Qantas 32 is a good example of of how pilots on the scene vs human monitoring on the ground is the much better way.

https://youtu.be/vbDqpD80_u0

 

 

Interior supplier sees 777, A330 production rates coming down

July 24, 2015: Interior supplier B/E Aerospace sees Boeing 777 Classic and Airbus A330ceo production rates coming down because Airbus and Boeing aren’t filling the “bridge” between the old and new airplane derivatives.

In its second quarter earnings call this week, company officials said that demand in the short term for interiors isn’t materializing for the 777 Classic and A330ceo as B/E had hoped. This means production rates for these wide-body airplanes will have to come down.

“When you look at wide body, when you look platform per platform, we [see] A330 coming down, 777 coming down, 747-8 coming down,” said Werner Lieberherr, president and CEO of B/E.

“There is increasing uncertainty with regard to the A330 and B777 short flow programs as a meaningful number of opportunities that we anticipated have thus far not materialized,” said Amin Khoury, executive chairman.

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Bjorn’s Corner: Weight or fuel limited, what is this all about?

By Bjorn Fehrm

By Bjorn Fehrm

24 July 2015, ©. Leeham Co: In recent articles around the Ultra Long Haul (ULH) needs of Singapore Airlines, there have been many references to aircraft being either fuel or weight limited. It is not so evident what this all means and what the practical consequences are of one or the other limitation.

Let’s go through what it all means with a practical example and show how it will affect the performance of the aircraft and what one can do about it.

As an example we will pick Boeing’s ULH 777-200LR. It is known as the Worldliner since it can connect almost any two cities in the world with its ultimate range of 9,300nm. In practical use, the Worldliner has often been configured for less range. In such configurations it runs out of fuel tank space before it reaches its Max Take-Off Weight. This is “fuel limited.” Here is how it works.

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Options for Singapore Airlines to operate direct flights to the US, part 2.

By Bjorn Fehrm

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July 23, 2015 © Leeham Co. After having looked at Airbus’ A350-900 and Boeing’s 777-200LR for filling Singapore Airlines (SQ) need for an Ultra Long Haul (ULH) airliner we now complement the analysis by including Airbus’ and Boeing’s up and coming A350-1000 and 777-8X.

Singapore Airlines has 70 A350-900 on order to replace 25 Boeing 777-200ER. There would also be place in that order to replace the 25 777-300ERs that Singapore operate, most likely with the A350-1000 (SQ has the right to change model).

The 777-8X is Boeing’s replacement aircraft for 777-200LR and direct competitor to A350-1000. It is interesting to compare these two types flying the Trans-Pacific routes non-stop from Singapore to US that we flew with A350-900LR and 777-200LR and to compare the per seat fuel consumption versus the smaller aircraft.

Summary:

  • The 777-8X and A350-1000 are a sized larger than both 777-200LR and A350-900LR, and can therefore transport more payload.
  • The 777-8X is designed as an ULH aircraft, the A350-1000 not. We explore what this means for the US missions.
  • Flying to the US which of these four aircraft will be the most efficient? And carry an interesting payload?

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Muilenburg’s debut as CEO on Boeing earnings call

July 22, 2015: Dennis Muilenburg made his first appearance today on a Boeing earnings call as president and CEO.

Dennis Muilenburg, president and CEO of The Boeing Co. Photo via Google images.

Jim McNerney, who was chairman and CEO until June when he relinquished the CEO title to Muilenburg, began the call before a transition to Muilenburg for the balance of the call and future calls.

McNerney said Boeing’s growth has been organic and he expected Muilenburg to continue growth and performance of Boeing.

Muilenburg hit the KC-46A $835m (pre-tax) charge at the top, expressing disappointment in the charge and the technical issue with the fuel system that led to it. The first flight test aircraft will return to the air this month, and the second aircraft–the one equipped with the refueling system boom and drogues–will have its first flight “this summer.”

“Notwithstanding the tanker charge,” Boeing delivered a strong quarter and financial performance, Muilenburg said.

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Boeing 2Q/1H 2015 earnings

July 22, 2015: Boeing reported its 2Q2015 and 1H2015 earnings today, with higher revenue, $3.3bn in the all-important cash flow and a strong commercial backlog.

The earnings call presentation is here. The earnings call is here at 10:30am EDT.

This is the first earnings call for Dennis Muilenburg, who received the CEO title in July when Jim McNerney was kicked upstairs to non-executive chairman. Muilenburg had been president and COO since December 2013.

Last week, Boeing announced a pre-tax charge against the KC-46A tanker program of more than $800m ($523m after tax). This brings the pre-tax charges to about $1.3bn. Some analysts believe the latest charge was set before Muilenburg became CEO, while other observers believe this could be the first example of Muilenburg willing to take tough decisions that McNerney wasn’t willing to accept when it came to program charges.

Here is the first take from aerospace analysts:

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