Bjorn’s Corner: Airbus Innovation days, activities and program updates.

By Bjorn Fehrm

By Bjorn Fehrm


28 May 2015, C. Leeham Co: I am in Toulouse today attending Airbus Innovation days for Leeham News. It has been a good day’s briefings and I have presented what was perhaps the biggest change since we last met Airbus in the article “Airbus A350-1000 getting real”.

Apart from this program, there were more standard updates on Airbus other activities and programs. Here follows a rundown on these updates in a more paraphrased form.

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Embraer ramps up smaller airplane messaging

Vicious Circle

Figure 1. Click on image to enlarge.

May 28, 2015, c. Leeham Co. Embraer is ramping up is messaging that the E-Jet family provides a better Return on Capital Employed in many circumstance than the larger Airbus and Boeing single-aisle family.

In a new push to be unveiled at the Paris Air Show in a little over two weeks, Embraer will describe its “New Metrics for Success” to an international audience in an open forum.

EMB has been showing airlines and lessors the concept for some time, and we received a briefing on the essential elements when we visited EMB last October at is home base in San Jose, Brazil.

New Metrics for Success takes airlines away from the traditional metric of economics, the Cost per Available Seat mile, and focuses trip costs and the higher quality revenue obtained by limiting the number of low-yield seats on a flight that must be offered to fill larger airplanes. Read more

Airbus Innovation days: A350-1000 getting real

By Bjorn Fehrm


May 28, 2015, c. Leeham Co. We are visiting the Airbus Innovation days where we have been given an update all Airbus civil aircraft programs. The perhaps most interesting update is the progress of the A350-1000 as its forerunner, A350-900, is ramping its production to 15 aircraft during 2015.

The A350-1000 is next in turn; it will be flying next summer and will enter service with first customer Qatar Airways summer of 2017. The A350-1000 is getting more real and Airbus gave a good insight to the aircraft’s readiness for prime time during the sessions of today.

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Boeing 777 Japanese suppliers see rate cut in 2016: BAML

May 26, 2015: Key Japanese suppliers on the Boeing 777 program have told Bank of America Merrill Lynch they expect a production rate cut in 2016, BAML aerospace analyst Ron Epstein reports in a note published earlier today.

Epstein cites BAML’s Japanese industrial analyst Takahiro Mori in his own note dated May 21. Mori also wrote that Boeing is cutting pricing to its supply chain in Japan, putting additional squeeze on profits.

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Flying the Airbus A350

By Bjorn Fehrm


May 25, 2015, c. Leeham Co. Friday we showed our little video from our test flight of Airbus A350 at end of April. Now it is time to describe the impressions during the flight more in detail. Different from the excellent reports of other magazines that were present, we will look deeper into flying an aircraft with Fly By Wire in contrast to a conventionally controlled aircraft and less in trying to compare the A350 with other airliners, as we don’t have this experience.

Our lack of experience in flying airliners has an advantage when it comes to first impression of how it is to fly the much-discussed Airbus Fly By Wire (FBW) concept. My experience so far has all been non-FBW aircraft, from very small and slow (Tiger Moth) to the fast and a bit larger (Mach 1.7 SAAB Draken). In all, I’ve flown 14 different types. To that, one can add having flown the Embraer KC-390 simulator last October. Some of the aircraft have had no servos. Others had 100% servos with artificial feel through springs working on the stick. Autopilots have differed widely from wings leveler to flight director aircraft with coupled ILS approaches. None has had auto-thrust to date except for the KC-390.

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Pontifications: Fare and market share wars

Hamilton (5)

By Scott Hamilton

May 25, 2015, c. Leeham Co. Airline stocks took a dive last week when it appeared fare wars and eroding capacity discipline is beginning among US carriers.

Southwest Airlines said it will be adding capacity at the rate of 6%-7% compared with recent increases of 2%-3% and American Airlines said it will begin matching the prices of Low Cost and Ultra Low Cost Carriers rather than see its market share erode.

And the markets went into a tizzy.

I’m old enough to remember when American aggressively matched the low fares of the emerging new entrant airlines after deregulation in the 1980s. The matching spread and the 1980s became a bloodbath. Read more

Paris Air Show: Embraer

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May 25, 2015, c. Leeham Co. The Paris Air Show this year isn’t expected to be a big venue for orders from Airbus, Boeing and Bombardier (although since ouir Airbus Preview, an official now says there will be a “significant number” of orders at the PAS).

Embraer isn’t expected to do much out of the ordinary. One of what we call the Big Four Airframe OEMs, EMB’s priority this year is garnering orders for the E-Jet E1 to fill out the production gap to the E2.


  • Filling the production gap between the E-Jet E1 and E2;
  • Firming up E2 commitments;
  • Revealing a new marketing campaign.

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Bjorn’s Corner: Flying the Airbus A350

By Bjorn Fehrm

By Bjorn Fehrm


22 May 2015, C. Leeham Co: As one of four aeronautical media companies we were asked by Airbus if we wanted to test fly the A350 end of January this year. Airbus was arranging for Media test pilots to come and fly the A350 and we had asked for sampling the A350 through its simulator. Airbus returned with the question if I did not want to try the real thing. They did not have to ask twice!

It was all in the preliminary planning stage at the time but come March things got concrete. I should come to Toulouse on April 22 for a full day in the simulator and then the aircraft. As I did not have previous airline flying experience (mainly military fighters and business aircraft), I started training on the rather different system approach that a civil airliner has to a military fighter for Autopilot and Autothrust. I described this training in a previous Bjorn’s Corner. Publication of this story was embargoed by Airbus to May 22.

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Analysis: First phase of A350 production

By Bjorn Fehrm

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May 20, 2015, c. Leeham Co. The 27th Airbus A350 has started its journey in the Final Assembly Line (FAL) in Toulouse and one can do a first analysis of how the initial batch of A350s has fared on the final production line. For this purpose, we have been closely monitoring the through-flow times for each of the nine steps that constitute the final assembly of the A350.


  • Initial serial production was done without a dedicated station for post certification rework. This was introduced from the third production aircraft as station L70.
  • From initially spending up to four months in this station, the rework situation has improved fast.
  • FAL production times are now stabilizing and when rework is no longer needed the profile of a learning curve can be seen.

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Open Letter to Members of Congress on ExIm

To Members of the US Congress:

There will be a vote soon on whether to reauthorize the US ExIm Bank. You should do so.

Arguments by some that this is a form of corporate welfare are unfounded. Suggestions that ExIm Bank merely supports The Boeing Co. are misguided.

To be sure, Boeing airplanes received the majority of ExIm Bank commitments and guarantees. This is because Boeing makes the most expensive things ExIm supports. But plenty of small businesses benefit from ExIm as well.

Supporting ExIm for Boeing airplanes creates jobs in America. LionAir of Indonesia ordered hundreds of Boeing 737s. ExIm Bank support was pledged to support this order. LionAir also ordered hundred of Airbus A320s. If ExIm weren’t supporting the 737s, it’s a fair conclusion LionAir would have ordered more A320s instead of Boeing. Why? Airbus gets active support from the ExIm’s equivalent agencies in Europe.

LionAir is but one such example.

Boeing is one of the top exporters (if not the top) of US products. These exports help the US balance of trade.

If ExIm is not reauthorized, Airbus will have an international advantage over Boeing. My market intelligence tells me that Airbus has already used the ambiguity over ExIm’s reauthorization in sales campaigns against Boeing.

If there are specific problems with how ExIm is administered, fix them, but don’t kill the program that has been around–and successfully supporting American businesses–for decades.

ExIm returns a profit to the US Treasury with its fees and other charges supporting its work. How many government programs can say this?

Stop playing games with and holding hostage ExIm Bank. It’s time to grant long-term reauthorization.

Very truly yours,

Scott Hamilton


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