2012’s Most Influential Person in Commercial Aviation

In 2011 John Leahy of Airbus was voted the most influential person. Who do you think is the most influential this year? We’ll hide the results until the voting is complete.

20 comments on “2012’s Most Influential Person in Commercial Aviation

    • What big turn around did Ray Conner lead during his time as CEO of BCA? MAX commitments were formalized and a pile of delayed 787s were repaired and delivered. No decisions on 777X, 787-10.. Maybe next year for Conner.

      • The B-7810 has been authorized to be offered. The BoD has not made a decision on the B-777X. Conner can only recommend launch to the BoD, he cannot direct it. Conner presided over the highest number of orders in BCA history (1115 as of 18 dec. 2012), and the highest number of deliveries (537 as of Nov. 2012), making Boeing the #1 airplane OEM again. Even the much delayed B-788 has delivered at least 35 airplanes (as of November 2012) in 2012, including the very first airplanes from the new Charleston Facility and 27 B-747-8s (Nov. 2012) and 24 B-767s (which a.net declaired dead just a few years ago). Boeing delivered an amazing 16a WBs through Nov. 2012.. .

      • kc135topboom :
        The B-7810 has been authorized to be offered. The BoD has not made a decision on the B-777X. Conner can only recommend launch to the BoD, he cannot direct it. Conner presided over the highest number of orders in BCA history (1115 as of 18 dec. 2012), and the highest number of deliveries (537 as of Nov. 2012), making Boeing the #1 airplane OEM again. Even the much delayed B-788 has delivered at least 35 airplanes (as of November 2012) in 2012, including the very first airplanes from the new Charleston Facility and 27 B-747-8s (Nov. 2012) and 24 B-767s (which a.net declaired dead just a few years ago). Boeing delivered an amazing 16a WBs through Nov. 2012.. .

        None of that is really a big turnaround, though. Airbus scored about 1180 Neo orders in 2011, so anything other than Boeing selling about 1000 MAX in 2012 (and thus reclaiming the no. 1 spot in terms of new orders) would have been bad news. The 787-10 still has not been formally launched, so while they’re finally moving in the right direction, let’s not pop the champagne just yet.
        In short: 2012 wasn’t, in my eyes, a turnaround year for Boeing just yet. The 787 still bleeds money (and saw a net -17 orders), despite continued talk of more orders being imminent, the 747-8(F) had an even worse order year and book-to-bill rate (net 1 vs 27) than the A380 (net 4 vs 30, not counting SIA’s MoU for 5), and Boeing still look like they have to be pushed and dragged into the 787-10 and 777X by their customers in the same way they had to be dragged into MAX. In that sense, Boeing’s currently is not entirely dissimilar to Airbus around the time of the A350 Mk I.
        We can talk again at the end of 2013 if they have, by then, managed to solidify their MAX offering, launch the 787-10 and 777X, and hopefully exhibited a certain change of culture in their approach to new projects and how they communicate about them.

    • If Enders had been on the list he would have gotten my vote for sure, and for the reasons you give. And as you suggest the Airbus FAL in Alabama is also an important event of 2012. But because of his personality and past accomplishments John Leahy monopolizes all the attention.

    • Completely agree. With the given list, I just can’t find anybody to vote for. Boeing recaptured the no. 1 order spot for the first time in ages, but with Airbus having scored just short of 1200 Neo orders in 2011, that was not just expected but effectively obligatory for Boeing.

  1. I don’t think there is any getting around that the center of gravity of the commercial aviation world has shifted irrevocable to Asia, with an up-coming sub-shift to Africa. Tim Clark may not have been alone the only big shot in the business to have foreseen this, but he is the only one who built a power house airline around it, with the accompanying unique fleet needs. These needs and Clark’s power were reflected this year I think in his battles with B over when to build the 777X and what it’s specs should be, and with A over the A350-1000. He may not get everything that he wants (like the rest of us, he can’t always have everything he wants), but he will be at the table and have a powerful voice in what those planes eventually become. Clark was and is a visionary, perhaps even a genius, and because of this, he gets my vote.

    This seismic shift to Asia is also reflected in the gathering of competitors in the 300-350 pax segment, which until now has not been populated. In fact, the -300ER has had a monopoly not only above 365 seats because of the failure of the A346, but below it to 300 seats because there have been no products in that segment. CM has explained that some airlines bought the -300ER even tho it was too big for their needs because there was nothing else available, and that is why the -1000 and even the A359 are threats to the -300ER’s customer base. It is also why B’s 787/777X offerings are beginning to clarify in and around that segment. The new Asian/African mkt will be huge as these populations become more affluent, cities grow larger, and countries build more airports, as China is now doing. This will means that the route structures will be almost entirely point-to-point, the vast majority will be less than 6000 miles, and planes needed will be medium wide bodies. This is why B and A are working furiously to define their products in the 300-350 pax segment, including upgrades to current models on the fringes of this mkt; eg A333 and -300ER. It looks like B is settling on the 7810 stretch, range 6700, altho Keesje is saying that instead it will involve a new wing and 6 wheel bogies, and much greater range. I can find no confirmation of this on the Net except for Keesja’s posts on Airliners.net several years ago. My guess is that it will be a simple stretch because that is what the mkt wants, with the new wing and greatly increased MTOW to follow in a -10ER model.

    We all will see. Happy New year to all.

  2. ‘Tis probably a good thing our choice is restricted to seven (hopefully) good men and true, but allocating three entries to Boeing – really! No doubt the IATA d-g is a mite disappointed at the implication that he’s no higher than eighth in the global pecking order – particularly as four of the others are aerospace, rather than aviation, executives…

    • Thk you, daveoflynn. My apologies to Keesje. The article says nothing about range – the original concept was trading fuel for seats. I wonder whether the changes described in the AW article were intended all along, or whether they result from evolving customer demand for more range? Steven U-H has asked for 7000 mles.

      • If you read carefully, the AW article is lining out some ‘likely’ [sic] characteristics of the 787-10X based on the assumption that the SOB join is redesigned.
        Not in line with what Boeing says – that the 787-10X is going to have the same MTOW as the 787-9. So why would they change the landing gear to six-wheel bogies?

  3. My old assumption that the -10 would grow is/ was based that the 777 seemed heavy compared to the 787-9 and A330-300 (+20t OEW) and both 777 and 787 appeared to settle on 9-6-4 abreast in M/J/F. The cargo container capacity also doesn’t benefit from the heavier wider fuselage.

    Boeing assumed adding a new wing / reducing engine power is the solution, but it seems airlines don’t believe a rewinged 777 (-8) is the right investment for the 2020/25 – 2040-/45 period.

    Therefore it seems a much better investment to beef up the 787. The 787-9 was scheduled to have a longer 204ft wing that was to be used for the -10 too. Having the problems Boeing had with the 787 wing, Boeing concluded using the -8 wing was lower risk.

    If a simple stretch was the right direction (as Boeing clearly promoted) for the 787, and a new wing for the 777 (-8 to cover 300-340 seats) both would have been launched already. Obviously the prospect airlines told Boeing differently. They want to cover most their network at close to MTOW, not with only passengers. And that’s were we are IMO.

    My idea yrs back was Boeing would replace the 777 with rewinged 787 versions and create a Y3 for 380-500 seats, beneath the A380.

  4. keesje :
    If a simple stretch was the right direction (as Boeing clearly promoted) for the 787, and a new wing for the 777 (-8 to cover 300-340 seats) both would have been launched already.

    It’s a question of priorities. The immediate priority for Boeing is to satisfy the shareholders. That’s why it is buying back stock and increasing dividends.

    It’s not the first time that Boeing sacrifices aircraft development for immediate gratification of shareholders. Here is an example from the book “Deep Stall” by Lawrence and Thornton: “As the aerospace analyst Scott Hamilton notes, the money Boeing has spent buying back its own stock – more than US$9 billion since December 2000 – ‘could easily have funded an entirely new airplane’ (The Daily Herald, 29 June 2005).”

    Aircraft development is to satisfy customer requirements. That hasn’t been the first priority for Boeing since the time of Bill Allen and the 747. Boeing didn’t think Airbus would launch the A380 when it did because its new generation of leaders assumed at the time that the competition would think the way they do. But Airbus is fifty years younger than Boeing and still wants to conquer the world. Not Boeing. They just want to make more money.

    Boeing’s current strategy: Spend as little on the 737 MAX as it can get away with; the 787 stretch can wait while it cleans its current backlog; and delay the 777X as long as possible, but not longer. That strategy will preserve cash on the short term. But it could compromise Boeing’s competitiveness in the future.

    The problem is compounded by the fact that this is all coming at the same time. But those projects have to be done in sequence, and that’s why delaying only aggravates the problems because everything will have to be done at once. I understand that the Dreamliner has considerably slowed the decision process; but now everything is overdue at the same time.

    I think that Boeing’s engineers must have by now a clear understanding of what they should do with the 737, the 787 and the 777. There should be enough data and customer feedback to take the most appropriate decisions. But vision has been replaced by procrastination at Boeing. For sure the same thing will happen to Airbus in due time. But for now A has the initiative, while B is tergiversating.

    We should have a better idea by 2016, when Boeing celebrates in 100th anniversary. Yes, it’s that old… And it shows!

  5. Spending as little on 737MAX is very laudable, but I still think the extra weight and same thrust levels is going to bight them. It certainly cost them the PAL order.
    Back on topic I would nominate KC135. He is a shoe-in to replace Randy as the ultimate Boeing spokesperson!!!!!!!!!!

  6. I’m curious why people are voting for Leahy this year? In 2011 when NEO was launched it made sense but this hasn’t been a year in which Airbus and in particular the sales depth did big things.

    My vote goes to Jim McNerney who I have to believe was a major part of firing Albaugh and thus stopping the launch of the 787-10 and 777x in 2012.

      • You are correct of course but executives at that level are almost never publically fired but rather they suddenly retire for “personal reasons” or to “spend more time with my family”. The timing of Albaugh’s departure (with his name already printed on material for the Paris Airshow if my memory is correct) and the sudden change in course on the 777x and 787-10 programs argues strongly that despite what was said publically his departure was anything but voluntary.

  7. And wasn’t that, er, retirement decision announced just two days after the Boeing Directors’ June end-of-month Board meeting? I suspect this part of the announcement says it all: “The leadership change is effective immediately. A replacement for Conner will be named at a later date.”
    Not really a planned, well-managed succession, then. Funny that…

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