Odds and Ends: AirAsiaX orders A333; WA and Airbus; Boeing names COO

AirAsiaX orders A330-300s: As forecast earlier this week, the budget carrier ordered 25 Airbus A330-300s. According to reports, AirAsiaX may not be done. Group CEO Tony Fernandes wants Airbus to develop an A330neo. Stay tuned.

Washington State and Airbus: The Associated Press wrote a story about the courtship of Washington State of Airbus, making a link between the Boeing 777X site selection Schizophrenia and the Airbus effort. Some headline writers made an even more direct cause-and-effect link. This vastly overstates what’s been going on. Gov. Christine Gregoire began reaching out to Airbus in 2010, but the effort was stalled by the then-contentious and bitter competition between Boeing and Airbus over the USAF KC-X tanker competition. Gregoire, who was just named chairman of the advisory committee to the US Export-Import Bank, naturally backed the Boeing bid but was wisely measured in her rhetoric when it came to the EADS KC-330 offering. The Washington Congressional delegation, however, was often vitriolic and as a result, Gregoire’s efforts largely stalled.

Once that competition was over in 2011, Gregoire resumed her efforts in the last year of her governorship, meeting with EADS and Airbus officials at the 2012 Farnborough Air Show. The WA Dept. of Commerce had continued efforts throughout. This past summer, Commerce and the Pacific Northwest Aerospace Alliance hosted an Airbus suppliers meeting in the Seattle area, attended by about 120 suppliers (about 30-40 had been expected).

So while the AP story is factually correct overall, any linkage to 777X and the Airbus courtship is overstated. This has been a long-term effort by Airbus, PNAA and it is a concept we called for in October 2009 in a speech before the Governor’s Aerospace Summit just days before Boeing announced it was locating 787 line 2 in Charleston (SC). The Airbus effort, if anything, has more of a link to that event than to the 777X.

Boeing names Muilenberg COO: Dennis Muilenberg, CEO of Boeing’s defense business, has been named COO of The Boeing Co. He is succeeded by Christopher Chadwick. Ray Conner, CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, was named Vice Chairman of the Board and continues in his current position. The press release is here.

McNerney reaches retirement age next year but given the timing, we think he’ll stick around a bit longer to give Muilenberg more time in the #2 corporate position. Since Muilenberg is younger than Conner, we think Muilenberg is the more likely choice for successor.

Another Day, Another 777X story: The obsession continues. Seattle Times columnist Danny Westneat has this commentary worth reading. The Everett Herald has a good wrap up of where things stand in Washington State right now. The Seattle Times looks at Long Beach (CA) in depth and its potential for the 777X.

15 comments on “Odds and Ends: AirAsiaX orders A333; WA and Airbus; Boeing names COO

  1. Given recent reports that Airbus are not planning any new clean sheets 330 NEO has to be a cert, the question must be engine timing. They need newer tech engines than the 787, my guess is PTF 2020 and RR 3029 shortly afterwards. Video of A380 future talks about optimising the existing aircraft, an A380 NEO with a derivative of the same engine as the A330? GTF family 60-80,000?

    • GE says their GENX has 15% better sfc then their CF6. The GENX is continually enhanced. Add a few percent for Sharklets and some minor tweaks and we have a very competitive aircraft. Time to market is probably too important for more dramatic improvements.

  2. Scott, what has it been? About 7 years? 8? AirBus came to Snohomish County interested in setting up a group here. The Snohomish County Economic Development Council (dominated then as now by Boeing) and the Snohomish County Executive, Snohomish County Council, state government, and, amazingly, the unions chased Airbus out of town. How stupid!!! The Boeing handwriting was already on the wall. I think much groveling is justified if we expect Airbus to come back. It made sense for Airbus to have a connection here. They have many subs here already – companies that Boeing didn’t regard as worthy of continuing as Boeing vassals. I am glad that this state is finally waking up to the real world. I believe there will be an aerospace future here, with or without Boeing.

    • Of course there could be an aerospace future in Washington State (as it is the case for any other state), the question would be, would Washington State and its aerospace workers be better off without Boeing? What I can see from the states trying to win a piece of the Boeing pie is that potentially they have something to gain from the Boeing presence there. Reading articles about the loss of aerospace jobs in Long Beach CA with the closing of the last Douglas’ heritage line of airplanes, it does not paint a reassuring picture.

    • Tones can change. Airbus would likely play off desperation by the IAM to save jobs (and their fat dues they collect from the workers every paycheck) to win massive concessions and reduction of benefits. Of course, they also have experience dealing with the powerful unions in Europe to back them up. Airbus, like Boeing, would be in the driver seat, perhaps even more so, depending on the timing. And Airbus would likely want to harvest the experienced talent for both machinists and especially engineering.

      • Airbus would have the advantage of negotiating a new contract from a clean sheet, and could likely reach accommodation with the union. Boeing is trying to take away existing benefits, always much more difficult, and using scorched-earth tactics doesn’t exactly help. Airbus seems to have a better track record with labour relationships.

  3. As to Airbus manufacturing planes in Washington, get real! Do you think the French and German governments are that stupid? Another good reason not do that is Boeing’s metric illiterate workforce.

    • “Another good reason not do that is Boeing’s metric illiterate workforce.”

      Hmpf,
      Airbus would have to reeducate them anyway ;-)
      And note:
      A new FAL creates an additional 5 to 10 times more employment positions elsewhere on the globe.

  4. Why don’t the French Airforce just order MRTT’s with GENX engines for quick delivery? Boeing grabbed civil jet leadership when the USAF ordered 650 KC135s for quick delivery in the late fifties.

    It would be the sixt engine on that wing, after the PW4000, Trent700, CF6-80E1, CfM56-5 and Trent 900. Few surprizes I guess. Leahy is probably talking to the Chinese and large A300F/MD operators.

  5. Muilenburg will make an excellent leader. He has done a great job running the defense side in an era of austerity.

    Unlike McNerney, he has a technical background and was trained as an engineer. I think as the Wall Street institutional types start to absorb this announcement they may push for an accelerated replacement of McNerney.

    McNerney’s management of the 787 program was woeful in my opinion. It is amazing he managed to hold on to the CEO post given the billions of dollar in cost over runs on the 787. But then again several of his old GE buddies are on the board so maybe it is not so surprising.

    Boeing fouled up by not hiring Mulally. Did anyone notice that no one ever mentions McNerney as a replacement for Ballmer at Microsoft? That says it all.

  6. I agree that Muilenburg is currently and will be a good COO with his credentials and history with the defense division.
    ” Did anyone notice that no one ever mentions McNerney as a replacement for Ballmer at Microsoft? That says it all.”
    It says nothing! McNerney is 64 years old and most corporations have mandatory CEO retirement at 65. Microsoft is looking for a CEO that has more than a year or three to run the company. McNerney’s age is why Muilenberg is being brought in as COO and most likely the next CEO.

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