Odds and Ends: No 90-seat ATR for now; 777X work; JAL says A350 was ‘better;’

No 90-seat ATR: Aviation Week reports that for now Airbus Group, which owns 50% of ATR, won’t green-light a 90-seat ATR turbo-prop due to the adverse impact a development program would have on profits.

Competing for 777X work: Electroimpact is based near Paine Field in Washington and it supplies Boeing and Airbus. It’s interested in participating in the Boeing 777X work. The Everett Herald has this story focusing on the company. Meanwhile, Reuters has this story about the pressures the Airbus and Boeing supply chains are under to cut costs.

JAL: A350 was ‘better:’ Japan Air Lines says its choice of the Airbus A350 was made because the airplane was just “better” than Boeing’s offering. CNBC reports.

No highway in the sky: Just on the ground. See this series of photos to see what we’re talking about.

Odds and Ends: A350 state loan; Bridging 777 Classic sales; Embraer nabs E2 order; IAM chief speaks out

A350 Loan: The Wall Street Journal reports that Airbus and Germany ended talks about a state loan for the A350 program. Good. Airbus doesn’t need the loan and “divorcing” from state aid frees Airbus to make decisions for the production based on commercial considerations and not politically-driven jobs requirements.

Airbus is considering a second A350 production line to open up slots for the -1000 model. Germany made no secret that this line had to be in Hamburg in exchange for the loan. Our Market Intelligence indicates Airbus may want to locate the line outside Germany and perhaps outside Europe. Ridding itself of continue German meddling is a good thing for Airbus; now it “only” has the unions to deal with.

  • In a Guest Column in Aviation Week, Richard Aboulafia continues his A380-bashing, but what he has to say about challenges facing Airbus in the twin-aisle, heart-of-the-market sector bears reading.

Bridging 777s: Jon Ostrower at The Wall Street Journal published this story today about Boeing’s plans to support the 777 Classic sales in advance of the 777X. He reports that Boeing will try to pair 777 Classic orders with the 777X (something we forecast months ago). Boeing is also going to launch a 777 P2F program, persuading airlines to sell their older 777s to cargo carriers and replace them with new 777 Classic orders. This is a challenge because of the continuing softness in the cargo market and plenty of 747-400s available for conversion and 747-400Fs parked in the desert. Such a plan will make it increasingly difficult to support sales of the new-build 747-8F as well.

Although Boeing said it won’t shave the price on the 777 Classic to stimulate sales, we think it will (as it has on the 737 NG).

Embraer nabs E2 customer: Embraer today announced it won an order from an Indian airline for 50 E190 E2s and 50 E195 E2s with options for 50 each. The airline, Air Costa, is a current E1 customer. This is the first E2 order since the launch of the program at the Paris Air Show last June.

Reuters has an article from the Singapore Air Show quoting the Air Costa CEO. The article takes a look at the “small” aircraft market.

IAM chief speaks out: The president of the International Association of Machinists, Tom Buffenbarger, called the Puget Sound Business Journal to talk about the controversial Boeing 777X contract vote.

Why would Buffenbarger do this? He’s facing his first contested election since 1961 and his opponent is from IAM District 751 right here in Seattle. The article makes fascinating reading.

MC-21 profile: A Russian newspaper provides a profile of the Irkut MC-21 (or MS-21 or Yak-242). Talk about confused branding.

Odds and Ends: ATR presses parent Airbus for 90 seat go-ahead; Stratoliner; 777 model

ATR presses Airbus: ATR, the world’s leading maker of turbo-prop airliners, is pressing Airbus Group to green-light its proposed 90-seat, clearn-sheet turbo-prop, Bloomberg News reports.

Airbus Group owns 50% of ATR; Alenia owns the other 50%. ATR’s CEO wants to change this legal structure, reports The Wall Street Journal.

According to the news reports, Airbus is concerned about the diversion of engineering resources. Maybe this is why. Airbus is studying a “mega-twin” concept, reports Aviation Week. Of particular note is the reference that Airbus doesn’t plan to launch a new airplane in the next 10 years. We think these plans are going to have to change when Boeing launches a replacement for the 757, followed by the 737RS, which we have for the end of this decade.

But let’s get back to ATR.

Bombardier, the world’s #2 turbo-prop airliner producer, launched a high-density, 86-seat version of its venerable Q400 last year. China is going forward with a 90-seat turbo-prop and India is also interested in joining the fray.

ATR currently holds a 59% share of the future orders, options and Letters of Intents backlog.

Q400 v ATR

Bombardier made some significant progress last year, signing large LOIs with Russia for 100 and with China. These should be converted to firm orders this year, but even so, ATR has a lopsided market lead.

Boeing Stratoliner: Boeing has a short profile of the B307 Stratoliner, the first pressurized airliner. It’s the 75th anniversary of this important airliner. The last surviving example is on display at the Steven Udvar-Hazy Museum at Washington Dulles Airport.

Boeing 777 model: It’s been over the Internet already but in case you’ve missed this, a 1/60th, highly detailed model of the Boeing 777 was carved out of manila folders. This is an amazing piece of artistry.

Bombardier scores huge deal at Russian air show

Bombardier scored a huge deal at the Russian air show, MAKS, with a letter of intent for an order for up to 100 Q400 turbo-props.

The Q400 has been trailing rival ATR, which is half owned by Airbus parent EADS, for the ATR-72 turbo-prop, by a wide margin in recent sales. ATR recently obtained third-world, gravel runway certification for its airplane.

The BBD deal includes the potential of establishing a second Q400 assembly line in Russia. The BBD deal is for 50+50 and isn’t expected to be completed until next year.

Bombardier has been making a major effort in Russia, placing used CRJ regional jets there, previous orders for the Q400 and an order for 32 CSeries. It’s also signed an agreement to explore customer support services for the Irkut MC-21 150-212 seat mainline jet.

Other MAKS news:

  • Russia’s own Sukhoi announced orders for the Superjet, with 100 going to home-grown lessor Ilyushin Finance Corp.
  • Russia’s VEB Leasing converted an MOU for 20 MC-21s to a firm order. These are for lease to UTAir and Transaero.
  • Airbus, Boeing and Embraer have yet to announce any deals.
  • This is the first air show since the Soviet Union collapsed.

Looking ahead to 2013 in Commercial Aviation

Last year yielded a few surprises in an otherwise predictable year.

Jim Albaugh shocked the aviation world when he retired unexpectedly at age 62. He was expected to remain in his position as CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes until mandatory retirement at 65.

EADS CEO Tom Enders unleashed a surprise merger proposal with BAE Systems. The deal didn’t work due to German government opposition, but he ultimately accomplished a governance restructuring—a key objective of the merger—that will reduce government meddling in the future.

Those were about it. Boeing’s much-anticipated Authority to Offer the 777X didn’t happen. ATO for the 787-10 was stealthily granted. Airbus and Bombardier, to no surprise, delayed the A350 and CSeries by a few months. Boeing came roaring back to become sales leader for the first time in about a decade, on the strength of 737 MAX sales.

What’s ahead for 2013? Here’s what we see.

Overview

With the spurt of 737 MAX sales over, narrow-body sales competition between Airbus and Boeing should return to normalcy. Will twin-aisle sales become the next growth market because of the first flight of the A350 and the program launch of the 7870-10? Will ATO of the 777X evolve into a program launch as well? Will Bombardier’s first flight of the CSeries and subsequent testing validate its claims for the new technology airplane and finally spur a large number of sales of the “show me” crowd?

Here’s our OEM-by-OEM rundown.

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Farnborough, Day 3: Even more dull than Day 2

Few little activity today.

Orders today

Airbus: CIT Aerospace, 10 A330 (five previously undisclosed); China Aircraft Leasing, 28 A320ceo, 8 A321ceo–MOU.

Boeing: Avolon (lessors), commitment for 20 737 MAX 8/9 and 10 737-800s. The MAXes are part of the previously announced 1,000 Orders and Commitments, so this portion is not new, but rather a public disclosure.

ATR: Nordic Aviation, one ATR 42-600; Air Lease Corp., two ATR 72-600s; LAO Airlines, two ATR 72-600s, TransAsia, six ATR 76-600s.

Mitsubishi: SkyWest Airlines, LOI for 100 MRJs

CFM: Juneyao Airlines (China), CFM56 for five A321s; Aviation Capital Group, LEAP-1A for 18 A320neo family.

Pratt & Whitney: Finalize previously announced engine selection for GTF for 40 A320neo.

Demand for A380 this year shrinks.

Odds and Ends: Airbus-Mobile, con’t; final Farnborough update

Airbus in Mobile: We doubt Boeing is really Sleepless in Seattle but this piece is pretty amusing.

Take that, Part 1: Boeing continues to whine about WTO.

Take that, Part 2: So’s your Old Man.

Here are a few final thoughts in advance of the Farnborough Air Show:

  1. It will still be Boeing’s show, with MAX orders or MOUs or Commitments or Love Letters amounting to the hundreds. Look for Air Lease Corp, GECAS, Aeromexico, perhaps some Chinese companies and others to announce.
  2. Airbus’ John Leahy has been tamping down expectations all year but Mr. Showman doesn’t like to be left standing on the sidelines. While you’re watching Boeing’s left hand, don’t be surprised if Leahy pulls a rabbit out of the hat with Airbus’ right hand and ends the show with several hundred orders of his own.
  3. Yes, we predict the Airbus-Boeing sniping will continue. And the sun will rise in the East and set in the West.
  4. Embraer isn’t even holding a press briefing. So we don’t expect much out of them this year.
  5. Bombardier may or may not have CSeries orders to announce. The market doesn’t expect (m)any, concluding that the countdown to first flight is what will begin bringing in orders.
  6. No new program announcements from Boeing (ie, nothing new on 787-10 or 777X). No announcement from Airbus, either, on A350 program developments or the prospect of a long-range, upgraded A330-300 (we think this could come at FAS but just as likely could be later in the year).
  7. No 90-seat turbo-prop from anyone.
  8. This is now Ray Conner’s coming out party as the new (and unexpected) CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes. Based on our limited contact with Conner, he’s not as affable as the departed Jim Albaugh. It will be interesting to see how aggressively engaging he is with Boeing’s nemesis, Leahy.

Farnborough Air Show preview

Overview

This is really expected to be a boring show from the perspective of orders. Airbus has been downplaying expectations following last year’s Paris Air Show blow-out of more than 1,200 A320neo orders. How can you match that? The answer is, Airbus can’t.

Boeing will certainly firm up hundreds of 737 MAX commitments, so this will be Boeing’s show. And there is the buzz that Boeing is partnering with Lockheed Martin and NASA (oh, another government subsidy?) to produce a 2,500 mph SST, with details supposed to come at the Air Show. Then there is the leak that the 787 will fly there, the first time in 28 years Boeing has an aerial flying display.

We’ve talked with several journalists and industry personnel who are skipping the Air Show this year. So are we, and we’ve been at the Farnborough and Paris air shows since 2008. We just don’t expect enough news this year that we can’t get from the press releases.

So here are our expectations for the show:

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Odds and Ends: A320 v 737 debate continues; Embraer on its future planes; ATR’s life story

A320 v 737 Debate: This continues over at AeroTurboPower, where an analysis of fuel burn cost per seat has been undertaken.

Embraer reiterates futures plans: No plane in the 130-160 market segment. EMB will continue to concentrate on its 70-125 seat market.

ATR 1000: This is a very clever video by ATR celebrating its 1000th ATR turbo-prop.

Odds and Ends: Taking airplanes in on trade; Q400 scores

Taking airplanes in on trade: Much is being made of Boeing taking five Airbus A340-600s in on trade to secure an order for 20 777-300ERs from China Eastern. While trade-ins are not common, neither are they unknown. Boeing has done this before, including what was then a particularly controversial deal: taking brand-new A340s off the hands of Singapore Airlines even before they had been delivered as part of a 777 deal. Those A340-300s went straight to Boeing from Airbus, much to the consternation of John Leahy at the time.

The OEMs don’t like to take airplanes in on trade; after all, they are in the business of selling new airplanes, not used ones, but Airbus, Boeing and Bombardier all have active used airplane units to remarket aircraft they have in their own portfolios–usually originating from their customer financing.

Bombardier wins Q400 deal: WestJet of Canada will order 20 Q400s and option 25 more in what was a hotly contested deal between ATR and Bombardier. Although many believe this was a slam-dunk for Bombardier, the competition was intense; WestJet sent the parties back to re-price the deal late in the game.

This order gives BBD 28 firm and 45 options for the Q400 so far this year, compared with a mere seven in 2011.

The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming! Boeing imports Russian engineers to work in the Seattle area, much to the consternation of SPEAA, Boeing’s engineer’s union. Now the practice has caught the attention of a US Senator.

Outsourcing is a sore point for Boeing’s unions. While Boeing says it does so to reduce costs and to offset work in exchange for sales, there is a larger issue: the US simply doesn’t produce enough engineers to meet demand, and 50% of Boeing’s engineers reach retirement age in the next five years or so. We don’t like Boeing using Russian or Chinese help to produce airplanes–after all, these two countries are developing competitors to Boeing aircraft and it strikes us as pretty silly to help your competitor (why not hire French or German engineers, for Pete’s sake?). But the USA’s failure to place a high priority on developing engineers is a national disgrace and Boeing has to find the help where it can get it.