Boom times leads to looming cash flow shortfall across OEMs

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Dec. 16, 2014: There have been record aircraft orders year after year, swelling the backlogs of Airbus and Boeing to seven years on some product lines, Bombardier’s CSeries is sold out through 2016, Embraer has a good backlog and the engine makers are swamped with new development programs.

So it is with some irony that several Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) are warning of cash flow squeezes in the coming years.


  • With so many development programs in the works, the prospect of new airplane and engine programs are being trimmed.
  • Most airframe and engine OEMs under pressure.
  • The full impact of the pending cash flow squeeze hasn’t been appreciated by the markets yet.

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The challenges in bringing a new turboprop to market

By Philippe Poutissou
Special to Leeham News and Comment
Dec. 15, 2014: The market for turboprop aircraft has been strong for nearly a decade, yet there has been limited new product development in the segment. This has some regional airlines getting nervous about their future, in particular those who specialize in serving smaller markets with 30- to 50- seat turboprops built in the 1980s and 1990s. Which aircraft will replace the robust, but not indestructible, Bombardier DHC-8, Saab 340 and Embraer Brasilias?

Setting aside the technical challenges of developing and certifying a new aircraft type (of which there is ample evidence), the market challenge for smaller turboprops comes down to a question of limited revenue potential. Due to overall pressure on aircraft prices and demand that is highly fragmented, the business case for an aircraft OEM becomes risky and difficult to justify.


  • High-yield regional routes are increasingly rare and harder to protect.
  • Turboprop acquisition costs must remain in line with those of larger jets on a per-seat basis.
  • The 30- to 50- seat turboprop market is a highly fragmented, replacement market with limited potential for large volume orders.

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New UTC CEO throws cold water on PW GTF growth

The new chief executive officer of United Technologies Corp., Gregory Hayes, threw cold water on hopes and dreams of Pratt & Whitney, a subsidiary, that the successful small- and medium-sized Geared Turbo Fan will grow into the wide-body market.

Aviation Week just published an article in which all three engine OEMs were reported to be looking at a 40,000 lb engine that would be needed to power a replacement in the category of the Boeing 757 and small 767. Hayes did not specifically rule out a 40,000 lb engine, leaving PW’s potential to compete for this business unclear.

Hayes has been CEO for two weeks. He was previously CFO. He made his remarks in a UTC investors event last night. The Hartford Courant has this report.

Hayes’ remarks were in response to a question from an analyst about research and development expenses. Here is his reply, from a transcript of the event:

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Assessment of Lessors in Airbus and Boeing backlogs, narrow- vs wide-body

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Nov. 30, 2014: Airlines now lease about 50% of their aircraft under a variety of mechanisms: operating, finance, leveraged and Islamic leases, just to name a few.

There are operating leasing, special purpose and “house” companies. There are leasing units of investment banks, insurance companies and a host of others.

Ireland is a popular leasing venue because of favorable tax laws.

The Big Four airframe OEMs have long sold aircraft directly to lessors, and the emerging airframe OEMs, COMAC and Irkut, have seen orders placed by emerging lessors in their home countries. ATR, the turbo-prop OEM, also has received orders from lessors.

Today we look at the lessor relationships with Airbus and Boeing.


  • Lessors represent a significant, but still a minority, part of the Airbus and Boeing backlogs.
  • Widebody airplanes constitute a small portion of lessor orders.
  • Boeing has more widebody lessors orders than Airbus.
  • Airbus has a larger lessor order book than Boeing.

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MTU investors day: views of its engine programs, future airplane timelines; separately, Embraer COO interview

GTF Milestones Nov 2014

Figure 1. Technical milestones have been passed on PW GTF programs for the applications on Bombardier, Airbus, Mitsubishi and Irkut airplanes and are approaching for Embraer. Source: MTU Investors Day. Click to enlarge.

Nov. 30, 2014: MTU Investors Day: MTU is a major participant in engine development and supplies, participating on the GEnx, GTF and GEnx program. It’s also a member of the joint venture in International Aero Engines and it’s a major player in the aftermarket Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) sector, providing a serious competitive alternative to the aftermarket contracts offered by the engine OEMs. Its held an investors day conference Nov. 25. Highlights included:

  • Milestones have been passed on the Pratt & Whitney Geared Turbo Fanengine for the Bombardier CSeries, Airbus A320neo family, the Mitsubishi MRJ and Irkut MC-21; and are on schedule for the Embraer E-Jet E2.
  • The success of the GTF is requiring huge production commitments.
  • The large number of airplane/engine programs require a major ramp-up of production during the next few years.
  • The major investment in new engines is largely over for now, leading to the expectation of long-term revenue from MRO.

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A320 v 737: the sales winner is….

It’s one of the bitterest rivalries in the industrialized world: Airbus vs Boeing.

Despite being world-class companies, executives at each often snipe at each other’s airplanes, claiming superiority in economics and passenger appeal. Like lawyers arguing a court case, data is typically selectively used to advance the claims.

One of the most hotly debated issues between the two companies is which is the best single-aisle airplane, the ones that fly the most routes in the world and which carry more passengers than any other type: the Airbus A320 or Boeing 737 families.

Boeing’s marketing and communications team has done a superb job of claiming its 737 is the best selling jetliner of all time and with 12,257 firm orders since the first program, the 737-100/200, was launched in 1964. The 737 edges out the A320 family’s 11,021 orders. (These figures exclude options and MOUs.)

But the A320 was launched in 1984, 20 years after the 737. A even-up comparison should begin in March 1984 comparing the A320 family with the 737 Classic from then to the end of the Classic’s production run; and with the 737 Next Generation from its program launch in November 1993; followed by the A320neo and the 737 MAX.

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Odds and Ends: Goldman Sachs on CSeries; Embraer in China; A350 gets FAA certification;

CSeries: Bombardier presented to the Goldman Sachs Industrial conference this week. Goldman’s take:

  • CSeries test flight: BBD believes it can achieve the significant acceleration in flight test hours per month required to get to EIS because more aircraft are moving in to testing and because it did testing during the grounding. FTV4 is supposed to be in the air in weeks, and FTV5 in early 2015. BBD does not see any one or two major challenges remaining in flight test, rather just a need to get through total hours.
  • CSeries demand: BBD says it is on track for its 300 firm order by EIS target. When asked if anything could come from the current Zhuhai Air Show it said it is not a place for signing, and China tends to order in service jets.
  • CSeries impact on P&L: BBD says the CSeries is likely to be dilutive to the P&L as it ramps from unit 1 to full rate production, which could be a near three year process. Early aircraft would be more dilutive than later aircraft.
  • CRJ update: BBD believes they can maintain current CRJ production rates, but will clearly need success in current order campaigns to do so.

Goldman has a Sell rating on BBD.

Embraer in China: Embraer is shifting its sales strategy in China, failing to gain much traction with the mainline carriers, according to Bloomberg. Now it’s going to concentrate on start-up airlines.

EMB appeared at the same Goldman conference as BBD. Goldman’s take:

  • Overall Embraer continues to believe it can keep production relatively flat from current E-Jets to E2. It thinks 2015 and 2016 currently look solid. 2017 is a bit more of a question mark, but the timing of EIS of each E2 aircraft helps – largest E-Jet backlog (E175) has latest E2 EIS, and all aircraft are built on the same line. 2015 delivery mix will be similar to 3Q14 mix. Orders are likely to be in the 5-15 per range, or come from conversion of US options. ERJ says in the scenario where Bombardier does not refresh CRJ, E-Jets could become a substantial piece of the regional jet market, along with Mitsubishi (which it says is a solid aircraft).

Goldman has a Neutral (Hold) on EMB.

A350 certification: Airbus obtained certification for the A350-900 from the Federal Aviation Administration Wednesday.

Odds and Ends: Rescuing a polar bear cub; new turbo-prop, sort of

Rescuing a polar bear cub: Long-time readers of this column know we’re fascinated with polar bears, so when we received the following press release, we couldn’t help but share the story with you.

Mi-26 saves polar bear cub

The crew of a Russian Mi-26 military helicopter from the Eastern Military District Army Aviation airbase saved a baby polar bear from starving to death in the Arctic, after the young bear became separated from its mother.
Polar bear cubThe Mi-26 was carrying out a routine transport flight in the Arctic zone, delivering goods from Anadyr to Wrangel Island, when one of the crew spotted a lone polar bear cub wandering along the Chukotka shore. The crew carried out several sweeps of the area, but there was no trace of the cub’s mother. The decision was therefore taken to pick up the polar bear cub.

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Zhuhai Airshow begins Tuesday: order announcements expected

The Zhuhai Air Show begins next Tuesday and a visit by President Obama to Beijing for a regional summit starts on the last day of the show, Nov. 16. Accordingly, we expect at least some orders to be announced during the show by Airbus, Boeing and perhaps the other airframe OEMs, including the home-grown COMAC, developer of the C919 and parent of AVIC, the developer of the ARJ21.

The Zhuhai Air Show has evolved into China’s premier show. While not on the international reputation and prestige of the long-established Farnborough, Paris and Singapore air shows, it’s become an important must-attend for OEMs and others wanting to do business in China.

Here is our forecast for next weeks’ event.

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Part 3: Boeing 757 replacement: 757 and Airbus A321neoLR versus clean sheet designs.

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By Bjorn Fehrm

Part 3 of 3


In Part 2 of our three-part 757 Replacement analysis, we took a close look at Airbus’ new 97 tonne take-off weight A321neo, revealed in a world exclusive by Leeham logo with Copyright message compactLeeham News and Comment October 21. We analyzed the A321neoLR’s capabilities and limitations when compared to Boeing 757-200W and we saw that it could do the international flights that the 757-200 does with about 25% better efficiency. In this final Part 3, we will now compare the 757 and A321neoLR against what can be Boeing’s reaction, a clean sheet New Single Aisle, NSA, or New Light Twin Aisle, (NLT). First the conclusions from Part 2:

  • When using the United Airlines-configured 757-200W international as benchmark, we came within seven seats of the 757 capacity for an A321neoLR. It covered the same range and had trip fuel costs that were 25% lower.
  • The per seat fuel costs gave a 22% higher efficiency, which was within 2% of Airbus own figures.
  • 737 MAX9 is not suitable for stretch to an international version, not because the wing is not good enough but because the MAX9 cannot bring the wing to an angle at take-off where it can work efficiently; the landing gear is too short.

For Part 3 we can summarize:

  • A New Single Aisle (NSA) or New Light Twin (NLT) which would enter the market in 2025 would be sized at around 200 passengers with subsequent variants covering the 175-225 seat market, all numbers with OEM standard two-class seating. Figure 1 shows the fuselage cross sections we have used in our modelling of NSA and NLT to cover this market segment.

NSA and NLT cross sections

Figure 1. Fuselage cross sections of our models of NSA and NLT. Source: Leeham Co.

  • In order to cover the market segment of the 737, A320 and 757 it would have a range in excess of 4,100nm. We will use 4100nm for our modeling to maximize the comparative efficiency information.
  • Its efficiency would be higher than an A321neoLR, primarily due to better engines and a more modern wing.
  • The New Light Twin (NLT) wins on comfort and ground turn-around time but pays with a larger fuselage cross section due to the extra aisle. This causes more drag and structural weight, net effect is a reduction in efficiency of around 2.5%.

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