Airlines, not passengers, at fault for recline wars

A third incident of “recline wars” has been reported, this time on a Delta Air Lines flight in which a dispute broke out between a passenger who reclined his seat and the passenger behind him who didn’t like it.

The New York Times has an article on the entire issue.

While the focus and debate has, so far, centered around who has rights–the passenger to recline or the passenger claiming reclining violates his space–the real issue, and blame, ought to rest with the airlines squeezing down legroom to a seat pitch of 28 inches (in the case of Spirit Airlines and Allegiant Air) to an increasingly common 30 inches on legacy carriers.

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Focus on Bombardier after more executive changes

This report has been updated since it was issued to our E-subscribers last Monday to reflect our new estimate of the return to airborne status for the flight test program.

Bombardier two weeks ago made more executive changes to the CSeries program, replacing the vice president of marketing and other officials. The company said additional changes might be forthcoming—a clear signal that something more is afoot.

Bombardier has been stuck on 203 firm orders for the CSeries for the better part of this year, although the number of orders and commitments has swelled to 513 with a much better than expected Farnborough Air Show. Still, MOUs and LOIs aren’t firm orders with deposits and progress payments, and poor sales of the CRJ, Q400 and business jet divisions combine with the R&D costs of the CSeries to put a huge financial squeeze on the company. Layoffs and cost cutting, along with the management changes, add to the perception that BBD is a company in trouble.

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Boeing on path to surpass Airbus in single-aisle production

Note: This has updated information from its distribution to our e-newsletter recipients a week ago.

Boeing is on a path to overtake Airbus in producing single-aisle aircraft by the end of this decade.

In the hotly contested single-aisle sector, which Airbus currently leads,  both OEMs are essentially sold out through 2019. Few delivery slots can by found by either of the Big Two. Airbus already plans to boost production of the A320 family to 46/mo in 2016, when its new Mobile (AL) plant comes on line. It will initially produce 4/mo but has the capacity for 8/mo. It’s Tianjin, China, plant is producing at a rate of 4/mo and likewise has the capacity to go to 8/mo. The Toulouse and Hamburg plants are understood to be at capacity now, giving Airbus a total capacity of 59/mo: Hamburg can produce 25/mo and Toulouse 18/mo.

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Half time 2014 for Boeing and Airbus

The major OEM’s have published their half time 2014 results and we can make an analysis of their half year results together with orders / deliveries and the state of their product lines. We compare Boeing and Airbus on the high end and in a follow up article Embraer and Bombardier on the low end. To make orders and deliveries comparable we include the month of July as the OEMs collected business to be announced at Farnborough mid July.

Boeing had a strong first half 2014. Boeing Commercial Airplanes (BCA) business is now past the initial problems on the 787 program and delivered 48 units January to June 2014 (8 per month) which is the same numbers as for the 777 program. The 737 is now at rate 40 per month with a first half total of 239 deliveries. The 747-8 is at rate 1 with only 6 deliveries and the 767 has stopped as a commercial program with only 1 delivery during the first half year. The commercial deliveries of 342 aircraft drove a 4% increase in company overall revenue and a 5% increase in earnings compared to first half 2013 (both non-GAAP i.e. the core business performance), this despite a Defense, Space and Security side which was down 5% on revenue and down 15% on earnings.

777-9X, 787-9 and 777-300ER in ANA colours

777-9X, 787-9 and 777-300ER in ANA colors

The troubled unit is Boeing Military Aircraft (BMA) which is struggling with its 767 tanker program (KC46A charged BMA with $187 million and BCA with $238 million due to increased development costs) and it is also fighting to not have its major military airplane program, the F18, stop 3 years from now from lack of orders. The military aircraft order drought contrasts with BCA where first half orders was 783 aircraft, mainly 737 but also 777X, where Emirates and Qatar confirmed their orders for 200 777X. Continue reading

Farnborough Air Show, July 15: E-Jet program analysis

Embraer Monday at the Farnborough Air Show revealed its new interior designed the for E-Jet E2, the re-engined and re-winged airplane scheduled to enter service in 2018 through 2020 in the 195, 190 and 175 subtypes each year.

We had the opportunity to preview the prototype for this interior in May while visiting EMB’s Florida offices, but the viewing was put off the record in anticipation of the FAS reveal. We were impressed.

The YouTube video linked above shows the most notable feature at about 1:45: the staggered first class section. For anyone who has flown the current generation E-Jet, you will know that first class is 1×2, a reduction in the 2×2 coach seating. We’ve always complained that the overhead bin on the one-seat side was reduced to a fairly useless size (we joked that it barely could accommodate a water bottle). The design for first now allows for 2×2 seating.

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Farnborough Air Show, July 13: 737 program analysis

Michael O’Leary got his airplane.

Boeing today announced it will offer a 200-seat version of the 737-8, all but assuring that O’Leary, CEO of Ryanair, will become a customer of the MAX model. O’Leary has yet to order the MAX and has been pushing Boeing for some time to expand the capacity of the 737 to 199 passengers, one shy of the 200 that would require another flight attendant.

Just as Airbus previously announced revisions to the interiors of the A320 andA321 to push to 189 and 240 passengers respectively, Boeing had been studying similar changes.

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Farnborough Air Show, July 13: CSeries program analysis

The unexpected pre-Farnborough Air Show announcement by Bombardier for letters of intent for up to 24 CS100s is welcome news for the company and the program.

Although an announcement by Falko Regional Aircraft Leasing of a firm order would have been more welcome, history shows that LOIs tend to be converted into firm orders eventually, whether these are from Airbus, Boeing, Embraer–or Bombardier. With the Falko LOI, BBD now has 471 firm orders and commitments for the CSeries.

Hand-wringing headlines and stories over May’s engine incident in which a Pratt & Whitney P1000G Geared Turbo Fan during a CSeries ground test and the assumed hugely negative impact on the program these stories and headlines suggest are way overblown.

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Odds and Ends: GAO report on ‘Boeing’s bank;’ C919; Airbus widebody strategy

GAO report on ‘Boeing’s bank:’ The US Government Accounting Office, a non-partisan investigating agency, completed a study of the funding and guarantees provided by the US ExIm Bank, which is under criticism from Congressional Republicans, and concluded non-US airlines do benefit from what amounts to subsidies.

These put US competitors at a disadvantage, GAO concludes. The full 29 page PDF may be found here.

The study period covered the global financial crisis, during which a good deal of private capital funding dried up. Airbus and Boeing each relied more heavily on export credit agencies for customer financing–ExIm in Boeing’s case and collectively European Credit Agencies, or ECAs, for Airbus.

The GAO found that ExIm funded or guaranteed financing for 789 Boeing wide body aircraft while the ECAs supported 821 Airbus wide-bodies.

Parenthetically, this statistic alone should demonstrate to Congress the need for ExIm to continue to be available for Boeing airplanes.

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Next new, clean sheet airplane around 2030, says Airbus

Airbus currently is planning for the next new, clean sheet airplane around 2030 and now are focusing on incremental improvements to the existing product lines, officials said at the Innovations Days annual media briefing last week in Toulouse.

Fabrice Bregier, CEO of the Airbus commercial aircraft unit, said that “innovation is on a case3-by-case basis,” with a successor to the A320 family requiring an engine “with great benefit.” He did not define this, but previously Airbus indicated a successor needs a combined 30% airframe/engine improvement to make an entirely new airplane design worthwhile.

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Embraer’s enhanced E-Jet passenger experience

We flew in a new American Airlines (operated by Republic Airways) Embraer E-Jet E1 on our way to the Pratt & Whitney media day and noticed the difference immediately with the E-Jet” Classic.”

It’s the “passenger experience.”

The E-Jet Classic had overhead bins that were better than the Bombardier CRJ and Embraer ERJ but non as good as the Airbus A320, Boeing 737 or the forthcoming Bombardier CSeries. The bins could accept larger bags than could the CRJ and ERJ but not as big as the other jets. The port side bin in the E-Jet Classic was a narrow little thing that we joked could accept your water bottle and that was about it.

The new E-Jet E1 Enhanced bins are much better. While the port side first class isn’t as big as the starboard side, it now accepts briefcases, tote bags and small backpacks. The star board bin easily accepts roller backs sized for three nights away, though Airbus, Boeing and CSeries still have an advantage.