Odds and Ends: MH370 tracking; Garuda rules out A380, 747-8; last 747-400 flight; E-Jet vs Turbo-props

MH370 tracking: With Britain’s Immarsat and the Air Accident Investigation Board key to determining the general location of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370, The London Telegraph has one of the best narratives of of the behind-the-scenes story of how this came about. The London Independent also has a good story. And here is a story that explains the difficulties of searching in remote oceans.

  • Update, 10:30am PDT: Aviation analyst and former pilot John Nance is profiled in this Puget Sound Business Journal account that includes’ Nance’s theory of MH370. It’s an intriguing theory. He believes this was a deliberate act–either terrorism or murder-suicide–and that once the flight settled out southbound from Malaysia, it was set on auto-pilot and all aboard, including the pilot, were killed by asphyxiation. The airplane flew until it ran out of fuel and crashed into the Indian Ocean; he even gives a speed and angle-of-attack estimate.

Garuda rules out A380, 747-8: The Australian reports that after planning to order either the Airbus A380 or Boeing 747-8 last year, officials have ruled this out.

Last 747-400 flight: Japan’s All Nippon Airlines plans to complete its last Boeing 747-400 flight this month, ending an iconic era in the country where 747s once ruled the skies.

E-Jet vs Turbo-Props: At the ISTAT conference last week, we reported that Embraer says its E-175 E2 is more efficient than similarly sized turbo props on missions of more than 250 miles. This story in The Economic Times of India follows through on this theme.

Odds and Ends: Embraer reports weak quarter; MRJ FTV #1 assembly; JAL, ANA politics

Embraer’s Third Quarter: Embraer delivered fewer commercial airplanes in the third quarter than had been expected. The maker of E-Jets and the E-Jet E2 re-engined versions due beginning in 2018 listed its deliveries and backlog in its press release. Analysts expects 22 E-Jets would be delivered in the quarter. But the backlog is up 44% year-over-year, largely on the strength of the launch of the E2 (150 orders, 100 of which are for the smallest E-175 E2 and 25 each for the E-190/195 E2), and orders from Republic Airways Holdings and SkyWest Airlines for the current generation of E-Jets. The E-175 remains to most frequently-ordered airplane.

Although Embraer is expanding the size of the E-195-E2 by up to 12 seats, orders have been few. The E-190 has proved a better-selling model than the E-195.

EJet_E2 Compare

Source: Embraer

Officials expect to have a healthy fourth quarter delivery stream.

Mitsubishi MRJ: Assembly for the first Mitsubishi MRJ Flight Test Vehicle (to borrow Bombardier’s term for the CSeries) is underway. The first delivery was originally planned for this year; it’s now planned for 2017, four years late. This rivals Boeing’s 787 and exceeds the Airbus A350 and as yet the CSeries.

JAL, ANA Politics: Reuters has an analysis about the suspicion politics may have been involved in the decision by Japan Airlines to buy the Airbus A350 and the pending order by ANA of an Airbus or Boeing airplane.

Odds and Ends: ANA, Airbus and Boeing; Era of the jumbo jet; Repo wars

ANA to stay with Boeing? After losing Japan Airlines to Airbus, analysts are split over whether ANA will also defect. Some say JAL’s order will give ANA cover to defect. Others say JAL’s order will increase the pressure on ANA to stay with Boeing. The Seattle Times this story. Our take: compare this with what happened following American Airlines’ order with Airbus. The Delta Air Lines competition was next, and Boeing was determined not to lose that competition–and it didn’t. Market talk says Boeing’s price to Delta was 10%-15% below Airbus’ offer, though this has never been confirmed. We understand there were other considerations besides costs. Regardless, both sides are going to go all-out to win.

SuperJumbo Era: The Financial Times has a story about whether the era of the super-jumbo (the Airbus A380 and the Boeing 747-8) is over (free registration required). Bloomberg has a story about the Boeing 777X being a jumbo killer.

Repo Wars: Here’s an departure from our usual coverage–tactics used to repossess an airplane from a delinquent airline. A decade ago, we were involved in a similar situation, planning the repossession of a Boeing 767-300ER from a South American airline. The lessor obtained a court order while we did some behind-the-scenes plotting to “arrest” the airplane at Miami. It was at the gate, full of passengers when the sheriff served the pilot with the court papers. Secrecy was imperative, as the story linked above references. Once the airplane was seized, the airline rescheduled a second 767 to stay on domestic service so the lessor couldn’t seize that airplane, too.

Odds and Ends: ANA to be battle royale; Boeing’s top salesman; Delta and the A380

All Nippon Airways Wide-Body Battle: Having lost a bombshell order to Airbus at Japan Airlines, the focus in Japan now turns to ANA, reports Reuters. Will Boeing shift work from Japan? Reuters has this story.

Boeing’s Top Salesman: Jon Ostrower has a very interesting and candid story about Boeing’s top airplane salesman, John Wojick, and the 787 program. Via Google News in a new Wall Street Journal format, it looks like it’s not behind the paywall.

Delta and the A380: Delta Air Lines flies the Boeing 747-400 but it doesn’t look like it will fly the Airbus A380. See this story by Motley Fool.

Backstory on the JAL deal from Bloomberg; ‘Boeing blew JAL, others’ says Aboulafia

Japan Airlines deal: Two items of note came across our desk concerning the Japan Airlines’ order from Airbus for the A350-900/1000. The first is from Bloomberg, which has an interview with Airbus CEO Fabrice Bregier. Lots of speculation exists that JAL ordered the A350 because of the problems with the Boeing 787. While this may have played a role at some level, Bloomberg reports that Bregier began his efforts prior to the JAL 787 fire in January.

The other is the October newsletter from Richard Aboulafia of The Teal Group that takes Boeing to task for essentially blowing the opportunity to retain JAL’s business for the 787-10 and/or the 777X. At this writing, Aboulafia hasn’t uploaded his newsletter to his website (so keep checking). In a nutshell, Aboulafia raps Boeing management for dithering on both airplanes. Had Boeing authorized the 777X six months ago, Aboulafia writes, Boeing could have kept IAG (British Airways) and if launched in 2012, Cathay Pacific could have been kept.

Aboulafia also predicts JAL’s rival, ANA, will buy the A350. Otherwise it will be at a competitive disadvantage, he writes. The newsletter is quite harsh.

Airbus breakthrough: Japan Airlines orders 31 firm+25 option A350-900s/1000s

JALAirbus scored a big breakthrough October 7 (Tokyo time) when Japan Airlines announced an order for 18 A350-900s, 13 -1000s and options for 25 more.

This is a huge win for Airbus and a big blow to Boeing’s decades-long wide-body monopoly in Japan.

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Update, 06:15 am PDT: Here are a couple of stories about the order.

Reuters: Airbus clinches landmark deal.

CNBC: Deal shows loyalty fading fast

Reuters: Airbus sees JAL deal spurring R&D in Japan

AP via Seattle Times: JAL says deal unrelated to 787 woes

Airbus press release

Reuters, 0800 PDT: 787 woes did contribute to JAL Airbus purchase, says Boeing exec

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JAL A350-1000JAL, and its rival, All Nippon Airways, had been reported nearly a year ago giving serious thought to ordering the A350 as a way to diversify its reliance on The Boeing Co., long the exclusive supplier for wide-body aircraft at the two carriers.

The lengthy delays for the 787, followed by the 3 1/2 month grounding earlier this year, are widely believed to be behind the consideration to buy the A350. John Leahy, COO-Customers, told us in advance of the Paris Air Show that he did not expect orders to be announced at the international event (and they weren’t) but he hoped to conclude something before the end of the year.

Boeing has a deep relationship with Japan and its international carriers. Japan provided around US$2bn in financing to the so-called Japanese Heavies to help fund their participation in the 787. It was suggested, but never confirmed, that Boeing might build the 777X wings in Japan to snare orders and keep Airbus from winning an A350 deal.

Relationships mean everything in Japan, and the strong one between Boeing, the government and the airlines combined to make Airbus a miniscule player there. Fear of offending the Japanese is why Airbus and the European Union didn’t include the government’s funding of the Heavies for the 787 in the bitter international trade dispute between the EU and the United States.

Latest on Ethiopian 787

The media frenzy over the cause of the fire of the Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 787 last Friday seems to be slowing.

The New York Times has this report from late last night that says Japan Air Lines and ANA conducted checks on their Boeing 787 fleet and found everything OK.

The NYT also has some new detail about what’s near the burned out area of the 787 and what’s not, and what else investigators are checking (some of which was previously reported by the Wall Street Journal).

Bloomberg has this report saying it doesn’t appear grounding the airplane is in the cards–and we believe it should not be. The first two battery incidents justified grounding but we don’t have the same concerns with this fire as we did with the JAL fire and the ANA near-fire.

Nothing we’ve yet read nor heard suggests anything systemic about the airplane that contributed to the fire. We still have to wait and see what investigators come up with.

Unlike the Asiana Airlines crash the previous week, there are no flight data recorders or cockpit voice recorders or witnesses to provide a near-instant conclusion. This investigation is a detective story that will take some time to reach answers.

As we know from the JAL fire, evidence is often destroyed in a fire and news reports indicate the Electronic Locator Transmitter was pretty well destroyed. The underlying question is whether the ELT was the origin of the fire or merely a victim itself that propagated the fire with its lithium battery. What other factors contributor to the fire?

It’s time to move on and let investigators do their work.

Update: via Twitter: 9m

WSJ BREAKING: AAIB to issue interim 787 report in dys. Unclear if ELT started fire. May suggest ELT removal from 787s during probe –Source

Odds and Ends: Fixing the 787; PW GTF; ANA to retire 747s

Fixing the 787: Avionics magazine has a long article on fixing the Boeing 787 battery issues.

PW GTF: The Hartford Courant has a piece profiling the quiet nature of the Pratt & Whitney Geared Turbo Fan engine. While news articles talk about noise, this is pretty abstract for readers. Bombardier has the best, single source we’ve seen for noise illustrations, with several links within this site. Even that is somewhat abstract, so BBD has this link to compare noise with urban sounds.

ANA to retire 747s: They’ll be gone this year. JAL retired them in 2011. Good luck, Airbus, selling them the A380. ANA also returns the 787 to service Saturday.

  • We’re at Boeing today and tomorrow for Paris Air Show briefings. Look for 737 MAX and 777 (today’s model) postings. Everything else is embargoed to June 11 (Current Market Outlook) and June 14 (everything else).

Odds and Ends: Test sites for UAVs; Qatar CEO on 787; more on 747F crash

Support for UAVs: Innovate Washington, an arm of the State, is promoting sites in Washington as test sites for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). There are 37 states seeking to become test sites for UAVs.

The Pacific Northwest Aerospace Alliance on April 30 issued an endorsement of the plan.

Boeing’s Insitu unit builds UAVs and is headquartered in Washington.

Qatar’s CEO on 787: Akbar Al-Baker, the outspoken CEO of Qatar Airways, was remarkably quiet during the three-month grounding of the Boeing 787. He’s usually a pain in the rear to a number of OEMs with his public criticism. He’s back in the news today. He says Boeing will compensate Qatar for the grounding and adds he thinks the grounding was an over-reaction to Social Media coverage of the JAL and ANA events. He said the evacuation of the ANA 787 was “unnecessary,” according to the news report.

Retry on Boeing apology: Seems we linked a Wall Street Journal article to the posting on Boeing’s apology in Japan for the 787 problems. Let’s try this one again: Here is the story we meant to link.

More on 747F crash: Flight Global’s air safety expert weighs in the the video of the National Air Cargo crash.

Odds and Ends: Change fees; Two ex-NTSB members rap Boeing, FAA, current NTSB

About those change fees: Last week we reported from the US Airways Media Day and among the topics was that of change fees. US Airways matched United Airlines to charge $200 if you change your ticket. Here’s an article about how to deal with these fees.

Here’s another article about change fees, and how they’ve soared in recent times. If you think fees in the US are bad, look at the table and note in particular Ryanair’s fees–this carrier is notorious for charge for everything, and at steep prices, something subject to this funny video:

Why are fees becoming so prevalent? Because this is where airlines are largely making their profits. US Airways said last week it expects to earn $600m from fees this year. This is more than its entire profit from 2012. This means airline operations lose money and profits come from the fees.

Also on US Airways: we also reported last week about some outstanding labor issues between the IAM at US Air and the TWU and American Airlines. An agreement over the weekend was reached about merging these two workforces under one union banner, according to Terry Maxon at the Dallas Morning News.

Ex-Members Rap FAA, NTSB: We bet they won’t be invited to a reunion. James Hall and John Goglia, former members of the National Transportation Safety Board, had harsh words to say about the FAA, Boeing and the NTSB over the certification of the Boeing 787 and the subsequent fix. Hall said the FAA needed to recertify the airplane, not just the battery.

Ethiopian Airlines resumed service with the 787 over the weekend, while Japan’s ANA engaged in a proving flight. This Wall Street Journal article (via Google News, so everyone should be able to read it) references additional measures required by Japan.