After the program debacles of the Airbus A400M and A380 (plus the development cost of the A350) and Boeing 747-8 and 787, we can appreciate the sentiment. However, Boeing CEO Jim McNerney’s statement that doing a new airplane every 25 years is, essentially, bad policy, is disheartening.
Boeing used to be the shining example in the US of innovative technology: The B-17, B-29, B-47, B-52, 707, the versatile 727, the 747, the ETOPS 767, the incredibly reliable 777 and now the 787 (even as troubled as it has been). The 737, best-selling airplane that it is, was not a ground-breaking technology and neither was the 757. But each became solid stable mates in the 7 Series line up.
Airbus also offered ground-breaking technology and concepts. Fly-by-wire. Common cockpits across the family line. Re-engining the A320 family (forcing a reluctant Boeing to do the same with the 737). A technologically impressive A380, even if it’s hardly been the sales success Airbus hoped for.
Innovation and the willingness to taking industrial-leading chances make a company great.
Upgrades for the B-52: The USAF and Boeing are upgrading the Boeing B-52 bomber to further extend the service life. The LA Times via the Seattle Times has this story. This is remarkable; the B-52 was designed in 1948 to be the USA’s aerial backbone against the Soviet Union in the Cold War. It bombed Iraq in the 1991 Gulf War and continues to out-perform the B-1B bomber, which was supposed to replace the old gal, nicknamed by some as BUFF.
As voters go to the polls today, we’ve turned our thoughts to Sequestration and the impact on Defense budgets.
Defense sequestration is widely view as a disaster for national defense and for employment. Sequestration requires a cut of $500bn over 10 years, or $50bn a year. Spending for FY2013 is $902.3bn, according to government figures, excluding the Afghan war. A $50bn cut would be 5.5%.
We certainly acknowledge the adverse impact of cutting $50bn from next year’s budget, but we can’t help but wonder if there isn’t 5% that is “fat.” Parochially, Boeing’s KC-46A tanker is on the hit list for cuts. Given the difficulty it took in getting to this contract and the pressing need to replace the KC-135, we would hope this program would survive.