Odds and Ends: Some FAS leftovers–a big CSeries order?; EMB lands 60; and more

Farnborough Air Show leftovers:

Big CSeries order coming? Flight Global reports that lessor Macquarie Airfinance is about ready to sign a deal for 50 Bombardier CSeries. If true, this would be a major departure for the lessor, which historically hasn’t placed speculative orders–and it would be a major boost for Bombardier. The Flight Global report doesn’t say if this would be 50 firm or a combination of firm and options. BBD and MAF didn’t comment for Flight. We reached out to MAF and received this response:

“The Flightglobal release was concocted on a rumour and we don’t comment on rumours. You know how it is with lessors. We’re constantly considering every aircraft type that could provide us with value-adding opportunities.”

Bombardier has been selling the CSeries in small numbers, often to second or third tier, and even start-up carriers, a path Boeing took in the early days of the 737-200 program. Airbus relied heavily on lessors for early A320 orders. Boutique lessor LCI was a launch customer for the airplane, and Falko Regional Aircraft Leasing became a customer at FAS.

BBD now has 513 orders and commitments for CSeries.

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Farnborough Air Show, July 16: MRJ program analysis

After a long drought of orders or even LOIs and MOUs, the Mitsubishi MRJ program saw some life at this Farnborough Air Show.

Sales of Japan’s first commercial airplane since the propeller-era’s YS-11 stalled with orders from SkyWest Airlines, Trans States Airlines and Japan’s ANA.

But at the FAS, Mitsubishi announced an MOU with Eastern Air Lines, a US start-up carrier, for up to 40 and a much smaller order for six from Air Mandalay.

The Eastern MOU can fairly come under scrutiny if for no other reason than the company is a start-up. Little is known about its financial fund raising and the business model–to begin as a charter airline and transition to a scheduled carrier in the highly competitive US Southeast–doesn’t instill a lot of confidence. EAL, named after the old trunk carrier that went out of business in 1991, has also ordered the Boeing 737-800 after initially announcing plans to begin service with the Airbus A320.

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Embraer continues and refines its strategy at the low-end of 100-149 seat sector

While Airbus and Boeing slug it out in the competition for the duopoly and Bombardier struggles to gain respect as an emerging mainline jetliner producer, Embraer continues and refines its strategy in the smaller-end of the jet market with its E-Jets, E-Jet “Plus” (our term) and the E-Jet E-2.

Source: Embraer, Reprinted with permission.

Source: Embraer, Reprinted with permission.

Embraer is broadening its offering from a maximum of 122 seats to a maximum of 132 and dropping its low-end E-170 from future variants. This brings the EMB family to 90-132 seats, following the decision to undertake an extreme makeover of the current E-175/190/195 line by adapting the Pratt & Whitney P1000 Geared Turbo Fan engine to a new wing design and upgrading a variety of systems in the E-Jet E2.

New Features

 Source: Embraer. Reprinted with permission.

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Assessing the Air Canada 737 order: factors that likely played a role

How did Boeing win the Air Canada mainline 150-200 seat jet order when only a couple of weeks ago Flight Global reported the Airbus won the deal?

We, too, heard that Airbus seemed to be the favorite, but the information was soft. We’re not rapping Flight Global—undoubtedly it was confident in its sourcing, but this just shows that a situation can change dramatically and quickly.

We’ve been following the competition for months, behind the scenes, and here are factors we understood that were involved.

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Air Canada snubs Airbus, orders 737s; keeps some of Embraer portion open

Air Canada snubbed Airbus with its mainline jet fleet renewal and ordered up to 109 Boeing 737 MAXes. The initial order is for the 8 and 8 MAX, with the ability to swap for the 7 MAX. The deal includes the provision for Boeing to purchase up to 20 Embraer E-190s, which would be replaced by the 7 MAX, apparently.

But Air Canada is keeping open the prospect of replacing the other 25 E-190s with a new jet or to keep operating them. Bombardier hopes to win this segment of the order.

This is a big win for Boeing and one of the rare times Boeing has displaced Airbus in the MAX v NEO competition of an incumbent Airbus operator.

The Air Canada press release is below the jump.

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Key events Dec. 10-12: Boeing, EADS, Air Canada

There are some key events to follow today through Thursday:

December 10: The Requests for Proposals for the site selection of the 777X are due into Boeing today. Media will be trying to find details, but Boeing certainly won’t be talking. Nor do we expect states to be doing much talking, either.

Boeing says there will be a decision early next year; we are hearing the end of January, but this information is very soft.

December 11: EADS, parent of Airbus, begins two days of its Global Investors Day briefings.

Air Canada’s Board of Directors is to meet to decide on replacing its large, aging fleet of Airbus A320/321s. Airbus and Boeing are bidding. Flight Global earlier reported staff had selected the Airbus, but Air Canada denied a decision had been made. But, as with all denials, this could be carefully crafted: the Board hadn’t approved a deal, so no “decision” had been made.

We understand, but are not 100% certain, that the fleet renewal for the 100-149 seat sector remains open. This means Bombardier and its CSeries could still win a deal–or Air Canada may decide to retain its Embraer E-190 fleet.

December 12: EADS’ investors day continues, with guidance and information about the next 12 months and beyond for Airbus.

Doug Harned of Bernstein Research issued a note Monday listing a series of questions for EADS’ officials; we couldn’t sum it up better:

  1. What is the A350 development and production outlook?
  2. How large are A350 losses likely to be in 2015? [NB: EADS/Airbus writes off development costs in the year incurred, unlike Boeing which uses program accounting to spread costs. Editor.]
  3. Will Airbus hit its goal of 10% margins, ex-A350, in 2015?
  4. Can Airbus grow and sustain the A380 production?
  5. When will Airbus take up rates on the A320neo?
  6. What is the outlook for A330 deliveries?

Odds and Ends: Boeing Everett; SkyWest raises doubts about MRJ; Boeing and Charleston on 777X

Boeing’s Everett Footprint: With the news that Boeing will build 1.5m sf of space for a new 777X Final Assembly Line and wing production facility if the IAM 751 members ratify the new contract and Washington State ponies up on incentives, the obvious question is: what happens with the current Everett plant?

It had been assumed the 777X would be built in the current facility, integrating with and ultimately replacing the current 777 line; or starting off in the space now occupied by the 747-8, which is struggling to stay alive and which many–ourselves included–believe will die off with the advent of the 777-9.

Let’s consider this latest twist.

  • The 787 Line 1 is assumed to eventually reach a production rate of 7/mo, with Charleston also target for 7/mo, with the goal of the combined lines going to the announced rate of 14/mo by 2018/19.
  • The KC-46A tanker, which occupies half of one bay, goes to two a month in a few years, though it has capacity to go to three. The other half of this bay is currently occupied by the 787 surge line, but in theory this is supposed to go away once Charleston is up to rate 3. Boeing now says this will happen in the first quarter (it was supposed to by year end) but this may not be achieved by then, according to some. But one has to believe Charleston will be ready to rock by 2016, when the 777X is gearing up.
  • The current 777 line, now at 8.3/mo rate, is assumed to have a two year overlap from 777X EIS, or around 2022, when it’s been assumed the current generation 777 would be discontinued. But the 777-200LRF may live on, both in its current form and as a replacement for the KC-10 tanker. Although the USAF is reportedly looking at a 2040 procurement date for the KC-10 replacement, some believe this is too far out into the future and this date will be brought forward.
  • Then there is the 747-8 production space. It’s also assumed this airplane is living on borrowed time. The USAF says it wants to replace the Air Force One fleet in 2021, and this is a long time to keep this line alive. Boeing is counting on the cargo market to return in 2014 to spur demand of the 747-8F, but some believe main-deck freighters of this size will have a very tough time when cheap 747-400 conversions can be had for a fraction of the cost.
  • If space at the primary Everett plant does open up, what is there to fill it if not the 777X? Any number of potentials: the Y-1 737 replacement, closing the Renton factory in the process and splitting the Y-1 between Washington and South Carolina (or Texas, or some off-shore location). A maintenance, repair and overhaul operation: Boeing wants to dramatically increase this service business. Component production.

Over to Readers for your thoughts.

Meanwhile, The Puget Sound Business Journal has this long story on the expected use of robots in building the 777X.

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Busy Week ahead: First flights; and Odds and Ends:Lufthansa to split order; Embraer tells of upgrades

Update, 2:30PM PDT: Boeing confirms that Tuesday is the target day for 787-9 first flight, time TBD and subject to weather and other factors.

Update, 3:30pm PDT: Bombardier says 9:30 EDT Monday is the scheduled first flight for CSeries. Twitter follow is #CSeries

Original Post:

It looks like it will be a busy week in aviation news. Bombardier plans the first flight of the CSeries tomorrow, weather permitting (it looks good). Exact time hasn’t been announced. Reuters reports Boeing plans the first flight of the 787-9 Tuesday, though we haven’t seen notice from Boeing on this yet. And we’re waiting any day for Lufthansa Airlines to announce its long-awaited wide-body order.

Lufthansa said to split order: Lufthansa Airlines reportedly will split its order for widebody airplanes between Boeing and Airbus, according to this Bloomberg report.

Embraer EJet improvements: Flight Global has this story about the improvements and another about production rates.

Air Force One: The Seattle Post-Intelligencer has a 42 slide photo display of Air Force Ones, past to present, that’s quite interesting.

Update: “Small Airbus:” If you listen carefully, someone at the end of the video notes that the CSeries “looks like a small Airbus 320.” We couldn’t help but chuckle at this.

Odds and Ends: Plane Business analysis of AA-US merger; Air Canada’s single-aisle competition

AA-US Merger: Plane Business made available Aug. 21 its previous analysis of the proposed American Airlines-US Airways merger outside its paywall.

The analysis of the government’s analysis is pretty devastating to the government’s case. Read it and judge for yourself.

American’s general counsel, meanwhile, writes (in a report in The Dallas Morning News) that there is no Plan B to exit bankruptcy if the merger with US Airways is successfully blocked by the Department of Justice. Instead, AA would have to create a new bankruptcy-exit plan and return to all creditors and the court. This would take probably another couple of years, making it one of the longest (if not the longest) Chapter 11s in airline history–with all the related uncertainty to those affected by a Chapter 11. This is unfair to creditors and employees, and it will also wipe out any gains shareholders obtained in the current plan.

The DOJ clearly failed to take into account these impacts.

Air Canada eyes CSeries: The Globe and Mail reports that Air Canada is considering the Bombardier CSeries to replace the aging Embraer E-190 and Airbus A319 fleets. We expect the competition to be fierce: Airbus will certainly do what it can to block this sale (through pricing, no doubt) and we wouldn’t be at all surprised if Brazil would offer export financing for a replacement E-Jet fleet–something Bombardier can’t match because of the so-called Home Country rule prohibiting government financing for home-country airlines.

And then there is Boeing. The entire Airbus fleet is getting long in the tooth and our market intelligence tells us Air Canada is running a full narrow-body competition between Airbus and Boeing.

A re-fleeting decision is expected by year-end.

MRJ First Flight Delay: It’s been widely hinted, but now a supplier told Flight International that the first flight of the Mitsubishi MRJ is delayed to the end of 2014.

Embraer selects PW GTF for E-Jet RE; concept clarity comes at last

It’s official: Embraer selected the PW GTF to re-engine the E-175, E-190 and E-195.

In doing so, it looks like the E-170 will be allowed to wither on the vine.

This is a huge win for PW and setbacks for Rolls-Royce, which sorely wanted to win the E-Jet RE for its Advance 2 RR development; and for GE, the incumbent supplier of the CF34 and which was developing the Next Generation variant for the E-Jet.

EMB EJet RE

It’s yet another validation for the GTF. Versions of this engine will power the Mitsubishi MRJ, the Bombardier CSeries, the Irkut MS-21, the Airbus A320neo family and now the E-Jet RE.

It’s a huge comeback for PW, which made a major strategic error in not competing to power the Boeing 737 300/400/500. Boeing continues to use the GE/CFM LEAP engine as its sole-source supply for the 737 MAX, though Boeing seriously evaluated the GTF as well.

Below is EMB’s press release:

Embraer Selects Pratt & Whitney’s PurePower Engines for Second Generation of E-Jets

São José dos Campos, January 8, 2013 – Embraer SA (NYSE: ERJ; BM&FBOVESPA: EMBR3) announced today that Pratt & Whitney´s PurePower® Geared TurbofanTM engines have been selected for its future, second generation of E-Jets, with entry into service planned for 2018. The decision is an important milestone in the program, which is expected to be officially launched later this year.

The new engines – the PW1700G and PW1900G – range in thrust from 15,000 to 22,000 pounds. In combination with new aerodynamically advanced wings, state-of-the-art full fly-by-wire flight controls and other systems evolutions, they will result in double digit improvements in fuel burn, maintenance costs, emissions and external noise.

“We are very happy to expand our partnership with Pratt & Whitney, keeping the E-Jets family as the best solution for our customers, today and in the future”, said Frederico Fleury Curado, President & CEO of Embraer. “The PurePower GTF engines are a great fit to the next generation of our E-Jets and we look forward to another long lasting and successful program with Pratt & Whitney”.

“We are proud that Embraer has recognized the unmatched value of the PurePower engine, and we are committed to supporting a successful launch of the new E-Jet aircraft family,” said Pratt & Whitney President David Hess. “To date, Pratt & Whitney has completed more than 4,200 hours and 12,400 cycles of full engine testing for the PurePower engine family, demonstrating the benefits and reliability of the engine architecture.” Pratt & Whitney is a division of United Technologies Corp. (NYSE: UTX).

The second generation of E-Jets will be a significant step in Embraer´s commitment to continuously invest in this line of commercial jets, complementing a series of ongoing improvements currently being implemented in the existing family, with great benefits to its customers. Embraer´s objective is to offer the best product and maintain its leadership in the 70 to 120 seat market.