Bombardier woes go beyond CSeries

The news last week that Bombardier reorganized its business units, laid off another 1,800 employees and saw the retirement of Guy Hachey, president and CEO of the aerospace division, was viewed by some media and observers as an indictment of the CSeries program. While it’s certainly true that delays in the program weigh heavily on BBD, the problems don’t stop with CSeries.

Bombardier has 203 firm orders and 310 commitments for CSeries. This delivery stream doesn't include any potential rescheduling as a result of the grounding of the Flight Test fleet from May as a result of the engine incident.

Bombardier has 203 firm orders and 310 commitments for CSeries. This delivery stream doesn’t include any potential rescheduling as a result of the grounding of the Flight Test fleet from May as a result of the engine incident.

Slow sales of the CRJ, Q400 and business jets–as well as program development issues with a new corporate jet–all combined to drag down financial performance and bleed cash. Bombardier doesn’t have the balance sheet strength of Boeing or Airbus, nor strong sales of other airplane family members, to weather the challenges of new airplane development programs.

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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 17: Orders summary, reflections of the show

Orders continued to trickle in as the Farnborough Air Show winds down (there could be others not listed here).

  • Airbus: Transaero, LOI for 12 A330neos and eight A330ceos; Hong Kong Aviation Capital firms up an order for 40 A320neo and 30 A321neo aircraft, announced at the Paris Air Show last year. Here is the Airbus wrap up press release.
  • Boeing: Summarizes its performance at FAS with this press release; 201 orders and commitments.

Items of interest:

Overall reflections:

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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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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: 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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Bombardier and Embraer square off at ISTAT

Bombardier and Embraer squared off today at the ISTAT conference in San Diego. Rod Sheridan, VP sales and asset management, appeared for BBD and John Slattery, chiefr commercial officer, appeared for EMB.

The following synopsizes and paraphrases their presentations.

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Boeing notified supply chain: prepare for 52 737s per month

Boeing has notified is supply chain that demand for the 737 is sufficient to support a rate increase to 52 a month by the end of the decade.

In a letter dated January 3, Kent Fisher, vice president of supplier management, set the date for going to 47/mo in July 2017. The year had previously been announced by Boeing. Fisher continued that demand is “sufficient” to take the “protection rate” to 52/mo “later in the decade.”

Production Rates to 2020

“Protection rate” means the Boeing and the suppliers need to protect the ability to increase to the desired rate in terms of tooling, machinery, parts, and their own suppliers. This notification isn’t as firm as announcing an actual production rate increase, but it’s pretty close.

Airbus, meanwhile, continues with construction of its Mobile (AL) plant, with a target operational date of next year. Initial production will be 2/mo, ramping up to 4/mo. The plant has the capacity of 8/mo. This means Airbus increases production of the A320 family to 44 in late 2015 or early 2016, then 46 later in 2016 and 48 to 50 thereafter.

The Airbus and Boeing production rates dwarf those of Bombardier, which is challenging the Big Two OEMs at the lower end of the 100-220 seat sector with the 110-145 seat CSeries, and Embraer, which produces the 100-122 seat E-190/195 E1 today and which is offering the 132 seat E-195 E2 for delivery beginning in 2018.

Airbus’ factories are in Hamburg, Toulouse, Tianjin and from next year, Mobile. Hamburg and Toulouse are currently producing 38 A320 family members a month, weighted toward the latter, and Tianjin is at 4/mo. Tianjin and Mobile have the capacity of 8/mo each; we don’t know the total capacity of the Hamburg and Toulouse plants but are told these are at capacity; Airbus declined comment. This means Airbus has the capacity to go to 54 A320s/mo among the four plants after Mobile is fully operational.

Boeing has the capacity for 63 737s a month at its single Renton (WA) factory. Embraer has the capacity for 17 E-Jets a month. Bombardier plans a capacity of 20/mo for the CSeries.

Looking ahead to 2014

Here’s what to look for in 2014 in commercial aviation.

Airbus

A350 XWB: The high-profile A350 XWB program continues flight testing this year. Entry-into-service has been a sliding target. The program is running about 18 months behind original plan and EIS was intended for mid-year following initial delays. Even this has slipped, first to September and then to “the fourth quarter.” Currently first delivery is scheduled in October to launch customer Qatar Airways, which is slated to get four A350-900s this year. Emirates Airlines is listed as getting two of the total of six scheduled for delivery.

A320neo: Lost in the shadow of the A350 program is the A320neo. Final assembly of the first aircraft is to begin in the spring and first flight, followed by testing, is scheduled for this fall. The Pratt & Whitney Geared Turbo Fan is the initial variant. First delivery is scheduled in the fall of 2015.

Others: Airbus continues to evaluate whether to proceed with developing an A330neo. Based on our Market Intelligence, we expect a decision to proceed will come this year. Concurrently with this, we expect most if not all of the remaining 61 orders for the A350-800 to be upgraded to the A350-900 and the -800 program to be officially rescheduled if not dropped. The -800 is currently supposed to enter service in 2016, followed by the A350-1000 in 2017. But recall that as delays mounted on the A350-900, Airbus shifted engineers to the -900 and the -1000 at the expense of the -800. Salesmen have consistently shifted orders from the -800 to the larger models. We long ago anticipated the -800’s EIS would be rescheduled to 2018, following the -1000. The -800’s economics aren’t compelling enough just justify the expensive list price. So we expect Airbus to upgrade the A330 to a new engine option, using either or both of the Trent 1000 TEN and GEnx with PIPs (Performance Improvement Packages) or with some modifications. EIS would be about 2018. This precludes Pratt & Whitney from offering a large version of the Geared Turbo Fan, which wouldn’t be ready by then.

We also expect Airbus and the engine makers to look at re-engining the A380, driven by desires of Emirates Airlines to see a 10% economic improvement. Emirates announced an order for 50 A380s at the Dubai Air Show but instead of ordering the incumbent engine from Engine Alliance for these, Emirates left the engine choice open. This leaves open the possibility the A330neo and the “A380RE” could share an engine choice.

Boeing

After many years of turmoil, 2014 should be quiet for Boeing (now that the IAM issues have been resolved—see below).

787: Barring any untoward and unexpected issues, Boeing seems at long last to be on an upward trajectory with this program—but we’ve said this before. There are still nagging dispatch and fleet reliability issues on the 787-8 fleet to resolve, but flight testing of the 787-9 appears to be going well. Certification and first delivery should come without trouble this year, to launch customer Air New Zealand.

737: Nothing to report on the Next Generation program except ramp-up to a production rate of 42/mo is to take effect this year. Development continues on the 737 MAX.

Others: The 777 Classic is humming along. Now that the 777X is launched, we’ll be closely watching sales for the Classic; Boeing has a three year backlog but six years to 777X’s EIS. How is Boeing going to fill this gap, and what kind of price cuts will be offered to do so?

The 747-8 continues to struggle, barely holding on. Boeing says it thinks the cargo market will recover this year, boosting sales of the 747-8F. We’re dubious.

The 767 commercial program continues to wind down. The 767-based KC-46A program ramps up.

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Embraer E-Jets in focus

Embraer reported its third quarter earnings October 31 and disappointed the market with results that missed targets, resulting in a share price decline and some downgrades by analysts. Fewer commercial E-Jets and business jets were delivered than expected by analysts. Despite assurances by the company that year-end targets would be met, market reaction was unenthusiastic.

 

Embraer’s been struggling some on E-Jet sales. The backlog of the of current E-Jet, now dubbed internally as E1 with the launch of the re-engined E-Jet, called E2, had been shrinking until EMB won key orders from SkyWest Airlines of the USA, Republic Airways Holdings (for American Airlines) and from United Airlines, all for the E175. Even so, with a production rate capacity of 17 per month, there are large gaps but also open opportunities to offer near-term slots. The current production rate is only 7.5/mo-less than three years.

 

Embraer delivered 122, 98, 105 and 106 E-Jets in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012. It’s forecast to deliver 90 this year and next, followed by 85, 80 and 75 through 2017, the year before the E2 enters service. This forecast, by UBS, means Embraer has to find sales to fill the slots. Embraer and Bombardier are competing for a significant order from American Airlines. This order has been stalled pending the merger with US Airways, which has been delayed by the Department of Justice lawsuit seeking to block the combination. The order is important to Bombardier and Embraer because of the thin backlogs for the CRJ and E-Jet.

 

The E2 isn’t scheduled to enter service until 1H2018, with the E190 E2 the first model. The E195 E2 and E175 E2 follow in 2019 and 2020.

 

Aircraft

E170

E175

E190

E195

Sub- 

Total

E175 E2

E190 E2

E195 E2

Sub-

Total

Total

Backlog

6

140

78

22

246

100

25

25

150

396

 

The EIS sequence for the E2 is intriguing. Although the E175 E2 has the largest backlog, it will be the last to enter service. The largest variant, the E195 E2, at 132 seats single class, is directly competitive with the Bombardier CS300 (135 seats single class) but somewhat less capable with a range of 2,000nm vs 2,950nm for the Bombardier.

 

Embraer has a large customer base for the E-Jet, 67, that gives it an advantage over Bombardier when it comes to selling the E2 vs the CSeries. Bombardier has to create a customer base for the CSeries, which is more directly competitive with Airbus and Boeing small jets than is the E2. Embraer made the conscious decision not to proceed with a brand new design in order to avoid the wrath of the Bog Two OEMs.

 

But selling the E2 also means replacing the E1, and our market intelligence tells us that placing used E-Jets is problematic. The cost of engine overhauls, a reported $3m+ on an engine that costs $4.5m at list prices, is a deterrent, one lessor tells us. Book values also tend to be higher than current market values, this lessor says, making remarketing sales and reset lease rates an issue.

 

Bombardier’s CRJ700 and CRJ900 have lower operating costs than the E1, but Embraer has the advantage on passenger comfort. Recognizing the cost disadvantage, Embraer announced modifications to the E1 to improve fuel performance to a point where it believes the E1 will be competitive with the CRJ economics.

 

Major carriers in the US also have labor issues to consider when it comes to evaluating the E1 or E2 vs the CSeries. Embraer’s E175, at 70 seats remains below the Scope Clause threshold of 76 seats in many US airline labor contracts. The E190 in dual class also falls just below this threshold. The CS100 seats 100 passengers in dual class and 110 in single class, eliminating it from Scope Clause-driven competition. The decision between BBD and EMB in this case may come down to whether a carrier wants the greater economics of the CRJ or the comfort of the E190 E1 and comfort and economy of the E2.

 

Embraer faces several years of soft sales in advance of the E2.