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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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: Orders summary

Here are the orders and commitments announced today that we saw–there could be others we haven’t seen:

  • Airbus: Avolon (a lessor) ordered 15 A330neos; CIT Aerospace, MOU for 16 A330-900s, five A321neos; SMBC Aviation (lessor), 110 A320neo and five A320ceo aircraft; BOC Aviation, 36 Airbus A320ceo and seven A320neo family 17 of which will be fore the A321 family; AirAsiaX, MOU 50 A330-900s.
  • ATR: Air Lease Corp. purchased seven ATR-72-600s.
  • Boeing: Intrepid Aviation, 6+4 777-300ERs; Air Lease Corp, six 777-300ERs, 20 737-8s; CIT Aerospace, 10 787-9s.
  • Bombardier: One Q400 from Horizon Air; revealed an unidentied customer, Abu Dhabi Aviation, for two Q400s; LOI from Falcon Aviation for five Q400s.
  • CFM: Air Lease Corp. ordered the LEAP-1A for 20 A320neo family aircraft.
  • Embraer: Azul Air, LOI for 30+20 E-195 E2 (and becomes launch customer for this sub-type); Fuji’s Dream Airlines, 3+3 E-175s, a previously unidentified customer.
  • Mitsubishi: six MRJ90s from Air Mandalay.
  • Pratt & Whitney: SaudiGulf Airlines orders the V2500 to power four A320ceos; Philippine Airlines executes a previous LOI to a firm order for the GTF for 10 A320neos; BOC Aviation, V2500 for eight of the A320ceo family listed above; International Airlines Group (Vueling Airlines), V2500 for 30 A320ceo family.
  • Viking Air: Air Seychelles, two Twin Otters.

Items of note:

  • Airbus’ John Leahy says he expects a total of 100 A330neo orders from FAS;
  • BOC Aviation endorsed the launch of the A330neo but didn’t (yet) order any.
  • Boeing said its new 777X will have a cabin altitude of 6,000 ft, the same as the 787, larger windows than its 777 Classic and the A350; features borrowed from the 787 and many that go beyond the 787 passenger experience; and lower noise.
  • Bombardier launched its Q400 Combi, seating 50 passengers and carrying 8,200 lbs of cargo.
  • Steven Udvar-Hazy, CEO of Air Lease Corp, which has a large order book for the ATR-72-600, says, the Q400 is a good aircraft, but “much more expensive to operate” vs ATR. [However, that's at the Q400's high cruising speed. If it's throttled back, the operating costs are said by BBD to be comparable.--Editor.]

Farnborough Air Show, July 15: WA State and Mitsubishi; PW GTF issue revealed, finally;

The news that Mitsubishi will stage flight testing for its new MRJ 90-seat jet program at Moses Lake (WA) is, parochially, good news. And it is exactly the type of non-industrial aerospace business that we’ve been advocating for Washington since our consulting days to the State Department of Commerce in 2010, and during our tenure as a member of the Board of Directors for the Pacific Northwest Aerospace Alliance (PNAA) for three years (2010-2013).

Washington, understandably, has been married to, and focused on, industrial aerospace. Boeing is here, of course. The supply based the supports Boeing has a huge footprint in Washington. But industrial business is highly capital-intensive, and winning this business is highly competitive.

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Farnborough Air Show, July 14: Orders Summary

Here are orders that were announced on the first official day of the Farnborough Air Show (at least the ones we’ve seen from Seattle–feel free to add to the list if we’ve missed any):

  • Airbus: from Air Lease Corp: 25 A330neos and 60 A321neos. British Airways converts 20 A320neo options to firm orders; 20 A320neos from AerCap.
  • ATR: NAC places firm order for 75 ATR 42-600s.
  • Boeing: Announced what had been leaked before the show–30 737-8s from Monarch Airlines, an important “flip” from incumbent Airbus; six 737 MAX 8s and four Next-Generation 737-800s from Okay Airlines; six 787-9 Dreamliners and five additional 737 MAX 9 from lessor Avolon.
  • Bombardier signed LOIs with: Chinese airline Loong Air for 20 CS100s; Petra Airlines of Jordon for two CS100s and two CS300s; and it converted a previously announced LOI for Falcon Air of Abu Dhabi for two CS300s to a firm order. BBD also revealed a previously unidentified follow-on order for three CS300s from Air Baltic. This was announced at the Singapore Air Show.
  • CFM International won the large engine order from American Airlines to power its A319neo/A321neo fleet. We reported June 19 that this deal would come down to commercial terms, according to American CFO Derek Kerr. Given CFM’s position on the Boeing 737-800, 737-8 and Airbus A319ceo; and GE Aviation’s presence on AA’s widebody fleet, plus whatever maintenance agreements also exist, CFM/GE was in a position to offer commercial terms that Pratt & Whitney could not when offering the GTF. Also as previously noted, CFM won the easyJet A320neo family order for 270 engines.
  • Embraer: 50 “reconfirmable” and 50 options for the E-175-E2 from Trans States Airlines of the USA.
  • Mitsubishi: Eastern Airlines signed an MOU for 20 firm and 20 purchase rights for this MRJ90. Parenthetically, we’re happy that Mitsubishi also announced it will test the MRJ in Moses Lake (WA).
  • Pratt & Whitney won the GTF order for VivaAerobus’s 40+40 A320 fleet and the V2500 for 12 A320ceos.

Things of note:

  • Airbus predicts sales of 1,000 A330neos, plans two year overlap in production of A330ceo. EIS 4Q2017.

The sniping between Airbus and Boeing continues:

  • “The only way a passenger will know he’s not on a 787 is that the seats will be bigger,” says John Leahy of the A330neo vs the Boeing 787. Leahy gives good quote.
  • Ray Conner, CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, calls the A330 an airplane of the 1980s. (Careful, Ray: the 737 MAX and the 747-8 are airplanes of the 1960s….)

Farnborough Air Show preview

The Farnborough Air Show is just around the corner, and we don’t expect the event to be especially newsworthy.

Here are our expectations for the show:

Airbus
Market expectations are that Airbus will launch the A330neo at the air show, and we know John Leahy, COO of Customers, would like to do so at this event. His bosses, Fabrice Bregier and Tom Enders, have been less than encouraging that this announcement could come at the show.

Although news stories last week indicated Airbus’ board may green light the program in advance of the FAS, it was nonetheless reported that a formal public launch may not be made at the show. So what might happen? An “Authority to Offer,” or ATO, might be how Airbus proceeds. We don’t think there will be firm orders ready to go when the FAS begins July 14—although certainly Airbus could also take Boeing’s 777X approach and announce “commitments” as was done at the Dubai Air Show.

We are skeptical whether there might be any A330 Classic orders announced, as customers await the neo. We certainly expect the usual orders for the A320 Family. We expect A350 orders. We’re doubtful of A380 orders.

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CSeries setback as PW GTF has reported uncontained failure

  • Exclusive interview with Robert Saia, vice president of the Next Generation Product Family at Pratt & Whitney.
  • PW believes it has a “good understanding” of what happened.
  • Flight testing might resume quickly, reducing risk of program delay.
  • Customers coming to previously scheduled Bombardier meeting, will be permitted to see the airplane.
  • CSeries EIS delay not expected.

Bombardier, already facing an 18-24 month delay for its CSeries, may face another delay, some fear, following Friday’s reported uncontained engine failure of the Pratt & Whitney P1500G Geared Turbo Fan engine.

BBD grounded its four test airplanes while an investigation gets underway. The engine failure also damaged the fuselage of FTV 1. FTV 4, the airplane in airline configuration that is to validate economic promises of the GTF, had only been on three or four test flights in the slow-moving testing program. FTVs 2 and 3 have been flying for some time. FTV 5, 6 and 7 had not yet taken to the air.

There was a reported fire associated with the failure, but this is unconfirmed. Smoke was filmed during the event, but based on information Saturday, it’s unclear if a fire actually occurred, according to a person close to the investigation. The airplane was on the ground in Montreal at the time, and the four crew members were uninjured.

BBD, PW and Transport Canada are all investigating.

Engine failures during testing are rare but not unknown.

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CSeries FTV 4 to launch this month with PW GTF testing focus

Bombardier’s CSeries flight testing has now passed the 250 hour flight mark, with three Fight Test Vehicles (FTVs) in the program. FTV 4 is due to become airborne in May. This will be a milestone for the program because this is the airplane that will focus on the performance of the Pratt & Whitney P1000G Pure Power engine that is so integral to the development of Bombardier’s leap into the mainline jet business.

When BBD first proposed aircraft in the 110-130 seat sector, the C110 and C130, in 2004, this was “just another airplane:” little new in the way of airframe technology and using engines then in production. Withdrawn from the market after little interest, BBD revised the airplane into the CS100 and CS300, using an aluminum lithium fuselage and PW’s new Geared Turbo Fan engine.

The GTF promises around 15%-16% fuel consumption reduction and a dramatic decrease in noise footprints. While BBD has gained knowledge of how the GTF is performing from the first three FTVs, No. 4 will be the one that will prove whether all the engineering projections for the engines are correct and whether the engine/airframe combination will meet BBD’s promises of fuel efficiency.

Bombardier also hopes that meeting these representations will get a few customers that have been in the “show me” column to become believers. Disappointed with three program delays that have moved entry-into-service back to the second half of next year, potential customers need some solid results.

The stakes couldn’t be higher for BBD. The CSeries promises quieter operations at especially noise-sensitive airports, including Billy Bishop Airport in BBD’s own backyard in Toronto. Porter Airlines has a conditional order for up to 30 CS100s for use at this downtown airport, and the promised quiet operation is key to government approval to allow commercial jet operations there. This isn’t the only noise-sensitive airport.

Bombardier promotes its CSeries as being more economical than the competing Airbus A319neo and Boeing 737-7 MAX, and our analysis concurs. Sales figures also support BBD: the CS300 has far outsold the A319neo and 737-7.

For Pratt & Whitney, this is the beginning of the end of more than 25 years of research and development of the Geared Turbo Fan, a multi-billion dollar bet to return to the commercial airline engine market it once dominated but lost to rival CFM International when the latter won exclusive rights to power what is now referred to as the Boeing 737 Classic, rights that continue through the 737 MAX.

PW’s bet to return paid off. More than 5,000 GTFs have been sold on the CSeries, the Mitsubishi MRJ and Embraer E-Jet E2, on all of which it is the exclusive power plant; and it has evenly split the market on the A320neo family, on which it competes with CFM and its LEAP engine.

The industry keenly awaits flight test results from BBD’s FTV 4.

Odds and Ends: LEAP vs GTF; CSeries flight testing; MRJ FAL

LEAP vs GTF: Reuters has a story looking at the intense competition between CFM and Pratt & Whitney for the market dominance of the LEAP vs Geared Turbo Fan engines.

The only airplane where there is competition is on the Airbus A320neo family; CFM is exclusive on the Boeing 737 MAX and COMAC C919 and PW is exclusive on the Bombardier CSeries, Embraer E-Jet E2 and Mitsubishi MRJ. PW shares the platform of the Irkut MC-21 with a Russian engine. PW says it has sold more than 5,000 GTFs across the platforms. CFM has sold more than 6,000 across the three models it powers.

On the A320neo family, the competition is 50-50 at this point, with a large number of customers yet to decide on an engine choice. However, 60 A320neos (120 engines) ordered by lessor GECAS never were in contested (GECAS buys exclusively from CFM) and 80 A319/320neos from Republic Airways Holdings (160 engines) were part of a financial rescue package for then-ailing Frontier Airlines.

PW’s joint venture partner, International Aero Engines, shares the A320ceo family platform with CFM. Late to the market, IAE caught up to CFM in recent years.

On platforms where they compete, the sales figures so far show a neck-and-neck competition between CFM and PW.

Update, 12:30: The link has been fixed. Update, 9:30 am PST: Flight Global has this story reporting that PW plans a Performance Improvement Package on the GTF that will further cut fuel consumption by 3%.

CSeries flight testing: Bombardier’s CSeries flight testing has been slow to this point, but it’s beginning to ramp up. Aviation Week reports that FTV 3 should be in the air by the end of this month and FTV 4 should follow in April. FTV 3 is the avionics airplane and FTV 4 focuses on GTF engine testing.

Mitsubishi MRJ: Aviation Week also reports that the Mitsubishi MRJ airplane #1 is nearing final assembly.