Pontifications: Assessing the impact of COVID-19: today’s take

By Scott Hamilton

April 6, 2020, © Leeham News: It’s going to be quite a while before there is a clear understanding how coronavirus will change commercial aviation.

LNA already touched on impacts to Airbus, Boeing and Embraer. None of it is good. For Boeing, burdened with the additional stress of the 737 MAX, is in the worst position. Even when the MAX is recertified, there won’t be many—or any—customers in a position to take delivery of the airplane.

Bearing in mind that what’s true today will change in a day, or even an hour, let’s take a rundown of where things seem to stand now.

Read more

Shall passenger airliners run as freighters during the COVID-19 crisis?

By Bjorn Fehrm

Subscription Required

Introduction

April 6, 2020, © Leeham News: With the COVID-19 pandemic, the passenger traffic has ground to a halt in many countries. The airliners are parked and their crews sit idle.

At the same time, the air freight market booms. From a decline in demand in the first months of the year, there isn’t enough freighter capacity right now. The freight that traveled in the bellies of the passenger jets had to find new ways and as this was almost half the world’s air cargo, the dedicated freighters can’t absorb the volumes.

Is it time to fly passenger airliners as substitute freighters? Some airlines are doing this on a spot basis. Apart from injecting capacity for needed medical supply freight, does it make economic sense? We run a series of articles on the subject.

Figure 1. Delta flies an A350-900 as a belly freighter between Shanghai and Chicago three times a week from March 30. Source: Delta.

Summary:
  • Freight prices soar as capacity collapses when airlines ground passenger jets.
  • For the airlines, the cost equation changes with an abundance of free capacity at remaining fixed costs.
  • Does it make economic sense to run passenger airliners as freighters in this situation?

Read more

Bjorn’s Corner: Why e in ePlane shall stand for environment, Part 16.

April 3, 2020, ©. Leeham News: In this week’s Corner, we go deeper into bio-based carbon-neutral fuels. We described the two variants of bio-based and synthetic alternative fuels last week and gave an overview of the pros and cons of synthetic fuel.

Now we dig deeper into bio-based airliner jet fuels, an already existing carbon-neutral fuel type.

Figure 1. United is using biofuel for its operations from LAX. Source: United Airlines.

Read more

Engine maker, lessor see Boeing’s next airplane as a single-aisle design

Subscription Required

By Scott Hamilton

“The NMA is gone. Long live the NMA.”–lessor CEO. Photo: Leeham Co.

April 2, 2020, © Leeham News: Boeing’s New Midmarket Airplane, or a new concept, is the last thing on the plate right now.

But Boeing’s future product strategy nevertheless requires long-term thinking even as the short- to medium-term is in chaos.

Interviews were conducted March 2 at a major aerospace conference in Austin (TX), just days before the coronavirus crisis exploded exponentially across the globe.

The CEO of the major lessor, Avolon, declared the NMA dead and predicted a new single-aisle airplane will be Boeing’s next project.

An executive of Pratt & Whitney offered a similar view.

Summary
  • “The NMA is gone. Long live the NMA. That moment has passed.
  • Back to the 757 replacement concept and, now, A321XLR competitor.
  • Single-aisle vs light twin-aisle is part of the challenge.
  • New airplane must be “dramatically” more efficient than MAX, neo.
  • 2030 decade is the quickest this dramatic improvement can be achieved.

Read more

Pratt & Whitney committed to advanced GTF for Airbus

Subscription Required

By Scott Hamilton

March 30, 2020, © Leeham News: Pratt & Whitney is concurrently developing what might be termed the next generation GTF. This is an advancement over the current engine, but with more thrust and better fuel economics.

Deurloo eschews the usual Performance Improvement Package (PIP) moniker, however.

“We have been discussing with Airbus for some time, an improvement to the current configuration or our expected configuration,” Deurloo said. “I think that’s a testament to the geared architecture. It’s given us some runway to do a little bit more on that engine.

PW has been in conversation with Airbus for the last few years about an engine that will take  configuration at the end of this year, and put in an improvement.

Summary
  • New name, better economics, better durability.
  • Designed for the A321XLR, but greater flexibility.
  • Fixing current issues.

Read more

Pontifications: Critical step in Boeing MAX recertification target: May

By Scott Hamilton

March 30, 2020, © Leeham News: Barring further issues, the FAA Type Inspection Authorization for the MAX is targeted for the second half of May, LNA learned.

This is a critical step in recertifying the airplane.

Also barring more unexpected events in a year filled with them, Boeing should resume production of the 737 MAX in May, LNA confirmed.

Read more

Bjorn’s Corner: Why e in ePlane shall stand for environment, Part 15.

March 27, 2020, ©. Leeham News: In this week’s Corner, we analyze the use of carbon-neutral fuels for airliner use.

Almost all variants of carbon-neutral fuels have the “drop-in” advantage, they can replace our regular jet fuel in a mixed capacity or entirely with none or minimal changes to our present aircraft and their engines.

It’s a big subject, and I will use the next Corners to explain the key alternatives, their production process, and what benefits and problems they bring.

Figure 1. airbp is distributing bio-jet fuel produced by Neste. Source: BP

Read more

Embraer had a better 2019 than 2018

By Bjorn Fehrm

March 26, 2020, ©. Leeham News: Embraer presented its full-year 2019 results today and held an analyst call with the CEO, Francisco Gomes Neto, and the CFO, Antonio Carlos Garcia. The company posted a loss, but the underlying operational performance was a definite improvement over 2018.

The major part of the loss came from extra costs for the formation of a separate Commercial Aircraft division for the joint venture with Boeing. To understand Embraer’s position in these difficult times, we will separate the analysis of the 2019 results in three parts:

  • The operational results for 2019
  • The costs and effects of the carve-out for the Boeing joint-venture
  • The actions by management to work through the Covid-19 crisis

Read more

Can the A321XLR fly trans-Oceanic routes, Part 2?

By Bjorn Fehrm

Subscription Required

Introduction

March 26, 2020, © Leeham News: We are checking if the Airbus A321XLR is usable for trans-Oceanic routes. It’s a credible trans-Atlantic aircraft, but can it be used effectively over the Pacific Ocean as well?

Last week we found a one-stop routing that worked. Now we compare the economics of flying the A321XLR on a one-stop route versus a longer-range aircraft like the Airbus A330-900 non-stop.

Summary:
  • The A330-900 covers our US West Coast to Japan trip in almost half the time of our single-aisle route over Honolulu.
  • Will it also have a lower per-seat cost? We find out using our airliner operating cost model.

Read more

The meaning and consequences of frozen credit markets

Subscription Required

By Vincent Valery

Introduction  

March 26, 2020, © Leeham News: Credit markets are effectively frozen for many businesses, Boeing said this week.

That’s why the company asked Congress for $60bn in federal aid for itself and the aerospace industry as part of the $2 trillion emergency stimulus package. Although the bill, which at this writing is awaiting Congressional approval, doesn’t name Boeing specifically, The Washington Post indicated $17bn is for Boeing.

Related article

  • See this article discussing Boeing CEO David Calhoun’s comments on the company’s liquidity and ability to raise debt in the current environment. Calhoun pointed out that credit markets aren’t open now. Boeing CFO Greg Smith made a similar comment later in the day
  • The current market stress has similarities but fundamentally different origins from 2008. LNA analyses its causes and consequences for airlines and OEMs.
Summary
  • A different economic shock from 2008 freezes credit markets;
  • Significant consequences for nonfinancial corporations;
  • Airlines and OEMs at the forefront of turmoil;
  • Programs to re-open credit markets;
  • Long-term consequences.

Read more