Odds and ends: Airbus/EADS and Boeing

With Christmas around the corner, here are some year-end thoughts, absent any breaking news of some kind in the week ahead:

737 upgrade: Southwest Airlines continues to pressure Boeing to do something about a more fuel efficient airplane, and there has been some recent buzz when Flightblogger published a picture of a 737 re-engine concept, but we believe the re-engine has been shelved for now–more likely in favor of the 737NG+. Work continues on the Boeing NLT (New Light Twin.)

787 flight tests: It’s been widely suggested by observers and analysts flight tests will resume in January; we understand Boeing is working toward resuming them after Christmas (to clarify for the cynics and comics, this means Christmas 2010 and before New Year’s 2011). P100 panel, software fixes proceeding faster than expected–but will FAA sign off when Boeing desires? An announcement is expected, in Boeing tradition, on the eve of a holiday.

787 first delivery: As we had forecast way back on Nov. 19, a 4-6 month delay in first delivery is now expected. (We were the first to come out with 4-6 months as a forecast, following by days a prediction by Wall Street the delay could be up to a year.) BCA CEO Jim Albaugh told The (London) Financial Times recently that he expects first delivery in June or July (4-5 months), but we’re still sticking to 4-6 months because of the cumulative effort of other long-standing (and previously revealed) issues, notably the tail assembly, that still have to be fixed. Don’t be surprised if the first delivery happens in June or July–but also don’t be surprised if it slips to August.

Ascend Worldwide’s data base shifted first delivery of the 787 two months to the right (from February 15 to April 15) sometime between December 1 and 15, but we have no reason to believe this truly reflects what the delay will actually be.

A320neo: Airbus launched this program without an order and COO-Customers John Leahy told a subsequent press conference that he expects “hundreds” of orders, but not before Christmas. This is code for year-end, in our view. Leahy doesn’t make these comments idly. The announcements may be made by year-end, or with the January press conference Airbus typically holds to discuss prior year issues. Boeing calls this “Airbus’ 5th quarter.” Not always in good humor.

Although Boeing through November has sold about 100 more 737s than Airbus has sold A320s, don’t count on the year-end results reflecting this lead. Leahy has a habit of pulling a lot of year-end orders out of his sleeve. And just this week, LAN firmed up an order for 50 A320s announced at the Farnborough Air Show, closing the gap.

A320 replacement: Robert Wall of Aviation Week has this piece about what Airbus’ John Leahy thinks the A320 replacement will look like and what will power it. Leahy’s view rests on an open rotor engine with technology that doesn’t exist yet.

KC-X Tanker: we are hearing the USAF award is likely to be announced in February, rather than January.

10 Comments on “Odds and ends: Airbus/EADS and Boeing

  1. very nice summary

    I hope there wont be another delay for the KC-X decision though.

    • Dream On! 😉
      Take the Pythons “dislegged and disarmed knight fight” scene as template
      for what is going to happen, Nice X-Mas to all!

  2. Does anyone know what was appropriated in FY11 for the KC-X. As the appropriation was not passed (no budget has this year) and we are just doing the CR Dance, there may not be funds for the KC-X, and hence cannot award.

    It would be bad politics to announce who is the winner, as the politicians behind the other will want to take their ball and go home.

  3. Thanks for the summary, Scott. In the same spirit of looking forward here’s my two cents.

    737 upgrade shelved: agreed

    787 flight tests resuming after Christmas: With the 787 there are lots of trees and not many woods so it’s easy to be cynical. “software fixes proceeding faster than expected” doesn’t inspire me with confidence. No doubt the original software development proceeded quickly too, but they didn’t test it properly.

    787 first delivery summer 2011: I am going for winter 2011-12. Just a hunch …

    Lots of orders for the A320 NEO before year-end: maybe, don’t know.

    A320 replacement will be another technological generation ahead of any other plane: I can say with confidence that the A320 replacement will look very similar to the Boeing 737 replacement. It will probably be based around the PurePower GTF.

    KC-X Tanker decided by February: no opinion one way or the other on this program, but somebody needs to put it out of its misery.

    Happy Holidays t’y’all, FF

    • The 737 ramp-up peak in 1997 was 28/mo; Boeing is already beyond that, and the institutional memory of that fiasco still runs deep. Boeing will do all it can to avoid a repeat.

  4. Here’s another one. Even if they don’t SNAFU the production ramp-up, and even accepting that the A320NEO will be within low single-digit percent improvements over the improved 737NG, will it be competitive at a level supporting the ramped up production with crude oil prices rising to US$100/120/140 in the near future? Brent is at US$94 today. The IEA expects this to rise.

    • Andreas :Here’s another one. Even if they don’t SNAFU the production ramp-up, and even accepting that the A320NEO will be within low single-digit percent improvements over the improved 737NG, will it be competitive at a level supporting the ramped up production with crude oil prices rising to US$100/120/140 in the near future? Brent is at US$94 today. The IEA expects this to rise.

      Sorry, to clarify, I mean whether the improved 737NG will remain competitive.

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