Update, Feb. 2: Flight Global has this very good analysis about the WTO fight between Airbus and Boeing.
In this issue of Odds and Ends, we talk about the 777, a CNN interview with Jim Albaugh and a variety of other things.
- The future of the 777 may slip to the next decade, according to information. Boeing believes the A350-1000 will become a new airplane rather than a derivative of the baseline A350, delaying entry-into-service until late this decade. Accordingly, a move to enhance or replace the 777 currently is being thought as a project for the early 2020 decade.
- Boeing seems increasingly likely to go with a replacement for the 737 with a 2019 EIS.
- Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Jim Albaugh gives a short video interview with CNN in which he returns to his recurring theme that Boeing “over-stretched” on the 787. He talks about some of the reasons, and he is candid about the shortfalls over its pushing technology, the shortage of engineers and other issues.
- The final ruling on the European case against Boeing’s illegal subsidies was due to be issued Jan. 31, but it has to be translated and won’t be made public for several months. This hasn’t stopped Airbus and Boeing from spinning already. See this AFP story from France. We’re as sick of this topic as we are of the KC-X saga.
- “While new entrants are building today’s airplanes, we’re building tomorrow’s airplanes.” This is from Albaugh in the same CNN interview.
- We can tell you that from conversations, relations with Boeing’s main labor unions, IAM and SPEEA, are improving from their low points from the IAM strike in 2008 and the selection in 2009 of Charleston (SC) as the site for the second 787 assembly line. This is not to say either side is yet satisfied–the contract negotiations in 2012 will be the real test–but relations are better. In this we give a lot of the credit to Albaugh, an engineer himself, who understands the needs of the labor force much better than we believe his predecessor Scott Carson did (he being a salesman and a financial expert) or Jim McNerney does (he being an MBA). Albaugh “speaks the language” and this helps.
- Momentum is building for the Pratt & Whitney Geared Turbo Fan; look for orders soon.
- Lori Ranson at FlightGobal has this interesting, long article about the CSeries vs the NEO. Very thought-provoking.
- Addison Schonland has this equally interesting podocast with Lufthansa’s Nico Buchholz about the CSeries, the thoughts behind the LH order for Swiss Airlines, capabilities and competitiveness with the NEO. This thoroughly debunks the loads of [stuff] promulgated by some who obviously have never talked with Buchholz about why Lufthansa ordered the plane, its evaluation process and why LH looks for a 2014 EIS.
- US Aerospace, the goofy little company that tried to get into the KC-X tanker competition with a Russian airplane that doesn’t exist, has told the US Securities and Exchange Commission that it will no longer file financial statements. Among the reasons: “The non-confidential nature of being a public company, and resulting limitations on the Company’s ability to conduct business.” And get this: US Aerospace wants to bid a Chinese helicopter to replace President Obama’s aging chopper fleet.
- Last Wednesday, Jan. 26, at noon we passed one million visits on this blog. Thanks to all visitors for your readership.
Personal Observation about Egypt:
As we watch events unfold in Egypt, which we have visited, we are reminded of parallels in China surrounding the protests at Tiananmen Square in June 1989. We had been to Beijing the preceding December, so we watched the protests and crackdown with enraptured interest. We are doing the same with Egypt.
We see parallels (though the protester violence in Egypt was absent in China). When the Army first rolled into Beijing, protesters were encouraged by the lack of action, just as they are now in Egypt. This is the calm before the storm, we believe.
We don’t think the Egyptian protests are going to have a happy outcome.
We visited Egypt in 2000 on a vacation and were fascinated by the culture and enjoyed the locals we met. We visited Cairo and are familiar with some of the locations we’ve seen on the news, including, of course, the Pyramids and the Museum where antiquities are displayed–and where some vandals damaged some of them. As with China, we found the peoples to want the same things peoples everywhere want: a good life, success, and friendly toward Americans. We wished we had had more time in Egypt than we did, and we want to go back.
The protesters in China were emboldened by the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe. Those in Egypt are emboldened by the fall of the government in Tunisia. The protesters failed in China and we don’t have high hopes for those in Egypt. It will all depend on which way the Army ultimately goes, just as it was the case in the Soviet Union when politicians attempted to overthrow Gorbachev but failed because the Army didn’t back them up. Boris Yeltsin later emerged to succeed Gorbachev and the Soviet Union dissolved.
You can bet China is watching the Egyptian situation intently, and the role of the Internet and the Social Media. There is a lot of unrest in China–far more than the uninformed observer might think–as mine disasters kill thousands a year, water is undrinkable, corruption takes place and conditions exist that make for unpopular uprisings. The Internet is transforming China in ways very similar to Egypt and Tunisia. In many ways, “Chinese capitalism” has outstripped the government’s ability to keep up. In Egypt, the circumstances are different in terms of economic development but the end result isn’t all that much different.
We have been fortunate to travel throughout the world, including the Hungary and East Germany (the latter both before and after the fall of the Iron Curtain), to China and Egypt, all of which have undergone political turmoil and dramatic change. We hope the Egyptian situation ends peacefully. We fear otherwise.