We posted an item Friday that normally would have waited until this edition of Odds and Ends, but the news that John Leahy might leave Airbus next year couldn’t wait. Aviation Week broke the story.
But we spoke with Airbus Toulouse Sunday and the company denied the story.
Reuters last week published this profile on Leahy and this story has an interesting anecdote about him.
Whether Leahy does in fact leave Airbus next year, or not, when he does, the industry will sorely miss him.
- The Aviation Week article mentioned Lufthansa’s Nico Buchholz as a successor. We saw Nico Saturday in connection with the roll-out by Boeing of the first 747-8I, for which LH is launch customer. We had emailed the article to Nico Friday and asked if he was going to succeed Leahy; he emailed back to say, Let’s talk Saturday.” As we walked up to him, he smiled a tight, pixie-like smile and pulled his LH company ID from his breast pocket and slowly put it back. ‘Nuf said. (He went on to say this has been a long-running industry rumor but nobody has approached him about the job.)
- The final proposals for the KC-X tanker have been submitted to the USAF. Boeing’s official continue to make the case that if they lose, it will be because of illegal subsidies to the Airbus A330-200. It’s pretty evident to us, and to others, that Boeing has already laid the foundation for a protest. EADS says it simply has the better airplane, as evidenced by wins from other countries–some of which were not contested by Boeing. We’ll just be glad when it’s over.
- No matter who wins the tanker contract, we hope this time no protest is filed by the loser. The warfighter has been totally forgotten in this round of competition; it’s all been about Boeing vs. Airbus and nothing about the warfighter. The KC-135s are old, getting older and costing more. It’s time to get on with the award.
- We still believe that a split buy is the best course, strategically, tactically and it is the only solution politically. The KC-767 has advantages that we believe make it a better European theater airplane; the KC-45 is clearly better for the Pacific theater. To afford both airplanes, all the government needs to do is cut out the farm subsidies for ethanol to Iowans and the US would save $25bn over five years, more than enough to pay for a split buy. It costs more to make ethanol than gasoline, it doesn’t have the energy that gas has and it does little to help the environment. Ethanol is pork barrel funding, plain and simple. Let’s put this money to better use.
- Will Boeing announce its plans for the 737’s future at the Paris Air Show? This certainly is the buzz, and it fits the mid-year timeline that has been suggested, but don’t necessarily count on it. Boeing could easily let the decision (or the announcement of the decision) slip to later in the year.
- Speaking of timelines, we think the stories last week about Boeing announcing it will do a new airplane (aside from being over-hyped) didn’t play up enough CEO McNerney’s comment that the new airplane could enter service at the end of this decade or early next decade. Boeing has been saying for six months it prefers a new airplane to a re-engined model, but it continues R&D on the RE and it continues to talk about the RE with customers–all the while saying that it really doesn’t want to do a re-engine. While saying all this, Boeing had been talking about an EIS for 2019-2020. With McNerney now adding “early next decade,” this suggests that some of the technology may not be quite ready by 2019.
- And as for Airbus and the NEO, EIS is slated for early 2016 for the A320, followed by six months for the A321 and six months after that for the A319. Give some thought to this: delivery slots may be harder to come by than generally assumed–we are already hearing that slots may not be available for new customers until 2018; the early slots would be for customers with options on current orders. Remember, Leahy said no legacy orders will be swapped for NEO, but options are another matter. If what we are hearing is true, and given our sourcing we have reason to believe that it is, we think few carriers will order airplanes they can’t get until 2017 or 2018–especially if Boeing has a new airplane ready in 2019-2022.
- At the Boeing event Saturday for the roll-out of the 747-8I the next day, the company was asked why there have been so few orders for the airplane. Officials replied that the global economy meltdown suppressed sales and went on to say that typically a new airplane sells well at launch, but sales typically drop off as the airplane goes into production and testing, picking up again as it readies to enter service. Officials expressed confidence 747-8I sales followed this pattern and sales will pick up.
- As always, Boeing put on a great event for a roll-out. The 747-8I, whatever the eventual sales, will be a superb airplane. For passengers, the 787-inspired interior is a major refresh that follows the 737 Boeing Sky Interior.
- Look for the 777 to get a 787-inspired interior, too.