Odds and Ends: Airbus working with NASA, tanker-take and other things

Our Odds and Ends this week:

  1. Airbus parent EADS has posted a job listing for an intern for one year to study open-rotor technology for a success to the A320. Airbus is working with GE and RR engines and–drum roll, please–NASA. Boeing contracts with NASA were, of course, subject of the European complaint against Boeing for illegal subsidies.
  2. Chet Fuller, the new SVP of sales, marketing and asset management for Bombardier Aerospace, gives a long interview about the CSeries with Francois Shalom of The Montreal Gazette in this story. It’s worth the read.
  3. Pratt & Whitney’s GTF engine is testing better than plan and ahead of schedule. Flight Global has this story and this one.
  4. Aviation Week has a good piece about the choices facing Boeing on the 737 issue.
  5. More than one reader suggests that politics played a role in the USAF awarding the the tanker contract to Boeing. There is no question that Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Boeing/WA) got the air force to change its life-cycle timeline from 25 years to 40 years in computing costs. Political or not, this was a correct action. The current tanker fleet has already flown 50 years and airplane life cycles are routinely 30-40 years in commercial passenger/cargo service. The additional period clearly worked to the disadvantage of the KC-45. We like this email we received: It’s all political. The south has thumbed its nose at this administration. This is the consequence. I don’t think the Air Force or SECDEF could sell giving a $35B award to a foreign country that involves creating jobs in the south. Our politicians (and unions!) played this well.
    We think this is a gross over-simplification of what happened, but it’s a pretty good, if cynical, take on things. The Joplin (MO) Globe looks more closely at the life-cycle cost equation.
  6. The Everett Herald has a pretty good understanding of how Boeing won in this article.
  7. Aviation Week has this superb article on the tanker contest.
  8. Defense News analyzes whether EADS will protest.
  9. Embraer opened a business jet assembly plant in Florida. Hondajet has a similar plant in the Carolinas. Airbus was willing to do a plant in Alabama. While Boeing was outsourcing the 787 overseas, other companies were finding the US a good place to do business. Makes you think.

16 Comments on “Odds and Ends: Airbus working with NASA, tanker-take and other things

  1. There is no reason why EADS cannot still build a FAL in Alabama. They can still do that, and probibly should if the plan on bidding on future DOD programs.

    But, saying their entry into the tanker conrest forced Boeing to a lower price is really meaningless. Had Boeing lost, they could have said the same thing, but that comment would have been ridiculed by the EADS Cheerleader squad. You know the same squad that fully understands USAF tanker operations more than the USAF itself because the USAF selected (in their small minds) th second best airplane.

    One thing I noticed has not gotten much press is when USAF announced the contract to Boeing is now valued at about $30B. But when the contest was going hot and heavy, the value of the contract was to have been $35B. So did Boeing just save the US taxpayer some $5B? The USAF also said that Boeing was the “clear price winner” indicating the pricing from both OEMs wasn’t even close. So much for the theory of just over a 1% pricing difference.

    • Did Enders say they adjusted (upwards, tongue in cheek) the price
      or did he talk having lowered the price for the offer
      in his final quip?

    • be honest – I think the demise of the lease deal can be put at the feet of free enterprise and international competition. Just from that fact, the competition (just happening to be Airbus then, EADS now – by the merit of there not being a second US manufacturer capable of filling the KC-X requirement)
      whatever the current price, the lease deal would’ve cost the USAF 200million without anything to show for it at the end of the deal.

      • be honest – I think the demise of the lease deal can be put at the feet of free enterprise and international competition . .

        +++

        Nope – the demise of the lease deal was due to some criminal activities by several Boeing managers, two went to jail, one resigned, and a few others skated.

        The lease deal was proposed in Sept 2001 after 911 when the impact on airlines/aircraft was realized to be significant. at that time, the 767 was winding down, and both japenese and italian tankers were on the horizon.

        Boeing mis- management ( and specifically the McDummy types ) decided to play games with real costs and a bastard way of build it in everett- fly it to wichita- disassemble it – reassemble it , etc.

        Due to the budget cycles, the only way to get funding in a hurry was via a commercial type lease program. By december 2001- Airbus claimed they could build same for about 40 percent less. And the rest is history.

      • Didn’t Mcain have anything to do with killing off this deal?
        The aforementioned Boeing employees, to my understanding, only made it easier.

      • Dshuper: and the criminal mis-conduct came to light after nagging and pestering and questions from senator McCain, backed by EADS.
        No, EADS is in no way better than Boeing – both are black kettles. But in their self-serving greed EADS accidentally helped cause the demise of the lease deal.
        That is a positive result thanks to the open competition on this requirement.

    • You didn’t agree with the USAF’s decisions 3 years ago but now you seem to decide it is sancrosanct to disagree with their operational planning and strategy. Interesting.

      Your 2nd paragraph: Shame on EADS for claiming to have forced Boeing to reduce their price.
      Your 3rd paragraph: Hurray for Boeing for saving the US taxpayer $5 billion.

      Isn’t that a bit contradictory, or even spin?
      Some might see it as you having just argued EADS’s point for them.
      Or did Boeing’s bid in 2008 also amount to $30 billion but somehow just never got mentioned?

  2. As i recall – Airbus used the NACA/NASA version of winglets on some of their models. So whats new ?

  3. The ‘decision’ to award Boeing the contract was PURE POLITICS..and nothing else. Let’s face it. You can throw figures, projections, costs, etc. around all you want. But there was absolutely NO way such a large expenditure by the U.S. government would have been allowed to go to a “foreign” company. “Global” economy or not. The politicians and unions DID play this very well! What the consequences will be…well..time will tell.

    • BAE’s potential bid was based around the Nimrod. That was never going to be viable.

  4. Aero Ninja :
    Didn’t Mcain have anything to do with killing off this deal?
    The aforementioned Boeing employees, to my understanding, only made it easier.

    You are doing a causality inversion here.
    Boeings criminal ripoff under the poor, poor me after 911 aid umbrella raised McCains hackles.
    Airbus was uninvolved. They only stated that they could produce a much cheaper offer in a reasonable timeframe ( no MRTT330+ARBS yet, only the upgrade MRT to MRTT310 afair ) which provided McCain a fulcrum for his lever.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darleen_Druyun ( go further from there )
    This is a five act play.

  5. Boeing is blowing smoke again on the matter of a NEO.

    From the article in Aviation Week on Boeing’s options “Both must prove themselves, she says, especially the PW1100G, the maintenance of which she regards as an unknown. “We love the GTF technology,” she says. “We hope to be working very closely with [Pratt] to understand the technology. But nobody seems to be asking such a fundamental question, particularly as it relates to the NEO.””

    Oh really? Nobody? A quick Google search finds this:

    http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/generic/story_channel.jsp?channel=comm&id=news/awx/2010/09/21/awx_09_21_2010_p0-256534.xml

    “says the airline: “We are currently engaged with Pratt & Whitney to better understand updated maintenance costs and guarantees provided to us on the GTF for CSeries and A320 NEO applications.””

    Seriously, how stupid does Boeing management think observers are? Who is writing the talking points for the Execs? Do these people have access to the internet? Why aren’t journalists challenging this?

  6. It is ALL politics in awarding government contracts and the champion at this game is THE UNITED STATES OF BOEING. Since NASA has run out of funding, BOEING has relied on its’ “partnership” with the USAF for aerospace research funding. Money goes to money….

    Daniel Sterling Sample
    SPACE DESIGNS
    Los Angeles

  7. Scott :The ‘decision’ to award Boeing the contract was PURE POLITICS..and nothing else. Let’s face it. You can throw figures, projections, costs, etc. around all you want. But there was absolutely NO way such a large expenditure by the U.S. government would have been allowed to go to a “foreign” company. “Global” economy or not. The politicians and unions DID play this very well! What the consequences will be…well..time will tell.

    Well, the estimates of the price difference is about 3.5%, much more than the 1% threshold to send the compition into the ‘extra’ capability. This was clearly statd in the RFP issued one year ago. So, how much of the ‘political decision’ was based on politics?

  8. The Boeing win for the new T/T contract.

    Great news for Boeing, its employees, retirees, shareholders, the Seattle economy, its suppliers and the US economy in general.

    It appears that Boeing primarily did two things to win the T/T contract, after it lost against EADS and the KC-45 in the second round:
    !. It substantially improved the decade older design of the 767 v.v. the A330, with a
    787 cockpit, a new wing-to-body combination for more range and the newer
    KC-10 refueling boom.
    2.It lowered ts price, based on the fear and the assumption that EADS would
    somehow “subsidize” the KC-45 deal.

    With the 787 and 747-8 experiences fresh in our minds, let’s hope that this time around, Boeing will be able to deliver on time, within it’s budget and with a big profit for this multi billion dollar, but fixed price US Airforce contract!

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