This is really expected to be a boring show from the perspective of orders. Airbus has been downplaying expectations following last year’s Paris Air Show blow-out of more than 1,200 A320neo orders. How can you match that? The answer is, Airbus can’t.
Boeing will certainly firm up hundreds of 737 MAX commitments, so this will be Boeing’s show. And there is the buzz that Boeing is partnering with Lockheed Martin and NASA (oh, another government subsidy?) to produce a 2,500 mph SST, with details supposed to come at the Air Show. Then there is the leak that the 787 will fly there, the first time in 28 years Boeing has an aerial flying display.
We’ve talked with several journalists and industry personnel who are skipping the Air Show this year. So are we, and we’ve been at the Farnborough and Paris air shows since 2008. We just don’t expect enough news this year that we can’t get from the press releases.
So here are our expectations for the show:
Hyperole abounds: Boeing will trash Airbus. Airbus will trash Boeing. So what else is new? We’re glad we’re not going this year.
- Lowering expectations: John Leahy, COO Customers, has been tamping down expectations since the first of the year. Airbus had a boffo Paris Air Show, announcing orders and commitments for more than 1,200 A320neo family members. Even he says this should be Boeing’s year and Boeing’s show. Airbus forecast about 600 orders for the year and we won’t be surprised if Leahy announces a few hundred at Farnborough. But another swarm of neos? Not bloody likely.
- A330: Maybe a few.
- A350: A lot of effort has been undertaken to announce some -1000 orders at the show to bolster this sagging program. Will Leahy have them? We’re not sure they’ll be ready. But over-all, Leahy only forecast about 30 A350 orders this year. The problem is that the first available delivery slots for the A350 of any sub-type are until around 2020. Why would any customer place an order now and be exposed to up to eight years of price escalation? Furthermore, is the design of the -1000 set? To hear Airbus tell it, the answer is yes. To hear Boeing tell it, the answer is no. What we hear is that Airbus is waiting to see what Boeing will do with the 777X before deciding if it needs to further refine the 1000; and Boeing is waiting to see what the final design for the 1000 is before deciding what to do with the 777X. Who will blink first? We’re probably about a year away from knowing this answer.
- A380: Some, maybe.
- MAX, MAX, MAX: Boeing wants to convert hundreds of its commitments for the re-engined 737 into firm orders to announce at the show. We don’t know how many “hundreds” this might be, but we think you could be talking 300-400 or more. Will United Airlines announce its order for 100+70 NGs and MAXes at the show? We wouldn’t be at all surprised.
- Update, 747-8: Readers pointed out we didn’t mention this airplane in our original post. Sort of tells you we don’t think much about the future of this airplane, even if it is good technically. We think the 748 is a niche airplane within a niche, squeezed by the 777 on the bottom and the A380 on the top. Having said that, people expect Turkish to order either the A380 or the 748; and for Hong Kong Airlines Group to firm up last year’s MOU for the 748. The latter is financially ailing, so we don’t see how it can.
- 777X: Will Boeing be ready to reveal its plans for this airplane? Highly unlikely. There is a game of chicken going on (see Airbus), and the RFPs to the three engine companies isn’t due back for down-selecting until the fourth quarter. We think it possible the Authority to Offer might come by year end but it is just as likely to slip into next year–in part because of the chicken and in part because of—
- 787-10X: We believe there is more movement to launch this airplane sooner than later and accordingly we think this will get the nod before the 777X. And Jim Albaugh says the 10X decision will come first. Will it be at Farnborough? This might be a little soon. Will Boeing talk about it more? We wouldn’t be at all surprised. There is a lot of customer interest in this airplane of the size of the 777-200 series and a range of around 6,900nm. But an ATO? Probably not yet.
- 787-8/9: Maybe some orders.
- Analysts, consultants, media and geeks will be waiting to see if BBD announces any CSeries orders at the show. We don’t think so. Canadian securities laws say that the company has to announce any LOI, MOU or contract within 24 hours. (In contrast, US and European securities laws permit Boeing and Airbus to merely sneak in an order in an Undisclosed category without an accompanying announcement.) So timing anything for the air show is a bit more problematic for BBD, whether it is the CSeries, Q400, CRJ or business jets. We’re not expecting anything from BBD, but having just been to their media day we came away with a general awareness that there are a number of campaigns that could consummate this year. It’s just a matter of when.
- No re-engined “E-198” announcement expected. This is said to have slipped to toward the end of the year. New engines. New wings. New systems. Same 2×2 seating. Good airplane. But still a derivative.
- A little surprised Boeing and Embraer didn’t hold this announcement on the KC-390 until the Air Show.
- Some orders, but nothing earth-shattering.
- The on-again, off-again discussion of a 90-seat new technology turbo-prop remains off for now, we believe. So aside from some orders, we don’t expect anything major.
- Lots of orders concurrent with the 737 MAX. Some neo orders. Probably a program update.
- Orders associated with airplane deals. Otherwise not much to say.
Pratt & Whitney
- Some neo and CSeries orders for the GTF. Program update.
- Maybe some V2500 orders.
- Program update on the GP7200.
- Some engine orders for 787, A330, A350 and A380 possible. Otherwise RR doesn’t say much. To anybody. About anything.