Odds and Ends: Airbus-Mobile, con’t; final Farnborough update

Airbus in Mobile: We doubt Boeing is really Sleepless in Seattle but this piece is pretty amusing.

Take that, Part 1: Boeing continues to whine about WTO.

Take that, Part 2: So’s your Old Man.

Here are a few final thoughts in advance of the Farnborough Air Show:

  1. It will still be Boeing’s show, with MAX orders or MOUs or Commitments or Love Letters amounting to the hundreds. Look for Air Lease Corp, GECAS, Aeromexico, perhaps some Chinese companies and others to announce.
  2. Airbus’ John Leahy has been tamping down expectations all year but Mr. Showman doesn’t like to be left standing on the sidelines. While you’re watching Boeing’s left hand, don’t be surprised if Leahy pulls a rabbit out of the hat with Airbus’ right hand and ends the show with several hundred orders of his own.
  3. Yes, we predict the Airbus-Boeing sniping will continue. And the sun will rise in the East and set in the West.
  4. Embraer isn’t even holding a press briefing. So we don’t expect much out of them this year.
  5. Bombardier may or may not have CSeries orders to announce. The market doesn’t expect (m)any, concluding that the countdown to first flight is what will begin bringing in orders.
  6. No new program announcements from Boeing (ie, nothing new on 787-10 or 777X). No announcement from Airbus, either, on A350 program developments or the prospect of a long-range, upgraded A330-300 (we think this could come at FAS but just as likely could be later in the year).
  7. No 90-seat turbo-prop from anyone.
  8. This is now Ray Conner’s coming out party as the new (and unexpected) CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes. Based on our limited contact with Conner, he’s not as affable as the departed Jim Albaugh. It will be interesting to see how aggressively engaging he is with Boeing’s nemesis, Leahy.

15 Comments on “Odds and Ends: Airbus-Mobile, con’t; final Farnborough update

  1. Perhaps Leahy’s rabbit out the hat will be the firming up of the AF XWB announcement last yr. I have not seen any news of this going in the books.
    Won’t be much of a rabbit more a damp squib.

  2. Looks like the A400 is out of the show again because of engine problems.

    • This is EADS’ ultimate goal as indicated in ther “2020” strategy. North American non-Airbus sales of $10B, and “and gain a prime position with US Government.”

      —-The FTD article translated by google (in part)—-
      05/07/2012, 08:59
      EADS CEO Tom Enders wants to expand its defense business in the United States: The new U.S. Airbus plant could also build the A400M military transport, he said to small shareholders. The van continues to struggle with engine problems. By Gerhard Hegmann Munich
      The new EADS Chief executive Thomas Enders, Airbus sees the future U.S. work opportunities for the U.S. military business. “One day we could build there and the A400M,” Enders said on Wednesday evening in front of EADS -small shareholders in Munich. The future work in the port city of Mobile in the U.S. state of Alabama offers not only the opportunity to expand the civil business, but also opportunities in the defense market. “The decision can not be wrong,” said the acting chief since June EADS, who was previously the head of the Airbus subsidiary. The degradation of the dollar-euro exchange rate risk was “not been the main reason.”

  3. Mobile gives Leahy a few hundred extra neo’s to sell, so anything is possible.
    The big question is whether Boeing are able to sign firm orders with binding guarantees.
    Perhaps lots of commitments with re-fundable down payments?

  4. Mr. Conner’s complement at Airbus would be Fabrice Brégier not Leahy.?

    Interesting that “engine problems” reduce the airshow component but seem to
    not have hindered the testing / certification activity much.

  5. I think there will a problem if Boeing has to many MOUs, LOI’s, Commitments and Love Letters instead of orders for the MAX. Hopefully not to many leasing companies or second tier airlines from developing regions. Orders from successful independent airlines, that is what the MAX IMO needs.

    The A400M being excluded because of engine troubles is a blamage. Specially because they invited a lot of people for a new name giving “Atlas” (isn’t “Grizzly” much nicer?) I wonder what EADS has to say about it..

    Ray Conner probably won’t be aggressive this FAS. Gaining credibility, building confidence isn’t helped by confronting Leahy, who appears hard to beat at this moment & has loads of ammo.

    Airbus said they expect 570 gross orders for 2012, among which 30 for A380 (who?), 30 A350-100s (CX?). Last year A320 slots up until 2019 evaporated before the eyes of less aggressive A320 operators. I guess they won’t let it happen with the new Mobile slots.

    Boeing said they would have orders for 1000 aircraft this yr. I do not know where they stand but Farnborough should have many. This show will be better for Boeing then Paris 2011 anyway. They have the 787 and 747-8 in service and the MAX as a NB offer.

    For reference check this video from last yr (from 0:45). AA signing was less then 1 month later.

  6. Why would EADS build the A400 in Alabama? They have just started in Spain? Its not a very big seller, so it cant be a shortage of slots? Not even Germany seems keen on buying it. I see no new orders for it? US as the biggest market is downsizing its military and they are loaded with C130s and C17s. The A400 would not fit anywere for them either.

    • There may be no urgent USAF demand for an A400M-type vehicle now, but come 2030, USAF’s air transport fleet will not have become less long in the tooth. For the next decade and a half, Airbus Military wil be busy churning out airframes for the partner nations. The likelihood of new A400M customers coming aboard once production matures, is IMO, a given. The YC-130 first flew in 1954. 58 years later, the C-130Js are still coming off the assembly line. There’s no reason IMO to believe that the A400M, or A400M derivative aircraft, will not be in production past the midpoint of this century. Even without having the USAF as a customer, worldwide demand should IMO be enough to sustain production for a long time. If, however, USAF should decide to procure the A400M at some point in the next decade, it would only be logical for EADS to locate an A400M FAL and additional production facilities in the US, since the United States federal public procurement laws demand at least a 50.1 percent US content. A USAF A400M could be outfitted with new next decade state-of-the-art P&W turboprop engines. If P&W should decline the offer possibly due to the lack of a clear cut business case, I’m sure Europrop would be more than happy to start producing engines in the US in order to assure that the A400M platform would have the required minimum US content.

    • I read somewhere that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have worn out the US stock of tactical transport aircraft. They will need replacing before the end of their natural lives. By default this will be with more C130s. I guess Airbus will make a pitch for the A400M due to its extra load. It’s a long shot. But having taken the doubtful commercial decision to develop the A400M, they can but try.

  7. The C17 is more expensive then a A380, the line is closing down and the mighty C-17 really doesn’t really like unprepared runways. The C-130 had the right sized cargo hold, in the fifties and sicties. Many C-130 are not that old and many are. Modern armored vehicles like the Striker (19–26 tons) fit in a C-130, when stripped, but then the range is less then 1000NM. The A400M easily fits such equipment, is longer ranged, can refill fighters, cruise at M.7 / 30k ft etc.

    Bringing in a hulking C-17 to move a Striker/Hawk/Apache or similar sized equipment is overkill that is no longer acceptable in a post 2015 era and not what the Marines want.

    That’s why the USAF send out an RFI and Boeing responded with a shrink C17 and LM with a blown up C-130. Both seriously compromised compared to an A400M.

    The long term requirement is there and won’t go away. It seems EADS isn’t pushing the A400M to the USAF as we speak, but they know the requirement and what they have on the shelf iso on the drawingboard.

    This confrontation has been upcoming for many years. I would not be surprised if one off the big US OEMS made a sure bed and joined a US A400M program.


    (sketch from ’08 when FCS was around)

  8. I think half the point of the Mobil FAL is a message to the Chinese. Didn’t you notice that it can be expanded to 8 per month and has land reserved to expand even further? Do you really thing Airbus needs 4 FALs? Production of the NEO in China is still being negociated and has not been confirmed, I think Airbus is reminding the Chinese that the purpose Chinese op is to sell aircraft and if the party wants to use Airbus as a political football it could just as easily be moved, bye bye technology transfer. Watch out for confirmation of outstanding MOUs in the near future.

  9. Assuming the USAF needs and the US Congress funds a new air-lifter, a US based assembly plant may be required. It would be akin to their past plan for the A330MRTT in Alabama. Obviously that, in and of itself, would not guarantee a sale. And, a RFP may not even match the A400M’s capabilities even as much as COTS “proven” technologies are desirable.

    Lockheed, Boeing and even Embraer may bid for an air-lifter that may be smaller than an A400M.

    If so, supporters, like former USAF Air Mobility Command, now EADS NA board member, General Arthur Lichte would say, “I can sum it up in one word: more. More passengers, more cargo, more availability, more flexibility and more dependability.”

    Europeans would warn against “protectionism.” Senator John McCain, if he is still around, would demand EADS be allowed to bid.

    And, even though the USAF RFP indicates no extra credit will be given for exceeding requirements they would award the A400M those winning extra credits anyway, on the fly. The A400M wins. Lockheed, Boeing and Embraer protest to the GAO. The GAO throws out the award.

    Then, an Alabama senator would block some DoD nominee in protest, and promises to get to the bottom of it. The contest will be re-run under the watchful eye of the DoD Secretary. The A400M looses. The first A400M built for the USAF is packaged with some C295’s and offered to Australia.

    • Watch my Lips?

      Each and every of these cycles increases the visible disparity between US political stance “free trade, free whatnot” and the unpleasant reality of a deeply jingoistic entity.
      A historic review shows that this does not result in increased competitiveness in the international field.

    • RH, only difference is LM and Boeing have no alternatives meeting the reqirements apart from fancy powerpoints. They could adjust the requirements again, but it would require a degradation that is unlikely this time. Another point EADS and Lockheed Martin are “friends” (note the ” “s).
      They cooperate more then they compete. Even the C-130 isn’t a real competitor for the A400M.

      If EADS focusses on a 40t multirole transport and LM on a new bigger cabin 18t STOL tactical transport nothing prevents deeper cooperation. They could use the same engines, cockpit etc.

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