Odds and Ends: Crummy DOT data and why we’re skeptical; 787 deliveries; PAL and A321 deliveries

Crummy DOT Data: We’ve previously written that we, and AirInsight, are skeptical about airline data filed with the US Department of Transportation. AirInsight doesn’t rely on it at all when doing aircraft economic analysis. We are openly skeptical of Boeing’s reliance on DOT 41 data when comparing maintenance costs of the 737 vs the Airbus A320.

Aviation Week has this item that illustrates precisely why we think DOT 41 data has to be viewed with great skepticism.

Airbus Mobile and Washington State: This Op-Ed in, of all places, The Seattle Times, explains how Washington State will benefit from Airbus’ new Mobile (AL) plant. Says what we’ve been saying for a long time. Misses the fact that WA is the No 1 or No 2 supplier to Airbus in the US by company count and No. 6 by dollar volume.

787 Deliveries: 17 and counting, with Air India, Qatar and others to deliver shortly. We are feeling more and more confident Boeing will hit its target of 40 deliveries this year, with just four months and a few days left.

PAL’s Big Airbus Order: This has been written up a lot, so it’s no surprise. What caught our eye was Aviation Week’s report that says Airbus found A321 delivery slots next year. Who deferred or who cancelled to find these slots in a production line that’s supposed to be sold out to mid-to-late this decade?

A350 Supply Chain Challenge: Aviation Week has this article about changes to the A350 supply chain and change incorporation.

37 Comments on “Odds and Ends: Crummy DOT data and why we’re skeptical; 787 deliveries; PAL and A321 deliveries

  1. Thanks Scott !
    I have the same questions as yours, for the A321 2013 slots coming somewhat out of the hat, with the help of miraculously freed slots in benefit of PAL !
    Ok, it may be a handful only !

    And I may add a few more hypothesis !

    – May be the slight increase of monthly production will allow it ??
    – May be “Tricky” John Leahy under pressure, is allowing undercover conversions from A321 CEO to NEO and freeing some slot’s … hum !
    And, in this case I suspect, the highly probable 6 month buffer allowed to the project, may be estimated unnecessary now, it is in the hands of P&W, very secretive for the matter !
    One of the trigger may be the good results and behavior of the PW1500G, and/or the development delays of the C Series, may be 6 months late …

    I’m just waiting for the first ground test, and also the first test bed flight , of the PW1100G to get a better idea ! (Will Airbus offer an early test on the A340 wing ??)

  2. So if I understand well every airline is free to choose their own set of parameters/ format are long as they are consistent over the years. Comparing two aircraft flown by different arlines using different calculations to the big unknowing public, would incorrectly suggest you are comparing apples to apples. Not very honest or ethical IMO. Better stop doing it.

  3. Slots may be possible Kingfisher deferrals. VA also have said all their Neo will come from Mobile,so some slots may be available from Europe in the 2014/5 timeframe.

  4. Airbus going to batch/blockpoints even before test flights is a bad sign, there will most certainly be issues found during test flights. What customers would want planes from the overweight first 2 batches? This sound very similar to 787, this will bring cost for sure. Another new project derails..
    I dont think we will ever build a new airplane without major problems, these are the times we live in.

    • It’s not surprising that when building an aircraft consisting of literally millions of parts from hundreds of suppliers, that the ‘final’ design doesn’t come straight out of the box at the first prototype or even the first customer aircraft. There is a big difference between making product improvements in a manner that is planned several years in advance, which seems to be the case here, and reacting to significant design issues that bite you on the nose without any advance warning.

    • Only A350 detractors are making a storm in a teacup on this one. I, for one, wouldn’t worry much about the first two batches not being commercially viable. Airbus produced 21 “first batch” A320-100s, some of which were in service with Air Inter/Air France for more than 20 years. ANA is currently flying overweight 788s, and the first four 788s for QR (LNs 57, 58, 62 and 64) are AFAIK overweight, while the GEnx engine still doesn’t meet spec. Still, Al Baker doesn’t seem to make all that fuzz about it. Perhaps, they are “good enough”?

      As for the development of the A350 supposedly “sounding very similar to the 787”, that is flat out wrong, so I am sorry I have to call that one out. In May 2007 the first unstuffed fuselage components for 787 LN-1 arrived at Everett. Two months later, on July 8th, Boeing rolled out an empty shell. Still, some people believed the aircraft would be in the air by the end of August. In comparison to the farcical events that transpired at Everett in the summer of 2007, Airbus has from the start of the A350 programme scheduled a realistic time period between first component arrivals at the FAL and first flight. Flight testing at A and B have always encountered “issues” on new aircraft developments, nothing new about that. Hence, the A350 programme should not be in “trouble” when “issues” are found.

      All previous generation aircraft did also encounter problems during development. The DC-10 had plenty of serious issues even after it was certified. It’s particularily noteworthy to look at the causes of the Turkish Airlines Flight 981 accident in 1974, which demonstrated an incredible corporate ineptitude and design shortsightedness on the part of McDonnell Douglas as well as government laxity on the part of the FAA.

      • I agree, “the A350 supposedly ‘sounding very similar to the 787’, that is flat out wrong.” The A350 programme seems to follows another strategy.

        They’ll deliver the product and, like the A380, “recall” them for engineering change warranty work including those for the wings. The airlines will have to send their aircraft to approved MRO stations and incur downtime and revenue loss without compensation.

        Now that’s how to get a product out on-time!

        • The primary difference seems to be that Airbus will not bring changes online as soon as they are individually available ( as done on the A380 and earlier) but group them into blocks.

          Then, what would you prefer:
          A couple of days of planable outage now and then while you can use your planes in revenue service for some years
          ever extended delays in delivery, unexplained, unexcused, void of any planable structure 😉

          apropos: The AI first seems to not have been delivered after all on Friday.?

      • Whatever.

        The A350 won’t be out on-time. It’s already late by some 15 months. In fact, the A350 program is a study in lessons learned by Airbus on the A380 program. Trying to infer otherwise would just seem to indicate very little insight, on your part, for what’s really going on.

      • The important question is whether Airbus can efficiently turn out early model A350s and get them into customer hands. Boeing still hasn’t hit consistent production on the 787 and the A380 had similar problems.

  5. Intriguing delays for the Airbus A320’s PA !
    A confirmed order now !
    The choice of the engines may be interesting !
    All the 54 planes in 3 Years say their President !
    Including 10 A321NEO … Hum …. ????

    ———- From MarketWatch, an extract and the link ————-


    MANILA–Philippine Airlines, the country’s largest full-service carrier,
    on Tuesday unveiled an order of 54 Airbus aircraft that is expected to
    cost $7 billion based on the price list.

    This is the largest order by the local carrier, better known as PAL,
    which is looking to expand its fleet. Philippine Airlines President
    Ramon Ang reiterated the carrier’s plan to buy up to 100 aircraft. He
    was speaking to reporters at a news briefing.

    “We are in talks to buy more….Our intention is to buy up to 100 aircraft,” he said.

    The airline said it has placed orders for 34 units of A321, 10 units of 321Neo, and another 10 units of A330-300.

    Ang said he expects delivery of the airline’s new order to be completed in three years.

  6. aeroturbopower :
    Any engine choice not including GE would be a big surprise, as everything PAL flies today has CFM/GE engines under the wings.

    Your right AeroT !
    But I just think that if PAL needs early slots of A321NEO, they have a better chance to get P&W GTF on time and above spec’s under wing, than the Leap1A running and struggling behind ….
    Otherwise they are a very good GECAS customer , so … ??

  7. Thanks Keesje !
    Andrea Rothmans, is always a faithful reference, concerning Airbus info !
    May be Airbus will extend the A319-320 Tianjin assembly line, to the now, more needed A321, and further to the following A321 NEO !
    The negotiations, between China and Airbus, are likely to conclude soon, and are also aimed to allow more regional re-export …
    So, this may be one case for Philippines Airlines to get Early A321 slots from Tianjin !
    It may be somewhat linked !
    Just an Idea !

  8. The batch concept for the A350 has been planned for at least 2 years now, even if it is only coming to light now. It is more of a method to keep the planning, build and configuration under control. That is something which did not happen with the A380 and was a large reason why their industrial ramp up was such a huge problem.
    Some people may want to look at it cynically but all we are talking about is a smilar concept to the 787, or any other aircraft program; the first aircraft on the line will not be optimal and improvements will come and be incorporated. Airbus is merely trying to better manage the point at which such changes occur. I don’t think Boeing, Embraer or Bombardier do it any differently.

  9. From another Aviation Week article back in may, concerning the A350, “The -800’s wane is compounded by concerns among potential customers about its performance and per-seat costs. In analyzing future fleet requirements, one airline executive found the -800’s per-seat costs were no better than the Boeing 767’s, let alone the A330-300’s”.

    Makes me wonder what would happen if the A350-800 does indeed go the way of the 787-3.

    • If the 800 is put down that means the A330 will get more life and resources, even a NEO is possible. GEnx is the right engine it is already in service and will have its PIPs done by that time. As the 800 is today it will have a 77L sort of life to it, a very tiny market that ULH, but a decent freighter maybe?

    • It seems the A350-800 is down the priority list, as evidenced in transforming it into a -900 shrink, assisting customers to convert -800s into -900s. If the costs of the -800 are not substantially lower then the -900 they could probably negotiate deals with the customers like Hawaian, Aeroflot and US.

      Still even the A330 NEO is a bit big for the 200-300 seats medium range segment..

      Maybe Boeing should put few billion on the 767, optimizing OEW, wings, engines, cockpit and cabin lenghts 😉 Can’t Boeing let congress convince the USAF the GENX is a must because it gives the KC767 better range, less noise, lower fuel costs and other sustainable stuff for the next 40 yrs?

      • The 767 didn’t get the “grooming” the A330 got over the last 2 decades. No FBW and procuring a fitting new engine should
        pose more of a hurdle than for the A330 ( one more downsize from GENX/T1000 )

      • I wonder if the -800 wouldnt be a nice competitor for the 77F? What is the range/payload for the current -800? The 77F has 103t-4000nm.

  10. I cannot find any place where there is a summary of the 787 cancellations.

    If Boeing manages to deliver one more 787 in August and another four in September, I can see them getting the low side of their prediction (35) being achieved. I am still skeptical and highly doubt they will achieve 40.

    They delivered 3 in June, 1 in July and it seems 2 in August so far. I don’t see that pace increasing that much.

    Also, just because they have more hulls ready to go, does not mean they have the resources (people) to process all the paperwork and such to get them out.
    We will see.

    • Is it just the paperwork and some fickle government officials?
      The GENX pickle doesn’t appear to be “eaten” yet?

      Regular deliveries would make the “no 787 thing” verdict
      in the Qantas act more believable.

  11. Re “Airbus and Washington State:”

    Am I wrong to assume that the actual, complete construction of the A320 fuselages and wings are to be done almost entirely in Europe, and that these parts will be shipped to Ala. mating? Or, will a lot or all of the of work on the interior of the fuselage and perhaps additions of parts to the wings (flaps, landing gear,etc.) be done in Ala? Doesn’t the economic bounce, if any, from this program depend on how much of the plane is actually to be built in the US? Does anyone know?

    • If the Tianjin A320 line offers any indication, the Mobile line will probably start off using exactly the same supply chain as the Toulouse/Hamburg lines, aircraft assembled by experienced european employees. Then starts the step by step process of replacing those guys with local people and increasingly adding local suppliers, if they passed the test. Airbus did this in Tianjin to reduce start up risks / time and offer the same guarantees / quality as the other FAL’s.

      • Keesje Are you saying that the fuselage/wings will actually be assembled from scratch in Ala? That A is giving those European jobs to Americans?

      • http://www.aviationweek.com/Article.aspx?id=/article-xml/awx_07_11_2012_p0-475640.xml

        Airbus’s decision to build an A320 final assembly line in Mobile, Ala., is just the start of a broad campaign to greatly expand its supplier base in the U.S., says the air framer’s top North American official.

        “We’re spending $12 billion in the U.S. now and we want to double that over the next 15-20 years,” Airbus Americas Chairman Allan McArtor said in an interview with Aviation Week at the Farnborough air show. “We’re actively recruiting and trying to qualify additional suppliers for subassemblies and components.”

        When it opens in 2015, Airbus’s new $600-million line in Mobile will operate just like the company’s A320 assembly plant in Tianjin, China, snapping together subassemblies that are shipped from Europe. But with much of those content in those subassemblies originating in the U.S. – 40% of Airbus’s global procurement is with U.S. suppliers — the company ultimately is aiming to move major component work to North America, either in southeastern U.S. state or northern Mexico. “It’s not our objective to use a trusted but old formula to supply Mobile,” McArtor says.

        Airbus has not yet set a timetable for shifting the subassembly work to the U.S. The company says a similar shift would not make sense in Tianjin because its subassemblies contain relatively little Chinese content.

  12. FF :
    The important question is whether Airbus can efficiently turn out early model A350s and get them into customer hands. Boeing still hasn’t hit consistent production on the 787 and the A380 had similar problems.

    Here in lies the devil, the current financial mess (that started 2008) makes life hard for all the small players in the food chain, a food chain that will need a lot of investments to up the rate for the ramp up in the future. Banks are hoarding cash and being very restrictive about giving it to smaller companies in the US/EU.

    The supply chain is the hardest part for A/B to control, with less in house work/production and more outsourcing they become more influenced on the society around the globe. They cant act as banks for all these small but important suppliers.

    • The banks are less of a problem than the muddied waters for Dreamliner suppliers.
      The repercussions of that have bound significant summs ( and incurred losses )
      at suppliers.
      If your credit line is maxed out all that money in the bank vaults is out of reach.
      The reason why Airbus has given signficant monetary help to predominantly tier 2 suppliers.

  13. Christopher Dye aka CubJ3 :
    Keesje Are you saying that the fuselage/wings will actually be assembled from scratch in Ala? That A is giving those European jobs to Americans?

    Every FAL job introduces 9++ supporting jobs in preFAL and probably more at suppliers.
    Assuming even 50/50 content EU/US every FAL job anywhere in the world brings 4++ jobs to the EU. That is nice. Being A-retentive about FAL jobs would theoretically just provide another single job ( in RL that FAL then probably would not happen : i.e. -5 jobs )

    The EU domain doesn’t think as much in winner / looser perspectives as the US seems to do.
    If you ever have the time read “Draco Tavern: Grammar Lesson” from Larry Niven.

  14. Christopher Dye aka CubJ3:

    “Keesje Are you saying that the fuselage/wings will actually be assembled from scratch in Ala? That A is giving those European jobs to Americans?”

    ? no ? Just telling what I saw in Tianjin.

    • Even if it is just pure assembly, there will be all the consumable materials and fasteners required to put it all together. I do believe there will be more than that involved though.

      But I would be surprised if such items as the wings were to be assembled there. Installation of slats and flaps, maybe. But assembling the wings or items of such a nature, I very seriously doubt it.

  15. Regarding Scott Hamiltons “PAL’s Big Airbus Order”:
    There is more of this to come soon, as it is baking in the stove already.
    German chancellor Angela Merkel is meeting the Chinese premier Wen Jiabao and on Friday Aug 31st they will visit together the Airbus A320 production facility and final assembly-line in Tianjin (south east of Beijing) which happens to be the birth place of the Chinese premier. Most probably China will use that occasion to finalize an order for 100 (!) A320neo aircrafts.
    Maybe they will also finalize an order for 35 A330 and 10 A380, which was demonstratively put on hold earlier this year, due to a diplomatic row between Europe and China.

  16. I think the “Sharkletised” A320 CEO may be re-motorised easily, to allow some flexibility !

    So, may be the split will allow new engines under the A320CEO wings a few years later !
    I hope China, and Mobile plants may begin A320 NEO assembly in its very beginning, may be fust a few month behind !
    NEO is not rocket science, following the A320 with Sharklets, it’s just now a new engine and the new pylon !
    And the new software to be injected in the on board computers!

    Interesting times … the choice of the engines … P&W is the only option to take the fast track !

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