Odds and Ends: New upgrades for the B-52; MRJ delay confirmed; EIS estimates for new airplane programs

Upgrades for the B-52: The USAF and Boeing are upgrading the Boeing B-52 bomber to further extend the service life. The LA Times via the Seattle Times has this story. This is remarkable; the B-52 was designed in 1948 to be the USA’s aerial backbone against the Soviet Union in the Cold War. It bombed Iraq in the 1991 Gulf War and continues to out-perform the B-1B bomber, which was supposed to replace the old gal, nicknamed by some as BUFF.

More on MRJ Delay: Mitsubishi made it official: the MRJ 90 passenger regional jet will be delayed another year. There are several stories via Google News; this Reuters piece is typical. Aviation Week has a good timeline recap.

Here’s how pending new airplane programs now appear to line up for Entry into Service:

Original Current
CS100        Dec-13        e4Q2014*
MRJ       4Q2013           2Q2017
ARJ21           2006  Good Question
C919           2016           2018–>
A320neo Oct-15 Oct-15
737-8 Jul-17 Jul-17
777X e12-2019**
EJet E2           2018               2018
* One analyst suggests early 2015
** Market Intelligence estimate.

We don’t have enough visibility on the Irkut MS-21 for inclusion in the Table.

Here’s a real oddity: A man in underwear broke into the German Chancellor’s airplane.

American-US Airways: Airchive has this long analysis (and it’s only Part 1 of 2), taking a look at the DOJ complaint. It’s 15 pages even after copy-and-paste into Word and re-sized to 10 point type.

24 Comments on “Odds and Ends: New upgrades for the B-52; MRJ delay confirmed; EIS estimates for new airplane programs

  1. It would be interesting to have the A350 too and why not the 787-10? Or even the 787-9.

  2. One would hope the man was wearing underwear. Man wearing ONLY underwear, now THATS a story 🙂

    • The guy undressed in the aircraft. Police surrounded the aircraft for hours trying to communicate and finally send in a german sheppard that bit him. That sobered him up.

  3. EK says they have worked very closely with Boeing to get the 777X launched and designed. EK says the 777X will be late 2020 or 2021. A 2 years delay already from earlier “end of decade” predictions.

    “Tim Clark: Certainly, negotiations with Boeing on the 777X jets will start in the next couple of months, depending on a number of things such as the delivery timeline etc. They won’t be delivered until late 2020 or 2021.”

      • keesje, perhaps Boeing is not in hurry to introduce it anyway.

        Boeing has to make sure that the A350-1000 is actually built and delivered. It has not reached the Point Of No Return yet. In my opinion, the PNR is at about 180 units.

        Below that number there is still a possibility that the A350-1000 could be canceled altogether. If it happens then the problem is that if Airbus may launch a new long range aircraft that could be much more difficult to beat than the A350-1000.

        It is much easier to compete against a weak contender than a strong one.

      • VV, CX, BA, SQ, UA, EK, QR and even JAL and ANA gave the A350-1000 their stamp of approval. Even Albaugh positioned the 777X as an answer to this aircraft 2 years ago in Paris.

        Questioning the viability of the A350-1000 at this stage is a rather amazing view, that leads to silence and big eyes on both side of the Ocean, the Gulf and Asia.

      • keesje “VV, CX, BA, SQ, UA, EK, QR and even JAL and ANA gave the A350-1000 their stamp of approval.

        Very interesting opinion. There are about 128 “stamps” today. The A350-1000 needs 180 of them. So you think the Japanese airlines will finally put their stamp too? They haven’t put theirs, have they?

      • Both JAL and ANA publicly siad the A350-1000 is a good aircraft and are siad to be in discussions for ordering them.


        Boeing has been selling promises sofar and damaged the ANA and JAL brands with the Dreamliner. The Japanese airlines showed a level of loyalty unthinkable in the West, but have a good memory too and probably don’t want to wait another 7-8 yrs.

        • Wiki says the B-772s are to be replaced by the B-789. The B-77Ws are still to new to be looking at a replacement. The A-3510 has been offered now for some 7 years and NH is just now looking at it? The B-77X is just now being offered and has yet to be launched. I would count your eggs before they hatch.

      • Technically, you are right, it cannot be a delay. I am sure that the contracts will be based on the actual Boeing timeline.

        IF Tim Clark is right, however, his predicted timeline underscores the difference between marketing or PR talk and reality, as Boeing’s “end of decade” actually would mean “early in next decade”. This would sound less appealing, so I guess any reference to “decades” would soon disappear from official talk.

    • keesje, the B-777X program is not delayed by 2 years already. Boeing has not announced a formal schedule yet, so how can it be late?

    • I guess by that logic the A350 should be how many years late based on the original A350 concept? Or perhaps they should have ignored one of the, if not the, most important customer, to meet a vague target before there was even a basic configuration? Also, this presumes they will be the first delivery of a 777x; likely but not definite.

  4. Too bad the USAF is not finally re-engining the Buff. There are a lot of good, high- by-pass turbo fan engines out there which are not the latest tech and not the most expensive, but which would be a light-years’ increase in efficiency compare the 8 low- by-pass engines the plane has now.

  5. The B-52H will not be reengined. It will not have a reasonable ROI because the last few are scheduled to retire in 2040. Some 20 B-52Hs are sitting in flyable storage in the bone yard now.

    Scott, these upgrades to the B-52 have nothing to do with extending its service life. The upgrades are all about delivering new PGWs and finally getting a digital data link for mission changes after take-off. All these upgrades really do is bring the B-52 into today’s Air Force by making its avionics compatible with the KC-135 and other weapon’s platforms. In the overall scheme of things, this is a small contract. BTW, the B-52s in storage in DM will not get these upgrades unless they return to the bomber fleet.

    • I am sure you are right about the engines, Nevertheless, it is fun to imagine what more these planes could do if they were re-engined, even with used, first generation high-bypass engines.

      • The B-52 airframe only flies for about 800 hours per year, at the current wartime rate. So at say a 25% savings of fuel burn (maintenance parts costs are now minimal as the USAF has thousands of TF-33 engines stored) equals about the amount of fuel burned in about 200 flying hours. The B-52H burns about 24,000 lbs of fuel per hour at cruise. So we are talking about a savings of about 6,000 lbs per hour, or about $4,000 per hour ($320,000 per year, per airplane at 800 hours usage). Reengining and engineering costs per B-52 with 4 RR-211 (same engines on the C-32B) or PW-2040 engines (the same engines on the C-17A) in place of the 8 TF-33s would be more than $50M per B-52. We have a fleet of about 70 of them right now, not counting the 20 in storage. Just for the reengining and engineering work on 70 airplanes would be about $3.5B. The total fuel cost with the TF-33 fuel burn crease over the RR-211 or PW-2040 for the fleet only comes to $22.4M for the next 25 years.
        The renengining costs do not include flight testing, particularly the effect of the new engines release of external stores. Your other points, environmental footprint, noise, weapons payload and air refueling usage are all valid points. But in the end, I think the bean counters will prevail here.

      • KCT you are right of course. In times of cost cutting replacing something that basicly works doesn’t have the highest priority..

    • One other technical point: HBP engines suffer performance at high altitudes which may be operationally an issue, which it isn’t for the missions of KC’s reference planes. The re-engineering from turbojets to turbofans many years back reduced the max altitude which is likely why NASA’s research airplane kept the old engines.

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