Rockwell Collins sector sales below expectations because Boeing 787 doing so well

June 28, 2015: Rockwell Collins, a major supplier of aircraft systems, said in its FY3Q2015 earnings call Friday that aftermarket parts and provisioning sales were below expectations in part because the Boeing 787 and the Rockwell parts are proving so reliable in service.

Fewer airlines introduced the 787 into service in the third quarter, also driving down provisioning, Rockwell said.

Although Rockwell’s emphasis was on its own products, the news from a third party such as Rockwell must be sweet music to Boeing’s ears after all the program difficulties and a three-and-a-half month grounding of the 50 787s then in service beginning in January 2013 after two battery fire and smoke incidents. It is, after all, Boeing’s name on the side of the airplane, not Rockwell’s. There are now about 300 787s in service.

“The commercial aftermarket has not lived up to our expectations this year, and we’re seeing a couple dynamics play out here. First, in business and regional systems, business jet flight hours are just not growing. We came into the year expecting that flight activity would continue to recover at last year’s rate and unfortunately, it just hasn’t. This past quarter, the activity was relatively flat. Interesting, we are seeing relatively reasonable flight activity grow in the newer jets, but really weak utilization in the older models,” said Robert Kelly Ortberg, president of the supplier. “Our air transport aftermarket business was down about 4%, due primarily to lower entry into service spares for the 787. Now this surprised us a little bit, but we do know why it’s happening, and it’s not all bad news here. We knew going into the quarter that there weren’t a lot of new airlines taking 787 aircraft, but we did expect some additional spare sales that didn’t materialize. The reason they didn’t is that airlines are now recognizing that they don’t need as many spares as first estimated supporting their aircraft. And why is that, well, it’s because our products are performing very well in service, and are exceeding even our reliability expectations.”*

Rockwell provides systems for the Boeing KC-46A, 737 MAX and 777X, the Bombardier Global 5000/6000 and C Series, the Mitsubishi MRJ, the Embraer KC-390 and the Airbus A350. Several of the programs have been delayed, but as these kick in, Rockwell will see its provisioning business pick up.

*Quotations via Seeking Alpha transcript.

7 Comments on “Rockwell Collins sector sales below expectations because Boeing 787 doing so well

  1. I guess Rockwell Collins can be very happy that their products and gear are beating their own predictions for reliability and serviceability, as that will no doubt drive future growth. While they may see a slight dip in the short term, it would appear that their products’ excellent display of quality will only drive more OEMs to their door for future products and sales.

  2. It will be even better for Rockwell Collins when the C Series enters full production because the latter has the latest version of the same Pro Line Fusion avionics suite as the Dreamliner. And if the C Series is so reliable it may have to do, at least in part, to its excellent avionics system.

    • Can’t wait for the C-Series. Really good looking airplane. Hope they give the Big Two a run for their money.

  3. @ TransWorld

    Boeing’s original description of MOM was an aircraft in the category of the 767. But that aircraft has now been replaced by the 787. Therefore I don’t think it’s right to call the 757 replacement a MOM aircraft. But if that is what Boeing wants to call it so be it.

    I believe Boeing has an extraordinary opportunity to design an aircraft that would address two urgent requirements with a single design: 737 and 757 replacement. Airbus did it with the A350 which is a competitor to both the 787 and 777. If the new Boeing MOM is to be a 737 and 757 replacement it will have to be a single aisle in the tradition of its predecessors. But this time around the two models will have to share the same fuselage. It will have to be slightly wider though. I propose a cabin width similar to the one offered on the C Series, proportionally speaking. In other words one that will be a bit wider than the A320. Two sets of wings will have to be taken into consideration in the initial design. The first wing will have to be designed as a 737 replacement because it is more urgent. The other wing will have to be introduced later on to replace the much smaller fleet of 757.

    This way Boeing would find a quick solution to a problem that appears more complex than it actually is. 737 and 757 replacements done separately would be much more expensive and would bring little additional optimization. In my concept the wings would do the optimization. And the savings would come from the single fuselage, standardized systems and similar equipment; e.g., one FBW design and different variants of the same engine. Any takers?

    1. Six-abreast
    2. Single-aisle
    3. Two wings
    4. Standardized systems
    5. Similar equipment
    6. One business case

    • I am a taker, couple of issues though.

      Firstly what is going to be the massive game changing CASM saver to make this aircraft a ‘must have’ vis a vis A320/C300? The engine technology at present is being retrofitted and CFRP will only go some way to reducing weight. I see the big step change happening when we revert to some form of turboprop/ ducted fan/propeller driven aircraft flying at mach 0.6-0.7 or thereabouts. This would lead to very substantial fuel savings at the expense of going a tad slower, on relatively short sectors not an issue.

      Secondly what sort of investment would be required to get this off the ground? Re-couping this investment will be tough as BBD as currently finding. They are suffering the double whammy of attacks from below (Emb) and above (Air/Boe). This sort of thing is going to be a $10bn project minimum.

      Thirdly, they go to the expense of developing the new great hope only to see Airbus develop a new competitor once they establish what part of the market looks most juicy. Airbus have the benefit of incumbency in narrow bodies at present meaning they can take their time on this and allow Boeing to make the running. A bit like Boeing allowed the A350 to be defined before smashing back with the 777x.

      All we know is that sooner rather than later Boeing will have to play their card. Isn’t anticipation a wonderful thing 🙂

      • “This sort of thing is going to be a $10bn project minimum.”

        To do the 737 replacement alone would already be in the vicinity of 10-12 B. To replace both the 737 and 757 with a single design would be more like 12-15 B. And here is the catch. Boeing would have to sell the aircraft with much stiffer price tags than the current 737 is or 757 was. The question is does Boeing has any other choice? My opinion on this is that with the 737 MAX Boeing will not be able to keep up with the A320 much longer, nor with the upcoming CS500. My own prediction is that the 737 will sell in much reduced numbers in the coming years. It might get to a point were Boeing will have to come up with a replacement or leave the narrowbody market to its competitor(s). It’s a classic case of you’r damned if you do and you’r damned if thou don’t. Boeing can ask a higher price for the 757 replacement, but it would be much harder for the 737 replacement. A duopoly can run for ever as long as obsolescence does not set in. But unfortunately the design of the old 737 airframe has now reached its inherent limit while the A320 family has more potential. So the duopoly could more or less turn into a monopoly eventually, unless a new competitor like Bombardier comes in.

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