Will United’s new president open door for Airbus?

Scott Kirby moves from president of American Airlines to president of United Airlines. Photo via Google images.

Scott Kirby moves from president of American Airlines to president of United Airlines. Photo via Google images.

Aug. 30, 2016, © Leeham Co.: Will Scott Kirby’s move from president of American Airlines to the same position at United Airlines lead to a major shift in fleet acquisition at the Chicago-based carrier?

This is an intriguing question that may take some time to answer.

Kirby spent 20 years with American CEO Doug Parker through their careers at America West Airlines, US Airways and American.

Airbus vs Boeing

While at America West, the airline evolved from an exclusive Boeing customer to an exclusive Airbus customer. US Airways was already an exclusive Airbus customer

US Airways was an exclusive Airbus customer under Scott Kirby, its president. Photo via Google images.

US Airways was an exclusive Airbus customer under Scott Kirby, its president. Photo via Google images.

by the time Parker, Kirby and team acquired the airline, adopting the US Airways name over America West.

(We’re talking about new orders in this context.)

American Airlines was for decades an exclusive Boeing customer. American broke this mold in 2011 with huge orders for Airbus A320-family ceo and neo aircraft. (Boeing received a large 737 MAX order at the same time), pre-dating US Airways’ acquisition of American, retaining the latter’s name.

United Airlines

Today’s United is the product of a merger with Continental Airlines. Legacy United was a major Airbus customer, favoring the A320 over the 737. UAL also ordered the Airbus A350-1000.

Continental was an exclusive Boeing customer. Following the merger, the Continental management assumed control of United, Except for increasing the A350-1000

United Airlines favors the Boeing 737 for its single-aisle airplane. Will Scott Kirby bring Airbus in? Boeing photo via Google images.

United Airlines favors the Boeing 737 for its single-aisle airplane. Will Scott Kirby bring Airbus in? Boeing photo via Google images.

order, the new United remained loyal to Boeing.

Fleet planning and key people in finance are still legacy Continental, but the top management now has changed.

Chairman and CEO Oscar Munoz, who was on the board of directors, replaced Jeff Smisek, who was forced out in a scandal involving the Port of New York and New Jersey, operator of the Newark (NJ) Airport, UAL’s largest hub.

Munoz’ position about fleet acquisition and any loyalty to Boeing isn’t known.

But Scott Kirby’s position clearly is. He’s been a customer of Airbus for years.

Fleet Planning

The Continental-born-and-bred fleet planners and finance people told LNC on various occasions that they aren’t opposed to Airbus aircraft. Boeing simply offered better commercial terms when technical evaluation has been close.

Still, new United remained loyal to Boeing up to now. Whether Kirby steers a different course remains to be seen.

Middle of the Market

His first opportunity might come as early as next year. That’s when Boeing may launch the New Mid-range Airplane (NMA) program for the Middle of the Market sector.

Although the MOM airplane concept began life as a Boeing 757 replacement, today the generally accepted specifications are more aligned with a replacement for the Boeing 767-200/300. United still has a large fleet of 757s and 767s. It, along with American and Delta Air Lines, are prime targets for a Boeing NMA.

Airbus, however, appears to be waiting to see what Boeing will do. Its approach to a MOM airplane appears much less clear than Boeing’s.


103 Comments on “Will United’s new president open door for Airbus?

  1. Scott and Mary see each other in family gatherings. Mary votes openly in favour of twin aisle narrowbody APEX enhancement. Scott is fully aware and has the profile of a foreloper in revenue management & strategy. Teaming up with Muñoz, United presided by Scott can surprise the world introducing H21QR. Remember : the first player will immediately corner the market !

  2. Pingback: Would United shut the door on Boeing? – Hankgintof Information

  3. This words in this column are closer to the truth. The Boeing/GE combination isn’t producing the goods. Airlines the world over are walking away. How long can US airlines remain faithful!

    • Really? Cranking out 700+ planes a year and not delivering the good?

      While I think its a mistake for Boeing to have gone to a single engine mfg (for the most part) I also do not see this as “not delivering the goods”

      I will remind you that when Emirates picked and engine, it was the GP7000 (until the miracle of the RR increasing fuel efficiency 5% without any change took place and they went to that engine)

      • To be fair GE did say that they’d no longer issue any performance improvement packages for the GP7000, whereas RR have said they’ll keep working on the Trent 900.

        If RR push out, say, 4 PIPs over the lifetime of Emirate’s A380s they’ll end up being substantially better than the GP7000s that aren’t ever going to change. If RR do enough work on the Trent 900 it’ll end up being what we’re currently calling an A380neo… Of course it’s not guaranteed that this is what will actually happen, but RR do have a track record of some quite major PIP offerings.

        As for Boeing/GE not delivering the goods, well Boeing + GE is certainly pretty good, though with the 777 GE exclusivity deal there’s nothing by which to decide if the partnership is truly optimal. If anyone were letting the side down it’d be Boeing not quite getting passenger comfort right. Airbus have been more successful at delivering designs that the airlines don’t or can’t add an extra seat per row. The 787 could possibly have been a couple of inches narrower to keep it at 8 across or a couple of inches wider to make 9 across more spacious.

        • Humm, 9 wide A330s for AirAsiaX isn’t uncomfortable? I think Boing were in a good position in the 1990’s with 18.5 and 17 inch options. Now median wages have gotten so low only the 17 inch is viable and it is Airbus with the two workable options, 18 and 16.5 inches. I hope the 1990s option comes back one day but for now Boeing seem to be stuck with 17 inch

  4. “United Airlines favors the Boeing 737 for its single-aisle airplane. Will Scott Kirby bring Airbus in? ”

    Dont see how, given thar they’ve already committed to 100 firm 737 Max-9 orders with no options. He might end up converting some of the existing A319 orders over to A321 NEO’s if wild speculation is permitted. Or he might firm up some or all of the 40 A350-1000 options, but I certainly wouldn’t count on that either.

    • You are and its a valid point, if United needs the capability then they will get A321s. Even if they have to lease them from the Worlds Biggest Leasing Agency (Air Asia!)

  5. No reason to screw up a successful operation. Airbus has nothing of interest to United. If they had, UAL would be operating Airbus by now.

    • Andy has spoken and therefore it must be?

      Sadly the facts are that United operates A319, 320 and has orders for A350.

    • “No reason to screw up a successful operation. Airbus has nothing of interest to United.”

      Silly statement, as the article states…

      “The Continental-born-and-bred fleet planners and finance people told LNC on various occasions that they aren’t opposed to Airbus aircraft. Boeing simply offered better commercial terms when technical evaluation has been close”

      Between A and B it frequently comes down to price at the end.

      • I’d say it comes down to value analysis which includes cash operating economics, commonality benefits, training/spares costs, performance issues (more than range capability), dispatch reliability, operational considerations, passenger preference issues, etc. At the end, the net price is the “adjustor”.

        • No what you said was as follows. I see a lot of spin.

          Clearly the Airbus products have value to United and that is almost certain to include the A321 that Boeing sadly has no match for.

          “No reason to screw up a successful operation. Airbus has nothing of interest to United. If they had, UAL would be operating Airbus by now”

          • No spin at all. Been there, done that. Do you really think that airlines make megabillion dollar investments without analyzing it for months, sometimes years? Essentially all departments of the airline are involved.

          • Not sure what anyone else thinks but I think that’s full blown waffling on the comment

    • At present, United TechOps is investing heavily in overhauling end-of-life A320s and A319s. No UA Airbuses are heading to the desert. On the other hand, when 737 “Guppies” come due for a overhaul/D-Check, they’ve been sending them to VCV (Victorville boneyard). United needs to have a significant fleet of A320s. This approach helps them exercise leverage and provide a credible threat at the negotiating table with either Airbus or Boeing.

  6. For mixed class aircraft, United and others have the choice of,
    737-7 140 seats
    A320 150 seats
    737-8 165 seats
    737-9 180 seats
    A321 190 seats

    How many sizes an airline needs is one question, two or three? The biggest size is always an attractive option. If United does defect to the A321, that will up the ante for Boeing to look at a purpose built new 200 seater, for one to six hour flights. Even an all new twin aisle 2-2-2 aircraft with a greater wingspan could be powered by the current GE and PW engines.

    • The biggest size is always an attractive option if the route demands it, otherwise it’s wasted fuel from a heavier airframe.

      • Without a detailed fleet analysis based on segment costs, demands, yields, flight schedules/airplane rotations, “what-if” analysis, etc, nobody can say what size airplane is “optimum”. An airplane that is too small can result in loss of market share while an airplane that is too big (= too high segment costs and too high break-even payload) will contribute towards bankruptcy of the airline. Most successful airlines stick with as few different airplane types as possible.

      • I genuinely believe they will make an enhanced 757 replacement if they bother with an NMA at all. Im not convinced they have the appetite for it right now but time will tell.

        • That seems a pretty odd stance as Boeing themselves are saying not true and the MOM is it.

          I never bought into the 757 replacement. Current single aisles ate up a good 80% of the market.

          While it was good in its time it also was not fuel efficient.

          So why would you bring out an all new when the A321NEO and the possible 737-10 chips further away.

          Boeing desperately needs the 737-10 just to stay remotely competitive and I think we will get it.

          Frankly they desperately need an all new single aisle, they have an adequate if badly dated architecture now so the MOM is the next one up.

          After that obviously its a new single aisle and that will cover the 757.

          • I agree with you, but I’m not sure the money is there. There’s more monetary cliffs looming for the Americans and Europeans at least.

    • Ted: What is with the United “Defects” statement?

      I didn’t know they were pledged heart soul and allegiance to Boeing.

      Their managements job is to get the best products at the best price that does the job needed.

      Boeings job is to create attractive products that fulfill those needs and they have failed to do so in the A321 area.

      • There is a history since United Aircraft times with Boeing, United and Pratt&Whiteny. UAL have Boeing 747, 757, 767, 777 with PWA Power, hence the betting odds of them launching the 797 with PWA Power gives around 1.18 in money back…
        UAL did not move from 757’s to A321’s or 767 to A330 with T700’s as many other Airlines did instead got some long legged 787’s, but the 787 is too much of an Aircraft for North America domestic flying hence the need for the 797. Airbus might respond with an A322 with a brand new carbon wing made in Japan.

      • When Gordon Bethune and/or his handpicked management team were as running the show at Continental and then United, they deferred to Boeing out of an abundance of gratitude. Boeing was their only choice and Airbus was not even on their radar. Continental was on the brink of failure and Gordon begged Boeing for bailout funds, which Boeing provided. Now that all of Gordon’s handpicked people are gone, United’s affinity to Boeing is no longer present.

    • No offense but I cant see any plane ever designed to be twin aisle with 2+2+2 layout. That would be a massive fuel burn penalty per row. Even if they dont say so explicitly, any future NMA plane will be designed for 3+3 imo. The numbers dont stack up for a small widebody.

      • Well we have to see what rabbits Boeing does or does not pull out of its hat.

      • They would have to do something different than a 767 in a cleansheet MOM to avoid the weight/drag penalty (on a per row basis).

        B767s are an odd width: too wide for 7-abreast but too narrow for 8-abreast.

        They need to make the MOM cross-section slightly narrower than a 767, and 7-abreast would remain comfortable. Make it just slightly wider (but narrower than the 787), then you could do 8-abreast (2+4+2 or 3+2+3).

        • You will find that with 2 aisles 8 abreast is much more economic than 7, plus you can put in LD3 containers. To keep the price low (compared to the 787) and you don’t need the extreme range anyway, you make it all aluminum. Ups, and you have an A330, sorry…

  7. Pingback: Would United shut the door on Boeing? | Bankingre

  8. ” Airbus has nothing of interest to United. If they had, UAL would be operating Airbus by now.”

    Andy, United operates an A320 fleet since more then 20 years, so they probably have something of interest to United.


    Regardless of who is CEO, Leahy probably tells them that if they want A321s before 2020, they better decide before year end.

    Most US airlines introduce A321s; American, Delta, Spirit, Jetblue, Hawaiian. United ordered 100 737-9s in 2012. Obviously they know something the rest doesn’t..

    • Keeje:

      They know it (at least now) , some of it may well be a fit, the other opportunity.

      The barometer I am most interested in right now is what AK Airlines does with their A321 order.

      No its not the only one out there by any means that has to be thinking it, but they have those secured so can easily execute on the A321.

        • Some say no but I have researched it and the answer seems to be yes.

          There could be clauses in the agreement that precludes it as reportedly it was a good agreement for Virgin A at the time.

          That is what I want to see, do they divest (however they do it) the A321 or do the pick it up. I would think they pick it up.

          Currently if they need something bigger single aisle wise than the 900/9 they have no where to go.

  9. Pingback: Would United shut the door on Boeing?

  10. Bringing in an outsider for the lead role must be a difficult pill for the Continental hold outs to swallow. The Continental guys were brash after the merger and took over virtually all of the top management positions with the legacy United executives pushed out. Turns out the Continental executives were a bunch of Gordon Bethune wanna-bees. The recent financial penalty paid to the U.S. Attorneys Office in New Jersey is clearly a low point in United history over the last 50 years. Hats off to Munoz for shaking up the deadwood.

  11. Kirby is great choice. This guy was a real leader at American. I am sorry to see him leave.

    These top spots are difficult though. Often times the new executive has to live with the poor decisions of the prior executive. As an example, Ed Bastian had to live with the aftermath of underinvestment in Information Technology systems during the Richard Anderson era.


    Anderson takes the top chairman spot and Ed is left holding the bag with irate customers.

    • Shades of Mullenberg with McNenary legacy!

      On the other hand, no one is forcing them, they get lots of money even when they fail (maybe more money when they fail to get rid of them)

      Whenever our manager breaks out his violin I tell him, we all have to work for a living, you volunteered to be a manger, I don’t want to hear it. He doesn’t break it out very often now.

      • Sorry, in the new American corporate structure the buck never stops anywhere.

        there is no accountability.

        Little if any integrity.

      • But we have discussed that pretty extensively so its not new.

        I suspect Boeing has more solid plans and engineering though (grin)

  12. It will be ashamed if UAL decided to go for AIRBUS planes. As American, I prefer to go for BOEING and to support american products ONLY.

    • Just like andy. What you don’t seem to of realised, is that a large proportion of an Airbus is in fact manufactured in the good old US of A.Also quite a lot of a Boeing is made and designed in Italy, Japan, Australia- all over the place. Boeing is very good at playing the patriot card when it suits them.

      • Expect this card to be played again shortly, they are coming for your hard earned taxes.

        • I will second the remarks of Grubbie.

          I used to feel that way, something like 30% of an Airbus is US sourced parts.

          787: Italy. empennage (some) rear fuselage, Japan: center fuselage, wing box, wings. Originally Charleston was do owned to mate sections up (by Finemechanica and Vought). Big chunks of the 767 are made in Japan (as re those famous batteries)

          Boeing also has sub systems from other countries and the landing gear for the 777x will be Canadian firm that never made landing gear before, that should divert some Boeing resources!

          Frankly that is where they went wrong with the A400 (keeping in mind it was originally a product of the Commercial Division of the then EADS, not the military side)

          However as its labeled a military transport the screaming started (same would be in US) and it became European (not sure on sub systems, big ticket item was the engine that has 3 or 4 European characters that never did anything together before and will never again hopefully)

    • rsal, we have like minded folks in Europe too. They object buying 737s, 777s, 787s, JSF, transports weapons, helicopters, cars, tools, just because they not made in Europe and they value a quality coming with that. Crazy in my opinion, we don’t even know where stuff really comes from. Brands are Brands, not origins.

      • Keeje:

        The biggest issue relates to defenses in most cases. While it was a long time ago, I was surprised at how much US content Airbus has on their birds (engines aside and if its GE or P&W its even more (given those also have outside US parts sourced)

        That was a wake up call for me, I thought the US would benefit economically from the A330MRT.

        I don’t think it was what the USAF needed (their big eyes asdie)

        Funny but the JSF is made in all sorts of places and bizarrely Northeu Gruam (I bleive) makes a big chunk of it. How werid is that?

        My fondest wish is to see compaialbiy weight in. No one makes a C-130 and it sells. France did not want the C17, but for a lot of missions its the perfect answer (Briatina bit the bullet as did Austial and have good sized fleets, India gave up on the Rooskie)

        Germans make the best darned anti tank gun in the world (adapted onto the US M1 after initial US made and inadequate 105 mm). Britain is still using a rifled tank gun (good, fast wear out and 120 mm at least but dated)

        Does the NATO alliance really need 6 different APC?

        Until my last auto I never bought anyting other than US made (and they were mostly US). We got a Passat made in Germans (sort of the engine is made in Poland). Its a diesel and gets amazing fuel mileage (even by todays standards) and that is what we nee4de (and a wagon which the US does not make in that size)

        Military wise we could help each other our enormously with a shared procurement system. Production scales would enable far lower costs and more of them.

        Provably delusional to think it can happen.

      • Scott, you should be neutral and not push Airbrush because it hurts your credibility and questions your motives.

        • Scott, you should be neutral and not push Airbrush because it hurts your credibility and questions your motives.

          @Andy: Give me a break.

          • You got too many “breaks” already. For the sake of balance why don’t you write a long and detailed piece (like those badmouthing the 787) on the ultimate fiasco, aka the A380, and the hit taxpayers in Europe will take when Airbus is unable to pay back the loans when that program folds. Don’t you think it is rather remarkable that Airbus did not learn anything from their previous fiasco, the A340???

          • I’m looking at more than just one article. Anything Boeing does has been nitpicked to sickening detail while nothing much has been said of Airbus fiascoes like the A300, A340, A350, A350XWB or the A380, or European tax payers funding of Airbus programs, not to mention the crazy flight control laws of the joystick airplanes.

          • @Andy: You have been reading LNC only in recent times (at least from your appearance in Comments).

            * I’ve written on a few occasions that the A300 was a mediocre airplane.
            * I’ve written that the A340 was an ill-timed, poor-selling airplane.
            * I’ve written how the A350 went through “Versions 1.0 to 5.0” before Airbus came up with a winning design (sort of).
            * I’ve written that trying to cover the 787 and 777 market with one aircraft family was a poor idea.
            * I’ve written that the A350-800 didn’t work and the A350-1000 was too small.
            * Years ago I wrote that Airbus should give up on the A380 and redirect its resources into other airplanes.
            * LNC concluded that the A380’s economics would be matched by the smaller, twin-engine 777-9, which would then require an A380neo if the airplane were to have an economic advantage over the 777-9.

            And so on.

            So, Andy, while I respect your right to your opinion, it doesn’t line up with the facts of the long history of this column.


          • OK, you have written some articles about Airbus fiascoes. But there are more such as the scandalous financing of the A380, which have been covered in other media…..but not here. I have been following this site for more than a year and my feeling is that the reporting focuses on nitpicking badmouthing Boeing from McNerney to the 787, and anything Boeing builds. Biased reporting only contributes to credibility loss. I have 40 years of hands-on experience in the commercial airline business so I know a fair amount of how things are done.

          • @Andy, the “scandalous” financing of the A380 is all about illegal subsidies, launch aid, etc, and the WTO complaints and cross-complaints. which this column has covered ad nauseam. I don’t like corporate welfare of any kind. Since you’ve only been following this column for a year, you didn’t see all the “nitpicking badmouthing” of Noel Forgeard (“I know nothing….!”) and the A380 debacle in 2006.

            My criticism of McNerney and the debacle of the 787 stands. If you don’t like it, too bad. You don’t have to read LNC. You’re free to go elsewhere if you’re so upset.

            I’m done with this exchange.


          • Just stop this nitpicking about things you have very little information about. Did you ever run a multibillion dollar company?

          • Scott: We are feeding the troll.

            While I have at times disagree with Leeham assessments, I in no way find you biased.

            His bald ass statement (followed by the most pathetic waffling I have seen) that United had not use for Airbus when they do have those products in their operation and more to come shows that he is detached from both reality and logic.

  13. It’s pretty laughable that the CEO at a major company would impart brand preferences. Or that the company is “loyal” to a given product line out of partisan differences.

    Like all incumbent vendors, I’d guess Boeing values remaining in a “key” position with certain airlines, and provides assurances/terms/pricing to maintain that position in key sales campaigns. In fact, there’s a documented history of their having done so (prior to anti-trust/anti-competitive legal rulings) with the domestic US3 carriers within the past 10 years.

    Further, fleet decisions are probably not even in the top 5 “major projects” a CEO at United/AA/DL would be worried about. Market strategies (oh, competition with AA?), pricing/ticket distribution, operations, labor contracts, regulatory/open skies agreements/impact on route networks, and many other tasks would seem to be much more important.

    But of course this article ignores/dismisses all this in the interest of “new UA CEO is a huge Airbus proponent” theorem. It’s akin to worrying about what Gary Johnson’s foreign policy will be like next year.

    Meanwhile, the 757 replacement does in fact loom. They still have something like 90 or so, and I think 40 (?) 767’s. My guess is Boeing will in fact still design a product that is guaranteed to get that 757 replacement order (as in, it will be launched with that order as part of the launch announcement).

    • @texl: Don’t underestimate the influence of a CEO. Steve Wolf: CEO United, shifted from Boeing to Airbus for single aisle. Steve Wolf, CEO of US Airways, shifted from Boeing to Airbus for everything. Just sayin’ Watch the next year or two to see if Kirby loosens the Boeing loyalty.

      • If United orders A321LR’s instead of the 738ERX or more A350-1000s and not the 778, there’s a chance it isn’t Kirby’s preference alone. Also one type might better meet specific mission requirements than the alternative.

      • Scott has a good point. I have seen stranger things.

        McNeneary had both an anti union agenda as well as anti social security, he was allowed free reign.

      • CEO’s who don’t act in the best interests of the company or the shareholders doesn’t last long. A CEO would be utterly stupid to buy Brand X because he personally “likes” Brand X. Maybe the preference is because of “personal favors”…., which, at least in the USA, are illegal business practices.

  14. British Airways has traditionally bought mostly Rolls Royce engines. There will be lots of good reasons for this, but I’m sure that one of them is that it helps when they need a favour from the government. On the other hand they resisted pressure to buy Airbus plane’s for so long that they became known as Boeing Always.

    • Too true but I would hazard to suggest that that sort of conscious bias against a homegrown product is very British and reflected a longer term Boeing bias from before Airbus existed. They were happy enough to buy GE in favour of RR on the early B777s as you probably know

  15. @TransWorld

    “The landing gear for the 777x will be Canadian firm that never made landing gear before.”

    That Canadian company is Héroux-Devtek. It’s the world’s third landing gear manufacturer after Goodrich and Messier-Dowty. They design, manufacture and repair different types of landing gears for a variety of civilian and military aircraft and helicopters. The US Air Force and US Navy are among their biggest customers.

    They started in the landing gear business in 1960. Not long after NASA gave them the contract to manufacture the Lunar Module landing gear for the Apollo programme. On the surface of the Moon we can still find six sets of landing gears, plus one that still flies in outer space (Apollo XIII), that were made by Héroux in Montréal. If I remember correctly they delivered to NASA a total of 15 sets before the programme was canceled. They were at the time the only company that could meet the stringent specifications imposed by NASA.

    The reason why Héroux-Devtek is little known today is because they are much smaller than Goodrich and Messier-Dowty. It’s like comparing Bombardier to Boeing and Airbus. They are in a different league. Incidentally, Héroux was founded the same year as Bombardier (1942), and the current owner of the company, Gilles Labbé, was working for Bombardier when the latter decided to get rid of Héroux. That is when Labbé asked BBD to help him and another employee to buy the company. They mortgaged their houses and Bombardier endorsed their bank loan. Héroux has been thriving ever since.

    Héroux-Devtek have recently designed the landing gear systems for the Learjet 85, Sikorsky CH-53K, and Embraer Legacy 450/500. Until then you could have said that “they never made landing gears before”, but this is no longer the case. It’s a modest start, but it’s a start nevertheless.

    • Normand:

      Call it egg on my face and accept my being to blanket encompassing.

      Still a world of difference between what they have done vs a 777 that is the world largest gear (probably more so than each A380 leg)

      Boieng being a jerk as the others would not cave in. Good luck to both of them, more so Heroux-Devtek.

      • The 777X main landing gear is indeed very large. But it was not designed by Héroux-Devtek. They only manufacture it to specifications. And for that they already have extensive experience manufacturing landing gear parts for the C-130J, B-1B, B-52, E-3, C-130, F-16, P-3 and H-47F Chinook. They also sub-contract for Goodrich and Messier-Dowty on various programmes, like the Airbus 320, Boeing 787 and Embraer KC-390.

        Héroux started as a machine shop, which lead them to fabricate landing gear parts for OEM. They also diversified into repair and overhaul of landing gears for the military. It is only recently that they took on the actual design of landing gear systems.

  16. @Andy

    April 6: “I have about 20 years hands-on experience with military and commercial airplane flight control system design and development, requirements, certification and flight testing.”


    May 10: “I have more than 35 years in commercial aviation including flying, systems engineering, and economics, incl mgmt positions. I have several graduate degrees. I also have more than 200 long range international flights as a passenger under my belt.”


    September 1: “I have 40 years of hands-on experience in the commercial airline business so I know a fair amount of how things are done.”


    If you continue like this, before Christmas you may pass Boeing in years of experience. 😉

      • Who are you to question my qualifications? You know nothing. Suggest you get a Master Degree in Aero Engineering, write the thesis on automatic flight, then get an MBA and write a 150 page thesis about airline cost of capital, get a pilot’s license and years of hands-on experience in many different areas and at different management levels in aviation. Then we talk.

        • You are retired now, right? Most of what you have done is long ago, right? Could it be that your view of the present is a bit blurred by too many past things?
          I have been consulting companies around the world and quite often major problems had their origin by the oldest hands on board who would not accept that circumstances were changing. Avoiding to see a new reality that stands in a strong contrast to what was true then has brought more than one company down.
          If you would be at the helm of Boeing I would bet my entire company that you would get it into insolvency within less than 5 years from now.

          • You know nothing. Suggest you stop your boring speculations.

          • Sounds spot on to me.

            I would not want someone like you looking after my Pet Rock.

    • Seems like you don’t have anything meaningful to do. All my statements are correct since I have worked in different jobs and different management levels in the aviation business from engineering to airplane value analysis. Some of it in military, most of it in commercial. If you want to know how to make a perfect hammerhead turn, an 8-point roll, a spin recovery, a Texas 8, a plain vanilla loop, or land with a parachute without breaking your legs, just ask. Been there, done that.

      • Andy: While I have not worked in that field, I certainly have a long successfully resume of having worked in a number of fields.

        Just because I am the worlds best setup artist with a T-16, does not mean I am right about everything in the surveying world let alone any other field.

        So yes we are going to question you, critique the statements

        You certainly made a totally false one in regards to United and Airbus aircraft.

        • I need to amend the statement as to ” factually incorrect” in regards to the Abu’s Statement vs false.

  17. OK, that’s enough, everybody.

    While I’m a bit annoyed with Andy’s drawing a year’s worth of conclusions without taking in 10 years worth of writings and misstating my positions, the subsequent attacks on his background and other sniping is not something that belongs on this site.

    Ratchet all of this back to the issue raised in the post: whether Scott Kirby and his long history of favoring Airbus might lead to a break in the solid Boeing loyalty brought over by the Continental management. Although some have suggested that this might freeze Boeing out, that’s not what the post suggests–only that perhaps Airbus will have a better shot now.

    If the sniping at Andy continues, I will close future comments for this post.


      • Scott:

        Just for the sake of clarification, If I posted a statement that said because I worked as a Truck Driver, Surveying , Carpenter, Electromechanical Field, , boilers, pumps, engines etc, could I be challenged if I then said anything I said is right?

        Purely for the sake of discussion, note that I did not even say in those fields , just that all my statements are right.

        Can I use that with my wife?

        Just curious and if deemed out of line I will self deport for 2 weeks.

        • @TransWorld

          On the clarification: I’m not going to get into any self-declaration about who is “right” or not due to qualifications. This column has a policy that readers are not to personally attack readers in the Comments.

          Readers are free to debate issues and statements suggested by other readers, but in a respectful way.

          As for you and your wife: Are you kidding??? I’m really not going there!!!


          • Scott: I think I have it.

            As I tell my wife, I would rather be in trouble for something I actually said or did.

            It keeps things interesting.

            Its in my genes I guess, I trolled my dad through a bed of kelp one time (7 lures off poles on each side of the boat)

            He was a course nut, 270 or die. He yelled a lot but I had him, I was doing what you told me to do, no deviations. I probably would have rammed the Queen Mary if it went across that course. Age 7 or so. It was amended to avoid boats, logs and any other objects required a deviation, including Kelp beds. Same Island the DC-7 ditched at.

  18. “Although the MOM airplane concept began life as a Boeing 757 replacement, today the generally accepted specifications are more aligned with a replacement for the Boeing 767-200/300.”

    The irony here is that this evolution of the MOM, away from the 757 and closer to the 767-200/300, would fit Airbus’ product strategy better than Boeing’s. For a larger MOM is too close to the 787 for comfort. On the other hand it would complement the A350 perfectly because the latter is a bigger aircraft than the 787. But the A330 is in the way and is too big to be a MOM in any variant, including the A330 Light.

    I had a problem with the MOM when it was viewed as a 757 replacement, because in this role it had to be a single-aisle, which opened the door to the NSA as I have explained in previous posts. But as a 767-200/300 replacement it will necessarily be a twin-aisle, and Boeing already has the brand new 787 positioned slightly above this MOM category. It only shows that Boeing hasn’t had a proper product strategy for more than twenty years now.

    If I take the MOM in isolation, say from the point of view of a new entrant, I see an obviously hole in the middle of the market where there is no modern design for a medium-range, small capacity widebody. I have no doubt that many airlines would want such an aircraft if it existed. But airlines don’t buy single products, they buy a family of products. And the MOM is anything but a perfect fit in Boeing’s portfolio. It would actually fit better in Airbus’ own portfolio. If we exclude the A330 there is a lot of space between the A350 and A321. But the MOM would be squeezed between the 787 and the anticipated NSA. There is too much money to waste there for the potential rewards.

    If I think there is a market for a MOM, as defined above, I don’t think that market justifies the expense on a clean-sheet design, especially in the context of Boeing’s product positioning. After all the 787 was designed and marketed as 767-200/300 replacement. Now we are told that the MOM would accomplish the same thing. I don’t get it. And if the MOM is a replacement for the 787-3 it makes it an expensive variant indeed.

    • Normand: I went on record a long time ago that I did not think it would be a 757 replacement. Essentially there is extremely small market left. Unless there was a market above the single aisle it was not go.

      While I do think Boeing has serious issues from its management debacles, I think you create a simplified creation myth of aircraft and how they come about. You really should read the article on Joe Sutter (grin)

      You can make the same argument about Airbus, a debacle of the A380, Rev 1 to 4 on the A350 and only because they were forced into it, not because they wanted to. Was the split between 787 brilliant strategy or lucky? We will never know.

      I will admit I thought it was a mistake, but there obviously but there is an opening there at least, so I was wrong. How wrong? Hard telling, pretty good numbers but selling into a down market now.

      1. enough people don’t like Boeing to buy it (based on each time it morphed and went larger so did the buyers and either the buyers do not know what they want or they wanted Airbus (which is fine)

      2. there really is a market there.

      I think its some of one and some of the other. A330-800 or Hawaii only anyone?

      Frankly I do not know if its internet myth or Boeing really started out on the 757. I doubt the 757 as its grossly obviously that market is gone, but I could be wrong.

      when I was wrestling my Coach asked me after my first match what the heck I thought I was doing, Huh?

      Coach: Its like you don’t have a plan?

      Well I don’t, its all fluid, I wing it in the moment.

      Coach: wrong, you go out with a plan, you adjust if if needed, but you always have a plan.

      Me: He was right.

      So regardless, Boeing proposes, they get response. Per the Sonic Cruiser, this is our plan, what do you think.

      Cusomters: We like it, we want to see the nub mer.s

      Boeing: Ok, here are the numbers

      Customers: Yuckj it uses way too much fuel and doesn’t carry enough pax. We do like the efficiency of the new engine and the far more electric architecture and that material looks really robust and weight saving.

      Boeing: Ok, how about this?

      Customers: That looks really interesting and the 787 was born.

      Or its interesting, what more.

      In this case regardless of how it got there, Boeing feels there is a market and if they can make an aircraft at a 70 million dollar cost, its a good one.

      Now we will see

      I don’t know they can do it, and I don’t know who has what commitments, but like the A350, there seems to be a good segment there if they can implement to it.

      There never has been an overall product cohesive plan, its been a series of trails, errors, bumps, drops and then successes.

      That is the strategic nature of that business, its morphing all the time.

      Yes that is contrary to what I said, but its also true that they never were sure where the next big hit would be.

      so it goes, its not a pretty clear cut path any more than our lives are.

      • “Boeing feels there is a market and if they can make an aircraft at a 70 million dollar cost, its a good one.”

        The 70 million price tag is reportedly for an aircraft the size of the 767-200/300. Now, does anyone here seriously believe that Boeing can bring to market an aircraft that size at such a ridiculously low price? Who is Boeing trying to fool here? You cannot even get a CS100 for that price. The A320neo is itself over 100 million dollars. And both are considerably smaller. Like I have said in another post the MoM makes sense on its own, and I believe there is a good market potential for it. But the fact that the aircraft is marketed at 70 million is seriously delusional. And taken in the context of present Boeing it is absolutely suicidal.

        If Boeing wants to replace the 757, fine. That can be taken care of with a well-thought-out NSA. And if it is the 767-200/300 that Boeing wants to replace I must remind them that they have already addressed that 10 years ago when they conceived the 787. Perhaps they haven’t done their homework properly back then, but it’s too late now.

        The image I have of Boeing today is that of a dinosaur on the verge of extinction. Some sort of Boeingaurus gone mad.

        • Normand:

          I did not say they could do it, I said that was the market identified.

          Leeham feels its impossible as well.

          I am taking a wait and see attitude.

          You do keep mixing apples and oranges.

          The market they feel is there is not a 767 long range, its more 4500 miles, more if not all pax and little if any significant freight.

          Ergo a much lighter design and possibly much lower cost build if done right.

          Stay tuned.

          • “The market they feel is there is not a 767 long range, its more 4500 miles, more if not all pax and little if any significant freight.”

            The MoM started as a 757 replacement and is slowly becoming more or less a 787-3 replacement. At least that is the way I understand it. How much more money can Boeing spend today on a 787-3 replacement? Boeing has already spent quite a bit on the 787 already. We don’t know how much exactly because the R&D has already been paid for and is not included in the forward loss that we talk so much about. But if we combine the two figures we are approaching the 50B figure, say 35+15.

            The 787-3 was one of the many misses of that programme and Boeing wants to bring it back through the backdoor. And they want everyone to believe, starting with themselves, that they can make a cheap aircraft that will sell like hot cakes. Is that reminiscent of a previous programme when Boeing was so confident it coud manufacture the Dreamliner for much less than any other aircraft that they practically gave them away to early clients. They deeply regret this foolish assumption today. Yet, it seems they din’t have enough and want more trouble now. So when Boeing will have finished wasting money on share buy-back why not waste more money on that MoMster?

            The plus side of this is that it would be a more humane way to put an end to Boeing’s misery; i.e., a fast-tract to bankruptcy.

  19. “Although the MOM airplane concept began life as a Boeing 757 replacement, today the generally accepted specifications are more aligned with a replacement for the Boeing 767-200/300.”

    If Airbus sells a boat load of A321/A322 in the coming decade and dozens buys dozens and fly them all over the world it won’t be the MoM.

    Just an affordable, successful aircraft doing medium ranges replacing 757’s, 762 and A300, A310s.. nut not the MoM.

    • Keesje: So far we only have the A321.

      And yes it is well done and successful and frankly kicking Boeing butt (that is easy as they have nothing to compete with it, credit to Airbus)

      However, it is not a true 757 replacement, nor is it a 767-200 let alone an A300/310.

      Back in the day, Anchorage AK was a major refueling stop.

      Why? They could not make Asia with the range they had, so the answer was a refueling stop.

      In other words, until there is the right aircraft, they make do.

      If none shows up, max nix (lousy US German for doesn’t matter) as all are on the same level, i.e. they all have to stop.

      No MOM, the world continues.

      MOM and things change. Airbus has to decide on a response, a longer and more crowded A321 is one answer though the 757-300 was not a favorite of anyone and did not sell in serious numbers.

      A true Boeing MOM will make an Airbus single aisle offering in the same position as the 737-900/9 is to the A321.

      Hopefully it gets launched and we get to see.

      • “Airbus has to decide on a response”

        I think the chances of Airbus launching a 4500 capable A322 are significant. Based on customer demand, regardless of what Boeing thinks/ says / does. If the market is there they have the resources and decisiveness.

        Just like the A300, A310, A320, A330/A340, A380, NEO and arguably the A350 (unless seen a response to both 787 (A330?) and 777s instead of a A340 replacement.)

  20. Airbus is giving a new lease on life to its A330 with the A330neo. Boeing would have loved to make a 757neo or a 767neo of their own, but if I remember correctly LNC conducted a serious study on the feasibility of a 757/767neo and found that it would still be an uncompetitive aircraft. Even the 787-3, a very advanced aircraft, in fact the most advanced aircraft in the world with the A350 XWB, was also uncompetitive, and that is why it was abandoned.

    Now, how can Boeing make a more competitive 767/787-3? The obvious answer is by producing a clean-sheet design that would make extensive use of composites and exotic alloys, like Al-Li and titanium. But these materials are very costly. That means an expensive programme, which itself means an expensive aircraft. And to be real efficient the aircraft would necessarily have to use FBW flight controls and would have to incorporate all the latest technologies for the various aircraft systems. All this adds up fast and becomes very expensive to produce in the end.

    To think that it would be possible to market a new aircraft and make it efficient without recourse to the above technologies is unrealistic, to put it mildly. The first question that comes to mind then is how can Boeing sell it for cheap if it cannot be built for cheap in the first place? I think Boeing is trying to square the circle here and may find itself cornered on all four sides.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *