How Boeing, Embraer benefit from a combination

Analysis

Dec. 26, 2017, © Leeham Co.: Potential synergies exist between Boeing and Embraer which may be important to development of the next new, clean-sheet airplane for both companies.

E195-E2, Embraer’s largest airliner. A Boeing combination could lead to a new family of larger jets.

Last week, both firms acknowledged a Wall Street Journal report that talks have been held about a combination of some kind. No details were reported about what this would look like. The Brazilian president was quick to say the government, which holds veto power over any merger or acquisition of Embraer, won’t approve any deal that means EMB ceases to be a Brazilian company.

Joint ventures or minority ownership structure appears possible.

What are the potential benefits for Boeing and Embraer?

Boeing

As Boeing continues its work to decide whether to launch the New Midmarket Aircraft (the NMA or, unofficially, the 797), obtaining risk-sharing partners has been challenging, aerospace analysts previously told LNC. A partnership with Embraer just might be the business relationship needed.

It’s been widely reported that Boeing is considering a two-member NMA family, 220- and 260-seats, with a range of 4,500nm to 5,000nm.

Bernstein Research, which has been skeptical of the market demand for such an airplane, recently floated the possibility Boeing might redefine the mission to top out at 4,000nm.

LNC is skeptical of this hypothesis. At the time of the Bernstein note, checks in the market with the supply chain and customers indicated no change in what Boeing was telling them.

If Boeing is interested in a 4,000nm airplane, a smaller wing might make sense. Boeing originally planned a multi-wing approach for the 787. The 787-8 and -9 shared a wing. The 787-3, intended to be a domestic version, had a different wing. The -3 was later dropped as delays, production, designs and costs soared. The 787-10 originally was conceived with a different wing, but in the end no change was made from the 787-8/9.

Embraer chose to have a wing specific to each of its three EJet-E2 family. One can easily envision Embraer, with its lower-cost wages, taking a major engineering role—something that might be crucial at a time when a very large number of Boeing’s engineers are reaching retirement age. Boeing may find itself with a critical engineering shortage at just the wrong time if the NMA program proceeds.

Embraer

Embraer and Boeing have had business relationships for years. A joint venture now, however it’s structured, can do nothing but benefit the Brazilian company with new business, new opportunities and new expertise.

A major role on the NMA would be a huge shot in the arm for Embraer.

While the E2 is going to be a very good airplane, sales have lagged during an extended period of low fuel prices. The skyline quality is poor. One major customer ceased operations and lessors are having difficulty finding lessees willing to pay a premium for a fuel efficient aircraft that isn’t needed in today’s operating environment.

The sole E175-E2 order, for 100 airplanes, depends on a relaxation of US Scope Clauses—something that remains doubtful.

Officials have long talked about the need for a second airplane family. In recent times, the discussion centered around a turbo-prop. This would, in some respects, be a step backward, returning to its roots as a turbo-prop provider. More to the point, the 20-year forecast is 2,500 airplanes or less—hardly a compelling business case in a market currently dominated by ATR.

Embraer’s second family opportunity rests with going up, not down. But going up against Airbus and Boeing is something EMB has no interest in.

But in partnership with Boeing, the dynamic changes.

The “BE808”

With Boeing appearing to be heading for an NMA program, launching a replacement for the 737 on a more-or-less concurrency basis is something the shareholder-value-driven Boeing executives and Board of Directors are not likely to be keen to do.

On the other hand, if principal responsibility is assigned to Embraer resources (i.e., engineering, production and contribution to funding), with its lower cost structure, might the 737 replacement be the new partnership’s responsibility?

With Boeing focused on the 220-260 seat NMA, and an aging 737 line for which the MAX is the last iteration, there will be a need for a new, clean-sheet design from 135 to 220 seats.

The E195-E2 seats 120 passengers in two-class configuration. Its range is marginally US-transcontinental, considering winds and reserves. (The smaller E190-E2 has a range of 2,850nm, comfortably transcon.)

Boeing’s smallest 737, the 7 MAX, at 138 seats is a sales dud (for reasons having nothing to do with C Series). The 737-9 and -10 are greatly outsold by the Airbus A321neo. Except for the 737-8, Boeing needs a complete makeover for its single-aisle product line.

A Boeing-Embraer design, which LNC will dub the BE808, could be the answer. The combined partnership would then have coverage from 75 to 220 seats with two family members.

The Bombardier trade case

Revelations of the talks between Boeing and Embraer, first reported by The Wall Street Journal, immediately raised questions in some quarters if Boeing filed the trade complaint is more about the potential Embraer combination than it is about protecting the 737-700 and 7 MAX.

As LNC noted last week, history undermines Boeing’s claims the C Series is killing the 737-700 and the 7 MAX. Sales were poor before the C Series was certified and during lagging C Series sales before the United and Delta airlines transactions.

Boeing’s relationship with Embraer long-predates the C Series.

The Wall Street Journal last week wrote that the trade complaint may be about protecting Embraer. LNC long suspected Boeing might be fronting for Embraer.

In October, LNC wrote that the complaint was less about protecting the US market from C Series than the strategy was about killing the entire program.

LNC was told as far back as June, only a few months after the complaint was filed with the ITC, that Boeing felt if it could block the CSeries in the US, which Bombardier views as the largest market for the airplane, that the business model for the program will collapse—and Bombardier will have to terminate the program,” we wrote.

Last week, The WSJ wrote, “The tariff allegations criticism may have been meant to protect Embraer, said [Richard] Aboulafia at the Teal Group. ‘It’s about the only thing that would make the trade case against Canada look sensible,’” he said.

 

45 Comments on “How Boeing, Embraer benefit from a combination

  1. Looking back Boeing lacks “character” for some mutually beneficial cooperation.

  2. Interesting how they “weren’t worried” about the Airbus -Bombardier deal and now they are copy catting.

    Couldnt Airbus and Bombardier do the same? Sounds to me that Airbus and Bombardier will start off with better existing single aissle products to begin with.

    • IMU it is not clear when those talks happened or when they began.

      I could imagine a scenario where Boeing did not get acceptable traction with EMB, turned on BBD with that dumping thing in expectation of BBD going belly up, C-Series dead or ready for the taking. ( in Boeing’s style would have been execution after taking?)

      • To keep focused, the price here is the Single aisle 100 to 160 seat area.

        Boeing is not interested in the least in small business jets.

        The KC390 is obviously of interest.

        Tucano no interest at all.

        I can see the collaboration on the single aisle.

        As for BBD, Airbus has that jewel, they would not get the Q Series nor want it and for sure the business jets Airbus does not want either.

  3. Any Boeing/Embraer tie-up will not prevent Airbus/Bombardier from launching a CS-500 and 5-7 frame stretched A320.5-neo (i.e. A320-300neo); resulting in the 737-8 MAX being caught in a pincer movement — a decade before Boeing apparently is contemplating its replacement.

      • Thank you, very nice music. A real treat, only comparable here these days would be US Bluegrass still true to its roots.

        • I agree that Airbus has options in the Single Aisle and better current ones than Boeing has.

          But they need to move and move fast. Not just stretch the A320, new wings for both A320 and A321.

          The C500 has an issue in that its a bit much, the 5 wide hits the limit at 150 pax.

          Then its a new wing to maintain range or loose range.

          • A new wing for the A320-200neo, a stretched A320-300neo and the A321neo would force Boeing to respond with an all new single aisle — sooner rather than later. The idea here is that by gradually turning the screws on Boeing with a simple CS-500 stretch and an A320-300neo stretch (i.e. A320.5neo), the 737-8 MAX would be caught in a gradual pincer movement. I’m not sure if Boeing’s management would know what had it them before it would be too late to respond with an all new single aisle having an EIS this side of 2030.

          • Correction:

            I’m not sure if Boeing’s management would know what had hit them……

          • “the 5 wide hits a limit at 150 pax”

            Why?
            Assuming you don’t mean because of take off tail strikes, because the CS seems to have been designed with an extension in mind.
            Do you mean because of economics or turn around time (in particular how fast passengers get on and off the plane)?
            I don’t get how 5 wide would hit a limit at 150 pax, if 6 wide does not hit a limit around 180 pax.

    • From an engineering and design perspective, going forward there could be two NSA: 1) the CSeries up to the C500, or possibly the C700. 2) the A321/737-10 up to two more lengths. If that’s true, the best case tie-up scenario would be AB-BBD, over BA-EMB. It just seems to have so much more going for it. The cost of engineering is so expensive… And AB has more orders for single aisles now. Geez, doesn’t Embraer have a great deal of debt, too???

      • If its collaborative then Boeing has no aspect of the debt (not a clue if they do or don’t)

        Agreed that AB-BBD has the better situation, C series may or may not stretch, The C 100 and 300 are a heck of a combo under 160 seats.

        Airbus can up the ante with the A320 with a stretch and better yet a new wing.

        Ditto with the A321.

        I think they should have done that in the first place.

        Boeing would be a long time in catching up if they ever did.

        An all new single aisle would be 5 years away at best.

        Airbus should put effort into Alabama and another line or two of A320 there to out produce Boeing.

  4. The narrative from Leaham for the Boeing Embare tie in makes good and maybe perfect sense.

    Granted its Mad Magazine spy vs spy vs spy sort of thing.

    The single aisle market would be the one Jewel in the Crown that Boeing would take a hit over with Canada.

    And as I noted during the Delta thing about Boeing in Seattle.

    The engineers are likely to take their retirement rather than continue under the lash of Mordor. aka, at one time there was pride taken in a job well done and rewards for doing so.

    Now, cowering workers is in vogue.

    So Boeing turns over the arena to Embraer in some sort of tie up.

    It all makes sense if you just adjust your thinking to pure greed and no care for the company. Ok to kill the Golden Goose as long a you get the last egg.

    Embraer of course gets to move up to the big leagues.

    Sweet for them.

    • And while not a singular standout, getting back to being involved with P&W on the GTF is of some interest.

  5. Yep, as noted in comments elsewhere, and much longer at that(!), so nice to see how Boeing plans to spend its windfall from last week’s “Even More Corporate Welfare (than we already have)” giveaway…

    …on shipping good paying emgineering jobs & cash (immediately & permanently just in case the Dems win elections soon) offshore to Brazil…

    So, to recap, obscenely larger share buybacks PLUS offshoring billions of $$$ AND good paying American jobs to a low wage country like Brazil…

    Wow!!!

    Freakin’ amazing!!!

    Defense Contracts

    Tax Preferences aka Corporate Welfare pre-President Small Hands

    Various State & Local tax preferences, especially in Washington state, plus whatever South Carolina offers in addition to its anti-union “Right to Work” laws

    …and now, also courtesy of the US taxpayers, free money to buy/form a joint venture with a foreign company is Brazil…

    Yeah, now we know fully well why Boeing’s CEO Dennis Muilenburg stayed silent even after President [edited as violation of reader comment rules] last August [edited as off topic, in villation of reader comment rules]…and also refused to join other leading business people and CEO’s who resigned from [edited]“Biz Council” after the incidents that took place in Charlottesville, VA…

    …Oh, yeah, the last thing Muilenberg wanted to do is have his plans to use the then hoped for, now certain, taypayer funded subsidy to buy a foreign company AND bag a whole bunch of cheap hires to go up in smoke…

    …say the way the AT&T/Time Warner deal is right now…

    Gee, imagine that…a company like Boeing taking so much from the US taxpayer, be it from defense amd space contracts, corporate welfare giveaways be they federal or state/local, now looking to offshore its latest windfall from the taxpayer all while securing a giant pool of cheap hires!!!

    Such a shock!

    • Howard: Hopefully back off on the expletives, not that I don’t agree 1000%, but hate to see you get banned. Maybe small hands and Gnat Brain ok.

      But if you read this, it looks like a joint venture.

      Keep in mind BBD has moved production TO the US.

      And with a lot of US content, maybe not as dire as it might be. Trying to be hopeful. Brazil is not exactly stable.

      Boeing is also pulling stuff back in house, if you want the percentage you need to make the product, not just assemble it!

      Come this fall the small hands agenda stops and then we turn it around in 2020 (if small hands is still here by then!)

      Cue in the Them Song from Jaws. da da da da aoooooooo.

    • Share buybacks arent ‘obscene’, its just standard way to return company earnings to shareholders, by way of a higher share price. Dividends end up being taxed twice, once at source and again in the person or entity who receives them-that should have been part of the tax reform but wasnt.

      • I think share buy backs are also “taxed twice”. If you ever sell the appreciated shares, you will pay on the capital gains. I think the advantage is that it provides a bit more control to both the company and investor vs. dividends.

        That said, I don’t get the complaints of being taxed twice. It is an investment, and the investors knew the company would be taxed before putting in money, so, they anticipated a post tax ROR already. And last I checked investors aren’t exactly on the breadline. It boils down to competitive RORs, government revenue requirements, and who else the tax incidence otherwise falls on, not on complaints of being taxed twice. ( I am a small investor)

        • Share buy backs are done here for “wagging the dog”.
          Basically share buy backs are said to indicate a company so well off that no better purpose for excess profits can be found.

          If you buy back your shares you insinuate that you are perfectly healthy. ( and don’t look at those billions of deferred cost sitting on the wall jeering.)

          • Thank you, well put.

            When you have two major holes in your product line and you are doing that?

            You could set your company up as virtually unassailable and that in turn would feed into share holder value.

  6. It looks like a second best solution, as Scott points out it will still leave a substantial gap in the line up with no competitor to the Cseries or the A321neo.

    The NMA is something else to the A321neo, better in some ways, but unlikely to be competitive on price unless Boeing decides to use quite drastic penetration pricing. That sort of policy would be comparable to the Cseries ironically. Further a A322 approach of new wing etc would increase the capability towards or even surpassing CASM of a NMA for a relatively nominal investment.

    I see this move as a way of Boeing showing it is doing something. They gain a skilled team and cost benefits of a relatively low salary economy.

    What I would be interested to hear is a Brazilian viewpoint to this. If there is anyone out there linked to Embraer please give us a perspective.

    • I would like to point out that Boeing has a skilled team.

      Anyone that could make the 737 remotely competitive with the A320CEO let alone the NEO has my (not mega) hat off to them.

      Of course they will be loosing engineers and I suspect they are just like me, if you can retire in any degree of grace, why would you stay to get beat on endlessly by management?

      Its does work well into Boeing having some cake and eating it with the NMA and a replacement single aisle in the works.

      Likely a bit bigger than a C Series and 6 not 5 across which is the downside to the C as it gets longer.

      I don’t discount a new wing for the C though

      • Lots of other companies supplied engineering talent via the 787 program. Kawasaki, Mitsubishi, Alenia, Spirit etc etc.

        Why does Boeing suddenly ‘need’ Embraer when these others and then some can do.
        Even Embraer uses suppliers in Spain, Portugal, Triumph in US, Latecoere in Europe.

        • Another attempt to do an aircraft on the cheap?

          We saw how well it worked last time.

    • yes Sowerbob, I’m Brazilian and very interesting in these negotiations. I have a special passion for Embraer because I was neighbor to the factory for 17 years. I saw the company consolidating as the 3rd aircraft producer. Here in Brazil we don’t reach much inside information, and strategic issues as I see you have in USA. But indeed it is true that Embraer became the jewel in Brazilian industry due to the work of really high skilled teams. I was neighbor to Embraer’s production vice-president at the time of Embraer leaving the turbo props and entering the jets with the 50-seat ERJ. I think a major obstacle to a quicker decision has to do with our elections coming up second semester. Leaving the impression that government sold Embraer is not an interest. I am enthusiastic with a tie-up because Embraer will face more competition and i recognize the synergies are great. Embraer cannot just watch the market getting more competitive or it is will lose capacities to maintain its position. What I fear is Boeing absorbing Embraer completely but I don’t believe Boeing will cancel the benefits of lower salaries in Brazil. Embraer is an island of excellence quickly built from scratch. According to passengers the E-jets are much more comfortable than CSeries. I know companies are not angels but I think the cluster in São José dos Campos can benefit a lot and grow with Boeing around.
      At the end, this marriage will happen. Agree?

  7. Why would Boeing look to offload NSA to another mfg? Their cash flow (and, ipso facto, stock performance) has been massively successful due to the 737’s longevity in the market. Though they seek engine partners, and certainly looked to a “different” industrial partner strategy in the 787, there’s not really any doubt this is looked back upon as a great mistake (I’d consider it a massive, finally mitigated, disaster).

    Embraer as a partner makes much more sense to both if they are collaborating on services, or possibly some components etc. (such as avionics/rules etc.) Embraer’s relative attractiveness over the C-series Aircraft Co. (the part Airbus ‘paid’ into), is in this theory primarily their huge installed base, and possibly alignment with common subcontractors (United Tech, Honeywell, Daher, Alcoa, 3M, GE, Rockwell, Parker, GKN, PPG, various hydraulics, etc.) See, for an example/partial list: http://www.airframer.com/aircraft_detail.html?model=Embraer_170_series

    Boeing has a long history, unlike outsourcing design/development/production/control of their aircraft programs, of leaning on suppliers and a commitment to growing their services business/footprint quickly. Spending a few billion to tie up with Embraer in this respect would again seem to make sense to both parties, much more than this speculation as to the Boeing Embraer 808 or whatever NSA. Boeing in such a partnership would actually be increasing their control over airline’s fleets/services/suppliers negotiating positions, rather than simply outsourcing design etc.

    My tangential guess is also that they are committed to manufacturing the wings and fuselage in house, for any/all future commercial products, a la 77X. What I can’t explain/prognosticate on is their future relationship with Spirit, which seems to be growing but not moving toward a re-acquisition. Is Spirit’s (recently announced) growth really just temporary until the 737 is done?

    • If Boeing and EMB create a JV company, Boeing can still reap benefits while sharing the risk.

      • Yea, my take, have their cake and eat it with their small hands as well.

        I also think Boeing is delusional if they think they can compete with Honeywell and Rockwell in avionics. I remember the entertainment system debacle and them backing out of that area.

        I knew one of their engineers, the suppliers offered them a lot better money and terms than Boeing did.

        Why would you want to work for someone who like to have cowering workers?

        Obviously not true of all and if you are into Aerodynamics and structures, Boeing still has a hold on that (or bring it back – or at least that not outsourced to Spirit)

        Some like the guy I knew stayed for reasons other than just salary.

        One thing you can be sure of, Boeing will take the low road and that is not appealing to the best and brightest.

  8. If in fact Boeing started the trade dispute with Bombardier to protect Embraer (which seems possible) its sad that the Trump administration attacked a Canadian made product (with 50% American content!) in order to protect a Brazilian company. If indeed this was Boeing’s motivation’s the Trump admin. were duped.

  9. I think it is much easier for Boeing to design a 737MAX successor with Embraer as a continuation of the ERJ’s systems design making sure the 797 systems find their way into the NSA than Airbus doing the A319/A320 replacement with Canadair. Airbus might think the A320/A321 just need Al-Li in the fuselage, a bit longer new Liebherr landing gears, new carbon wingbox, the 797 Engines and carbon wing from Belfast/Bremen. Bombardier maybe thinks the A320 needs some of its systems, like Active sidestick and out of autoclave CFRP major structures. It will be arguments when Airbus tells BBD to lover cost of production on many parts on the C-series by 50% and hence be more A320neo-like and forget the latest high Tech as the customers will not pay extra $ for. The leasing companies and LCC want to see 2-4 more cycles per day compared to the 11-13 of today as more important. The A321 ULR might get more high Tech expensive parts as it really uses the performance it gives it. Airbus don’t want to force Boeings hand with the A320.5 but are happy the longer Boeing Waits for the new NSA and as Boeing can lower the cost of making a 737-8 more than lowering its selling price thus making for huge Boeing profits.

    • The active side stick keeps coming up and I can’ t figure out why its thought to be anything unusual.

      Airbus could do it the same they could with moving throttles.

      They elected not to.

      I don’t see them changing unless its an all new aircraft.

      • The rest of the build tech would of course be of interest and use down the road.

      • Thas is also my point. Airbus will not change even though most new big biz jets and modern fly by wire jets get servo-moving sticks. A few Airbus incidents where there is confusion in cockpit regarding stick inputs could have been avioded with the moving sidesticks but they will wait for a new EASA/FAA action before introduce it into a new design. The big structural open CFRP out of autoclave structures are not easy to make and if Shorts knows how to heat and stamp them out in perfectly shape when they cool down Airbus want to use them.

  10. Embraer has several investments in US generating jobs there and not in Brazil. It has moved to become more global company as also has investments in Europe. Aviation is a global business with global customers and global supply chain. The Tier 1 suppliers also have a global sub suppliers. Mostly of them have manufacturing plants on low cost countries.

    Bombardier, Embraer, Boeing ND Airbus have parts been manufacturing in Mexico as direct investments, Tier 1 or Tier 2 suppliers. GE and Honeywell have engineering staff in Mexico and low cost East Europe.

    Everyone wants to fly cheap and and more. Operators need to keep costs down and as a consequence OEM need to provide best products with best price. The airspace industry is at risk with new ways of transportation like new speed trains and autonomous cars. You spend 3 hours at least to make a 40 minutes flight. I would spend 4 hours in an autonomous car if price is less than 2/3 of a fare ticket. It will give you more leg room. And comfort. In saying it just to plot the scenario that industry is facing for the next decades.

    Embraer has something that no other Tier 1 supplier has: it knows how to manage and certificate the whole aircraft in a very short manner. This story that you can count on Tier 1 supplier is false. Just read the story of 787. Boeing in the beginning was counting on them to integrate parts and the end story was thousands of Boeing engineers sent to support and takeover work from suppliers (including Kawasaki and others, even Americans Tier 1.)

    It simply does not work. OEM needs to integrate the project because they have the knowledge on that and you need someone that rules the whole project to take decisions over the design that may affect the OEM or other Tier 1 suppliers.

    So Embraer is much more than a Tier 1. Is an competent and competitive OEM with large investments over Europe and US. But Embraer when launched E2 family has decided not go to direct flight with Boeing and Airbus. Their marketing is restricted and there is new comings like Chinese, Russians and Japanese. If Embraer succumb it may become an excellent opportunity for the Chinese to enter in the western aviation businesses and become a third force.

    Maybe Boeing understands all this scenario and sees that by tying with Embraer they can get an OEM that does know how to integrate aircraft, keep it under control such it will not go to China or other JV that would make a third player in the industry and get KC390 for a good deal on US defense marketing influence areas where Embraer cannot enter.

    Embraer gets something to eat and keep business moving and maybe grow to 10 billion company but in a much more stable business scenario.
    Big chance it becomes a win to win deal.

    • My take is Boeing does not know how to do smaller scale stuff and Embraer does. May work for both.

      China and Russia stand no chance of pulling off being competitive. They can come up with a good enough aircraft (MC-21) but support is beyond huge.

      We have seen Airbus struggling and it has great support.

      Russia and China alone can’t do it and together its just a bigger mess.

      Two huge state owned industries that don’t know how to compete are just a bigger mess than one.

      And dictators can’t help but mess with the whole thing, its in their DNA. Politics rules.

      Yes they can force their own airlines to take some of it, but they still have to maintain a competitive level with others.

      Airbus snuck in at a great point of expanding need in single aisle and pulled off the A330 well. And they are still struggling.

      Boeing has struggled and the 787 is still a black eye on management as a screw up of biblical proportions (of how not to go about it) .

  11. While I doubt that Boeing fans will be happy that Embraer takes the lead in a 737 replacement, it is fact that the E2 has some nifty, clever engineering which is enviable. It is also fact that of the 4 airframers, Embraer has a reputation for delivering on budget and time.
    So, two massive hurdles, one is American hubris and the other is Brazilian pride- let’s see if it pans out.
    On the other hand, now that the 330Neo is about to start flight tests, and the 350 1000 is finally bedded, what next for Airbus engineers? Very quiet on that front.

  12. 100 Seats is not Boeings segment and Embraer doesn’t need Boeing like BBD needed Airbus.

    So something longer term in the lower NB segment would have to be on the table to make close cooperation make sense.

    • Could one of Airbus’ motives be to make sure that the CS500 never sees the light of day?

      • A CS500 in any form will be very different from an A320 in payload range and coomonality. Many A320 operators use pallets/ containers a CS can’t handle.

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