Pontifications: Final Farnborough forecast

Special Sunday edition of Pontifications.

By Scott Hamilton

July 15, 2018, © Leeham News: The Farnborough Air Show officially starts tomorrow, when airframers begin their public relations presentations and orders are announced.

As this is written on July 13, I’m doing a final update of what to expect from the show. It’s always risky making predictions. If they are overly optimistic or pessimistic, the predictor can look foolish.

But here goes.

LNC took its first forecast look June 25.

Ihssane v Eric

This is the second air show for Boeing sales chief Ihssane Mounir. It’s the first for the new Airbus sales chief Eric Schulz.

Ihssane Mounir. Seattle Times photo.

Naturally, everyone is going to be looking to see who comes out on top.

Mounir, in an upset, skunked Airbus on its home turf, the Paris Air Show, last year. It was Mounir’s first as Boeing’s sales chief and the last for Airbus’ super-salesman, John Leahy. Although Leahy won the sales race by year-end, the Boeing win at Paris was embarrassing for Leahy and Airbus.

Going into Farnborough, the advance buzz gives the momentum to Boeing.

Eric Schulz. Airbus photo.

Mounir is expected to land a major order for the 777F, perhaps around 14 for DHL. This is an important deal for the bridge between the 777 Classic and the 777X, which is still weak.

Also on Mounir’s agenda: winning an order for the 777-8 from Ethiopian Airlines and perhaps Saudi. New orders for the X are important—there haven’t been many since the program launch in 2013/14.

I also expect Boeing to firm up the 40 787-10s ordered by Emirates Airline last November, which was not converted to a firm contract in 2017.

Mounir is also pushing for more 737 MAX orders to gain ground on Airbus’ large market share lead in single-aisle airplanes.

Schulz is making his maiden voyage at Airbus. A former Rolls-Royce sales executive, Schulz has impossible shoes to fill—Leahy’s—so he has to chart his own course.

He has huge challenges.

The A330neo continues to lag. Tony Fernandez, CEO of AirAsia X, the largest customer by for the airplane, seemingly engaged in negotiation-by-Twitter recently when he said everything is right about a follow-on order except price. He’s publicly flirted in the past about ordering the 787.

Schulz needs to get more orders for the A330neo. If Mounir were to flip AirAsiaX, it would be a huge blow to the program. Fernandez, who is nobody’s fool, knows it. Everyone knows it. Airbus can’t afford to lose this deal.

Also in need of a boost: the A350 program. The lack of delivery slots, and the decision by Boeing to up the production of the 787, means losing sales, not only for the A350 but also the A330neo.

Airbus recorded Unidentified orders in June for 10 A350s and 10 A330neos. These should be announced at Farnborough. But more needs to be done.

A200 nee C Series

I continue to look for a boost to the program formerly known as C Series. Airbus renamed the plane Tuesday to the A220 (220-100 for the CS100 and 220-300 for the CS300).

Look for start-up carrier Moxie Airlines to be a good prospect for 60 A230s. This deal may include Air Lease Corp as the flow-through lessor. An order from ALC would be a big endorsement for the C Series. Non-Executive Chairman Steve Udvar-Hazy in the past said he liked the plane but it cost too much and had too few customers. An order from ALC/Moxy will be a major endorsement.

There might be another major A220 order ready to go at the air show.

JetBlue last week announced an order for 60+60 A220-300s. The timing was a surprise–the decision between the A220 and the Embraer E195-E2 wasn’t expected until toward the end of the year.

And we’re still waiting for the MOU announced last year by Bombardier for 31+30 C Series to be firmed up.


Embraer remains a stand-alone company at Farnborough. The deal announced this month by Boeing and EMB to create a new company is only an MOU. It may take a year to hammer out details, terms and conditions, which means EMB could still be an independent company at the Paris Air Show next year.

Embraer officials expected a surge of orders this year at Farnborough. We’ll see.

This post appears on Sunday. Deals start getting announced tomorrow and continue all week. We’ll see how good my prognostication is by the end of the week.



51 Comments on “Pontifications: Final Farnborough forecast

  1. Reuters is reporting that Airbus has managed to keep Air Asia happy.

    They expect a top-up to take the airline to 100 frames.

    Oh, they’re also expecting a top-up of another 100 A321neos!

      • Having Air Asia as a customer is like having an arsonist for a house guest.

        • Or the dog chasing the right rear car tire, that chomps down…whomp, whomp, whomp! LOL

        • Yet Boeing tried VERY HARD to get them as a customer, and might still. Go figure.

          • Yep, probably insisted they put money up front and Tony doesn’t want to do that because he wants to defer and kick the order down the runway.

      • Or, maybe we’ll also see a Serious Fraud Office AB “perp walk” before show’s end. That’d be exquisite timing! LOL

      • Hopefully we can stop that media trend at Farnborough.


        Do you work for Airbus?

        • No, more in general. We don’t want to see the AirAsia deal as “A fresh blow for the Boeing 787 and 737 programs” and similar non-sense.

  2. Scott

    >And we’re still waiting for the MOU announced last year by
    >Bombardier for 31+30 C Series to be firmed up.

    You don’t think this is the recent Air Baltic announcement for 30+30?

      • Not long ago, many commented that Embraer would have been dishonest in choosing a method of expressing maximum reach of E2 aircraft in a conservative manner (at maximum passenger density).

        Now this information suggests that the BBD may have induced investors to error, causing them to believe that they would be 2 separate LOIs and new customers. Has the truth finally came?

  3. The potential AirAsiaX order a real big one for AB and the 330N. If the rumored 100 A330N deal happens was wondering if the 330-800 could come into play, sure AB prepared to offer these at “special of the year” prices. Also, could we see the cancellation of the 10 x A359’s and possible 321N order as part of a deal?

    • To be clear, the order is expected to be a “top-up” to take their total to 100.

  4. @Scott Hamilton
    In the JetBlue conference call (and info package) they gave numbers on how much more efficient the A220-300 would be compared to the currently operated E190. And as a reply on your question, they said it was close (between A220-300 and E195-E2).
    Am I correct in assuming the A220-300 numbers did not yet include the 3% better performance Airbus recently mentioned?

    • @Julian: don’t know. I don’t know when BBD will effect the software change. But since delivery is 2020, I would assume it does.

      • The relevant numbers would be the E2 190/195.

        And has the 195 increased as much as the 190?

        The regional feeders can’t afford to operate the C.

        That gets into knowing what airlines have what mix.

        Delta a case in point where they operate some over scope iron in 100 seat area and the C is a natural for them to replaced all the various types they have.

        For Jet Blue is clearly replacing A320 with the C series.

        They still have the option to keep A320CEO or some NEO for the larger capacity missions (or sub in the A321NEO) .

        • ” For Jet Blue is clearly replacing A320 with the C series.”

          I don’t think that’s correct. They’re replacing the E190 with the A220 (CSeries).

          • Ostensibly they are.

            But they are shifting A320 orders to A321.

            I interpret that at leas tin part that the C series will replace the A320 on some routes.

            With the C they move up out of scope on pilot pay.

            note the numbers of 120 C series (potentially) and lack of A320NEO orders

  5. My prediction is that Boeing Launches the 797!

    I expect I am going to be proven wrong but better bold than timid.

    • Late 2019 seems to be the date now. Seems everyone has a slightly different requirement for MOM/NMA. Boeing not sure which way to jump…

      But, seems clear they won’t be jumping at FAS 2018.

    • Hello TransWorld,

      Regarding: “My prediction is that Boeing Launches the 797!”

      According to the MarketWatch article at the link below, Boeing CEO today (7-15-18) had a rather different opinion than yours regarding when a 797 launch may or may not occur.

      “LONDON—Boeing Co. Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg said the aerospace giant will decide next year whether to pursue a new multibillion-dollar commercial airliner project—its first in about 15 years.

      “We’re advancing our business case,” Muilenburg said at a news conference Sunday. “Our plan is to make a launch decision on that airplane in 2019. We still are targeting a 2025 entry-into-service date.”


        • No engine, no productions system, no factory. If there would be any frank announcement it would go like this:

          “Sorry folks, but regarding the 797 we’re not making any progress right now: Two of the engine makers are covered in trouble with their current production and don’t have the necessary engineering capacities and funds available to develop a brand new engine for us. The third one is not even willing to make a leap and tries to sell us beefed up old stuff, which just won’t cut it.

          To fulfill the proposed performance we have to build it in CFRP entirely, but the production method of the 787 can’t be used as it’s too expensive. The price we can fetch for the 797 is so low that we actually can’t produce it in the States. Our best bet right now is to produce it in Brazil, which our current president will probably take as an offence and cancel the AirForceOne again, and maybe disturb some other rather lucrative military deals. So right now we don’t want to announce that either.

          Last, not least, we have’t even figured out how to produce the plance. Out of autoclave like the Russians? Barrels again? Panels like Airbus? The wide, oval fuselage adds significantly to the complexity of the design and production. It may also take an additional round of R&D with additional prototypes and durability testing. As our engineers can’t promise a straightforward solution, we’re hesitant to make the jump.

          We can launch the 797 only with a number of orders. But for that we need a price, a production, engines and a halfway dependable timeline. Right now we have nothing, so we just keep kicking the can down the road. Thank you for your patience.”

          • Sad but true, my hope are almost certainly dashed unless its the October surprise.

  6. “Boeing win at Paris was embarrassing for Leahy and Airbus.”

    How unnecessarily hyperbolic and overdramatic. Airbus isn’t going to win every year and considering there are no relevant American airshows, I guess there are going to be a few of those “embarrassing” moments.

    • Its all silly.

      Make it all about orders and turn an adult operation into acing like littel kids.

  7. Why would Ethiopian need the 777-8? They would be better off with the HGW A350-1000?

    • The 350K will make sense but Addis Ababa is probably one of the hottest and highest (~2330m) airports in the world, so field performance could be factor if you want to fly say 350+ pax over a distance of 7000+Nm?

      Therefore the B777-8 could have a niche application, but likely not to be a big order. As they do operate 737-700’s (8) could see them also as potential customer for the 737-7’s?

      • p.s. Application/s could be to the US West coast and Australian East coast from Addis Ababa?

      • The new Addis airport will be much lower, so it’s not a long-term issue.

        • Hello Stealth66,

          Regarding: “The new Addis airport will be much lower, so it’s not a long-term issue.”

          If the new airport is to be “much lower”, then it will be nowhere near Addis Ababa. See the excerpt below from the Wikpedia on Addis Ababa.

          “Addis Ababa lies at an elevation of 2,200 metres (7,200 ft) and is a grassland biome, located at 9°1′48″N 38°44′24″ECoordinates: 9°1′48″N 38°44′24″E.[14] The city lies at the foot of Mount Entoto and forms part of the watershed for the Awash. From its lowest point, around Bole International Airport, at 2,326 metres (7,631 ft) above sea level in the southern periphery, Addis Ababa rises to over 3,000 metres (9,800 ft) in the Entoto Mountains to the north.”


          • I read some time ago when the location was selected that it was “significantly lower altitude” than the current airport.

          • Thanks AP. Totally off topic, interesting that its believed that Ethiopian long distances runners are doing very well due to live and train at these high altitudes and temperatures.

          • See the link below for an elevation map of the Addis Ababa region. I can’t find anything lower than 6.600 feet anywhere near Addis Ababa. Note that the lowest elevation on the elevation key is 6,204 feet, which is assigned the color black, which I could not find anywhere on the map.


          • They have a short list of six sites. One of the criteria was an elevation of less than 2300m, but that’s not necessarily much lower than Bole’s 2326m.

          • Neither was I but I had read enough about Ethiopia to know that it was in the Jo Berg class high.

            More Power Scottty!

  8. 50 A330s for China, reminder to Boeing management not to support China’s critics if you want to do business. A330s as they seem to be a sorepoint for BA.

    • Do you have link? Or more specific info.
      I can’t seem to find that order.

      • Just a guess, I can’t see China doing nothing and their options aren’t limitless. BA has aligned themselves with the administration, so an unexpected order for an aircraft which Boeing has spent 787 cash margin to try and kill would make a lot of sense to China’s way of thinking.

  9. Scott, OT, saw today a comment in a cargo newsletter that BA might close down the 747-8 line, and free it up for more 767 production. Also, a major supplier has supposedly passed the word that they’re done with the 47-8 at the end of their BA contract. (Presumably, the run rate of 6 per year makes no economic sense for them.) . It would seem to make sense to me, given current market freighter demand is really for the 67-300F and 77-200F. And there’s those rumors about a 50 or so 67-300F Amazon Air order. Any thoughts or feedback on this?

      • Thanks, Scott. Have you got an article coming on this? My money’s on Triumph Group as “the culprit”. Saw that their BA 47-8 contract was to end sometime in 2019 (unless it’s been extended), their CEO wanted “out” of this work, and BA declined to shift Triumph’s 47-8 fuselage panel structure work to a now closed Macon, Ga. BA plant. Looks like, on the surface, BA may rue the day they abandoned their Macon plant lease.

        • Plant doesn’t mean much. It’s the jigs an tooling that matter more plus the skilled staff. Or as people keep saying. Send it to Brazil

          • Sort of a pain in the butt, imagine moving tools and jigs to Brazil, and training folks, for maybe two, two and a half years of ops? And, out of curiosity , what if the AF were to need some new C17 fuselage panels (rough landing, support cart denting, etc.), would they have the ability to just fabricate pressurized panels in house? (Warner Robins, Macon: home to C17 planned depot maintenance!)

          • Its all speculation.

            Said cargo demand also includes desire for 747-8.

            So its a matter of commitment, if there is commitment Boeing can then vertically integrate once again and bring it back in house.

            I keep reaidng that there is a shortage of cargo aircraft. The A330F is available, there are a lot of 767s out there.

            You might have to pay a bit of a price more than you want but they are there.

            And that does not mention the various 747-400s that are more than available, some 400Fs.

            Seems more like a game of chicken with a lot of squawking going on.

    • Take a bow, Chang (former chairman of Eva Air), having his “hold my beer” moment! LOL

      • And Bamboo air will order 787s, but that one is all over the map. Have to wonder if its not Hong Kong ‘Air all over again.

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