Pontifications: “We will develop and actionable plan to develop supply chain”

By Scott Hamilton

Oct. 15, 2018, © Leeham News: “With your help, we will develop actionable plans to develop the supply chain.”

This was the leading message from the 5th Annual South Carolina Aerospace Conference and Expo, held Tuesday and Wednesday last week in Columbia (SC).

Conference officials also said they are “exploring a national aerospace coalition.”


Second Annual Southeast Aerospace & Defence Conference

Organized by Leeham Co. and Airfinance Journal

April 14-16, 2019

Francis Marion Hotel

Charleston, SC

The South Carolina Council on Competitive/SC Aerospace already have a Letter of Intent with Washington State’s Aerospace Futures Alliance “for the purpose of advancing the aerospace industry across the US. The LOI will serve as the platform for exploring the creation of a national aerospace Coalition (Coalition) with the objective of strengthening and growing commercial aviation, space, and unmanned aerial systems in the US through a variety of activities.”


The LOI seems counter-intuitive. South Carolina competes with Washington State for Boeing Final Assembly Lines and other work. The first 787 FAL is in Everett (WA) The second was located in Charleston (SC), after a bitter dispute with labor serving the Everett and Renton plants.

Charleston was in the running for the 777X FAL. Work for the 737 MAX was located in Charleston.

But there is logic to it. Kelly Maloney, president and CEO of AFA, tells me:

“There are a number of federal, national and regional issues and opportunities that transcend state-specific interests that a united national Coalition could work on.

“Each of us is committed to continuing our in-state work independent of the Coalition and recognize that we may be competing with one another on some opportunities, but we also realize that competitors can also be collaborators for specific initiatives. The vision is to bring together associations, businesses and economic development entities from across the United States that have an interest in advancing the aerospace industry (commercial aviation, space, UAS) through federal advocacy, and national and regional efforts. (e.g., Workforce is an issue that has many state-specific solutions that will remain in each state. There is also the opportunity to work on federal solutions and possibly to work nationally and regionally to develop strategies and tactics to address the issue.),” she says.

“We intend for our work to complement that of other national aerospace associations. One differentiator, though, will be that we intend for membership to be accessible to all sizes and types of businesses and associations by keeping membership fees relatively low. The work we do will be national in scope for those issues that sweep across the U.S., and regional in scope for those issues that affect individual regions.”

Workforce development

The Conference had a bit more emphasis on workforce development than most events. Over the two days, there were about 900 middle and high school students in attendance. The first day was for high schoolers, the second for middle schoolers. The high schoolers attended the first day’s presentation by the former NASA administrator. Then they retreated to the 70+ exhibitors to speak with these company and agency representatives. The second day’s middle schoolers were exclusively with the exhibitors.

Given Boeing’s clear and deep interest in STEM education and workforce development, this was a pretty impressive display.

Washington State officials, take note: In the 22 years I’ve lived in this state and have gone to scores of conferences, I’ve never seen this kind of effort. South Carolina’s effort at this conference along this line was highly impressive. (The Aerospace Futures Alliance in Washington schedule its first Jobs Fair next year.)

Boeing NMA

Wendy Sowers, director of market analysis for Boeing, provided the standard Boeing market overview that readers of this blog and those of us attending many conferences know so well. Therefore, I won’t repeat these elements.

Given that this conference was in South Carolina, I asked the obvious question: what criteria will Boeing use for site selection for the NMA? Charleston, where Boeing has Line 2 for assembly of the 787, is clear contender for landing the NMA Final Assembly Line (FAL).

South Carolina, Charleston, the Aerospace Alliance (Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida), Salt Lake City (UT) and San Antonio (TX) are all expected to compete for the FAL with Washington State’s Puget Sound region where the 787 Line 1 FAL and all other widebodies are assembled. Puget Sound already is in active, open campaigning for the NMA FAL.

Sowers gave the obvious answer at this stage: No decision has been made to launch the program and therefore it’s too soon to talk about criteria.

Boeing’s forecast for the Middle of the Market sector, which the NMA is to address, has been a moving target. When Airbus first launched the A321neo LR at the lower end of the sector, Boeing sniffed there was little demand.

The officials put a figure of 1,000, then 2,000, then 4,000, then 5,000 and now between 4,000-5,000 over 20 years.

So I asked Sowers about this moving target and what drives the forecast.

Sowers said she couldn’t speak to old figures. But the forecast is drive by three things: growth in traffic and growth in the size of airplanes, moving up from single- to twin-aisles; more market fragmentation and opening new markets, such as those opened by the 787 in which 210 new routes have been created since 2011, when the airplane went into service; and overall new markets driven by Low Cost Carriers.

25 Comments on “Pontifications: “We will develop and actionable plan to develop supply chain”

  1. Wendy Sowers comments sound like management doublespeak, aren’t some of those aims in direct conflict with each other. On the one hand she is looking to grow the size of aircraft and on the other to promote market fragmentation. Another is simply a wish for a growth in traffic, presumably this is a demand thing and not within her scope. Risible at best.

    Perhaps a better analysis would be something like ‘we are desperately looking for a rationale for the NMA that supports the level of investment needed. For it to happen we need a set of circumstances that is akin to the alignment of all celestial bodies’.

    • Whether she is referring to the aircraft purchasing market (Asian carriers needing a different aircraft to North American /European carriers) or the operating business model (switching from H&S to P2P), neither are necessarily in ‘direct conflict’ with growing the size of the aircraft.

    • On the one hand she is looking to grow the size of aircraft and on the other to promote market fragmentation.

      These are not mutually exclusive. The 787 and A330 promote market fragmentation, why couldn’t the smaller NMA do so as well?

      Growth in traffic is a given. Isn’t that what Airbus is pinning its hopes on to save the A380?

      • Of course it can be made to fit the agenda but fragmentation can easily be argued as a reason for purchasing something smaller, cheaper and more ubiquitous A321/MAX 9/10 anyone? And the growth in size and capability could easily be argued to take it up a notch to more capable aircraft A339/B788. So it cuts both ways.

        The fundamental difference with the A380 decision is that Airbus have already spent the big bucks on that rightly or wrongly and can keep it in survival mode for a relatively small outlay in the vain hope of something changing. Boeing have the key decision to splash $15bn+ on the NMA and can opt not to fall in that hole.

        I would love to see a new B767 replacement, my all-time favourite ride over the years. I am thinking however that in today’s market a lifetime run of 3,000+ is needed to be viable and the jury is out on that being likely.

  2. New Analysis:
    Take tea, put in cup. Add hot water, steep for 5 minutes, add condiments of your choice (usually sugar, milk if any) drink at an agreeable pace. Look at tea leaves when done, make predictions.

    Old Analysis:
    Find animal of your choice (goats, sheep etc are traditional).
    Humanely put animal down, read entrails. Finish processing meet. Have a BBQ.

    • CF6 is one engine of three available for A330 and thus the A330MRTT. Who beyond the Aussies selected CF6 for their MRTTs?
      Progress D-18: pretty competitive at the time.
      the (also 3 spool) predecessor is a contemporary of the RB211

      • A330s delivered this year are for Hainan, Shenzhen Air, China Southern, China eastern, Sichuan Air, Tianjin Air , Tibet Air, South Korea AF, Nepal Air, Hong Kong Air, Singapore Govt , Royal Neth AF , Saudia , Thai Lion Air all with Trent 772

        Level and Iberia seem to be only recent ones with CF6

        Trent seems to have swept the pool with all the Chinese based carriers buying A330s

        • Reports were that the Trent was by far the preferred engine on the A330CEO (and only one on NEO of course) – Trent was on par or a bit better in some areas of the trade offs until they took it too far.

          Much like GEnX on the 787. More so now.

          • Certification details give CF6 -80E1 versions as a dry weight of 5091kg. CF6 is on the newest Delta and Iberia A330s.

            The Trent 772Bs that are on most of the other new A330s has a dry weight of 6160kg.
            The Trent 7000 series for the A330neo has a dry weight of 6445 kg.
            ( Interesting that the 7000 series is part of the 1000 series certification)

            So its a clear 1 tonne advantage for the CF6

  3. Are there signs of panic/desperation setting in on matters around the NMA?

  4. Apologies, of topic but of interest. Kuwait orders 8 x 338’s and reduce 359’s from 10 to 5. Said previously that the 338 and 359 could become a “pigeon-pair” on routes with seasonal and/or time of the week variances. Also, is this a first for Scherer and a sign of thing to come?


    • Well its about time they sold something!

      In all seriousness, who knows. Good deal to get his feet wet (NBOB) – Kuwait seems to like Airbus, all of the above?

      Have to watch a trend or not as it were.

      They should have the engine issues resolved by the time they take delivery.

      • Kuwait has more 777s than A330s so its more it suits their network . The -300ERs are very recent and thats a good choice for high capacity routes.

    • hard to fathom. . . maybe the French can liberate Kuwait the next time it is invaded by a neighbor

      • Maybe the next time a invading neighbor is aware of the fact he can’t trust the US. Last time the invading neighbor did asked the US first and did get a non negative repley for invasion.

        Also France and many other European countries did take part on the liberation of Kuwait.

        Kuwait has a split order of figher jets:
        – 28 F/A-18E/F
        – 28 Eurofighter 3A
        Just in case one aircraft may run out of spare parts due to political reasons.

      • Turbo prop guy ??
        “Before joining turboprop affiliate ATR in 2016, Scherer forged the successful A320neo jet programme and Airbus’s jet manufacturing entry to the U.S. with a plant in Alabama.”- Reuters

        hes a long time Airbus executive, not a turbo prop guy at all.

        • I hope/can see that he could be instrumental in getting a new wing for the 321X family to get MTOW to around 100-102T and possibly beyond with additional thrust.

          Such an wing with additional fuel storage capacity on an A320+ and with 9000L of fuel in integral tanks (LR version) could be very interesting, 4500+ NM range?

          • That’s my pick too. This will force Boeing to go small dual aisle, while Airbus will go for a 757 type of plane with highly modified A321.
            Financial engineering will be Boeing’s only Trump card, so it’s Wall St not the airlines who will need convincing

  5. Scott, do you still see the possibility of moving all 787 production to Charleston, freeing up space in the Everett facility for NMA production? And, is there any update on are all 787-8s now in production with 787-9 style afterbodies? Thanks.

  6. One question often in my mind re the NMA, will BA discontinue/”de-market” the 788 to improve the NMA’s business case?

    Could the A338 actually become a thorn in the flesh for BA, especially an ~230T MTOW version with de-rated engines (6000NM range?) as BA will need to keep the 788 in production?

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