June 24, 2019, © Leeham News: Heard around the Paris Air Show last week:
Reporters long used to the entertaining and sometimes acerbic tongue former super-salesman John Leahy wondered how Christian Scherer would compare.
Scherer’s own sharp tongue began to emerge at the Airbus Innovation Days pre-air show briefing last month and got sharper at the executive round table the Friday before and on Day 1 of the international event.
On Day 2, Boeing and International Airlines Group (British Airways, et al) stunned the world journalists and Airbus with the LOI for 200 737 MAXes. On Thursday, Scherer expressed his displeasure.
The deal wasn’t unprecedented. In the 1990s, Boeing blindsided Leahy with an exclusive deal with American Airlines, followed by Delta and Continental airlines. “I was…pissed,” Leahy told LNA years later.
It seems Scherer is following in Leahy’s shoes in more ways than one.
The launch of the A321XLR was totally expected. The top question: does this kill the Boeing NMA? (LNA’s answer: Nope.)
Boeing came to the air show between the proverbial rock and a hard place, and not the one Scherer described at the Airbus Innovation Day in reference to Airbus bracketing Boeing’s New Midmarket Airplane.
Pounded for its blame-the-pilots and corporate insensitivity following the October 29 Lion Air crash, Boeing’s opening press briefing at the began with corporate CFO Greg Smith expressing regrets and sympathies over the accident and the one five months later at Ethiopian. Kevin McAllister, CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, Leanne Caret, CEO of the defense unit, and Stan Deal, CEO of Global Services, each did the same.
Coupled with repetitive vows by each of the four to “return the MAX safely to service,” one reporter at the briefing remarked that Boeing had been at one extreme following then accidents and has gone to the other extreme now. Another called it the Boeing Funeral briefing. LNA noted how tightly scripted the briefing was.
Striking the right balance between the extremes is very difficult.
But Tuesday’s IAG deal stunned reporters, aerospace analysts and others. The second reaction: how big was the “giveaway”? We may never know. The third: What’s Michael O’Leary (Ryanair) going to get? He is notorious for buying planes on the cheap.
Even though Bombardier still is producing the CRJ commercial airliner, among the aviation press circles I run in, it’s already history.
Embraer Commercial Aviation CEO John Slattery and his executives can vow as much as they want the E175-E2 has a future, but without a change in the US Scope Clauses to allow this airplane’s higher take off weight, he doesn’t have many believers among aviation reporters, analysts or suppliers I talked to.
The slow sales of the E2 overall remain a cause for concern among analysts.
In many ways, the reveal of the SpaceJet, its new cabin and the airplane’s new capabilities was considered by some to be the most significant story (after the Boeing-IAG deal).
MITAC, as Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp. calls itself, for short, now has the only new generation Scope-compliant aircraft in the industry. (People dismiss the Sukhoi SuperJet for its engines and the fact that it’s Russian.)
The E175-E2 isn’t Scope-compliant and the E175-E1 is “old” technology.
MITAC announced an unexpected MOU for 15 M100s (the renamed, redesigned MRJ70) from an unidentified North American customer. Remember, North America included Mexico and Canada, but it’s assumed the customer is from the US.
Japanese are famous for their reserved nature. The president of MITAC, Hisakazu Mizutani, literally couldn’t contain his giddiness over the positive reception to the SpaceJet and the MOU. You didn’t have to understand his talk in Japanese to see this at MITAC’s closing press event Wednesday.
The reaction to the M100 SpaceJet was universally positive.
The reaction at the show to the name “SpaceJet” was pretty much the other direction. Most people don’t make the connection to the emphasis on space within the cabin that drives the name. SpaceJet doesn’t have the same panache as Dreamliner.
The new number branding confuses, too. MITAC abandoned the RJ practice of broadly tying the name to seat count and instead is sequencing the name to the sequence of the airplanes. Although the MRJ90 is now tagged the M90, the MRJ70, as second in sequence, becomes the M100 (it can seat a maximum of 88 passengers). The planned redesign of the MRJ90/M90 to follow the features of the M100 will become the M200. (It will seat up to 100 pax.)
There’s also skepticism, even among some customers, that the company will be able to execute on the 2023 EIS date for the M100.
MITAC hit a home run with the M100. Now it must not trip rounding the bases.
Overall, it was a slow, under-performing show. I even came home a day early.