Pontifications: Another Calhoun challenge: fixing Boeing’s product strategy

Jan. 20, 2020, © Leeham News: David Calhoun has been CEO of The Boeing Co. for a week. A couple of new problems arose.

By Scott Hamilton

Late last week, the US Air Force weighed in that it’s unhappy, again, with Boeing over the KC-46A program. The Air Force was previously open about its dissatisfaction with Boeing’s performance. But top officials were quick to contact the new CEO with its unhappiness.

A new software problem was found on the 737 MAX which may add some time to the recertification timeline. The problem involves booting up two computers on start up and isn’t considered a big issue.

Last week, LNA posted a series of articles about Calhoun’s immediate challenges.

Last November, LNA posted a graphic that listed a host of problems that occurred under Denis Muilenburg’s watch. Calhoun must deal with these, too.

Today, we take a look at another challenge Calhoun must face: Boeing’s commercial airplane product strategy.

Upended Product Strategy

Despite Boeing’s long-standing PR that everything is fine, it’s not.

Boeing has, since 2011 with the launch of the MAX, been the follower, not the leader or innovator that its storied history demonstrated.

Airbus took over the leadership role with development of the A320neo, the A350-1000, The A350-900ULR, The A321LR and A321XLR. Boeing responded in defensive moves with the 737 MAX and the 777X.

Boeing dithered launching the New Midmarket Airplane (NMA) or, alternatively a single-aisle Future Small Airplane, both concepts discussed since 2012. Once the MAX crisis erupted, any new airplane program launch is on hold until the MAX returns to service.


The 787 technically is a superb aircraft. Executing the design, industrial partnerships and production of the program was a disaster.

And it is this disaster that upended Boeing’s product strategy the reverberates to this day.

The 787 program was launched in December 2003. The planned entry-into-service was of May 2008 was driven not by engineering timelines, Rather, promises were made to Chinese airlines to have the 787 in service in time for the 2008 Summer Olympics hosted for the first time in China.

Some suppliers believed the timeline was unrealistic. They were right. The plethora of problems drove the program to billions of dollars in cost overruns and an EIS 3 ½ years later than promised.

737 MAX

Had the 787 EIS been on time and on cost, the plan was to replace the 737 with a clean-sheet airplane design.

Boeing studied two designs: a single-aisle aircraft and a twin-aisle. Both were larger than the 737 NG, reflecting the trend toward higher capacity airplanes.

The favored design internally: a twin-aisle composite elliptical fuselage.

If this sound like today’s NMA, that’s because the NMA is what Boeing looked at in the period leading up to the July 2011 launch of what became the MAX.

Nevertheless, Boeing showed the single-aisle concept to the market and Airbus was afraid this was the concept Boeing would launch. Doing so would force Airbus to launch a new single-aisle design.

The decision to offer a re-engined A320, the neo, was a multi-billion dollar risk by Airbus. John Leahy, then-chief operating officer-customers, gambled that winning an order for the neo from American, Delta or United airlines would force Boeing’s hand to re-engine the 737. He was right.

American bit and Boeing decided to re-engine the 737 rather than launch a new design airplane.


Meanwhile, Boeing had another problem with its large airplane market.

Boeing’s plan was to replace the 777 Classic with a new design once the 737 was replaced with one.

Airbus’ A350-1000 initially stumbled with an engine that wasn’t powerful enough and needing some tweaks to the wings. This modifications were made. With them, the -1000 had superior performance and economics compared with the 777-300ER, Boeing’s powerful cash cow in the 300-400 seat sector.

Boeing was still weighed down by the 787 program.

In January 2013, the 787 was grounded for three months following fires with the new lithium ion batteries. Financial losses were still climbing.

There was little appetite, either for risk or financially, to launch another all-new airplane program. Boeing made the decision to proceed with a derivative of the 777. A new composite wing, new engines, system improvements, a fuselage stretch, folding wingtips and other improvements were design for the 777X.

The 777-8, the ultra long-range design slightly smaller than the A350-1000 or the 777-300ER, and the 777-9, the high capacity model with 425 passengers (since enlarged), was launched in November 2013.

The -8 proved to be a sales dud and may never be built. Seventy-two percent of the orders came from the Big 3 Middle East airlines. Since 2013, the fortunes of these carriers took a significant turn for the worse. Etihad Airways and Emirates Airline canceled nearly 50 orders. There are only 286 left by LNA’s count. Some of these now look shaky.

Rewarding shareholders

After years and billions of dollars down the drain with the 787, the Board of Directors and CEO Jim McNerney, followed by CEO Dennis Muilenburg, established a policy of returning 100% of free cash flow to shareholders. This took the form of share buybacks and increased dividends.

David Calhoun has been on the Board since 2009. Board votes and debate aren’t public, but it is assumed he supported this policy.

The money dedicated to this policy would have funded several new airplane programs. Even half of this money could have funded two or three new airplanes.

Retaking leadership

Calhoun has more than enough on his plate to pick up Boeing and turn it around.

Deciding what to do about Boeing’s 7-Series product strategy is a big issue.

Is Boeing going to launch a new airplane program when it’s down?

Will Boeing put off a decision for another year? Or two?

The 737 MAX must return to service. The Boeing Co. should return to be an innovator and a leader.

Or will it become McDonnell Douglas and wither away?

This is the long-term decision facing David Calhoun.

211 Comments on “Pontifications: Another Calhoun challenge: fixing Boeing’s product strategy

  1. Boeing should have done the MAX and the NMA at the same time; financing would have been possible by taking a break from the buybacks.

    The 777-9 may still do all right in the long run as a 747 and a380 replacement.

    • I strongly disagree. Boeing should not have done the MAX at all, and neither the NMA. Both products are stupid ideas for a plethora of reasons. The MAX we have discussed plenty with its old tech, but the killer is that its concept isn’t competitive for anything in size beyond the -8. The NMA would have been a similar disaster as the 787 in logistics and cost, only that I would never be able to cover the cost. The problem is that it’s squeezed in between the A321XLR and the A330-800 in cost and performance that its market would be very limited.

      The 777-9 will not do all right against the A350-1000 and when the Ultrafan comes along it will be dead.

      I’ve said it before, but I would strongly advise to first develop a “bridge” plane to compete with the A321. Combine the cockpit/FBW of the 787 with an Al-Li fuselage and wing, maybe a CFRP tail.

      Such a plane would also give some time for thinking and studies for the next generation “eco” single aisle plane. It would also buy time to develop a lower cost CFRP manufacturing system for both fuselage and wing.

      The 777-X I find really hard to make my mind up about. Could it get a CFRP fuselage later on to become a 777-X2? (No, not barrels…). That could bring it back on top.

      • The 797 NMA would have two sizes, say 8/9, one with 200 two-class capacity like the MAX10 but with more range and the second to add capacity up to 787-8 but without the range. Also the MAX 9 should have been made like the 10 that eventually came out.

        Basically then 4 product lines of 737 MAX7/8/9, 797-8/9, 787-8/9/10, 777-9 would replace the 5 retired product lines of 737-700/800/900, 757-200/300, 767-200/300, 777-200/300, 747.

        Not at all excessive, and in a way inevitable once the 787 took over the upper 767 and lower 777 markets.

      • I agree they shouldn’t have re-engined it.

        The aero cleanup for the Max (winglets, tail cone, vortex generator removal, etc) would have been sufficient to make the NG competitive and could have been done a decade earlier to boot. A few hundred million dollars of spending on continuous improvement instead of slash and burn and management bonuses would have put Airbus on the back foot for a change.

        The 5% fuel burn reduction from the bigger, heavier, draggier Leap engine on long sectors translates to less than a 1.5% increase in operating costs, discount the airplane and put the billions of capex into a new model. On short sectors, most flights, the reduced frontal drag area and mass of the CFM56-7 erode all of the MAX’s economic advantages to nothing at all.

        Factoring in all the teething problems on Leap and PW1000, the reduced performance of these engines from what was promised, and the cost of capital, it was a wash even before the MCAS catastrophe. But now the program is 50 billion dollars in the red.

        • Chris,
          Indeed. What you’ve said was pretty much in line with Boeing’s initially evaluation of reengining the B737NG. However the decision is not just dependent on boeing’s own product performance, but relative to the competitor’s product.
          If boeing chose not to re-engine the B737, the performance gap wrt A320neo will be even larger and boeing will lose even more market share. On top of that, Boeing may face a gap in production between the B737NG and a new clean sheet design. This will cause huge delays in the NSA ramp up and very much a repeat of the B787 production start.
          So with all these other factors considered, re-engine of the B737NG is the logical decision.

        • CFM56.7B has a 61 inch fan diameter. Boeing narrowed choice of two LEAP 1B versions with either 66 or 68 inches diameter. They ultimately went with the bigger engine. Makes me wonder that had Boing gone with the 66 and flattened the bottom intake they might have avoided the need for MCAS.

      • I don’t think any Boeing execs are staying up at night with worry about the a330-800 except those at Airbus maybe. With growth this cycle and next a midsized that could cycle like a 737 would find buyers, and had they kept a MAX-8 size it would have covered that program too.

        • A330-800 has got a sale to Icelandic air. The key clincher of the deal was the A330-800’s good short runway performance on short runways. I suspect the A330-800 might have quite good hot and high performance. There were several A330-800 sales to Iranian Airways held up by sanctions.

          • @William: Icelandic? I saw Air Greenland but not Icelandic. Are you sure?

      • “”The problem is that it’s squeezed in between the A321XLR and the A330-800 in cost and performance that its market would be very limited.””

        If the XLR is so successful alone I don’t think the market is very limited, especially when the A330-800 is ordered seldom.

        Who would have thought that a 5-abreast (A220) can take the market from 6-abreast aircraft. Even with an additional aisle there should be a market for 7-abreast aircraft. Planes are getting smaller but Single Aisles have restrictions.

    • I am trying to resolve Leehman position that they did not feel that that the NMA was no financially viable and now they should have launched it?

      • “Foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.”
        -Ralph Waldo Emerson

  2. Boeing do need a new airplane programme as a means of fixing their problems. It’s always better to focus on the future as opposed to lamenting about the past. It’s must be a FSA/NSA with 180-240 seats. Allow at least 7 years for development and certification.

    Here is an idea. Spirit AeroSystems now own the Northern Ireland plant that produces the wing for the A220. Presumably that means they own the IP for the carbon wing manufacturing process.

    Perhaps Spirit and Boeing can get together to produce a new carbon wing and empennage mated to an AiLi fuselage. A new carbon fuselage can come later. Production in America, of course.

    It sounds perverse given the fact that the A321 is selling like hotcakes, but it is there for the taking. The A321 can be well beaten by an FSA/NSA airplane specifically designed with 180-240 seats and a range upto 5000-5500nm.

    Yes, I know, everybody expects ground breaking technology to appear sometime in the 2030s. But that’s too late for Boeing. They need to do something now, even if it’s not perfect.

    • “Here is an idea. Spirit AeroSystems now own the Northern Ireland plant that produces the wing for the A220. Presumably that means they own the IP for the carbon wing manufacturing process”.

      IP doesn’t normally work like that – I would expect the wing development work was commissioned by Bombardier and Bombardier/Airbus would own the IP, unless Spirit had developed proprietary IP that was then applied to the A220.

      • As Mitsubishi and Fuji have the IP for the 787 wing, Airbus just needs to buy wings, Airbus has a nice A330 fuselage they can put them on.

      • It is a fairly unique process used in Northern Ireland, which they developed.
        Could be the main process IP stayed with the A220 when the plant was sold.
        Boeing bought the IP from Electroimpact who developed it for the 777X wing skin as a single large production process. I think it was the laying units heads that were new as wing skins have been done for carbon fibre before.
        They also do the wing spars as a single length as well.
        Boeing is doing its own wing build in its own factory and controls the critical IP for the carbon fibre laying robots and of course the core wing design would be all Boeing too. No more sending your CAD- CAM designs to someone elses computers and for them to make.

      • The technology (engines) are not there yet for an FSA, new technologies sometimes also have risk components. My take will be a “large” NSA with 180-240 seats as you indicated with a clean sheet “metal” fuselage and CFRP wing.

        2nd Generation LEAP’s and PW-GTF’s will be available and result in a very capable aircraft package that will be low risk and relatively low cost to produce and give airlines a plausible alternative to the A321’s.

    • I wasn’t addressing the wing design, I was addressing the carbon manufacturing process. But Airbus may own both.

      • Airbus have a sensible approach to CF fuselages; make small-ish individual panels, and fasten them together. Benefits; you don’t need an enormous facility to get going, you simply get any old factory able to lay up CF to make parts.

        Boeing tried to make a whole fuselage barrel section in a single piece, spun on a mandrel, but the 787 ended up quite heavy. Plus, there’s only one very large mandrel in the world capable of making them, it’s in Boeing, so capacity ramp up is very expensive once that one is fully occupied. Plus, they can’t make another one of a different size without starting again.

        So I think that Airbus are already pretty well setup with CF, and although Boeing have possibly misstepped with the 787 they could easily go the same direction as Airbus for some other design.

        At the same time, I’m sure Airbus know what’d it’d take to make a CF wing.

        The thing Airbus does have that is unique is GLARE, and that is not to be underestimated. It’s perhaps not as light ultimately as CF, but it’s not too far off and it’s very, very easy to use in a design; you use it just like aluminium sheet.

        • The carbon fibre fuselage panels used in the A350 arent really ‘smallish’
          They are bigger length wise than Boeings ‘barrels’ and are made separately for belly, sides and crown of the fuselage. They are assembled with the internal ring frames and floor beams and stitched longitudinally to make ‘barrels’ which are then shipped to the final assembly line.

          I think you are right about the Glare – although thats just one of the possible metal fibre laminates- being likely upper fuselage sections on the NMA and future single aisle projects.

          • Ok, but at least Airbus doesn’t need a fuselage sized autoclave! They can use the same lay up machinery and autoclaves to make parts for an arbitrary fuselage, something that the barrel approach used by Boeing on the 787 is less able to do.

            Glare is indeed one of many – I’ve experience with Aluminium+boron fibre composite in the past, and that’s unbelievably stiff (it’s used on a particle accelerator, though not for its structural stiffness).

            I hear that the usefulness of Glare lies in the fact that you can work it just like you do plain aluminium alloys. Perhaps some others are effectively unworkable and have to be used in flat sheets only? I wouldn’t fancy trying to bend Al+Boron and not destroy it in the process…

        • My understanding is that carbon fibre wings scale down a carbon fibre fuselage does not eg you can’t scale a B787 down to create a B737 replacement, hence the use of Al-Li alloys for A220. However a GLARE fuselage should work with a composite wing.

        • The Boeing one piece CFRP barrell avoids split lines in the hoop direction and should be a lighter design. They have more circular joints along the axial direction taking aircraft bending loads over the joints that Airbus has less of with its long shells. Running 90 degree shells in the autclave is not simple to keep its shape after baking and cooling. Airbus wanted or were forced to divide the high tech composites work to different plants in different countries and for that the panels design worked the best and would fit into the Belugas.
          A one piece full fuselage carbin fiber with ceramic fibers and high tech epoxy would be the lightest with a skinny alu frame for electrical ground but producing it would not be easy.

          • I really would like to compare MEW for 789/10 and the A359 🙂
            Going by OEW the difference is probably less than 5% for 10% more capacity and 10% more MTOW.
            Blockfuel for similar payloads seems to be a draw.

            Keep in mind the wing area shows a ~15% difference.

    • If I remember correctly the IP of the wings was put in a separate UK entity not (fully) owned by by BBD, essentially putting the UK government (or some government board) in control of the IP.

      • Presumably Spirit AeroSystems do have access to the IP for the carbon manufacturing process or they paid a lot for very little.

        But to emphasise, the wing design IP belongs to Airbus.

      • Let me rephrase that.
        The wing technology was under control of the UK entity whose sole purpose was to provide it to the Belfast factory and make sure production couldn’t be moved abroad.

  3. IMU the Boeing NSA presented at the time was nothing more than a 4 color glossy. Airbus called that bluff with offering the NEO. ( someone remember the detractors from all sides telling about the long line of downsides Airbus would encounter with this haphazard move to best the C-Series and catch up to the NG? 🙂
    Boeing did not have a viable ( layout, production ) design for an NB replacement. They still don’t have it.
    They have the MAX with stuccoed on slightly suboptimal engines dragging a super-sized bag of issues behind it.

    A35K bested the 77W by 22..23% I don’t think that only after another 1..2% gains the competitiveness of the A-product “flipped”.

  4. This article assumes Calhoun will be in the job to help lay down product strategy. I think that is a big assumption.

  5. ‘Boeing has, since 2011 with the launch of the MAX, been the follower, not the leader or innovator that its storied history demonstrated.’

    I see where you are going with this but it can be argued that Boeing has been very much the follower for much longer. Ever since the A320 Boeing has had to respond to Airbus initiatives. They have been lucky enough to develop some great responses to Airbus (NG for A320, B777 for A330/340, B787 for A330, B748 for A380) but in essence their approach has been to consolidate on the existing product offering wherever possible.

    Being the market leader Boeing has been able to do this but each and every time they wait to respond they have lost a little edge to Airbus. Now they are in the position where they must make the running. Perhaps this will be seen as the turning point where they have no choice but to come out fighting with a product strategy of their own rather than simply responding limply to the Airbus lead

    • ‘Boeing has, since 2011 with the launch of the MAX, been the follower, not the leader or innovator that its storied history demonstrated.’

      Earlier than that surely. Boeing was left to follow the A300, which surely provoked the 767 by way of a response.

      • @Roger and others: There certainly is an argument to be made that Boeing followed Airbus in a number of other areas as well: 767 (twin wide body) after A300/A310 (although neither Airbus was especially outstanding); the 737 NG followed the A320; and the 777 followed the A340 and MD-11, but in this case, was the better of the three airplanes. Boeing followed Airbus and the C Series deal with EMB–which still doesn’t solve the lower-end product problem Boeing has.

        Airbus followed Boeing’s 787 (forget about the execution screw ups) and got it wrong with A350 V 1.0, 2.0 and even the refined 3.0/4.0. Even A350-800 was a dud and the A350-1000 still had to be revamped.

        Both companies have screwed up. But right now, on balance, Airbus has the better product line.

        • Airbus product line
          A220 5 abreast eating in economy
          A320 6 abreast
          A330 8 abreast
          A350 9 abreast
          A380 10 abreast ( to be discontinued)

          You can see a coherent product line there with only 1 gap and the A380 was too much plane for the small market.
          Boeing has nothing like that and only bought Embraer as it was the last airframer standing with models for 100 seats plus. I dont believe the claims about Boeing wanted to be ‘building planes in Brazil’ as Embraer made a sucess ‘just being an integrator’ with most large structural parts made by outside suppliers from all over the world including at Everett itself.

    • @sowerbob, yes I think that they now have no choice but to make the running with a complete new line up. Given that the market seems to be headed towards smaller aircraft, a new single aisle seems vital.

      Where I think it is problematic though is, from where is the money going to come from? According to the BBC today, Boeing have been doing the rounds with the banks, seeking to borrow $10billion; only 6 raised so far. And that’s just to handle the MAX crisis, not anything else. From that we can read that the coffers are pretty empty at the moment.

      I’m going to pick holes in the suggestion that the NG was a great response to the A320. Superficially yes, they sold a lot of them. Yet at this most delicate of times it looks rather like the NG is going to start haunting Boeing.

      First, there’s the pickle fork issue that might just shorten the useful commercial life of the airframes to 1/3 that expected, which won’t help airlines that have bought them on debt secured against the airframes. Unless Boeing give some sort of cast iron guarantee to cover losses, no one is going to want 15+ year old NGs.

      And now just today the NYT has published https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/20/business/boeing-737-accidents.html an article examining the investigation of a crash of a Turkish Airlines NG at Amsterdam in 2009 and the investigation. Effectively it’s saying that the US applied pressure to cover up the fact that the aircraft design was junk and known beforehand by Boeing to be junk, that pilots weren’t informed of technical details about the aircraft, and that the pilots were entirely to blame. The Dutch seemingly caved in, and the pilots took the rap.

      Sounds familiar?

      Taken at face value the reported Boeing / FAA response to that crash then, and the FAA’s reported response to questions about it now, is doing nothing other than forcing other world regulators such as EASA to ask, what basis there is for accepting any FAA certification from the last 25 years, inclusive of the NG?

      Sure they don’t crash very often, but if that’s more by luck than judgement, well… Design flaws which could have been identified in a trusted certification process that only occasionally cause fatal crashes cannot be dismissed as “bad luck” in a court case.

      So the vital question for EASA and other regulatory personnel is, in the opinion of a court of law how many signs of untrustworthiness on the part of either Boeing or FAA does it take to write-off trust altogether? I reckon a bodged design leading to a fatal crash followed by a high handed intervention in the crash investigation designed to cover up the many shortcomings would just about do it.

      Can you even imagine the carnage wrought on Boeing by a global grounding of the NG around about now?

      • I am inclined to agree with your thoughts on the NG, sales were solid but multiple issues seem to be creeping out of the woodwork. I was suggesting that it staunch the flow but at the same time was fundamental in ceding dominance to AB in the SA. It is funny how things go though, the A321 was almost frowned on in the mid 90s as a a stretch too far with too limited a wing. Now it is rather large niche reaping massive rewards to AB and is possibly the single most important product in commercial aviation financially.

        • Ah I see what you mean about staunching the flow, and yes I agree. And yes, the basic A32X lineup is the gift that keeps on giving so far as Airbus are concerned. It always was a well thought out design with a long term future in mind. But I bet that not even in their wildest dreams the original designers ever thought that it’d still be the class leader 30 years later with really very little in the way of revisions.

          I’ve often wondered why it is Boeing at no point in the past 30 years has ever seen fit to build something new in direct competition to the Airbus A320 line. Thirty years. One third a century. Half an average human lifetime. People have been born, lived and worked for Boeing for ten years and moved on in that time. Really, how can such obstinacy persist through so much turnover of staff, even with a small closed club of management?

          Ok, so there’s some sound arguments in favour of not rushing into things, but even so.

          My own theory as to what’s going to happen next is that Airbus, who are kinda flush and developmentally idle at the moment, and seemingly recruiting in the Toulouse area, are probably now seeing changes in public environmental attitudes as their greatest business challenge, not Boeing. For example, Sweden saw a contraction in flights taken last year, due to “flight shaming”. That kind of change in public mood can move pretty quickly, especially here in Europe, especially if given a healthy political shove too. In places like China, all it takes is the political shove (public opinion doesn’t matter), and even there their government has realised that unchecked consumption of fossil fuels is a bad idea.

          I think that Airbus are likely to be working on new more environmentally friendly models as hard as they can, so that they’re more likely to be seen as “leading the way”, rather than “scrabbling to keep up”. By doing the A320Neo they’ve already come pretty close to being behind the curve of public opinion; a fresh design could have been even more efficient.

          The side effect of more efficient new models is that the aircraft are cheaper to run, and more desirable to have in one’s airline, and are easier to sell. Win win.

          If that turns out to be true, there’s a good chance that Airbus’s next model will be a pretty big step forward in efficiency. That could mean that any mediocre response from Boeing to the inadequacies of the MAX could be dead on arrival in the market place. Without an awful lot of subsidies from Uncle Sam, Boeing might be lucky to get only one shot at a new design.

          On a wider note, there is a potential problem brewing for the world. Boeing and Airbus are a duoply. Boeing is in deep trouble. It’s not impossible that they implode, and Uncle Sam chooses not to resucitate the corpse. That would leave just Airbus. Which, for the world, could be a big problem.

          Just suppose it really was just Airbus, and something happened to Airbus (I dunno, something catastrophic like Toulouse runs out of wine, or disappears into a giant sink hole, or gets flattened by a war, etc). That would leave the world with no aircraft development company.

          I don’t know about you, but a world where in effect we’d be having to bootstrap the entire aviation sector from scratch sounds like it’d be in a lot of trouble. Arguably, the world needs someone else (Boeing?) as an at least viable (and preferably competitive) back up to Airbus.

          The world has a number of these key industries that, really, are quite vulnerable to major setbacks. Hard diskdrives in Thailand, silicon chips in Taiwan, chemicals and plastics and all sorts of things in Japan, etc. That’s not a good idea. Presently we squabble like children in forums like the WTO over one country subsidising an industry just to keep up with another. However in these key areas I think that nations really ought to agree that to-the-death capitalistic competition cannot be the only rule for how countries interract commercially.

          Gosh, that got quite philisophical at the end there, sorry!

          • “I’ve often wondered why it is Boeing at no point in the past 30 years has ever seen fit to build something new in direct competition to the Airbus A320 line.”

            That’s an interesting question. Is it possible that in those 30 years it was not possible to design – and certify – a new aircraft that was sufficiently better than the grandfathered 737 to justify the investment ?

            Or was it as that Boeing didn’t want to use its cash flow to develop the aircraft ?

  6. “Boeing studied two designs: a single-aisle aircraft and a twin-aisle. Both were larger than the 737 NG, reflecting the trend toward higher capacity airplanes.

    The favored design internally: a twin-aisle composite elliptical fuselage.

    If this sound like today’s NMA, that’s because the NMA is what Boeing looked at in the period leading up to the July 2011 launch of what became the MAX.

    Nevertheless, Boeing showed the single-aisle concept to the market and Airbus was afraid this was the concept Boeing would launch. Doing so would force Airbus to launch a new single-aisle design.”

    I think the decision to stick to 2-3-2 oval to compete with lean 3-3’s for 20 years is remarkable. There must be hundreds of people within Boeing / NASA who can tell that it will be heavy/expensive..

    That said, the 777x business case was approved too (heavy/expensive) so it might get support.

  7. This may sound a little crazy, but I am a fan of the 737MAX and the program that sat behind it.

    If we consider the 737MAX issues are essentially governance based and that on numerous occasions Boeing had opportunity to fix the underlying issues with MCAS, the issues Boeing face today are a consequence of oversight and not poor product strategy.

    Considering timing is often just as important as the product itself, from a program perspective the 737MAX was probably always going to be the most profitable / lowest risk option for Boeing’s to compete with the A320NEO. We only have to look at Bombardier and Embraer to see how a good plane can actually be a bad product.

    The 737MAX program was a far larger undertaking than the A320NEO. It started development approximately two years latter and entered into service approximately 1 year behind. Not a bad effort considering the work that needed to be done. Along with the 737MAX, Boeing essentially had to redesign the production system. Considering the constraints of the 737 production facility, this was a major task in itself. A 737-900 was never going to compete with the A321. It was always going to be a step too far for this 1965 era design.

    I was always a fan of a dual 737NG+ (same engines) and new NMA program strategy. This would have been a lower cost option (a 7% fuel efficiency gain instead of 13%), that would not have required the fundamental systems changes of the MAX. It would of had an earlier entry into service date and would have been less disruptive (from a maintenance and spare parts perspective) for the airlines. If Boeing could have sold such a plane for a similar price to the NG, the cost benefit analysis for a NEO would have probably only come into play with oil prices above $100 barrel.

    Where a 737NG+ may have been a tread water option, the ultimate money earner and product positioning strategy would have revolved around the new middle of the market offering. It would have clipped the wings of the A321NEO with a more fuel efficient aircraft that could cater for a range of markets. (I don’t like flying on a narrow body for 2 hours, never mind eight).

    ….and as such I see this is why Boeing’s strategy will ultimately failed. Where the 737MAX can adequately compete with the A320NEO, the larger MAX offerings simply can’t compete with the A321NEO, a plane that essentially has its own market.

    • If Boeing would have done it right from the start I aree they would be victorious somehow with MAX. But they first slept over the time to develop NSA seeing that engines grows bigger, and then shortcutted with MAX. 787 problems were very much telling how bad things start to be in Boeing.

    • I agree with that. The MAX could have simply been a placeholder strategy for Southwest and a few other airlines for the low 2 to 3B investment. MAX was launched in 2011, could have been a ten year placeholder with a 2021 launch for a new single aisle.

      They could have just sized the engines for the -8 and a ten year run. Only the cash cow mentality wanted to milk it for a 50 to 1 return on investment and build the -9 and wait 20 years to replace it.

      • I think it was a legitimately tough decision that unfortunately was take over by the dark side of sock buy back (and dividends still I believe)

        Personnel take is that they should have replaced the 737 at the NG.

        That said, they made a 60s aircraft on par efficiency wise with the A320 (which is getting a bit dated itself)

        It does show how hard it is to come up with aerodynamic improvements (and justifying a new aircrat) when most of the gains are still due to engines.

        What should have been miner (MCAS) turned lethal due to implementation and that too is astonishi9ng.

        Keeping in mind anything new also has to be industrialized and that is truly a hard thing in aircraft building.

        Its a hard slog back up for sure

        • “That said, they made a 60s aircraft on par efficiency wise with the A320 (which is getting a bit dated itself)”

          because they got around the higher improved certification requirements.
          A320 shows higher crash g capabilities.
          You see it in the occasional “nose or tail amputation” after a crash of a 737. This kills!

          A320 needs higher thrust because it has to conform to increased obstacle clearance rules. This cuts into cruise sfc.


        • actually it isn’t at all difficult to improve the aerodynamics.

          convincing the bean counters to bet money on anything other than round tube and wing is what is hard.

          side by side double bubble, canard planforms, TBW, BWB, semi BWB (lockheed’s BWB with a tube coming out of its butt) all get you at minimum 20% improvement in Aero. but they cost more (at least initially) and are perceived as risky.

          personally I think a side by side double bubble with canard planform and overwing engines is the killer layout with simple structures suitable for stretch version with minimal change, very short (and therefor light) landing gear, unlimited room for big engines, low noise due to the wing shielding the engines….

          • Many a perfect idea has foundered on the sharp point of reality.

            In this case we have two.

            One is can you make it at a reasonable price that will be bought vs the competition. Industrialization in other words.

            The other is acceptance. Particularly in regards to aircraft you can’t dip your toe in the creek.

            And all those ideas while they look viable are not proven to work period, let alone the two hard realities.

            I often find people have great advice, until they have to put their money into it and then the hemming starts.

            Boeing is truly precarious as they have made so many two major mistakes ( 787/MAX/shareholder bias/ignoring the company engineering)

          • I don’t think it is that easy to improve the aero alot for a certified 200pax aircraft.
            The canard gives positive lift but gets close to c.g.
            Blended wing body has its issues with anti-ice, hoop stress for pax and cargo holds. Lookheed Martin provided some impressive numbers for a military transporter but not worked thru for commercial certification.
            The Boeing SUGAR project hopes to exceed 10% aero efficiency but they are not yet to a certified configuration and might need folding wingtips to fit the existing 737 gates and active fly by wire flutter control, so getting everything in place and there is a risk they get creep below 10%, they get help with new Ultra high bypass engines/UDF with big fans and high compressor pressure ratios and CFRP wings with Al-Li fuselages. Still reaching a 15-25% improvement from the A320neo is huge. But I think it requires new super efficient engines that will perhaps be certified around 2035 in this thrust class and Boeing cannot let the A321neo eat market share for 15 years. So an Al-Li fuselage with CFRP wings and todays engines and getting a 5-7% improvement over the A320neo series can only be successful with a superior manufacturing system getting the quality and manufacturing cost and volume right. Airbus is a bit stuck with factories all over and shuttling big parts all around Europe often in and out of coming non-EU UK. But it needs a Boeing to tell shareholders of 7 meager years and the CEO to have the guts to explain to Wall street that sometimes you need to catch-up or disappear from the market segment.

  8. If B’s new CEO is serious about recovering aerospace leadership he needs to indicate CLEARLY his new priorities to the Organisation and convince the Board to suspend the dividend immediately.
    With the funds so generated he can start development of the 837 FSA – 180 to 240 passengers, 4500 miles range – perhaps with LiAl fuselage initially, but upgradable to CRP down the road. Fuselage diameter no longer bound by 707 dinosaur/ancestor, ground clearance to use normal large diameter engines upgradable if needed.
    He also should put some real resources into blue sky R&D such as braced wing, BWB etc… for the future.
    This is not as risky as one might think since the stock is due for a significant drop anyway, so in bridge terms it’s a loser on loser play.
    Will it happen? 30% chance at best as Board composed of chicken and rabbits, and Calhoun may not be the weasel or mongoose they would be afraid of.

  9. The 777X will have two problems.

    The A350 is getting better and better. Airbus claimed the A350-1000 is 25% more fuel efficient than the 777-300ER. In an article for Aviation Week, Cathay Pacific agreed. That’s before the bigger winglets. And before the the 2022 version for Qantas. The A350-1000 is already far ahead of the 777X and will get further ahead. Then Ultrafan.

    But then we come to the secondary market. Emirates is high and dry with the A380. There is no secondary market for GP engined A380s. There are some signs of a secondary market for RR engined A380s, but nothing to write home about. Emirates are doing it all over again with the 777X. Or, it appears that way.

      • Most interesting comment on the RR for the A380. Not supported by any facts of course.

        First, GP has an issue with blades. (yes Duke I am watching that) newer RRs do as well as we don’t know if that extends to the older RRs.

        Fuel Burn Wise GE was beating RR Trent 900 all hollow with 3% as well as maint (not hard to do over a 3 spool)

        The current RR replacement was supposed to be 5% better and not only failed to meet that miserably (granted it was impossible) , they had other problems that no one is talking about other than it was blade related (funny how often that comes up with RR)

        MA tried to pedal 6 or the newer build RR x A380 and wound up turning them into a Prestige Haj carrier (anyone hear how that is working out?)

        SA elected to return 5 of the first ones they got (RR, one is tear-down, one is a wet lease and the others look to be tear-downs)

        So far, there is zero evidence that RR is desirable and some its not.

        Data sets require more than an opinion, that is why its called data.

        GE has not come up on the secondary market. Pretty much in the same boat was the rest of the A380s regardless of engines, no market.

      • Word on Hi Fly is that the A380 has not been used since October.

        Not what I call high demand, actually zero and hugely costly.

        Not a matter of if, but when they get rid of it.

        Costly PR stunt.

    • Emirates may be high and dry with the A380, but they carry an awfully large number of happy passengers on them. They desparately wanted a NEO, but neither Airbus nor RR were keen at the time given everything else they were doing, added to the reluctance to do a model for a single airline.

      There’s still the question of what aircraft is going to be able to carry all those passengers once A380 is gone. Short answer – nothing. They fly to too many slot constrained airports, so more flights are not a universal option. 777X is looking more like a none-answer too.

      Best bet? A350-1100 + modest route pruning out of Dubai to save having to build yet another airport.

      Radical bet? A380neo. Offer the right money at the right time, and Airbus + RR would do it. Even Bjorne has observed that RR’s test engines for Ultrafan on a 747 look ripe for the job as-is. Bolt em on the pylons, slap on a NEO label, ship it.

      • Emirates don’t ‘have’ to swap out planes every 10-12 years,they choose to.They can happily keep 380’s in service 20-24 years.BA have with their primary high yield aircraft (744).I imagine they will.

      • It is more likely some Airbus retirees will certify the Ultrafan A380neo just like Gamma corp did the DC-8 reengine to DC-8-71 -> -73. Emirates have enough of them for such a program reaching reasonable volumes and there is no replacement Aircraft. John Lehay and Fabrice might join in to do it with some RR and UK goverment funding. A 12-15% better SFC than the T900 would make Qantas fly it SYD-LHR.

  10. NASA is paying and pushing Boeing to devellop a new super efficient narrowbody Aircraft SUGAR in different versions. Also known as the Boeing Truss-Braced Wing Aircraft with some partnes.
    The program is slowly trotting forward with high speed wind tunnel tests and optimizations. If Boeing fully staffed and funded this study and make sure it can be built mainly by robots it can develop to be the path forward to a 737 successor hopefully with folding wingtips. Don’t know if Bjorn analysed it yet?

    • Its been on my radar for some time

      I just don’t know if its viable as the proof is in the details.

      Boeing also bought out an outfit that had a design for a center braced fuselage.

      At issue is if it looks really different airlines might not buy it as they don’t know if the public will.

      • Yes, it is tons of work to make it a succesful design and you want a new ultra high bypass Engine on it, apperantly GE is on the team but only preliminary design it sounds like and it will be within CFMI thrust agreement. So GE/Safran have to get the Money back on the different LEAP Engines before releasing 2-5$bn for a full scale development. The 737MAX might be a big drag as they have been making Engines and not getting paid before customers pick’em up. A few quarters of intense LEAP-1B deliveries and payments in 2020 and after GE closing the books for 2020 might give cash and inspiration to get all engineers going. Now after GEnX, LEAP, GE9X are thru development the GE engineers need a new Engine to work on, Safran can probably start the full scale development of the new fighter Engine with MTU. GE’s interest into the A350neo might just be data collecting for Ultrafan performance they have to beat in the next GEnX design iteration.

        • All the NASA studies showed it had to have GTF to be a real jump in economics.

    • A Truss-Braced Wing is unpleasantly stiff.
      High dynamic loads. ( less wing flex )

      • I think they go for a very slender wing with a large folding wingtip together with a thin strut helping the aero giving the optimal flex and might need FBW active flutter control and get it certified, the whole industry will benefit from a certified active flutter damping solution.

        • Think they try to design the strut in composites to do the flexing and use aero for the damping, hopefully will they work tru all problems that will pop up and get a steady funding until Boeing Board of Directors realize it is the best option forward to go extremely efficient on a new narrowbody (kind of the same thinking as on the 787) and force Airbus hands quickly before they have piled up cash on the A321neo sales as they are not as happy to give cash to shareholders.

  11. I think Airlines want 2-3 alternatives in all aircraft segments, Regional, smaller- bigger NB’s, middle of the market, twin aisles and 400+ seats. To have longer term reasonable pricing, reduced risk and stimulate competition/innovation.

    With Irkut & Comac minding their own business, if Boeing is not sufficietly filling in, a western alliance might surface.

    • Comac has not path to certificate.

      Both Irkut and Comac have the same issue with support of product which is at least 50% of the issue (buyers know Airbus and Boeing can do it so it snot a factor.)

      All the evidence says Russian and China have not a clue in that area so its massive factor.

      • “Comac has not path to certificate.”

        Bah! Comac will succeed because it is a Chinese national effort to become independent of the West – and the recent trade war with China has re-enforced that position. Comac has massive government support, virtually unlimited money, a deep well of bright (yet inexperienced) engineers and a huge home market.

        I believe that Comac will gain certification outside china, but if it doesn’t, then the Chinese market alone is big enough to have made the development effort worthwhile. As a result, sooner or later, Comac is coming – and it will be fitted with Chinese engines.

        Bet on it.

        • I agree. The Chinese are smart, determined, hard-working, affluent, long-sighted, and they are many. It’s hard to see them not succeed eventually.

        • Agreements on certification have recently been concluded between Europe, China and the USA. Comac has a way into the western market. Comac are using Western engines, at least for now.

        • I think they’ve already started preparing the C919 for the Russian PD14, the C919 will be far more sanction proof. The relentless bad mouthing of Russia and it President by its left wing neo liberal and unmentionable pro diaspora press has driven Russia and China into a powerful union whereas it could have integrated into the west.

          • left wing, neo-liberal?

            I’m ideologically mystified.

    • An interesting development would be Russia selling the MC-21 to Mitsubishi to take on the 737MAX, hence a developement like for cars where Japan came from below with small cars and grew step by step pushing the US big cars with gas guzzling pushrod engines further behind until they reacted mainly competing against european smaller cars.
      The evolved MC-21 might be their next step as Russia will have problems convincing customers it could support an operation of 12-15 cycles per day week in and out with only scheduled maintenance breaks on the weekends.

      • Mitsubishi would have had trouble supporting its own MRJ, thats why they bought out the CRJ support business. No chance of them doing what you suggested.
        The only company that ‘might’ have looked to having another larger airliner to its own successful product line was Embraer and that would have been as a new final assembly line for MC-21 with western engines and flight deck.
        Perhaps Boeing was thinking that ‘might’ happen too?

  12. It is too late for Boeing to redo its product strategy- without taking a big hit on the stock price , investing for the next decade, stopping the ‘so called” returning funds to shareholders strategy . But it can be done if they take a long view. The question is: can an American company take a long view these days – unless it is like a Tesla-which Boeing is not.
    Boeing has to live with a 33% market share – thanks to the duopoly of the two western plane makers and high entry barriers -while China makes its case over the next decade.
    One more thing-for taking a long term view strategy wise, CFO cannot handle strategy ; it should come under some one with a strong marketing background -and who can be a potential CEO if the strategy pays off.
    When will Wall street get the message and start pricing Boeing taking into the risks and downsides?

    • Boeing has to live in the current stock market ‘universe’ where solid industrial companies like them working in a mature market are expected to emphasize stock buybacks and share dividends yet anything with ‘tech’ or ‘disruption’ in their vision and based in Silicon Valley , spending all their money on development, is a sea of negative cash flow, cant return anything to shareholders let alone buy shares – they are increasing issued shares all the time- and yet has wildly optimistic ‘valuations’ becoming Wall St darlings.

      The interesting part is that the aviation industry was exactly like that in the 1920 and 30s, where talented young designers could move from existing business to set up their companies under their own name, or others could merge smaller companies under their own name , or forest investor could use a timber mill to get into the business , just as Bill Boeing did

  13. Airbus A350-900 is a very good aircraft. The -1000 has been a failure but people keep saying it is 22 percent better than 777-300er. It is only when 300er is configured in 9 abreast. At 10 abreast it is only 9-10 percent better. In Emirate configuration according to Sir Tim Clark the -1000 will only seat 317. The 300er seats 354. Airbus mistake with the -1000 is it can not seat 10 across. Do people wonder why it has only sold less than 200 since 2006. Mr. Ferme did the comparison with the 777-9 and -1000 before he join leeham and we know how that turn out.

    • Daveo, look at the empty weights of the 777-9 and A350-1000, the gap is huge.

      Nearly all 777-9 customers ordered / are openly considering -1000s too. (LH, Ethihad, Cathay, Emirates, Qatar, Singapore, BA).

      Airbus keeps low, but name two 777 operators that didn’t order A350s. Something happened.

      • If you take the extra size of the 777X aircraft into account it is around 7 tonne heavier than the A350-1000.

        • Do you know what the 777-9 MZFW is ? Didnt think so .
          And the 777-8 , supposedly the ‘same size’ as the A350K isnt even defined.
          Sure the 777X will be great for airlines who carry a big premium section, 10 across seating for economy and lots of belly cargo. But for every flight from Asia with full cargo might not be full on the return flight.

    • 10-abreast 777 on a long range? Boeingitis … worse than 9-abreast 787.

      The A350 cabin could be wider, but only to make 9-abreast seating more comfortable, not to reach 10-abreast seating.
      The A350-900ULR is using 8-abreast seating.

      A350 makes only sense on very long range, till 6000nm I would use A330-900.

      Emirates has 50 A350-900 on order and reduced its 777X order massive. I expect this will continue.

      • 777X is delayed, a good opertunity for all customers to cancel orders without penalty. The best Boeing can do is to convert them into 787 orders, to prevent the rate reduction of the 787 line.

    • Airbus have offered to rework the A350 to provide the same 16.8 inch seating as the 77W. Nobody seems interested. I can only assume margins on 77W economy don’t justify it for airlines and only LCCs can make sub 17 inch work, but asian LCCs seem happy enough with the AB 16.4 config. It’s horses for courses but one Boeing problem is that they only have one product and airlines can’t differenciate themselves from LCCs. Anyway, so many newer 77Ws in service the 350-1000 will take a while to catch on, esp as there are no near term slots and airlines typically order the cheapest version then size up. Less upfront capital involved.

  14. Executing any of these speculative programs would depend on an engineering capability that Boeing no longer possesses. Pockets of required technical skills and expertise cetainly exist but the effective management of those resources would be hard to find in the pressent organization. Senior management in the McNerney/Muilenburg era were seemingly focused on everything but building airplanes. Rah-rah campaigns like Get to Blue and Lean+ were band-aids for continuing management failures, consuming energy on short-term, MBA-type fads that otherwise could have unified thought and action on a strategic vision and gaining the means to achieve it. And who can forget Go for Zero, the manic industrial safety program that ironically neglected (MAX) system and product safety? Scott is correct, the whole board ought to go.

  15. That’s ok…its more important to spend billions of dollars on share buybacks rather than spending on employees and R&D. While share buybacks are important to a certain extent (employees receive shares in the company), money could’ve been spent better elsewhere.

    This is the fault of previous management as well as current and past Boeing board members.

    Hopefully Boeing will improve because of these tragic disasters and bad decisions over the years.

    • Companies can take profits and:
      – invest in future production (e.g. design a new aircraft, create a better process etc)
      – bank the profits
      – buy back shares
      – pay dividends
      This is in decline order of confidence of a company in their ability to make better use of the capital than the share holders.

      Once dividends are payed the money is gone from the company. Management is basically saying we have no good use for this capital and don’t see how we can create shareholder value with it down the road.

      Share buybacks are not quite the same. They are a little like paying back a loan. The company is saying we don’t know what to do with the capital right now, but this will raise the share price and if we need capital later we can re-issue shares.

      Banking the money is the company saying we think we may have good use for this capital fairly soon.

      And or course investing in capital projects is the company saying we can make good use of the capital in a way that will result in greater shareholder value down the road. In fact greater value for shareholder than if we returned it to the share holders and let them invest it elsewhere. That is a sign of a confident company.

      But there is a limit to how much cash to bank, Apple used to just bank profits. But at some point they had so much capital that they had to admit there was no scenario they could see under which they would need it. At that point they started paying dividends and buying back shares. But despite that they have over 200 billion on hand. Enough to have a couple of failed products and still fund almost any imaginable new product.

      The Boeing issue is is a lack of imagination and moxy.

      • A failed Apple product has no where near the magnitude of impact that a failed aircraft does.

        A few million to develop a smartphone, 10 billion or so for an aircraft.

        • in 2019 Apple spent ~~$19B just on R&D

          My tentative guess would be that they spend much more than “just a million” per new type development.

          Producing a flop would hurt Apple.
          But they have a war chest that can absorb a failure.
          Boeing does not.

  16. Another Calhoun challenge: The WTO case against Boeing due to the huge 777X subsidies will come to an end this spring. All possibilities for appeals have been exhausted. I think it is about 7.5 billion from the state of Washington, among others.

    In light of the 737 MAX certification «mess», certification of the 777X might be a challenge.

  17. I know that this article was mainly concerned with company strategy, but one comment at the start concerned me.

    “A new software problem was found on the 737 MAX which may add some time to the recertification timeline. The problem involves booting up two computers on start up and isn’t considered a big issue.”

    Maybe this isn’t a big issue, but without knowing the full details I would be very concerned that the test setup, where everything was validated, doesn’t accurately model the real environment.

    If the test setup doesn’t accurately model the target environment, what confidence does that give you about all the other validation tests ?

    • I think it is miner.

      At issue to me is the FAA suddenly decides to jump in a have Boeing (Collins) mess with a design that has worked with no issue since the beginning.

      Theoretically it can be better maybe (what .0000000000001%) , but it was not needed and now they have slowed the whole process down not in dealing with MCAS which was but throwing this in.

      Not that Boeing did not expose themselves to just this kind of knee jerk, but airlines are affected as are people livings for no gain.

      • From what I’ve read, I suspect the Boeing 737 FCC’s are not capable of adequatley running the modified MCAS software – they just don’t have the processing power. I think the problem is a computer hardware problem, too.

        Seriously, if the MCAS software problem is such an easy fix, then why wasn’t it fixed in time to avoid the Ethiopian crash?

        • Jimmy, it takes time to get the MCAS changes evaluated and approved. Bjorn did an article on March 27th describing the presentation of the fix to airlines and pilots. So it was in a workable form then, but still needed evaluation and approval. They could not just roll it out on their own.

          Boeing believed they were ready for approval in May 2019 but then the more stringent cosmic ray test was imposed, requiring a rewrite of the FCC. So that change has now required an additional 8 months and counting.

          • Presented to airlines and pilots, but seemingly not consented to by regulators such as the EASA… Boeing and the FAA are at risk of getting a nasty shock.

            The “cosmic ray” test was failed in September, during FAA testing. One wonders whether or not Boeing had done the test themselves…

          • Matthew, actually the cosmic ray testing was in June, it was part of the FAA verification of the MCAS changes as proposed by Boeing in May.

            Boeing then launched the FCC reconfiguration in response, which took up the summer and into early fall. The software audit also had to be expanded to the entire FCC system, rather than just MCAS. So we are still dealing with the effects of the newly stringent June requirement.

          • Rob, isn’t it suspicious that Boeing’s 737 FCC has minor problem after minor problem that never stops? Now, you can blame this situation on the FAA’s imposition of new requirements, or (like me) you could also come to the conclusion that the problem lies with Boeing’s Hardware and Software – and that it’s a more fundamental problem than any that’s been widely discussed thus far. I tend to think the later – I think there is a fundamental issue with the FCC (i.e., it’s not fast enough) and I think there may also be a fundamental problem with the 737 airframe. Seriously, after 15 months we have yet to see a test where the aircraft is flown without MCAS – a flight that would prove that the 737Max airframe is sound…or not.

            Isn’t it strange that after 15 months of this 737 Max saga we have yet to fully understand the flight characteristics that MCAS was created to augment? It is bizzarre…and it makes me think Boeing has something to hide.

            On a Cynicism Scale 1-10, I reserve the setting of “11” for Boeing, for whatever they do they never cease to shock me.

          • Jimmy, I’m not suspicious because I’ve researched all the reported issues, to understand them to the extent that’s possible with the available information.

            So I understand the original issues in MCAS, as well as the corrections, which were more or less in final form in May.

            I understand why the FAA upped the ante on the cosmic ray testing in June, but thus far have said nothing about the earlier 737 models that have the exact same vulnerability. MCAS being viewed as pseudo-FBW, made them prefer to have computer cross-checking for redundancy with MCAS present.

            I understand that there is no documented performance issue with the FCC.

            I understand why making the resulting new FCC software the primary system in the aircraft, might uncover boot-up issues.

            I understand why trim corrections were needed for one area of the flight envelope, and why MCAS would be a reasonable solution for that problem.

            I understand why there has been no EASA flight testing. They won’t test until the software audit is complete, and the audit could not commence until the rewrite was complete, and the rewrite could not commence until June when the test requirement was changed. And now that the audit is on-going, I understand it will turn up minor issues to fix as well.

            I think the main difference is I don’t start with the cynicism rating of 11 out of 10, so I don’t always reach the same negative conclusion as you about these things.

      • Minor, a miner digs things out of the ground. It’s hard to read your (interesting) posts because of the garbled grammar, syntax, and spelling. Please do some proofreading and editing before you post for the sake of your readers and to make yourself appear more intelligent.

      • TW, totally agree, the benefit was very small for the huge cost involved. It was done to push back against Boeing, but it has nothing to do with RTS and could have been done after RTS, with more time allowed to do it well.

        Boeing is criticized for bad management but they don’t have a monopoly on that, sometimes the regulators are just as unable to think things through.

        Jimmy, the performance issue has been reported as inaccurate, it was rumor that became an article. Since been set aside.

      • Bringing a system from “off, safe” to “on,safe” potentially transitions over unsafe states. It is a pita to get right.

        Next thing coming up could be:
        With FCC left and right lobe checking on each other in a safety critical way you need to ascertain that they are in sync exchanging information for checking.That again is a pita to get right.

        Shoehorning this into a system and setup that was not designed to fullfill such a task .. promises to provide for more unending “fun”.

        • Uwe, the new FCC software has been extensively tested as a secondary system in flight, with reliance on the original system as primary for safety. That allows you to test modes of the new software with a backup. If there is a problem, you switch back to primary and can return home safely.

          Same thing is done with new engine testing, you don’t replace all the engines with the new version, just one so you have a backup.

          The latest testing suggests they are now using the new FCC as the primary system, so that it has to startup with the aircraft. Probably has not had to do that before because the original system handled it.

          Also that cannot be fully tested in the simulator as the aircraft hardware is only emulated, it’s not actually the same. So not unexpected that there could be some issues, but not severe or threatening flight performance.

          • Rob,

            Your saying they had two primary FCCs (old software) and two secondary FCCs (new software) on a MAX linked to all flight controls, all sensors and all control surfaces.

            So they added two FCCS for flight testing.

            They have not made any hardware changes to the MAX.


            See A. Jones comments. He knows what he’s talking about, as usual.

          • Philip, Boeing has been flight testing this software for a long time. I’ve given the flight hours before. I don’t know if they use separate hardware during the test, but the software has added configurability for the test flight.

            Here is a quote from the Boeing 777x testing, the 737 MAX was likely similar:

            “Testing of the software started on what is called non-flyable code A. The teams continued all the way to non-flyable code W, testing various units and integrations. By the time they got to that stage they had tested everything, including at systems level. The next stage was to test the flyable Y level. The teams then installed the software on an iron bird and tested it for redundancies and multiple systems failures, before it was finally installed in a test aircraft.”

            I don’t disagree with A Jones that an engineering simulator is used. But flight testing is also needed, and finding a flaw at installation on the real aircraft, that wasn’t found in any of the simulators, regardless of type, is not that surprising.

          • Rob,

            I’m not an electrical or electronic engineer but I’ve met plenty who are. Shall we say there is an awful lot of raised eyebrows.

            So again, communication protocols are an industry in it’s own right. Why? It’s hard.

            Boeing only decided to link the FCCs in the summer after the FAA said no. Six months is far to short.

            What’s interesting to me is Muilenberg wanted to certify the MAX last year even though the FCCS don’t always boot.

            The fact that the FCCs don’t always boot means they are a very long way off.

            To use your words. Subtle difference in timing and behaviour. Those words represent bugs, bugs that are difficult to find and eradicate. The software must ALWAYS give the same answer, the same result. The answer, the result must be right. Anything else is a bug.

            This is why I’m so against software being used to control stability on civilian airplanes. Don’t mind it for military airplanes. Pilots have ejector seats. Passengers on civilian airplanes don’t have ejector seats.

            An aerodynamic fix for me.

    • Let’s see what happens.

      Boeing must have developed some kind of bespoke data bus to allow the two FCCs to communicate. It’s far harder than many understand, to the point it’s an entire industry in it’s own right.

      A typical issue is intermittent loss of communication. This appears to be the problem.

      Getting it right is very hard. Getting it right with redundant fail-over is even harder. As I said it’s an industry in it’s own right.

      Before Rob responds, can I invite you to research IEEE standards with regard to communication protocols. Communication protocols are the means by which a data bus is implemented. IEEE stands for Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers.

      It’s hard. But let’s see.

      • It was a start-up validation problem brought on by being installed in the real aircraft hardware instead of the simulator hardware. There are always subtle differences in timing and behavior in hardware systems. Anyone who has dealt with a real-time OS will recognize this. It’s why we flight test and don’t rely completely on the simulator.

        The solution won’t be difficult but it will take some time and further testing in the actual aircraft.

        IEEE defines the standards for all kinds of things, but manufacturers still have to figure out the hardware implementation. Since the data communication channels work well in flight modes (as already tested), we can assume that isn’t the issue here. It will be a problem introduced by interaction with something outside the FCC’s.

        • Really! Your so funny.

          “Subtle differences in timing and behaviour in hardware systems”

          In other words, you don’t always get the same answer for exactly the same set of conditions.

          But your right, manufacturers do need to implement the communication protocol. Typically it takes years. Never seen it done in months before.

          That’s probably why there are “subtle differences in timing and behaviour”. Not when it works? When it works the answer is always the same. When it works there is no difference in timing and behaviour.

          You also said it failed when the software was transferred from the simulator to the real hardware. But you also said the communication channels work well in flight mode. Presumably that means the real hardware. Both can’t be right. Either the new software has been tested in flight – the real hardware – or it hasn’t.

          If your words are right, not this year then. Any bets on 2021. Or 2022.

          • Philip, please see my response to Uwe above. The new FCC software can be (and has been) tested in flight without being the startup system.

          • Rob! Go with what “A Jones” writes.
            He seems to know his stuff.
            ( In that domain I’ve only ever done “railway safe” and “space hardware” Soho, Cassini, Rosetta )

        • @ Rob, the Boeing lawyer

          “Anyone who has dealt with a real-time OS will recognize this. It’s why we flight test and don’t rely completely on the simulator”

          Looks like you have never dealt with aerospace hardware or software yourself. The reason we flight test is to make sure the flow physics/flight characteristics and structural behavior match the pre-flight engineering predictions. It has nothing to do with subtle electronic or software differences etc. In fact, avionics and the associated software is designed to be extremely robust and must behave in a very repeatable matter, both in engineering simulator and onboard the airplane – otherwise, it’s worthless. The engineering simulator must be an exact replication of what happens on the physical airplane from an avionics/software standpoint for the results to be considered valid. In fact, during the development and before a prototype ever flies, the flight test lab puts all the systems in their production configuration, through a number of “virtual flights” to make sure they all work correctly.

          Please consult the technical staff before you post your spins.

          • A Jones, the simulator hardware is not the same as the aircraft hardware. Rather, the aircraft hardware is emulated by the simulator hardware, using software. So you have an emulation layer that is not present in the real hardware. That introduces subtle differences.

            It’s common to develop software on one hardware platform, that runs an emulation of the final target hardware platform. Most embedded controller software is written this way. However, there still can be differences in behavior from the emulation to the real thing. So you write, compile and test in the emulator, then move the executable code to the controller for final testing. That is the same concept that Boeing is doing here.

            Flight simulators have high fidelity in terms of the presentation of flight to the pilot. Most of that is done in software rather than hardware. So there are large differences in the hardware.

            Note also that the issue was not a flight problem, which has already been tested extensively. It was boot-up problem, as Scott noted and has ben reported extensively elsewhere.

          • @ Rob the Boeing lawyer
            I can’t tell if you are that unfamiliar with engineering simulators or if you are intentionally ignoring what I said so that your spin flies. The sole purpose of an engineering simulator (distinct from training/pilot simulators) is to replicate cockpit hardware and software exactly as it appears on the airplane. Exactness of the hardware software interaction is the entire purpose of an engineering simulator, as it is intended for testing the software hardware interactions and associated failure modes. Passing a flight test 101 course at Ed Wells might be necessary for Boeing legal/PR spinsters going forward, if they are hoping to gain any kind of investor (or jury) confidence in the coming months.

          • A Jones, the basic point is that even though engineering simulators are built to be as accurate as possible, there are still differences that can surface in the testing on the actual aircraft. The difference could be something as simple as connector impedance, or as complex as EMI, which behaves differently on the aircraft than in the simulator.

            The F-16 is an example aircraft for which these issues are documented on-line. It had 15 FCC issues detected at the flight stage, but undetected previously.

            It also had 5 additional issues related to the Built-In-Testing (BIT) for validity that runs at aircraft startup (similar to the newly discovered MAX issue), which were attributed to hardware to software errors.

            It had another 7 additional BIT failures due to systems integration (running on the actual hardware rather then the simulator).

            An additional 2 BIT failures were found to be either power quality (blips) or EMI related, due to operation of other onboard systems.

          • @ Rob the Boeing lawyer
            Are you saying that the QA at the Boeing test & evaluation is so miserable that they can’t maintain the build consistency for a simple cable connector on an all-important prototype? Or are you saying that this fix is so flimsy it can be affected by variations in connector quality or vendor? (“impedance” scientifically sounding/nice dressing) Or are you saying the EMI environment for this old hulk is so challenging and unknown that it can affect the 1980’s style FCCs? or maybe this failure was caused by lightning activity or gamma-ray bursts (also not replicated in the engineering simulators), or perhaps the BIT fails every time Jupiter is in retrograde? (please find better excuses – they are out there, or better yet, ‘get your s*it together’)
            @ the TFs/STFs behind these answers: Whatever you do, don’t sell the F-16 program short. F-16 was the first full production application of FBW ever attempted, it flew with huge success in 1974 (46 years ago), and it was a groundbreaking all-new airplane executed below budget, and is in no way similar to the flawed and grounded 737 MAX. And ironically, the F-16 is still in production, while the 737 MAX’s production has been halted pending further notice.
            It is childish for the Boeing company to point out minor issues experienced by a different company in the early ’70s on an all-new groundbreaking military program as a justification for this 20+ billion dollar mess. I am less confident in Boeing governance, stock value (as one can see on the tape today), or collective technical competence than before we had this discussion. As for your PR strategy as showcased here: ill-informed, condescending and pitiful. Sometimes, if you don’t have a good answer, don’t respond. There are investors reading these lines that appreciate almost anything more than this mangled B.S. espresso.

          • A Jones, I don’t know where to take this discussion from here. It began with RobertPhoenix asking if the Boeing discovery of this fault on an actual airframe, meant that the Boeing systems used to develop the software were not suitable for certification, or up to the task.

            I replied that this wasn’t the case, that testing always continues into actual aircraft & flight testing, and that flaws are commonly discovered at that stage, that were not discovered earlier.

            This is true within my knowledge and experience. I gave examples, using the F-16 only because as you say, it was among the first FBW systems, therefore it’s been better analyzed & documented than other aircraft. We know exactly what the failures were.

            The implication was not that it’s an inferior aircraft, just that it had initial bugs, like all development projects do. I also specifically focused on the BIT errors that happen at startup, unrelated to flight, as that is what happened with the MAX software.

            Your position is that the discovered flaw does mean that the various simulators, up to and including iron birds, are not up to the task. Your reasoning allows for no variations due to moving from one test environment to another, or that unknown or unforeseen problems could exist.

            The truth is that unforeseen variations or issues are always possible. The fact that they are unforeseen, is why the testing requirement is needed at every stage.

            So I’ll leave it at that. You can toss in as many insults as you wish, either at me or at Boeing, that does nothing to prove your case. The readers can decide who is being childish.

          • @ Rob [edited as violation of Reader Comment rules.]

            “So I’ll leave it at that. You can toss in as many insults as you wish, either at me or at Boeing, that does nothing to prove your case. The readers can decide who is being childish.”

            The proof is in the pudding. After more than a year of work practically with unlimited resources at its disposal, Boeing has been unable to field a modification that can even be started properly, let alone operate with E-9 reliability. I don’t have to prove anything, it is Boeing who is consistently failing to meet its own projections and is being investigated for this coverup, not me. Also, these are not insults, simply fair reflections on the reality that Boeing (as proud and mighty as it may be) is currently nowhere near achieving its objectives. And if I were you, I would steel my mind against far worst choices of words from others. When you defend an ivory tower built on a deep foundation of lies, you need to have a far thicker skin when signs of crumbling start to appear and debris starts falling onto the heads of the onlookers who finance the show.
            I would also recommend that you abandon using Whataboutism in making your false rebuttals (pointing at Airbus, F-16, SpaceX, etc) to justify the current horrible state of competency among the technical and leadership ranks at Boeing. This PR strategy did not work for the soviet union, I have some doubt it will end up work for you now. Your PR playbook is in need of a major re-write.

            For those who are not familiar with this PR strategy, I copied this from Wikipedia:

            “Whataboutism, also known as whataboutery, is a variant of the tu quoque logical fallacy that attempts to discredit an opponent’s position by charging them with hypocrisy without directly refuting or disproving their argument. It is particularly associated with Soviet and Russian propaganda.”

  18. Excellent work, Scott. When dividends = FCF, the stock becomes very attractive. That assumes that all financial predictions will go well.
    Brand, Leadership, Culture, and Financial fixes and priorities will now adjust the stock appropriately. Where to focus financially ?
    1. 737 MAX Return to Service, stand-down of Property/Plant/ Equipment and suppliers; 2. Make 787 a successful program (close 787-8 and review if 787-10 makes sense); 3. Fix KC-46 before going to model B/C and FMS (the USAF deserves a solid and reliable aircraft); 4. Make 777X a culture of excellence before moving forward; 5. Bid military programs at their true cost and do not take shortcuts with Boeing Military; 6. Bring focus to the E-2 Joint Venture- it has international and regional market consequences.
    The market will then understand that Boeing can be counted for the long run. The short run will be bumpy and stock may take a hit. Borrow low interest money. Necessary steps to bring the brand and reputation back in the eyes of the commercial and military markets.

  19. My, all this spitballing when the real solution is right in front of everybody.

    It took twenty years, huge profits and increases in share price to get to this point. It’s going to take a lot less of that, perhaps down to minimal levels to get out of the hole.

    The entire product line, leaving no gaps in range, capacity, or economy must be re-built. It should be done in the order that existing or soon available technology gives a new design some sort of advantage, however minimal. New designs should be ready to accommodate future tech that is clearly visible on the horizon.

    BCA must recapitalize and concentrate in the Puget Sound, renovate and expand physical plant, reconstruct it’s engineering capabilities, and renovate it’s manufacturing processes to focus on building airplanes, and not airplanes as proxies for automobiles.

    Finally, it needs to restore something resembling trust and confidence with it’s workforce, and it’s unions. Your people simply can’t be treated as captive blood donors for share price infusions.

    • Fine comment SR, and I’d emphasize your last paragraph.
      The satisfaction and well-being of any company’s workforce
      will prove essential to its long-term future.

  20. I think the biggest problem Calhoun faces is the upcoming PR fallout from the 737 Max issues – which hasn’t even begin to fully materialize. Hollywood has yet to make a docudrama of the whole 737 Max affair, but rest assured that it is coming – and it will be a hell of a story that the flying public is going to remember. And when it’s done, I predict that the 737 Max will forever be known as the loser plane that should have never been built and air travelers will avoid flying on it at every opportunity. For I don’t think an An MCAS software update, or even a new flight-control computer is not going to fix what’s wrong with the 737: and I believe it was known over 20 years ago.

    In 1993, Boeing chose to develop the 737NG from the 737 Classic as an answer to the Airbus A320. At that time, the A320 was using the CFM56-5 engines with a fan diameter of 68.3 inches. So, one would assume Boeing would naturally upgrade the 737 NG so that it could also be fitted with 68-inch engine and subsequently benefit from the higher by-pass ratio and fuel economy: but they didn’t. When the 737 NG was done, it only fitted with a CFM56-7B engine with a 61 inch fan and lower by-pass ratio.

    So…why didn’t Boeing go with the larger by-pass option in the 1990’s – instead of waiting until the 2010’s to finally implement a 69 inch CFM Leap-1B engine on the 737 Max? It’s because Boeing engineers in the 1990’s probably figured that fitting such a large engine on the 737 was foolish. However, by the 2010’s Boeing had developed it’s new engineering culture that figured putting such a large-fanned engine on an such an ancient aircraft was just fine. But, it didn’t work out that way…did it?

    The whole story is an incredible chain of events that I think any Hollywood screen writer would love to work with in composing a docudrama narrative. In fact, I can imagine the last scene of the movie: an old and withered 90-year-old Ralph Nader (with a tear on his eye) standing on the plains of Ethiopia next to a gigantic 737-made hole in the ground where his niece was killed by the 737 Max – all of this over-voiced by a narrator who says in a deep, baritone voice, “The fight for product safety affects us all, and never ends.”

    Yeah..,.it will be a story people won’t be forgetting soon.

  21. Kessler and Leon. Tell that to the fleet managers that keep buying the A350-900 why the shun the -1000. 779 in the market for 7 years with a lot more order than -1000 for half the time. The -1000 has unnecessary range with a 15 percent smaller cabin that is 15 inch narrower. No airliners need more than 8000 miles range. Anything after that is only targeting the last two percent. I have been in this game for more than 30 years and I laugh at stupid prognosticators. A350 only seat 18 inch by reducing arm rest to 1.5 inch which is worse than A330neo. That gaveBoeing a strategic advantage with both the 777 and 777. Scott knows this statistic but lately suppressed it for some reason.

    • Well, I’ve flown in an A350 as a passenger, and all I know is that 9 across in an A350 is a whole lot more comfortable than 10 across in a 777 (an experience I have sworn never to repeat).

      • And that has ZIP to do with issue or with Boeing- The airline has total control of the seat type, seat location, seat numbers, etc

    • “”A350 only seat 18 inch by reducing arm rest to 1.5 inch which is worse than A330neo. That gaveBoeing a strategic advantage with both the 777 and 777.

      For comparisons every aisle is 50cm wide.
      A350 561cm 461cm/8abreast=57.6cm
      B787 549cm 449cm/8abreast=56.1cm
      A220 328cm 278cm/5abreast=55.6cm
      777X 596cm 496cm/9abreast=55.1cm
      B777 586cm 486cm/9abreast=54cm
      A321 370cm 350cm/6abreast=53.3cm
      A330 526cm 426cm/8abreast=53.25cm
      B767 472cm 372cm/7abreast=53.1cm
      A350 561cm 461cm/9abreast=51.2cm
      B737 354cm 304cm/6abreast=50.7cm
      B787 549cm 449cm/9abreast=49.9cm
      777X 596cm 496cm/10abreast=49.6cm
      B777 586cm 486cm/10abreast=48.6cm
      There is no advantage for 777 and 777X.

      “”The -1000 has unnecessary range with a 15 percent smaller cabin that is 15 inch narrower. No airliners need more than 8000 miles range.””

      Range equals fuel or payload. If fuel isn’t needed payload can be used for cargo,
      There are also 270t, 290t, 300t and 308t MTOW versions of the A350-1000 for less range which must be cheaper.

      15in is 38.1cm. The 777X doesn’t have a 599cm cabin width.
      When the 777X has its EIS airlines might order the A350neo.
      The 777X is pretty much useless. Emirates will reduce its order further.

    • Shareholder value; some other shareholder will be paying off the loan.

      It’s also perhaps down to the change in CEO. I strongly suspect Muilenberg was counting on a Christmas RTS, in which case the financials would just about have stayed together. Now there’s a new CEO, and RTS didn’t happen and has no forecastable date, the coffers are found to be empty and cash must be raised in lieu of a restoration of revenue.

      • Management Board full of provident professionals should foresee that possibility with ease. What a toddlers.

  22. I can see why getting about 800 built MAX airworthy again is valuable. But I think Boeing should give airlines a free deferment or cancellation policy on their orders if they were smart. No need to continue to build anything that is not well received by the public. No one knows the long term value of the MAX. Better to error on the side of caution.

  23. Outsider looking in — the B787 programme has been a market success but an engineering disaster.

    Taking the B7double7 programme as the template — platform engineering leading to 3 different aircraft with the same face.

    250T / 300T / 350T versions.

    My thoughts are that the plan for the B787 was something similar

    180T / 210T / 240T versions but then reality took over.

    The 180T version died a slow death.
    The 210T version ended up being a parts bin special full of angle iron engineering and horrible production economics.
    The 240T version grew a bit, learned lessons and came out the other side a pretty good aeroplane.

    Market success yes but foundations for a long and successful future — I don’t know.

    How much of its market success has been based on “crush-a-pleb” economics up the back?

  24. Scott, as usual, a Superb article X- Raying BOEING’S chaotic Leadership Fiascos, what is in the process of bringing down the American Pride in their, once, greatest Aviation Industry Company. Also must congratulate those who participated in very instructive Comments.
    It goes without saying, that these serious technical lapsus were mainly caused by the Shareholders Remunerations and Share Buybacks( anybody knows the average Share Buyback PRICE Boeing paid on this transaction, and the Net result with today’s price per share?).

  25. I find it hilariously ironic that Boeing is being slammed for resisting going with a new design but were forced to do so when John Leahy convinced Airbus to go with the A320 NEO.

  26. What is the best way out of this mess for BA?

    Give up on the Max and go back to building the “NG”?
    All the new structure can be left in but the engines and and the control system can revert to the previous gen.

    Lack of AB build slots and money in the boot can keep most of the customers on-board?

    Part 2 would be a licence build of the MC-21 with new engines and avionics plus BA’s proven ability to move the metal and then keep it working to bring it to a larger audience.

    Either that or get the B757 drawings out and re-engineer the wingbox / saddle for the Max fuselages — bit of a “Frankenplane” but needs must.

    The B787 still has a lot of life in it but the B7double7 NG looks like a face-lift too far. Current aviation industry economics in the mature west seems to suggest that a smaller plane delivers more profit on any given route.

    Fewer seats seems to equate to a higher average revenue and the A350 seems to be a generation ahead in weight terms and the BA fightback of 10ab up the back is neo-con economics at its worst.

    • The 777X is fine , the problem of sales in this decade is that Boeing mopped up the forward demand by selling more its 777-300ER too cheaply, both to keep its lines humming until the changeover and keep the A350-1000 at bay.
      United , China Southern, Aeroflot, Qatar have been adding ‘runout models’ when some of those should have been 777X customers

      • The 777x ‘may’ be fine but it’s really too early to tell imho.
        It is correct to note how many new/semi recent 773er models are out there.But how many eventually convert to 779’s compared to 350’s?
        It’s a question of conjecture on how far and fast the VLA market has crumbled/fragmented.The 380 gone,748i gone and the 779 has only really sold to those that bought the above models….
        Time will tell.

  27. Regarding Boeing’s product strategy, I think answers are irrelevant without a “how to fix Boeing’s entire culture” strategy, and a “show that we’ve done that” strategy.

    Boeing are in a complete mess. They can’t satisfactorily design, certify or even be sure to properly manufacture aircraft at the moment. So anything they do with a new model range without addressing these issues risk’s being a dud.

    So they’re going to have to do a lot of rebuilding of their entire culture first. That takes time. They need to weed out as many of the problems in their culture before starting a new project, otherwise those will manifest as issues for that project.

    To show the world that they have re-learned how to properly design, certify and manufacture high quality aircraft, they need a low risk project as a demonstrator. For me, that means literally nothing more or less than cloning the A320neo (perhaps with some incredibly minor tweaks).

    It should be the same dimensions, shape, payload, built from Aluminium, use the same engines, get the same fuel burn and be properly FBW. I even don’t think they should use Al-Li alloys, because that’d then disguise any flaws in how they design to a weight. They’ve not got time to waste trying to imagine what a superior specification could be, they should simply take the basic A320 spec and build to that see if they can meet it.

    If they’re successful, or better than successful, good, then (and only then) would it be time to get a bit more ambitious with something new.

    If they fail to get an A320 clone out the door to schedule on quality at price, they’ll have to start again.

    • What existing long haul carriers loaded with premium seats are scared of is the new carriers like Norwegian ( UK) with 338 seats in its 787.
      Theres French Bee with A350-900 with 389 seats and it has A350-1000 with 480 seats coming. Selling all those seats is a challenge, but the internet and seat wholesalers and flying only to popular destinations could make it work.
      Air France has a sub fleet of 12 its 777-300ER with 472 seats for popular french long haul routes. Other carriers like IAGs Level are working the same market with 314 seat A330-200

    • They will, of course, not do the above noted new A-320; that is what the Comac 919 is.

      Actually they should build the A-321.5 with the passenger capacity of the max 8 and two more family members that are 321 size and another 5 meter stretch beyond that. They will need two wings (larger one with folding tips so they can use the same gates.) to cover ranges up to 4500 Nm.

      Probably they should start with the middle (321) size then the bigger, then the smaller. (The first one replaces max 9 and 10 and competes with the 321 series, the larger is the NMA and the smaller replaces the Max-8

      One odd issue for B is that if they build this new SA with an ID like the 320 series, or even better like the MC-21, their SA plane will have wider seats than the 787 and 777X at 9 and 10 abreast respectively. Perhaps they should then replace both of those with a better A-350 (built with late 2020s early 2030s technology)

      They will have to abandon the A-223 and (future) A-225 size market to AB as that market will not support two competitors and AB got their program for free.

  28. It sounds to me that Boeing Boards and CEO’s have ripped out the core of the company leaving it unable to perform and function to the standards necessary Moreover it is in a ‘lean’ hole that is very hard to dig itself out from since many skills have left the company. We’ve seen this with many corporations before. Curtiss-Wright. The selling of Boings simulator business no doubt generated free cash flow but seems to have driven the company to avoid simulator training.

  29. An aircraft lets say single aisle developed from now what advantages would get over existing designs? That is the question.
    Would Boeing get 10% improvement over Airbus? Are Airbus 321 design at end of the line?

    • If Boeing listened to me, the NMA small widebody would be scalelable down to a NSA.
      The nose/cockpit and full composite empennage would be directly transferable. The composite wing box and centre fuselage box clearly would work for both, with different flaps and wing tip devices to suit gate sizes.
      The bottom fusealge could be Al-Li and common to both ( and with same wing centre box) with the upper fuselage in metal-fibre laminate being different diameter to accommodate a double and a single aisle. ( the elliptical design comes in here)
      The rest of the aircraft systems would be same or similar ( undercarriage being single and double axle) and they would have mostly the same FBW.
      Boeing and its suppliers could easily handle a plane like this, which has the advantage once both are in production the volume buys cheaper parts and build costs.
      Pricing the planes so the airlines rush to your door is the main issue as even a Max 10 (ER?) would be so much cheaper and work for a lot of routes.
      Boeing doesnt want to go down the route paved by Bombardier Cseries: a highly competent design but for a moderate sized market niche, some technical struggles but doesnt sell at the right volume and a premium to reflect the investment made .

      • Few remember that in the 60’s-boeing used a similar to GLARE aluminum fiberglass ‘ composite’ on tankers. They were cold bonded. Worked great until moisture crept in causing hidden corrosion- eventully had to replace all. Now GLARE may not have the problem due to hot bonding,etc. Time will tell

        As to Calhoun fixing things – With his GE-welch background, and being on the bored for a decade, one certainly wonders is the old meme re Insanity applies- doing the same thing the same way and expecting different results. It appears that HAL exists in the Boredroom also.

  30. By the time that Boeing would develop a new airplane, fuel prices may very well be diving below $30. The IEA has two peak oil demand scenarios, with one peak arriving by 2025, only 5 years away. BNEF has a very interesting article that shows how this timeframe is arrived at. Fuel as a CASM input will be greatly reduced. The main concern will be range and pax capacity of the MAX 10 vs A321.

  31. Scott, what I don’t get is why everyone plays down the safety flaw in the B787.
    The battery fires were a serious issue and could have lead to a Max scenario a decade earlier.

    Boeings risk assessments and their development & testing processes have been broken since. The Max was never a standalone issue, Boeing has a methodical problem, a huge one.
    That company is rotten from the inside, you basically need to rebuild it completely, as the airplanes it develops are not only late, expensive and of low quality, they are also unsafe.

    That’s the main point of the B787, not the delay and cost overrun. The final result was a plane that could burn down midair with an Etops 330 rating.
    That fires could have occurred in a plane halfway over Atlantic or Pacific with the next alternate several hours away.

    It was pure luck none of the B787 did crash.

    • @Sash: A study of in-flight fires by Airbus in 2012, before the 787 fires, concluded a fire is out of control is 8 minutes and you have to land in 15 minutes. It doesn’t matter whether that’s an international, trans-ocean, trans-polar flight or not.

      • @Scott

        The battery issue is something that always makes me uneasy when I am on a 787 flight.

        To me it’s another case of solving the initial problem with something that if it fails is far worse than the problem that it is intended to fix (or in the case of these batteries saving a few hundred pound of weight).

        Unless it has been changed, I think the battery enclosure added to contain a battery fire completely negates the weight saved by using Li batteries ?

        Then there’s the 787 FOD issue, and the question of the removal of lightning protection from the wings.

        A Monty Python-esque / Yes Prime Minister-esque hypothetical conversation:
        Q. Last / only line of defence against lightning strike on a wing ?
        A. Nitrogen inert fuel tanks.

        Q. But you’re allowed to fly the aircraft with Nitrogen inert not functioning ?
        A. Yes, or it may become non functional while you are in the air, but don’t worry, we’ve done the analysis, statistically you’ll be fine… most of the time.

        It’s cheaper, lighter, and easier for us to build a wing without all these unnecessary lightning protection layers. Also when the aircraft IS hit by lightning, it’s not as expensive to fix the damage caused by the lightning strike.

        Is that because there isn’t much left of the aircraft after the lightning strike ?

        Don’t be so obtuse !

        Apologies to both excellent shows.

        David Calhoun has got a lot to do to get Boeing back to a manufacturer that I have complete trust in. The same goes for the FAA, and the other regulators.

        • The 787 battery has to feed the brakes on an all engine out landing. The way the 787 brakes are designed they need the available ( over ~180 seconds ) power from the batteries. NiCd or PbAcid just can’t provide for the demand ( look into Peukert’s Law, exponential reduction of available capacity over discharge factor ( ~C30).
          Peukert Exponent for NiCd or PbAcid is ~1.2 for LiMnCo ~1.0 . Then capacity for classic chemistries is given for C1/10 or C1/20 discharge)

          i.e. Airbus could fend off fallout from “burn, baby, burn 787” by going back to classics while Boeing had no chance beyond staying their way and adding the boom box.

          • Uwe, Airbus also had designed for Li-Ion batteries in the A350, but dropped them in favor of NiCD after the 787 incidents in 2013.

            Then after the technology had improved and had demonstrated better safety, Airbus added them back again in 2016.

            The 787 was an early implementation, and as Elon Musk pointed out, Boeing had not allowed enough margin for the new technology. Musk’s own Tesla vehicles have had thermal runaway events as well, as have many vehicles and devices that use Li-Ion batteries.

            These incidents are declining with better manufacturing and management practices, to avoid dendrite formation that leads to high internal currents and runaway.

          • Uwe,

            Thanks, I understand the 787s need for a lot of electricity, I don’t know much about it’s brakes. Do you have any links to resources about the 787 brakes ?

            I understand Boeing had to go with their Li batteries, but given the solution, I think I’d have made it possible to jettison the ‘boom box’.

            In January 2014 a JAL 787 (on the ground) had a partial battery melt down. Apparently the temperature reached was around 660 Degrees Celsius which is around the temperature that Aluminium/Aluminum melts !

            Anyone know of a Boeing / FAA test where they destructively test a Li battery in the battery enclosure to verify that the fire can be contained in the middle of a trans-oceanic flight for example ?

          • Rob you should stop extruding Boeing PR aided by copious understanding of topics.
            A350 had a safe design for LiIon from day one.
            And the prototypes flew LiIon batteries for the major part.
            The LiIon batteries were swapped out for a time to not have the certification boondoggled by the Boeing produced Issues. Simple as that.
            ( by the looks the design batteries Airbus uses have a pedigree in LiIon batteries designed for automotive use enclosing/managing cylindric cells from SAFT.

          • JakDak:

            They did the vampire kill test: put a nail trough the heart 🙂

            The battery container was copied from open cell NiCd solutions. folded tin box. The Yuasa cell type selected had seen use on the ISS but not for the high current demand required on the 787 and not in an environment of cyclic pressure changes. Prismatic cells by their design are more susceptible to pressure changes than cylindrical ones.
            What IMU killed the batteries though was bad charger technology and a drive towards charging to 101% of capacity. ( Both “nonfires” happened ~~ 20 minutes after charging was commenced.)
            Bad enclosure design was a “helper”.

            Long before EIS it had been observed that battery life was much more limited than envisioned. Premature aging is a charge stress indicator. There was talk of a chemistry change.
            Again IMU the chemistry selection probably stems from the sonic cruiser (pre)design phase.

          • @Rob

            “Then after the technology had improved and had demonstrated better safety, Airbus added them back again in 2016.”

            How do you come up with such misinformation?

            Airbus demonstrated better awareness of Lithium battery risks well before Boeing’s designs went up in smoke.

            They designed a robust containment box for their batteries and proper venting to the outside, used a more stable chemistry and 2 front and 2 aft configuration. All installed from the first A350 MSNs built for the flight tests.

            And then when Boeing choked, Airbus pulled the Lithium batteries from production MSNs owing to regulatory uncertainties and to protect their schedule. There was no Boeing-style “design improvements” and “better safety demos” needed on the part of Airbus when they reverted to their Li batteries.

          • Yes, the Airbus implementation was better. Lower power density and better battery design from Saft than from Yuasa. Still they pulled it after the 787 incidents, and it went back in with the current generation of battery, in 2016. The battery technology has steadily improved.

            The point is that the technology is being made safer as it progresses. This includes both the Saft batteries being used by Airbus, and the Thales batteries now being used by Boeing. The Yuasa batteries involved in the 787 incidents are no longer used.

            According to KLM maintenance shops that have both aircraft types, there are no major issues with the Li-Ion batteries, and each generation is better than the last. Maintenance checks have been extended from 1000 to 3000 hours.

            Uwe, the nail test is common for Li-Ion batteries, it intentionally introduces a break in the cell barriers, as well as a conductive short to induce a runaway. But it doesn’t actually address variations in manufacturing that can lead to dendrite formation and internal failure. So it’s not a complete test, it’s just an indicator that the design will tolerate faults. Ultimately it comes down to good manufacturing and operation practices.

        • Just as a point of fact, the removal of lightning protection on the 787 consists of the over-engine panel only. The vast majority of the wing never needed any protection. Boeing decided to extend this to the entire wing surface. The engine itself is still protected, as are the wingtips and other areas likely to incur a direct strike.

          Figure 9 in the link below shows the lightning protection areas with and without the over-engine panel. Note that the panel zone is classified 2A, meaning unlikely to incur a direct strike, but lightning may be swept over the area due to forward motion of the aircraft. Most strikes sweep onto the fuselage and are discharged from the aft portion (Figure 4).


          Like lightning rods on buildings, the extremities of the aircraft develop leaders in the presence of ionized air. The aircraft motion itself contributes to local ionization. Those leaders then connect to the leaders in the air, as they represent the easiest path to establish a strike. As the aircraft moves forward during the strike, the lightning is swept onto the fuselage, briefly crossing over other areas, but not directly striking them. The fuselage is designed to handle the sweep and discharge.

          Whether to allow the panel removal is up to the FAA to decide. In my mind, the more significant issue is that Boeing anticipated the FAA and began the removal before the ruling, then used this fact in the appeal. That reasoning shouldn’t be a factor in the decision process.

          • Rob,

            I think there’s a bit more to it, have a look at Dominic Gate’s article here:

            I’m really interested in the zone changes for the area aft of the engines. (The over the engine panel you mention ?)

            When it was certified in 2011 this area was classified Zone 2. After December 2018 they “changed its classification to Zone 3”.

            “Now all of the wing except for the wingtip — almost the entire fuel tank — is classified with the lowest vulnerability, Zone 3.”

            I can understand updating your build using the latest scientific research, but I’m worried when you see layers of protection removed, and FAA engineers protesting against the changes.

            I’m worried when I see statements such as “Boeing rejected the opinion of the FAA technical specialists and persuaded FAA management that it was still in compliance with safety regulations.”

            What is the point of having ‘technical specialists’ at the FAA, if the management just over-rules them ?

            “a primer used to coat surfaces inside the tank before sealant was added was found not to adhere as well as expected and was prone to degrading, leaving the sealant loose.”

            “such as “fastener washers installed backwards with a sharp edge against the primer,” causing it to crack.”

            “In the system that measures how much fuel is in the tank, Boeing dropped a feature designed to prevent wires rubbing together. It removed sealant from certain areas judged to no longer be vulnerable to sparking. It removed clamps designed to ensure hydraulic tubing didn’t come loose inside the tank.”

            I am uneasy with things like “On the one hand, the FAA says the 787 is safe. On the other, it’s ordered Boeing to recheck that it’s safe.”

            I agree “the more significant issue is that Boeing anticipated the FAA and began the removal before the ruling”.

            It seems, you do what you want, tell the regulator, the regulator’s experts disagree, you object, the regulator’s management allow your changes (well they have to, you already have a number of your most recent examples flying). What’s the worst that can happen ? The regulator asks you to ensure you are within the regulations, to check again, and report back. (What do they expect you to say now ?)

            I’d like to see a professional direct comparison of lightning protection on the A350 vs the 787. A subject for one of Bjorn’s corners perhaps ?

          • Jakdak, I agree there was a dispute between Boeing and the FAA about the reclassification of the wing panel, that they used to justify removing it.

            When FAA director Dickson answered questions from Congress, they asked him specifically this question, does the removal of this panel threaten the safety of the 787? He responded that he personally had looked at the data and did not think so, but had asked for a thorough review to be sure.

            That review is in progress now. I don’t know what else to say. Everything I’ve written has been truthful, the rest is a matte of opinion. I personally am waiting for the results.

            If the decision is that the panel is needed, Boeing will need to correct the issue on the aircraft it has produced without it.

          • Wondering if this particular Energizer-bunny commenter’s stuff is Sponsored Content™..


  32. I think the below is a complete list of new designs by Boeing and Airbus from 1980 on. From 1980 to 2000 both developed 3 new designs. But from 1990 to present (and 2000 to present) Airbus developed 4 new new designs and Boeing 2. This repeats 2000 to 2020 where Airbus developed two new designs and Boeing one. The missing design is obviously the 737 replacement.

    Also notice that all of the Boeing aircraft sold well where as Airbus misjudged the market twice, first with the 340 and then again with the 380.

    767 – 1982
    757 – 1983
    777 – 1995
    787 – 2011

    320 – 1988
    340 – 1993
    330 – 1994
    380 – 2007
    350 – 2015

  33. 340 was a derivative of the 330 design , for an era when etops didn’t allow 2 engine over ocean flights to the extent they have since the mid 2000s.
    Boeing product selss well as they had first mover advantage for 757 and 767 and of course a larger airline base… And a large home market base which for economic reasons includes Japan.

    • A340/A330 is one Design with two engine options ( 2 or 4 Bob from Bob’s Country Bunker: we do both “Country” and “Western”. 🙂

      I’d have added the A300/A310 into the list .

      A300 large (potential Etops) Twin
      A310 ( large step in supercritical wing design) 767 757
      A330/A340 ( demise of the 767 )
      737NG ( a rather major revamp. )
      A350Mk1(flopp, aborted), XWB
      A320NEO, 737MAX
      (MAX is more o a design effort than the NEO)

      After the A310 Airbus went for the step to full FBW and the A320 as platform.
      while Boeing pimped the 767 over some steps to stop at the 767-400

      a timeline graph / pedigree tree would be helpful.

      • >A340/A330 is one Design

        They share a lot of structures and systems but I don’t believe they were certified as derivatives of each other.

      • If Airbus has ignored the naysayers and produced the A350 Mk1, and it emerged at the time of the 787 delays, it would have been the fastest selling plane in history. The A350 Mk1 was a brilliant plan, but was seemed too small a step in the face of the 787. in hindsight airbus was 100% right. It would have been an awesome airplane. Still the 350 XWB is amazing

        • IMU Especially UdvarHazy dissing the Mk1 shew a lot of protecting investment ( in the 787 ) motives.
          Same with the value shifts predicted by “interested parties” if Airbus would go forward with the NEO.
          NG had more to lose than the CEO?

  34. Airbus are to build an A321 line in toulouse to replace the A380 line. Expect 70/month by 2023, no later than 24. More than half will be A321. Airbus will start selling them now.

    That one wasn’t hard to predict.

    Boeing are in real trouble. A new FSA/NSA now Mr Boeing CEO.

      • Supplies probably need more time to ramp up and I saw somewhere Mobile is going to 7 month and Tianjin to 6. Won’t be neutral longer term though.

    • Here’s the press release:


      They say they will keep the total capacity flat, only introducing A321 capability and a digitally-enabled production system. All in that old A380 hall. They don’t say what they plan to do with the current A320 assembly hall. My take is keep their options open. If Boeing is still in trouble and demand for the A320 family still strong in 2022, they might just bring that hall to the same new standard and increase production. Or maybe start a European A220 production.

      • Airbus HAM is behind on A321 deliveries and has been since the A321neo and Airbus cabin flex did not help. Now there will be a new modern dedicated A321neo FAL in Toulouse. http://www.air-cosmos.com had this news months ago.

    • Only flat in Toulouse. Not anywhere else. Airbus are committed to 63/month. Not much to get to 70/month.

      More importantly, Airbus will have two digital lines, giving more flexibility to increase production.

    • How many more loans of this scale can BA chisel out of Wall Street before Chapter 11 becomes the only game in town?
      How would Trump respond if this happens?
      Put the B757 on e-bay at $50mill?

      Extra $10bill liquidity — how much time does this give BA if the B737 line stays down — full calendar year or just 6 months?

      In engineering terms — what would $10bill deliver?
      New SA platform with two different models into service?

  35. Scott, I would suggest that there is one point on your list which should be elevated to the #1 priority (on your first post related to how Boeing needs to address the current state of affairs…) – not just for Mr. Calhoun, but also for Boeing’s entire board and management team – that is “6. Begin changing the culture….” In my opinion, this is the fundamental problem that Boeing is dealing with now, and its ability to deal with the situations that have arisen going forward is fully dependent on how it addresses this. Beginning the transformation of culture is not enough in their case – Mr. Calhoun et. al. need to take some immediate and decisive steps to start the change happening now.

    In your point #6, your focus in the ‘culture change’ is directed towards Boeing’s engineers. This leaves out three very important, and seemingly equal, groups in terms of focus – Boeing’s production staff (the bulk of their employment ranks, and owners of the largest Boeing union), the regulators they work with, and their customers.

    First, the production staff (and this is in no way meant to slight their engineering professionals) – Boeing, like every other major manufacturer, has to strike a balance between engineering and production, all the way from budgets to actual operations. The culture that has come to light in the investigations and documents released negatively affects all workers at Boeing, and with the MAX production line now being shut down, the production staff may take the brunt for actions taken outside of their group. Not acceptable to them, nor any Boeing employee negatively affected by these actions. In my opinion (and that of others who have commented), they need a board representative from another major industrial manufacturer, with a very strong operations background (thinking COO at multiple companies) to represent these interests.

    Second, one major issue in corporate America, particularly where you have industries that are heavily regulated by the US Government (medical, aviation, food, etc.), is that the working relationship between the business and the government is typically adversarial, where both sides cannot / won’t work together towards a mutual goal. (I have seen this first hand, having worked for a government contractor for nearly 2 decades) In this case, as with any airplane, safety has to be the #1 goal. It seems that Boeing tried to exert its positions of power and industry dominance (at least in the US aerospace industry) to gain the upper hand over the FAA, thereby trying to downplay some potentially significant issues in the certification process. [think – why 1 MCAS sensor vs. 2 or even 3? where is the built-in safety redundancy? if you are already using an MCAS system with multiple sensors on the KC-46, as I have read in other articles, why not use that developed & tested system on the MAX? why are the computers running the computations of such an old generation and potentially overloaded? simulator training? Etc.] I see a huge ethical problem here that Boeing needs to deal with, particularly with the group of individuals that thought it was ok to try to fly all of this under the FAA radar. Not to mention, as has been very well established in many articles and posts, a company focus in the wrong area – stockholder returns.

    Another issue that comes to mind in the FAA – Boeing relationship is that the FAA needs to look at its own practices to determine where it went wrong in the certification process, and its apparent lack of real oversight, and fix that right away. It cannot let itself get bow to political / corporate pressure when regulating safety – that goal needs to be first and foremost, especially when certifying a commercial airplane. (this seems obvious, but….) Boeing’s production and delivery goals / mandates do not equal the FAA’s (safety) goals, and should never. A line has been crossed somewhere, and that line needs to be erased.

    Obviously the FAA and Boeing have to work together in getting the MAX back in the air, and in all other certification efforts moving ahead. Their cozy arrangement needs to be re-vamped, as it obviously failed. Now may be the time to set up a bit of oversight in that arrangement (I would envision independent, 3rd party), to ensure it does not get compromised (ever) again.

    I definitely agree that their board could do for a re-vamp, as has been suggested in multiple posts and comments. Boeing needs to take this opportunity of leadership change to set a new course ahead, and that will need some very direct and decisive leadership in the left seat, and every other seat in the board room. And, it needs to be very transparent to everyone (on the planet at this point) in what that direction is, and how it plans to get there. Transparency is essential at this point.

    Oh, I seem to have forgotten to talk about stockholder returns in my comments. Well, there is that. And, it really matters none if Boeing cannot fix the mess it has created for itself now, as that will carry with it into the future.

    I would equate what is happening to the recent Houston Astros sign stealing scandal in the MLB. [sorry, I am a baseball fan!] If you try to cheat, you will get caught (eventually), and it will bring you down. Why do we continually have to cheat in this country to get ahead? And who, in the end, are we really cheating? And, at what cost? In the case of the baseball cheating, it cost several individuals their jobs, and it cost the Astros many draft picks in upcoming drafts and several million dollars in penalties. It may even cost them the championship they won (and I believe it should – it was not earned). In the case of the Boeing MAX, it cost several hundred lives, it will cost many jobs by the time it is all done, and it will cost Boeing billions of dollars in insurance & legal claims, lost orders, and lost revenue. At the end of the day, did the cheating get Boeing ahead?

    I truly hope that Boeing does get itself back on track. They have built some really excellent airplanes over their history, and I am sure they will in the future.

  36. Honestly for those max sceptics out there, the aircraft will not fail for one simple reason no matter how flawed it is.

    The B737max is too big to fail!

    There is just too many old B737 jets out there in the market that needs replacement and Airbus cannot cover the entire market. Airlines will not have any other alternative but to continue to order the max and passengers will not have much choices if they want to avoid flying on the max. Boeing will still be around 10yrs later continuing the B737max production and maybe even producing a 2nd re-engine iteration of the current max. The US government will be sure to pull a few tricks here and there to help boeing get back on its feet and regain the lead from airbus.
    Let us check back again 10 yrs later in 2030 (if this post still can be found) to see how much of what I’ve said comes true.

    • « …regain the lead from Airbus ».
      Nothing to regain for Boeing, Airbus has got the lead with the Neo from day one and is far from losing it now. The decade is lost for Boeing, see you in 2030.

    • “You have no choice” is not a great marketing strategy, for
      Boeing, or for anyone else. Yes, let’s see how things look in
      a few years.

    • @ Vince

      “The B737max is too big to fail!”

      Sure, just as much as our climate it too big to fail. But it is on its way to a fully fledged catastrophe, just as the MAX is. A lack of imagination should not rule our ratio and decision making.

      The bare and naked fact regarding both the climate and the MAX are pointing to a truly bad outcome and total failure. The one of our human society, the other of the Boeing management.

      Both may still be limited, but with the MAX I’m not so sure.

  37. Boeing made two huge mistakes which are ending the company’s dominance in commercial aircraft which began in the late 1950’s with the 707. One, it moved its headquarters to Chicago, thus severing top management from the factory floor. Two, it allowed itself to effectively be taken over by McDonnell Douglas in one of the worst deals in corporate history, thus importing that failed company’s management. Its record since then of prioritizing current cash flow over innovation is setting the company up for an inexorable decline. It’s only a matter of time before it’s a takeover candidate.

    • Cash flow over innovation ? havent heard of the 787 have you . Its still leads the way in innovation even today.
      No they werent taken over by McAir, a complete fabrication. US companies structure the reverse takeover model all the time , its just financial maneover.
      And Boeing (with its HQ still in Seattle at that time) was a complete production mess, they stopped the assembly lines for more than a month. Luckily as part of the merger they got the computerised systems from McDonnell Automation, Boeing had nothing like it, probably the 777 wouldnt have become such a success without the McAir merger. You could see their same influence in the X32 plane, after the merger and when naval aviation experts at St Louis ran their computer simulations they told Boeing the delta wing wasnt going to be workable on a carrier, they needed to add some rear tail surfaces.
      Your comments about executives and the shop floor are so ludicrous, Boeing has factories all over US and Commercial Aviation is just one division.
      This is a $100 bill ( thats Bill) per year revenue company, its not a $5 mill company like where you may work.

      • Blaming McDonnell Douglas might be a little too convenient. The Boeing owners, represented by the Boeing Board, made the decision to buy/merge/takeover McDonnell. Maybe like most major shareholders, they did not care as long as you make money, and today is the consequence of those actions. But it is a philosophy. At this point, those major shareholders’ grand children have acquired so much money from all those years of dividends, that they are pretty well diversified. If Boeing closed-up, they would still eat just fine. Just like Harry and Megan although we worry about them. Now, all the engineers and machinists that build the planes, that’s a different story. There lies the tragedy. But that’s what happen when few make the decisions for the many.

      • Uhh duke ?? ” Luckily as part of the merger they got the computerised systems from McDonnell Automation, Boeing had nothing like it, probably the 777 wouldnt have become such a success without the McAir merger ..”

        Utter BS- totally wrong-first flight 777 was before merger… entered service in 1995 – merger was in 1997 give or take a few months depending on legal paperwork.

        Computer design system was mostly CATIA. WhileBoeing had access to Northrup- lockheed NCAD and NCAL due to use on B2 Program – with few to none exceptions NCAD and NCAL were not
        used on 777. Since I worked on both B2 and 777 I can assure you that there was zip to do with whatever McDouglas system had been using at that date- although I suspect it MDC may have been transitioning to early versions of CATIA .

        • 1) ITS MCDONNEL not mcDonald
          2) SAP is a planning type program- system
          3) CAD-CAM is computer aided design and Computer aided manufacturing- CATIA is probably the most common in aerospace and other industries
          4) There are other CAD-CAM software programs, but I am not about to spend time listing them

          Please have the courtesy to do a bit of homework before posting such misinformation

          Thank you !

    • No wonder they’ve been looking for $10bn extra finance, bet you they found it before releasing this statement. I wonder what their bankers are thinking now?

      • I understand that the $10bm loan deal is “almost” done. So either they have told Citibank before (“insider” anyone?) or we might see this being canceled. Anyway, as this delay will probably not be the last, my last summers prediction that Boeing is heading for chapter 11 is still looking sound.

        • When I heard this was a software issue and that the software was based on a 1990s 80286 cpu and architecture I knew this would happen. This is equivalent to finding some unretired windows 3.11 developers and rewriting everything to create a fault tolerant control system.

    • If the MAX won’t be flying until mid year, that means back in the schedules abt September, winter schedules coming up. How quickly, or slowely, will operators want to take new metal into their fleets? Can’t see production re-starting until Q4. This will really hurt suppliers.

  38. Under Mullenbergs watch Airbus developed dominance in the civil aerospace market. If Muellenberg had bought the Cseries when he had the chance, hundreds would be alive and Boeing would be in a MUCH stronger position. But its not all his fault. It started with the disasterous 787 development project….

    • Given a RTS and resuming production in 2022, I would price Boeing stock at 275. On the off chance the MAX is canned, I would price the stock around 175. So, I think the stock price is lagging the reality of the situation, whatever that is.

      • A good question is why Boeing stock price is not at $275 or quite a bit lower *now*, given the MAX situation and what they don’t have in the pipeline to compete with the A321.

        • Despite all the negative Publicity, it is still that strong a Company and that stable a stock.

          It will remain strong until the Company is all but dead.

          A but ironic on the stock strength but there it is.

          • Sounds like a tautology to me: “Boeing’s a strong company because they’re a strong company..”

            My opinion- and that’s all it is- is that Boeing’s stock
            price is absurdly high right now, based on the publicly-available facts.

  39. Trading suspended, market relevant news announced, trading resumed. This is pretty normal to prevent a mad scramble as the first to hear the news take action. It is a way to provide information parity among traders.

    But yes, bad news….

  40. Some of you have taken some shots at Rob as a Boeing advocate. Stop it. There are Boeing and Airbus advocates. Stick to the issues and feel free to refute any comment, but Reader Comment rules prohibit turning personal.


    • We’ll miss him if he goes, seems to have a lot of very specific knowledge

    • I would hope that all the airframers are aware of this blog, and better, have a presence on it.

      There are a lot of different views on here from people with very different skills, and life experiences. This is a very good thing !

      There’s the old saying, “can’t see the wood for the trees”, it’s often very useful to have a complete outsider’s view of something that you’re looking at. Safety is one area that will often improve when scrutinised by an interested third party with an entirely different angle.

      Here’s what I call my mirror test;

      Swap Boeing for Airbus, in all that has happened, if it was two A320 Neos that had gone down, and it turns out that self-certification/rush to market/design issues/lack of training/regulatory capture etc… had played a part, would I be asking the same questions of Airbus ? Yes I would !

      We need both Airbus, and Boeing, and a bunch of others as well, but they do need to build safe aircraft, they need to be properly certified as safe, and the pilots that fly them need to be adequately trained.

      Spare a thought for all the people caught up in this, whose livelihoods are depending on Boeing recovering from this fiasco quickly. Their lives are affected by the decision makers who can weather any financial storm with comfort.

    • @Scott
      @Rob made some personal comments and missed on the way with truth also, so I think it has fed up. But I agree generally – ad rem.

  41. A lot of the above posts are into minutiae, protocols, wiring, etc…
    Those are the trees.
    The forest is the Organisation at Boeing which is DYSFUNCTIONAL for their industry.
    Calhoun needs to apply shock treatment to convince insiders and outsiders – and that includes the gnomes of Wall Street – that he means what he says, the situation is dire and heroic measures are needed.
    Anything short of that is fiddling while a Rome burns!
    Scott, have you picked up any vibes that the music is stopping?

  42. many many years ago – there was discussions about Neutron nuke bombs- they are/were unique- their purpose was to kill all life but do little structural damage. Plants standing- but vacant meme. One Jack welch of GE fame got known as Neutron Jack re his employee practices- cut the bottom 10 percent every year- profits above all. Calhoun is/was a GE manager at the time…

    Connect the dots ..

  43. I think it is apparent that the GE clique ensconced in the C-suites of Boeing does not want to develop any clean sheet plane, ever, and will only do so if dragged to this kicking and screaming by Airbus and the airline customers. The wet dream fantasy of Boeing execs is to pick up the phone, call their counterparts at Airbus, and say: hey, bonjour, let’s make a deal, you don’t develop any new airframe and neither will we. Every 15 years we can each update the engines and avionics, slap a new paint scheme on it and call it good. It is likely only anti-trust law which keeps them from making this pitch to Airbus. (Then again, how can we be sure they have not tried this already.)

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