Pontifications: 777X certification, MAX market deficiencies, NMA and what’s an insider

  • Certification of 777X will be impacted by MAX crisis.
  • Market sees “deficiencies” in Boeing’s narrow-body product line.
  • Reopening new airplane study doesn’t mean NMA is necessarily dead.
  • The SEC considers Calhoun to be an insider, even if he doesn’t.

By Scott Hamilton

Feb. 3, 2020, © Leeham News: Boeing has said very little about how the MAX certification review will affect the 777X.

The Federal Aviation Administration has said nothing at all.

But David Calhoun, the new CEO of The Boeing Co., gave a hint in a recent call shortly after assuming office Jan. 13.

New certification process

“The certification process is a new one and it’s going to get applied to every next airplane,” Calhoun said. “We have a lot of planning to do around the 777X, et cetera, to make sure that we can accommodate a really thorough review and investigation. It’s just the way it’s going to be.”

Calhoun didn’t elaborate.

Neither would 777X marketing official Wendy Sowers, when asked at the briefing in advance of the 777-9’s first flight.

LNA identified the certification process of the 777X as a big hurdle in this Jan. 16 post.

Regulators in Europe and the United Arab Emirates said they plan their own certification review. Lufthansa Airlines in Europe and Emirates Airline in the UAE are the first operators of the 777-9.

Tim Clark, the president of Emirates, said he wants a 16 month flight testing program to be sure bugs are worked out of the engines. The 777X is already a year late, in part to a flaw discovered in the giant GE9X.

The first flight of the 777-9 was Jan. 25, after two previous attempts were scrubbed due to bad weather.

No deficiencies, says Calhoun

On the Jan. 29 earnings call, Calhoun was asked whether Boeing has any “deficiencies” with its narrow-body program (ie, the 737).

Calhoun replied he doesn’t think so:

“I know that in airplane, type by type, sometimes you’ve got a lead, sometimes you don’t. But in the family, and ultimately, the performance of this MAX and the feedback I get from our customers, I’m not actually worried about that.

“All that said, we’re in the airplane development business, and we’re going to stay in the airplane development business. So we’re going to keep looking at what the next one needs to be. I want to make sure everyone understands that me not immediately signing up to the NMA is not me not wanting to do new airplanes; we’ll do one. And I don’t want to even suggest or convey to you that it’s anywhere near the narrow-body fleet we have today. I don’t see big deficiencies there.

“On the other hand, I’m just simply going to listen to customers and markets. It’s been over two years since we started that whole discussion. I’m going to refresh it every way I can think of, along with my new commercial airplane leader, and then we’ll get out with new news. But honestly, right now, it’s all about the MAX, getting it up. And yes, I believe in the product.”

The market, however, has a different view.

The A321neo is far out-selling the 737-9/10—by a factor of three to five, depending on the point-in-time the comparison is made.

The A321LR and XLR come closest to being a like replacement for the Boeing 757. Neither the MAX 9 or 10 come close to the flexibility of performance of the iconic 757.

The A320neo family has about 57% of the sales vs the MAX family. If the other single-aisle aircraft with 100 seats or more are included, the 737 MAX is reduced to a global market share of just 39%.

Whether it’s 43% or 39%, this is a poor market share for what is the largest airplane market in the world, the single-aisle airplane.

Which leads to Calhoun’s decision to terminate the New Midmarket Airplane study as it was constituted.

Reopening New Airplane Study

In an Oct. 21 report, LNA concluded that the New Midmarket Airplane was off the table in 2020 and potentially altogether. After it was announced Dec. 23 that Calhoun would become CEO Jan. 13, it was a given that product development would be paused.

Calhoun’s first media press call, a week later, confirmed it. He reiterated this on the Jan. 29 earnings call and the subsequent media call. But, these statements were anti-climactic by this time.

What LNA has been told (subsequent to the earnings call) is that the NMA isn’t truly off the table. Neither is pursuing a single-aisle future small airplane (FSA). The restart, with, as Calhoun put it, a clean sheet obviously will look at all options.

This is what Boeing does. It’s what Boeing was doing leading up to the 2011 launch of the re-engined 737. It looked at the re-engine option. It looked at a new single-aisle airplane, which is what Airbus was the option it feared most. It looked at a twin-aisle, composite elliptical airplane, which is what was favored internally.

Airbus was on the verge of winning a huge order from American Airlines for the A320ceo-neo family. This was what forced Boeing’s hand to launch the MAX instead of the new twin-aisle airplane then.

So, for those who think the NMA is truly dead and the FSA is the next new airplane, the odds may favor this outcome. But it’s too early to place this bet.

The definition of insider

So far, I find Calhoun’s approach and style to be a welcome change to that of ousted CEO Dennis Muilenburg. The latter was stiff, wooden and absent of emotion and visible enthusiasm, even when things were going well. Muilenburg seemed rehearsed and always scripted.

Calhoun is animated, quick with an answer, unafraid to say, “I don’t know,” or “I’m not going to tell you.” These are straight-forward replies that always seemed missing in Muilenburg’s earnings calls and interviews.

However.…

When Calhoun claims that he is not a Boeing insider, this strains credibility.

He spent 10 years on the Board of Directors. He was lead director for years. He was on the Compensation Committee for years, which (among other things) set goals for Muilenburg. He voted on policies setting shareholder value as priorities and returning 100% of free cash flow to shareholders.

“I said in a recent discussion that I think everybody in the media and some of the press I’ve read unfairly from you suggest that as a board member I’m an insider,” Calhoun said in response to a question from The Seattle Times’ Dominic Gates. “I think I watched the same movie you did. I think I was in the front row seat….”

In response to another media question, Calhoun said, “the role of the board [is] governance, and in fact, it is to supervise, as you suggest. It is to get involved in aspects of the company when it wonders whether they’re being done as well as they could be done. Our board was a pretty active board. It spooled up quickly after the Ethiopian accident to get involved in all of the safety processes that exist inside the company. We’re not there to operate the company. We don’t become insiders in the process of doing so, but we learn a lot in those processes and when we recommend actions, and we add a whole bunch of recommended actions that were put in place really at the beginning of the fall.”

Yet, let’s remember that the Securities and Exchange Commission considers directors to be insiders. Calhoun touted his knowledge of Boeing, from his position with GE Aviation, before being named a director. His leadership position on the Board, as a first among equals (so-to-speak) elevates his insider position.

Calhoun would be much better dropping his defense he was merely watching a movie from the front row. He can be Boeing’s Nixon-to-China and make dramatic changes because he’s an insider. This is one of the arguments made by sympathetic Wall Street analysts.

But claiming he only had a front row seat hurts his credibility. I’ve already heard from Wall Street analysts that the “front-row” defense isn’t playing well. To continue Calhoun’s movie analogy, he gets one star on this one.

 

116 Comments on “Pontifications: 777X certification, MAX market deficiencies, NMA and what’s an insider

  1. I’d agree that Calhoun was more sitting in the front row..
    It’s a subtle distinction , but with Muilenberg as CEO, President and Chairman of the Board, the other board members only get to consider issues and the information that the Chairman decides they can see. The comparison is someone from GE the engine maker was on the board but no one previously from say Spirit , the airframer or some one from Collins .
    They had insurance, private equity and airlines.
    What about a previous BCA CEO or Mullahy even. That’s because they would second guess the Chairman with real knowledge.

    • Duke, you make a good point about controlling the narrative to the board. One role of the board is to do diligence, and not just accept what they’ve being told privately in executive session. So they should be in touch with all levels of the company, fact-checking and being sure the narrative is correct and representative of reality, then questioning closely if they find it isn’t. But my experience is that few boards do this, they mostly make statements that they have confidence in their appointed leaders.

      If the board does its diligence here, they can ensure that Calhoun is doing the right things. They should be aware of the breadth of opinion in the company and make sure the CEO is not dominating or suppressing those views. Had they done that earlier, many of the issues would have risen to the surface for attention.

      • Calhoun needs training in MBWA and to spend a month in Renton, a month in Everett, and twice daily meetings with grunts- a dozen or so at a time and with a few helpers to record and respond to questions, complaints.

        No oner above first line supervisors need attend

      • I agree Rob.

        Boeing’s board over the last 15 years has fostered hostility with its shop floors. It shouldn’t be surprising that the result is that they’re out of touch. All the more reason to open lines of communication before customers start refusing delivery of your products because of basic defects; but very unsurprising.

  2. For certification EASA is now saying segregation of certain 737Max wiring is required.
    Sounds simple enough , why are FAA and Boeing so against?
    Until you realise Boeing merrily carried on making 737Max after its grounding, probably 400planes. Making hardware changes to all 750 odd planes would be very expensive, if not impossible.
    The problem is much deeper, Boeing decided inilaterally that the solution was just a software patch to their MCAS and that FAA would go along with that, and maybe even US govt.
    I wont be flying in a Max, i will just avoid airlines that have it.

    • Er, pretty sure that the FAA has also said that something has to be done about the wiring on the MAX too. I’d not heard that there was any disagreement between the company / regulator(s) on this. Is there disagreement now?

    • Ah, I sense from other sources that there is indeed a hint that there’s differences between the regulators on this. Hmmm, seems that the amount of work involved is quite high, though it’s largely the effort required to get to the wiring in the first place. You can understand why they’d want to put that off…

      I agree – their strategy of keep making them, fix it in software, is now looking very expensive.

      • It depends oin the timing, EASA can decide it must be done at the first heavy check on the already built units.

    • The folks at EASA should make sure the new aircraft, like in the A350, it certifies don’t shutdown engines because of coffee spills in the cockpit. Those controls should be rated to minimum IP55 and ideally to at least IP66. This is easily as dangerous and as dumb as MCAS. EASA, Airbus specifications, acceptance procedures are clearly lacking. Hopefully this nonsense won’t be dealt with a change in cockpit procedures but a proper retrofit. Some 10 years after AF447 Airbus still haven’t added synthetic air data,

  3. The concept of Executive Chair is of an all powerful figure with unfettered right to direct the company. This is a very American thing. In the UK the role is split into a chair who runs the board and a CEO who runs the company and reports to the board. In Boeing we have seesawed from an executive chair who was more like a CEO in Muilenburg who predominantly ‘looked down’ focusing on the workings of the company and appeared naïve in the context of the wider world. To Calhoun is more of a worldly wise Chair who ‘looks up’ at the shareholders but has very limited perspective on the workings of Boeing.

    In that context he is probably correct in saying that he was not anything more than a spectator in the debacle given it was a ‘detail thing’. This does bring into question however the usefulness of the board in performing an oversight role in terms of culture, safety and managing the executive. It further brings in to question who is expected to do that detail role now, ie who is running the company day to day. This role is critical at present. Companies can often bumble along for a while under the inertia of everyone doing their jobs but I don’t think that Boeing can at present.

    I contrast this to the very careful changing of the guard that has happened against the backdrop of the bribes scandal. The scandal has been known for a long period but Airbus was careful to remove all tainted key personnel and replace them one by one to the top so that they maintain a functioning executive. Perhaps Airbus feel more vulnerable given the relative newness of their corporate structure.

    • I agree with your first two paragraphs Sowerbob. A board that approves a product offering, a budget, and a timeline has to be responsible for execution of the product down to the rivets or autoclave cure times and especially the people who perform that work.

      A board member who doesn’t think they are a responsibility for not budgeting enough investment in a product and a rushed timeline because they don’t bother with the details, is an ineffective board member. While Boeing waged war on its union, the board seemed blissfully unaware of the malcontent among their best workers and hopelessly naive of the shop floor culture and the expertise of its employees when it decided to build the still-troubled 787 plant in Charleston. Those seeds of discontent are still bearing fruit.

      I won’t give Airbus a pass for also failing, for years, to oversee the triumvirate of executives who made all major decisions among themselves without board oversight. There are many news stories how the three heads of Airbus had a better organization structure than Boeing because they dispensed with layers of oversight. It turns out, that oversight had a critical function of discouraging illegal activity and the Airbus board clearly failed its basic responsibility. Removing all three heads is an indictment of the Board’s failure of its basic responsibilities and an additional failure for Airbus’ board to police itself.

      Many executives serve on the boards of suppliers, competitors, raw materials producers, etc. It’s clear that these executives supply cronyism to the boards they oversee. Its equally clear, at least in aerospace, that Boards are not providing meaningful oversight for which they are paid.

      The board sets the company culture and both Airbus and Boeing’s board failed in getting the basics right.

      • Hey I am not absolving Airbus of their crimes, far from it. All I am talking about is the manner in which they have ensured continuity of their executive team. The rotten core of old time Airbus shenanigans caught up with them but the people responsible seem to have wriggled out of culpability, a bit like the insider dealing scandal with the A380 delays.

        Given the need to replace a whole swathe of the top flight it seems on the face of it to have been done in a considered manner is all I am saying

    • I also agree. Calhoun took the pay cheque he should also take the responsibility. Afterall he could have resigned whenever he wanted. But of course that means he no longer would get the pay cheque..

      Sounds like all the privileges non of the responsibility. Will that still be the case now?

      • He had other full time jobs… these sorts of board positions are not even 10 hrs per week work more like 5.
        They are very very limited in what they know about the internal workings of the 737 development process. Doesnt even seem like they were given the full picture on the reasons for the Max crashes and almost nothing about the process to get approval to fly again.
        They would know more about the Max issues from reading the NY Times and the Seattle papers than from the board papers on the topics.
        I can imagine once the Max is flying again a few board members will leave as they will have realised they are hopelessly out of their depth.

        In my country we had a situation with a company with some ‘trophy directors’ who knew nothing about the ways of the business world let alone the intricacies of the company itself. Stars knocked out of their eyes when it all came crashing down and a large shareholders suit won judgement, not all of which was covered by directors liability insurance.

        • The structure doesn’t work without strong union representation and some form of bottom up management.

  4. “So, for those who think the NMA is truly dead and the FSA is the next new airplane, the odds may favor this outcome. But it’s too early to place this bet.”

    The NMA was a three-legged horse from the start, just like the Sonic Cruiser.

    From the outside and with some experience as a business consultant, who has had the good fortune to being able to look into many and very different companies, I would say that the product management at Boeing is very troubled.

    The role of product manager is filled very different in various companies and industries. My thinking is that there should be a CPM with some capable staff who combines all company resources and capabilities with the suppliers on the one side and customer demand plus monitoring the competition on the other side to develop the future product line. At Boeing it seems like this seat is not filled and the decision making is not efficient at all.

    So it’s no wonder that there is no coherent product strategy visible at Boeing. It’s all single shots, often driven by ‘surprise’ moves by the competition (who’s monitoring? not taken seriously?).

    In an industry with such slow product cycles and long development phases, one should think there should be a 20-30 year product, service, and technology strategy in place. Apparently there is nothing. And besides a terrible lack in monitoring the competition there is seems to be no perspective to climate change, future customer needs, future technologies,… Everything seems to be focused only on the next job at hand. But Boeing is no plumber!

    I wonder if people with vision are even allowed inside the holy halls or if any person with a mind about the future is laughed at and shown the door.

    So no, I don’t think Boeing is future proof, and Calhoun doesn’t look like the man to turn Boeing around. And a turn-around is what Boeing needs, not getting back on track. Back on track would kill the company. And probably will.

    • I share your concerns on the awareness of competitive devlopments. I don’t have any authority, but some times it seems the writing is on the wall early non the less Boeing sticks to its strategy.

      The inherent weaknesses of the 737 re eningine, the weight-efficiency disadvantages of the 777X, 737-7 and flat oval NMA. The need to offer AKH options for NB’s, recognize A321 capabilities, GTF potential. Move away from aggressive grandfathered design & certification, accounting blocks.

      All seems to have been discussed everywhere openly for at least a decade, but always seems to land on deaf ears.

      Look at free cash flow, we are right. Folks cashed & company now hitting the wall.

      Start paying executives based on company integrity, long term health. Not next quaters stock price. It failed, just stop it.

      https://www.cbsnews.com/news/boeing-737-max-new-ceo-david-calhoun-could-earn-28-million-pay-package-for-2020/

      • At this point if Boeing develop a single aisle B717 configuration aircraft, profans in the tail where they won’t cause psychological issues for passengers, composite supercritical wing, lithium alloy or GLARE fuselage, all electric auxiliaries, electric ground taxiing system they should be able to reduce fuel burn by 20% over equivalent neo. The alternative is to wait for a second generation of PW geared turbofan to improve the neo?

    • Perhaps product management were eliminated as unnecessary overhead by the GE-school geniuses.
      How difficult could it be to work out how many seats to screw in.
      /S

    • Perhaps product management were eliminated as unnecessary overhead by the GE-school geniuses.
      How difficult could it be to work out how many seats to screw in?.
      /S

    • I think it is more likely Boeing is suffering from an ill-formed Matrix Management structure (most importantly having weak communications and a culture that supresses openness) coupled with ill-applied GE inspired financial ideas. Simply, at least in the glimpses we’ve had of parts of BCA, it is screwed together badly and resting on a fundamentally bad culture.

      For products at the level of sub variants within existing lines (a new weight 787, a new cabin design etc.) yes, maybe your suggestion would help. But with the enormous costs, hugely extended timeframes (eg the legacy cross section in both Boeing and Airbus lasting more than half a century, or the almost absurd idea of a B52 lasting close to a century) and therefore existential risks for getting things wrong, there is only 1 product manager at BCA or Airbus and that is the CEO.

      My feeling is that the NMA/FSA revisit is (or maybe I’m being hopeful and instead the reality is it should be) actually much deeper than being talked about. For years now there has been pressure in the EU to shift intra-EU transport toward rail, China has transformed transport times with a huge network of high speed rail and India has aspirations this way too. This would already have the potential to flatten or even reduce FSA demand. But the societal impact of climate change through social media and peer pressure not to fly, is having a very significant, very rapid effect on public attitudes and to me looks like a genuine inflexion point, in the EU at least. I don’t necessarily see India following suit and in North America the lack of long distance passenger rail may prove too strong an issue, but I think China may follow the EU, so that relatively suddenly the FSA market size has shrunk dramatically and its design requirements are very different. Beyond that, both Boeing and Airbus need to understand that in the future they may need to be very different, offering eg ground transport, as well as aerospace products.

      • I don’t think you can “blame” the B-52’s longevity on Boeing. they designed a good airplane that was structurally overbuilt in keeping with other planes of the same era.

        the fact that the Govt chose life extensions over replacement is testament to the quality of the original product (and the death spiral of cost that any replacement inevitably fell into)

        I fully expect that 15 years from now, the bomber fleet of the USAF will consist of ~50 B-52s and ~100 B-21s with the B-1s and B-2s spread out in the desert @ davis-monthan in pieces for convenient sattelite observation.

      • @Woody, a CEO that fills the role of the companies product management department as a little side job is exactly what I mean. Sure, if you have someone like Steve Jobs at the top that may work, but someone like Calhoun?

        A professional and effective product management is a task that should be taken very, very seriously. Fail that and you will end up with exactly the mess you see at Boeing. Of course the final decisions will be made by the top management, but there is a host of work to be done before that and it must be done by people who have the respect of everyone in the company and outside.

        At Boeing they either need a genius at the top (not sure if one is available right now) or a really strong and powerful team to develop an entirely new product line.

      • @woody you make a lot of sense – I think Ryan air has not a lot of future

        but do you think the US is capable and willing of the massive infrastructure a nationwide rail network would require?

        I have read about the fabulous ineptitude and gigantic cost overruns on the planned rail line in California, one single line

        A national network would have to be ? what? a thousand times this?

        It is a cert that cost would be amplified by a gigantic air port style security apparatus subjecting rail travel to higher costs but also much higher transit times, as well as the 10 abreast no pitch mentality of the low cost airlines

        • If the knowledge of how to efficiently build railways, why not ask the Chinese or Japanese. They’ll be happy to do that for you.

          • The Spanish efficiently built a lot of railways. Not only cant they not get a return on investment, or pay back cheap loans, they can’t even cover operating costs. Its a tragedy. Fast Train’s only work in niche areas: a/ two large, highly dense populations that have sufficient income and that want to travel. b/ no too far enough apart to warrant flying and not too close a car looks better. Spain also has probably the worst ratios in terms of truck versus rail traffic in Europe and those fast trains cant carry shipping containers. The Spanish rail system was driven politically, ideologically, by government/tax money and by magical thinking. Everything but economic viability and economic sense.

          • The US no longer has the infrastructure to take on major public works programs. Especially labor intensive ones.

  5. Calhoun is a vastly better public speaker, confident enough to think on his feet and Boeing badly needed this. But that doesn’t automatically make him better (eg more honest and/or open) in the C Suite.

    My take is that Boeing and Calhoun still fail to learn. Humility, transparency, responsibility and a few more —ties were all conspicuously AWOL from the start of this mess. With the Muilenberg==>Calhoun change they had by far their best opportunity since it began to reset and do things right but they’ve chosen not to.

    • The success and quality of a new Product depends initially mainly on the CEO and Board of directors to decide what Product to what cost and time to produce after reviewing options and assessing risks of the different proposals.
      Then allocating time and Money to the whole engineering, manufacturing, testing, certification, program organisations release the billions of dollars required and the main control is transferred to the Cheif Project manager, Cheif Engineer with testing, Purchasing and Production divison heads and their organisations. So much happens that the CEO and his staff cannot follow it in any detail but thrust that the organisation they built and trained will meet or exceed the requirements that hopefully are somewhat fixed. Hence other people than the CEO Controls the final result of the Project, often is the first certified design not that great and a stretch with improvements from the first is the commercial success they all hoped for.

  6. Regarding 777x certification, you don’t have to be a specialist to see the 777x is a great, but totally new aircraft, not a 77W derivative.
    https://airwaysmag.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Screen-Shot-2017-06-07-at-3.04.42-AM-1024×768.png

    That should be reflected in the certification process. Even the relative minor changes to the 737MAX let to disaster because of shortcut on system interfaces & oversight. .
    https://www.skybrary.aero/index.php/The_Joint_Authorities_Technical_Review_(JATR)_-_Boeing_737_MAX_Flight_Control_System

    The same Boeing, same FAA using the same grandfathering certification approach for the 777x shows Boeing felt they were powerfull enough to get goalposts moved. Streamlined as it was called.
    https://www.faa.gov/news/updates/?newsId=79246

    Maybe at that stage & the FAA was pushed around by Boeing & US Congress in a way that diodn’t put safety first.
    https://www.dallasnews.com/business/airlines/2019/12/11/faa-chief-says-boeings-737-max-wont-be-approved-in-2019/

    Agree on Calhouns clean sheet of paper approach. Sometimes obligations and loyalty leads to people sticking to the plan while realities change and assumptions are driven by hope & best case scenarios. Or really are driven by short term financial interests.

    Great outlooks & blinding accounting blocks make quaterly’s fly. But not trustworthiness longer term.

    • From the Airways Mag blurb, 60″ extension on horizontal stab, three stabilizer actuators! (are two back up or do they all work together?), new vertical tail, modified landing gear, new wheels and tires (is the structural assembly and height then the same as previous?)

      • There are lots engineering solutions out there but most if not all would require a major certification check that would take years.

        If you replace the jack screw in the stabiliser with 3 hydraulic actuators then that is real nice. Only one would be in use at a time while the other would be in ‘damping mode’ which means bypassed by valves on the cylinders. Valves are probably a duel x double arrangement. For the record the FAA wanted four actuators on the stabilator of the L1011 Tristar. On a modern Airbus there would typically be two actuators: one would be an EHA (electro hydrostatic actuator) which uses electrical power to turn a variable speed drive to power a reversible hydraulic pump to get deflection. The second actuator is a EHBA (electro hydrostatic backup actuator) that works the same way (with a reversible pump) but also has the option of working of direct hydraulic power via a servo valve that cuts in should the reversible pump or its drive fail. It’s obvious this can be done all electrical, all hydraulic etc.

        However you might have triplicated or quadruplicated your actuators now you have to consider the redundancy of the electrical system and hydraulic system. Do you have redundant electrical supply and redundant hydraulic supply not dependant on each other. Do you need a RAT “ram air turbine” etc.

        An effort to produce a FBW B737 MAX might have been worth it. Just redoing the existing 16 bit computers to do MCAS properly is all that was needed in the first place. At worst it would have needed a 3rd cut out switch to isolate MCAS.

    • Perhaps they can claim grandfather rights on the FBW system. But I’m also at a loss as to how they can claim grandfather rights on anything else.

  7. The low cost economic decision to give the 737MAX short legs and not give it 757 length MLG forced the use of the LEAP-1B instead of a LEAP-1C derivative Engine and forced its Engine position and limited the T-O performance of the 737-9/-10.
    Now it is too late and Boeing will figure out a new Aircraft design with its selling price, cost of production and volumes from UAL, AA, DAL, SWA and 2-3 leasing companies.
    In principle they can simplify its further by asking Udvar Hazy to write the spec. together with issuing a 500 Aircraft order for a given price.

  8. Any thoughts on the alleged disagreement across the pond (Boeing and FAA vs EASA) over wiring issues?

    • The separation solution is easy but to expose the wiring bundles requires a lot of work (about two weeks for disassembly and reassembly). Boeing may be looking at other remediation measures, or deferment until there is another reason for disassembly

      FAA and EASA need to be on the same page, so I’m sure they will work it out.

      • As Chris pointed out above, having made another 400 unflyable aircraft that now, as you say, all need 2 weeks work on the wiring is proving to be an expensive decision…

        Deferment is probably not acceptable. The issue is the disasterous consequences that would arise from a specific short circuit in the wiring. There’s every reason to suppose that effectively brand new aircraft are at risk from developing this short circuit. Haven’t they heard of the bathtub curve?

        And besides that, Boeing’s reputation w.r.t. FOD isn’t exactly very good at the moment. Ok, so the MAX itself hasnt’ been identified as suffering FOD issues, but lots of other things Boeing has touched recently (KC46, 787, Apache?) have. Any regulator out there willing to take the a bet that MAX production is perfectly FOD free?

        • Matthew, at this point the issue is the potential degradation of insulation over time, that could lead to an arc or a short-circuit. The bundles are separated now, just not by the distance required by regulation. That distance allows for the failure of insulation, so the design protection is reduced in this case, but not eliminated.

          Boeing self-reported this so there is no concealment or wish to avoid correction. There are other ways of dealing with the potential risk. The FAA and EASA will have to decide what is acceptable, in terms of statistical probability of failure vs the cost of remediation. It may not need to delay RTS, that is likely the point of disagreement. But it’s up to the regulators to decide. Boeing has said they will do as asked, but they have given their own analysis as well.

          It’s important to note that there is not an immediate threat, but the risk could grow over time and with operation cycles, if the insulation is subject to wear or degradation. It’s a low risk to begin with, and is not something that is likely to happen tomorrow.

          I have no doubt the issue will be corrected in future builds, or that Boeing would have corrected it if aware as they built the 400 after grounding. So the question is how to handle the existing aircraft, and when.

          • Rob, that’s interesting stuff, many thanks. I understand the point that insulation does degrade with time (anyone who has lived in a 1930’s British house with rubber wiring knows only too well!).

            My point is that if there’s an aircraft on which, for whatever reason, the insulation of the wiring is duff from the very beginning (a small cut, manufacturing variation, just sheer bad luck, anything like that) then there’s presently a lack of other safeguards.

            It’s far from inconceivable that one of the 700+ MAXes manufactured so far has defects of this type in that area. Short of some pretty extensive paperwork per aircraft documenting the examination of every last inch of insulation post installation, something I doubt they have, I don’t quite know how they can guarantee that there isn’t a dangerous deficiency somewhere in the fleet.

            In fact the whole point of the regulatory separation distance is so that you don’t need this level of post installation inspection in the first place.

            I get the point that the bundles are already separated. However, the required separation distance was not arrived at by an arbitrary process; someone has done a lot of testing in various predictable fault conditions – such as compromised insulation, something going overvoltage as well, condensation, etc – and determined a safe separation distance.

            Challenging the validity of that distance, even on only a temporary basis, is just another manifestation of the same attitude that lead to MCAS not being briefed to pilots, dependence on a single AoA vane, etc. It’s the “it’ll be OK, it’ll never happen” attitude. Well, guess what? I’m astonished if there’s anyone in Boeing willing to take that sort of chance again, after all that’s happened, and if there is they should close down the company right now.

            I knew that Boeing self-reported this one, and took that as an encouraging sign. It would be most discouraging if there’s some push back against sorting it out properly before it flies again. The fact that it’s taken two crashes and 346 deaths to provoke the necessary level of re-examination to find it is very damning of Boeing’s prior cultural setup. Effectively what they’ve just admitted to is that there is another potentially catastrophic flaw in the aircraft (so it has been described elsewhere), unnoticed by all until now but there for all to see in plain sight if they had chosen to go look at it.

          • Matthew the bundles are inspected and tested at multiple stages, including for current leakage, shorts and opens after installation. So while it’s not impossible that a defect exists, it’s not likely, as I said. The spacing is not the sole provider of safety, it’s a redundant measure.

            A fault would require a breakdown in both bundles and then also an inception event. The main concern is that the breakdown becomes more likely in the future.

            This was either a design or assembly issue, I don’t know which. There are other methods to address it, such as current limiters or arc suppressors or breakers. New homes in the US are now required to have arc-suppression breakers to help prevent fires.

            My guess would be that similar spacing issues could exist in any commercial aircraft, if inspected at the level that the MAX has been. That doesn’t in any way excuse it, and it still needs to be addressed in some way.

            I’m sure it will be addressed, it’s just a question of how and when, and the regulators will have to reach agreement on that. I’m sure that agreement will happen as well, and that Boeing will abide by the ruling.

          • @Rob
            “My guess would be that similar spacing issues could exist in any commercial aircraft, if inspected at the level that the MAX has been.”

            We’ve been through this before, there are plenty of things wrong with the MAX that show up without extreme levels of inspection.
            Boeing is not a victim for having to follow the rules after hundreds of people died because Boeing avoided to follow the rules.

            I appreciate your reply about how much work it would take to fix this wiring issue.

          • @Rob
            “My guess would be that similar spacing issues could exist in any commercial aircraft, if inspected at the level that the MAX has been.”

            There could be similar spacing issues, on the other hand, it’s also possible that other aircraft have been built according to the regulations, and have been subject to a level of scrutiny at certification that ensured that they don’t have similar spacing issues.

            I would expect Airbus would have started a check to verify they don’t have any such issues as soon as they heard Boeing self-report.

            What I find interesting is; are these wiring issues only MAX related, if so why did the wiring change from the NG ?

          • Julian and Jakdak, the point is not to portray Boeing as a victim, the point is to put the problem in perspective. It’s not a critical flaw, or an immediate threat. It will be addressed in due course, one way or another. There are various solutions available.

            If it had been found in other circumstances, it would not have resulted in grounding, there would have been an AD to resolve it within a certain period of time. That is the normal course of correction for problems like this. That remains a viable approach. It’s ultimately something for the regulators to decide, we’ll have to see what they say.

          • Rob,

            I understand, the regulators will decide what needs to be done, and how urgently.

            “…if so why did the wiring change from the NG” what I am interested in is the lessons that can be learnt from understanding why issues such as this were not found during design/certification.

            Which part of the process failed to detect the issue, what can be done to ensure that the process is more robust for future projects across all airframers ?

          • Jakdak, I can’t answer your question, as I mentioned I don’t know how the error occurred. The spacing issue occurred only in the tail where space is tight, so that may have been a factor.

            As far as I know, the general bundle spacing requirement in the EWIS regulations is 1/2 inch. But other rules may be involved, again I don’t know.

            We also don’t know the extent of the violation. Is the spacing only 1/4 inch? Are the bundles touching? Again we don’t know. Boeing and the regulators know, so we have to trust that they will work out a solution.

            As I said, my guess is that these kinds of minor issues are common, they just aren’t found unless someone specifically looks. Boeing was asked to look and double-check. They did, found this, and reported. So we have to rely on the judgement of the manufacturer and regulators, as to how to best address it.

  9. I think it’s all blowing smoke. There is no comparison between the 777X and the 737 MAX.

    The orginal 777 was a thoroughly modern airplane with triple redundant systems thoughout. It was also naturally stable. I’m sure the 777X will be no different. Having said that, Boeing are having trouble in execution, so the regulators will need to keep a close eye on execution.

    Coming to the MAX. It doesn’t have triple redundant systems throughout and it isn’t naturally stable. The MAX cannot be regulated in the same way as the 777X. There is absolutely no comparison, no crossover between regulating the 737 MAX and the 777X.

    So we come to grandfather rights. The grandfather of the 777X is a thoroughly modern airplane. The grandfather of the 737 MAX is straight out of the history books.

    This comes to the changes between the 777X and the 777. Where changes have been made they are thorough. New engine, new wing, new undercarriage, new empennage and so on. Lots, and lots of money spent getting it right.

    We know what wasn’t changed with regard to the MAX. The list is long. The result an airplane without redundancy and not naturally stable. No money spent and still no money spent. Yes, a lot of costs but still no money spent on improving the airplane. Just change the software when it needs hardware and aerodynamic changes.

    As I said, it’s blowing smoke. We are to be told that one is to be subject to safe regulation because the other will be subject to safe regulation, even though there is no comparison between the two.

    Are we supposed to fall for it. There is no comparison to be made between the 737 MAX and the 777X.

    • Philip, this is not about systems. This a about cutting corners on the testing and certification process of all systems, specially their interfaces, interactions and changed requirements. And about delegated responsibilities and independent oversight. Refer to the JATR recommendations.

      EASA, Lufthansa and Emirates are taking a close look at the 777X certification process. To see if recent Boeing – FAA certification fndings and experiences are translated into new processes, or are ignored, avoided as much as possible. The assigment of powerless, predictable advisory commissions only makes them more suspicious.

      https://www.flightglobal.com/air-transport/us-government-panel-calls-for-faa-certification-improvements/136186.article

      They are probably sharing information and insights with UK and Japanese authorities and airline representatives.

      • I do address the JATR report. Not one cap fits all. The 777X is not the 737 MAX.

        The is no such thing as a universal set of regulations. Regulations must be set in accordance with configuration for their are many different configurations.

        To give a simple example, rear engines with a t-tail versus wing mounted engines and a tail with a fin, a rudder. The regulations are different.

        I do agree with cutting corners. Boeing have munipulated the regulations and continue to manipulate the regulations. For example, they claim that the 737 MAX has redundancy as per the 777X. No is doesn’t.

        But it’s far worse. Boeing are picking and choosing their regulations and then rewriting them. But they are not confining it to a given configuration. They are picking and choosing regulations from whatever configuration they think they can get away with and then rewriting them.

        Bottom line. Anything goes. Money is supreme

        • P.S.

          JTAR is about systems for it is about how Boeing changed the rules of system development.

        • You are correct. The 777X is not the 737 MAX. By the same token, the 77X is also not really a 777.

          How do you define what a new airplane is?
          You wrote it yourself, “New engine, new wing, new undercarriage, new empennage and so on. ”
          Other than the name, not much else is the same. That goes double now in this age of rapid technological development.

          Sorry, but just because Boeing calls it a 777, does not mean it is the same aircraft.

          Certifying authorities and OEMs need to work on that concept and definition.

          • I know. Boeing can’t claim grandfather rights on most of the 777X. The only part I can come up with is the FBW. I don’t think they have changed it, but I’m not sure.

            Please note grandfather rights still require the OEM to make sure a change doesn’t cause an issue elsewhere. The OEM must prove it. Unfortunately Boeing didn’t comply with that particular part of grandfather rights.

            Changing a part must not cause issues elsewhere. That must be proven by an OEM.

            Anyway, given Boeing’s behaviour, I’m happy for the regulators to impose a new certificate on the 777X and everything else for that matter until they learn to behave.

            I was only trying to give a little credit. The engine mount on the 777X looks right. I know The Duke suggested it was high. But if you look at it from the rear side angle, it’s very similar to the 787, A350, A330neo, A320neo. It won’t be an issue.

    • On technical basis there is no comparison between B737 (very old) and B777 (quite new) so no big equivalency.

      But I think that on FAA and regulators approach to self certification by Boeing via FAA’s ODA system, which failed with MAX, and FAA’s soft approach to Boeing in general, we are right to expect to be done much more then earlier. If not I hope EASA will do his job thoroughly in place of them.

    • Keesje,

      I may have come across as far too hopeful with the 777X. I do want Boeing to turn the corner. Perhaps the corner is still a long way off.

      I do understand what you are saying,

    • The 737MAX is naturally stable in pitch, just the stick forces linearity in certian flight and c.g . conditions made it not meet certification regulations without MCAS helping out. MCAS did other things as well but that is another story.

      • No. Stick force linearity can be addressed by the feel computers. We’re been there

        11 months and $20 billion, and counting, for something that is unneessary is not a sane argument.

      • Claes, also read the JATR and Lion Air crash report. They both make clear the MAX has a pitch up tendency and MCAS was created to address it

      • Claes, your characterization of the MCAS and stability issue is correct, and is also consistent with the JATR and Lion Air reports. Neither of those contradict the rational for MCAS or the basic stability of the MAX. They raise questions as to the MCAS implementation and classification, which is appropriate.

    • Ryanair might want to swap the 737MAX-200’s to 737MAX-10 that will increase capacity by up to 30 seats per plane and will be able to shuttle around most EU Airports. O’Leary might tell Boeing to “keep the change” for the 737MAX200 delay penalties and give him 737-10’s instead for the same price.
      When Boeing hesitates he can tell he plan to buy new A320neo’s for Lauda for the Boeing money and give instructions how to wire the Money from Chicago directly to Toulouse, Boeing has lost many regular airline customers in Europe already due to earlier Ryanair special deals so I suspect eventually O’Leary will get his 737-10’s.

    • Here we go. O’Leary wants a new price for the existing other. As I said Boeing won’t get $50 million for a MAX. They won’t get $40 million, either.

    • WIZZ Air A321 carry 230 passengers and has given them a competitive advantage.

  10. As far as the NMA, they need to think about what gates it will be parking at. If the airports of the world are moving towards only C and E size gates, if they make the NMA a D gate aircraft, then it will be vying for space with 787s and A350/A330s. Options may be limited, and it could be a dud in that regard. I’d be looking at what ORD will look and how the NMA will fit into that picture.

    • it will definitely be C gate at the gate… probably mid D on the taxiway.

  11. I think Boeing and Airbus both have given indications that the NSAs are not in the cards in the near future. Same with just Boeing and the NMA. Essentially, they are going to take advantage of the Duopoly and make money during this cycle. Ryan Air just announced they are going to get some MAX-10s.
    Boeing has put a lot of money into the MAX by now, and they are going to want a return;
    The A330 put pressure on Boeing’s 767.
    The A330 spawned Boeing’s replacement of the 767 – the 787.
    The A321LR and XLR could be niche aircraft.
    Finally, I think Airbus is debating about the A220.

    • Sam, I’m very sorry to say, but you got it all wrong.

      To begin with, with the MAX the 737 is already overstretched and can’t be improved and developed any further. It might possibly even have to get heavier and more complex to get back in the air. On the other hand the A320 family is not even near its limits. Airbus has already developed a CFRP wing box and I have very little doubt that the plans for a CFRP wing are already made.

      If you read between the lines, Ryanair has made an offer at a price in which they have incorporated all kind of damages and extra discounts that would reduce Boeings chances of “return” dramatically.

      You got it about right with the smaller widebodies, but the poin is that the A330 has killed the 767, while the 787 did not kill the A330.

      The A321 LR and XLR will replace ALL 757s and many 767 and even open up new revenue for airlines. That’s not niche. Airbus plans to increase production of the A321 massively, (A380 production halls) only they don’t say it. But we all will witness that pretty soon.

      Airbus is not debating the A220, but figuring out how to bring the cost down and the production up. It’s a very pretty plane with a very bright future. And once Airbus is able to fulfill the demand for the two variants, there is little doubt they will launch a larger version.

      • I agree with what you say (and Uwe’s following comment about the actually amount of orders of the new A321s) but I am not totally convinced that Calhoun is going to stray far from or change the last few decade’s corporate philosophy at Boeing. It has also crossed my mind that Faury was brought into Airbus because “He’s not a moonshot guy.” Now if airlines start going more point-to-point, and it might be going that way, then the biggest narrow bodies and the A220’s potential might be something else. Part of my wait-n-see approach was reading about how many passengers the LR and XLR can carry.

      • I wasn’t aware that Airbus had done a CFRP wingbox for the A320. I’d always assumed that they’d simply go for a whole new airframe in CFRP, rather than take an incremental approach to the upgrade. Mind you, an incremental upgrade programme could really catch Boeing unawares; a couple of upgrade steps and, bam! the A320 is half CFRP, weighing tons less and flying another 1000 miles further.

        I can see why a CFRP wingbox is easily put in, but won’t a CFRP wing make big changes to the CoG? Wouldn’t that then come along with a lot of major changes, basically a new aircraft? Perhaps so, but actually that doesn’t really matter; with their fly by wire they can make sure existing A32x pilots can fly it…

        Regardless, I’m convinced Airbus are planning on responding to the Greta-effect (manifested in reduced passenger numbers in some countries), and sees itself as having to respond to environmental shaming more than it has to respond to Boeing. Better to enter discussions about the future with an honest “look, we really are trying really jolly hard” than risk someone else set legally binding but unachievable environmental limits.

        Depending on how quickly one sees such public moods changing, you could argue that Airbus need a new design really very quickly, and that perhaps the A320neo was a mistake (albeit a hard to predict mistake).

        Indeed A330 was not killed by the 787. The A330neo’s job is to ensure that Boeing can’t make much money from selling 787s. Much mocked for its not-so-large sales, arguably if all it cost Airbus to develop was a couple of billion dollars and it’s existence in the market place is costing Boeing lots more than that having to compete on price, then it’s a strategic success for Airbus even if A330neo hadn’t sold at all…

        • During all the Brexit news it was mentioned that Airbus are working on new 40 to 44 mtr CFRP wings.

          • Ah, I’d missed that, thank you. 40 to 44 meter per wing or overall span? I’m assuming the latter! I guess they know what they’re doing.

            In which case, isn’t that Boeing effectively stuffed? An A32xNeo but with a CFRP box and wing is going to be hugely better than the MAX. If Airbus roll it out to later NEO orders as a freebie upgrade, their customers are going to be veery competitive vs MAX operators. That’d make MAX operators even more morose.

            What if they adopt the A220’s LiAl alloy as well? That’s probably a simple-ish thing too.

          • Might be for the A322 stretch and using exisiting A321neo Engines, Airbus need a more aerodynamic efficient wing and lower its mass for it. Guess it is a protoype and they are still a long way before certifying a cost effective CFRP wing+wingbox

          • “Airbus are working on new 40 to 44 mtr CFRP wings.”
            Why would they do that when the current short haul airport gate size is 36m
            The next gate size up is 52m . An A330neo is 64m

            The 40-44m size is an orphan, you dont gain the advantages at longer range of 52m and you cant use the far more numerous 36m terminal gates.
            Airbus already has a CFRP wing of 36m, a factory and production process to make it and its on the A220.

          • The news was a long time ago, I might have misremembered the sizes but I’m sure it was up to 44mtr. Folding wing tips maybe?

        • Yes it right. They have designed a new centre wing box and new wings. It’s now all about producing them in quantity. Apparently that’s the hard bit.

          • My take is that Airbus is doing quite a bit of research and development in reserve. The article about laminar wings reads as if at least one of the two profiles performs even better than expected. Of course this would require a full CFRP wing, and here comes the CFRP wingbox in the picture.

            But why should they launch it now? They can make enough A320 and A321s anyway. So I guess we will have to wait at least until the A380 hall is cranking out A321. We will also have to wait how Brexit pans out and if Airbus will want to produce such a wing in the UK or rather on the continent. They can also patiently wait for the outcome of the MAX re-certification and/or a new single aisle plane from Boeing.

          • Having some R&D results in reserve does sound like a good idea.

            As for launching it now, well, why not? In fact, why not convert some existing A32xneo orders too? There’s some growing political danger in Europe at present in being seen to milk older technology simply in the pursuit of money, and not rolling out environmentally beneficial changes at the earliest opportunity. Plus it can only help sales…

      • Forget the LR, it’s the XLR. A cash cow of gigantuous proportions. Not a niche airplane. A game changer.

        • Yes, many airlines can use it for daytime shuttling around its longest daytime routes, then late in the evening fill’er up for a long range flight overnite and return before the morning rush and repeat it all over, since the structure and engines are designed for 12-14 cycles per day it can do it for years before checks and engine life is consumed and it can be really profitable for those airlines who use it right.

  12. Around 2027, ORD will be crammed with A321’s from United, American, Delta, Jetblue, Spirit and European carriers. They already ordered them. That is what is pushing up the NMA specification into something larger. Assuming the MAX will be just fine, and everybody forgets / honors their orders. That might be too optimistic, Calhoun knows more.

  13. The A321neo is far out-selling the 737-9/10—by a factor of three to five, depending on the point-in-time the comparison is made.

    I wonder how much of that market share is due to bribery?

    • Probably none. There’s simply way too much demand. I doubt that whomever could have kept up with that. It’d be like “I’ll slip you a tenner if you order – oh, you already have”…

    • Bribery should be punsished & the responsible people prosecuted. I hope all guilty get caught at Airbus. And Embraer, Boeing and Bombardier for that matter.

      The question is where support, funding, subsidies, tax cuts, rebaits, compensation orders, consultancy fees, discounts and state to state sales ends and where bribery begins. Picking battles can be a bit opportunistic sometimes. E.g. a congress member can be “supported” while other officials are “bribed”.

      https://prospect.org/power/boeing-is-basically-a-state-funded-company/

      • Interesting read that article you’ve linked to, thanks.

        Over here in the UK the term that was popular was the “social worth” of companies. It was used to threaten banks, stung by the financial crisis and consequently massively risk averse, to resume normal lending. A bank that doesn’t help other businesses thrive is effectively nothing but a parasite, and the government told them so.

        So what is the true social worth of Boeing? It’s not like they’re delivering much of value right now on the back of all the money that flows through them. Would the money be beter spent simply giving it directly to the workforce / suppliers instead, and forego the entire messy business of building lots of aircraft that aren’t any good and/or nobody wants?

        Of course there’s more to it than that – military / strategic considerations to the fore. But surely there it’s even more important that the company can do a good job when called up? I mean, it’s all very well saying that Boeing are too strategically important to fail, but what right now is Boeing building that’s of a military / strategic nature that’s any good? And are they showing any signs of getting better at doing it?

        Boeing are current custodians of some important stuff – Chinook, Apache, KC46, P8, F16, F15, A10? to name but a few, but those are strategically useless unless Boeing can actually be trusted to make them properly first time, every time. You can’t win a war if you’re having to send back your wartime replacement build aircraft to be de-FODded before they can go into battle. An enemy isn’t going to sit around waiting for that to happen…

        • F16 is definitely not a Boeing plane, it was General Dynamics ( the old Convair) and now Lockheed.
          The Fairchild A10 is now looked after by Northrop Grumman & Lockheed ( Boeing did the wing rebuild)

    • Probably almost none, add at least 3 billion of unnecessary bribes to the $4 billion fine punishment.

    • “Lance Armstrong”. At the top of a voluminous industry around doping.
      Are you really that naive to think American industry and specifically Boeing works differently?
      NSA snooping derived information is leveraged against foreign competitors while the local industry is protected and gets “informational help”. Sorry, no moral elevation for the US.

  14. I’m not sure Calhoun playing the “I was just responsible for governance” defense works. The REALLY BIG problem at Boeing is governance. Engineering, sales etc they’re fine.

  15. Scott’s remarks on market share are the important point that Boeing has studiously ignored over the past 25, 30 years.

    Once upon a time Airbus had zero market share. Now they’re comfortably over 50% and claiming more. And Boeing’s response to this has been to slightly titivate the aging 737 design time and time again, hiding behind the fact that whilst their revenue and profit have risen with the exploding SA market, their market share has been in permanent decline for the better part of all of the Board member’s lives. Carry on that trend and the market share is zero %

    Try making a profit from that.

    • Matthew, Airbus took market share from Lockheed, Vickers, Hawker, Sud Aviation, and Douglas. Boeing’s market share has fluctuated over time, but you will find it historically fairly stable (excluding stopped MAX production) while Airbus gained market share which demonstrates that Boeing’s product offerings were strong in the face of strong competition.

      Boeing’s issues have been in execution; not in planning or market analysis (which company made those four engined short-lived A340s and A380s and which didn’t? Conversely, which company brought the A320NEO and A380 to market relatively smoothly and which company botched the roll-out of the 787 and 737MAX). Botched execution still costs market share and provides your rival free money at your expense but isn’t what you are talking about.

      • Also the market has grown substantially in that time, well over 100%. Boeing could not have kept up with that growth alone, so Airbus, delivering quality products as they do, was able to step into an expanding market, at a time of closures and consolidations. That was a good thing for everyone, including Boeing. It’s best if both Airbus and Boeing are strong and able, as neither can handle the market alone.

        • Garrett’s remarks about Lockheed, Vickers et al misses the point. If Airbus’s current market share is attributable solely to Airbus hoovering up those businesses’ share, Beoing didn’t get any of it, which is a problem all in itself.

          And yes as I also said it was an expanding market, but Boeing chose not to expand into it. Had they bothered to develop themselves a superior design 30 years ago when it became clear that the 737 was massively outclassed by the A320, by now they’d have had 25, 30 years to get the production rate up to a something like 120, 130 month (combination of Boeing and Airbus production rates today in the single aisle sector).

          Are you really telling me that Boeing could never, ever have achieved that kind of rate by today with 25 years to think about it?

          • If you look at narrowbody seat count, Airbus have a larger than 57% of the market because of A321 sales volume. Airbus share on seat count is probably over 60% and climbing.

            Boeing’s dominance of widebodies is also coming to an end.

            Even if the MAX returns there will be layoffs.

            Boeing must launch a new narrowbody at the Farnborough airshow

          • Matthew, Boeing production has outpaced Airbus, so they have expanded into the market, as has Airbus as well.

            Garrett did not say that Airbus achievements are based solely on consolidations and closings. he said they expanded into an expanding market with strong, competitive products. Closings were a factor but not the determining one.

            Also the growth in the market has been gradual over time. 25 years ago Boeing was adequately sized for the market, and they are today as well, as is Airbus, and that has more or less been true all long, capacity has remined balanced.

  16. Assuming there will be a duopoly for the foreseable future, it has become more and more likely Boeing will probably go for a superior 150-200 seat single aisle. If they can make it superior to the A320s (lighter, more fuel efficient, quieter, more comfortable, more flexible and cheaper to build/ assemble globally) they can regain ~50% marketshare in 2035. Airlines want choice.

  17. New aircraft whatever back to the drawing board. This illustrates a big problem for both OEMs. The market is changing faster than new designs can be bought to market. Look at the 787 program. Range rose due to new demands as the thing was being built. A350? How many times did the concepts change, esp the 1000? A350 mk I, bad idea abandoned, no, good idea, done. One of the reasons low cost projects like NEOs 321LR/XLR, MAX have become so popular is they hit the market before it changes but something is going to have to change. Can’t revamp forever.

    • And we can’t keep expanding the aviation industry by having more and more smaller aircraft. It doesn’t work from an airspace congestion point of view, and fuel per passenger mile is worse for smaller aircraft too (I think) so governments won’t tolerate that either.

      • Larger aircraft will always make sense flying between the big markets. But flying direct from one secondary market to another rather than through a hub will reduce congestion at the hub and any efficiency lost to the use of smaller aircraft will be regained by the direct flight.

        As an example AirCanada will be connecting Montreal to Seatle and Toronto to San Jose using the A220. Previously that would have involved going via Toronto in the first case and Vancouver in the second. The direct flights are a win on many counts:
        * probably 2 hours saved
        * one takeoff, climb land cycle avoided saving on maintenance and fuel
        * half the landing fees
        * half the gate costs
        * opportunity to charge a premium for the better travel experience

        • They also have around 20 A319 around 20 yrs old to replace.
          Isn’t it mainly a replacement plane?
          Sure San Jose is the new ‘it destination’ for Silicon Valley and probably has good future potential.

  18. About congestion & busy airports, technology has progressed. Humans making sure other humans keep distance, like 1980’s ATC is probably not what w’ll see in 2040. Humans will set rules, decide on exceptions but are too limited, unreliable and inefficient for mass execution of tasks.

    https://youtu.be/4mHDDG3FCjs

  19. “”I think it’s all blowing smoke””

    Everything still doesn’t make much sense.

    Calhoun said that the cert process is a new one to every next airplane and it seems it includes the 777X.
    Is the MAX not included because it was already certificated???
    When will Boeing start with hardware changes on the MAX???

    It’s good that changes on the 777X will be checked deeply but will be parts on the 777X which were not changed from the 777 be exempt???
    There never was an independent software audit on the 777.

    So Obama and Trump cheated on regulatory oversight and now the rest of the world have longer cert processes???
    At the moment the rest of the world is not the problem.
    Checking the 787 cert process makes much more sense.

    • The 787 was certifified as a entirely new aircraft, that’s not the problem I guess. According to the JATR the certification requires a top down approach because systems interact differently.

      If for a new part you describe the differences with the original, e.g. tested part, that similarity may be enough. If you do that for an entirely new aircraft (cockpit, fuselage, wing, wing pylon, engine, tail, landing gear, systems) you might be cooking the books. Similarity, past test results and interfaces might be changed too much to reliably re-certify changed systems based on them.

      When the FAA granted 77W grandfathering for 777X deign and requirements it raised eyebrows already. As Jon Ostrower noticed in 2014 already:

      “The U.S. regulator has shown “a surprising amount of flexibility” allowing significantly updated aircraft with new engines and wings to be grandfathered, said Hans Weber, president of Tecop International Inc., a consulting firm that specializes in aircraft certification.

      Even if the FAA treats the 777X as an update, Boeing would have to get each specific change in the new plane recertified to meet new requirements that have been introduced since the 777 entered service 19 years ago.

      Boeing could meet resistance in Europe. In 1997 the FAA grandfathered a makeover of the 737 under earlier certification. But European regulators almost derailed early deliveries of the Next Generation 737 to carriers in the region after determining that the emergency exits over the jet’s wings didn’t comply with the latest regulations.”

      https://www.wsj.com/articles/boeing-777x-clears-hurdle-with-faa-1398916634

      Now we know Boeing had FAA basically in the pocket (streamlining, re-authorization, Boeing congress lobbyist, DOA delegation, “monkeys” mails, https://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-17-508T ). This puts pressure from EASA, Emirates and other authorities on FAA shoulders to re-do their home work.

  20. The 737 has an average outside fuselage dimension of 12′-9″. The A320 and MC-21 measure at 13-4″, a gain of 7″ but are still competitive. With new technology and a CFRP wing, Boeing should be able to gain another 10″ and still be in the race. 14′-2″ would allow a wide aisle 3-3 or 2-2-2 seating. Plus since the airlines charge a premium for everything, in the end, two aisle seats are worth more than two middle seats, and that economic value will be harvested in some way, shape, or form.

    • I’ve argued here for a 2-2-2 aircraft for the new Boeing aircraft in the past. If it could match or be be close to a 3-3 economically, it would be a real game changer. I also allows a 1-2-1 first class that is ALL aisle seats.

      There may, however, be a big issue with the overhead storage bins, especially putting a row over the 2 middle seats.

      • Yes, the middle compartment will have to be something different. Maybe one bin that is 22″ deep, accessible from either side, that holds bags on edge with 10″ dividers. If carryons are standardized to a size limit, then there could be some progress. For carryons larger than 10″x14″x22″, perhaps there should be a fee and special racks or bins for those. Since most people do not access their bags during flight, some racks that went into the ceiling or hold are a possibility. Is lifting heavy bags over ones head the best design possible? They load strollers and car seats at the door and that works too. But of course people do like the security of being near their bags, so it is a tough problem.

  21. My concern with Boeing is based on money coming in and going out – based on their product catalog.

    787 cost ~$25+ billion. It’s generating ‘cash’ but not really ‘profit’ I assume (in normal accounting anyways) and has a330neo/a350 as competition. Slower sales usually means lower prices, and it has good competition.

    737max (technically just a
    reengine) has now cost $20+billion (development and crisis costs)… No money coming in until back in skies and I assume sales prices won’t be as high as before… And it’s days are likely numbered. If FSA does launch, max sales will dry up as airlines wait.

    777/777x – development costs???/very slow -ER sales for years – the X kinda killed potential -ER sales.

    Going forward… Where are the sales… And with the cost to develop the current catalog… Where are the profits? Add the FSA or NMA development costs and once again… Money out… But not a lot coming in.

    I feel it’s very late in the game for BA and their catalog is lacking, indebted, and more money must be spent to solve.

  22. Scott, I listened to your interview on Top of Mind with Julie Rose, thank you for giving a balanced and accurate view. It was good to hear a rational voice on the 737 MAX. I wish that was echoed elsewhere in the press.

  23. Rob and other members of the Boeing lobby

    Rational versus irrational, sane versus insane, balance versus bias, accurate versus inaccurate. They are words that are used to control others.

    To be specific, the words irrational, insane, bias and inaccurate are used when the evidence, the facts are contrary to the arguments being put forward. Those making the argument, an argument contrary to the evidence, the facts, try to force their argument through by resorting to abuse to hide the evidence, to hide the facts.

    The JATR report and the Lion Air crash report – official reports – are unconditionally damning of Boeing and the MAX. They were written by industry professionals, experts in their field. The reports were rational, sane, balanced and accurate. At least in my view.

    This latest argument for MCAS, stick force feel, is irrational, insane, biased and inaccurate. I’m sure the JATR report and the Lion Air crash report would have mentioned it otherwise. Indeed, I’m sure it would have been at the centre of the reports.

    Bjorn’s argument, nose happy and all you need to do is push the yoke forward. Bjorn used the word ‘irrational’ to control those who thought otherwise. It’s the other way round. Bjorn’s argument is irrational, insane, biased and inaccurate. I’m sure the JATR report and the Lion Air crash report would have mentioned it. Indeed, I’m sure it would have been at the centre of the reports.

    Here are two more words: Clever versus stupid. Is it clever or stupid to resort to abuse to hide the evidence, the facts? I’ll leave that open!

    Here is the biggest evidence, the biggest fact. The MAX has been grounded for 11 months. It’s now cost Boeing $20 billion. Is there an end in sight? Some say yes some say no. But the time line and cost do mean that it’s far more serious than the arguments put foward by members of the Boeing lobby.

    When will EASA be allowed to fly the MAX with MCAS turned off? Will EASA be allowed to fly the MAX with MCAS turned off? It’s now many months since EASA made the request.

    Am I being respectful or disrespectful in my post. Am I being rude or courtious in my post. Am I showing myself as an intellectual or showing my lack of intelect in my post.

    Have a nice day!

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