Airbus Commercial Programs update

By Bjorn Fehrm

June 15, 2021, ©. Leeham News: Airbus hosted an update on the Pandemic effects on its airliner business today.

It presented its view of the pandemic’s effects overall, how it affected the different aircraft programs, and how Airbus predicts the recovery ramp to look.

Figure 1. The loss of 25 years of growth in Air Transport due to COVID 19. Source: Airbus.

Effects of the pandemic

The COVID 19 pandemic has put the airliner business in its most profound decline ever, Figure 1. 25 years of growth in the industry was washed away in two months.

The pandemic’s effects on air travel have hit international travel the hardest, with present traffic levels (ASKs) at 27% of 2019 levels and domestic ASKs at 80%, Figure 2. Overall the decline is 51%.

Figure 2. The effects of COVID on domestic, international, and overall traffic. Source: Airbus.

Airbus predicts the recovery to happen in 2023 for Domestic traffic and 2024 to 2025 for International traffic, Figure 3.

Figure 3. Airbus prediction of the recovery for air transport. Source: Airbus.

Through fast decisions to cut single-aisle production by 40% (from 60 to 40 A320 series per month), A330 to two, and A350 to five, whitetails today stand less than five. It’s despite 80% of the sales contracts being renegotiated from March 2020 to today.

Airbus last month gave its supply chain a firm forecast for the coming years so that suppliers can adapt in time for production increases.

In the presentation, the product portfolio was gone through type by type, and the production ramp and latest technical developments were discussed.

A220

The present production rate is a total of five from the Mirabel and Mobile final production lines, Figure 4, with a gradual increase to six in early 2022. The plan is to ramp the A220 series to rate 14 by mid-decade.

Figure 4. The A220 production ramp going forward. Source: Airbus.

The A220-300 has a Maximum TakeOff Weight (MTOW) increase to 70.9t later this year, increasing the nominal range to 3,550nm.

A320

The present production rate is 40 aircraft per month, Figure 5. This increases to 45 by end 2021, rate 64 during 2023, and finally rate 70 by 1Q2024. The supply chain has been asked to give feedback on rate 75 by 2025

Figure 5. The A320 production ramp to 2025. Source: Airbus.

The attention is on the A321XLR that has started production and will enter the FAL in Hamburg end of 2021. Flight tests will be happening during 2022 and first deliveries in 2023.

A330 and A350

The production rate for the A330 remains at rate two until further, Figure 6. The A350 gradually ramps from rate five to six end next year.

Figure 6. The A330 production rate going forward. Source: Airbus.

The first A330-900 with the 251t Maximum TakeOff Weight (MTOW) was delivered to CORSAIR in March.

Airbus is making further improvements on the A350. The MTOW of the A350-900 has increased to 280t  and for the -1000 to 319t. A weight-saving program called P7 is ongoing, and this will increase the range further. These developments will benefit the Ultra Long Haul Sunrise project that QANTAS and Airbus hope to rekindle as international travel restarts.

Sustainable Air Transport

Philippe Mhun, the EVP Programs and Services gave the status for Airbus Sustainable Air Transport programs. He pointed out that reduced fuel consumption equals reduced CO2 emissions (the relationship is one kg burned Jet fuel generates 3.2 kg CO2) and since 1990, emission per passenger-km is reduced by 50%, Figure 7.

Figure 7. Airbus roadmap for lower emissions. Source: Airbus.

To get down to the 2050 targets, we must do more. Airbus will have its entire fleet ready for a 50% SAF blend (Sustainable Aviation Fuel, CO2 neutral fuel made from non-fossil sources) soon, and a hydrogen-fueled airliner should be ready by 2035. To this end, Airbus yesterday announced the creation of a German Hydrogen tank center in Bremen and a French one in Nantes.

Airbus expects SAF to solve 50% of the problem with emissions, with new technologies like hydrogen caring for 42% and the remaining 8% to come from ATC route improvements and other operational enhancements.

170 Comments on “Airbus Commercial Programs update

  1. Hello Bjorn

    Shall we wait for other article on this update?
    It is supposed to be Le Bourget Time?

    Best regards

  2. Fewer than five white-tails at Airbus.. compare.

    If they do get to fourteen A220s per month by mid-decade that will be quite a strong position.

    • Compare to what, billX?

      Boeing made the strategic error of thinking they could get the 737MAX returned to service quickly.

      (It can be challenging to ramp production up again, that may be something Boeing can work on to get costs down for old and new models. Workers can be redeployed in general, changing locations is a bother but there is much carpooling and transit within the Puget Sound area.)

      As for the A220, I am surprised there aren’t more sales. 5 per month, if that is what the article means, is not much.
      The A32x series is filling a market need at this time, may not in the future – times do change.

      • Compare the number of white-tails Airbus has to
        Boeing’s number.

        >The A32x series is filling a market need at this time, may not in the future – times do change. <

        Airbus looks very well-positioned (and adaptive)
        to me.

        B7

      • Well, I guess that if the market will absorb 14 a month, that’ll mean the A220 is a confirmed sales hit.

        So far, 649 ordered, 159 in service, lots of positive feedback from operators and passengers alike. Nothing there to say that it won’t get to 14 a month.

  3. Interesting market view with the A220 working to rate 14 and the A320 looking at a possible rate 75.

    It would be tough to impossible to do a change over from the A220-500 replacing the A320 (granted a stretch could move it up to or past the MAX-8)

    Keeping in mind that if someone did want to swap (and the -500 was in production) you still have a significant number per month already committed (just not a lot of juggling room with rate 14 in the Single Aisle arena where hundreds of orders are not uncommon unlike a wide body market)

    Reading Av Week there are major prior contracts on the various assemblies for the A220 (fuselage China, wings Ireland etc) that are long term contracts that the suppliers committed to and BBD had to accept to get it into production. Airbus can try to negotiate but they have to offer something in exchange.

    Any new aircraft has to be able to hit high rates quickly unlike the old days (in the Single Aisle area though if Boeing does the -5 we will need a new ID for that)

    Its a huge challenge for anyone.

    • I think the A220 only needs to replace the A319 which achieved a maximum production of about 12 aircraft/month in 2005 but has declined to about 3/month now. When the A220 gets its MTOW increase in a few weeks it will have nearly the same range and passenger capability as the A319neo. It will be interesting if Airbus launches the A220-500, cant imagine just yet due to the poor situation with air travel due to covid but the studies will be on going. It depends on how competitive the A320 remains.

      • Complex factors including program returns and taking away from one program aka A320 (assuming the -500) vs making the A220 pay a return.

        Its going to be interesting to see where it goes but at rate 14 still limited in ability to supply a fleet.

        • Passengers is only one factor. The A320 can also carry freight which the A220 can’t. So while the A220 may cut into some of the A320 market it will never take it all. Say a A220-500 takes 40/year of the A320 market, that means more capacity to build A321 variants at a greater margin.

          I don’t think the canibalization potential worries Airbus too much. It is more about cost to develop the program.

    • Well, TW, a new model should ramp up slowly until it is proven in service.

      Note that traditionally it takes time even then.

      But the A220 is in service, initial reports were very encouraging but I have not heard recently.

      You do make a good point about suppliers. Country politics add to the challenge, Canada and CC are at odds over extradition of Ms. Huawei to the US on charges of helping violate laws against exports to Iran. (The case drags on, apparently she has recently found some bank documents that she thinks helps her case.) And CC may have difficulty increasing production quickly in any case, organizationally plus its costs are rising and it is so short of workers it is pushing people to have at least two children but few are saluting.

      (Pre-building is another risk, as Boeing proved with their botching of 787 development – had to scrap several early units as requiring too much rework.)

  4. Re: “The present production rate is a total of five from the Mirabel and Mobile final production lines, Figure 4, with a gradual increase to six in early 2022. The plan is to ramp the A220 series to rate 14 by mid-decade.”

    If A220 production averages 5.5 per month for 2021, then Airbus will produce 12 x 5.5 = 66 A220’s in 2021. Southwest currently has 64 firm orders for 737-7’s for delivery in 2022 with options for another 40 MAX 7 or 8 deliveries in 2022 (see page 5 of Southwest’s 6-8-21 SEC 8K at the link below). If Southwest had ordered the same number of A220’s for delivery in 2022 as it has ordered 737-7’s for delivery in 2022, then at a production rate of 5.5 A220’s per month, that would leave Airbus with 66-64 = 2 A220’s available for delivery to customers other than Southwest in 2022. In order to be able to sign an contract for 64 firm A220 deliveries to Southwest in 2022, plus 40 options for delivery in 2022, as Boeing has for 737-7’s, Airbus would have to been able to produce (64 + 40) /12 = 8.7 A220’s per month above the rate needed to provide for scheduled 2022 deliveries for other customers, thus a total rate of (8.7 + 5.5) = 14.2 per month, i.e. the rate which Airbus plans to meet by “mid-decade”. It continues to amaze me that the possibility of Airbus being able to produce A220’s fast enough to satisfy the needs of a single fleet airline of Southwest’s size before mid-decade was ever taken seriously. Airbus could probably have produced enough A320’s to satisfy an order of the size and time frame of the one that Southwest placed with Boeing for 737-7’s (2022 deliveries may have been a problem, 2023 and later would probably have been no problem), but the notion of Airbus producing anywhere close to enough A220’s to satisfy Southwest’s needs any earlier than mid-decade has always to me been obviously absurd if one applies one minute of high school math to analysis of the proposition.

    https://otp.tools.investis.com/clients/us/southwest/SEC/sec-show.aspx?FilingId=15017576&Cik=0000092380&Type=PDF&hasPdf=1

    • Airbus has to ramp up production in 2023 and 2024 to meet (existing) customers’ demand. Not much room to accommodate WN. Last but not the least, WN is not going to waste its compensation credit from Boeing that worths hundreds of million.

      • ‘ “Our estimated contractual aircraft capital spending remains immaterial in 2021, and is expected to be approximately $700 million in 2022,” Southwest wrote.

        “Net of progress payments made on undelivered MAX aircraft and previously agreed upon delivery credits provided by Boeing to the Company due to the settlement of 2020 estimated damages relating to the Federal Aviation Administration grounding of the 737 MAX aircraft,” the airline wrote in a footnote.

        The compensation Boeing owed Southwest due to the 20-month grounding of the MAX was enormous. ‘

        https://leehamnews.com/2021/03/29/hotr-compensation-wins-southwest-order-for-max/

        • Hello Pedro,

          The link in your post above goes to a 3-29-21 post by Mr.Hamilton, and your quote from Mr. Hamilton’s post of this date is from a Southwest press release also issued on 3-29-21, on which date Southwest had 30 firm orders for 737-7 deliveries in year 2022. See below for updated information on Southwest’s 2021 and 2022 capital expenditures from Southwest’s 6-8-21 SEC 8-K filing, as of which date Southwest’s firm orders for 737-7 deliveries in 2022 have increased to 64. Southwest in certainly benefiting from substantial credits, however, your quote from Mr. Hamilton’s 3-29-21 post does not take into account the 34 additional 737-7’s that Southwest has ordered since 3-29-21.

          “The Company continues to estimate its 2021 total capital expenditures to be approximately $500 million, with minimal aircraft capital spending, and now expects its contractual aircraft capital spending to be approximately $1.5 billion in 2022 , compared with its previous guidance of approximately $700 million.”

          https://otp.tools.investis.com/clients/us/southwest/SEC/sec-show.aspx?FilingId=15017576&Cik=0000092380&Type=PDF&hasPdf=1

          I thought it was interesting that $1.5 billion /64 aircraft = $23.4 million per aircraft, approximately the same price that Mr. Hamilton and others reported that United agreed to pay for a 65 aircraft 737-700 order in 2016, that was later changed to orders for other 737 types when new management took over United.

          “United likely paid just $20 to $25 million per plane, Airways News senior business analyst Vinay Bhaskara told Business Insider. Forbes contributor Scott Hamilton reported that United signed on at $22 million.”

          • Don’t forget to factor in the $460 million BA gave to LUV in CASH as compensation.

            That’s half a billion dollars…

          • Not all jets are created equal

            The Air Current:

            According to a recent internal Southwest analysis of both aircraft, the operational edge went to the A220-300. The A220 posted a 15% improvement in per seat fuel consumption over the 737-700 and a 9% improvement in overall cost per seat economics. By comparison, the 737 Max 7 offered a 9% improvement in fuel burn over the -700 with its Leap-1B engines and a 3% overall seat cost benefit.

          • Pedro:

            Clearly true.

            But fuel consumption is not the only metric involved.

            As noted availability as well as costs of two different aircraft that have no commonality in pilot ratings not to mention maintenance.

    • Why? What’s the purpose of these analysis?

      Boeing put in claims and all clauses it could, Southwest paid 23 Mio. $ per plane. 77% discount on list.
      How should that be matched by Airbus?

      It was a unique situation after the Max grounding that allowed Southwest an incredible steal.
      Available right now, as this is the only way they could ramp up their Max production.

      That’s called a win-win deal. Boeing keeps its most fav. customer, solves a lawsuit before it even started, and can ramp up it’s production.
      Southwest doesn’t need to go to court over it’s Max. claims and gets a cheap airplane right now which helps her during Covid travel recovery. They keep their all B737 fleet also, which keeps ops easy.

      What is so hard to understand that this was a very unique setting, and Airbus never stood a chance?
      That was never a A220 loss, as there was never a game.

      • Hello Sash,

        Re: “What is so hard to understand that this was a very unique setting, and Airbus never stood a chance?”

        I agree; however, many in the aviation press who should have known better were publishing articles a few months ago suggesting a 3oo aircraft A220 order by Southwest was a serious possibility. See the link below for one example. Additionally, some who posted on this topic on this blog claimed it would have been possible for Airbus to produce enough A220’s for Southwest’s short term needs.

        https://theaircurrent.com/scoops/southwest-hits-roadblock-with-boeing-ge-as-it-seeks-300-737s-or-a220s/

        • It’s an old journalism technique also known in marketing as ‘ sell the sizzle not the steak’
          By the time the end result comes out, every one has moved on and not interested in old news.

          • Sash:

            I would not call it a steal. Its simple penalty for the issue Boeing caused.

            It just cost Boeing money, people died.

      • “What is so hard to understand that this was a very unique setting, …”

        nothing hard to understand.
        Only that the win-win you describe would have been used by Boeing to push a dumping case 🙂
        (C-series sell well under price would have been a win for the Airline ( cheap frames ) and a win for Bombardier ( a large reputable customer ) i.e. a similar win-win …

        there is a name for that kind of acting: bigotry, right?

    • “”It continues to amaze me that the possibility of Airbus being able to produce A220’s fast enough to satisfy the needs of a single fleet airline of Southwest’s size before mid-decade was ever taken seriously.””

      Production is one thing, but it means nothing if the type is grounded.
      More and more MAX will be flying which will increase the chance of another crash. What will happen then. Good luck with that, I already have a laugh.

      I can understand that an US airline wants to keep Boeing, but the right move for Southwest would have been to go to court to get MAX compensations and buy the better plane instead – A319neo / A320neo.

      • Southwest argued Boeing into doing the Max instead of a clean sheet. Looks as they are as risk averse as it can get. Taking the offered discounts instead of sueing them is the risk averse solution, too.
        A court battle is an expensive undertaking and the result is not guranteed. As all airlines are currently strapped for cashflow its not an alluring option at the moment.

        • Boeing painted itself in a Corner (sorry Bjorn) and there was no way out.

          And I believe it was the American deal that pushed Boeing over the Max edge.

          • Leoan:

            What do you base your determining that there will be more MAX crashes on?

            The issue was MCAS 1.0 that was a disastrous but has been correct per EASA, Canada ,Brazil etc

            Also no disagreement that the wiring ground issue is both a black eye and a potential bad situation .

            Flip side was they did catch it in testing, grounded the fleet per Boeing not FAA.

            Its not to be taken at all lightly, but unless there is evidence of a more than routine problems all aircraft have happen, any crashes will be the sames recent ones, 737 or A320 etc.

            Those are failed piloting in continued unstable approaches , disorientation by the crew on take off, weather factors and two suicides.

            In fact the most concerning is the A320 crash in the Mediterranean in that was not recovered and underlying cause is not known.

          • MAX ( resp. Boeing’s) issue is the “keeps on giving” character of things.

            The recent past has shown that hidden issues with Boeing products are not solitary events.
            There could be major further issues in chute to blow up in every ones face.
            i.e. It is less about Boeing’s reputation being shot
            but about the probability of further (still hidden) issues getting exposure. preferably by introspection but higher probability by some incident/accident.

          • @ Uwe
            Thank you for that cogent comment.
            Everything at BA nowadays appears to be purely reactive…nothing seems to be proactive.
            The recent electrical grounding issues were only discovered by chance when a new plane wouldn’t start. Only then did we learn that that issue was caused by an earlier, amateuristic, ad hoc change to a manufacturing process.
            With this sort of randomness and shoddiness abounding, it would make you wonder what else is lurking undiscovered under the hood.

          • TW,

            Boeing never did independent software audits before and the parts which were checked before MAX re-cert are small.
            There might come more to the surface about the autothrottle system, which is a booby trap.
            Many other changes on the MAX were selfcertified by Boeing with undue pressure and never checked by regulators. You know how it was under Muilenburg, keep problems secret, we own safety, blame pilots.

    • True, Airbus could never have delivered 64 A222’s to Southwest in 2022. But this cuts both ways. I doubt Southwest could have integrated 64 of a new type by 2022. If Southwest had been serious about adding the A220 as their small single aisle they would have made a slower ramp work, say 15 in 2022.

      But I don’t believe SW was ever serious about the A220. It was all about creating a semi-plausible threat (and getting a good look at all the A220 numbers). The strategy all along was to get 737’s for less money by:
      * making threats to go Airbus
      * threatening a law suit over the Max situation
      * making use of any delivery delays of over 2 years to re-negotiate
      * helping Boeing by agreeing to take aircraft earlier (get cash flowing again)

      • Agree on all that, but the faux-competition was also of benefit to Airbus by raising the profile of the A220 as a soon-viable alternative, I think.

        • Shrug: Boeing can do the numbers as well.

          Just a matter of negotiation of how much pain.

          Reminds me of the Delta 787/A333/A350 contending.

          Boeing never stood a chance.

        • Airbus also don’t seem to mind Boeing winning sales, so long as the price Boeing has had to sell at means minimal profit.

          That does mean that Airbus’s sales teams really aren’t bothering too hard (famously refusing to even answer British Airway’s telephone calls); I guess their product line-up is doing the talking on their behalf. Nice position to be in.

    • Here’s the thing about Mirabel.

      They currently have the physical space to go to 10 a month. As well, Airbus has land there that can be developed to add existing production space.

      BUT…increasing production will require significant capex. Money they will not spend as long as the Quebec gov’t has 25% of the program. Others have also mentioned the old contracts that BBD signed which Airbus is keen to let expire.

      Airbus was not willing to spend more money, for less margin, as LUV has Boeing over a barrel. Sometimes the best business you can do, is not taking on certain business.

      2026 is the year. Then I expect to hear about an A220-500, production expansion and new facilities. Until then, it’ll be done on the cheap

        • Pedro:

          But if that is not offered will they buy A320? Airbus makes a lot more money on an A320. I have yet to read any figures on A220 production costs vs what its selling for.

          Add in a -500 and added costs and then sales detract from A320 and?

          • Aren’t you talking out of both sides of your mouth??

            Why didn’t Boeing buy the C-series?? That would mean the death of MAX 7, write-off and a reduction in accounting block of the MAX program.

          • @Pedro: I tell you why Boeing didn’t buy the C Series in “Air Wars,” coming soon.

          • AW:

            “At the start of 2020, it appeared the proposed -500 would be launched within 2-3 years, given that the A220 program was expected to become profitable at relatively high production rates by 2025. The COVID-19 pandemic, however, has stalled most spending on aircraft development …”

            “From a strategic point of view, an A220-500 would give Airbus a competitive aircraft family at the lower end of the narrowbody market, reaching into Boeing 737-8 territory. “

      • Actually if Airbus is in control and can invest more money if it chooses to. Something they have been dong. As they invests more money the Quebec ownership gets diluted unless Quebec matches the investment.

        As for a fully buy-out in 26, Airbus may or may not do that. All depends on if that is where they want to put their cash. They may be happy to keep Quebec as a part owner as they can use those funds to develop another product.

        • @jbeekko

          I think I remember reading that as part of the deal, both levels of gov’t weren’t going to invest any more funds into the project. Airbus had to do it on their own. There was a lot of pushback from people outside Quebec on how the feds were supporting the ‘Frenchies…”
          (sigh)

          • Certainly is criticism of where governments spend to prop up and/or buy votes. Much money put into Quebec aviation companies, though recent history was good – Bombardier business jets and BRJs, P&WC relatively small engines, Canadian Marconi, … And into technical ‘research’, including avionics and structures. We in the West are envious. 😉

      • Indeed, sales is not the proper goal – profit on investment is.

        The gummint of Quebec – probably through pension plans, wants the jobs. Their stupidity gave Boeing jerks an opening, that tragically was overturned too late. (Bombardier did reject a push from the gummint of Canada to give it money in some form, likely seeing warning writings emerge on walls.)

        Currency exchange favours Canada over the US for production costs, if everything else is equal.

        Spirit Aerospace is probably a tough negotiator but wants the business (wings in Ireland?), perhaps would like to take over from CC – or start a second line for those chunks.

  5. More interesting is the end of the 17 yr Airbus -Boeing trade dispute
    The reason:
    “It has set itself a target of gaining 25 per cent of the global market for narrow-bodied jets by 2035, including a third of its own domestic market. Via a joint venture with Russia, it also aspires to supplying at least 10 per cent of the market for wide-bodied aircraft within 20 years.”
    https://www.theage.com.au/business/markets/common-threat-the-us-and-eu-move-to-thwart-china-s-ambitions-in-the-air-20210616-p581h0.html

    • I think it’s far more about Boeings urgent need to accept government subsidies

      • @Grubbie

        Yes

        See BA co op with Admin on re cert in China

          • @KS

            Read the reports in the news – I previously posted one link on this : google- Raimondo China Max Boeing

            (BA has been lobbying the Admin for some time for a less ‘antagonistic’ US policy towards China, emphasising how important China is as both a supplier and a buyer)

    • You’ve suddenly changed your tune, haven’t you?
      For months you’ve been telling us that China and Russia couldn’t possibly take a substantial slice of the aircraft market…but now this impending threat suddenly lies at the heart of the (temporary) subsidy truce between BA and AB?

      Had a “burning bush” moment?

      • They certainly potentially have 1/3 of home market for the Shanzhai models.
        After it’s a single central buying agency for all the Leninist party state airlines

        • But their models won’t have engines — remember how you told us that?
          So who’ll buy an aircraft that can’t fly?

          Your argumentation is very convoluted and self-contradictory…

        • Ironic isn’t it – how the Leninist State Party has millionaires running all over the place, buying up homes in North America? Also loaning money to the gov’t of the US as the second largest holder of foreign t-bills in the world.

          How very un-Lenin of them…

    • DoU: haven’t you said over and over that China is no threat at all in Commercial Passenger Aviation; that they
      can in no way (for some unspecified reason) compete?

    • [Edited.]

      Russian aircraft have generally suffered from a weakness in spare parts distribution and support. The Sukhoi Superjet used the SNECMA PowerJet SaM146 but the service support is not impressive despite being a western engine.

      Both the MC-21 and C919 will have essentially standard PWG 1000 series engines and LEAP 1 engines similar to the Airbus versions so spares support should be much better.

      It’s likely a Joint Russian Chinese effort in global support may break the disadvantage that Russian aircraft have faced. They’ll need it for the COMAC 929 anyway and it may be that the C919 and MC21 benefit.

      I suspect the COMAC 919 will evolve with improving technology. COMAC abandoned a carbon fibre spar to reduce risk for instance. I would expect them to have another attempt at a carbon fibre wing at some point.

    • @DoU

      The negotiations with China appear to spring from recognition that the ‘trade war’ and sanctions does/do the US economy and polity more harm than good, that it encourages China to develope homegrown, that state subsidies are necessary for infra and any large scale industrial projects and that the US war machine is so broken as to no longer pose a credible threat (thanks BA)

      “Raimondo also said she had spoken with Boeing chief executive Officer Dave Calhoun.

      Raimondo noted that Tuesday brought positive news for Boeing, with the US and the European Union agreeing to extend a tariff truce for five years
      – parking a dispute over aircraft subsidies given to Airbus and Boeing that saw the allies impose duties on US$11.5 billion of each other’s exports.

      That accord turns the page on a key conflict in former president Donald Trump’s trade war and sets the stage for a new era of transatlantic cooperation over state aid at a time when China is vying to displace the Boeing-Airbus civil aircraft duopoly.

      The agreement was driven, in part, by a growing awareness among policymakers in Brussels and Washington that China’s state-sponsored aerospace manufacturer Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China, or Comac, is on track to become a legitimate rival by the end of the decade.

      Tai told reporters in Brussels her confidence level is high that the US and European Union can cooperate effectively against non-market economies like China.

      “Because we are putting away our litigation briefcases, and we have committed to each other to sit down at the table and to discuss pragmatically what is going to be best for competition between us in the context of a world where our industries and workers will be facing competition like we’ve never seen before,” she said during a press conference.”

      https://www.scmp.com/economy/china-economy/article/3137536/us-working-china-allowing-boeing-737-max-fly-again-says

  6. If Airbus’ new wing is cheaper to produce, I would expect that the whole A320family will get new wings. It could be possible to have a set of wings for 80t, 90t and 100t MTOW.
    Then the A220 will lose more ground, also because the A220 might take longer to produce, which also means more expensive to produce.

    • What if the first to get new wings is the A220?
      – as you said, the wings are cheaper to produce, big bonus for A220;
      – starting with small numbers, not the big numbers required by A320 family;
      – starting with a factory and a workforce already there & using CF, changing the tools;
      Combine it with the launch of A220-500, and make one set of lighter wings for the A220-100, another for the 300 & 500.

      • You want to rewing a pretty young aircraft (A220)? The product is competetive as it is. I doubt production cost savings alone could justify the costs of such a rewinging project. Even less likely given the low production rates.
        Countering Boeings move on the upper end of the A321 familiy at least creates revenue that would be lost otherwise.

      • “”What if the first to get new wings is the A220?””

        I never thought of this. Because the production rate is low, it would be a bad investment. But if the current wings keep the production rate low, it would be worth thinking about it. The A320family needs new wings more than A220.

      • Low production rate means time to fix problems before starting with a high production rate; you can iron out a lot of wrinkles.
        Lower production cost and possibility to scale numbers up would be a boost to sell more A220.
        And A320 doesn’t need a new wing to sell more (but wait 5-6 more years from now and a new CF wing will be cheaper and faster to produce than the actual wing).

        • Using a low volume product line to pilot new production methods is a credible strategy. But if thats the only reason for rewinging the A220 it’s still hard to justify the money.
          Airbus has to prepare for the possibility of Boeing managing to produce a credible competitor at the upper end of the 320 family. So there is a need to develop enhancements for the A321.

        • Start of the WoT program: 2015
          Cseries to Airbus: 2018
          And the pilot phase of the production methods is already passed.
          Now you can do (if you want call it this way) a LRIP phase.
          With no risk.

    • A composite wing is 10% lighter than equivalent aluminium wing, not a lot at this level when you consider the effect on the whole plane, maybe 5%. As well the benefits are less at the shorter ranges single ailses mostly fly, but are worth something for 5 hrs plus. The end result is not many buyers will won’t a carbon fiber wing if it’s an option which suits the low production rates that would be possible for the next decade ?

      • CFRP wings could be built a lot lighter than aluminum wings – at the same thickness. But the best trick is that they can be made slimmer and longer and still a bit lighter, which improves efficiency a lot. That is the reason why all new and rewinged planes from the size of the A220 and up will have CCRP wings.

        • Not ‘a lot lighter’ at all , its 10% at this small wing size.
          Boeings 777X wing isnt even lighter as its a bigger span and more lift than old aluminium wing designed in 1990s.

          • So a larger wing isn’t lighter than a smaller wing?

            who knew

            gah..

    • The new CFRP wing for the A320 family will cheaper than the A220 wing? I don’t think so. If there is no technological breakthrough it will be as much more expensive as it is larger.
      Of course it will also be a lot more expensive than the aluminum wing. But it will improve fuel efficiency even more and that’s gonna make it a game changer on long haul single-aisles.
      Besides, the A220-500 will be build as soon as deliveries of the smaller variants meet demand resp. market potential. Maybe 14/month will not even fill that niche and we will have to wait a long time before we see the -500 rising. But by that time markets may have changed again, so Airbus can keep that door open.

      • I can’t imagine that higher rates of production without orders for the A220-500/700. They don’t want to “kill the job” and run out of orders, too. I could see two Airbus narrow body lines: A220 with the 100 to 500+; and the A320NEO with the A320+ to the A322+. Boeing when they get their ducks in a row with an NSA from 737-7 size through 757-300. Time will tell. All of this being a bridge to the coming GREEN era. Unless aero mfg. limps along for a bit and GREEN arrives earlier…

        • “”Boeing when they get their ducks in a row with an NSA from 737-7 size through 757-300. Time will tell””

          Boeing has its duck, the MAX. When it crashed again and is grounded again, they will have to compensate even more customers. Will $20b be enough. That’s the development money for a new plane. Boeing just don’t spend money for development, they use their money to compensate.

    • Of course there are behind-the-scenes machinations with China…or at least some attempts. However, the Chinese appear to be in a better bargaining position than the US. Mr. Biden may soon learn that he has a bark but very little bite.

    • Mmm – media report that Biden is tough on China, perhaps as part of the G7 which just had a big palaver.

      Biden is taking a quieter approach than Trump did, absent Trump’s particular tack of praising people in specific ways that talk to residents of a country, while pushing the country hard.

  7. The one point missing from all this, is that the Quebec gov’t still own 25% of the A220 program and Airbus will not invest any more $$ into it – or seriously jeopardize any A320 orders with a competing product (4000NM A223 or A225 rollout) until they own the whole shebang.

    They have a buyout clause for 2026. That’s when things will get serious with the program…

    • Add in the original contracts that stand that were costly that BBD incurred to get the A220 into production. At some point those reach an end (or should, I have not seen dates)

      Very good aircraft but its also not a get out of jail free card. Boeing would have benefited more than Airbus if they had bought it.

      Airbus could re-wing the A320, stretch it a bit and have a still very good product.

      • Good point. I have a friend there, I’ll ask. But 5 years should see the cleaning up of the mess that the c-suite boys at Bombardier made…methinks.

        Agree with the Boeing thing – too much ego on their part. I have heard stories about them…sigh. I believe Airbus has made these investments there, for the future. While Boeing fiddles around with it’s decision making, they can quietly groom Mirabel and Alabama to produce more efficiently.

      • > Very good aircraft but its also not a get out of jail free card. Airbus could re-wing the A320, stretch it a bit and have a still very good product <

        Agree, and think that's their likely approach.
        Refinement is the name of the game right now,
        despite all the distractionWare PR floating around..

      • Airbus, just as Boeing, renegotiates with tier 1 suppliers from time to time. Ask Spirit, UTC or Collins. Partnering for Success …. haha.

        • Pedro:

          Any one can negotiate, but if the supplier elects not to in this case, what does Airbus do?

          Its a one source supply chain. They can’t shift it as its a legal obligation and Airbus is not going to damage itself doing that.

          So the suppliers will look at it and ask Airbus what are you offering that offsets our investment and a guaranteed return?

          BBD may have locked in longer than normal contracts as the risk to the suppliers was high (program sold, point exactly) and that was in the face of Airbus trying to kill the C series off originally (along with Boeing)

          So Airbus would have to offer up some serious other work. It may happen but in this case for a one off aircraft and systems the suppliers are in the driving seat.

          Airbus clearly is not going to kill the program, if BBD kept it against all odds they could have tried but that is a what if that is not what occurred.

          • -> “BBD may have locked in longer than normal contracts as the risk to the suppliers was high …

            Where is the evidence?? [Edited]

          • Pedro:

            This is a discussion not an attack.

            Av Week recently published that information. You need an account to log in to read it and most do not have it.

          • @Pedro

            I think TW is on the right track, here. Airbus doesn’t want to split the pie with the gov’t and if past history is any indication, the mgmt at Bombardier was anything but stellar. I have heard horror stories which only recently are starting to be rectified.

            These things take time and a calm, measured approach is probably the best way. Airbus sees a lot of potential with the program, but timing is everything.

          • Depends on contract and supplier’s performance to the contract.

            I speculate that Spirit will offer to open up a second line for chunks of the A220, don’t they already make the wings in Ireland?

            (Boeing took the approach of purchasing some lagging subcontractors, but that was in the context of regular countries like US and Italy.)

            BTW, Airbus is not stranger to government ownership, it is a creation of European governments. Albeit France and Quebec are not as close in views as one might assume given language and history.

    • “Airbus will not invest any more $$ into it…”
      Airbus owns Stelia the production company which makes large sections in Montreal, they are investing money in moving the build location to Mirabel and raising the ‘pre-stuffing’ content.
      25% is a minority interest , 75% means you get all the say on critical decisions, profits and losses are just shared with the minority thats all. The JV will still be raising money to spend on further development in its own name.
      You are making a mountain out of a molehill on the JV structure, as the A220 is fully integrated into Airbus for sales/marketing/service. They now have a full cabin mockup in Toulouse to pitch to customers , so dont worry about ‘stealing sales’- that would a be a feature of the sales pitch of the whole product line

      • @duke

        Moving Stelia to Mirabel just makes sense. They have buildings there. It is closer to the production line. Saves money. No brainer

        Yah – I’m sure you’d be overjoyed to split your profits with the gov’t, right?

    • Yes, Airbus openly confirms that they are working on it. Will launch when the business case fits.

      • First they have to have board level authority to offer to airlines/freight companies, which is a bit weird as they have been talking to them now and any announcements usually come with ‘expressions of interest’ as far as numbers and names.

  8. For me the thing with the A320 rate of 75, is that the industry as a whole was almost drowning at 60 a month. Then we had to cut back to 40. Now you are saying that 75 in 2025. The industry cannot handle it. How many businesses that are low level suppliers crapped out due to Covid? Tier 1 had to cut back and so did the OEMs. If Airbus is pushing 75, is Boeing going there too?

    • Seems pretty pie in the sky, maybe partially OK because of the number of retired jets with covid but airlines are not flush with cash to buy new aircraft yet. It seems like overproduction to me and yes Boeing would try to match or get close

        • Indeed! Just look at the pickled dressing-down that you got the other day from Scott, in response to your uninformed “BS” about cost per seat.

  9. Here we go again…wasn’t this supposed to be the most scrutinized plane in history?

    “FAA mandates Boeing 737 MAX inspections for key automated flight system”

    “The directive makes mandatory instructions released by Boeing in December that recommend planes with more than 6,000 flight hours be subject to specific electronic checks. ”

    “The FAA said the directive is necessary because a “potential latent failure of a flight control system function” if combined with “unusual flight maneuvers or with another flight control system failure” could result in reduced controllability of the airplane.”

    https://www.reuters.com/article/aerospace-defense/idUSKCN2DS2DU?il=0

    • > “FAA mandates Boeing 737 MAX inspections for key automated flight system” <

      Interesting- thanks for the link.

      Where there's smoke

      • FAA puts out AD guidance every week for multiple planes issues. We have been through this before and often there is whole whole raft of Airbus issues as well.
        For this month alone there is 13 of which 3 were Airbus Planes, 3 airbus helicopters. Come friday and another batch will be released for various manufacturers.
        https://www.faa.gov/regulations_policies/airworthiness_directives/?tab=recent&viewType=table&startRow=26
        It gets a few excited, who wouldnt know a plane seat from a wing

        • Summarizing:
          – The “most scrutinized plane of all time” spends nearly 2 years on the ground supposedly undergoing “fine tooth comb” inspection;
          – YET, just a MONTH after re-cert, a serious issue is discovered with one of the plane’s automated flight systems. That’s strange…after all, the whole cause of the grounding in the first place was an automated flight system (if something as primitive as MCAS could be given such a label), so it’s peculiar that this wasn’t spotted during the grounding, isn’t it?
          – AND THEN it takes the FAA a full 6 MONTHS to make inspections vis-à-vis this issue mandatory and to issue a CANIC?

          And these are the “international standards” that China and Russia should be aspiring to?

        • “It gets a few excited, who wouldnt know a plane seat from a wing”

          Thankyou for that.

          Talk is cheap.

          I’d like to see pontificators put their money where their mouth is. :-o)

          • The editor teams at Reuters Aerospace and FlightGlobal ran the story…but then, what would they possibly know about aviation, right?

            I didn’t notice them running any stories on all those other ADs that @DoU was referring to…I wonder why?

          • Clearly you don’t know the difference between a FCC and FMS in a 737 do you.
            You could say you are ‘flying blind’ and hoping no one notices you have crashed burned.

          • Rueters just covers the story in vague terms…computer !… but its the GE computer used for navigation and flight planning , not the flight controls computer such as used in MCAS.
            The motley fool plane is selling more tickets it seems and they arent very computer literate either

          • -> ‘ An FAA official explained that it checks the health of the entire automated flight control system, “including MCAS.” ‘

    • As usual, nothing there.

      The fix has been implemented. What the issues is and the fact that it takes and inspection to clear it is not explained.

      Unless something definitive is listed, its routine issue for all aircraft. Various faults are found all the time.

      Frankly I have severe disagreement with the AHJ in how long they allow things to ramble on.

      The A320 had a program issue that they put in a work around and then gave them years to upgrade to the fix.

    • Interesting article by Dominic Gates in The Seattle Times, relating to these mandatory Flight Control System inspections in the MAX:

      “The directive states that regular checks are deemed necessary because of the possibility of a “latent failure” of some element of the flight-control system — meaning a failure that might not be immediately apparent but could manifest later.

      The FAA official said the directive demands relatively frequent inspections because “if it’s potentially latent, you go conservative.”

      The directive also requires airline maintenance staff to check that the switches on the pilot-control console that cut electrical power to the moving surfaces on the horizontal tail are functioning properly.

      If MCAS malfunctioned, the pilots would use this pair of cutoff switches to stop the system from pushing the airplane’s nose down.

      A third newly mandated maintenance check requires technicians to periodically check an autopilot cutoff switch as well as the electrical ground path that controls the moving part of the horizontal tail — known as the stabilizer — and therefore the pitch of the airplane.”

      https://www.seattletimes.com/business/boeing-aerospace/faa-mandates-inspection-checks-on-boeing-737-max-flight-control-system/

      Sounds like the FAA is rather nervous about MCAS and its associated systems…

      • Hello Bryce,

        According to the first paragraph of Mr. Gates story, and the following 3 paragraphs, which you did not include in your quotes, the periodic flight control system tests newly mandated by the FAA were recommended by Boeing in December 2019 before MAX passenger flying resumed, were done on all MAX’s before they returned to service, and had already been adopted by all US MAX operators. According to a later paragraph that you did not quote, the test interval recommended by Boeing and adopted by the FAA was every 6,000 hours (“about every two years for a jet that’s used intensively on domestic routes”). Everything on an airliner gets tested or inspected at some time interval. An inspection interval of 100, 500, or 1,000 hours would have indicated to me a unusual level of concern, but every 6,000 hours does not. To me, the only interesting part of this story is why it took the FAA 6 months to approve the periodic maintenance test schedule that Boeing recommended before passenger flights resumed on the MAX. Is it possible that in addition to there being a problem with the thoroughness of the FAA’s oversight of Boeing, there is also sometimes a problem of them being very slow to deal with fairly straightforward issues? Was 6 months an appropriate time frame for approving a periodic maintenance schedule that was recommended by Boeing before MAX flights resumed and that had already been adopted by all US MAX operators?

        Following below are the first 4 paragraphs of the story by Mr. Gates that you did not include in your quotes above.

        “The Federal Aviation Administration released a directive Thursday requiring airlines to do regular maintenance checks of the flight-control software on Boeing’s 737 MAX and to periodically test the operation of cutoff switches the pilots use if system failures occur.

        All the MAX’s currently flying had these checks done before the planes returned to the sky after a 21-month grounding of the worldwide fleet.

        Boeing sent details of the maintenance regime to all airline operators of the MAX in December, just before the first planes re-entered service.

        The FAA said in a statement that all MAX operators in the U.S. have already included these inspections in their maintenance programs and that it issued the directive “to highlight the importance of these inspections to other international regulators and to operators outside the United States.”

        Following is the portion of the story that reports that the inspection interval will be every 6,000 hours.

        “The new FAA directive requires a check of the entire flight-control software system every 6,000 flight hours, which could be about every two years for a jet that’s used intensively on domestic routes.

        The system test is straightforward and can be scheduled during routine maintenance. It’s conducted using built-in electronic test equipment on the airplane.

        An FAA official explained that it checks the health of the entire automated flight control system, “including MCAS.””

        https://www.seattletimes.com/business/boeing-aerospace/faa-mandates-inspection-checks-on-boeing-737-max-flight-control-system/

        • Hello AP-Robert,
          I provided the link to the SeattleTimes article so that I wouldn’t have to quote the entire article.
          Some of the points that you raised (such as the long 6-month FAA delay in making these checks mandatory) were discussed further up in this comment thread.

          Of course you’re correct in saying that all sorts of aircraft systems undergo all sorts of regular checks. However, what caught my eye in the passages that I quoted was the rather strange admission that there may be a “latent failure” lurking under the woodwork. That’s not language that you see every day, and it doesn’t instill much confidence: it sounds like an FAA that suspects that it may have done a half-ass job in reviewing MCAS, and is trying to avert further egg on its face by being extra cautious (or “conservative”, to use the language in the article). After all, if you’re confident that you’ve gone over “the most scrutinized plane in history” with “a fine-tooth comb”, then why are you afraid that there may be a “latent failure” lurking under the hood?

    • Doesnt that happen anyway ? One pilot snoozing , the other pilot cruising.

    • If an AF447 style failure of pitot-static freezing over leads to an complete loss of air data (not only speed but alpha and altitude) with only a single pilot in the cockpit while the other takes a meal break in the rest area (so he can’t spill coffee on the touch displays) what are they going to do different? Synthetic Air Data? Better probes? What have airbus done that is different? What if after the resting pilot re-enters the cockpit during the emergency, with confusion for the first 30 seconds how will the passive (non active) side sticks warn the pilot of duel input. Audio of fuel intput is is not enough.

      • Hello William,

        Re: “If an AF447 style failure of pitot-static freezing over leads to an complete loss of air data (not only speed but alpha and altitude) …what are they going to do different?”

        Pitot freezing only affects the airspeed indicator, freezing of both the pitot and static ports would also affect the barometric altimeter and vertical speed indicator . Gyro attitude instruments or their electronic equivalents and engine power indicators are not affected by pitot or static port freezing. See below.

        “If you did have a blockage, would you recognize it? The airspeed indicator uses ram air from the pitot tube, compared with static air from the static vent(s) to display airspeed. A blocked pitot tube will only affect the airspeed indicator.”

        “The static system, on the other hand, affects your airspeed, altimeter, and vertical speed indicator (VSI) indications. A blocked static port will cause the altimeter and VSI to remain “frozen,” reporting the pressure trapped in the static system.”

        https://www.aopa.org/news-and-media/all-news/2019/april/10/pitot-static-system-failures

        On AF447, only the pitot was blocked, altimeter, VSI, and attitude instrument readings were correct. Only airspeed was corrupted.

        “‘On 29 July 2011, the BEA released a third interim report on safety issues it found in the wake of the crash.[4] It was accompanied by two shorter documents summarizing the interim report[236] and addressing safety recommendations.[237]

        The third interim report stated that some new facts had been established. In particular:

        The pilots had not applied the unreliable-airspeed procedure.
        The pilot-in-control pulled back on the stick, thus increasing the angle of attack and causing the aircraft to climb rapidly.
        The pilots apparently did not notice that the aircraft had reached its maximum permissible altitude.
        The pilots did not read out the available data (vertical velocity, altitude, etc.).
        The stall warning sounded continuously for 54 seconds.”

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_France_Flight_447

        Re: “…what are they going to do different?”

        1) Upon hearing the stall warning immediately scan ALL instruments, and upon seeing nose up indication on the attitude instruments and rapid descent on the VSI, immediately release backpresure on the control stick. One pilot did this, unfortunately the design of the Airbus sidesticks allowed the other pilot’s panicked nose up grip to “cancel out” the correct nose down control input.

        2) Immediately execute the A330 unreliable airspeed checklist instead of ignoring it, which told the pilots to do what any competent instrument pilot would have done in this situation, fly your memorized safe pitch and power settings until or unless the questionable airspeed problem was rectified.

        “If the safe conduct of the flight is affected, the flight
        crew applies the memory items: these allow “safe
        flight conditions” to be rapidly established in all
        flight phases (take-off, climb, cruise) and aircraft
        configurations (weight and slats/flaps). The memory
        items apply more particularly when a failure appears
        just after take-off.

        Once the target pitch attitude and thrust values
        have been stabilized at or above minimum safe
        altitude, or when the safe conduct of the flight is
        not affected, the flight crew will enter the 2nd part
        of the QRH procedure: level off the aircraft and
        perform troubleshooting.”

        “But if the affected ADR cannot be identified, or all
        ADRs are affected, then the flight crew will fly
        without speed reference, using the pitch and thrust
        tables.”

        https://safetyfirst.airbus.com/app/themes/mh_newsdesk/documents/archives/unreliable-speed.pdf

      • Technically, Airbus did go to better probes – the US-built ones that sound like from 707 days, honed by experience with freezeup.

        But it seems the problem is much larger. Besides crew performance, I’d like to understand sensor fusion – IRS and GPS sensors are on airplanes these days but both are earth-referenced so inaccurate with winds.

        Might be ways akin to what Boeing is trying with ‘synthetic AOA’, I hope.

        Isn’t ‘hold thrust and pitch’ SOP in piloting when airspeed in uncertain?

        But I understand the crew of AF447 simply did not grasp that airspeed indications were wrong.

        • Hello Keith,

          Re: “But I understand the crew of AF447 simply did not grasp that airspeed indications were wrong.”

          Within 11 seconds of autopilot disengagement both of the in cockpit pilots of AF447 stated that the airspeed indicators were lost or not good, but then utterly and completely ignored the A330 unreliable airspeed indication checklist, i.e. go to safe memorized cruise pitch and power settings and ignore airspeed indicators until or unless aircraft is stabilized and reliable airspeed indicator is identified, and instead jerked the controls and throttles around wildly trying to correct a sudden airspeed change that had not or could not in reality have happened, while ignoring the stall warning, attitude instruments, altimeter, vertical speed indicator, and GPS ground speed indication, all of which were working.

          Below are some excerpts from a Vanity Fair article by William Langewiesche, whose father Wolfgang wrote “Stick And Rudder”, which was the bible for many pilots in the years B.C. (before computers), when pilots were expected to be able to fly an airplane without crashing if it did not have an autopilot, or if it did have an autopilot which failed or kicked control back to them because of an instrument failure.

          “Six seconds after Bonin assumed control, with the C-chord altitude alert chiming in the cockpit, a brief stall warning sounded. It was a loud synthetic male voice. It said STALL one time. The C-chord alert resumed. Robert said, “What was that?” The airplane answered, STALL STALL, and again the C-chord sounded. Neither pilot grasped the message. The angle of attack had increased to about 5 degrees, and the wings were still flying well, but it was time to do something about the warning. Bonin said, “We don’t have a good indication of . . . speed!,” and Robert concurred, saying, “We’ve lost the speeds!”

          With that realization—that the airspeed indications had dropped out—the problem should have been solved. Though Bonin had reacted wildly on the controls, the crew had assessed the failure correctly within 11 seconds of the onset, about as quickly as could be expected. The nose was 11 degrees up, which was excessive at high altitude but not in itself extreme. The solution was simple, and fundamental to flying. All Bonin had to do was to lower the nose to a normal cruising pitch—about to the horizon—and leave the thrust alone. The airplane would have returned to cruising flight at the same speed as before, even if that speed could not for the moment be known.

          But Bonin continued to pull back on the stick, jerkily pitching the nose higher. Was he yearning for the clear sky he believed was just above? Was he remembering an “unreliable airspeed” procedure that is meant for low altitude, where power is ample and the biggest concern is to climb away from the ground? Did he think that the airplane was going too fast? Evidence emerged later that he may have, but if so, why? Even if he did not hear the stall warning, the nose was up, the available thrust was low, and with or without valid indications, high-speed flight in those conditions was physically impossible.”

          “By then the pitot tubes had unfrozen, and the airspeed indicators were working normally again—though this would not have been obvious to Bonin or Robert, in part because they had no idea of the speed that the indications at this point should have shown, and apparently did not have the presence of mind to extrapolate from the G.P.S.-derived ground speed, which had been displayed on the navigational screen all along.”

          “So here is the picture at that moment: the airplane was in steady-state cruise, pointing straight ahead without pitching up or down, and with the power set perfectly to deliver a tranquil .80 Mach. The turbulence was so light that one could have walked the aisles—though perhaps a bit unsteadily. Aside from a minor blip in altitude indication, the only significant failure was the indication of airspeed—but the airspeed itself was unaffected. No crisis existed. The episode should have been a non-event, and one that would not last long. The airplane was in the control of the pilots, and if they had done nothing, they would have done all they needed to do.”

          https://www.vanityfair.com/news/business/2014/10/air-france-flight-447-crash

          • One more quote form the article that I gave a link to above, which it seems to me goes directly to the heart of the matter.

            “This is another unintended consequence of designing airplanes that anyone can fly: anyone can take you up on the offer. Beyond the degradation of basic skills of people who may once have been competent pilots, the fourth-generation jets have enabled people who probably never had the skills to begin with and should not have been in the cockpit. As a result, the mental makeup of airline pilots has changed. On this there is nearly universal agreement—at Boeing and Airbus, and among accident investigators, regulators, flight-operations managers, instructors, and academics. A different crowd is flying now, and though excellent pilots still work the job, on average the knowledge base has become very thin.

            It seems that we are locked into a spiral in which poor human performance begets automation, which worsens human performance, which begets increasing automation. The pattern is common to our time but is acute in aviation.”

          • That claim about pilots – ‘who shouldnt be flying’, is baseless.
            In most of the western world , aviation has never been safer. Indeed reading any compendium of crash reports from say the 60s or 70s shows time after time, very qualified senior pilots making big mistakes. The other side was many experienced pilots making difficult and amazing decisions in the face of faults with their planes, especially engines.

  10. > The issue was MCAS 1.0 that was a disastrous but has been correct per EASA, Canada ,Brazil etc <

    There's much more to the MAX issues than MCAS.

    We will see.

    • Clearly Boeing has quality control issues. Long term we will find out if that is being corrected or not.

      Unless there is some specific issue out there its a safe aircraft per experts (Bjorn among them).

      While I have an opinion, he has the background knowledge to assess it.

      • > Unless there is some specific issue out there its a safe aircraft per experts <

        I respect your opinions TW, but in this case I do not agree; too many small signs tell me otherwise. Maybe I'll be proved wrong- and happily so.

  11. Reuters: AF exploring options for next batch for next batch of midair refueling tankers

      • Only two new technical deficiencies?
        Wow, that was a good month!

        • A subcontractor for the main issue , the other is a minor one for some drain tubes cracking when water freezes when at altitude..
          ‘General Electric — Boeing’s subcontractor for the Flight Management System — is already testing a software fix aimed at resolving stability problems.’

          • Oh, of course they’re only “minor” issues — that’s why the Air Force gave them the heaviest “Category 1” labeling:

            “WASHINGTON — Boeing will have to pay to fix two new technical problems afflicting the KC-46 refueling tanker, which the U.S. Air Force has designated as “category 1” deficiencies that rank among the program’s most critical issues.”

            Not to worry: the Lemon can still perform “limited ops”.

          • MAX’s MCAS software subcontracted to Collins.
            Cough cough.

            Who cares if the work is carried out by Boeing or a subcontractor if it downs the jet.

          • TiTo.
            Trash in Trash out.
            Who wrote the spec ?

  12. DukeofUrl said to Bill7:

    >Do you even realise your comments are mostly gibberish, tapped out of phone like the new Jack Kerouac…shhhesh <

    I'll leave it to others to decide which of us forms coherent comments- and can spell, apostrophize, and punctuate; for that pesky old clarity's sake..

    Mmm.

    • A noteworthy example of some recent “gibberish” from the Duke.
      “Those who live in glass houses…”:

      “Dukeofurl
      June 15, 2021

      Yeah what would Boeing know about selling wide-bodies..
      now that motley fool plane ….seems to have some passengers
      enjoying the flight even they never sold a single one…go figure.
      some financial advice, when the advice is free it’s worth even less. If Boeing didnt have a single new order there’s enough in the pipeline for the next 8 years, so production rates will rise but does need investment at Charleston…the wrong site in my view but it’s done now.”

      • from ‘The Fool” website as a disclaimer
        ‘The fundamental concept is that you should NOT rely upon the information or opinions you read here.’

        More fool you if you do !

        • Followed by (but you conveniently omitted that):

          “You are responsible for your own investment decisions. The Motley Fool will not be responsible for any errors or omissions in articles or postings, for hyperlinks embedded in messages, or for any results obtained from the use of such information. The Motley Fool will not be liable for any loss or damage caused by a reader’s reliance on information obtained in our area, or in a hyperlinked area. If you don’t accept this responsibility for yourself, then you should not use The Motley Fool.”

          You don’t read many investor reports — that much is clear 😉

  13. Here we go — more fun and games coming in a new episode of the tanker soap opera:

    “WASHINGTON — Boeing and Airbus could find themselves duking it out as early as next year to provide aerial refueling aircraft to the U.S. Air Force, reigniting a bitter battle between Boeing’s KC-46 and Airbus’s A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport.

    The Air Force on Tuesday released a sources sought notice for a non developmental tanker aircraft known as KC-Y that would bridge the gap between KC-46 and the next-generation KC-Z tanker.

    The Air Force is looking for companies that could deliver as many as 15 commercial derivative tankers a year, with the new bridge tanker operational in 2029 — the same year the last KC-46 is due to be delivered.

    The service plans to buy 140 to 160 KC-Ys to continue the replacement of its aging KC-135 fleet, which will be 70 years old when the bridge tanker is fielded, the solicitation stated. The competition could start as early as 2022, when the service issues a final request for proposals.

    The Air Force provided few details on how KC-Y would differ from KC-46, only saying that it is still finalizing its requirements.”

    https://www.defensenews.com/air/2021/06/16/another-boeing-airbus-tanker-war-is-coming-soon/

    Of course, it’s a foregone conclusion that the Air Force will have to choose a US product…the only question is whether Boeing will cough up another lame duck, or will another US aerospace company come with some sort of offering?

    • @Bryce

      As far as I understand from the defense news link I quoted above, some in Congress are trying to cancel the BA KFC contract and re contract, although these some are still in a minority, and the DoD is sticking to their guns for the moment

      However, as we know BA is concerned not to manufacture aircarts that may be used in war, for reasons of ‘diversity’, not to mention that BA wishes to obtain Max re cert in China, and is unlikely they’ll get the KFC to perform

      « Rep. Rob Wittman, ranking member of the HASC subcommittee that oversees the tanker program, told Brown and the acting Air Force Secretary John Roth: “I would strongly urge you to look at re-competing,” the Boeing contract.

      Air Force leaders have said a re-compete would probably cost more than completing the current fixed-cost contract. Boeing has to eat all additional costs on the program (except for one) so the service and the taxpayer don’t have to worry about increased costs. “We’re concerned that if we try to go into a new contractual vehicle, that would put additional delays into the program that we simply don’t think would be efficacious for us,” acting Roth told the committee. »

      https://breakingdefense.com/2021/06/air-force-starts-kc-y-tanker-search-as-lawmakers-slam-kc-46/

      • @ Gerrard
        What an ungodly mess!
        But what alternative do they have? Pride/patriotism prevents the purchase of a ready-to-use European tanker, so they’ll just have to sit it out with their grossly defective “limited ops” flying lemon. Does anyone truly believe that BA will ever fix this product to the promised specs? See Pedro’s post/link above with regard to new deficiencies.

        The Dutch have an apt expression for this situation:
        “He who burns his ass…will just have to sit on the blisters”.

        • @Bryce

          The KFC mess is a reflection of the general US mess with regard to industrial polity and off shoring to China/Asia

          Accompanied by a degradation in competence and oversight of BA as of other manufactures

          There may be some positive changes brought about by the new Administration, the appointment of reformist Lina Khan to the chair of the FTC may mean less corrupt regulators accompanied with monopoly break up resulting in more efficient and competitive industry (as pleaded for by DoD)

          Although on shoring seems a dead duck – witness recent EIU report – negotiations look somewhat more likely than war with China, including a re cert of the Max

          Congress may yet impose a re contract of the KFC – it is hard to believe that the AirForce is not in favour of gaining a functioning plane at whatever price – the DoD buys a lot of stuff which contains a lot of stuff manufactured in China, although I have not managed to find precise numbers – so why not from (newly co operative) Europe ? (Although …..but….)

          https://www.eiu.com/n/north-america-will-not-see-significant-supply-chain-reshoring-in-2021-25/

          • @ Gerrard
            Buying from the EU would be seen as a loss of face: after all, Europe is the “old world”, and it couldn’t possibly be better at something, could it? The whole MAX fiasco was precipitated by BA’s indignation/astonishment that American Airlines had placed a big order for Airbus NEOs. It’s bad enough when something like that happens in the civilian world…in the defense world it would be a huge no-no. Mind you, the US concurrently expects its allies to “buy American” when it comes to defense, so the cart is somewhat unbalanced. Interesting in that regard that South Korea chose to develop its own fighter (KAI KF-X) rather than buy the F-35. Don’t be surprised if various European countries stop buying the F-35 and switch instead to a European fighter.

            On the other hand, buying from China could always be defended using the “yeah, but it’s cheap” argument. I deliberately say “could” because those days are over. Beneath all the forced smiles and conviviality, there’s an attempt as mass disentanglement of supply chains. Russia has already achieved this by eliminating western parts from its MC-21 program, thereby making it immune to US export restrictions. I can imagine that Airbus eyes this fact enviously.

          • Airbus envying other players nationalizing their supply chain? They moved a lot of sourcing into the dollar area on purpose to mitigate exchange rate risks. Commercial airplanes are still priced in dollars after all.

          • Uncertainty takes other forms than just exchange rate risks.
            Because Airbus planes contain U.S. parts, U.S. export embargoes can adversely affect Airbus sales freedom. Iran is an example…China may be next. No company wants to be beholden to such unpredictable whims.

          • > China may be next
            I dont think thats a risk that can be mitigated by a company based in the EU.
            If it came to an all-out trade war I dont believe the EU could afford to stand aside and do nothing. The EU is far too dependent on protection by the US nuclear threat against attackers. We might resent the fact heavily, but if push comes to shove there’s not really that much choice.
            It wouldnt help to get rid of possible interference by US sanctions only to be blocked by EU sanctions a little later.

          • France has 290 nuclear weapons at its disposal; I think that’s quite enough to act as a deterrent.
            The EU is quite able to “stand aside and do nothing” when the US goes on an ill-considered rampage: the lack of broad European support for the failed US war in Iraq is evidence of that.
            European countries have been trading with China for 3000 years: I don’t think they’ll allow an outside power to continually interfere with that process against their own wishes.
            US efforts to meddle with international trade have precipitated various moves to reduce the role of the dollar in cross-border transactions; where that’s concerned, the US should tread a little more carefully so as to avoid (further) shooting itself in the foot.

          • @Bryce
            >France has 290 nuclear weapons at its disposal
            Those french nuclear weapon were always meant to stop an all-out russian invasion in the middle of germany. Its really more of a suicide option along the line “If your troops invade they will die with us” As a german I can tell you, it’s not a tempting policy.
            In contrast to that the US can nuke any city in russia or china it chooses, should the need arise.

            Re China or Irak – the EU not fully supporting the Irak war was a nuisance for the USA. The EU not supporting an economic conflict with China could mean loosing it. Its on a completely different level of importance.

          • -> The EU is far too dependent on protection by the US nuclear threat against attackers.

            – Russia would throw a few nuclear bombs in Europe?? For what? Nuclear option is more a defensive weapon not an offensive weapon.

            – So Europeans have to pay “protection money” like being blackmailed by mafia?? I see.

          • Pedro a nuclear attack is not the most likely threat nowaydays. Remember the oil pipeline hack in the US and the issues it created? This time it were “only” a bunch of criminals that got them by mistake. But China and russia can do similar things on a much grander scale. They wont though, since the US would classify that as an act of war and threatens to react with a nuclear strike in their military doctrine.

      • “However, as we know BA is concerned not to manufacture aircarts that may be used in war, for reasons of ‘diversity’, …”

        Not coherent, what does ‘diversity’ have to do with the subject?

        Use of technology to make war machines in CC is a general concern, the B737 is a war machine in the form of the P-8 and perhaps Wedgetail (depth charges and torpedoes, and probably more especially in the ‘littoral’ role – hard points on wings can be used for a number of things).

      • Error alert!

        USAF wanted a tanker of size similar to the KC-135, for the first tranche of replacing it.

        And Airbus botched some aspects of bidding, as I detail elsewhere.

        Yes, NIH/feathering politicians local nest (aka buying votes) is a problem in most countries. Certainly is in Airbus countries, that is why Airbus exists.

        • The USAF didn’t specify size for the KC-X, just mission requirements. When Airbus/NG won, congress and interest groups started screaming the MRTT was too big & hired a law firm. At that point meeting minimal requirements at minimal cost was introduced (for the third round), so Boeing could win after all. An extremely un-glorious political victory.

          And then Boeing messed up, working on 767 tankers now for more then 25 years. But they know they have political support & the program is beyond the point of no return. Somehow the tax payer will pay.

          Spin doctors now start working on the KC-Y and public perceptions. We better prepare for loads of half truths, historic perspectives, flag waving and emotion, because Boeing needs a serious financial injection anyway.

          • cheapest offer for proportionally even less capabilities.

            “America Best” tends to be effected by sabotaging
            the competing offer and not by offering a better product.
            Destruction is so much easier than building.
            [Edited]

    • Well, is that news? The total tanker program was always envisioned as having a much larger tanker eventually to replace aging KC-10s to refuel heavy bombers.

      Questions are:
      – is USAF wanting that size sooner?
      – is USAF motivated to buy that size sooner by its unhappiness with Boeing’s performance on the KC-46A.

      Wild cards include:
      – project to re-engine B-52s (current edition is same number of engines to avoid new pylons rather than four of B-757 size that P&W and Rolls offered to lease, that would have eliminated refueling on strike missions into Russia)
      – does Airbus understand refuelling fast fighters? (It botched on KC-46 proposals by confusing testing to establish maximum speed with lower value determined by that testing. USAF were reported to have to dive the KC-135 to get ahead of fighters, but I suspect that was no longer needed with re-engine ones. OTOH, testing to determine max speed may have had to dive in the early days, also due thrust limits preventing achieving needed speed in level flight.)

      • > does Airbus understand refuelling fast fighters?

        That might be an interesting point. Could you elaborate? Are you saying the fighters minimum speed is above the tankers max speed, so doing a nosedive is the only option to get enough speed for the tanker?
        Sounds like a workaround that introduces additional potential for problems.

  14. Christian Scherer casually responding he doesn’t feel much pricing pressure because he has most of the global backlog and the premium products, must have touched many open nerves.

    • Those words from Scherer were well-formed, weren’t they?

      catbird seat..

    • Airbus also hit back at concerns raised by Boeing over the design of its newest narrow-body jet, the A321XLR.

      In a recent European regulatory filing, Boeing said a novel type of fuel tank could pose fire risks.

      Scherer called the comment “slightly provocative and outdated”.

  15. @Bill7

    The US is capable of reform, or at least has been prior the current generation of ideologues

    There is a spirit of realism in the DoD, witness links, and for the ruling class to decide that they have to negotiate with China rather than bomb it an understanding was required of quite how weak the war machine as well as the industrial base has become

    Lina K is hardly ‘progressive’ – rather an old fashioned pragmatist/realist : the ideas she presents to argue against monopolies, the airline corruption etc, do not share progressive ideals, methods, nor language ; she got a lot of support from the Republicans, whereas the PMC consider industrial polity to be un worthy of interest

    The diversity she presents is of the old fashioned kind – the new age paradigm of Alphabet Amzn Twitter financialised monoculture is something she has demonstrated must and can be destroyed within the old framework of industrial regulation

    WS is already advising how to make money from LK’s corporate break ups

    Maybe even the FAA will …or is that a wish too far

  16. Leon said: “..Boeing never did independent software audits before and the parts which were checked before MAX re-cert are small.
    There might come more to the surface about the autothrottle system, which is a booby trap.”

    The autothrottle is definitely of concern.

  17. Boeing’s T-7A faces a 15-month delay due to technical issues

    -> “The USAF just sent over the explanation for the 15-month Boeing T-7A schedule delay. The list of reasons include “supplier critical parts shortages, *initial design delays, and additional testing required during Phase 1 test due to discovery of aircraft wing rock*.”

    Discovery of aircraft wing rock??

    • What does this have to to with Airbus commercial projects.
      Indeed what does it even have to do with you ?

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