Pontifications: Assessing the future of stand-alone GE Aviation

By Scott Hamilton

Nov. 22, 2021, © Leeham News: GE Aviation’s (GEA) spin-off takes the corporate burden off its back and opens that way to move forward just as commercial aviation should be over the COVID-19 pandemic.

By Scott Hamilton

The engine unit will no longer be dragged down by, and cash diverted to, GE Corp.’s problems. It can raise money for research and development of new engines and for eco-aviation, without it being siphoned off for corporate or sister company uses.

GEA has challenges ahead, to be sure.

The business model for engine companies has been upended, requiring an entirely new approach to selling engines and services. Historically, engine makers often deeply discount engines—up to 80% or more in some cases—and contract maintenance, repair, and overhaul services to make their profits.

As the COVID-19 pandemic prematurely prompted airlines to retire older aircraft, maintenance, repair, and overhaul revenues and profits shrank, sometimes dramatically. And, with a new emphasis on eco-aviation, new planes have engines with warranties and extended on-wing time that pressure MRO revenues.

Breaking up GE Corp. into three major units will take a few years. When it’s over, chairman Larry Culp remains chairman of GE Aviation. John Slattery remains CEO.

Getting free of corporate

Divesting from the corporate umbrella and siblings is a huge, positive step. Following the Great Recession of 2008, GE Corp’s fortune began a steady, downward slide as several business segments were hit hard. Although the aviation sectors recovered, the damage was done. The corporation never returned to its halcyon days. The COVID-19 pandemic hit all business sectors even worse.

The giant leasing company, GECAS, once a star portfolio, was sold off this year. GECAS was one of aviation’s leading players, with a portfolio of more than 1,000 aircraft. It placed orders with Airbus and Boeing, selecting GE or CFM engines in preference to others. GE Aviation Services performed MRO work. Now, part of AerCap, the preference for engines and services may be subject to competitive bidding instead.

As sister companies floundered, GE Corp. needed money from its healthy business, GE Aviation included. Funds up-streamed from GEA to the parent. This will no longer be the case once the spin-off is complete.

CFM joint venture

GE Aviation is 50% owner of CFM International, which provides engines on the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 families. France’s Safran owns the other 50%.

The pandemic and the 21-month grounding of the 737 MAX hit CFM hard. GEA had to share 50% of the pain. The MAX was recertified in November 2020 by the Federal Aviation Administration. China has yet to follow but may by year-end. China historically represented 25% of the 737 deliveries.

Full delivery of the MAX inventory may not be accomplished until well into 2023 or, by a few outlier estimates, into 2024.

Chairman Culp, on an analyst call announcing the restructuring of GE, noted that “We have more than 37,000 commercial engines and over 60% haven’t seen their second shop visit, a tremendous opportunity as the market recovers. In fact, we power two-thirds of commercial flights, illustrating how impactful this business is today and to the future of flight.” Most of the engines are on 737s.

“Although Safran is more exposed on the 737MAX, it benefits from the ramp-up on the A320neo too, as it commands a slight market share advantage. LEAP engines are selling at a loss and management had targeted breakeven by 2022, a target now pushed out,” Bernstein wrote in a Nov. 12 research note about Safran. “Shop visits for CFM56 were not expected to peak until 2025, by which point LEAP aftermarket was expected to pick up. An important longer-term question was around the profitability of LEAP aftermarket. Although most long-term service agreements in the industry have not run into major issues, this would be an unresolved concern until LEAP engines come due for overhaul later this decade, a case that remains true today.”

Stand-alone GEA

As for GEA, without the corporate umbrella, “A standalone GE Aviation has enough resources to invest and be competitive,” Bernstein wrote Nov. 12.

On the spin-off analyst call, Andrew Obin of Bank of America asked, “Historically, GE funded Aviation from the rest of the company through the cycle. Now you’re funding it as a stand-alone entity. The question will be, how should we think about the stability of funding going forward?”

Carolina Dybeck Happe, SVP and CFO of GE Corp., said, “The key principle that the businesses, we believe, are best positioned for success as stand-alone companies. But to set them up for success, it also comes with an investment-grade balance sheet, and the companies will all be public and have access to capital markets in a focused way. So, by doing that, we set them up to both operate and invest in their businesses.

“And I mean R&D, sales or M&A and to be able to do so successfully through, I would say, the whole cycle, including downturns, and that’s why it’s important with these appropriate capitalization structures. Again, for very long cycle businesses, we talk about long-term.”

GE Aviation historically provided some customer financing. Culp and Happe didn’t address this on the analyst call. But one analyst later told LNA that GEA will likely continue financing in some form.

There’s been speculation for a long time that Boeing and GE Aviation might merge. The anti-trust issues would probably be insurmountable, however.

Investing in new engines

GEA funded the development of the GE9X for Boeing’s 777X on the forecast the 20-year market was 1,200 airplanes. The 777X program was launched in 2013. Since then, the market has changed. Orders for the X peaked at 344. Over the years, cancellations followed, and some customers encountered financial difficulties, putting orders at risk under an accounting rule called ASC 606. The low point, adjusting for cancellations and 606 reclassifications resulted in only 191 orders considered firm under the accounting rule.

Boeing now lists 320 orders on its website, but perhaps half of these are iffy, according to market intelligence.

Airbus now offers the A350-900/1000 Ultra-Long Range option and last summer launched the A350F. Each eats into an already small market demand for the X.

Finally, the Airbus A321LR/XLR and the 737-8 MAX can operate between 8-12 hours on thin-demand routes, bypassing hub collecting points needed to fill the 425-seat 777-9.

All these eat into the demand for the X program—and GEA’s big engine investment and future return. One Wall Street analyst suggests Boeing now sees a market potential of just 500 Xs.

The big opportunity for GEA rests with the Next Boeing Airplane (NBA), whatever form it takes. GE, CFM, and Safran are focusing on an engine called Revolutionary Innovation for Sustainable Aviation (RISE). This is what used to be called an Open Rotor engine but which the companies call Open Fan. Intended to have fuel consumption that is at least 20% less than today’s CFM LEAP and Pratt & Whitney’s Geared Turbofan, the engine will also have commensurate lower emissions.

“Product and technology investments that need to be sustained over time to keep leadership. And that is also why we’re setting the companies up the way we do,” Culp said on the analyst call.


Looking forward, “If you take Aviation business, we are seeing the commercial market starting to recover. We do expect to get to ’19 levels by narrowbodies in 2023, widebodies by 2024,” Happe said. “Larry talked about our young fleet. I would say more than half of that fleet hasn’t seen the second shop visit yet. So, we’re going to expect healthy shop visits as well, stronger utilization, military growing again, and then also the cost actions that we have talked about in Aviation. And together, that will expand the margins to the high-teens. And we also talked about high free cash flow conversion. So that’s the big Aviation to $6 billion.”

Looking at the future

In an interview with a Wall Street analyst, he expects that the margin of Earnings Before Interest and Taxes (EBIT) will remain in the 22% range.

Although the Services business margin may decline due to a changing business model, the same model should offset with an increase of selling engines with smaller discounts, he said.

GE will get “a lot more money upfront,” he said.

Although the demand for the 777X appears to be much less than the forecast in 2013, this analyst isn’t worried. To illustrate, the analyst used the list price of a GE9X of $22m-$24m and a production rate of the 777X of 2/mo, a not unreasonable production rate given the lower demand. The current backlog of 320 (setting aside iffy ASC 606 orders) represents six years of production.

This adds up to $1bn a year in revenues against $33bn in the spin-off company. The 3% loss of revenue isn’t chicken feed, but the analyst believes the loss can be made up by higher sales prices of engines and other products.

93 Comments on “Pontifications: Assessing the future of stand-alone GE Aviation

  1. I’m wondering about: “Although Safran is more exposed on the 737MAX”

    Is it a typo? Should it be GE is more exposed? Safran manufactures all LEAP 1A (Airbus) and LEAP 1C (Comac), while GE only manufactures LEAP 1B (Boeing), according to Safran website.

    • yep it is a wrong statement from Bernstein; GE FAL delivers mainly 1B et Safran FAL mainly 1A. Otherwise, it would be the worst logistic management ever. During 737max crisis, Safran had to share its 1A backlog with GE to get equal deliveries between both.

      • The design and industrialisation people at GE and Safran work on different parts of the Leap engines. They may have another company as a much smaller share as well.

        The LeapA and Leap B are substantially different as the small space under the 737 wing required a much different approach other than reduced BPR.
        Its practically a different core as its much ‘slimmer’ as well. ( and runs hotter and faster to achieve its efficiency numbers)

        A large number of parts from from other suppliers to GE or Safran specifications alongsiude those made themselves

        the final assembly lines ( 2 US and 1 France) are just that, in the different countries, parts and sub assembly’s come from everywhere

    • they both make parts for all versions, GE _assembles_ the 1B, Safran _assembles_ the 1A and 1C

      also it is likely that the Leap is a larger fraction of Safran’s overall business than it is GEs…

      • Flip of that is the LEAP is the only engine on the MAX. So CFM gets 100% of that market whatever it turns out to be.

    • Safran told me the same. They also make 737 landing gears, galleys and other systems. The overall MAX impact on Safran is/was large.

  2. What will happen to GE M&I Aeroderivative engines, the Land and Marine LM series? Is seems like a good business that use GEAE core engines in a smart and profitable way. I can also imagine that the big Frame XX gas turbines get lots of technology from GEAE. One can argue that GE Medical analysis equipment and its software, and even the old GE Chemical also has strong connections to the jet engines technology with manufacturing and non destructive testing technology and should benefit from a cooperation as well as the new GE Haliade-X wind turbines. So I would keep GEAE, GE Power systems, GE Medical and GE Chemicals with GE Research centers integrated and speed up the technology transfer to new medical imagine, new power plants and new wind mills using often US military funded research to GEAE.

    • Done formally that would leave them stuck as a congolmerate, eliminating the benefits of being clearly focused. Informal connections are of course another matter.

      • The idea is that technology developped to produce military and commercial engines with their processes and inspection techniques are valuable in some other products as well and the more advanced the more valuable. Take composite non destructive inspection techniques are very valuable for the Haliade windmills blades, hubs and generators. Ultrasonic equipment and software for inspection of jet engine rotating parts can be used in some medical equipment. Primers/paints, adhesives, grease, dry film lube, Prepreg epoxi and other chemicals are essential for jets as well as windmills and industral gas turbines. For GEAE to carry to whole remaining administration and now and then a load of MBA “Whiz kids” have wild ideas up in Schenectady will be hard to control from Evendale.

    • While I am not sure how you would split it, the remains of GE look to be viable alone and cross support as has been reported is a good thing.

      Now its break stuff up, a few years ago it was collect stuff.

      The money guys just want to make money and they don’t if there is not major shift one way or the other. So we get these cycles.

      And it applies to Boeing, the military business (as a whole) is profitable so they should dump BCA. Except at one time BCA support the military side. hmnnmm

    • they’ll sort it out with robots and CF, without question! No need for those pesky “workers”..

      tech über alles

    • GE have some interesting technology such as a supercritical carbon dioxide cycle. They are very efficient and simulations suggest that when used to recover exhaust heat the improvements in fuel burn more than compensate for the additional weight.

    • The gas turbine power plant business of both GE and Siemens is stagnant due to the subsidized move to renewables. The next generation of combined cycle gas turbine was anticipated to achieve 70% efficiency. Perhaps more with GE supercritical CO2 closed cycle Brayton cycle. Implementation of such cycles might have saved more emissions than any partial implementation of renewables and provide a pathway to storing energy as hydrogen due to the efficiency.

      There are certainly synergies. The whole reason GE got into turbo chargers and jet engines was because the similarity of steam and water turbines.

  3. Thank you for some backgrounds on this significant break up. I see people are in general positive on GE Aviation. I surely hope so, and that it’s not window dressing to make a small group of people very rich short term.

    I see GE has been getting closer and closer to Boeing during the last 15 years and RR to Airbus. I hope this isn’t a long term trend and both OE will offer their aircraft with choice. Captive markets and reduced competition are not in the long term industry interests.

    “Although the demand for the 777X appears to be much less than the forecast in 2013, this analyst isn’t worried. To illustrate, the analyst used the list price of a GE9X of $22m-$24m and a production rate of the 777X of 2/mo, a not unreasonable production rate given the lower demand. The current backlog of 320 (setting aside iffy ASC 606 orders) represents six years of production.”

    Optimism nearing dishonesty in my opinion.

    • I go with window dressing. While GE had a lot of messiness, it also has some good core businesses (Medical).

      So pull the rug out and all 3 collapse?

      While Scott list RISE, in the software world its called vapor ware.

      By a Mother Terresa Miracle, if it actually worked, its 15 years down the road. What happens in the interim? Let alone PW next GTF improvements (and 15 more years of that) ?

      GE has nothing in the pipeline NOW and Safran has its Silvercrest bust.

      Future might well be RISE of PW!

      • Both GE and PWA has new military core engines mainly paid by Uncle Sam hence they could in one way become the next commercial engine core engines. The core engine is maybe 75% of the cost of a new commercial engine but the USAF might want a few decades pass before letting them ship spare engines with this new dual use core engine to China for teardown in Chengdu. So LEAP and PW1100G engines will be shipped in the 1000’s and go through 2-3 shop visits costing $4-6M each before they will be replaced.

        • claes:

          I don’t know the GE/PW Adaptive engines have any lead into commercial use, even in parts of it.

          Its purpose is to merge two jet technologies , pure performance tub jet and fuel efficiency of of a Fan Jet. That in fact brings tech in from the civilian side.

          Materials in the LEAP are probably equally advanced as the core of the GE Dual Path engine, maybe not so much the PW Dual Patch.

          The idea is to replace a fighter jet engine (F-35) that gains back efficiency lost with the F-35B hindrance to the air-frame (big fan in the middle)

          Project goes back to 2007, so at least the basis of it are now 14 years old.

  4. Boeing will eventually take the same path than GE. Both have prioritized shareholder value over new product development and both will end in the same way.

    • Boeing executives have traditionally worshiped GE management. Apparently they did not get the memo about how the company went down the drain under Immelt’s leadership. Boeing is always a few years behind GE management fads so look for them to split off the defense and services in due course.

      • That would be incredibly stupid. The service business mitigates the cycility of their business and provides possibilities to create package deals that wouldnt be possible otherwise. Leahy was a master in using that to win competitions.
        And the military side can let uncle sam pay for certain developments that can be reused for free in civilian products.

        • The problem is Boeing does not seem to be able to find an Executive team that can manage it all. It is too big and complicated. Witness all the program cost overruns.

          Disagree that the services business is counter cyclical. It has been in the dumpster just like the airplane division post covid.

        • Its obvious to anyone that Boeing isnt a diversfied conglomerate like GE was and still is. Its already hived off its railroad locomotive business, its household appliances , its insurance, its consumer lending etc

          Boeing got out of the gas turbine business, the aviation electronics and probably some others long ago.
          Maybe the space related business will be spun off.

          • Yes, space is a good candidate. The Starliner program experience demonstrates the current Executive team is not up to the task.

          • Wall Street isn’t interested in how diversified Boeing is: it just sees it as a collection of 3 divisions that would be more nimble, and less susceptible to cross-contamination, if each of those divisions were a separate entity.

  5. How are the engine manufacturers going to force up the price of new engines?

    • Try charging more. Of course then the is kill their profits move.

      Stay tuned. King Kong vs Godzilla!

    • Rising fuel prices from the inclusion of SAF to meet the ICAO CORISA regulations will presumably cause demand for new efficient engines. It’s likely that governments will penalise failure to meet regulations with mandates requiring higher proportions of SAF or requirements to purchase offsets. I think the power may shift to the engine makers.

  6. I am an ex ge aviation worker now receiving a pension from ge I hope this is not affected

    • You have my full hearted agreement.

      The last 25 years there was no pensions, I got bits and pieces of investments from previous employment.

      I quit work on a patched together I Quit Work plan. We planned ahead and are debt free, but it is what my brother would call a Cheap Retirement and I calla Cheap I Quit Work.

      All employers should have a mandatory retirement draw (on top of SS) and it should all go into a managed fund that the cratering and under-funding of a company can’t destroy.

    • Probably safe to assume the pension is underfunded. The money that is invested should be safe but the underfunded amount is basically an IOU that depends on the future success of the company.

  7. ” Following the Great Recession of 2008, GE Corp’s fortune began a steady, downward slide as several business segments were hit hard. Although the aviation sectors recovered, the damage was done.”

    The reason that GE’s fortunes began a downward slide during the Great Recession is that the financial failures and scrutiny thereof throughout the economy made it impossible to hide any longer that Hero Jack Welch and his band of financial engineers had been juggling the books at GE for over 10 years, that they money they claimed was flowing in was not there, and that much of their financial paperwork was no more solid than that of Bear Sterns.

    The canonization of Welch by the business and popular cultures in the 1990s is IMHO one of the leading candidates for the stake through the heart of the US economy. The man and his ideas were like a pernicious, infectious, fatal disease.

    • jack welch is [Edited. This comparison is over the top. Try something less inflammatory.]

      his mantra that “at all times you need to fire 10% of your workforce” is singularly evil and destructive. I have personally watched several companies fall into this trap resulting in highly destructive changes to corporate culture, loss of employee loyalty and long term decline as the company inevitably “maximizes shareholder value” and circles the drain.

      • Yep, called slash and burn

        JW stand out as one of the most vile destructive forces of all time.

      • Reason why I think that EU workforce related legislation is a boon to Airbus and not the often pointed out ( from us readers) “leg chains”. Airbus just can’t maim itself in that respect ..

        • This management philosophy sucks all the cash out of a business without a sustainable level of reinvestment in the future. It is a parasite which sucked the life out of McD and GE, and jumped to new hosts such as Boeing.
          GE finally brought in a CEO from outside (Culp) to save it from itself. But old style GE executives from the now discredited Welch school of management still find a welcoming new home at Calhoun’s Boeing.

  8. I think conservatively, the 777x will sell 250 passenger and 350 freighters for 600 units over 20 years. Optimistically, they could hit 1000 if it outperforms initial estimates. It’s got a large diameter fan, which has proven to be a bonus on the A220 and A320 relative to the competition. It has a great wing. And last, although the ultrafan or some other widebody geared engine is out there in the future, the timelines seem to be getting longer all the time. I see an EIS of 2035 on the 787 and A350, and even then it will be optimized for the 789 and A359, so I doubt the GE9X and the 100K plus thrust engine will see competition for a long, long time.

    • Aviation is supposed to grow by 2.5 in the next 30 years (hence the ICAO regulations and strategy of reducing fuel burn while progressively blending in SAF will only keep emissions at slightly better than 2019 levels even though emissions will be reduced by 70%.)

      With this growth the B777-8/9/10 might be the right size in 5-10 years.

      Seems to be advancement left in the turbofan. Higher bypass ratio, variable pitch, maybe contra rotation, inter cooling and heat regeneration.

    • The 777X has to get certified first…and that process is progressing convincingly.

      The deadline for Emirates is now July 2023.

      • 1) TC tried “to pin fog to a wall” or obtain a firm 777X delivery date …. 😬

        2) From IATA, markets of above ave. growth: M.E., Asia Pacific, lagging markets: N. Am. & Europe.
        Domestic markets of above ave. growth: India & China; lagging domestic market: U.S.
        Major growth international country pairs: China – Thailand; India – UAE; USA – Mexico.
        How does B777X fit into the above picture??

  9. “I think conservatively, the 777x will sell 250 passenger and 350 freighters for 600 units over 20 years”

    I wouldn’t qualify that as conservatively, seeing the situation on the two 777x types, the progress and competitive situation. Times have changed and Boeing is fighting to prevent 777x customers to “modify” contracts.

    Cost price and empty weights of the 777x worry me & the engines won’t do miracles.

    The GE9X is a GE90 derivative developed 10 years ago. It should be 10% more efficient than the GE90, 5% from OPR and BPR each.

    Meanwhile Airbus isn’t sitting on its hands. They are neither shy or needy. https://groups.google.com/group/aviation_innovation/attach/1d9a72e2665b7/A350%20evolution%20options%20keesje.jpg?part=0.1&view=1

    • GE9X is 10% better than its predecessor and claimed to be 5% better than its competitor.
      I think they would want to slightly better that

  10. You never know what can happen. PEM fuel cells have a good chance to power regional aircraft like the ATR 72 now propelled by turbo props. SOFC, if they can achieve density required might challenge gas turbines. The 60%-80% efficiency is attractive. With GE aviation on its own it might no have access.

  11. I read the report here; the comments; the link. Why? Because I bought GE instead of 3M. Isn’t it funny, the whole world is going to migrate to electrification and GE doesn’t look to benefit at all from this? Never get too far from your base, I guess is the lesson. But my unrelated question is this: On the A320NEO line, what percentage of the business is the P&W GTF and what percentage is the LEAP? TIA

    • Sam1:

      Its pretty close to 50/50 with CFM a bit ahead.

      As relevant is what is the return each entity is getting.

      And with those large orders the acualy percentage can flip back and forth with who has what engine.

    • “…the whole world is going to migrate to electrification…”

      Define “elecrification”.
      Does manufacture of SAF or H2 using electricity generated from a thorium halide reactor fall under this definition?

      Surely you don’t think that everything is going to be switching over to battery power…?

      • Indeed if one was manufacturing PtL (Power to Liquids) “Electro fuels” from air and water and had such a reactor one would use thermochemical water splitting to generate the hydrogen under pressure, bypassing electricity production and electrolysis entirely, while using the lower grade heat to regenerate the amine Direct Air Capture CO2 absorbers. Compared to generating electricity as an intermediate step it would appear perhaps 90% efficient.

        Despite being an American invention the Chinese are developing them. They mean to master and control the technology. They plan to not only manufacture fuels and petrochemicals on a vast scale but to manufacture plastics and carbon fibres.

        It should be able to transmute both transuranic and fission product long term waste into medium/short term waste.

      • No, but obviously I’m going to have to look up thorium halide reactor… Thanks

        • @ Sam1
          Well, then, perhaps you should consider broadening your concept of “electrification”, because batteries are simply not going to suffice at all in a lot of activities — not just aviation but also shipping, long-distance trucking and busing, etc.
          GE engines (and everyone else’s engines) can run on SAF with minimal-to-no modification. When produced using low-to-zero-emission power, the net result is a green engine. Thorium reactors are more reliable than wind/solar — all that’s needed now is for the green movement to drop its (outdated and unfounded) opposition to them.

  12. Leeham news baffled by A330 Neo production rate.
    My guess is that the 777X and 787 mess has just about cancelled out the pandemic if they can deliver to their latest schedules with some airlines like Emirates having to run some older aircraft a bit longer.
    Any longer and any slots early airbus can make available for the 330 and 350 come into play.
    Serious changes to the 777 and in service 787 requiring repairs and modification and airlines are going to be trawling the boneyards.

    • All the “composite” aircraft bar the A220 seem to be having problems. The B787 with tolerances and accidents. The A350 in Qatar has some issues. The underlying CFRP structure is unaffected and safety is bit compromised but over top of the CFRP is a non structural layer of protective plastic with a copper mesh over which is paint. It looks like on some of qatars A350 the protective layer has some cracks and something seems to have exposed copper here and there (aggressive paint scrubbing?). The paint hadn’t cracked despite being over the layer. Although the structure is unaffected and the layer can be repaired its expensive. Its wear and tear and likely caused by thermal cycling from being at 50C in the desert and -35C at 360,000ft. The off-white grey Qatar use probably didn’t help. (Boeing warn to use only White on the cowlings of the B787.

      Get yourself an A330neo and you will not have composite problems or expensive repairs. Your fuel burn will be as good as any in the world up to 350nmi-4000nmi plus the aircraft will have resale value as a freighter.

      • The group to keep an eye on is the Ethihad A350-1000 operating in identical conditions.

        Boeing engine paint had to do with flow, to get the maximum smooth flow it took a special paint.

        Airlines can change it but that also affects some of the SFC guarantee.

        If your CRFP surface is not intended to be exposed then you can have issues with water intrusion.

        There is also the metals corrosion aspects. The Qatari AHJ are right to be very cautious in a totally unknown area.

        • Before answering you I need to make an important correction to an error I made.
          1 Safety and structural integrity is uncompromised by cracks to the protective layer. Having said that in glass fibre aircraft significant deterioration in the protective layer has compelled repairs to the layer. I’d say its a cost issue.
          2 Cause may be thermal cycling between desert heat and conditions at 39,000ft for the the different materials (CFRP and matrix, protective layer, copper mesh). There are polymers with higher temperature resistance but not sure about the range. Using as white a paint as possible can keep the swing smaller.

          There seem to be very few B787 in service in the middle east for some reason, presumably because the main carriers prefer giant A380 and B777 but I would hope Boeing is checking as well because they may have the same vulnerability.

          • William:

            Your credibility suffers when you make false statements.

            Qatar has 34 x 787 in service. Etihad has has 39. Air Jordan has 7. Moroccan has 9. Saudia has 18. And that is just the quick ones I looked up. 100 or so.

            And yes, if you get water in the layers they will delaminate .

            “Environmental effects such as temperature and humidity can have profound effects on the polymer-based composites, including most CFRPs. While CFRPs demonstrate excellent corrosion resistance, the effect of moisture at wide ranges of temperatures can lead to degradation of the mechanical properties of CFRPs, particularly at the matrix-fiber interface.”

          • @TW
            “Your credibility suffers when you make false statements.”
            On that subject:
            – Morocco isn’t in the Middle East — please consult a map.
            – Saudia ceased operations in 2006, and it had zero 787s in its fleet.
            – There is no airline called “Air Jordan”.

          • In the context hes right with some typos
            Its Saudi -Arabian, Royal Jordanian. And Morocco is considered to be in the desert belt across North Africa and into ME.
            Included would be Oman Air with 9, Gulf Air with 7 EgyptAir with 6

          • Well, if we’re going to extend the Middle East all the way west to Morocco, why not extent it just a little further northward to central Spain? There we find summer temperatures at Madrid airport can soar in excess of 42 Celcius for 3-4 months of the year. And yet, none of Iberia’s A350s are reporting paint/surface irregularity issues.


          • I suspect that the problem in the under paint protective layer cracking on the Qatar A350 is a combination of the choice of grey as the fuselage colour and some other issue. It must add 10-15C to dessert temperature already 45-50C in the middle east. There is probably something else in the nature of the paint and its interaction with the protective layer that compounds this. I suspect other airlines with an all white fuselage won’t see this. Clearly there is no safety issue so long as the situation is monitored and the protective layer repaired should it become necessary. Qatar clearly will be concerned about the residual value of the aircraft and repair costs.

  13. Qatar issues:
    Bespoke but incompatible paint system use on behalf of the airline?

    • Does anyone know if Airbus has agreed to compensate Qatar Airways for the regulatory agency mandated A350 grounding? I have not seen any recent news on the grounding.

      • ‘EASA and the Qatar Civil Aviation Authority (QCAA) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation in the area of aviation safety, including the sharing of information, knowledge and expertise, regulatory cooperation and other activities related to improved safety.”

        What is the Qatar regulators evidence and technical understanding of the issue published for all to see.

        or is it ‘whatever Qatar Airways says it is’ ?

        There being only one airline in Qatar

    • Al Bakar is blaming it on the paint but he is saying Airbus delivered it in this paint so he’s blaming them. The cracks are in stressed parts of the fuselage which suggests the grey colour may have something to do with it but its not load bearing parts its the plastic layer between the CFRP and the paint.

      From Simple flying:
      “Today, while speaking to Bloomberg at the IATA AGM in Boston, Al Baker added a little more colour to the situation. He told the publication that the issue was related to the paint that the aircraft had been delivered in. It was deteriorating on composite areas where the aircraft experienced aerodynamic stress, leading to cracks in the composite structure.”

      This statement is a little misleading. The composite itself is unaffected it is the layer over the top of the CFRP but below the paint.

      • And, yet, he’s taking delivery of new A350s.
        Has the paint changed in the meantime?

  14. Well, in view of yesterday’s/today’s disturbing news regarding developments in Southern Africa, anyone who thought that aviation was pulling clear of the pandemic misery needs to go back to the drawing board…

      • You are aware that the US had outsourced “work” to that lab and the liaison person had been withdrawn just ahead of the psndemics kickoff event?

      • Of course some of the ‘”Foreign work” they took on was “Gain of Functions” viral research which works by mutating virus in a lab to see if they can gain functions such as infecting other species or transmitting by air instead of just spittle. That wasn’t the French it was National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, specially in that instance Anthony Faucci. He was getting around an Obama era ban on gain of function research within the US due to its risks (I prefer plutonium by far). We also have researcher traveling to bat caves 800km away using only N95 masks and Tyvek suits.
        PS these threads get closed if they wonder of topic too much.

        • Regarding your last remark: my 2 posts made specific reference to the impact on aviation, and it might be a good idea to follow that course so as not to incur The Wrath of Scott™.
          These events are so impactful that it wouldn’t surprise me if LNA runs an article on the matter next week. One is reminded of Bjorn’s articles on the spread risk in aircraft, which appeared last year when we only had the original virus variant; in the meantime, delta came along (much more infectious), and now omicron has seemingly notched up the infectiousness again. It will be interesting to hear how many passengers got infected on the two SA flights that I referred to below, from the original 61 positive passengers (out of 600).

          Latest update: it appears that several countries in Europe may have (limited) numbers of omicron cases already (Belgium, UK, Germany, Czech Republic, possibly NL), so one can expect further travel bans in the coming days.

          • The very pleasant Lady Doctor who came out of retirement to vaccinate me with the AZ vaccine told me that that the only safe way to travel was by personal automobile. She was in her 70s and in a vulnerable group, That is the reality: No trains, planes or buses. You could argue COVID was a disease of public transport.

            If air flow was increased by a factor of 3 in aircraft increasing down drift from about 2-3cm/second to 10cm/sec we could probably avoid anyone’s breath getting to anyone else’s so long as they worse masks to diffuse breath velocity when standing. The current flow rate is already very good and vastly better than other forms of public transport.

            So there is a job for GE or Honeywell environmental control systems.

            Alternatively each passenger must travel in their own compartment which on an A321 would lead to about 48 1st class lie flat cabins, maybe more if some were double cabins for couples or mother with child.

            Non compliance with hygienic behaviour has non just been a problem during the COVID pandemic. There has been a deterioration in standards with increased tolerance of spitting in public, no carrying tissue/handkerchief. Often compounded by a rush to acceptance of LCD cultural practices. I see people still crowd into elevators, overtake on escalators, take their mask of to shout in McDonalds, not sanitise when entering and leaving a supermarket.

            It’s worth noting that when the New York Subway opened there was a 1 year jail term for spitting in public transport.

            I suspect also the myriad of ATM terminals, self serve terminals in supermarkets, parking station terminals, airline self checking, public transport machines was a big cause of its spread. There are ways of making these terminals mostly non contact, including bacteriostatic coating (available 30 years ago) but I still see little action or automating over a cell phone.

            I suspect all self service will need to be via cell phone or smart watch.

          • @William

            Our commentator (as usual) is spreading misinformation again.

            COVID-19 rarely spreads through surfaces

            NYTimes: Covid Indoors: Scrubbing Surfaces Does Little to Mitigate Threat

            “Because of the many factors affecting the efficiency of environmental transmission, the relative risk of fomite transmission of SARS-CoV-2 is considered low compared with direct contact, droplet transmission, or airborne transmission”

          • @Pedro,

            Unlike you it seem I actually read the articles referenced articles referenced at the bottom of the Nature Opinion Piece. (not Peer Reviewed)

            -Non of them make a conclusive conclusion that SAR-COVID does not spread through contact. Some say the risk is low but this is based on modelling and dubious assumptions. Some conclude it does eg that hand hygiene is essential with the virus remaining at infectious thresholds on skin for up to 96 hours.

            -Most of the studies are laboratory studies in which cultures coated on to surfaces such as wood, plastic, various metals and the decay rate measured and transmissibility estimated on the basis of virus levels.

            Only one was a field study and that had a miserably small sample size (3 out outdoor garbage cans etc). We also know that outdoors that heat, humidity and UV rapidly kill the virus. This study also measure virus on door handles in 1-2 office buildings.

            The study (the only field experiment) was conducted during the peak of the lockdown, in fact the lockdown was so severe the study had to be terminated for a while and restarted as the lock down ended. Here is the problem during lockdown supermarkets were offering hand sanitisers, offices were strict about sanitisers and no hand shaking and people avoided touching surfaces. I used a poking device to operate elevator buttons and crossing buttons. People didnt go to work in the office.

            We have a situation where the one field study actually studies COVID fragments when strong hygiene measures are being enforced.

            I remind you that one of the greatest effects of masks is to stop people touching or picking their nose.

            Before masks folks were picking their noses and wiping them at high intervals and then touching supermarket terminals. Now and during the study period in a public setting people are forced to enter with a mask on, sanitise etc.

            Its no surprise that viral loads in a lockdown are lower.

            As the lancet says “Non of these studies are akin to real life scenarios”

            Nature was great 25 years ago, now its another New Scientist/Scientific American with vested opinions writers.

          • @William

            The Nature article I linked is apparently *not* an opinion piece.

            Where’s your refute of CDC’s report??

            Not sure what your babbling about. Do you have any concrete evidence how often the coronavirus is spread *solely* by surface transmission? The best you’re doing is to spread fringe conspiracy theory.

    • Regarding Southern Africa, the following data is disturbing:
      Two flights arrived from South Africa at Amsterdam airport yesterday (Nov 26) before the travel ban commenced at noon. The 600 passengers on board were taken to an isolated area at the airport and were tested for CoViD. 61 passengers tested positive!
      You can ask yourself how wise/desirable it is to sit on a longhaul flight for 8+ hours when 1-in-10 of the passengers around you is CoViD-positive. Going home and/or visiting family is understandable, but who wants to go on a vacation with that risk?

      • It appears it has spread to Europe, Israel and Australia. It’s a matter of time it would be in other countries.

        Long haul International travel won’t come back any time soon.

        The B777X freighter can’t arrive soon enough? The pitfall of BA’s product strategy is exposed again.
        AW reported BA was clear that a 777X freighter launch was not a program priority, in order to balance its [limited] resources with workloads.

        In Reuters’ latest report, the cargo capacity of the B777X is mysteriously reduced to 110 tonnes, a large shortfall from earlier report.

        • Interesting article regarding the 777XF.
          Wouldn’t surprise me at all if a vexed Tim Clark told BA to get its priorities straight and solve the existing major issues (777X cert / 787 quality) before fiddling in the margins with the 777XF.

        • Interesting quote in that AW article that you posted:
          “Fleming said the target for certification and first deliveries remains on track for late 2023”.

          I wonder what Mr. Fleming thinks of the new Emirates deadline of July 2023 — which knocks up to six months off the quoted “late 2023” timeframe?

          Noteworthy: it seems that “fun flights” are more important than getting a TIA:
          ““We are not sitting on our hands,” Fleming said. “We are flying the airplane and we will continue to fly what we call ‘Boeing tests’ so that we can collect data. Then we will go into certification tests having made the program as mature as we possibly can. I love it—we get to fly the heck out of this airplane.””

  15. Presumably the 61 passengers that were positive were not sick. They may have been over the disease yet still shedding virus proteins , asymptomatic or been vaccinated and asymptomatic. The test is prone to false positives. The original COVID-19 was fatal for 0.15% of those between 60-70. Below that age much much less. Vaccinated individuals still carry the same peak viral load just for shorter period and less likely to get sick.

    • I wouldn’t presume that none of the 61 was sick: many/most people have become very sloppy/indifferent as regards adhering to the rules, and I can easily imagine passengers boarding despite having cold/flu-like symptoms.
      Also, how thorough are cash-starved airlines when it comes to screening passengers? Seats need to be filled!

    • More question marks about stabilizer trim…
      Brings to mind the uncommanded pitch event on the 777X

    • The Belgian plane was merely a pilot issue with a full fuel load but no passengers or cargo. It completed the non stop flight the next day
      ‘”The in-service reliability is greater than 99%, and is consistent with other commercial airplane models”.

      • The Belgian plane was a brand-new plane that declared an emergency shortly after takeoff because of serious stab trim issues. It was unable to maintain the FL dictated by ATC while returning to the airport for an emergency landing.
        Just another day at the BA office, of course.

      • Our commentator went full damage control thru’ mere speculation/*blame the pilot* (BA’s motto) again!

        All we know:
        “A TUI Airlines Belgium Boeing 737-8 MAX, registration OO-TMZ performing delivery flight TB-981F from Seattle Boeing Field,WA (USA) to Brussels (Belgium), was climbing out of Boeing Field when the crew requested to stop the climb at 15000 feet, the following clearance was subsequently amended to stop the climb at 13000 feet. While maintaining something like 12,000 feet the crew declared PAN PAN reporting flight control problems and requested a block altitude. The flight was cleared to maintain between 11,000 and 15,000 feet. About 15 minutes later the crew requested vectors back to Boeing Field and advised they were now able to maintain their assigned altitude within 1000 feet. The aircraft returned to Boeing Field for a safe landing on runway 14R about 35 minutes after departure.”

        In case it involves an emerging competitor, then it becomes the sky is falling ….


        Apparently there were issues with the MAX’s trim motors and rectification were needed.

        “The BBC also understands that regular weekly meetings take place between the aerospace giant and representatives of the engine manufacturer CFM International, in part to address the root causes of failures and in-flight shutdowns.”

  16. Let’s stop with the COVID and fanboy stuff. These are veering way off topic.


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