Pontifications: LNA’s Top 10 stories of 2022

Dec. 26, 2022, © Leeham News: This year has been a year of recovery.

By Scott Hamilton

Recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Recovery from shortages in the supply chain, layoffs during the pandemic and from financial losses. Boeing continues to struggle in its recovery from the 2019 grounding of the 737 MAX and 2020 suspension of deliveries of the 787.

This year saw a resumption of the big international European air shows since the pandemic—Farnborough. There was great anticipation that Boeing was working on new airplane programs in earnest for the first time in three years.

And disappointments.

Here’s a review of the Top 10 stories LNA published, by readership.

Leeham News in addition to Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin, may now be found on Post.news here and on Mastodon here.

Top 10 2022 Stories
1.   Last Boeing 747 leaves factory tonight

The 1,574th Boeing 747 left the factory Dec. 6, ending 54 years of production. The Queen of the Skies set the standards for every airplane that followed. The last plane is destined for Atlas Air. Delivery will be in the first quarter next year. It will be adorned with the likeness of the designer, Joe Sutter.

2.  MTU gets support from Pratt & Whitney for wet engine

The engine, which has a mild parallel hybrid architecture, extracts more energy from the turbofan fuel by driving the core exhaust through a vaporizer, where it recovers more heat from the core exhaust. Water from the exhaust, extracted from the core exhaust in a condenser, is heated to steam by the vaporizer and then drives a steam turbine that co-drives the fan. The steam is finally injected into the combustor to lower emissions.

3.   With Boeing’s decision against new airplanes, Airbus will stand down, too

When CEO David Calhoun said Boeing won’t introduce a new airplane until the mid-2030 decade, investors and Wall Street analysts loved it. The stock price went up 18% over the next week.

Most others hated the idea. Boeing’s single-aisle market share is now under 40%. Some think it will decline to 30% as Airbus whips Boeing with new orders, driven by the A321neo vs the lesser-performing 737-10 (which isn’t yet certified).

But Wall Street wasn’t the only group to love the delay. So did rival Airbus. Our No. 1 story for 2022 looks at Airbus’ reaction to Calhoun’s decision.

4.      Boeing’s steps toward its next new airplane

Our next most-read story for 2022 was about a series of steps Boeing was taking that pointed to the development of a new airplane.

Boeing went on an engineering hiring spree. Spending for Research and Development shot up. There were great, positive signs. Alas, it all came tumbling down on Nov. 2 when CEO David Calhoun said there won’t be a new airplane until the middle of the next decade.

5.      Pontifications: Airbus nears 800 sales for A220, but major challenges continue

Airbus is having good success is selling the A220. Having purchased the program from Bombardier, when it was developed as the C Series, Airbus could make the investments and marketing muscle behind the airplane that Bombardier could not.

Despite boosting sales dramatically, Airbus is still losing money on the airplane. Quality control remains an issue. Supply chain shortages depress delivery schedules.

6.      Boeing shows FedEx concepts for 787F and NMA-F

When Boeing appeared on a path toward launching a new airplane, Product Development was working on a 767-size aircraft to replace the popular 767 freighter. Due to new emissions and noise regulations taking effect at the end of 2027, production of the 767 must stop then unless Boeing gets an exemption for the airplane.

Boeing showed FedEx a concept for a new freighter generally based on the New Midmarket Airplane (NMA).

7.      Boeing’s product move kills direct 767F replacement, puts 787F in doubt

After Boeing CEO David Calhoun killed any thought of developing a new airplane before the middle of the next decade, this also killed the concept to replace the aging 767F with a new freighter.

8.      Boeing adds 737 MAX 7 to at-risk status with MAX 10 for cancellation over FAA certification

It was widely reported that certification of the Boeing 737 MAX 10 by a year-end 2022 deadline wasn’t going to happen. Boeing CEO David Calhoun said that if the deadline wasn’t extended to certify the airplane or a new cockpit warning system was required, the MAX 10 program might be canceled.

Less widely reported was that the 737 MAX 7 also faced the year-end deadline. In Boeing’s 3Q2022 10Q Securities and Exchange Commission filing, Boeing said the MAX 7 program also could be canceled.

9.      Boeing prepares to swap engines from MAX inventory to new production

Leeham News was the first to report that Boeing was going to take engines from the stored inventory of 737s to install on new production aircraft. (Some others that followed the reporting failed to give credit to LNA, a journalistic breach of ethics.)

10.      Pontifications: Boeing spending millions to retain engineers

In another exclusive, LNA was the first to report that Boeing was spending millions of dollars to hire engines, some specifically for new airplane development. Also interesting: Boeing was recruiting engineers in Embraer’s home town.


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Boxing Day Gift

Today is Boxing Day. In case you missed giving or getting the Christmas gift you wanted, my book Air Wars, The Global Combat Between Airbus and Boeing, makes a good read. Here’s what reviewers had to say about it.

Royal Aeronautical Society

Named to the Top 10 List of Aerospace Books for Christmas Choices, 2021

Puget Sound Business Journal

(Seattle area.) No. 1 on the Christmas list of aerospace books for 2021.


No. 1 on its list of Best New Aerospace eBooks to read in 2022.

Chris Sloan, The Airchive

“A worthy successor to ‘The Sporty Game,’” the 1982 book by John Newhouse, considered at the time to be the definitive book about the competition between Boeing, McDonnell Douglas and the emerging Airbus.

Jim Sheehan, Aviation Industry Consultant

There is so much model and OEM information that it is for sure going to become required reading for anyone who wants to understand the last fifty or so years of commercial aviation.

Loved all of the quotes and stories.

Dan Catchpole, Aviation Writer

Air Wars is a tour de force look behind the curtain of Boeing and Airbus’ global competition and, in part, a biography of Airbus’ head salesman, John Leahy, the man who forced Boeing’s hand to re-engine the 737. Longtime aerospace analyst and journalist Scott Hamilton takes readers through the twists and turns of the decades long battle between the two companies.

Dan Reed, Aviation Writer

Using John Leahy’s long and monumental career as a vehicle for telling readers about the 51-year battle between Airbus and Boeing is both an interesting and inspired choice by the author.

Air Wars is available in paperback and eBook form at Amazon and in paperback at Barnes & Noble.


27 Comments on “Pontifications: LNA’s Top 10 stories of 2022

  1. Some interesting statistics:
    – 7 of those 10 stories are purely about Boeing;
    – only 1 is purely about Airbus (No. 5);
    – 1 jointly concerns Boeing and Airbus (No. 3), though is mostly a Boeing story;
    – and 1 concerns MTU/PW (No. 2).

    Just goes to show the extent to which Boeing continues to put itself in the news.

    • More amusing is the clash of information snipets.
      New project, no new project, …
      Boeing turning every which way …. .

    • I would guess that at least 7 out of 10 readers live and work in aviation on this side of the pond, so Boeing casts a greater shadow over their lives than Airbus.
      The fact that Boeing continues down the path of shrinking it’s market share, footprint, and development capabilities is big news to US aviation.

      • My summary of 2022 and 2021 in aviation US:
        Replacing Muilenberg with Calhoun was like firing Darth Vader and giving the job to the Emperor.

        • >..Replacing Muilenberg with Calhoun was like firing Darth Vader and giving the job to the Emperor. <

          good one! Tomorrow (or so) we can compare their
          2022 performance with the "jobs program" other

          • The management philosophy of Calhoun and his GE pals will shrink any business it controls. This is their intent. They call it “unlocking value”. We call it selling the future.

  2. Maybe the various topics / events on Boeing direct to the state the company is in overall. A state of denial. I hope in 2023 innovation and transparency will have better chances than quick wins & half truths.

    • There’s not enough money for innovation.
      I suspect that LNA will be doing plenty of reporting on BA’s dire financial situation in 2023…starting with sub-optimal Q4 results. The company has to repay $5B in debt in the next 6 months — where’s that money going to come from? Certainly not from earnings.

      • Afaik Boeing refinance a large portion of its debt last year when the interest rates was at its lowest. I dont think they are due anytime soon in 2023. Probably only a small portion.
        Perhaps someone with a clearer view can clarify.

        • Boeing had $5.3B of short term debt at the end of Q2. By defitinition, short detm debt is debt that needs to be repaid within 12 months — so there are just 6 months left.
          In addition to that short term debt, it had $52B in long term debt.

      • “There’s not enough money for innovation…”
        Boeing squandered about $20 billion on the fiasco of the 787 development, with the convoluted global supply chain. Then they gave about $62 billion to the shareholders in dividends and stock buybacks. And finally they destroyed another $20 billion in value with the Max disaster.
        In total, that is more than $100 billion that these clowns spent on higher priorities than product development and investing in the future.
        Anyone who works in US aviation industry and is okay with this is either just not paying attention, not very bright, or perhaps both.

        • That is a “scavenging” rate of 60+%.

          The majority of (destructive) corporate disassemblies have a lower scavenging rate.

          Magerwiesenwirtschaft. :-)))

  3. I don’t see the shortages easing any time soon. China continues to be in a herk and jerk mode with the thing we do not talk about.

    Maybe by 2024. Boeing reports a fix that the USAF fully approves of and is enthusiastic about for the KC-46A RV system but the chips to make the modules are in extremely short supply.

    Of course the shortage is used as an excuse to cover up things. Our local snow removal operation was down 15 graders when we got 4 feet of snow over a week (4 different snow falls). When the paper reported that the claim was that the Muni could not get the parts, suddenly we had 28 out of 30 graders running. Local politics involved and a parts hold was on (lost count of hte number of times I have experienced that).

    So not all shortages are supply chain. It sure makes a nice excuse you can drive a Semi through.

    Biggest story by far is BCA looking to do its best to exit aircraft mfg though only so long as Calhoun is there, better hope for his hope for soon replacement. Mullaly may be old but he could so with one finger that all Calhoun as put a wreck.

    • > Mullaly may be old but he could so with one finger that all Calhoun as put a wreck. <


      • From the article:

        “While the initial RVS 2.0 tech looks promising, Renfro acknowledged that the Air Force won’t be able to definitively say what it delivers in terms of combat capability until it moves through developmental and operational tests.”

        • Is “RVS 2.0” still on Boeing’s dime- or on the USAF’s (more accurately, the US Taxpayers’) ?

          I have total confidence in Boeing bringing the KC-46A into fully-operational, unconditional service very, very soon.

          • There are two areas.

            1. The Boeing direct visual that Boeing has to fix.

            2. The side view visual that met USAF specification that the USAF did not like and they have to pay to get fixed.

          • @ Bill7
            The KC-46A had/has a whole litany of shortcomings, and these are still being fixed.
            For example, BA “plans” to fix this one next year:

            “Boeing plans to finish KC-46A boom design in 2023”

            “He said that certification for the boom telescope actuator is still planned for 2023 and that retrofitting the actuator on existing KC-46As will start in late 2023 to early 2024, once Boeing receives US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approval on the design change.”


  4. Still in 2022 they are finding unexpected cracks in spars on the newer A380s as well as the older ones.

    That truly is odd as they do the stress test on those to several lifetimes.

    Just when they are being brought out of storage as the demand is up and they are available to be used.

    • Those stress test are for ultimate load test, this would appear to be a fatigue problem in the outer wing spars top and bottom flanges

      • Duke:

        The do wing flex test and hull pressurization cycles that are not ultimate load but routine operations (or as near as they can duplicate with a test setup)

        The wing tests should have revealed the issue.

        I am not dissing Airbus, clearly they have done the tests and all AHJ agreed with them and the procedures involved.

        I am most curious on a technical notes how the tests did not show it up.

        Adds to the lessons learned that can be determined how not to miss in the future.

        The Hawaiian 737 fuselage blow out is one of those that on top of high cycles corrosion factors.

        • “The Hawaiian 737 fuselage blow …”

          IMU this was a case of not looking at adequate intervals.
          With proper MX care deterioration should never have gone so far undetected. corrosion should have been exposed, cracking too long before that catastrophic failure.

          up to now all those “unexpected” A380 fatigue issues have seen a lot of press ( Thanks US media! ) but where all in a domain where exposure at the next planned inspection would have been sufficient.

          Note: usually there is a set of “ultimate load” test specimens and a set of fatigue samples done. fatigue test cycles are supposed to run far ahead of actual in use cycles.

        • The A380 testing cycles simulated a 16 hr flight in 11 mins. It just seems to be fuselage pressurisation cycle along with the wing climb and descend process but speeded up.
          Sure it might do 45,000 cycles in 18 months but the 15 hours of cruise flight outer wing flexing might not be covered by the sims.
          Then again the actual usage will show this without it being a critical safety issue

          • I believe the metric is two or three times the anticipated life of the airframe.

            Agreed it may not be captured the way you would want and it could be an important but no immediate safety of flight (much like the Shim gap on the 787 as long as it was not the shim and the fuselage compounding)

            Find it on newer A380 vs the older ones is??? It could be they had not caught it and looking now see the incipient starts.

            As always, beyond preferable to catch it than having it manifest into a failure.

            That was Boeing failure on the MAX, all they had to do was realistically test MCAS 1.0. They knew better, they just did not want to.

  5. I see the biggest Aerospace story of 2022 as The Number 3 in this article: Boeing fore going any new airplanes till the next decade. I’m not saying it was the most important, but it just seemed like the biggest news. With all the MAX troubles and the success of the Airbus 321, it just seemed as the most surprising, although it shouldn’t be when as some mention in the above replies – Boeing’s financial situation. In a way it makes sense. Boeing will make money selling MAX 7s through 10s. The customers want them. Maybe not as much as the 321, but they make money with them.

    I don’t buy Boeing’s argument about waiting on new technology. That may be an excuse for their money issues. They say a new plane has to be 20% more efficient than a previous generation or model. But I’ve also heard a 5% more efficient plane can give an airline a nice hedge over its competitors…

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