Pontifications: NASA pulls the plug on electric airplanes

Some odds and ends after three weeks on the road.

  • NASA pulls the plug on electric airplane research.
  • NASA and Boeing’s Transonic Truss Brace Wing contract.
  • Engines and the TTBW.

July 18, 2023, © Leeham News: When NASA gives up on a project, it’s time for others to take notice.

By Scott Hamilton

The agency is best known for space travel. But it funds and undertakes research and development for aeronautics, including commercial aviation. NASA, after all, is the acronym for National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Boeing, and Airbus, benefitted from NASA research in the past. NASA currently is working with Boeing on the transonic truss brace wing concept (TTBW) that could redefine how airplanes are designed and look as early as the end of this decade.

So, what has NASA abandoned? Late last month, the agency pulled the plug on the X-57 electric airplane before the first flight. NASA concluded that the electric and battery technology for the X-57, a small airplane, is too dangerous. NASA wouldn’t even authorize test flights.

It’s worth noting that LNA’s Bjorn Fehrm, an aerospace engineer, called bullshit on electric airplanes in his first of a series of articles way back on June 30, 2017. Billions of dollars have funded some 200 companies pursuing electric airplanes. This is money that could have been invested in expanding production of Sustainable Aviation Fuel, the leading alternative of alternative energy projects.

The current, continued frenzy over alternative energy vehicles is like the 1990s dot com frenzy. And just as the dot com boom went bust, the day is coming soon when the alternative energy book will go bust, too.

Speaking of NASA, and Boeing

Historically, when NASA cooperates with a company, the technology is owned by NASA and available to any company that wants it.

But the relationship between Boeing and NASA for the TTBW is different. Way back in May we were told that in this case, Boeing will retain the Intellectual Property rights to the TTBW. The NASA contract, for $425m, was a way to dodge the old government subsidy allegations that became part of the 17-year complaints filed with the World Trade Organization by the European Union against Boeing. Previous NASA relationships were cited among the complaints filed by the EU.

The case was filed in response to the complaint filed by the US government over illegal subsidies for Airbus. The WTO found both sides violated WTO rules. The US came out on top, so to speak. The WTO authorized higher “fines” for the US to impose on Europe was authorized to impose on the US. When Joe Biden became president, the US and EU agreed to suspend the tariffs in favor of deciding what to do about Chinese government subsidies for its commercial aviation industry.

During one of the many pre-Paris Air Show press briefings I attended, confirmation came that the NASA deal with Boeing allows Boeing to retain the IP for the TTBW.

TTBW and engines

The TTBW is a prime target for the new CFM RISE Open Fan engine. CFM targets 2035 as its entry-into-service date. This happens to coincide with the “mid-next decade” target Boeing CEO David Calhoun identified for introducing a new airplane.

However, although GE (one of CFM’s partners) is convinced it’s solved all the technical problems for the RISE engine and that it will be a step-change in reducing fuel burn and emissions, plenty of skeptics remain.

During GE’s pre-Paris Air Show media briefing, and during a CEO roundtable at the show, GE was asked what’s Plan B if for whatever reason the Open Fan concept doesn’t go forward. Officials ducked the question directly, maintaining the solution is the RISE. But LNA is convinced there is a Plan B, that involves the Clean Sky work that CFM partner SAFRAN has done around geared turbofan engines.

LNA also learned that Boeing also has a Plan B (and a Plan C). The TTBW could initially emerge with conventional engines and be retrofitted later with the Open Fan design. Conceivably, this could allow Boeing to advance the introduction of the TTBW a few years earlier than publicly discussed.

At a Boeing-sponsored event before the air show, I asked Chris Raymond, Boeing’s top environmental guru, if putting a conventional engine on the TTBW will be enough to bring about step-change economic and emissions improvements, even if short of the Open Fan goal. Raymond said he thought it was possible.

At the GE pre-Paris briefing, I posed the same question to Arjan Hegeman, GM of the Advanced Technology group. He, too, said it was possible.

In both instances, the questions were posed on the sidelines of the event (I don’t like letting my peers hear me ask questions like these.)

The TTBW will be the replacement for the Boeing 737.

157 Comments on “Pontifications: NASA pulls the plug on electric airplanes

  1. It was always a known secret that the USA uses their agencies and military to pay financial support to Boeing.

    It`s a joke that Boeing sued Airbus and Bomba over that.

    Funny enough the Nasa is helping Boeing with research for a civil airliner.

    • Its an open secret that Lockheed, Grumman, Northrup, Republic, Chance Vought and McDonald as well as Douglas all benefited from US Government contracts.

      So lets walk down memory lane for those who are of a latter generation, F-86, Fury, Phantom, F-105, F-104, F102, F-106, B-47.

      As I recall, European countries also support their defense industries.

      Typhoon, Rafale, A400 etc.

      But yea, Boeing is the elephant in the room, the biggest and baddest etc etc.


      • Boeing traditionally complains about the subsidies that others receive — while remaining conveniently silent about the subsidies that it receives.

    • NASA more o less fed Boeing with a new environmetally friendly design and finally Boeing accepted to do a demo. One could think that a very fuel efficeint and quiet airliner for 200-250 pax built by robots at FAL’s were the big customers are would be the top priority of the board and preliminary design office. (besides getting the engineering and quality system working per spec)

      • BA doesn’t have the funding for any projects of substance.
        The JV with NASA is relatively cheap ($425M), and it provides some nice publicity/hype by which investors might be fooled.

  2. Bjorn showed us many back of an envelope calculations showing electrical flight will have limited operational opportunities, even with substantial technological improvement coming through in the near future. Even ignoring challenges in ATC, noise, safety, pilot training.

    I’ve been amazed in recent years by the investments in electrical taxis/vehicles R&D, the wide support they get and the business cases being build around them.

    Explaining the limited feasibility made you instantly an aging, innovation warry, in worst case: fossil loving person of a previous generation, not understanding the environmental crisis we got ourselves in..

    Look how much is getting invested, it must be ok, is the groupthink dominating at this stage. I console myself thinking all the resources spend will partly be used in other areas, supporting the electrification of our society.

    • See British “green energy” billionaire Dale Vincent’s new electric powered airline Ecojet (actually kerosene powered for the moment).
      “SAF is Bullshit ”
      “everything we like to have in this life can be done in a net zero life”
      I had my doubts about this man, now I can confirm that he is a fraud

    • Group think and emotional vs logically reasoning. The same can be said for the rush to make all cars EVs. More emotional than logical.

      • I would not be so quick to assign the “more emotional than logical” tag to automobile electrification. I’m an enthusiast with having owned both the Tesla S and a Rivian R1T. They simply out perform any BMW, Mercedes, Audi, Ford or GM product I’ve owned. The cost to operate are low and maintenance is near zero. I did not buy them to save the planet. They are simply great cars and built on current, widely available battery technology.

        • Don’t forget to consider:
          – the huge environmental footprint associated with lithium mining and battery manufacture;
          – the EOL problem associated with spent batteries;
          – the impractical range limitations and recharging times associated with BEVs;
          – fire hazards associated with lithium batteries.

          I agree with @williams on this point: one could argue that BEVs are an ill-conceived niche product, and that they cause more problems than they solve…regardless of how nice they are to drive.

          • I feel like I’ve discussed this here before but…

            1) lithium mining does not have a huge environmental impact at all – it’s a very abundant resource and can easily be extracted

            2) EV batteries do not get spent – they outlive the vehicles and still have plenty of life left as home storage etc. – recycling (when it happens – pilot projects are still waiting for those “millions of spent batteries”) is expected to be easy and complete

            3) For current generation EVs range and charge times are *already* sufficient for long journeys of 2-3 hours driving punctuated with half-hour rest/food stops. Charge times are improving at great speed

            4) There are a factor more fires per vehicle mile for internal combustion engined cars than for electric vehicles

          • @Someone: Lithium is extracted by strip mining. Hardly an environmentally friendly process.

          • In terms of the EOL of spent batteries, there is currently greater recycling capacity for these than there are batteries available to recycle. Given the growth in all types of EV propulsion, it will be some time – decades – before recycling becomes uneconomical

          • I know I am repeating myself, but oil extraction is one of the cleanest resource extraction industries out there (and no question it has to be done right).

            Iron mining is an open pit process, we tore down an entire Range in the US to get to its iron. Huge copper pit in Arizona (open).

            And then the energy that goes into the process and mfg of batteries as well as disposal. One outfit uses depleted Tesla batteries as part of a solar powered house system (for backup). It one way for Tesla not to have to process those batteries like they do lead in the US.

          • I’ve been traveling all day, so I just catching up and may respond to some comments with things that have already been said. Lithium mining was really awful, including the settling ponds that went with it. But, as I understand it (always subject to more learning) the bigger Australian companies doing this mining made some major breakthroughs in their techniques about a year ago and it is much less of an environment disaster (at least for them) than it was before.

            There is a bit of humor that goes along with these mining topics. One of the purest forms of sequestered carbon in large quantities that there is, is in the form or coal. That’s one of the reasons why burning it is so efficient at releasing CO2. With coal, it’s less about the fact that it is burned than the quantity of it that is being burned. CO2 is not nearly as effective of a greenhouse gas as methane.

          • @ SomeoneInToulouse

            (1) Lithium is not abundant — it’s actually quite a rare element.

            (2) An EV lithium battery has a nominal usable life of about 10-20 years, depending on factors such as charging behavior, thermal load, etc. It may outlive the car in which it was originally fitted, but it’s not immortal — it dies, just like the lithium battery in your phone or laptop.

            (3) The typical ranges/charging times offered by BEVs make them totally unsuitable for longhaul transport — thus completely excluding sectors such as interstate trucking and bussing. Fast charging ruins battery life — bringing us back to point (2) above.

            (4) When considering BEV fires, the *nature* of the fires is more important than the *numbers* of fires. BEV fires burn hotter, are difficult to extinguish, are more spontaneous in nature, and cause more damage in confined spaces, such as parking garages.

        • I have rented the Model 3 and Y, and are good cars with low CGs, and go kart handling. Though IMO, are devoid of emotion. The infrastructure to handle 16 million new cars a year is not there, at least not in the US.

          And while Cobalt is being engineered out of batteries, as Bryce stated, the process of making batteries are far from clean. Many just see no tailpipe so it must be green. As fun as the acceleration is in Tesla, the regulations and laws being passed to move people into EVs are based on “Green” and Climate Change reasons.

          Enjoy your Tesla.

        • I would not argue with the notion that eventually many applications of the several types of internal combustion engines and jet engines will be replaced by electric solutions, and that some of these will be significantly better on a number of metrics. That said, calling them green with the idea that owning one is doing something meaningful about the atmospheric and oceanic energy problem is a total fantasy. It’s coal and methane, and it’s too late to do anything to head off reverting the planet to something akin to the Neoproterozoic.

          Can you imagine the CCP trying to stop its energy program, which would put the Chinese economy into a horrific depression? That isn’t going to happen because it would cost them their grip on power. So their program of increasing coal production and building new coal plants is going to continue unabated. Also, while feed lots are producing a whole lot of methane, that could be captured. It would be super expensive, but it is doable. The bigger methane problem is arctic tundra and oceanic hydrates, and those are starting to be released already. We don’t have any hard data on what the process will be like, other than a safe assertion that it will be nonlinear. But once it really gets going, there is no technology that can stop it short of albedo engineering in space, and that isn’t going to happen either. So sure, sit in your Tesla and feel good, but you haven’t done anything that is meaningful.

    • So I was around when Mark Moore was still at NASA pushing things like Puffin, a number of us did some quick math and couldn’t figure out how it made any sense. I was a little surprised when he got traction for the idea with Uber. Last year read a book “Driven” by Alex Davies on autonomous car development starting with the DARPA Grand Challenge through to the original stuff at Google and beyond. Author doesn’t saying anything about Urban Air Mobility, but he indirectly connected the dots for me finally. As with so many things in Silicon Valley there is some lucky timing followed by tremendous groupthink.

      Around the time Mark was apparently shopping his idea (2013/2014) the autonomous car guys had generally come to accept that all of the edge cases, like kids chasing a ball, etc, for street driving were going to be hard to solve. So the question was what to do. Some argued for focusing on highway truck transport, others thought flying was a better fit because you could control the landing zone removing a lot of the edge cases that were hard for cars, others wanted to stay the course. At the same time Google was invested in Uber, and Uber had concluded that their business model only really works when you get rid of the driver expense. Apparently, per “Driven”, Uber was caught off guard when Google unveiled their in-house car prototype in May 2014. Lots of concern that Google would go it alone, potentially killing Uber in the process. Into that environment insert Mark Moore selling the urban air mobility vision, and it sorts of makes sense why Uber would want to make that bet as a hedge against Google cutting them out. And then when Uber was in, everyone had to be in, because that’s how the valley works.

      (This is only part of the story because Joby and ZeeAero started independently of Uber Elevate, but all of this stuff is sort of mixing in the same pot in Silicon Valley among a pretty small community of engineers and entrepreneurs. I think Uber Elevate is what really gives it critical mass though)

  3. If the research with NASA is solely the property of Boeing and will not be released to the public, NASA has no right in taking part. They are a public research organisation not a design consultancy. Please someone tell my I’ve misunderstood because if that’s what the IP rights mean it is outrageous.

      • I’m not sure about NASA’s role in the development of FBW, or how that compares to Airbus’s development of their FBW. But, it was kinda inevitable by the time Airbus picked it up and only a matter of time before all new civil airliner designs had it.

        Lockheed had full-on FBW working in the Have Blue F117 prototypes all the way back in the 1970s. If ever there were an aircraft that absolutely needed all the help it could get staying in the sky, that was definitely one. The tech in general was mature before the 1980s.

        NASA would have been putting the FBW system for the Shuttle together around about the same time.

        And before then there were elements of computer-controlled flight on Concorde (auto-thrust, if I recall?), in the Panavia Tornado (various stabilisation systems / terrain following).

        • The first production aircraft featuring FBW was the General Dynamics F-16 (first flight: January 20, 1974). F-117 directly adopted several systems from the F-16 as a way of keeping costs low, including the FBW flight control system.

          • Wrong, the Anglo-French supersonic Concorde airliner was the first aircraft to use FBW flight controls

        • First pure analog FBW was the Lunar Landing Research Vehicle, ’64.
          First pure digital FBW was Gemini, then Apollo spacecraft, ca. ’66-’67.
          First pure digital FBW in atmosphere was a modified F-8 Crusader, ’72.

          All were pure internal NASA research and development, except for Draper Labs at MIT, which built the Apollo digital Guidance Computers (total 38k, of which 2k was ROM.

          • And does it matter?

            The EU is feeding various programs in the so called Green Skies branding, as Scott noted, Safran is working in one area, CFM on the RISE (funny how its so mature for not having a flying example) and the RISE includes a gearbox (for that prop) and a new core. Both of which are applicable to GTF.

            I see no reason US agencies cannot supplement Boeing or LM or NG etc.

            The reality there is one mfg of Large Commercial Aircraft in the US and that is Boeing (well there is Airbus in Alabama but its a European Company no US)

            Its ok for China, Japan, Brazil, EU, Canada but not the US.

            That contention is mind boggling.

      • Dave Pritchard wrote…..(note 737 is still not fly by wire)
        Not Quite Correct. The new spoilers added on the MAX are Fly by wire. The legacy mechanical systems are not.

      • All the German VTOL projects beginning with the VJ101 ( FF 1963) used FBW in the modern sense as a unified flightcontrol system.
        first fully analog, Do-31 has a hybrid solution.

        Concorde has afaik analog FBW. ( british and/or french? )
        The A320 had an established path to go forward from. All the European IP holders were involved 🙂

      • Airbus A320 got FBW from the Mirage 2000 and some more. Regarding UAM operations. It will find some markets were it is competetive. Then as the crew is replaced by systems the number of applications will grow. How many companies will make a profit besides airports, battery system manufacturers and insurace companies is anybodies guess.

        • One of the main drivers for FBW was to implement what was thought to be safer air ops with the Envelope Protection.

          It has not proven to be effective as pilots get around it and there are crashes in very close to the same level as the 737 (the MAX was an anomaly but AF447 was characteristic of the problems when you go into alternative LAW at the time and issues on the MD-11 showed those issues but nothing done about them at the time)

          The electrical complexity goes up massively with the backup systems needed and all the computers (7) as well.

          Unlike a fighter that looses it, pax aircraft have no ejection seats.

          • You got that right about the complexity. I’ve been pounding the table on that topic for over 25 years now. And it is almost (not quite, but almost) impossible to do a thorough FMA to validate design features meant to manage the complexity. And that assumes that the issue is adequately appreciated and some deliberate design features aimed at managing it have been included.

          • RTF:

            I ran into the complexity end repeatedly.

            One example was using a cooling concept that shifted over to a radiator to cool in place of air conditioning (a computer room in the middle of a building need cold air).

            Simple enough that when it got cold enough outside you could replace the capacity of the air conditioning and then back as needed. It worked well though never as high a temperature as the mfg said it would.

            Then they decided to blend the Air Conditioning and the outside cooling and gain more use out of the so called free cooling. Except it was a complicated set of parameters to tune and then the alarms go off as you need a control band (range of temperatures say 8 deg) to get it all to sequence.

            Computer room techs and managers want the computer room cool but not so cold you need a coat. No we don’t want to see 8 deg and have our alarms going on.

            And of course the new blended system could not be changed to only shift to outside cooling, it was blended or Air Conditioning (compressor running)

            I raised that point early on and got beat down and in the end the computer room management insisted we quit having the temperature range up and down, so the free cooling got disabled and it was only the compressor running.

            But even withing that there were two compressors and they had unloaders in them so you had to tune the overlap so you minimized the band of temperatures.

            Yep, most of the time they had two compressor running. But it kept temperatures stable and that was what was required by the people in charge. And the people in charge were also responsible for keeping the computer system running and knew what the equipment would tolerate.

            So a lot of whiz bang fancy equipment and it was turned into a dumb AC system that did what was needed.

            That super energy efficient stuff had to have factory experts to set it up and even then it did not work right. Those experts were regional so good luck getting one or someone paying for the trip.

          • @TransWorld – Stories like yours are all over the place. The most dangerous person is one who knows they know, won’t take input, and is thus almost always wrong, sometimes dangerously so.

            Pride, arrogance, and hubris really are the root of the other six deadly sins.

            I had some extended family from Ohio visit me just before the pandemic, so I took them on the public tour of the Everett factory, which was actually the first time I had been on that tour from the beginning. I had listened in on the schtick of the tour guides several times when I happened to be on the balcony for other reasons. Anyway, the tour starts with an incredibly embarrassing film. There isn’t a shred of humility or respect for learning in it. It’s just one continuous bit of boasting, most of which isn’t true any more. I was cringing as I watched, and complained afterward. But, the problem was totally lost on the folks involved. They thought it was a great film. And that is a huge part of Boeing’s problems these days.

            Well as they say, pride goeth before the fall, and falling it is.

      • On FBW, there are two major risks which are poorly quantified. I’m not sure whether or not a really good failure mode analysis (aka failure mode and effects analysis in some quarters), one of the same quality that one does with a nuclear weapon system, would be able to change that and establish some good probability numbers, but maybe.

        The two risks that I see are unknown “features” in the logic stack that could do bad things, and a Carrington event, or one of even a substantial portion of that magnitude such as the one that hit Quebec in 2012.

        The Carrington Event is the easier one to understand. It’s a solar eruption whose flare just happens to be aimed right at us. The one which gave this kind of an event its name happened in the pre-electric age on September 1st and 2nd, in 1859. One of that magnitude today would literally knock every FBW plane out of the sky due to complete loss of control. We could take a wild guess at the probabilities, but that’s what it would be, since we have no data preceding the 1859 event, and good data only going back to about 1945 or so. It would seem to be something with a probability of less than once in two centuries, but even that is crude at best. However, lesser magnitude events that could knock down a few planes are probably within a once in a century range. But again, we just don’t have enough data to be very precise about that. BTW, these kinds of analyses can be very insightful. A little known fact about the space shuttle program is that the FMA for the system predicted a vehicle loss rate of about one every 50 flights, and that turned out to be deadly accurate.

        As for the the risk associated with the complexity of the logic stack, that is something I could write a book on. The three 737 crashes (the two MAXes plus Turkish Air 1951, a -800) are all three directly attributable to this issue, which in my book has not been adequately investigated and understood.

        The easiest way to understand the complexity problem and why an FMA is next to impossible at a reasonable cost, can be had by doing a kind of headcount exercise. If one starts with the Joe Sutter quip that the smartest engineer he know (he should have said the most knowledgeable), only knew about 45% of the plane, one can then ask how many people would you have to have brought together in one room to be able safely assert that the assembled group completely understood the whole plane? When Sutter made that comment the answer is was probably about ten if you got the right ten people, and yes, it was possible to assemble such a group. We’re talking early 1970s.

        By 1990 assembling such a team had become impossible. The number of people required for a minimal group would have been several hundred and they would have been scattered around the globe quite bit. Today, the answer would be several thousand and it would be impossible to identify the whole team without an expensive well staffed program to do just that – assemble the list of names. In short, with the combination of high level languages using compiled code drawing from large link libraries at runtime generation, and running on top of system software that is just as complex, which is running on top of silicon that is even more complex than the code, complete with automated self healing processes, it is simply impossible to know perfectly how anything with a chip in it works any more.

        The accident investigations all but ignored this true root cause, and stayed up in the stratosphere of proximate causes, which in each case was an expression of the root cause.

        Unlike the Carrington Event situation, there is a way to manage the complexity issue by physically segregating functional components to an adequate degree. Calculating what that degree of separation needs to be, and what the resulting vehicle loss rate probabilities are would require data that is not available, but some reasonable rough order of magnitude approximations could be made. Of course, that would require high level engineering management talent that understands the issue, and who are committed to doing the work regardless of the cost, and that just isn’t happening. So I would be a tad more cautions about becoming too much of an FBW fan just yet. It’s great when it works, but bad days do still happen for flight crews. And when they are having a bad day, you really want the control systems of their plane to be their friend and not their enemy. The list of incidents in which the control systems were part of the problem and not part of the solution continues to grow.

    • @ Alastair

      Good point.
      IP ownership contracts are usually somewhat more complicated that suggested above: for example, there are usually clauses on licensing and sub-licensing rights, enforcement, etc.
      I suspect that BA has to share rights with NASA (free of royalties), and that NASA has limited sub-licensing rights for certain categories of (US government) licensees. BA then probably has exclusive licensing/enforcement rights vis-à-vis other (commercial) parties.
      Just an educated guess.

      • Bryce, I think you are right, but my point was that there has been an evolution in the value systems of corporate leadership when it comes to a lot of topics, including sharing safety critical IP or IP that can improve the industry as a whole. Previous generations of leaders were no saints and had plenty of issues, but they had some outstanding virtues as well. Some of their way of doing things we would do well to bring back.

    • Alastair, having done this long ago with the UDF engine installed on DAC909, I suspect that your being confused by the compartmentalization of the IP. The overall program IP back then was owned by NASA and was licensable. The structures IP developed as a result of the new and novel (at the time, lol) construction methods remained the IP of DAC. This is because the end result data which flowed out of the development contract, the handling, fuel specific consumption, field performance, noise, range and all the vehicle operation and performance data was the deliverable. The construction specifics were not, and all the specific process specs derived by the new construction methods remained DACs. I suspect that was what was meant, and poorly communicated…. I could be wrong, but the last time I went to that rodeo, there was DAC proprietary data and public data coming out of the program. I suspect this is the same, especially since BA should have no claim to the powerplant IP as it is somebody else’s core business, Hope this helps.

    • Reading your links, it would appear that Airbus might “launch” in 2028 with the goal of in service by 20235, which seems to coincide with Boeing’s plans.

      What a coincidence.

      • This should be the timeline for the TTBW demonstrator.
        2023-2025: Design refinement and detailed design
        2026-2027: Fabrication, assembly, and ground testing
        2028-2029: Flight testing
        ( https://www.flyingmag.com/nasa-officials-discuss-high-efficiency-experimental-jet-on-freightwaves-tv/ )

        NASA originally planned of having a demonstrator ready in 2026, but this plan has slipped by a couple of years.

        After the end of flight tests, they have to analyze data, choose which solutions and technologies to adopt, design the new aircraft, etc. .
        By then they could already be a couple of years late, if Airbus actually launches the new plane in 2027-28.

        It sounds like an already-known story.

    • Blended wing??? Sustainable fuel? Combinations? Pursuit of electrics?

      • LOL.

        No, its we can’t get enough efficiency gain so we are going to keep making the MAX, 767, 787 and the 777X!

  4. Scott,

    Ahem, but I was looking forward to a new Pontification. It’s nice that we have got a Po*I*ntification, but will we be getting a Pontification? [Small attempt at humour, regarding an autocorrect error]


  5. [Of course I made my own error]

    “Po*I*ntification” should read “Pontif*i*cation”

  6. ” is like the 1980s dot com frenzy”

    The dot-com frenzy was the 1990s, mostly the late 1990s. I know, because I worked for a dom-com that went bust around 2000. Pets.com was the poster child for the dot-com bust. It lasted from November 1998 to November 2000.

  7. I wish that people would have put all of their efforts (& money) into the Power to liquid processes rather than in the stupid, unsustainable, electric airplanes (unless we are talking about remote drones).

    Even hydrogen as a fuel for airplane is a total heresy (for conventional engine or fuel cells).

    • “Power to liquid”

      is a really brilliant way to waste energy.
      Same goes for Hydrogen as fuel.

      Batteries provide for 95%++ energy recovery.
      SAF, Hydrogen in a Carnot cycle for ~~25%.
      Hydrogen via fuelcell is slightly better.

      • No when you use free energy (Sun, wind, water…) and the C source is air CO2.

        This is the only sustainable solution.

        • CBL, “free energy” justifying electricity to liquid is nonsense. Even at $10/MWH the energy neither the tanks nor the compressors nor the pipelines nor the labor are free. ROI on batteries is already good and improving. Cut that by 2/3 (95% efficient batteries v 35% efficient LH2) and it makes no sense, especially v. more and more efficient fossil fuel turbines. (The emissions issue is a separate one).

      • I think the issue for aviation is always going to be weight. So far, burning something to then use some sort of process to get to a spinning output shaft is about the best we can do in terms of weight efficiency.

        I would never rule out replacing the spinning shaft with some sort of direct electric generation process, but I’m skeptical that stored chemical energy that powers a reaction directly generating electricity is going to get us there. Maybe, but chemical storage is pretty heavy and has some issues with respect to controlling the reaction with enough of a safety margin to avoid fires. One fire in a million flight cycles is one too many. Maybe one in 15 or 20 million cycles would be ok, but even that would be pushing what the public would tolerate.

        I actually think that miniature versions of these new reactor technologies that Bill Gates has been funding are more promising than stored chemicals for direct generation through a controlled reaction.

        Then there is the spooky stuff. The boys and girls at CERN are poking around trying to figure out the unified field thing and what is really going on in the quantum and dark energy and matter spaces. They may yet find something that can lead to a light weight, highly efficient, and suitably safe power generation technology. But all of these things are longer term. In the here and now, burning refined petroleum for aviation applications still seems to be way to go. But, let me stress that is NOT an argument against targeted R&D. It’s just important to keep Kuhn in mind.

        Science has three pillars: models consistent with Occam’r razor, targeted experimentation to see if the predictions implied by a model pan out, and skepticism. That is, even when we think we know something for sure, always allow for new data to require us to adjust our thinking. The thing that Kuhn warned us against is our super strong tendency to not be sufficiently skeptical about things that we think we know. In my experience, engineers are every bit as prone to be too fond of their beliefs as elected politicians.

  8. There’s IP and there’s IP. And just because a patent is issued on something does not mean that licenses to use it will not be let at nominal or no cost. In the early days of aviation, big inventions were often freely shared. The internal truss spar of the DC-1 was used on the Boeing 299 (aka B-17). This applies to other things that are not necessarily patentable, such as an D&R discovery with a high safety impact (e.g. the dangerous angle of attack that stalled the engines on the 727 was quickly shared with Douglas).

    Also, there can be significant side benefits to the arrangements with NASA. A great example is the way the 737 came into existence, which was an R&D project to see if a smaller plane could be cheaply derived from parts and tooling developed for a larger one, to thus be able to serve smaller markets and greatly expand the access to commercial aviation to small or even tiny markets such as small cities out on the Great Plains. Plus, NASA ended up owning the prototype aircraft and used it as a “vomit comet” for many years.

    But, to make all of this work ethically, the corporate leadership of the company receiving such support has to be at least somewhat knowledgeable about the business, and have at least a fig leaf of basic ethics. Alas, these qualities have been missing in Boeing’s leadership since August 1, 1997. They are driven by one thing, and one thing only – greed, as enabled by pride (hubris).

    • Here here.
      I have an uneasy feeling about the actual value of the BTTW IP.
      I feel its very similar to the long line of NMA-related development (and their related IP) that all had one thing in common: they all had basic technical flaws that would have made them economically infeasible, and/or uncertifiable. No one told the top brass they were naked and ~ a billion USD over a decade was spent on that pointless effort. To me, the BTTW is moving along the same line of thinking outlined by the BCA middle management. It is advocating for a fundamentally flawed project, that will take ~ 10 years to complete, gets them to a comfortable retirement, and will likely never lead to a viable product.

      Interestingly, that aligns perfectly with the strategy that Retired TechFelow describes: If the plan is to be prideful, and greedy and milk the company/products until nothing is left, which reasonable person would advocate for contributing actual value and real products?

      • So my specialties deal with systems architectures and complexities, especially in networks and their applications to enabling various sorts of communications (human to human, human to machines, machines to machines), so while I’m obviously more than a little familiar with our products and business models, the value of BTTW is a little bit outside my wheel house. That said, I just don’t believe that this will ever lead to a real product in the commercial transportation equipment space.

        Big innovations have to come with enough of a benefit on the things they do better, such that they more than off-set the costs associated with the changes they force. Sometimes that can work out, as it did for the introduction of jets in the 50s, wide bodies in the 70s, and dramatically higher tire loads as it did with the 777. But other times, the benefits just aren’t big enough to offset the hits (blended wing bodies for commercial transports is a good example).

        Both BTTW and electric planes strike me as being much closer to the balance of pluses versus minuses on the blended wing body than they are to the 777’s gear loading

        Then there is another reality, which is that while everything we dump into the atmosphere that adds greenhouse gases is not helpful, aviation just is not one of the biggest issues in this space. The big hitters are coal and methane. We could be all electric with everything transportation related tomorrow, and if we don’t stop burning coal or figure out a way to contain the major methane generators, they then nothing on the issue of rapidly increasing energy in the atmosphere and oceans is going to change. And the simple fact is we are rapidly increasing both coal usage (mainly in China) and methane emissions (several sources). All of this green transportation stuff is nice, but it’s really just feel-good stuff in the face what really needs to be done.

        • IP is not a patent. I can be, but patents can be copied and only as good as enforcement (only big corporation had the bucks and now you have various actors that you can’t get to)

          IP is a lot of aspects but its the nuts and bolts of how you get something to a desired end state (curing, treatments, what glue is used in CFRP etc)

          So for ideas, they still do patents but for things like Pre Preg CFRP, fasteners, jet engine vanes and the treatments, those are not patented, they are held close.

  9. “..The TTBW will be the replacement for the Boeing 737.”


    • I think that the problem for Boeing with the TTBW being a replacement for the 737 is that, by then, no one left in Boeing will have any experience of successfully developing a new airliner model. The “tales of success” will by then be myths, at least 2 or 3 generations old. So they may end up with some decent wing tech thanks to NASA’s programme, but there’s a real question mark over their ability to turn that into a competitive airliner product.

      Really, they need to get on and launch a 737 replacement ASAP (ignore the enormous backlog, it’s holding them back), aiming simply to *match* the A320 or just beat the 737 (which wouldn’t be hard). They should treat this as a learning programme, just concentrating on how to specify, design, pitch and build aircraft properly again. The various debacles / abject failures / avoidable deaths and still-on-going-issues over the past years is a clear sign the entire company is badly out of practice from the very top downwards. No amount of fancy tech is going to remedy that, it’s a people thing. And if it turns out to be a “there’s not the right people in the USA, anywhere” thing, that needs addressing at government policy level straight away.

      Despite the likelihood that they’d have moved on years ago, I have no doubt that there’s some excellent people in Boeing, somewhere. The company needs to learn again how to let them shine rather than stiffle their endeavours. As things are, when the TTBW arrives on a plate, there’s not a lot to guarantee that the management won’t do another 737 variant…

      I think that it’s interesting that NASA / the US gov are heading down this “just give them some thinly disguised free money” approach, as if this is going to have the desired result. By itself, it isn’t. Sharpening the teeth of the FAA is not enough either; their job is simply to stop unsafe designs flying. That doesn’t necessarily mean a safe design is actually any good, either technically or commercially.

      If the US gov is keen to keep Boeing for strategic reasons, it does actually need Boeing to be able to fulfill those strategic needs. At present, they can’t even be trusted to convert a 767 frankenplane into a mere tanker, without making serious mistakes along the way. Also, one can interpret the company’s announcement of a development holiday until next decade as a pretty big hint that the company has no intention of improving its strategic value to the USA. Apart from anything else, the issues and slowness in Boeing have a bad impact on GE, and that really is a company that the US gov is heavily strategically dependent on for military power plants. All this does rather beg the question, “What’s the point putting any money at all into the company, in this way?”. From a strategic point of view, protecting Lockheed and Northrop would seem to be a better bet.

      It could be that the US gov is actually sticking a little bit to rules on gov subsidies (if you can call half a billion “a little bit”). However, that is probably a mistake. If the USA and Europe are going to agree on not beating each other up in order to meet the challenge from China, then sorting out Boeing *properly* (which doesn’t mean just more free money) or replacing them with a different US company in the airliner market is something that is probably in Europe’s (and Airbus’s) interests. Just saying “here’s a free wing” isn’t in anyone’s interests, because that’s almost certainly delaying a resolution to The Boeing Problem. That delay will make it easier for the Chinese to get a foothold in the market, the opposite outcome to the one desired by the USA and Europe.

      I don’t know what the solution to the problem is; options have to include radical things like nationalisation, or acquisition by Airbus in return for a large US presence for Airbus, or something. Anything. But not just free money, no strings attached, no obligation to prove that they’re worth it in any way whatsoever.

      • Matthew, you have said this exactly right. Now there are several thousand retirees who would gladly come back, clean up the mess and help make it happen. The thing is that we’re getting old and can’t put in 8 hour days any more. That said, I would do it for half of my final salary and a good bump in the retirement plan, but the real issue is where to find the money? The company doesn’t have it. This phony cash flow nonsense has been coming from the continuing decapitalization process, which they have refined into an artform. If these folks are good at anything, it is finding another scrap of meat on a sun bleached skeleton.

        • Matthew:

          A lot to try and unpack but one part is the MAX vs the A320NEO and those are purely equal efficiency wise.

          And while I get that Boeing has been beyond messed up, the reality is there is zero gain in an all new aircraft that copies the A320 (or same approach). 12 Billion for no gain is not going to help Boeing (maybe nothing is but a knee jerk tube and wing for sure)

          So Boeing launches a new aircraft and Airbus puts a new wing on the A320 and Boeing is further behind in debt and gained nothing.

          Is giving Boeing free money and answer? Maybe not but we at least get some movement though the TTBW is not a given to succeed (and then what?)

          And things are changing in the field of aircraft with full digital design working its way in and would the old engineers be able to deal with that?

          Is this the end of the world on the TTBW work? We sure spend a lot more on things like (Artimis?) and duplication of things Space X does better now.

          • I reported on this on this forum once before, but it is worth repeating here. Or maybe I should just use my real name for a change and let folks read it on my web site (craigdupler.com). Look for the stuff on the history of the 787 and the 20xx program.

            There is a HUGE opportunity for a new plane, but it is less about the plane than the processes by which one is produced and the economics.

            How many units do you have to believe you are going to sell over and above what you are likely to sell with current models in order to justify a new airplane program? In the old Boeing (pre-merger) the answer to that was about a thousand, give or take, but we usually believed we could do more than that. In the current Boeing the answer is something approaching infinity, since the current leadership team does not know how to run a program and recover the R&D costs.

            We took a hard look at this question in the mid-90s and asked ourselves what it would take to get that 1,000 number down to less than 100. This led to a concept that Mulally called the “1 in 10” airplane. From program authorization to first flight would be 10 months and cost $1 billion 1996 dollars. The key was to reimagine the structure of the whole industry. We defined a program around that effort which was called the 20xx program. The 787 was simply airplane number one in what was to be a whole new family of planes that would be developed sequentially over about 50 years with the aim or catalyzing that very targeted restructuring of the industry.

            The replacement to the 737 was to have been airplane #2 in the 20xx program. I cannot stress enough that it was NOT about the plane nearly so much as it was about the processes that produce the plane. That would have been worth doing, and still would be. However, Harry Stonecipher and Jim McNerney made it very clear that they had no intention of supporting 20xx and ripped out the key aspects of its funding – the part where we were working with the suppliers. From program launch until well into 2011 the 787 program had exactly two engineers in its supplier management organization. The third one was hired in 2011 and actually lived with my wife and I for several months until she found an apartment of her own.

            These folks deliberately, and with explicit malice aforethought, decapitalized The Boeing Company, and threw enough at the shareholders to provide cover as they grabbed as much as they could and put it in their own pockets. Jail is too good for Harry and Prince Jim. The current leadership is no better and equally disingenuous.

          • @RetiredTechFellow

            Jesus Craig – I am just making my way through your website and while there were many points that I wanted to stop and post something to you…THIS was the watershed moment;


            That last point about the supply chains becoming more independent is perhaps the single most misunderstood part of what happened during the 787 program that followed. A lot of publicity has been given to a paper prepared by John Hart-Smith, and presented at the 2001 gathering of the technical fellowship in St. Louis called the “Technical Excellence Conference.”

            From Gates at the Seattle Times:

            ‘A controversial internal paper warns that excessive outsourcing could lead to the loss of the company’s profits, its core intellectual assets and even its long-term viability.’


            Back to you:

            ‘This was right after the merger with McDonnell Douglas, and the arrival of the GE trained folks led by Harry Stonecipher. These folks came with trumpian egos. If Boeing leadership had issues with the seven deadly sins before the merger, those issues went up by an order of magnitude afterward. ‘


          • @Frank P
            The Hart Smith white paper had some critical flaws in it, and he was NOT briefed into 20xx before he wrote and circulated that paper. As for afterward, I can’t say. Things were pretty compartmentalized.

            Some days I think that economics is more difficult than engineering. A new business model that depends on a start-up structure that is economically absurd under an existing structure, can, and often does, result in a business that destroys the previous model and all businesses which were tied into it. This is often easier to see and understand in business types in which we are not embedded. For example, it is probably pretty easy for everyone here to poke fun at Bob Iger for not understanding that the whole structure he came up with for Disney before he retired the last time, was at least 15 years past its obsolescence. Except for special events, scheduled programming was dead as soon as last mile bandwidth became cheap (i.e. when dense wave division multiplexing started to be deployed in November 1998). That it took him over 20 years and a pandemic to figure that out is not all that surprising. He grew up in a world based on the old model and was one of its brightest stars.

            I’m not going to ask you to totally change your world view. After all, the world that Mulally was trying to lead us to create did not happen , or has not happened yet. But If someday an aerospace company does produce a “1 in 10” airplane, that Hart-Smith paper will read like a guide as to why one particular arrangement of the deck chairs on the Titanic is so obviously inferior to another. It just won’t be about the right issues.

            As an aside, Alan had me and about 100 other folks totally convinced that we could create that world, and I still firmly believe that it could be done. Airplanes can be brought into existence in a way that is completely different from the way they are now (or at least they way they used to be when new airplanes were still being designed).

          • @Craig

            ‘As an aside, Alan had me and about 100 other folks totally convinced that we could create that world, and I still firmly believe that it could be done.’

            Funny you should mention that.

            There is a guy in here, another old airplane guy from BA, who I converse with on a regular basis. We have covered many subjects, including the well being of our pooches. One of the topics we discussed was China and Comac. His position:

            “If China could get 200 airplane guys together. 200 guys who really knew what they were doing, engineers, planners and the like…with their determination and Chinese resources, they could make a world beater of an aircraft”

            (Please excuse me if I have paraphrased you incorrectly, airplane guy who I quoted)

            You say 100. He says 200.

            Can anyone name that tune in 50?

          • @Frank P.

            It would be a whole lot easier for the Chinese than they realize. With the help of the CCP they could command their suppliers to get in line with the program.

            I’m a systems guy, not a structures, or propulsion, or any of another of a long list of specialties. But this does tie quite nicely into the arguments here about electrification. For now, all airplanes look basically the same to the flying public. They have two engines, and are roughly shaped the same. They burn some form of av-gas.

            So the innovations that Alan was talking about, where a whole lot of components and interfaces are highly standardized is not that big of a stretch. He believed that if that could be done, that the suppliers could be set free to innovate at a very fast pace, so long as whatever they did stayed within a well defined envelope. The money would then be in owning the integration process.

            In that world, if some customer wanted a plane that was 30 feet longer or shorter than a current offering of one of the standard chord variants, they could order as few as a dozen, and we could deliver them in about a year’s time, and make a ton of money doing so In his mind, the big debate was whether they should be three or four basic structures and standards packages that went with them.

            There could be some significant variability in this approach. For example the forward sections (41-43) could be offered in regular and humped upper deck variants. Want it for cargo with a nose door? No problem. With composite floor beams, the added strength for cargo variants could be baseline for all models, with a trivial weight penalty.

            In his mind, avionics hardware could become standardized across the entire family of planes. Even the software wouldn’t be all that different from one to another. And, with such a super high degree of standardization, the complexity issue could be handled, and a very thorough FMA (or FMEA if you prefer) could be done and continuously updated. Even in the face of that complexity we could make them safer, not riskier.

            But like I said, that would be a very different world from the one we are in at the moment.

          • RTF:

            I have seen that concept proposed, but the reality is you can’t do a certification process in that time and resources to make it happen fast would be enormous.

            I would refer back to WWII, what history sees (mostly) is the success, but there were a lot of projects that were alternatives or back up that did not work and never saw the light of day.

            Sans WWII huge resources and enough excess you could do that, I don’t see that working.

            And too, how do you freeze a given item in a system in time as the world of tech moves and then you have the issues of, ok, we insert this but we are no longer common but its a required change (say ADS B).

            Or authorities decide Airbus version of Auto Throttle is the right one (program wise) and you have to more to that (NTSB has specified that Boeing needs to change that).

            Boeing clearly went off track but organization have gone off the rails the other way (Ford).

            I do agree with you, tech is easier than business management.

          • @ TransWorld Maybe, but Alan believed that over time we could get the process down and the integration process sufficiently reliable, that the cert process could evolve. Remember, this was a 50 year plan, with the idea that each plane along the way would improve the process and tighten the critical systems and interface standards. He believed that individual components and software could be moved into a continuous development process, with some aspects of certification being done separate from the whole plane. It was a plan to evolve the whole industry.

            Of course such a visionary quest sounds impossible at first blush, but when one considers the talent resources that the company had in 1996 as the vision was being defined, it was reasonable to think that wealth of talent would rise to the challenge. That was the sort of thing that really played into the DNA of the company as it once was. Of course, that talent pool is no longer there. That’s one normal distribution curve that the GE folks have managed to pull quite significantly to the left, very unlike their performance with things like schedules and quality.

        • @RetiredTechFellow,

          >That said, I would do it for half of my final salary and a good bump in the retirement plan, but the real issue is where to find the money? The company doesn’t have it.

          I know they don’t have the cash – and they have less every year.

          I’m thinking that, if there’s several thousand retirees of notable talent not liking what they’re seeing, there’s probably the enough there to form a whole new company. It’d have to have an excellent health care package, to ensure maximal transfer of knowledge to the next generation!

          This is why I find government so frustrating; there are some things that cannot be left to market forces to provide. Boeing has lost, and the USA is losing, knowledge on how to build competitive airliners (and, by extension, militarily significant aircraft). Just look at the KC-46 debacle. Ok, it may be alright now, but next time round it probably won’t be. Governments just stand idly by, watching the market move, blissfully unaware of the things that the government is losing access to as expertise moves on and financiers strip-mine companies for short-term gold.

          It’s not so bad in Europe – it’s fundamentally harder to fire people, so allowing for more continuity. Great, but Europe / UK needs the USA to get its mojo back. Boeing is like a test case, and so far it’s not looking good. (and as a Brit, I’d quite like the UK to get its mojo back too…).

          In a related matter, TSMC has announced that it’s delaying work on its US based semicon fab, citing that the US labour force lacks the expertise to operate it. Well no surprise there. Intel hoovered up all of the US labour force’s expertise by grow so big, and then one of their bosses fired the lot of them in a fit of shareholder value. The result? There’s no one left working in the USA who really, truly knows how to make chips.

          Intel put out a paper some months back complaining about the lack of electronics / microelectronics engineers in the USA, However, when an industry leader is saying “we hire / fire on a whim” (which is what Intel became), and people who are looking for stable employment realise that, at the very worst, they can earn good money writing software and can set up for themselves if needs be with nothing but a laptop and net connection, it’s not surprising that students have gone down the easy software path instead of the difficult and complex world of electronics.

          It all basically goes back to politics, how the economy is allowed to be incentivised, and attention to detail. It’s clearly not well set up as things are.

      • As for subsidies, the EU decisions goes back in the early 2000’s not to go after China commercial aircraft subsidies Why? they don’t want backlash from China on other key EU industries (e.g. auto)
        From 30,000 ft view on commercial aircraft subsidies, all three get them Airbus, Boeing and Comac Just look at the subsidies “incentives” Airbus gets from the US (e.g. states like Alabama for the Airbus FALs)

        • Further back understanding was established on this: both sides support the home team but with different tools.

          The US later reneged on this by way of trying to leverage the tool differentiation.
          Resultant litigation was started by the US to tilt the table to the advantage of Boeing. ( stuck in the grandfathering loop )

  10. SAF is a mirage, because Green Extremists won’t accept it as a carbon neutral fuel, for the reason that SAF emits carbon dioxide and other pollutants while it burns. They will simply ignore where it comes from.

    The only solution if for politicians to confront the Green Extremists.

    But politicians are too afraid.

    We are willfully running into a wall.

  11. What Scott does not know yet is that the actual meaning of SAF is:
    Surreally Absurd Farce

  12. Regarding electric aircraft:

    “FAA Releases Its ‘Innovate28’ Plan for AAM Integration by 2028”

    “After months of anticipation, the agency on Tuesday released its first implementation plan for advanced air mobility (AAM) aircraft such as eVTOL air taxis. Dubbed “Innovate28,” the living document, which will be updated periodically, is designed to enable AAM operations at scale in time for the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, when several air taxi firms are expected to take to the skies.

    “Its publication follows the release of the FAA’s air taxi blueprint and a proposed rule for AAM pilot certification and training.”


  13. “NASA pulls the plug on electric airplane research”

    …do you think we will ever find a practical use for electricity?

    • Lithium extraction from brine is low-hanging fruit — a relatively easy source to (partially) satisfy low-demand scenarios, but nowhere near enough to satisfy the needs of the BEV industry.

    • Plus I should have added that we are talking about a few kilograms of lithium in a car made out of a heck of a lot more material which will also have to be mined or recylced – the same as an equivalent ICE car. Except that the ICE car will also require additional tonnes and tonnes of mined fuel throughout it’s lifespan.

      • Not really. BEVs consume a lot more metal, e.g. VW ID.4’s 77kWh battery weighs 486kg. The vehicle weighs 2,049 kg to 2,224 kg. It is energy-intensive to produce auto grade batteries.

      • “…Except that the ICE car will also require additional tonnes and tonnes of mined fuel throughout it’s lifespan.”

        Same applies to a present-day BEV, if it’s charged from a grid that predominantly relies on fossil fuels for electricity generation (like the vast majority of grids in the world).

        And conventional “mining” of oil/gas isn’t anywhere near as polluting as lithium production; on the other hand, fracking is a filthy process, but it (luckily) only accounts for a small percentage of oil/gas production.

        • https://www.energydashboard.co.uk/live

          UK at the moment I write this is at 39% fossil fuels.

          No matter how much you keep spinning, spurious arguments against the “bad” in using EVs never negates the fact combustion engined cars ARE WORSE.

          • That’s lovely.
            But worldwide, the figure is 60% fossil fuels.
            So BEVs are still “burning” fossil fuels — but at a remote location instead of in the vehicle itself.

        • “Same applies to a present-day BEV, if it’s charged from a grid that predominantly relies on fossil fuels for electricity generation ”

          You can have better control and efficiency in centralized generation.
          IMHO China pushing for BEV while still a lot of Power is generated by coal is a good idea.
          You drive pricing down for BEV.
          And you don’t have to trash citizen investment by forcing them away from their IC transport in a decade.

  14. Pulling the plug on an electric airplane is not the same as pulling the plug on electric airplanes in general. NASA has other electric airplane projects which are continuing.

  15. Battery airplanes are a fool’s errand but “sustainable” aviation fuel is just a scam to maintain the status quo.

    Arable land is the only economic source of feedstock for biofuel at scale (algae is way too expensive for various reasons and there isn’t enough waste to go around). To convert both aviation and shipping to biofuel won’t leave any arable land left.

  16. Using electricity in cars, airplane, trucks , busses is clearly to forget … autonomy require to link those vehicles with copper cables !:=)) trains can do it

    However boats can have small nuclear power plants as submarines

    Close gently fossil electric power plants and ASAP build huge nuclear power plants in large numbers instead … in some decades without ashes (difficult to recycle) fusion will replace fission

    • Fusion power will continue to be 25 years in the future for many times 25 years.

      • Maybe. It sure seems that way most of the time. But, this is a very dangerous mindset to take on. One is reminded of a quip erroneously attributed to Charles Duell, the head of the U.S. Patent Office in 1899. It really seems to have come from a humor column in Punch Magazine, although the year 1899 is right https://patentlyo.com/patent/2011/01/tracing-the-quote-everything-that-can-be-invented-has-been-invented.html

        Then of course there is the famous Thomas Watson Sr. non-quote from 1943 when he supposedly said that “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.” It actually comes from a 1953 Q&A session at an IBM annual meeting, and referred to a single model. https://geekhistory.com/content/urban-legend-i-think-there-world-market-maybe-five-computers

        Never-the-less, the sentiments implied by these two bits of humor are spot on. I’ve had to eat crow more than once when I suggested that some technical direction was a waste of time and energy. But of course, these have been significantly offset by the times I was off and running chasing something quite real that most others were not. Perhaps not fusion just yet, but I would invest in some types of practical nukes before I would put some money into anything relating to qbits.

  17. The energy density of currently plausible battery packs, around 0.2 kWh/kg, versus 13 kWh/kg for jet fuel tells us all we really need to know about the current viability of electric aircraft. They are very short range only.

    At some future time when (really IF) adequately safe battery packs can reach 0.5 to 1.0 kWh/kg short range (as opposed to very short range) commercial use could be viable but only if it is also cost competitive.

    • Maybe delaying the 777-8F and the A350F isn’t going to be such a big deal, after all…

      • Maybe AAB is having second thoughts about his big 777-8F order 😉
        Every time he flies one, he’ll be carrying around 28t of dead OEW relative to the competitor offering…which might not be an issue when the freight business is booming, but will sting when margins are thin.

        • Why would AAB be having second thoughts about his large 777 8F order??
          Your comment lacks little substance.. considering he’s quite happy with his current 777F fleet, ,as are other operators,
          It’s economics and fuel efficiency are proven, the 778F will only enhances those numbers..
          Interesting fact , load both new freighter versions with the 350F max payload … Guess what .
          The 7778F will fly father than it’s competitor..
          Safe to say ,, doubtful AAB is having any regrets !!

          • I already answered your question in my comment above: 28t of dead OEW compared to what the competition is offering.

  18. “The TTBW will be the replacement for the Boeing 737”

    Big call, is this a result of triangulating information from different folk within BA, ie BCA PD Structures / Aero / Production systems / BR&T / etc?

    Currently the TTBW contract will keep R&D engineers employed who would otherwise have been layed off due to no new aircraft program and a R&D budget that has been cut 10% (min) year on year without taking into account inflation.

    • TTBW is more credible than electric planes or even hydrogen powered airplanes.

      • Strange, then, that it hasn’t caught on before now.
        After all, the TBW concept has been around since the Hurel-Dubois plane of 1953…

        • because some too people asked to many strange questions like you do.

  19. This is a typical AD out on aircraft and in this case A320.


    Screws should not come loose on an item like a fuel pump but there it is.

    AF447 with the loss of life horrible, showed a flaw in the training and assumptions because the pilots did not react the way the assumption assumed.

    So replacing all the pitot were not considered required because the pilots could handle their loss (no one seems to have considered icing though training covers what should have been done).

    There were more than enough like incident prior to that crash that none of the AHJ looked at and realized the training was lacking.

    There should be feedback into the safety system and cross look at incidents and actions that can be taken to eliminate (best outcome)

    • “There should be feedback into the safety system and cross look at incidents and actions that can be taken to eliminate (best outcome)”

      Yes, well, Congress tried that by mandating EICAS for new certs — but, in the end, dollars won out over safety 🙈

      • It doesn’t suit his narrative.
        He also continually fails to mention that severe flight crew fatigue was a major factor in AF447:

        “The investigation report concludes that sleep deprivation due to 2 consecutive night flights and rest being taken at daytime during a stopover in Johannesburg have impaired the crew’s ability to recover from the situation before collision with the ground. Fatigue is also likely to have impaired the communications performance among the crew.”


        • Or basic airmanship. Maybe its time to get out of the simulators and get their butts in a Cessna to understand what a stall is and how to recover from it. Especially when you have pax sitting behind you.

          • Agreed Williams. It was the 32 year old First Officer who panicked and held back on his stick the whole time, without letting the others know about it, until it was too late.

            Perhaps in future designs, Airbus should have a display which shows what stick is doing what. I understand they have an aural warning when conflicting inputs are made, but it got ignored.

            Pure pilot error.

          • “.. held back on his stick..”

            Afasir only in the last seconds.

            Read the BEA report. There is so much misinformation (intentionally) released into the wild.

          • @Uwe

            Here it is:


            Page 172

            Following the autopilot disconnection, the PF very quickly applied nose-up sidestick inputs. The PF’s inputs may be classified as abrupt and excessive. The excessive amplitude of these inputs made them unsuitable and incompatible with the recommended
            aeroplane handling practices for high altitude flight. This nose-up input may initially have been a response to the perception of the aeroplane’s movements (in particular the reduction in pitch angle of 2° associated with the variation in load factor) just before the
            AP disconnection in turbulence. This response may have been associated with a desire to regain cruise level: the PF may have detected on his PFD the loss of altitude of about 300 ft and loss of vertical speed of the order of 600 ft/min in descent. The excessive nature of the PF’s inputs can be explained by the startle effect and the emotional shock at the autopilot disconnection, amplified by the lack of practical training for crews in flight at high altitude, together with unusual flight control laws.

            And the important part:

            Although the PF’s initial excessive nose-up reaction may thus be fairly easily understood, the same is not true for the persistence of this input, which generated a significant vertical flight path deviation. The safety investigation has made it possible to exclude, with reasonable certainly, the explanation that the repeated
            nose-up inputs were caused by the PF’s unsuitable flying position (examination of the adjustment of his seat showed that it was adjusted in a way that was adapted to his morphology).


            Whether the PF’s nose-up inputs were deliberate or not, there was no verbal expression
            of this to the PNF. At no time did the PF indicate his intentions or objectives with
            respect to the control and stabilisation of the flight path. Although the PF’s various
            roll inputs indicate his intention to keep the wings horizontal, it is not possible
            to determine what the PF’s target was in the longitudinal axis. Four seconds after the autopilot disconnection, the rapid increase in nose-up attitude resulted in the triggering of the STALL 1 warning. This warning only appeared to provoke a small
            aeroplane handling reaction from the PF. The PNF asked “What is that?” which may refer to the stall warning.

          • @Uwe

            Further down:

            The PNF’s intervention prompted the PF to apply inputs that reduced the pitch
            attitude, which had exceeded 10 degrees. Although the PF agreed that the objective
            should be to lose altitude, his inputs maintained the aeroplane on an ascending flight path.

  20. For those interested: the 5th Circuit Court of Appeal will be hearing arguments on Tuesday (July 25) on whether the “sweatheart DPA” between BA and the DOJ should be “re-evaluated”.
    The issue revolves around the question as to whether the DPA violated 18 USC 3771 (b)(1). The DOJ argued in the past that the plaintiffs were not crime victims, but Judge O’Connor (Texas) nixed that argument a few months ago when he ruled that they *were* crime victims, with subsequent arraignment of BA on federal fraud charges.
    These plaintiffs have dug in their heels, and this is a fundamental point of law: accordingly, if the 5th circuit rules against the plaintiffs, we’ll probably be seeing the case go all the way to the Supreme Court. We’ll probably see the same if the ruling goes against the defendants, since BA execs will be desperate to avoid going to jail.


  21. This story appeared yesterday on Reuters:

    “Airbus A321XLR Range Could Be Impacted By Design Safeguards”

    “The range of the Airbus A321XLR could be reduced up to 200 nautical miles (370 kilometers) following an agreement between Airbus and European regulators on design safeguards needed to achieve certification.”

    However, AB doesn’t currently seem to be put out by the report:
    ““Airbus expects no significant impact on the XLR’s unique range advantage in the single-aisle segment,” an Airbus spokesperson told the news agency.”



    • And is offering A330 neos for any potential customers whose promised XLR range numbers haven’t been met.
      Gee, thanks alot AB !!!
      Thanks but no thanks !!!

      • You forgot the word *romored*…😏

        AB is VERY good at shaving off weight…I doubt that substitute offerings of A330neos will be necessary…

        • I’ll remember that next time.
          Remind me when you can actually spell the word first !!!

      • Following what BA has done to compensate WN: offering 737 MAX 8 when their MAX 7 can’t be delivered.

        • Yeah . good comparison..
          Like offering a widebody in place of a narrow-body is going to solve everything..
          A bit of a difference mate comparing the 2 ..
          One is offering a derivative of an existing airframe ,the other trying to convince carriers they should go with an archaic a330n to replace the XLR..
          Brilliant Airbus.
          Considering many carriers who ordered the XLR are narrow-body only operators, laughable trying to pawn off the 330n to them.!!

          • “Considering many carriers who ordered the XLR are narrow-body only operators, laughable trying to pawn off the 330n to ..”
            them.!!guess what the intention is when injection such rumours.
            Airbus uses nucular option …. :-)))

          • Too bad BA has nothing to offer as a direct competitor of A321XLR. 😄

    • Because there’s an additional weight of ~500kg that leads to a drop of 200nm in range? Does it sound reasonable??

      • Pedro wrote…….
        July 23, 2023
        Too bad BA has nothing to offer as a direct competitor of A321XLR

        Its by design. Just as no Airbus airplanes are direct competitors to Boeing. They are all slightly different so that the specific route package of the customer matters. Sometimes BA lines up better and they make the sale sometimes not. Its naunces like this that many of you miss. Airbus aircraft are better than Boeing airplanes when the customer route package combined with the airframe CAPEX makes it the better choice. Same thing for Boeing, so each individual customers ability to access capital has a tremendous impact on total cost of ownership. These things are tools to make money and in a lot of cases, the differences in airplane performanxe matter less than how they can be bought….. There are a lot of moving parts that you are oversimplifying….. Perhaps some day you will actually understand the entire business……..

        • BA already had an aircraft in this category — the 757.
          However, due to some bad marketing decisions, that model was axed in favor of pushing the 737 (LNA has written about this); accordingly, BA has nothing left in that segment.

          So, actually, Pedro’s comment chimes perfectly with the situation.

          • @Bryce, Pedro & Scott

            I think everyone could be right in this case and I’ll tell you why, from an accounting perspective.

            BA made 1,050 – 757’s over the life of the program, 913 were the -200 models. 239 Max pax and 3,900 NM range. Airbus has sold some 500 XLR’s, which depending on the fuel/pax graph, is it’s replacement.

            Airbus IMO is getting to do the LR/XLR dirt cheap. It probably would have been even cheaper for them, had the Max not crashed as everyone got put under the microscope.

            CAPEX for the XLR was spread out over 5 jets:


            A 757 replacement (assuming no 767 Max) would have to bear the full burden of making it a Max.

            I’m guessing here, but I figure that BA went to the airlines and asked them if they’d like a 757 Max and what it would cost them to buy it. They probably also mentioned a Max 10, which would get them close to what a 757 does, for a lot less money.

            From 757 wiki:

            ‘In October 2003, following Continental Airlines’ decision to switch its remaining 757-300 orders to the 737-800, Boeing announced the end of 757 production’


            ‘ In 2000, spurred by interest from Air 2000 and Continental Airlines, Boeing reexamined the possibility of building a longer-range 757-200X.[76] The proposed derivative would have featured auxiliary fuel tanks, plus wing and landing gear upgrades from the 757-300, resulting in a higher MTOW and a potential range increase to over 5,000 nautical miles (9,260 km; 5,750 mi).’

            In hindsight Bryce, you’re right. BA mis-read the market, no one saw the up-gauging that was going to happen. I wonder if the planners at Airbus back 10-15 years ago ever imagined that the A321Neo would outsell the A320Neo like it is doing?

            Timing is EVERYTHING, isn’t it?

            Scott is correct with aircraft that are different from each other. They don’t go head to head for a reason, with just enough difference so the sales guys can go “Yah, but ours is different and here’s how it can work in your fleet”. I also wonder if the Boeing strategy was to push those 757/767 customers towards the 787?

            “Look, we can make it for you for X dollars, but for a few bucks more, you can get a Dreamliner”

            Not for nothing, but a 767-300ER was listing at around the $220 million mark.

            Pedro, who knows. I’m thinking, like you, that it won’t make a whole heck of a lot of difference. I think Airbus, like Boeing – builds conservative estimates into their range figures, so that when the plane does come out, they can look like stars and say “See! Even better than promised! Aren’t we great?”

            And to that point, the A321XLR is marketed as having 4,700 NM range. Worse case: that will still do the TATL flights that airlines will want to fly them on, for long and thin routes, with 4,500 NM.

            On the 757:

            ‘At over 4,000 nautical miles (7,400 km; 4,600 mi), as of February 2015, the longest commercial route served by a 757 is United Airlines’ Newark to Berlin flight; the aircraft assigned to this route cannot fly with full payload. United’s 757s assigned to transatlantic routes are fitted with 169 seats.[130]’

            But I also agree with Bryce here. IMO the best solution would have been to keep the 757 tooling and roll out NOT JUST a 757 Max, but do it in conjunction with a 767 Max – with cargo versions of both aircraft.

            Now they’re spread a little thin…

          • @ Frank P. I think you are right. There is another factor as well.

            Once Boeing started to get serious about rediscovering lean (they actually invented much of it during WWII on the 299 program), part of the move was to get to fewer models in the near term while preparing for the complete replacement of the product line with the 20xx program. Getting to fewer basic models was seen as critical, and the Renton factory layout at the time basically had the remnants of the 757 program taking up space that was needed for other things.

            Once the new 737 wing/stub/wing/body tooling was invented and in production the west bay (lines 1 and 2) of the 4-20 building needed to be cleared out to make way for the new military derivatives 737 line. So there was a lot of pressure to get the low rate stuff out of there (i.e. the old common wing/stub/wing/body tooling used by all of the single aisle planes back to the 707). Airplane #2 of the 20xx program (aka the New Small Airplane) would have covered the 757 requirements, so this was seen as a low risk move. Then the merger happened, and well the rest is unfortunate history.

            It is difficult to overstate just what a complete and awful mess the line flows were at the Renton site before the commitment to lean began in earnest. Awful is not a strong enough term.

      • @ Pedro
        I currently take the matter with a pinch of salt.
        You saw the quote that I posted above from Airbus?
        Several recent AB types have (ultimately) turned to have lower OEW than originally expected — looks like the company makes a habit of being conservative in its calculations.

  22. …TTBW is more credible than electric planes or even hydrogen powered airplanes.”

    A large increase on complexity for a relatively small increase in efficiency with the TTBW, which I see still as a low cost smoke-and-mirrors ploy.

    *If* there’s ever a Boeing 737 replacement, I think it’ll look much like a refined Airbus A220 [and many Hosannas will be said].

    • There’s no funding for any new projects — in any form.

      Q2 financial results are coming this Wednesday…expect more bloodletting…

  23. I totally agree with this. A good replacement to the 737 would have a tall landing gear, an all composite structure, be waisted, and maybe a T-tail.

    One of the biggest challenges in the tug of war between structures and configuration options is how to accommodate the optional retractable air stairs. The taller gear would tend to nudge those toward an empennage location. Having those stairs on the options list provides a significant competitive advantage. With a composite structure and tall gear they could still be put in the same location as they are on the 737, but it would be butt ugly.

      • Like I said, it’s really no longer as much about the plane as it is the process by which the plane is created. The 737 has been a great plane, especially given the fact that it started out as an IRAD experiment with NASA. But, it does have some major shortcomings, not the least of which is that short gear.

        Part of the issue is cost and pricing. If you can come to market with a plane that is significantly superior to your competitors’ offerings, then you can charge a premium for it. But, it is now quite difficult to come up with something like that. So one needs to expect that very little premium pricing is available for a new model. I actually think a great case has been made on this point by the back and forth about relatively minor product discriminators between the Boeing and AB offerings.

        One classic way to cut costs is to limit customization. You see this in the auto industry. If you can limit variation to standardized packages, then assembly and supply chain management costs go way down. That is, they do until someone comes up with a way to offer a more granularity in customer preferences without increasing costs. The auto industry does this by moving the these variability costs from the factory to the dealers.
        The basic vehicle designs make it as easy as possible for the dealers to install certain types of options. You see this most dramatically in trucks, especially ones with larger GVW ratings.

        Planes are still sold direct from the airframe companies to the customers, albeit there is often a leasing company involved. But the same constraints and cost issues apply. It is important to make it as low cost as possible for a leasing company to place a plane coming off of lease with another operator, including both types (wet and dry leases). This gets hard, because operators often have strong preferences in their avionics suites, engines, and so on.

        I think this is what drove Alan’s thinking in this space. Increasing the standardization for systems and components interfaces attacked both challenges – i.e. making life easier for the leasing customer, and making progress toward the 1 in 10 airplane.

        I’m no fan of John Doerr, as I think he has some very serious ethics issues, but his point about the importance of measuring what matters, and then being disciplined about actually managing based on what those metrics are telling you is spot on. Also, his point that very few companies or departments within companies actually do this is also spot on in my experience. Management incentives often reward things that increase costs and reduce competitiveness. Of course in Boeing, the GE idiots have been doing this quite deliberately as a part of their decapitalization quest, which has been quite successful. It’s destroyed the company, but they have squeezed more capital out of it than we ever realized the company had to give.

        But imagine a Boeing in which half or more of the incentive compensation was based on OKRs tied to improving product quality and schedule performance. Unit costs would go down dramatically, and the inventory of unsold and/or undeliverable planes would disappear. Tankers would be able to refuel planes requiring the flying boom interface in even more difficult mission profiles than what the refurbished KC-135s can do. Spacecraft would launch on time, and the cost to orbit or beyond would go down. Of course, one has to measure and incentivize the right things for those to happen. And all they measure and incentivize now is the budget burn rate, which guarantees, poor performance on unit cost, schedule and quality performance. As for something nuanced and sophisticated in accounting such as activity based costing, that is so far beyond their comprehension that it would be like talking multivariable calculus to some first graders struggling to see the similarity between addition and subtraction. The incompetence of this management team is simply astounding.

  24. Three quarters of the way through the month, July deliveries are currently as follows:

    MAX: 24 (1 from inventory)
    787: 2 (both from inventory)

    A320/321: 35
    A220: 5
    A350: 5
    A330neo: 1

    Looks like the horizontal stabilizer issue with the 787 is taking its toll on line production.
    Also looks like processing of MAX inventory has ground to a virtual halt.


    Of further interest:

    3 ex-Norwegian 787s (LN 136,165,279) have had title transferred to UMB Bank, which lists them as STORED.
    All 3 frames are 8-9 years old, and were put into storage in cool and damp climates in northwest Europe in 2019-2020.
    More scrappings coming?

  25. I see Boeing flew a couple MD-90s in from storage for truss-wing conversion. I wonder if the Rise or what engine may end up on the stern. Should be interesting…

    • Hello SamW,

      Re: “I wonder if the Rise or what engine may end up on the stern.”

      According to excerpt below from the 6-20-23 Aviation Week article at the link after the excerpt, the X-66 TBTW demonstrator will be powered by PW1100G’S. RISE will likely not be ready for flight testing until after the X-66 has flown. All of Boeing’s recently released TBTW artist conceptions (one of which is included in the Aviation Week article) show engines mounted under the wings.

      “LE BOURGET—Pratt & Whitney’s selection to power the NASA X-66 transonic truss-braced wing (TTBW) sustainable flight demonstrator may be the opening the company needs to break back into the future Boeing single-aisle market, says Christopher Calio, Raytheon Technologies’ president and chief operating officer.

      The engine-maker’s PW1100G geared turbofan will power the high-wing X-66 later this decade and is the first engine from the Pratt & Whitney stable selected for any Boeing-built narrowbody since the final 757s were delivered in the early 2000s.”


      • That’s fascinating. I’ve seen depictions of maybe an MD-80 with open rotator engines aft, so I was thinking something similar would be taking place. But GTFs on the wing, great for experimentation going forward. I will need to ascertain if the main landing gear has to be changed.

        • So that’s kind of an old thing. In the late 1980s there was a competition for some new small planes at American. Unducted fan was all the rage at the time as the hot new thing that was “just around the corner.” Boeing was pitching a twin engine re-do of the 727. MD made up some models of the DC-9 (MD-80/90) series planes with little interchangeable engines. Pop of the standard ones and pop on the unducted ones. It was a clever marketing gimick, suggesting that if unducted happened, changing engine types on an existing fleet would not be all that hard. But of course, Anaheim happened and that was the end of that.

          • Craig,

            So an open rotor has blades on the outside of the engine, right? Engines are rated to contain disc blade failures inside them, so they don’t go slicing into the cabin.

            What’s your take on the open rotor; is it going to need a new type of certification, one for blades on the outside? Will it get treated like a turbo prop cert?

            There are blades on the inside as well, right? Will the engine have to contain those in case of a failure, yet get an OK on the outside ones?

            Let’s say a blade inside fails and get’s thrown. It winds up flying into the outside blades and sends those off in all directions – can they even test for that?

            In the current climate of scrutiny, are regulators going to sign off on it?

          • Furthermore:

            AW & ST did an article in 2021 on blade failures:


            Recent Engine Failures Test Regulators And Manufacturers

            ‘The similarities in airframe-related damage in all four failures suggest a common link there as well—Boeing’s inability to quantify the potential damage resulting from a fan blade striking and deforming the fan case, creating a displacement wave. In both Southwest failures and the first United incident, the NTSB said load-path damage from displacement waves helped compromise the inlets and fan cowls, causing parts of them to break away’

            “Part 25 folks look at the potential of a blade release to be a probability of one—it will happen,” says Mike Borfitz, a former manager in the FAA’s Engine and Propeller Directorate. “The question is, what are you going to do about it? How do you prevent pieces from flying off the nacelle in a way that’s not going to become onerous?”

            “There is no practical way we can design fan blades to fail in a predictable way or in a guaranteed safe manner,” Borfitz says. “But the [engine] containment ring is there, Parts 25 and 33 hold hands to assure the structures of the engine and airplane can withstand damage and serious vibrations. The recent history of blade-out events has not demonstrated there is an imminent, catastrophic threat. But I’m in no position to say it will never happen.”

            No engine ring on a UDF.

          • @ Frank P I’ll answer, but let me qualify my perspective first. My career at Boeing was all about working on the old saw: “If Boeing only knew what Boeing knew.” Anyone who has been around the company much has heard that quip many times. I trained as an accountant and was a CPA auditor before joining the company and changing careers – sorta. I was an early computer hobbyist, and always took “EDP” portions of audits if I could. I was also a big fan of aviation since my dad was a flight instructor in NAVAIR, and an avid student of history.

            So, when I took on the challenge of helping the company better communicate with itself, the first task was to become a permanent student of the company, including its customers and suppliers. I’ve spent over 40 years studying the place as well as my 31 years trying to help it from the inside. So while I know enough to be dangerous about almost every aspect of the company, my expertise is limited to complex systems, communications, and similar stuff. I will say, that I was able to gain an unusual perspective by spending a lot of time around the brass, who typically never paid attention to my presence -sorta like the White House butler.

            Noise is a HUGE problem with aviation, and getting more so all the time. For a variety of complex social and economic reasons, human population tends to congregate in ever more densely packed cities – cities that need to be served by aviation, but which are ever more sensitive to noise. When Orange County moved to restrict actual take-off and landing procedures by pilots at Anaheim in 1989, that was really just the leading edge of a movement that was going to go global. The only real question is how fast is this change going to spread and to what degree, not whether. It’s real and it is permanent.

            This puts some serious limitations on any design or flight characteristics that generate a lot of wave energy that is even close to audible ranges. That’s a problem for any fan blade that is spinning at high speed. The tips tend to get up to sonic speeds and more. As an aside, my dad blamed his hearing loss on that impact from the couple hundred hours he logged in PBY Catalinas.

            Any time you limit the number of airports that a particular plane type can use, the market for that type goes down. Pushing the other way, the airframe manufacturers are highly motivated to get maximum unit sales that are expected to result from any given FSED (full scale engineering development) program. So bringing a program proposal to a board for funding approval typically requires a whole bunch of glowing assessments from target customers practically begging the board to fund the program. If anything, in Boeing this part of the requirement for a board presentation has only gotten tougher over the past couple decades due to the proven inability of the company to manage an FSED program in any part of the company (commercial, defense, or space). The board, for very good reasons, doesn’t believe projected schedule and cost numbers that are put in front of them.

            The situation over at AB is a little different, but not much. That company is still riddled with a lot of big engineering leadership issues. They have a culture that tends to want to do big things for ego as much as being responsive to market realities. That has actually served them well on some of their programs (e.g. the A320 family and the sequence of planes from A300 – A340), but it did them a lot of harm on the A380 and A400, and their board is painfully aware of that. So while their program proposals have some serious internal credibility issues too, they are not nearly as bad as those inside Boeing.

            So, can a noisy new plane proposal (unducted fan planes are noisy pretty much by definition), ever get board approval in either company. In Boeing I would say not a chance, and perhaps not even after the eventual government takeover an bailout happens (coming to grips with reality has to happen eventually – there is only so much off-the-books capital left to destroy). At AB, maybe. At COMAC I also think there is no chance, since their noise sensitivity issues are even greater than they are in the west.

            Now all of that said, I do think that R&D should continue. Twenty years ago nobody thought that regular engines could be made as quiet as they have been. So maybe someone can come up with a clever way of shaping the blade tips that will get rid of most of the sonic and near sonic wave generation. Ruling that out would be foolish. But, I would probably put a lower level of effort on that stuff than what is currently being spent if I were on the board of an airframe or engine company. But like I said, this is well outside my wheelhouse. Someone who is extremely knowledgeable about wave generation and abatement on these structures would be the person to get to weigh in on it. Even then, I would want to know a lot about their personality and how much they are ego driven. I definitely prefer the cautious engineer or scientist to the bold one.

  26. I am very happy Nasa and Boeing are seemingly going to move away from insane ‘green’ electric dreams. AGW is being pushed so heavily it is unsurprising many accept the dogma as with so many silly things like masking during covid. Electric aviation is just silly, as is SAF and hydrogen but only a little less so.

    I hope now we can focus on real commercial programs to increase efficiency and lower costs, as the TBW and open rotor stuff looks likely to do.

  27. “Boeing investors to scrutinise cost of new Spirit AeroSystems labour deal”

    “Analysts said they will seek answers about whether the agreement, which boosts wages by at least 23.5 per cent over four years, could also result in raised prices for Boeing.

    ““What (the strike at) Spirit actually told us is what’s happened to the cost of skilled touch labour — which is that it has just gone through the roof,” said Nick Cunningham, an aerospace analyst at Agency Partners.”


    • Looks like PW may have embarked on a similar downward spiral to BA…

      Dollars before quality.

  28. One thing the Max has going for it…
    No Pratt engines !!!
    Evidently, even CFM is having some issues on the 321 neo as well..
    No where near to the extent of this latest Pratt debacle..!!!!
    The max 1B basically the only trouble free narrow-body powerplant currently available without any major issues !!
    And yeah , I’m aware of that AD that was issued on the Max engine a few months back, effecting a whopping 8 engines !!

    • Greetings Frank.
      Canada made the correct choice. Expand the fleet you have since you know it meets your needs. Even Pablo could have gotten this one right…… Enjoy the day and I hope it cools off up there

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