Pontifications: It’s been five years since Boeing’s last normal year. Five more to go.

Feb. 6, 2024, © Leeham News: Think about it.

The last normal year for The Boeing Co. was 2018—five long years ago.

By Scott Hamilton

At best, we think the next normal year may be 2028. Another five long years. And that’s if nothing else goes wrong within Boeing’s control. This is a big IF, given Boeing’s penchant for self-inflicted wounds in recent years.

It used to be that Boeing was considered the gold standard of aerospace engineering and production. This badge of honor went away with the 787, beginning in 2003—21 long years ago. The 787 was an engineering marvel. But it was an execution and production snafu of historic proportions.

The benign neglect by the executive C Suite at the group level and the Board of Directors of Boeing Commercial Airplanes is a corporate scandal of epic proportions. It so mimics what happened to the Douglas Aircraft Co. (DAC) by the benign neglect of its parent, the McDonnell Douglas Corp. (MDC) that it’s scary.

2018 was the last normal year The Boeing Co. has had. The 737 MAX was grounded in March 2019 and Boeing hasn’t recovered yet. Source: The Boeing Co.

The McDonnell Co. acquired DAC in 1967 in an arranged marriage by the government as DAC was on the brink of bankruptcy. In 1967, Boeing and DAC were the US duopoly that Boeing today shares with Airbus. The latter was formed in 1970 and delivered its first airplane in 1974.

By the time Boeing and MDC merged in 1997, DAC’s global share was down to 7%. Airbus and Boeing gained share as MDC starved DAC for development of new airliners.

Today, Boeing’s backlog share in the single-aisle sector is between 35% and 38%, depending on the measuring point and whether China’s COMAC, Russia’s United Aircraft Corp., and Embraer’s E195-E2 are included in the numbers. Some believe Boeing is headed for a 30% share. Some believe Boeing has designed its last all-new airliner.

Dour outlook

That’s a very dour outlook. LNA isn’t quite there yet, but the parallels are frightening for an airline industry that wants robust competition and choices. It’s a dour outline for the US aerospace industry and US economic dominance in a global market. Boeing, in its heyday, was the USA’s largest exporter.

Boeing Commercial Airplane revenues are still down in 2023 41% compared with 2018. Less focus is on the Defense unit, which also has lower revenues (down 6%) last year vs. 2018 despite US support for the war in Ukraine. Source: Boeing.

We think Boeing eventually will design a new airplane. Before the latest setback with the 737 MAX program, we believed corporate CEO David Calhoun would announce a new airplane program before his retirement in April 2028. (This assumes he’s not ousted or leaves voluntarily before then, given the current crisis.)

We believe that Boeing must clear its inventories of stored MAXes and 787s (this year is the goal; next year seems more likely). Certification of the MAX 7 and 10 and restoring production of the 737 and 787 to pre-MAX grounding levels are also musts. Then the way would be clear to go full speed ahead toward developing a new airplane. The Commercial and Defense businesses remain in a loss position. Profits should return to Boeing Commercial Airplanes (BCA) with the reduction in inventory and return to 2018/2019 production levels for the MAX and 787. Defense will take longer to fix. And more than $40 billion in net debt needs to be paid down, something that will happen with profits.

MAX 9 crisis

The Boeing Co. division revenues 2018-2023. Source: The Boeing Co.

Boeing flew into another MAX crisis when, on Jan. 5, Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 from Portland (OR) suffered a separation of a door plug on a 737 MAX 9. The aircraft was minutes from take-off and climbing through 14,000 feet on its way to cruising altitude. Fortunately, nobody was sitting in seats 26 A or B who could have been sucked out. The aircraft landed safely.

A tragedy was avoided by luck and piloting skill. But the accident quickly spun out of control for Boeing. Alaska, followed by United Airlines—the two largest operators of the MAX 9 in the world—grounded their MAX 9 fleets within hours. The FAA made it official the next day. After that, the FAA dropped a hammer on Boeing, capping production rates at current levels for an indefinite period.

It took three weeks for the FAA to approve Boeing’s inspect-and-fix procedures and to begin returning the airplanes to service.

It will take longer for Boeing to recover from the impact and to win back the trust of its customers. Certification of the MAX 7 will be delayed about a year, Boeing said last week on its earnings call. Certification of the MAX 10 will also be delayed. Boeing didn’t predict a timeline, but at least a year—to 2026–is likely.

The MAX 7’s first flight was in 2018. Entry into service (EIS) was supposed to be in January 2019. Now, it looks like it will be six years late.

The MAX 10’s first flight was delayed by the grounding following the 2018 and 2019 MAX 8 crashes with Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines. The MAX 10’s first flight was in 2020. EIS slipped to an expected 2023 and again to 2025. Now, the EIS probably won’t be before 2026.

An unscientific survey on Twitter by Jon Ostrower of The Air Current showed more than 40% of the respondents would be hesitant to fly the “MAX.” The MAX 9 wasn’t specifically identified, and passengers likely wouldn’t know the difference between the MAX 8 and the MAX 9.

Production Rates

The 737 was being produced at a rate of 52/mo before the global MAX fleet was grounded in March 2019. Boeing was preparing to increase to rate 57 by the end of the year.

Today, the advertised production rate is 38/mo. In November 2022, Boeing announced its goal to hit rate 50 by the end of 2025, which is still below the pre-grounding level.

Given the uncertainties over how long the FAA will keep its thumb on Boeing, a comment by aerospace analyst Robert Stallard probably sums it up best. In a note following the earnings call last week, Stallard wrote:

“Continued turbulence: While Boeing’s share price has probably rallied today on relief that it has not pulled its 2025-26 guidance, the chances of hitting that those targets looks increasingly slim. We think that it would take an heroic turnaround in Boeing’s fortunes and performance to get to $10bn of FCF [Free Cash Flow] next year, especially as its fate is now in the hands of the FAA, and to some extent US politicians. The stock price is likely to remain vulnerable to negative MAX news flow, and so we would be wary of further volatility.

78 Comments on “Pontifications: It’s been five years since Boeing’s last normal year. Five more to go.

  1. History repeats itself. Again and again.

    There’s a good chance that in 30-40 years, a new duopoly will dominate the International markets. One between Airbus and Comac, with Boeing fading into a neglectable market share.

    Unless Boeings next aircraft is an absolute winner, it will further drag the company down. Lacking sales means low production rates, which means high costs and small profits (or worse).

    Comac is still in early stages, and will certainly need time to be a competitive contender. But the Chinese are hungry and eager learners. With each iteration they will make progress and catch up bit by bit.

    And for Airbus, being the industry leader, it will be the challenge to stay sharp, maintaining a leading edge and not become complacent and arrogant. Given the (European) tendency to focus on green aviation might become a risk factor if Airbus is unable to get an equally efficient alternative to today’s models.

    There are certainly entertaining decades ahead of us.

    • And Comac has endless money supply and they do not need to make a profit The commercial aircraft industry is part of China 5 year plan and one of the top national priorities

      • They have other priorities as well, like the housing sector. Many Chinese like to own property and rent out for a secure money flow over decades. Now they have overbuilt with borrowed money and with a population that will decrease (not enough girls born) the problem will increase with time unless they promote immigration. Still now they have one model of the C919 certified they understand they need to continue with the stretch and reduce mass/cost besides solving any operational problem popping up. But money can be tight right now.

        • “Now they have overbuilt with borrowed money ..”

          Nice problem to have!

          Germany with a contracting population of “BioDeutsche” has a massive lack of affordable living space for families. about 1million units.

    • I agree with this comment. Boeing’s dismantling may have been preordained some time back, by higher-ups (if you will).

    • I doubt Boeing will ever design another clean sheet plane, and if they do the development program will likely be another financial disaster like the 787.
      The first in the line of the Welch clones who rose to the CEO suite was Stonecipher, who was famously quoted as saying “you can make a lot of money going out of business “.
      If the next CEO launches a program it will be ruled by the same Welch beancounter mentality as the 787. They will outsource much of the engineering to save money, which will be a disaster a cost more in the end. Penny wise and pound foolish!

  2. Well done article.

    Side note:

    Reading through it, I discovered that in 2019, Boeing restated it’s revenues:



    The following table summarizes Revenues:
    (Dollars in millions)
    Years ended December 31, 2018
    Commercial Airplanes $60,715
    Defense, Space & Security 23,195
    Global Services 17,018
    Boeing Capital 274
    Unallocated items, eliminations and other (75)
    Total $101,127


    Then in 2019, 2018 looked like this:

    The following table summarizes Revenues:
    (Dollars in millions)
    Years ended December 31, 2019 2018
    Commercial Airplanes $32,255 $57,499
    Defense, Space & Security 26,227 26,392
    Global Services 18,468 17,056
    Boeing Capital 244 274
    Unallocated items, eliminations and other (635) (94)
    Total $76,559 $101,127


    They moved over $3 billion out of BCA and into Defense. Anyone know why? It didn’t say so with a cursory search.

    • If I recall correctly, Boeing used to classify the 737NG airframe that became Poseidons and the 767-200 airframes that became KC-46’s as “commercial airplane” sales to the “defense” segment but then I guess in 2019 decided to reclassify those ass purely Defense.

      • Makes sense – I pulled the delivery report for 2018 and it shows 10 tankers and 18 Poseidons being delivered. What did it cost BCA?

        In 2018:

        Commercial Airplanes $7,879
        Defense, Space & Security 1,594
        Global Services 2,522
        Boeing Capital 79
        Segment Operating Profit 12,074

        In 2019, after the change:

        Commercial Airplanes $7,830
        Defense, Space & Security 1,657
        Global Services 2,536
        Boeing Capital 79
        Segment operating (loss)/profit 12,102


        The Revenue Shift:

        In 2018

        Commercial Airplanes $60,715
        Defense, Space & Security 23,195
        Global Services 17,018
        Boeing Capital 274
        Unallocated items, eliminations and other (75)
        Total $101,127

        Commercial Airplanes $57,499
        Defense, Space & Security 26,392
        Global Services 17,056
        Boeing Capital 274
        Unallocated items, eliminations and other (94)
        Total $101,127


        So BCA lost some $3.2 billion in revenue, with about $50 million in profit – with both BDS & BGS picking up some revenue & profit.

        Sure they’re not too happy about that…

  3. There is another alternative and it deals with the way corporations are chartered in the United states. We could go on about this for many pages, but the key points are:
    1. The idea of the corporation was invented by the Dutch in 1602 as a way of getting more ships into the water to compete with the larger European countries during the Age of Exporation.
    2. The British sorta copied the Dutch idea, blending it with their then old concept of an appointment by the crown to be a supplier to the crown and its ministries. Charters were granted by the king and could be revoked just as easily.
    3. During the American Constitutional Convention, the whole subject of business law was avoided as a needless complication to an already horrendously complicated set of compromises they were working through. Thus by default the chartering of corporations was left to the states.
    4. This started a race to the bottom as the states competed for the chartering business. Delaware won by essentially having no rules other than paying your fee each year to renew your charter. Eventually, Nevada would match Delaware’s approach.
    5. To give an idea of how lax things are in Delaware, the ICC and Interpol are livid with them because they are essentially in the business of facilitating international crime syndicates, making it all but impossible to follow money trails from criminal activities. Another example of the “Delaware problem” is how they rolled over when Henry Ford’s grandchildren wanted to cash in on their inheritances (stock in the company) and retain control of the company. So Delaware allowed them to recapitalize with the minority class B shares held by the family having the majority of the voting rights, making a total sham out of the notion of common stock.

    OK, so why does this matter in the Boeing situation. Suppose that Congress were to agree that some companies are critical national assets. All they have to do is setup a new branch of the SEC that is chartered to charter corporations and oversee their governance. Then, Congress votes on a bill that designates this or that corporation to be so classified, having the effect of yanking the charter away from whatever state has been handling it (Delaware in most cases) and turning it over to this new corporate governance oversight body, which also has the power to appoint the board members.

    The Boeing mess thus becomes an opportunity to solve a number of problems. There would still be the capitalization challenge, since a whole new family of airplanes would need to be funded, and the things that the defense and space arms of Boeing that have either disappeared (long list) or been reduced to shambles would also need to be rebuilt. This would be critical since it was the defense and space engineering teams that backstopped the commercial engineers when they faced significant challenges. Lending engineers this was was called “”B sheeting” after the paperwork involved. Aside from the horrific management that has been on full display in commercial recently, the decline in the engineering depth has also been a huge contributor to Boeing’s problems.

    This could be done. All that is necessary is for there to be an agreement that the company is a critical national asset. Then rehost its charter in a way that reflects that. The State of Delaware does not own The Boeing Company, and for that matter, with a huge negative section on its balance sheet called the Equities, the shareholders don’t either. One thing for certain, the AG of the State of Delaware is not going to step in and force the needed changes.

    This is a simple situation that the English kings would have solved in five minutes.

    • WTO

      Or, alternatively, have the relevant US President who happens to be in power if Boeing’s crisis becomes immediately existential be prepared to hold heir breath, close their eyes and let McDBoeing go bankrupt and then its assets get bought out by 1 or more suitable suitors (do the pre-diligence on these starting yesterday of course so things can happen quickly when they need to). Happened with many corporates in the USA. Well understood.

      The new owners get the viable, productive assets (ie can choose to ignore the non viable) without the financial mess of McDBoeing’s own maing or and possible icebergs. Some disruption but essentially the good engineers, good management, good programs etc. get to survive as they should. The ____ doesn’t, as they shouldn’t, and importanty the ____ don’t benefit from taxpayer largesse either.

      Maybe this time it can be Embraer buying into Boeing instead of the other way around.

      • ‘let McDBoeing go bankrupt and then its assets get bought out by 1 or more suitable suitors’

        Two things here;

        1) Boeing could probably limp along for a few years, keeping the lights on and bills paid through cash from deposits supplementing what they take in from revenues. Just make sure that the interest expense on debt is also paid.

        2) In Ch 11, the debtors own the assets of the company and the shareholders are wiped out….usually.

        Who knows how this works out…

        • Wasn’t B management strategy to reduce effective value to zero
          to shine for some funny bookkeeping metric?

          I.e. all assets are balanced by liabilities?

          And who will hand money ( advance payments ) to a company that has some significant probability of going bankcrupt?

      • Small correction on the terminology here – you mean let McBoeing go insolvent, not bankrupt. The company went bankrupt in 2012 per GAAP.

        Bankrupt means the equity section of the balance sheet is a negative number. Insolvent means that they have insufficient cash on hand to meet near term obligations. Non-accountants often confuse these two terms.

        They have been raising huge amounts of cash by steadily liquidating the company, which began immediately after the merger in 1997. The most visible symbol of that was the sale of the south and southwest portions of the Kent Space Center campus, which is now an Amazon fulfillment center. The Amazon warehouse sits directly on top of the old ICBM security system test range. The visible part was the emptying of the headquarters building, which was only about five years old. It was jokingly known as The Pink Palace due to its slight rose colored glass and marble and the fact that its construction began when Dan Pinick was president of Boeing Defense and Space. Harry did this:
        1. He added the McSwoosh to the logo on top of the building.
        2. He emptied it moving everyone to either other locations (mostly St. Louis) or off the payroll.
        3. He put a chainlink fence around it.
        The new owners then tore it down.

        Harry used that GFD swoosh logo as his brand and symbol of conquest, which is exactly what it represents to anyone who worked for the old Boeing Company.

        I guess the thing that irritates me the most about this whole mess is that the public didn’t begin to notice what was going on until the commercial airplane side of the company began to demonstrate its total incompetency by producing products that kill people. But the defense side began demonstrating that level of incompetency only a couple years after the merger. The most visible symbol of that was the rejection of Boeing as a qualified bidder on a simple upgrade to the command and control system of the ICBM network. Boeing had designed and built that system, and done all of the upgrades to it over the years. But immediately after the merger it was no longer qualified to touch it. Aboulafia’s alarm sounding articles in Aviation Week should have started 20 years ago.

  4. Embraer missed their once only opportunity to enter the B737/A320 space three years ago proving the merging of theirs and Boeing’s management were indeed a match made in heaven.

    The last start-up project I worked on was five years ago and the Max7 turned out to be the prime candidate; great performance, great price, easy to finance, fast delivery an easy choice for a start-up. I chose the Sukhoi. The rest as they say, is history.

    In the last three years UAC and the Russian industry have comprehensibly re-designed and re-equipped the Superjet from the tyres to the tail and turned what was already a futuristic type compared to the relic from BAC into the (Yak) SJ-100 with entirely new engines & avionics and it will be with customers this year. The Max7? Still waiting. (door bolts an optional extra)


    As for the B777 – it’s a dead programme because: war in the Pacific. Boeing therefore, is finished.

    • “…merging of theirs and Boeing’s management were indeed a match made in heaven. ”

      Especially in heaven you need slaves 🙂
      Embraer was stopped to submit to that “job” offer.

      US entities buying into foreign activities rarely was beneficial to the recipient of attention.

    • I sincerely doubt Russia will be shipping anything to anyone any time soon.

      all the dual use components that they rely on western suppliers for for that jet are on the sanctions list.

      • “Sanctions”

        that worked so very well. stopping all sanctioned cold in their track.

        And … does it bother anyone beyond NATO/US?

        COMAC : thing AIRBUS.
        that socialist jobs programme that could never produce anything viable to even complete with the US uber manufactuerers.

        some up front money brings you a bit of staying power … to leverage your own ingenuity.

      • The Yak SJ-100 is now entirely Russian. Russian airlines can take all they make for now then there is the whole would outside the collective West.

        • Wow. You can fly 103 people in a 1 class layout a whole 3,700km, according to the Yak website. It’s almost like an old E-190, but without the range. Probably not the same reliability numbers, either.

          But it’s probably cheap!

          • OEW is 50% of MTOW. not bad.
            max fuel is 25% of MTOW
            same as payload.
            The layout is closer to the A320 predecessor the Mercure.
            designed as a shortish ranger.
            Wing is out of autoclave CFRP and said to be rather good.

            I’d be careful about sneering over the type.
            spares and apparent reliability may be an issue.
            Airbus had similar problems in the beginning. Significant there was “enemy action” vulgo a bit of sabotage.

          • @Uwe

            The Mercure, huh? 1970’s design being rolled out in the 2020’s. Sounds about right.

            Not sneering, I just like to remain a little skeptical when I hear what sounds like corporate PR talk. Some might even call it….propaganda.

          • The previous iteration of the Superjet had the same legs as the Max7 which itself has remarkable range. It has ETOPS, short runway/steep approach, burned less fuel had lower op-costs, was higher quality, a nicer cabin with less noise, was cheaper to finance with good RVG. Dispatch rate even under sanctions is excellent.

            The Max7? It was cheap. Also if you based your future on the type, company destroying in the same way PW engines destroyed Indigo. I also found that generation of Boeing sales arrogant, sneering and condescending with little to be arrogant about other than the shoulders of the giants they stood upon. To all intents & purposes, five years later the Max7 remains grounded with little clarity on it ever flying.

            Further, what I saw of the MC-21, a follow on for that particular business was a breath of fresh air.

          • You are too focused on negativity.

            The basic difference between 737 and Mercure
            was the distribution of fuel and payload fractions.
            ( as a design details sample the Mercure was 2 decades ahead of the 737. DNA donor to the A320 actually.)

        • Unfortunately, the prototype flew last year still relied on snecma engines, first flight of “entirely Russian” SJ-100 may come in this year or next. And how many MC-21, first flew in 2017, are operating now?

      • But my point is, with rates the lowest ever (post the failed merger) they could have borrowed to introduce a new frame to challenge the B737. They had the capability, rumor has it they had a design. They would have been in pole position by now but they wanted to be part of Boeing and look at them now.They share a mentality.

        • Boeing had a design ready for a B737 replacment when they announced the Max instead. Airbus was selling the lights out of the neo and Boeing got nervous. So instead of doing the right thing and launching a new aircraft, Boeing thought they could produce the Max on the cheap. It was a reach too far.

          Long story short…do not underestimate Boeing’s ability to double down on a bad bet. Boeing is plowing all this effort into an airframe that needs to run production in 2035 to ever pay back. Does that sound like a good idea?

          • “Boeing had a design ready for a B737 replacement when they announced the Max instead. ”

            Did they? really?
            IMU it was a PR scheme ( with some interested parties in tow ) to preempt Airbus. nothing more.
            definitely less substantial than for example the SonicCruiser floater.

        • Bombardier had a design. ( earlier and pretty nice at that. )

          See where Bombardier is today in the airplane business.

          Brasil does not have the “Ohhmpf” to counter nefarious countering activities
          that the EU has ( and it is a close shave there.)

          Boeing’s and in collusion the FAA’s misdeeds have resulted in a pressure drop in that domain.

        • You mean the reckless news media managed to convince the world’s gullible that one of Embraer’s designs was deadly by publishing plausible nonsense about it, when in fact there wasn’t anything wrong with it, too?!

  5. I believe what we are seeing is a fundamental risk to Airbus, hear me out. the manner of so much of recent competition between the two incumbents is to shadow box. When building products they have effectively ceded some part of the market to the other party. Looking at clear winners we see, A359, B789, A321, B Max 8, A220, So for all the jostling and competition the hegemony of either party has not been too compromised.

    In single aisle I have never understood why Airbus didn’t do some sort of A320.5 as the base product in the A320 loses a few seats to its competitor the MAX 8 and makes it the ‘go to’ in that sector. I understood it as a tacit acceptance that if they did do that then Boeing would have to react with a significant investment to maintain share.

    The current market is upended by the massive potential of the A321 in whatever form to re-write the market for both single aisle and small twin aisle. It addresses the middle market more adequately than anything ever has and the economics are driving a fundamental switch in many airline strategies. As the market share for Boeing falls into the toilet they will have to do something quite drastic in this sector and hence the MOM/NMA/Etc will be born and in addressing the A321 advantage it will force Airbus into an A322 at least and probably a new cycle of development wars.

    Do Airbus want a development war? Would it be a better play to take advantage of the strength of their product range by price gouging and leave something on the table for Boeing to limp along? Development is risky and the whole aviation sector is in one of those ‘where to next’ phases as the future is fuzzy at best. Its going to be fun to watch at least.

    • Airbus might take a half step by launching the A322 with a new carbon wing and maybe change alloy to Al-Li in the fuselage. The present FAL’s are full so they need a new one and they could jack up the price of the A322 to fill a new FAL and get just enough sales to keep the B737MAX alive. Of cause will LH, AF, Iberia/BA get special prices for max 50 each as launch customers.

      • pretty sure Bjorn did a study that showed going to Al-Li for the fuselage of an existing design was not worth the cost.


        0.5% overall weight reduction for a large cost increase (basically it is only feasible to replace fuselage skin without completely redoing tooling, and the fuselage skin is only 10% of empty weight and Al-Li is only 5% lighter)

        in exchange you nearly double fuselage skin material/manufacturing costs.

        much more cost effective to do minor aero improvements to get equivalent fuel burn reductions

        • Narrow bodies are commodities – so even carbon wings is not worth it. Most of the gain recently were from engine.
          I believe if forced Airbus will design a narrow body that is optimized for production using automation, so that they can stamp out 75/month easily.

          • The statement “commodities” reminds me of one of the policy / economics arguments in the halls of Boeing around the time of the merger. Are airplanes commodities and can they be sold in vanilla configurations? Or are they unique engineering products customized by the customer in negotiations? I’m not sure the question was ever settled, especially when it applies to single-aisle planes.

        • Al-Li is also much more resistant to corrosion, so we’ll see the Airbus trade-off once they launch. Also for the A322 you want as much range as possible, making the wing of CFRP you can design a more efficient and thinner wing with bigger span and with a precise shape that is hard to make out of aluminium (like what Boeing did on the 777-9)

          • it would need to be a folder to remain C gate compatible.

            Airbus had an interesting idea with the no hydraulics down folding wingtip with the hinge angled so that aerodynamic pressure during takeoff would unfold it. could save some weight, maintenance and complexity that way.

            I could see them introducing a 322 with that and then sequentially updating the 321/320 with the newer wing.

          • Al-Li properties are different enough from the established Al materials to require new designs to leverage these improved properties.

            Then and IMHO: you’ll never see a thin wing from Airbus.
            Physics forces a heavier wing than the deeper profiles that are Airbus forte. thin wing increases stresses in the wing skins forcing same to be thicker increasing weight.

      • They already built the new FAL in Toulouse. It’s where the 380 used to be. Now they are producing A321 in both Toulouse and Hamburg. They are content to produce their backlog and have no incentive to change the design today. They are heavily investing in technology for the next generation and will be in a position to leapfrog Boeing when they move.

    • “A320.5 offer”
      Regularly brought up, but ..

      Today gravity of the NB market is centered nearer the A321 than the A320. not finished to move. ( around 2000 that used to be half way between A319 and A320 gravitating upwards with improvemnets Jump on NEO.)

      Why go head to head with the MAX8 ( introducing price pressure on your new product while the MAX8 already is under pressure ) when you can sell A321 and LR derivatives of same at satisfying markup?

      And why step into Boeing’s “active aggressive defense zone”? Just for the fun of it?

      But is Boeing still needed for exports?
      MIC activity and returns currently are a wet dream!

      • I was reflecting on the good old days and not now, given the shift in the market and overfull orders the a320.5 is a non starter. If they wanted to do it today they have the a220-500. The logic remains however that both OEMs have ceded space traditionally

    • A lot of truth to that logic. Aircraft are not the same as making smart phones. You cannot simply take market share. Market share is dictated by how much capacity is in your FALs. Airbus can develop all the new aircraft it wants but until it increases capacity it is not going to have more share.

      Boeing could have closer to 50% share if it wanted. It simply cannot make the aircraft. Airbus can sit back and enjoy their margins the next few years without spending on development.

      • “Boeing could have closer to 50% share if it wanted.”
        Srsly?? Only possible by: 1) fire sale – which is more or less on going, it’s not like BA/BCA is going down without a fight; 2) willingness of customers to place orders – anyone who is able to see the writing on the wall knows the shift in the market and the A320/321neo is gaining share at the expense of the MAX.

        • Half the reason Boeing is able to sell aircraft at all is that they have open delivery slots before Airbus. Boeing is literally competing against itself in near-term deliveries. Airbus has nothing to sell until towards the end of the decade.

          A more accurate statement i should have made would be “Boeing could be closer to 50% if it could”

          • “Half the reason Boeing is able to sell aircraft at all is that they have open delivery slots before Airbus.”

            Not when FAA put its foot down and capped BA/BCA’s production rate at current (unspecified) level.
            BA/BCA can’t fulfill contractual delivery to its customers and that’s why UA’s Kirby took a flight to Toulouse.

          • There’s hundreds of latest generation jets – neo and max in storage
            “The total inactive A320neo family aircraft according to my dataset is at around 550 units. That’s a lot of aircraft that are not flying for revenue service”

    • @sowerbob

      ‘Looking at clear winners we see, A359, B789, A321, B Max 8, A220, ‘

      The Max 8 is the clear winner over…the A320Neo?

      Type Orders Deliveries Backlog
      A319neo 61 17 44
      A320neo 4,122 1,898 2,224
      A321neo 6,171 1,248 4,923
      A320neo family 10,354 3,163 7,191

      Over 4100 ordered, over half of those delivered.


      ‘As the market share for Boeing falls into the toilet they will have to do something quite drastic in this sector and hence the MOM/NMA/Etc will be born and in addressing the A321 advantage’

      Do tell us, good sir – with what money is BA going to launch this magical aircraft? Are you going to loan them the $15-20 billion they need?


      ‘I believe what we are seeing is a fundamental risk to Airbus,’

      So Boeing has nothing coming out, no money to pay for it, slipped to a 35/65 share of the market, Airbus is working to get to 75 and 14 a month for NB production, while Boeing is sticking it’s crank in the fan…

      …and Airbus is at risk?


      Airbus owns the market now. They don’t have to do a darn thing, except make them and bank the profits.

      Boeing cannot even generate positive margins with it’s current backlog, even with program accounting help, let alone matching Airbus’ pockets.

      A new jet? Surely, you jest.

      Boeing can’t even get it’s Max 7, Max 10, 777X program on track for certification.

      And they’ve been building these for years…


      The only way Airbus can lose it, is if they screw the pooch and start having accidents themselves….

      • Makes you wonder if Airbus reaches out to customers with large B737 orders whether and decides to go for the throat here.

        Does Airbus go for something like 100 ac/month and open another FAL. They are already oversold…those unhappy Boeing customer have nothing else to shop for currently unless they are willing to wait until the end of the decade.

      • Simply Boeing is too big to fail. I concede most of what you say albeit you ignore the main point which was not a320 sales but instead it’s comparative sales performance. We have seen 20 years of consistent disasters arising from Boeing in terms of product development and manufacturing defects but they still sit on a quite amazing 35% of the market. Can Airbus finish them off? I don’t think so. Any new management coming in to Boeing will have to adopt a different path to the share buyback scorched earth policy of the past. And yes, if they still have the capability, the money will be found to fund investment, govt or otherwise.

        • ‘Simply Boeing is too big to fail. ‘

          I never said otherwise.


          ‘comparative sales performance. ‘

          What do you mean by that?


          ‘ they still sit on a quite amazing 35% of the market.’

          As other have postulated, if Airbus had the capacity to fill ever order it could take, how much would they then have?


          ‘Can Airbus finish them off?’



          ‘the money will be found to fund investment, govt or otherwise.’

          Perhaps. But that is a decade out.

    • For all of 2018, they delivered 580 or 48 a month. For Q1 in 2019, they delivered 89, according to the financials. Q1 2020….5

      Maybe the author’s finger slipped and after typing a 5….hit the 2 by mistake?

    • Of course, the fleet was ground in 2019 not 2020. Too many dates running around.

      Thanks for catching.

    • Bad news not on a Friday when it wont create too much of a “reflexive” trading upheaval?

      And no “Happy Boeing News” to counter?

  6. I don’t think Boeing will be back to normal in five years,
    and a new aircraft from that company is looking increasingly
    unlikely. Let’s see if the Board does anything- that will tell much.

  7. If I were a betting man, I would say it’s going to be a little longer than 5 years (unless they do something drastic like an equity offering).

    Here is their debt repayment schedule:

    ………………………………….2024 2025 2026 2027 2028
    Debt and other notes $5,128 $4,581 $7,983 $3,300 $1,800

    $22.792 billion over the next 5 years, which leaves some $30 billion to go, or another $20 billion to get back to 2018 levels. They’re also retiring they’re cheap debt by 2026:

    1.17% – 2.50% due through 2026 $10,135

    Then by 2030:

    2.60% – 3.20% due through 2030 6,071


    So $16 billion of the $22.8 billion is spent on the cheap stuff.

    Tough road ahead.

  8. From my knothole I’m pessimistic Boeing will be headed in the right direction in 5 years.

    1) The impediment to 737 rate ramps has for 5+ years been supplier performance; primarily structures (Spirit) and engines (CFM).
    It is obvious to everyone (except the Boeing C-Suite?) no progress has been made with Spirit.
    Despite these problems of getting to rate of 2019 Boeing last year embarked upon standing up a line in Everett. At the time it was a stupid diversion of resources. In hindsight, well.

    2) The only insight I have re the Defense side of the business is re the person appointed to lead it. Not only has he scant experience for the role, in his previous role as CIO he led IT Transformation, which was to deliver in 2020 (still hasn’t delivered) and did not produce or sell a leader to succeed him.

    Past performance may be no guarantee of future results, but a decade of trends certainly should be informative of future performance.

    • Your second comment matters more than usual. NGAD is up for award this year and Boeing has a shrinking side of defense business with F15 and F18 tapering. Would Boeing even have the resources to support a program launch on that side of the house?

  9. A little point to consider about Spirit.

    ‘Spirit was formed when Boeing Commercial Airplanes sold its Wichita division to investment firm Onex Corporation in 2005.’

    From 2005-2018, Spirit seemed perfectly capable of producing and delivering 737NG fuselages to Boeing, getting up to 495 in 2015.

    2018 324
    2017 455
    2016 490
    2015 495
    2014 485
    2013 440
    2012 415
    2011 372
    2010 376
    2009 372
    2008 290
    2007 330
    2006 302
    2005 212

    Seemed to be working just fine. So what changed, now that they can’t seem to drill holes properly (amongst other things)?

    • Boeing sold the Wichita division because then CEO Stonecipher had the acronym “RONA” tatooed on his knuckles.
      Kind of nutty, no?
      What’s RONA? Return on net assets. This was the trendy Wall Street metric of the day.

    • “So what changed,”

      Production was halted.
      Workforce contracted.
      Capabilities lost.
      New hires came with empty brains 🙂

      Thinking about it:
      This is also an indicator that the observed production system has only
      “volatile” storage of know how.
      Just word of mouth transfers to new hires.
      ( There should be in depth information stored .. )

      Apparently even more valid for the Boeing Core

    • “partnership for success” i.e. squeeze the supplier until they fail.

      just another facet of the cash extraction religion.

  10. Boeing sold the Wichita division because then CEO Stonecipher had the acronym “RONA” tatooed on his knuckles.
    Kind of nutty, no?
    What’s RONA? Return on net assets. This was the trendy Wall Street metric of the day.

  11. If bottom line profits today are the driving force of Republican Capitalism, what’s wrong with leaving off a few sensors or a few bolts – those cost savings today can be dealt with at a later date. I had previously thought Boeing employed a marketing strategy to compel buyers to pay extra for necessary sensors so as not to crash, but some must crash for it to work successfully. Ultimately, one thing seems clear, Boeing has no business in the airline business. They forfeited that trust, much like GM when it was discovered that GM had made ignitions to Kill and Maim simply because Ford had made cars to blow up and incinerate.

  12. The question is not “how long the FAA will keep its thumb on Boeing”. The question is how long Boeing’s financial leadership will keep their thumb on Boeing’s engineering leadership.

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