Pontifications: Rolls-Royce and the Next Boeing Airplane

April 18, 2022, © Leeham News: The aviation industry is waiting to see what Boeing will do when it comes to a new airplane.

By Scott Hamilton

The Next Boeing Airplane (NBA), whatever form it takes, will largely be driven by what advances in engines are available. Boeing CEO David Calhoun downplays the engine element. He’s said repeatedly that the next engine will only have about a 10% lower fuel consumption than today’s powerplants. He didn’t today’s name engines, but the benchmarks are now the Pratt & Whitney Geared Turbo Fan and CFM LEAP.

Calhoun places more emphasis on a moonshot in design and production advances to lower the cost of the airplane—with the theory the price paid by the customer will be lower as a result, providing a combined benefit of lower operating costs and lower capital costs.

PW agrees that by around 2030, the usual date (plus-or-minus a year or two) given for the NBA’s entry into service (EIS), it can get another 10% of improved fuel economy out of the GTF. CFM, on the other hand, is pressing ahead with what used to be called the Open Rotor concept. CFM now calls it an Open Fan. The company has a target EIS of 2035 and a fuel improvement of 20%. Emissions for the two engines would be reduced by roughly a corresponding amount vis-à-vis fuel burn.

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Pontifications: Horizon’s plan to focus on single fleet type appears a blow to TPNG hopes

March 29, 2022, © Leeham News: Alaska Air Group announced last week that its subsidiary, Horizon Air, will retire 32 De Havilland Canada (DHC) Dash-8-400s by the end of 2023. The regional airline will go to a single fleet type, the Embraer E175-E1. AAG owns some of the 175s. Regional partner SkyWest owns and operates others.

By Scott Hamilton

The plan adds to the struggles of DHC to return to service -400s stored at the start of the COVID pandemic. At the end of 2021, there were more than 150 stored. As of last week, this number was down to 142, according to the ch-aviation data base. Another 17 were in maintenance. There were 398 in service. The number stored represents 25% of the -400 fleet.

Consolidating to a single fleet type doesn’t bode well for Embraer’s efforts to win Alaska/Horizon as a launch customer for its new TPNG. This advanced turboprop, proposed in 70- and 90-seat versions, has engines mounted on pods at the rear in the latest concept shown to the industry. A new engine will replace the aging but reliable Pratt & Whitney PW-series used on the Dash 8 and ATR-42/72. P&W, GE and Rolls-Royce are developing a new generation engine.

Embraer wants to launch the program this year with a proposed entry into service of 2027.

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“Downfall” and “Boeing’s Fatal Flaw”

Feb. 17, 2022, (c) Leeham News: Tomorrow the documentary movie Downfall will be available on Netflix and, probably, Youtube. Unveiled during the Sundance film festival, Downfall is about the Boeing 737 MAX crisis.

The producers’ staff of Downfall contacted me during their research. I told them, among other things, that you had to know what else was going on at the time at Boeing when MAX was launched in July 2011 in order to understand the full context of Boeing during that period. The underlying thesis–that re-engining the 737 and decisions made–wasn’t only about profit, shareholder value, or greed, as many suggested. In fact, Boeing reported a $4bn in 2011 despite the pressures.

  • The 787 hadn’t been delivered. It was three years late. Boeing was billions and billions over budget.
  • The 747-8 was late and billions over budget.
  • The tanker contract had been awarded the previous February with a bid 10% less than Airbus—and as we now know, it, too was late and billions over budget.
  • Boeing’s engineering resources were stretched to the point where engineers were diverted to the 787 from other programs and outsourcing engineering work to India and Russia was done. The work from India on the 747-8 was poor and had to be re-done by SPEEA, further straining resources.

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HOTR: Boeing works on HGW 787-10—and the 787-9

Jan. 5, 2022, © Leeham News: In his first interview since becoming CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, Stan Deal told The Seattle Times that development of a High Gross Weight (HGW) version of the 787-10 is underway.

“[Deal] also revealed that Boeing is currently designing a new ‘high gross weight’ version of the largest Dreamliner, the 787-10, bumping up its payload and range to make it more competitive against the Airbus A350-900.”

But LNA learned exclusively that Boeing also is developing an HGW version of the 787-9.

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Airbus critics reach low blow in forthcoming KC-Y competition

By Scott Hamilton


Jan. 4, 2022, © Leeham News: The US Air Force KC-Y tanker competition hasn’t even started but Boeing partisans already have the knives out.

For at least the fourth time, an OpEd appeared attacking Airbus for illegal subsidies. For good measure, the writer also pointed to Airbus’ misdeeds in its bribery scandal and other misadventures. All this in what increasingly appears to be the opening shots in a campaign to politicize the coming KC-Y Bridge Tanker procurement.

Once more, Boeing will be pitted against Airbus and the KC-46A against the A330 MRTT. This time, Airbus partnered with Lockheed Martin to take on Boeing. The latest column hit the Internet on Christmas Eve. This time, a Congressional staffer called on Airbus to be “Grounded” in the KC-Y competition.

This column was one of the most irresponsible commentaries seen so far. And this is saying something.

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Pontifications: Assessing the advantages Boeing, Lockheed Martin-Airbus have in KC-Y tanker competition

 Fourth in a Series

By Scott Hamilton

Jan. 3, 2022, © Leeham News: As the US Air Forces gears up to solicit bids for its KC-Y aerial refueling “bridge tanker” competition, Boeing is now the incumbent tanker supplier.

Having won the KC-X competition against Airbus, Boeing is supplying a total of 179 tankers based on the 767-200ER. The KC-46A, however, has been plagued with problems, delays, and cost overruns.

As the incumbent, Boeing would seem to have an advantage in the KC-Y competition. But on the other hand, the problems that Boeing has had in technical compliance categories, failures, and delivery delays, and foreign object debris issues, could work against it.

Sean O’Keefe was the president of EADS North America, Airbus’ parent when Boeing won the KC-X contract. He also worked for the government as the NASA administrator and on The Hill. He was friends with Bob Gates, the Secretary of Defense during parts of the Bush 43 and Obama administrations. This gives him a special insight from government and industry perspectives to weigh the advantages and disadvantages Boeing faces in the anticipated KC-Y contest that will likely pit the incumbent against the Lockheed Martin-Airbus team that will once again offer the A330-200-based tanker called the LMXT.

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Air Wars is now available via Barnes and Noble

Dec. 29, 2021: Air Wars, The Global Combat Between Airbus and Boeing, is now available in paperback via Barnes and Noble. It is also available via Amazon in paperback and eBook.

Air Wars is by LNA’s Scott Hamilton. It covers 35 years of the global sales and product strategy between Airbus and Boeing. John Leahy, who retired in January 2018, led Airbus’ sales teams in the US and globally for most of his 33 years at Airbus. The book covers his successes and failures, campaigns against Boeing and gets both sides of these campaigns and product strategies from key people like Leahy, Tom Enders, Kiran Rao, Tom Williams and Leahy’s successor, Christian Scherer at Airbus; and Ray Conner, Jim Albaugh, Scott Carson, Toby Bright and John Feren from Boeing. Industry players like Steven Udvar-Hazy and John Plueger are also interviewed.

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“Air Wars” tops Puget Sound Business Journal Christmas List of Books

Air Wars is available here.

Dec. 24, 2021, (c) Leeham News: The those late shoppers looking for last-minute gifts, the Puget Sound Business Journal (Seattle area) on Tuesday listed 11 aerospace books for the aviation geeks. Air Wars, The Global Combat Between Airbus and Boeing was at the top of the list. Air Wars is by LNA’s Scott Hamilton. It was published in August.

Christmas may be almost over, but the PSBJ gives plenty of options for post-holiday reading nevertheless.

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“Air Wars” makes Top 10 book list of Royal Aeronautical Society

Dec. 22, 2021, © Leeham News: Air Wars, The Global Combat Between Airbus and Boeing, by LNA’s Scott Hamilton, yesterday was placed on the Top 10 Aerospace book choices for Christmas 2021 by the Royal Aeronautical Society. The Society is one of the world’s most prestigious aerospace organizations.

While second in the listing, the Society doesn’t rank the books.

Air Wars is currently rated No. 1 of the 15 Best New Aerospace eBooks To Read In 2022 by Book Authority.

The book is available here.


Pontifications: EADS went ahead with tanker bid despite long odds against winning

Third in a Series

By Scott Hamilton

Dec. 20, 2021, © Leeham News: When EADS, then the name of the parent of Airbus, decided to go it alone and bid for the US Air Force contract for the KC-X aerial refueling tanker, officials knew it was an uphill battle.

Despite winning the contract in Round Two, with Northrop Grumman as the lead, the parameters of the competition changed. No longer would the A330-200-based tanker get credit for its greater capabilities that won it the contract in Round Two. Now, the ancient Boeing KC-135 was the baseline to meet. Any bidders—Boeing and EADS—would receive only a pass-fail rating for meeting the baseline.

If the bid price was within 1% of each other, then EADS would receive credit for the extra capacity afforded the A330 tanker over Boeing’s KC-767 offer.

The pass-fail approach caused Northrop to take one look at decide to withdraw from the competition. EADS officials made the decision to proceed anyway, knowing now that winning was unlikely.

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