Pontifications: Think tank analyzes KC-Y competitive landscape

Nov. 29, 2021, © Leeham News: A conservative think tank believes the US Air Force must invest not only in another round of aerial refueling tankers. It must also invest in infrastructure and future, innovative designs.

By Scott Hamilton

The Hudson Institute in Washington (DC) issued a study earlier this month in which it analyzed the Air Force’s global refueling requirements. The study may be downloaded here.

While perusing the website and looking at who’s involved with the institute makes it clear this isn’t just a conservative think tank but an overtly partisan one as well, the study appears well thought out and even-handed. It relies on well-reasoned data. The study is unlike Loren Thompson of the Lexington Institute, whose latest column about the next round of tanker procurement returns to the tiresome and expired whining about illegal subsidies for the Airbus A330-200.

Breaking news to Loren: the WTO case is over. Additional breaking news: subsidies and the WTO aren’t considered in military procurements. The Lexington Institute gets funding from Boeing. It also previously received funding from Lockheed. Thompson did not disclose in this latest missive if it still does.

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Book Review: Flying Blind is a must-read about the Boeing 737 MAX crisis

By Scott Hamilton

Nov. 20, 2021, © Leeham News: Flying Blind, The 737 MAX Tragedy and the Fall of Boeing is the sad story of how The Boeing Co., once renowned for its engineering prowess, descended into the depths of crisis with its most profitable airplane.

Authored by Bloomberg news reporter Peter Robison, much of the story is well known on the proverbial 35,000-foot level. Congressional hearings, investigative reporting, crash coverage of Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 310, provided plenty of grist for the mill.

Robison delves deeper into the crisis that encompassed Boeing from March 2019 with the ET 310 crash, from which it won’t recover for years. I point to the Ethiopian crash as the start of the crisis, because for the most part, the Lion Air crash was viewed as just another crash—until Ethiopian’s tragedy made it clear there was something deadly wrong with the 737 MAX.

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Pontifications: 787 deliveries, suspended a year, look for restart soon

By Scott Hamilton

Sept. 27, 2021, © Leeham News: In a few weeks it will be a year since Boeing suspended delivery of virtually all 787s. Inspections revealed some flaws in production. Despite a year-long effort, Boeing hasn’t been able to persuade the Federal Aviation Administration, yet, to grant authority to resume deliveries.

Deliveries may resume next month, The Wall Street Journal reported Sept. 6. Or they may not. Boeing isn’t making any predictions as it continues to work with the FAA to do so.

More than 100 787s have been produced (it is said the number is 106, but this is a moving target). Boeing continues to inspect the aircraft. Those in production at the Charleston (SC) factory are fixed as these are assembled at a very low rate.

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HOTR: Lockheed reveals tanker info: it’s all about America

Sept. 21, 2021, © Leeham News: Lockheed Martin (LMT) last week revealed its dedicated product launch web site page of the LMXT aerial refuel tanker. The LMXT uses the Airbus A330 MRTT as the platform for the US Air Force’s KC-Y competition for which initial information requests have been issued.

LMT and Airbus partnered in 2018 in anticipation of the KC-Y program, originally intended to replace the aging Boeing (nee McDonnell Douglas) KC-10. KC-Z was to follow, an entirely new concept in aerial refueling tankers.

KC-Y is now recast as a replacement for 140-160 Boeing KC-135s. It will be a follow-on to the original KC-X program, which was won by Boeing after three tries. Boeing has 179 orders for the 767-200ER-based KC-46.

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Pontifications: 8-year old A330-300 converted to freighter, reflects weak market

By Scott Hamilton

Sept. 20, 2021, © Leeham News: An 8-year-old Airbus A330-300 was converted recently from passenger to freighter configuration by EFW.

Actually, says EFW’s Wolfgang Schmid, the airplane is not quite eight. It is the youngest A333 to be converted.

I can’t remember an airplane of any type this young being converted from passenger to freighter. The market value of an eight-year-old aircraft is way too high. Operating economics are well within airline requirements at this age. Aircraft historically become conversion candidates no sooner than 15 years of age and more commonly not before 20.

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Air Wars: The Global Combat Between Airbus and Boeing

By Scott Hamilton

Sept. 7, 2021, (c) Leeham News: My book, Air Wars: The Global Combat Between Airbus and Boeing, is now available on Amazon.

Three years in the making—delayed by the need to include the Boeing 737 MAX crisis and the impacts of Coronavirus—Air Wars is a combination of a biography of John Leahy and the 1982 book, The Sporty Game. The Sporty Game was considered the definitive book about the competition between Boeing, McDonnell Douglas and the young Airbus.
Leahy worked for Airbus for 33 years, 23 of them as the chief commercial officer for the company. Throughout executive turmoil at Airbus, and at Boeing, Leahy was the one constant salesman. Boeing officials were slow to recognize the threat Airbus and Leahy presented. The wake-up call, according to a top Boeing salesman at the time, was the 1992 order from United Airlines for Airbus A319s and A320s. United considered the airplanes superior to the 737-300/400. The order prompted Boeing to develop the 737 NG. From there, the global combat became a “bare-knuckle brawl,” as journalist Dan Catchpole put it this week.

Executives and salesmen from Airbus and Boeing were interviewed for Air Wars. So were industry leaders. My own archival resources and reporting were used as well.

The result is a book that describes the successes and failures of Airbus, Leahy, and Boeing. It describes how Bombardier came out of nowhere to become a threat initially dismissed by Boeing—but recognized by Airbus. Air Wars describes the sales campaign that launched the A380 and killed the proposed 747-500/600—but led Boeing to the 787.

Air Wars begins with the crucial sales campaign with American Airlines that led to the decision by Boeing to launch the re-engined 737 program—which later was branded as the 737 MAX. The book also dispels the myth that Boeing was hasty in designing the re-engined 737.

Many untold stories are in Air Wars, including sales campaigns, product strategy decisions and personal anecdotes about Leahy—including how McDonnell Douglas tried to recruit Leahy from Airbus in the early 1990s.

A synopsis of the book is below.

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