Enhancing the Dreamliner, Part 8: Wrap Up

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By Bjorn Ferhm and Vincent Valery

Introduction  

Nov. 26, 2020, © Leeham News: After analyzing the three members of the Dreamliner family on several routes out of San Francisco to Asian destinations, we conclude the series with a wrap- up of what we learned.

Summary
  • A guinea pig for new technologies and processes;
  • After a long slough against problems, a resounding commercial success;
  • Size-wise, ideally-positioned for the post-COVID world;
  • Future enhancements.

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Updating Airbus and Boeing Orders At Risk

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By Vincent Valery

Introduction  

Nov. 23, 2020, © Leeham News: It’s time to update the analysis on Airbus and Boeing orders at risk for delivery under the “weak customer” doctrine.

Under a US accounting rule known as ASC 606, Boeing must identify the number of orders that are unlikely to be delivered because the customer’s financial condition is weak. Airbus does not do this because there is no ASC 606 rule in Europe.

LNA wrote a few months ago an article that attempted to apply ASC 606 adjustments to Airbus’ order book.

Boeing publishes an estimation by the program of orders subjects to material cancellation risks, or ASC 606. The tally increased from 183 to 782 for the 737 between the end of 2019 and October 2020.

While Boeing has disclosed 1,020 net orders year-to-date canceled or subject to ASC 606 (393 canceled without accounting for ASC 606 adjustments), Airbus lists 308 net new orders. Airbus’ tally does not reflect a European equivalent to ASC 606 adjustments. The European OEM only publishes an overall outstanding value of its order book that accounts for customer risks in its annual report.

Despite last week’s news about progress on developing a COVID-19 vaccine, LNA’s Judson Rollins wrote that the timeline of a return to normalcy remains elusive. The lingering pandemic means that more airlines will run into financial difficulties, resulting in more orders that will be deemed risky.

LNA provides an updated tally of the orders at risk for both Airbus and Boeing, with minor changes to the methodology.

Summary
  • Identifying customers at risk;
  • Explaining differences with Boeing’s ASC 606;
  • Applying adjustments to Airbus’ order book;
  • Estimation of adjusted market shares;
  • A digression to tariff exposures.

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Pontifications: EU tariffs on Boeing airplanes in effect; ~60 at risk

Nov. 16, 2020, © Leeham News: The European Union implemented tariffs Nov. 9 on Boeing and other US products in retaliation for the Trump Administration tariffs on Airbus and EU products.

By Scott Hamilton

This is the latest in the 16-year trade battle between the US and Europe over subsidies and tax breaks found to be illegal under World Trade Organization rules.

The US was authorized last year to impose tariffs on Airbus and other EU products. The Trump Administration initially imposed a 10% tariff on imported Airbus aircraft. A320/321s assembled at Airbus’ Mobile (AL) plant were exempt, even though major components were imported.

Trump increased the tariffs to 15% in March, just as the COVID-19 pandemic erupted worldwide. As a result, few Airbus airplanes were delivered into the US since then.

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HOTR: Don’t get over-optimistic on COVID-19 vaccine news

By the Leeham News team

Nov. 10, 2020, © Leeham News: Pfizer yesterday announced it’s on track to produce a COVID-19 vaccine that appears to be 90% effective in trials. The company is one of the world’s leading drug makers.

This is good news.

But before jumping to the old cliché about a light at the end of the tunnel, LNA’s Judson Rollins cautions, do the math.

“Read the fine print at the end of the press release,” Rollins says.

“Based on current projections, we expect to produce globally up to 50m vaccine doses in 2020 and up to 1.3b doses in 2021,” the press release says.

“It’s a two-dose vaccine, so divide by two to figure the number of people who could be immunized,” Rollins says. “Even if a second candidate is approved and can be produced in the same quantity next year, that means just 17% of the world’s population will be vaccinated. And that assumes everything goes according to plan.”

Rollins did an extensive analysis of how quickly global air traffic would return to normal. In his July 13 post, Rollins projected that traffic won’t fully recover until 2024 at the earliest or 2028 at the latest. It all depends on how quickly a vaccine was developed, how quickly it could be distributed globally and how quickly people had confidence in it.

“We’re in only the second or maybe third inning of a very long ball game,” Rollins says. “Vaccines kill off a virus by denying it bodies in which to reproduce. If you don’t innoculate enough of the population while immunity lasts, you’re back to square one.”

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Boeing needs 737 replacement launch by 2026 if not sooner

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By Scott Hamilton

Introduction

Nov. 9, 2020, © Leeham News: Boeing needs hundreds of new orders for the 737 MAX and/or a new replacement program launch by 2026, if not sooner.

An analysis shows that 737 deliveries tank by 2028.

This isn’t just about the 737-10 and 737-9, which don’t fare well against the Airbus A321neo. The shrinking backlog is the problem.

Ryanair’s CEO, Michael O’Leary, said last week Boeing will delay delivery/entry into service of the 737-10 MAX by up to two years.

This largely stated the obvious.

The first 10 MAX rolled out of the factory Nov. 22 last year. It could not enter flight testing because the MAX family was grounded March 13. The MAX remains grounded. Recertification may come this month, but it appears more likely next month.

Boeing 737-10. Source: Boeing.

This delays the start of flight testing until probably January. This is a 14-month delay.

Flight testing will take a year to 15 months, or to January to March 2022—about two years after the planned EIS. Boeing’s production ramp up will further impact delivery of the 10 MAX.

Although some recent new focus was on the 10 MAX, the larger issue is the entire 737 family.

Summary
  • Production ramp up will be slow.
  • Inventory will take two years to clear.
  • Airline demand is poor the next 2-3 years.
  • Boeing’s breadwinner sees major delivery drop from 2026.
  • A further drop by 2028 demonstrates need for a 737 replacement—not just an A321 competitor.

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Pontifications: Aircraft prices, rents plunge

By Scott Hamilton

Nov. 9, 2020, © Leeham News: Aircraft prices and lease rates are plunging as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to devastate the airline and manufacturing industries.

The Australian newspaper reports that Rex Airlines will pay A$60k/mo for its ex-Virgin Australia Boeing 737-800s, rising to A$100k after 12 months. This is US$43,600 to US$72,700.

Rex is a small regional airline that is leaping to a jet operator. It committed to take 10 737s.

The article says the airplanes are more than 10 years old.

Compare the rates to the rents listed Nov. 2 by Ishka, the UK-based appraisal and consultancy firm: US$115k/mo for a 15-year-old model.

Virgin’s airplanes date from 2003 to 2018. The oldest leased airplanes date to 2004.

It’s not especially surprising that swamped with excess airplanes that lessors will place airplanes for whatever they can get. Lessors are under great pressure to service their own debt.

Even Ishka’s estimates for 20-year old airplanes are higher than the Rex rates.

But the real story is what new airplanes are going for. And the prices are eye-popping low.

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Bjorn’s Corner: The challenges of Hydrogen. Part 14. Supply of Hydrogen

By Bjorn Fehrm

November 6, 2020, ©. Leeham News: In our series on Hydrogen as an energy store for airliners we now look at how to create a supply industry for hydrogen.

The problem of a sizable and competitive hydrogen supply industry is a chicken or egg problem. To achieve a competitive and functioning hydrogen transport system we need an adequate hydrogen infrastructure and to get an adequate hydrogen industry we need large-scale consumers.

Figure 1. The CO2 problem and the main contributors. Source: Wikipedia.

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Pontifications: Certification timing may push EIS for 777X

Nov. 2, 2020, © Leeham News: Throughout the 737 MAX investigations and recertification process, former Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg said there would be no delay on 777X certification.

By Scott Hamilton

On Boeing’s earnings call last week, Muilenburg’s successor, David Calhoun, said there could be.

“On the 777X, we continue to work with the regulators on certification work scope, including reflecting the learnings from the 737 cert process,” Calhoun said. “As with any development program, there are inherent risks that can affect schedule. And while we continue to drive toward entry into service in 2022, this timing will ultimately be influenced by certification requirements defined by the regulators.”

Boeing is certifying the 777X under the Changed Product Rule, the same process used for the MAX. Certification is being pursued as a derivative of the 777, a point of scrutiny on the MAX.

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Airbus stopped consuming cash in 3Q2020

October 29, 2020, © Leeham News: Airbus announced its third-quarter 2020 financial results today. It has achieved convergence of production and deliveries by delivering 145 aircraft in the quarter and 341 since the start of the year. It will keep its present production rates until next summer when A320neo rates are expected to increase.

The convergence of production and delivery rates combined with other measures has stopped the outflow of cash and Free Cash Flow from operations was positive in the quarter and is expected to stay positive until the end of 2020.

 

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Enhancing the Dreamliner, Part 4: the 787-9 analyzed.

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By Bjorn Fehrm

Introduction  

October 29, 2020, © Leeham News: We look deeper at the 787-9, the most successful member of the Dreamliner family. It’s 50 seats larger than the 787-8 but shares the same wing dimensions and engines.

The 787-9 quickly overtook the smaller 787-8 in sales and deliveries once its performance was clear to the airlines.

By following on the 787-8 it could benefit from many enhancements in design and production, becoming a very efficient aircraft in the process. To check its efficiency we run the 787-9 against its predecessor, the Boeing 777-200ER, on the San Francisco to Sydney route and look at the data.

Summary
  • The 787-9 enjoyed all the improvements that came to light when developing the 787-8. The result is one of the most efficient twin-aisle aircraft on the market.
  • Why it’s popular with the airlines becomes evident when we compare with the aircraft it replaces, the 777-200ER.

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