Tanker wars may be back

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Introduction

Dec. 10, 2018, © Leeham News: The tanker wars may be back.

Airbus has teamed with Lockheed Martin to offer the Airbus A330-200MRTT to the Pentagon in a for-hire business model. The agreement also provides the prospect of “conceptualizing the tanker of the future.” (The press release is here.)

From 2001-2011, the US Air Force, Pentagon and even Congress were embroiled in controversy over recapitalization of the USAF aerial refueling tanker fleet.

The KC-135s, based on the Boeing 707, were aging, expensive to maintain and outdated.

After 9/11, Boeing proposed leasing 100 tankers based on the 767-200ER to the USAF. A scandal surrounding the USAF approval of this deal sent the air force’s procurement office and Boeing’s CFO to jail and resulted in the resignation of CEO Phil Condit. The lease deal was canceled.

Summary
  • Three rounds of tanker procurement were filled with improprieties, bitter charges and counter charges.
  • Boeing currently has a contract for 52 KC-46A tankers out of an initial procurement of 179.
  • The air force sees a need for 100 more tankers on an accelerated timeline.
  • Fee-based refueling is not unknown to the Pentagon.

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Pontifications: Nordic quietly rises to #4 world lessor

By Scott Hamilton

Dec. 10, 2018, © Leeham News: In the world of commercial aviation, GECAS, Avolon, AerCap, Air Lease Corp and BOC Aviation are among the most recognizable names of lessors.

These companies make headlines with large orders of Airbus and Boeing aircraft. Air Lease is headed by Steven Udvar-Hazy and John Plueger, giants of the aircraft leasing business.

But one lessor quietly, below the radar, has become one of the largest lessors in terms of aircraft count pursuing regional aircraft, a product mostly shunned by the biggest lessors.

Nordic Aviation Capital Embraer E190-E2. Source: Nordic.

Nordic Aviation Capital last year ranked tied for fifth with asset manager BBAM, each with 404 airplanes in their portfolios, according to an Airfinance Journal 2017 survey. GECAS, AerCap, Avolon and SMBC Aviation Capital were bigger.

DAE Capital of Dubai, BOC Aviation, Air Lease Corp and Aviation Capital Group rounded out the top 10. Read more

Is the A380 less economical than a 777-300ER?

By Bjorn Fehrm

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Introduction

December 06, 2018, © Leeham News.: Our Monday article “A380 suffers new blow, future remains bleak” describes how Air France hands back five of their 10 Airbus A380-800 to their lessor with start next year.

The article details the reasons behind the returns. Other media writes the A380 are notably more expensive to run than a Boeing 777-300ER. As so often, this is a serious case of apples and oranges.

Summary:

  • To compare aircraft like-for-like, they need to be compared with the same rules for cabins and operations.
  • When this is done, the A380 is not more expensive to operate than a 777-300ER.
  • The caveat is: if filled to the same load factor.
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A380 suffers new blow, future remains bleak

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Air France is returning five of 10 A380s to lessors. Photo via Google images.

Dec. 3, 2018, © Leeham News: Air France will return five leased Airbus A380s to lessors next year and in 2020, citing high operating and crew costs compared with the Boeing 777-300ER that is the principal long-haul airplane in its fleet.

This is another blow to the world’s largest passenger aircraft program.

It underscores something Airbus CEO Tom Enders said in 2017: “If you fill it 80% or more, it is a money-making machine.”

Air France’s A380 load factor is not a matter of public record, but the airline itself has a general passenger-avoidance problem due to repeated strikes and generally poor service. The airline’s A380 interiors are dated and the business class is not on a par with even its own Boeing airplanes—nor competitors’ A380s. Read more

Pontifications: More hints NMA is a “go”

By Scott Hamilton

Dec. 3, 2018, © Leeham News: Safran, the French company that is a 50% partner in CFM International, believes Boeing will launch the New Midmarket Airplane next year.

Safran held its investors day last Thursday.

In sideline conversation, one of those attending reports that Safran met recently with Boeing and is convinced the NMA is a “go.”

(Others, elsewhere, remain skeptical.)

Engine company responses for proposals are due this month to Boeing. CFM, Rolls-Royce and Pratt & Whitney are competing for the engine selection.

It’s believed Boeing would like a dual source (certainly airlines do), but in all likelihood, the odds-on favorite is that the NMA will have a sole source engine. The betting is that it will be CFM. Read more

Is Airbus working on a 200t A330neo Regional?

By Bjorn Fehrm

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Introduction

November 29, 2018, © Leeham News.: Bloomberg wrote in the week Airbus is bringing out a 200 tonnes version of the A330neo as a counterstroke to the NMA. Having checked the characteristic of such a version, we contacted Airbus for clarifications.

Here is what Airbus said and how any 200t A330neo fits into Airbus future deliveries.

Summary:

  • A 200t A330neo would not be an ideal version to take market share away from a future NMA. It would have a shorter range than even the shortest range NMA.
  • Airbus explained what they really said on Monday. A 200 tonnes A330neo was part of presenting the flexibility of the A330neo concept, including how this flexibility would work against a planned NMA.

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Airbus’ A320neo Plus, A350neo and new single-aisle airplane

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Introduction

Nov. 26, 2018, © Leeham News: There are few secrets that stay secret for long in commercial aviation.

Airplane concepts are discussed with customers. Information must be shared with suppliers. And then there’s the manufacturer’s own website.

Bloomberg News reported last week that Airbus is looking for help to design the A320neo Plus, an entirely new single aisle airplane and a re-engined A350, the A350neo. All this came from Airbus’ website, Bloomberg reported.

Some of this is old news.

Summary
  • The A320neo Plus concepts have been around for a few years.
  • The idea that Airbus has conceived a new single-aisle airplane is not new, either. It’s shown open-rotor and futuristic design concepts at air shows, conferences and earnings meetings for years (as has Boeing).
  • Although not mentioned in the Bloomberg article, a new wide-body airliner is also something Airbus conceived as a possible response to the Boeing New Midmarket Airplane—this isn’t new, either.
  • What is new is the prospect of an A350neo. The airplane has been in service only a few years, but if one stops and thinks about it, a neo is already a logical progression.

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Pontifications: Transitions, clearing the decks and turmoil at Airbus

By Scott Hamilton

Nov. 26, 2018, © Leeham News: With the naming of CFO and COO officers-in-waiting, Airbus Group has completed the extreme makeover of its executive ranks.

The full transition won’t be complete until April. It’s widely been reported that these changes, including retirements and pushing out people who were not yet near retirement age, was a necessary step to settle fraud and corruption investigations undertaken by England, France, Germany and even the United States.

The latest appointments, announced last week, are for the successors of CFO Harald Wilhelm and Airbus Commercial COO Tom Williams. Dominik Asam, 49, replaces the 52 year old Wilhelm in April. Michael Schöllhorn, 53, replaces the 66 year old Williams Feb. 1. Read more

Delta orders more A330-900, pushes out A350-900

By Bjorn Fehrm

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Introduction

November 22, 2018, © Leeham News.: Delta and Airbus announced Friday; Delta will increase its A330-900 order from 25 to 35 aircraft and push out 10 ordered A350-900 five years, to 2025-2026.

Why this change for Delta? Can the 10 added A330-900 replace the planned A350-900? If so, will other airlines do the same?Summary:

  • Delta is a large operator of A330. With the new order, it will grow to 60 aircraft in the next five years. Through its Delta TechOps operation, it has achieved low operating costs for the A330.
  • In its 251t version available from 2020, the A330-900 can cover most of Delta’s Asian destinations.
  • The A350-900 is now a sub-fleet of 15 aircraft until 2025. It will be reserved for Delta’s longest Asian destinations and where higher capacity is needed.

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How useful is an NMA, Part 6

By Bjorn Fehrm

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Introduction

November 14, 2018, © Leeham News.: Last week we operated the future Boeing NMA from North American hubs. The aircraft would cover the North American market well but would have limitations when flying to South America. The coverage would be sensitive to where our hub would be, as would European coverage.

Now we finish the series by comparing the NMA to its main alternatives for range and operational economics.

Artists impression of the Boeing NMA. Source: The Air Current.

Summary:

  • When comparing the NMA with its competitors, the same cabin type and ruleset must be used for all aircraft.
  • Using a common ruleset and measuring over typical long range operation, the NMA will be the most economical aircraft of the compared types.

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