In a confusing set of stories, reports suggest that there may be a new round of delivery delays for the Airbus A380. These generated from comments made by Airbus CEO Thomas Enders, who said Airbus is engaged in a major review of the A380 production to assess the delivery schedule of 13 A380s this year and more in succeeding years.
This apparently was interpreted to mean that Airbus might not deliver the 13 airplanes promised this year. A spokesman immediately denied that’s what was meant.
We’re told by two sources–one inside Airbus and one a former Airbus executive–that program reviews are normal and there’s much ado about nothing on this one. The former Airbus executive told us he was puzzled why Enders even made the remarks.
Given the A380’s delay history, any hint of delays–whether founded or unfounded–are bound to cause concern and questions such as expressed in the news reports. This is similar to the trials now experienced by Boeing with the 787 program and fears by 777F and 747-8 customers of knock-on effects to these programs.
The 777F program appears to be on track now that there is no conflict in flight testing schedules between the 787 and 777F, as emerged on a previous 787 revised schedule. Some customers remain concerned–and are predicting–delays of several months in the 747 program, however, because of the level of engineering resources previously diverted to the 787. These customers believe Boeing won’t have time to catch up on the 747 to keep this program on track. Boeing previously pushed back roll-out by three months, according to reports, but has vowed to keep to the delivery schedule even if it means initially delivering a plane that’s about 1% overweight, according to Flight International.
New, 2:00 PM PDT: Speaking of A380 delays, Reuters has this report about Airbus penalty payments to Emirates Airlines for the delays. An excerpt: DUBAI (Reuters) – European plane maker Airbus paid Dubai’s Emirates EMAIR.UL as much as $110 million during the last year in compensation for the late delivery of the A380, of which the Arab carrier is the largest customer, Emirates said.
Here are a couple of items about the refueling capability of the KC-30/KC-330 tanker, which is one point of controversy in the continuing saga of the Boeing-Northrop Grumman tanker contract award.
Boeing likes to point out that Northrop’s KC-30 hasn’t passed gas through its bloated airplane (sorry, we couldn’t resist the puns) and that there are delays in the EADS/Airbus KC-330 program to Australian. The KC-330 is the basis for the KC-30.
Northrop likes to point out that Boeing’s sixth generation boom proposed for the air force hasn’t been built, nor has the airplane to which this boom will be installed.
New, 0920 PDT: A Reuters report published in London’s The Guardian raises precisely the issue we raised weeks ago: that efforts by the US Congress to overturn the tanker award based on jingoism can potentially do more harm do Boeing in the global market than letting the USAF award stand, assuming the GAO reject’s Boeing’s protest.
Boeing and Northrop continue their tanker public relations war. Boeing fired off this press release about the KC-767’s “survivability” vs. the Northrop KC-30.
Northrop fired off a release about jobs, steering people to a 3 1/2 minute National Public Radio report.
Northrop partisans also made sure we saw this biting cartoon.
(For the record, we previously have asked Boeing to send us any similar cartoons supporting the KC-767, but were told none existed. If there are any, we’ll post them.)
Here’s a pro-Boeing cartoon, which for some reason we can’t insert the image, so here’s the link.
We understand there is a new A380 customer in Asia. It’s currently a Boeing 747-400 operator and the order is for eight plus four options. We haven’t yet learned which airline but it’s not in China.
This story by Dominic Gates of The Seattle Times paints a grim picture for Boeing’s Integrated Defense Systems. He points out that IDS “can’t boast even a single prime contract to supply the US military’s next generation of fighters, bombers, tankers and transport planes.”
Here’s an article from Aviation Week discussing China’s plans to build a plane that directly targets the Boeing 737 and Airbus A320 lines and another in The Australian about the engine competition between GE and Rolls-Royce that’s developed concurrently with the rivalry between Airbus and Boeing.
With delivery delays of around 15 months now expected for the Boeing 787 program, where does Boeing turn to help its customers?
One suggestion was upping the production of the 767, currently at one a month. This won’t work–it takes about two years to do so, according to Boeing. By then the 787 program should be more or less back on track.
A blogger suggested that the 777 could be the answer. Not likely, either, because the 777 has a four year backlog and is being produced at the rate of seven a month, its highest ever.
The used airplane market is very tight. Boeing is looking for 777s, 767s and even Airbus A330s and A340s with little luck.
Boeing and the airlines will have to cope as best they can.
Here’s the backlog chart for Boeing. The production rates are:
787: planned–initially 3/mo, increasing to 10/mo within 18 mo
|Unfilled Orders by Model||Through February 2008|
|Total Unfilled Orders||3544|
|Total Unfilled for 737||2154|
|Total Unfilled for 747||123|
|Total Unfilled for 767||50|
|Total Unfilled for 777||360|
|Total Unfilled for 787||857|
|Total Unfilled Orders||3544|
A move in the US House to adopt legislation to overturn the USAF tanker award to Boeing is ill-advised on a number of levels.
According to a story in The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Boeing supporters in the House, incensed over the award by the Air Force to Northrop Grumman and Airbus parent EADS selecting their A330-based KC-30 for the KC-45A tanker, are thinking about adopting legislation to block the award. The details, according to the news story:
There are so many things wrong with this approach.
Let the GAO deal with this, like the law allows. If the GAO upholds Boeing’s protest, so be it. But if the GAO rejects the protest, Boeing and its supporters need to let this one go. In fact, Boeing would be better off calling off the dogs on this Congressional fight. Boeing might win the battle but lose the war. The EU won’t sit back idly if Congress interferes, and Boeing will be the one to pay the penalty, not some member of Congress with a few district jobs to protect.
As we previously said, Boeing would be far better off to devote its engineering resources to fixing the 787 program and developing the Blended Wing Body for the KC-Y competition scheduled for 2020. A KC-BWB, and subsequent commercial applications of the BWB, would be far more advanced than the KC-30 or anything else Airbus has to offer, and superior to the KC-777. Go for this gold, and the advanced technology that comes with it. Don’t stick with an airplane originally designed in the late 1970s-early 1980s. Think ahead. Be bold.
Blended Wing Body test model. Source: Boeing
Eco-Aviation continues to gain ground in the US. Environmental forces in Europe have been targeting aviation for several years, and very aggressively. In the US, the issue has been much slower to catch on.
Airbus and Boeing have been working for years to reduce the environmental impact of their airplanes. The development of the A380, 787 and A350 are manifestations of this effort. In concert with the engine makers, GE/CFM, Rolls-Royce, Pratt & Whitney and International Aero Engines, the manufacturers have worked to reduce CO2 emissions.
We’ll be taking a more in-depth look at this issue next week on our corporate website bi-weekly update. In the meantime, Air Transport World and Leeham Co. have organized the USA’s first dedicated Eco-Aviation conference.
This conference has representation of the environmental community, US regulators, airframe and engine manufacturers and the airlines.
More information about the conference may be found here.
We’re sometimes accused of having a warped sense of humor (guilty) that occasionally gets us in trouble with readers. But we simply can’t help ourselves.
We found something in the Boeing tanker protest that we could not help but chuckle at. Boeing has made a real issue over the inexperience of Northrop Grumman and EADS compared with Boeing on building tankers. Boeing also has criticized the production model of Northrop/EADS. The Airbus A330-200 on which the Northrop KC-30 is based in built in England, Spain, Germany and France and the fuselage components will be shipped to Alabama for assembly. (Not unlike the 787 and KC-767 production models, but that’s neither here nor there).
In the protest, Boeing had this gem:
“…The Northrop/EADS…production process…will hopscotch through Europe to produce some planes….”
Who says Boeing doesn’t have a corporate sense of humor?
Separately, Northrop said in a conference call that 50% of the revenue from the tanker will make its way to EADS, which then has to pay its suppliers. We took a stab at assessing this figure on our corporate website in a report. It looks like we were pretty close in our assessment.