John Leahy, the chief operating officer-customers for Airbus, will retire in January after 33 years with the company. LNC’s editor, Scott Hamilton, has known Leahy for most of this time. This is the second of a series of reports derived from interviewing Leahy about his pending retirement. The first article appeared Nov. 28.
By Scott Hamilton
Dec. 14, 2017, © Leeham Co.: When John Leahy was promoted from his position as head of Airbus sales in North America and moved to headquarters in Toulouse,
France, to assume the world-wide position as head of sales, he had an ambitious goal to achieve 50% market share by 2000.
He had a little over five years to go from low-double digits to this lofty goal.
The Airbus executive board initially laughed at him, Leahy recalls 22 years later.
It had become one of the worst-kept secrets: Indigo Partners, the investment group managed by Bill Franke, former CEO of America West Airlines, has purchased Frontier Airlines from Republic Airways Holdings.
Frontier assumes all the Airbus A320neo family orders outstanding.
Franke’s Indigo bought controlling interest in Spirit Airlines and transformed it into an Ultra Low Cost Carrier. Indigo sold its shares months ago and Franke and an associate resigned from the Board of Directors, and from then on speculation was rife Indigo was gearing up to buy Frontier. Frontier CEO David Siegel has been transforming Frontier into an ULCC, but Franke is likely to take to concept further.
Republic was the launch customer for 40+40 Bombardier CSeries, Inevitably, questions will arise over the future of these orders, since these were assumed to be for Frontier.
Our information is that Republic has plans for these airplanes apart from Frontier.
The Risk of Fire: FlightGlobal has this story about the risk of fires on board (free registration required). The news article is alarming about the risks of lithium-ion batteries, combined with the new composite technology.
The page for the original report is here.
The 70-page report is here.
Among the findings FlightGlobal reports is what we wrote about early this year: if you have a fire on the airplane, you have to get on the ground in a short period of time (15 minutes, according to an Airbus study, 18 minutes according to this new one).
The interaction between the batteries and composites is a concern.
COMAC C919: The Wall Street Journal has an article talking about the anticipated delays of the COMAC C919. This is via Google News, so it should be accessible to Readers. Here is also a short news item from China Daily and one from Bloomberg.
Airbus loses advertising complaint: Remember those Boeing ads promoting its 747-8 as 26% more economical than the A380? Airbus filed a complaint with a UK watchdog agency, which denied the complaint Tuesday. Aviation Week has this article. One of the things that strikes us from the regulator’s decision is its conclusion that customers would, essentially, see past Boeing’s claims.
Boeing’s use of seats counts–notably 467 for the 747-8–supports the math of the advertisement. But Airbus is right that in true airline configuration, the count would be 405 seats, which dramatically alters the Boeing claims.
Regardless, we have previously opined that the comparison is ridiculous. Given the large differences in the size of the airplanes, comparing the 748 with the A380 is like comparing the 737-700 with the A321. Boeing is cheeky to make the comparison and Airbus fell for it. This debate is hardly worthy of two world-class companies,
Rather than engaging in a debate over seat-based economics, Airbus has a clear upper hand in these numbers: airlines have purchased 262 A380s and only 40 747-8Is. These are the only numbers that count and with these, Airbus clearly has the better advertisement.
Update: AirInsight has some statistics to look at.
One piece of business: AirInsight has a lot of videos from the Paris Air Show, interviews with key people. Go here for the full listing.
And we’re off….
Long-time readers know we like to do unusual things–like our trip to far north Alaska in 2010, photographing polar bears, musk ox, the Northern Lights and driving the 550 mile haul road (well, others did the actual driving) between Fairbanks and the oil fields. Or like our African photo safari trip in 2000. Or or DC-7B excursion. And more recently our DC-3 ride.
We’re at it again. We’re off to Svalbard.
The most common reaction we get is a blank stare, followed by “where’s that?”
The maps show where it is.
Boeing jobs move: We’re not a fan of Loren Thompson, but his commentary in Forbes yesterday is spot on. Boeing is moving jobs out of Washington State to bolster its Charleston (SC) cluster and simply to move to non-union locations.
Washington State needs to come up with some real planning to address the competitiveness in relation to the South. So far, what’s been unveiled is more of the same–there’s no innovation. This isn’t going to work.
JetBlue’s trans-con plan: The US discount carrier said it was contemplating two-class service across the USA. A filing reveals what it was thinking (with a tip to Mary Kirby on this one). What surprises us more than anything is the low density planned in the Airbus A321: just 156 seats. JetBlue’s single-class A320 has 150 seats. Strikes us that JBLU is leaving a lot of potential revenue behind.
Airbus Innovation Days: AirInsight went to the Airbus Innovation Days this week and has a number of postings here.
Here are some more stories coming out of the Airbus days:
Bombardier says CSeries is a “done deal.” Meaning no more delays. This is a pretty bold statement, given the history at Airbus and Boeing. The Reuters story reports the confidence at BBD, but from a pizzazz perspective, it still seems unlikely the CSeries will fly during the show. In the firmest indication yet, it now looks like the first flight will be the last week of June.
11 Abreast on the A380: Not for me.
787-10 Will be marketing “disaster.” So says John Leahy in this article** (all the way at the bottom). That’s not at all what we are hearing from the potential customers we talk to. Lessors and airlines alike look forward to the airplane. Leahy compares the 787-10 with the 767-400, which was a marketing disaster–only two airlines, Delta and Continental–bought the airplane. Both found a workable niche for it, but the 787-10 is no 767-400. With range of 7,000nm, it will have 82% of the mission range of the 8,500nm 787-9, A350 (and A380), it matches the A330-200 HGW, exceeds the 6,000 nm range of the A330-300 HGW and nearly matches the 7,200 nm range of the early 787-8s–with nominally 323 seats, the size of the 777-200ER and the A350-900.
** Readers may have to go to Google News and type in headline “Stretch Version of A380 still far off”
or try this URL directly
Mike Mecham is a fixture in aviation journalism. He is retiring after 26 years with Aviation Week.
We’ve known Mike only for a few of these 26 years. He’s a cantankerous curmudgeon infamous for his monopolizing press events as if he was doing a one-on-one, totally oblivious to two dozen other journalists waiting their turn to question the subject, and having a jaundiced view of just about everything.
And that’s what made him so likeable in spite of himself.
At Boeing’s media dinner at the end of Day One of the pre-Paris Air Show briefing, Boeing’s Commercial Corp Com arose to wish him well, tell some stories and give him an airplane. True to form, Cranky Mikey remarked he hoped it wasn’t a 787 with batteries. (It was a 747-8 model.)
Mike was virtually joined at the hip with Guy Norris, another AvWeek journalist. No matter what the event, Guy and Mike appeared together. This constant companionship inevitably inspired ribald commentary. We have to believe Guy will go through withdrawal.
We asked Mike as we were boarding our respective buses off the Boeing property at the end of Day 2 what he planned to do in retirement. Mike plans to eschew aviation and commune with nature. We shudder to think how Mother Nature will greet this news; she and her creations will never be the same.
AirInsight has this 3 1/2 minute video with Mike, who gives his unvarnished views of the industry.
We wish Mike all the best.
In Boeing News:
We don’t have much to add to these two reports, so we’ll leave this topic here.
Following Pan Am into oblivion: The famed Worldport will be demolished next year. Another piece of history will be gone, but our friend Benet Wilson thinks the demise is a good idea.
Speaking of history, did you realize Aloha Air Lines is still around, as Aloha Air Cargo?
KC-46A production begins: The Puget Sound Business Journal reports that production on the Boeing KC-46A USAF tanker begins shortly.
Plane Talking’s Air Show Preview: Ben Sandilands’ Plane Talking takes his look at the Paris Air Show preview today. Our Paris Air Show Preview will be coming next week. Tomorrow and Thursday we’re at Boeing all day for PAS briefings, all except program updates on the 737 MAX and today’s 777 under embargo until June 14 and the 2013 Current Market Outlook under embargo until June 11.
We’re particularly looking forward to the MAX briefing in light of the information linked yesterday to Daniel Tsang’s huge Boeing piece in which he touched on some MAX features.
Meantime, our colleague Addison Schonland will be going to the Airbus PAS briefing next week. We’ll link and follow his reports over at AirInsight.
Cybersecurity threat to aviation: Addison Schonland at AirInsight has been working on a project related to cybersecurity and the threat to aviation. He’s posted this article that raises serious issues.
Lithium-Ion Batteries: On the eve of the NTSB two-day forum on lithium-ion batteries, Reuters has a think-piece about these batteries in general: uses in cars and other products, for example. It’s been a 10-year research project by battery designers. Quite an interesting article.
WA worries about SC: The Seattle Times writes that Washington State officials are worried about the latest expansion by Boeing in South Carolina.
In advance of Porter CSeries order: A lot of Tweeting from an aerospace writer in Canada:
The news that Canada’s Porter Airlines is the Unidentified North American customer that signed a Letter of Intent for up to 30 Bombardier CSeries for use at Toronto City Airport sparked a lot of noise (pun intended).
Late yesterday The Wall Street Journal reported that Porter will announce its order tomorrow.
Key to the order is the fact that BBD and engine provider Pratt & Whitney promise a low noise footprint and just 70 decibels approaching the airport. Toronto City Airport is a highly noise-sensitive airport.
As yesterday’s post about all this noted, Porter and the OEMs will argue the CS100 is no louder than the Bombardier Q400 now serving the airport. This leads to a small noise contour, or foot print, as illustrated in this BBD chart:
787 to fly soon: Jim McNerney, CEO of Boeing, says the 787 will be back in service soon. Tests should be completed within days and he is confident in the fix.
LionAir’s A320 order: In case you wondered what LionAir is going to do with all those Airbus A320s now on order, this story tells you. As we suspected, LionAir will follow the AirAsia Group model of setting up airlines throughout Asia. Some will obviously compete with Tony Fernandes’ airline.
777X v A350: Aspire Aviation has an analysis of the forthcoming Boeing 777X and A350-1000 competition.