E175-E2 prototype in production, first flight by year end

May 28, 2019, © Leeham News: The first E175-E2 prototype is now in production at the Embraer plant here at Sao Jose dos Campos, Brazil, despite having no firm orders and only a single conditional order for 100 aircraft from a US airline that so far can’t use the airplane.

The pilot union contracts contain a clause that prevent the only customer for the aircraft in the world from using it because the take-off weight exceeds the 86,000 lbs specified in the contract.

Embraer designed the airplane with the hope the so-called Scope Clause would be relaxed in contract negotiations this year and next by pilots for American, Delta, United and Alaska airlines. It’s become clear that relief is unlikely.

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Mitsubishi sets stage for announcement at Paris

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Introduction

By Bryan Corliss

May 10, 2019, © Leeham News: Senior officials of Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp. said they’ll announce a new concept to replace their proposed MRJ70 at next month’s Paris Air Show. But they’re keeping details to themselves until then.

“We’ve got a couple rabbits in our hat,” said Alex Bellamy, the chief development officer for the MRJ program. “We’d like to keep them in our hat for now. But rabbits have a habit of bouncing.”

Bellamy spoke with a handful of industry reporters Friday at a roundtable following the formal grand opening of Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp America’s new office in Renton (WA). The event – which included the ceremonial opening of sake barrels with hammers–attracted senior executives from MITAC’s headquarters in Nagoya, Japan, and local business and government leaders.

Mitsubishi is flight-testing the 92-seat MRJ90 in the skies above Moses Lake (WA). But in Nagoya, engineers are working on a clean-sheet design for a 76-seat, three-class regional jet.

It’s what the market is calling for, Bellamy said, and right now, there’s a declining number of competitors willing to provide it.

Summary
  • One competitor is going, the other doesn’t have a modern, Scope-compliant aircraft.
  • 50-years opportunity.
  • Combining comfort and new-technology economy

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Pontifications: Rebuilding the MAX and Boeing brands

By Scott Hamilton

May 6, 2019, © Leeham News: Boeing has a big job ahead of it to restore faith in the 737 MAX with flight crews and the flying public.

Recertification is still weeks or perhaps months away. The return to service may be anywhere from July to August or even longer, depending on how global regulators proceed with review and approval of the revised MCAS software and pilot training.

Pilots at airlines seem split whether a “simple” computer training protocol is sufficient or whether a flight simulator training is required.

Let’s set all this aside on the safe assumption this will work itself out, whether sooner or later.

So, the question then becomes: how does Boeing repair the MAX brand—and its own.

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Boeing customer compensation for MAX already at $1bn and climbing, estimates aviation lawyer

May 2, 2019, © Leeham News, New York: Boeing faces huge claims from airlines with grounded 737 MAXes, the amount of which will depend on the time the airplanes are out of service, an aviation lawyer tells LNA.

The lawyer, who is not involved in any litigation from the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines MAX 8 crashes, has reviewed scores of Boeing purchase contracts in the ordinary course of his practice. It’s based on terms and conditions under the Service Life clause that he concludes Boeing could face about $1bn in claims for a grounding lasting five months—or until mid-August, as three key US airlines estimate before the MAX returns to service in the US.

The amount climbs the longer the groundings are in place but could be smaller if the global grounding is lifted sooner.

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Impact of MAX grounding emerges with earnings reports

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Introduction

April 29, 2019, © Leeham News: With first quarter financial results beginning to be reported, the impact of the grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX is beginning to emerge.

Boeing 737 MAXes stored at Everett Paine Field. Photo by Jennifer Schuld.

The first out was from Boeing itself, followed by a few of the airlines that operated the MAX before it was grounded March 13.

Boeing reported the grounding cost it about $1bn, for just the two weeks the airplane has been on the ground.

Norwegian Air Shuttle, which was using the MAX on new trans-Atlantic services, lost millions of dollars.

American Airlines will take a $350m hit from the groundings.

Southwest Airlines surprised many with a stronger-than-expected first quarter despite having 34 MAXes on the ground and a cost of $200m.

Air Canada extended the removal of its MAX fleet from its schedules another month, to Aug. 1.

Summary
  • JP Morgan doesn’t predict deliveries resuming until the fourth quarter.
  • The investment bank sees 200 MAXes in inventory accumulating and cash losses of $1.5bn per month while the plane is grounded.
  • Wall Street hopes that 2020 will be a normalized year.
  • If simulator training is required by regulators before the MAX can return to service, JP Morgan estimates more than 4,400 pilots need to be trained.

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Bjorn’s Corner: Time to reassess the safety standards for our airliners

By Bjorn Fehrm

April 26, 2019, ©. Leeham News: In the wake of the 737 MAX crashes the standards to which Boeing and the FAA qualified and approved the 737 MAX MCAS function is questioned.

FAA has called the world’s aviation regulators to a meeting on the 23rd of May to discuss how the revised MCAS function will be approved. But it’s time to discuss more than how the updated MCAS shall pass.

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Airlines must change tactics to attract maintenance workers

#MROAM

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Introduction

April 18, 2019, © Leeham News: Airlines need to create a pleasing work environment even in the industrial atmosphere of “wrench turners” if they are going to attract millennials to become maintenance workers.

Boeing forecasts a need of more than 600,000 mechanics over the next 20 years.

Some airlines, like Delta, faces an aging workforce, which will produce a surge of retirements.

JetBlue, with a young workforce, faces the challenge of attracting young workers who find better paying jobs in other industries.

Even KLM found it has to change the work environment to attract young employees.

Here’s how their stepping up to these challenges.

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Canada’s Harbour Air to fit electric engines on its plane

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Introduction

By Bryan Corliss

March 26, 2019, © Leeham News: A Seattle-area engine manufacturer today will announce a significant step toward actually getting an electric-powered passenger aircraft off the ground.

The company, MagniX, is set to announce a partnership with Canada’s Harbour Air to retrofit its fleet of 33 piston-powered de Havilland Beavers, Otters and Twin Otters with 750 hp electric engines.

Harbour Air will equip its fleet of 33 aircraft, including the de Havilland Twin Otter, with electric engines. Source: harbour Air.

The first electric-powered flight – in a six-passenger Beaver – will take place before the end of 2019, according to MagniX CEO Roei Ganzarski. MagniX and the Vancouver-based airline plan to pursue a supplemental type certificate for the planes, with a goal of 2021 for EIS.

Modifications will take place at a plant in Vancouver, a spokeswoman said.

Summary
  • Overcoming skepticism.
  • Tested engine, proven airframe.
  • Short-haul routes.

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Congestion costs billions, but airlines show little concern

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Introduction

 March 21, 2019, © Leeham News: There are many estimates for how much flight delays and disruptions cost airlines and passengers. But everyone agrees the total number is big—possibly more than $1bn for each major US airline each year.

In 2017, delays cost airlines and passengers $26.6bn, according to the FAA/Nextor estimate. That total includes direct cost to airlines and travelers, lost demand and indirect costs. Congestion at the three major airports serving New York City directly cost air carriers an estimated $834m a year, according to a 2009 report.

Chicago O’Hare Airport at 7pm, Sunday, March 17, 2019. Source: FlightRadar24.

Yet despite the high cost, flight on-time statistics are basically where they were 20 years ago. Moreover, there are no discernible positive trends in the data collected by the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

Of course, airlines take steps to decrease or limit flight delays, and, of course, some things, such as severe weather, are out of anyone’s control.

At the same time, airlines have shown little interest in pushing for low-cost solutions to decreasing system-wide congestion. There is no clear or easy explanations for carrier’s lack of motivation. However, interviews with current and former airline executives, researchers and others highlighted a few key factors.

Summary
  • Reducing air traffic congestion is a huge, hairy beast of a problem.
  • That complexity makes it difficult to see system-based approaches.
  • Airlines are concerned that competitors could benefit more from reduced congestion.

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About 40% of MAX fleet now grounded-but not by FAA

March 12, 2019, © Leeham News: About 40% of the world’s in-service Boeing 737 MAX fleet were grounded by the end of yesterday, Seattle time, after more governments and airlines banned operations.

Singapore was the latest to ban MAX operations from its air space.

The US Federal Aviation Administration said yesterday there isn’t enough information yet from the Ethiopian Airlines crash Sunday to conclude a grounding order is necessary.

But it added that it will issue an order for a mandatory action by April to make improvements to the flight control system. Boeing late Monday confirmed a software upgrade is in the works for its MCAS stall recovery system used on the MAX.

LNA reported early Monday that a plan to implement a software upgrade following the October crash of a Lion Air MAX 8 had not been implemented.

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