By Scott Hamilton
Sept. 7, 2021, (c) Leeham News: My book, Air Wars: The Global Combat Between Airbus and Boeing, is now available on Amazon.
Three years in the making—delayed by the need to include the Boeing 737 MAX crisis and the impacts of Coronavirus—Air Wars is a combination of a biography of John Leahy and the 1982 book, The Sporty Game. The Sporty Game was considered the definitive book about the competition between Boeing, McDonnell Douglas and the young Airbus.
Leahy worked for Airbus for 33 years, 23 of them as the chief commercial officer for the company. Throughout executive turmoil at Airbus, and at Boeing, Leahy was the one constant salesman. Boeing officials were slow to recognize the threat Airbus and Leahy presented. The wake-up call, according to a top Boeing salesman at the time, was the 1992 order from United Airlines for Airbus A319s and A320s. United considered the airplanes superior to the 737-300/400. The order prompted Boeing to develop the 737 NG. From there, the global combat became a “bare-knuckle brawl,” as journalist Dan Catchpole put it this week.
Executives and salesmen from Airbus and Boeing were interviewed for Air Wars. So were industry leaders. My own archival resources and reporting were used as well.
The result is a book that describes the successes and failures of Airbus, Leahy, and Boeing. It describes how Bombardier came out of nowhere to become a threat initially dismissed by Boeing—but recognized by Airbus. Air Wars describes the sales campaign that launched the A380 and killed the proposed 747-500/600—but led Boeing to the 787.
Air Wars begins with the crucial sales campaign with American Airlines that led to the decision by Boeing to launch the re-engined 737 program—which later was branded as the 737 MAX. The book also dispels the myth that Boeing was hasty in designing the re-engined 737.
Many untold stories are in Air Wars, including sales campaigns, product strategy decisions and personal anecdotes about Leahy—including how McDonnell Douglas tried to recruit Leahy from Airbus in the early 1990s.
A synopsis of the book is below.
By Scott Hamilton
July 6, 2021, © Leeham News: Mitsubishi is considering restarting production of the discontinued CRJ, LNA confirmed with multiple sources.
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries discontinued production with the completion of the last of the small backlog it acquired with the June 1, 2019, purchase of the program from the ailing Bombardier. The final 15 CRJ900s were completed during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Montreal Mirabel Airport production line was shut down. The tooling was removed and stored. The buildings were turned over to Airbus, which now uses them for A220 production.
“Our primary focus remains the support of the CRJ operating fleet,” said Ross Mitchell, vice president of Shared Services. “Clearly, the regional jet market is important to us, but we have made no commitment to move forward in this respect.”
Dec. 21, 2020, © Leeham News: This is my last Pontification of 2020. I’ll be off between the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.
It’s only fitting to look back at what is the worst year in commercial aviation—ever.
I’ve just completed my 41st year in this industry. I’ve seen two Gulf Wars, SARS, 9/11, the Great Recession and several economic cycles.
Lockheed and McDonnell Douglas exited the commercial airliner business.
I’ve seen three groundings: the McDonnell Douglas DC-10, Boeing 787 and 737 MAX. I’ve been on site of two significant crashes: the American Airlines DC-10 in Chicago and Delta Air Lines’ 727 in Dallas. I flew over a third, a Delta L-1011 in Dallas the day after it happened.
I worked for the first new airline certified by the Civil Aeronautics Board in 40 years, the first Midway. I also went through one bankruptcy and one merger, each part of the deregulation shake-out.
As a reporter, I covered some of the business giants, including Bob Crandall, Herb Kelleher, John Leahy and others.
It’s been a great four decades.
But nothing compares to the global industry disaster of 2020.
By the Leeham News staff
This could be a bit of negotiating in the press.
When MAX was grounded, AA had lined up Japanese financing for its next round of deliveries. The lease rate was said to be in the vicinity of 0.52%, a number that is unconfirmed. But it was a very inexpensive lease rate. Over the course of the balance of 2019, the financing expired.
May 18, 2020, © Leeham News: There simply is no good news in commercial aviation right now.
Yes, airport traffic is upticking in the USA (and elsewhere) slightly. But in the USA, it’s still less than 10% of last year’s totals.
There remains a tremendous amount of uncertainty.
The list goes on and on and on.
April 13, 2020, © Leeham News: There are plenty of stories and photos floating around the Internet about airlines flying empty or nearly so.
Schedules have been pared back up to 95% across the globe.
Spot-check Flightradar24 at any given moment and there are a lot air freighters flying.
But the passenger airlines are also flying some airliners dedicated to cargo. Some are flying cargo in the below-deck holds only. Others installed plastic protection over the passenger seats and loaded box after box after box of protective masks for shipment. Still others removed the passenger seats entirely and loaded the main deck with lighter-weight cargo.
This article summarizes many airlines that stepped up to fly supplies throughout the world.
By the Leeham News staff
April 7, 2020, © Leeham News: “Nobody’s traveling in the next 30 or 60 days,” said Vasu Raja, American Airlines Group Inc.’s senior vice president for network strategy. “But nobody is really making any plans to go travel in the next 90 to 150 days, either.
So reported the Wall Street Journal Sunday.
That basically takes you through the end of the year.
Singapore will suspend its Changi Airport Terminal 2 for 18 months from May 1. (Associated Press.)
By Judson Rollins
March 16, 2020, © Leeham News: Throughout Sunday afternoon and evening, reports – all unconfirmed – began to emerge in the US that as early as today, the Trump administration may announce a suspension of US passenger flights domestically for 2-4 weeks. The suspension, if confirmed, could begin this week. Investors are scrambling to understand how long US airlines can survive on their current cash balances.
LNA reviewed the balance sheets of carriers worldwide in anticipation of such dramatic events. In this article, we will show that US airlines have plenty of time for demand to recover – or the US government to step in with emergency loans or grants similar to those doled out by the Air Transportation Stabilization Board from 2001 to 2003.
March 16, 2020, © Leeham News: Airlines in Europe already asked governments for financial aid as coronavirus forces massive schedule cutbacks and in some cases, complete service suspension.
In the US, talk of aid began in earnest last week.
Delta Air Lines, which is parking 300 airplanes and cutting 40% of its capacity, said it plans to seek US financial assistance.
There is increasing talk that the US may order a complete suspension of domestic air service. If so, this would be like 9/11, when for the first time in history the US shut down its skies.
That lasted only three days.
With federal officials saying the crisis hasn’t peaked in the US and it may be a couple of months before the crisis subsides.
US carriers will almost certainly seek government assistance.
March 9, 2020, © Leeham News: Commercial aviation accidents are high profile news events.
These happen rarely. Many times, a lot of people are killed. (It should be noted that often survivors may outnumber those killed as safety improved.)
In this era of 24/7 cable news and minute-by minute social media, everyone wants instant answers as to causes.
Finding answers is not simple. A typical accident investigation usually takes 12-18 months before the investigators issue a final report with a probable cause.
One reason for this is that sometimes, the cause of an accident comes down to a single bolt, or even a single cotter pin.
This is where the new book, Flight Failure, Investigating the Nuts and Bolts of Air Disasters and Aviation Safety, serves to remind us of just how intricate accident investigation is.