Pontifications: Catching up on Odds and Ends-Alaska’s Airbus fleet, first E195-E2 delivery, Boeing’s MAX rebranding question

  • Take our Boeing 737 MAX rebranding poll at the end of this post.

Sept. 2, 2019, © Leeham News: It’s time to catch up on Odds and Ends.

Alaska Airlines

In its second quarter earnings call and 10Q Securities and Exchange Filing, Alaska Airlines said it was returning one Airbus A319 and two A320s off lease this year and next.

By Scott Hamilton

These airplanes are from its Virgin America acquisition, which introduced the Airbus family into the all-Boeing Alaska mainline operations.

Alaska officials have said several times they are evaluating whether to phase out all Airbuses and return to an all-Boeing fleet, or keep the Airbuses and operate a mixed fleet indefinitely.

I wondered if this was the start of the phase out.

“We are planning to return 1 A319 this year and 2 A320s next year at normal lease expiration,” Brandon Pederson, EVP and CFO of the company, wrote LNA.  “This is not part of a broader fleet  decision, nor a phase out of the smaller Airbus aircraft.  Leases on the remaining 50 A319/A320 aircraft in the fleet have varying maturities through 2025.”

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Airbus faces challenges for A330neo

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Aug. 26, 2019, © Leeham News: Airbus faces near-term challenges with its production skyline for the A330, even at a reduce rate of 4/mo, an analysis shows.

Looking forward from next year, when there are slightly more deliveries scheduled than production rates—a function of some leftover 2019 builds—Airbus faces an easily-filled gap in 2021 but huge production gaps beginning in 2022.

Even if Letters of Intent and options were fully converted to firm orders, big production gaps will exist.

A production rate cut seems inevitable in the near future.

Summary
  • Key Emirates order not yet firmed up.
  • Big, 200 unit A330-200R LOI no longer appears in data.
  • Why keep the A330neo in the product line?

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The range of Airbus A321XLR

By Bjorn Fehrm

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Introduction

June 27, 2019, © Leeham News: Airbus launched the extended range A321XLR last week at the Paris Air Show.

The range of the aircraft was presented as 4,700nm with an “around 200 seat” cabin. This was 200nm more than the market expected.

We use our performance model to explain what is behind the 4,700nm figure.

Air Lease was the first presented customer for the A321XLR last week. Source: Airbus.

Summary:
  • The 4,700nm is with “around 200” passengers and with the Airbus short range rule set.
  • We calculate the range of the A321XLR with typical airline rules and with different cabin configurations, including a three class long-range cabin with lie-flat business seats.

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A321XLR: where airlines will fly the Airbus aircraft

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By Vincent Valery

June 24, 2019, © Leeham News: As widely expected Airbus officially launched the A321XLR on the first day of the Paris Air Show. First deliveries are expected in 2023.

With the Maximum Takeoff Weight increased to 101 metric tons the manufacturer claims a range of 4,700 nautical miles while carrying 200 passengers. This represents an extra 700 nautical miles compared to the LR variant.  Accounting for real world airline seating configurations and fuel reserves, the effective range will be lower.

Nevertheless, it will represent a significant improvement over the LR. Serial airline entrepreneur David Neeleman claims that the A321LR does not match the range of the Boeing 757-200. The XLR variant will have meaningfully more effective range than the out-of-production Boeing aircraft.

According to Airbus the A321XLR can fly direct between city pairs such as London – New Delhi and New York – Rome.

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IAG’s super MAX deal likely means super discounts, services

June 20, 2019, © Leeham News: Boeing gets a Letter of Intent for 200 737 MAXes from International Airlines Group (British Airways, et al), announced Tuesday at the Paris Air Show.

Today, Airbus complained the deal came as a surprise—there hadn’t been a tender, Airbus had no chance to bid.

Christian Scherer, meet John Leahy.

Scherer is Leahy’s successor, and like Scherer, Leahy was blindsided in 1996 when American Airlines signed a 20-year exclusive procurement deal with Boeing.

Then, Delta and Continental airlines did the same.

Leahy complained bitterly that he didn’t know of American’s deal and had had no chance to bid.

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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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Boeing suppliers ramp up schedule for MAX: 52/mo by July, 57/mo by August

Source: Boeing.

April 29, 2019, © Leeham News: Boeing reduced the production rate on the 737 line in mid-April from 52/mo to 42/mo in response to the grounding of the airplane by regulators worldwide.

The company and others said they didn’t know how long the airplane would be grounded.

But Boeing told suppliers to keep producing parts, components and the fuselage at rate 52.

The announcement was made April 5. At the same time, Boeing gave suppliers the rate ramp-up schedule.

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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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Boeing didn’t want to re-engine the 737–but had design standing by

March 20, 2019, © Leeham News: With nearly 400 Boeing 737 MAXes grounded across the globe, few will remember that Boeing didn’t really want to do the MAX.

Officials in 2010-2011 engineered the MAX as a fallback airplane in case its hand was forced by Airbus as it first pondered and then launched the A320neo.

Jim Albaugh, then president of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, didn’t want to re-engine the 737. He wanted a new airplane. Seattle Times photo.

The president of Boeing Commercial Airplanes at the time, Jim Albaugh, and the head of the 737 program then, Mike Bair, talked down the thought of re-engining the 737 even as it was developed. Albaugh wanted a new, clean sheet airplane to replace the 737.

When Airbus was about to land American Airlines with a huge order for the A320 family, both the ceo and neo, Boeing’s hand was forced. Within 48 hours, Jim McNerney, Albaugh’s boss, made the decision to go forward with what would become the MAX.

LNA dug into its archives for recorded interviews, transcripts and events with Albaugh and Bair. What follows paints the picture of Boeing’s view at the time about the 737 re-engining. LNA also spoke last year with a former Boeing engineer who worked on the MAX program. This interview was before the Lion Air crash in October.

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Pontifications: 737 MAX events remind of Lockheed Electra story

By Scott Hamilton

March 18, 2019, © Leeham News: There’s a saying that history repeats itself.

When it comes to the crisis of the Boeing 737 MAX, I’m reminded of the crisis Lockheed faced in 1959-1960 when the Electra propjet crashed in September and the following March, killing all aboard both airplanes.

The Electra entered service Jan. 12, 1959, with Eastern Airlines. It was considered a pilot’s airplane. Coming off decades of piston engine aircraft and early in the jet age, the Electra was the only airplane that was over-powered, piston or jet. Timing, however, was poor and crashes soon overtook the euphoria.

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