By Scott Hamilton
March 22, 2021, © Leeham News: Airbus lost an order from Alaska Airlines, which means the carrier will essentially revert to an all-Boeing fleet.
And despite the apparent high-profile loss of a potential order from Boeing loyalist Southwest Airlines, Airbus is holding its ground in the USA.
Did Airbus miss opportunities to gain ground?
It all depends on how you look at it.
By Scott Hamilton
Airbus continues to produce the A320, A330 and A350 at lower production rates than the pre-pandemic era. Boeing is at low-rate production for the 737 MAX, after a 20-month grounding. The 777 is down to 2/mo and the 787 goes to 5/mo this month. At least two aerospace analysts on Wall Street think the 787 rate could come down further.
Airbus and Boeing each received a handful of orders so far this year.
But suppliers continue to struggle.
This is the first in a series. Special to Leeham News.
By Peter W. Lemme
Feb. 2, 2021, © Leeham News: The Boeing 707 entered service in 1958. 60 years later, a Boeing 737 MAX, the model’s fourth generation, crashed into the sea with all lives tragically lost. After, the 737 entered service in 1968, every subsequent 737 model was carefully crafted with the minimum changes necessary to deliver performance and reliability improvements. Differences were discouraged in order to reduce pilot training requirements, holding dear to visible family traits pioneered by the 707.
Changes that jeopardized an amended Federal Aviation Administration Type Certificate were culled. A new type certificate is a costly and lengthy process, with considerable risk.
The 757 should have saved Boeing from endless 737 generations, but the will of the customer changed its trajectory from the start, in the end leaving no mark at all.
The 737-100 was a marvel by fitting the engine tight under the wing, and every generation since has marveled at how to fit the latest engine under the wing.
Every swept wing air transport suffers growing pains, working out issues with flying qualities.
The 737 seems to have diverged from the other Boeing airplanes progressively. Should the 737 MAX’s now-infamous Maneuvering Augmentation Characteristics System (MCAS) implementation have been applied to the stabilizer? Did Boeing have a better choice?
Flying qualities approved “to the letter”, quantitatively, are balanced by qualitative measures, with latitude in judging acceptable performance.
By the Leeham News Team
Jan. 13, 2021, © Leeham News: Today marks the first anniversary of David Calhoun becoming CEO of The Boeing Co.
Calhoun’s first year faced challenges unprecedented in Boeing’s history. There was the 737 MAX crisis. Sales of the 777X were stagnant. The balance sheet was stressed.
And then COVID exploded, all but destroying commercial passenger demand and with it, ability by airlines to take delivery of new airplanes.
Boeing’s balance sheet went further upside down. Production and quality control problems with the 787 emerged.
Finally, Calhoun was afflicted with a case of foot-in-mouth disease. This contrasted with his calm, well-received initial public face during the waning days of then-CEO Dennis Muilenburg’s stilted public persona.
Jan. 11, 2021, © Leeham News: Last week appeared to be an ominous week for Washington State for aerospace.
On Monday, The Seattle Times reported that Amazon surpassed Boeing as Washington’s largest employer. The retailer now employs more than 80,000 in the state. Boeing, following COVID- and 737 MAX-grounding induced layoffs, employs just under 59,000 in Washington.
The Times reported Tuesday that Boeing’s research and development center at Boeing Field will be closed. At its peak, the center was to employ 900. The expansion began a mere 10 years ago.
Previously, Boeing announced Oct. 1 that it will close the Everett 787 production line and consolidate the final assembly at the Charleston (SC) plant.
The exodus by Boeing from Puget Sound and Washington State is underway. But was closing the R&D center as significant as it seemed?
Jan. 7, 2021, © Leeham News: Boeing today agreed to pay $2.5bn to settle criminal charges with the US Department of Justice over the 737 MAX investigation.
The settlement comes in the form of a Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA).
The DPA contemplates that the Company will: (1) make payments totaling $2,513.6 million, which consist of (a) a $243.6 million criminal monetary penalty; (b) $500 million in additional compensation to the heirs and/or beneficiaries of those who died in the Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 accidents; and (c) $1.77 billion to the Company’s airline customers for harm incurred as a result of the grounding of the 737 MAX, offset in part by payments already made and the remainder satisfied through payments to be made prior to the termination of the DPA; (2) review its compliance program for implementation of continuous improvement efforts; and (3) implement enhanced compliance reporting and internal controls mechanisms. Under the terms of the DPA, the criminal information will be dismissed after three years, provided that the Company fully complies with its obligations under the DPA. Of the payments described above, $1.77 billion has been included in amounts reserved in prior quarters for 737 MAX customer considerations. The Company expects to incur earnings charges equal to the remaining $743.6 million in the fourth quarter of 2020.
However, Dominic Gates of the Seattle Times points out that “Only $243.6 million, less than 10%, is a fine for the criminal conduct. And Boeing must pay an additional $500 million compensation to the MAX crash victim families. However, 70% of the $2.5 billion cited is compensation to airline customers that Boeing has already agreed to pay.”
By Scott Hamilton and Vincent Valery
Jan. 5, 2021, © Leeham News: What’s in store for Airbus and Boeing this year?
Boeing needs a boring year.
Twenty-twenty one is a year of recovery for Boeing. It must dig out from a very deep hole.
Airbus reported that it hit cash break-even in the third quarter. But the company is not out of the woods yet.
Everything depends on something largely out of their control: how quickly the airline industry recovers from the COVID pandemic.
Dec. 29, 2020, © Leeham News: Stories and headlines shouted that this month’s Boeing order by Alaska Airlines adding 23 orders and 15 options to an existing agreement meant the death knell for the Airbus fleet.
Alaska indeed announced that all the A319s and A320s inherited from its acquisition of Virgin America will leave the fleet by 2024. But 10 Airbus A321neos remain at least through their lease terms in 2029.
The airline now has 68 Boeing 737 MAX 9s on order and 52 on option.
This is exactly as LNA suggested several times: rotate out the smaller Airbuses as leases expire and keep the larger A321neos.
COVID-19 accelerated the retirement of the smaller Airbus family members by a couple of years. But it never made sense to keep them in lieu of the 737-9 once Alaska committed to this plane several years ago.
But what of the old Virgin America order for 30 A320neos? These are still on the books.
CEO David Calhoun all but killed the New Midmarket Airplane when he took over from Dennis Muilenburg in January. A full product strategy review would be undertaken, he said.
Boeing always looks at alternatives. In addition to the twin-aisle NMA, Boeing also had a single-aisle airplane under study.
In this episode of 10 Minutes About, LNA discusses what Boeing’s Next New Airplane should be.
Dec. 22, 2020, © Leeham News: If you get a chance over the next few weeks – in between binge-watching The Queen’s Gambit, putting up the 79 extra feet of Christmas lights you ordered this year and figuring out how to buy surprise Christmas gifts for your spouse when you have a joint Amazon account – you should take 90 minutes to watch this video from our friends at the International Association of Machinists District Lodge 751.
The Machinists on Dec. 8 hosted (on Zoom, of course) a high-level panel discussion about the state of the aerospace industry and Washington state’s role in it, featuring a whole bunch of Brand-Name People Who are Smarter Than Me(c).
They shared their insights for those of us coffee-drinkers who are trying to read the tea leaves to divine what Boeing’s next moves should be as it tries to get back on its feet – and what the implications are for its home state.
The problems for Boeing are obvious, and the solutions are pretty clear – but doing the smart thing would require a major cultural shift from an executive team that’s locked into a 1990s vision of how business gets done.